I have a friend who has a very stressful job: she’s a hospice nurse. Summer helps people end their life in the most humane way possible. She’s amazing. Her blog, QueenBloggy.com, chronicles her life in Colorado.
Summer recently had a really bad week at work. She lost two patients who were in their 40s. This passage from a recent blog post really hit home with me:
This week has been brutal. Up every night until the wee hours charting, reliving days that were wrought with sadness and a multitude of tasks. But the most frustrating part of all of this is that in the last four days I allowed absolutely NO time for self care. Skipping breakfast, lunches, not exercising, eating crap as I drove in the car from patient to patient house. My granola bar and diet coke filled body is not pleased with me right now, nor am I. I do not feel good when I don’t allow time to care for myself, and I can say quite sincerely that if this job were ALWAYS like that, then I would be looking for a new job this instant. But it’s not. —QueenBloggy
How often does this happen to you? You get so wrapped up with the tasks of the day/week/month that you completely forget to take care of yourself? I’ve had those granola-bar-and-diet-coke weeks, and they’re horrible. And sometimes they cannot be avoided. Continue Reading
In this issue of Ask FreelanceSwitch, we look at workloads and portfolio pieces. Ask FreelanceSwitch is a regular column here that allows us to help beginners get a grip on freelancing. If you have a question about freelancing that you want answered, send an email to email@example.com.
In my current post, where I’ve been for a year and a half, the workload seems to be unfairly high. It’s a small company that specializes in print design, with only three of us working there, including the owner. The owner is known for working crazy hours, sometimes starting at 4am (no joke) and working right through to 11pm.
Trouble is, I and the other employee seem to be expected to put in extra hours all the time as well. Our contracted hours are 8am-5pm + unpaid overtime ‘as and when required’. I don’t think I’ve ever left at 5pm; it’s usually 5.30 at the earliest that I get out, but the real problem is that the unpaid overtime amounts to quite a lot. I was in the office til 11pm a couple of nights ago – and I haven’t been out before 6.30 this week. More often than not he ‘has to go home at 5pm because of x, y or z’.
When I speak to him about the hours, the boss insists that this is just ‘the nature of the business’. I understand that some jobs will require extra or late hours in order to meet deadlines and I have no problem with that, but I think he’s using the ‘as and when required’ clause as an excuse to take on more work than he should, effectively selling his employees’ free time.
He’s quite an aggressive person and isn’t really all that approachable. I’m far from lazy either, but I need to have a life outside of work (we’re often expected to cancel plans if there’s work needing done).
So I’m looking for your advice on whether every graphic design agency really requires this much overtime or if he’s clearly taking the piss, and what you think I could do about it. As I’ve said, talking to him about it doesn’t seem to work, as you’re seen as not pulling your weight, and short of quitting, I don’t see any other solution!
I’ve seen a lot of graphic design agencies where the various contractors wind up working more than 40 hours per week — but they’re paid for their time. You absolutely have the right to get extra payment for that time, if you’re routinely putting in more time than you’re contracted for.
As far as being expected to work the extra hours, that generally does come down to who you’re working with. Based on your brief description, it sounds like you’re going to have a hard time actually sticking to a set number of hours a week at this particular agency — it’s going to be a lot easier to negotiate a raise. Quitting may be the most practical option for changing your work schedule (although I’m sure there are other considerations). Continue Reading
10 “Free Forever” Paydirt accounts giveaway finalized. This giveaway has closed. Congratulations to the winners: Langdon James, Maia Roberts, Jason Hackwith, Patrick Rogan, James Dudley, Elizabeth Bright, Mikey McCorry, Samantha Geitz, Pete Brady, and Henriette Weber. All winners have been contacted with winning details. We appreciate everyone’s participation.
If you have accounting software, it probably includes a time-tracking module. What if it’s on that desktop machine back at your studio, and you’re on the road with a laptop, or you prefer a dedicated time tracking interface?
Enter Paydirt, a web-based app that tracks three key freelancing metrics:
- Your clients and their contact information
- Projects you’re doing for clients
- The time spent on those projects
Put these three things together, and you have an app that tracks time spent on client projects, and uses the time logs to generate invoices. You present a Paydirt invoice in person if you’re working on site like our hypothetical road warrior. Or you can send it via e-mail.
You can utilize Paydirt in one of two ways:
- By logging into the Paydirt website which works just fine with your browser – as long as it’s not Internet Explorer. Paydirt doesn’t support IE – and that’s a feature.
- By using the Paydirt extension for Firefox or Chrome. It will remind you to track time if it senses that you may be doing something relating to a client. Yes, sending that long, explanatory e-mail about how you’re tackling his design project is billable. So turn on that Paydirt tracker and make some money.
Creating a business plan for your freelance business might sound like the most boring task in the world, but just because you’re not keen on creating one doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
If you are a passionate, creative person, creating a business plan might be just the thing you need to be sure you dot your I’s and cross your T’s.
Contrary to some entrepreneurial thinking, planning need not dampen drive or hamper creativity or passion. Indeed, planning can be an illuminating and inspiring part of the business-building process, as research leads to new ideas and, occasionally, that elusive Eureka moment! —FreelanceUK
A plan is just that—a plan. No one can foresee the future and you never know what unpredictability lies around the corner. But if you have something in writing that charts where you want your freelance business to be in the future, you have a road map. If you change your mind, that’s okay. Your business plan will help you recognize the change and help prompt you to think carefully about it.
You may think you know what your goals are…but do you really? Where do you want your freelance business to be next year? In three years? In five years? If you can answer these questions off the top of your head—good for you! You’re already ahead of the game. If not, it’s time to start thinking.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when working on your business plan: Continue Reading
It can be kind of easy to get into a rut as a freelancer. I mean your sofa is well worn and your daily habits are well set.
As you talk to the bigwigs of XYZ Company on Skype who will know you are wearing bunny slippers?
As a freelancer, one of the best things I have ever done to improve myself, as well as my business, is to travel as often as possible. Here’s why:
You never know who you will meet. You might end up next to a top CEO on a plane, share a basket of bread with a globe-trotting entrepreneur in India, or strike up a conversation with a small business owner while waiting in line for a Vegas show.
Any one of these people can become future business contacts for you, and, if nothing else, the short conversation you share with them could make a lasting impression on you and your business.
- You never know what you will learn. One day I was hanging out in a coffee shop near a major conference center when a guy sat down next to me and started chatting. Turns out his startup just got $14 million in VC funding. Needless to say, I had a lot of questions for him about the ins and outs of his business as well as the ins and outs of working with venture capitalists.
- You will get out of your rut and so will your thinking. Your mind doesn’t have to work very hard when you do the same things every day. Now flip the switch and begin your day with congee in a café in China, tasting chicken feet for the first time during a dim sum lunch, and watching an incredible acrobatics show in Shanghai. Suddenly your brain starts working overtime to process all of the new sights, sounds, and experiences (this is a good thing for you and your work).
We recently asked our readers to send us photos of their home office to see where the magic happens. As you will see, no two offices are the same—and why should they be! We received photos from people who are freelance writers, designers, and web developers from around the world. Let’s see where our readers are working, shall we?
Henrik Eklund: Sweden
We love the natural light and gorgeous view of Henrik’s office. He has been a website designer and developer since 2004, running AO Media. Some freelancers might find it hard to work with such a view—but not me! Lucky guy…
Wayne Latham: Nevada
Wayne Latham runs WayLay Design out of his home in Nevada. We love the custom-made wall mounted wrap around desk and standing workstation. Sometimes it’s good to think on your feet—and Wayne has created a home office where he can stand up or sit down.
Have you ever wondered how really successful freelance writers got where they are?
It can seem like those six-figure freelancers are a different species than you are, when you’re trying to get started as a freelance writer.
They’re landing book deals. Writing movie scripts. Winning prestigious awards.
Clients call them, not the other way around.
They have so many offers, they’re turning work away and can charge what they like.
And it all seems unattainable by ordinary people like you.
But that’s a lie. Continue Reading
You can’t just be a writer or a photographer for a living anymore—you have to have some sort of working knowledge of many different skills, like blogging, crafting a press release, social media marketing, long-form writing, Photoshop. Every little bit helps. Especially when you are a freelancer.
I’ve written all sorts of things for clients—from keyword infused web copy to 3,000 word feature stories. I’ve shot and edited video, shot and edited photos, and more. I call myself a writer/editor, but the world might call me a multimedia journalist.
As a freelancer, your client might be looking for one specific thing—like a press release—and hire you to craft those for them. If you have a good working relationship, you can show this client your other skills, which could turn into other work. But what if you aren’t a freelancer? What if you have no background in writing at all but are a smart, capable person? The Atlantic Media Company might be looking for you. Continue Reading
You’re an adept, professional and fortunate freelance developer. As such, you’ve got loads of work on and everyone wants a part of you. But like all things, too much of something can also be a curse.
Early in your career, when your freelance business was smaller, and had only a handful of clients, life was simpler. You didn’t need an intense workflow to manage your projects from inception to delivery. But now all of that’s changed; you’re busy and it’s taking its toll.
Perhaps you, regularly, ask yourself some of these questions:
- Where does my time go?
- How can I spend more time in development and less time in administration?
- Why do I
wastespend so much time administering projects instead of building and billing them?
- How can I simplify my workflow?
- How can I do what I do, but simpler, quicker, easier?
Well, there are a number of great resources available, but I want to focus on just one. If you’re familiar with Github (or even if you’re not) then today you’re in for a treat. A while ago Github introduced a new feature called Organizations and it’s a real godsend for us freelance developers.
The basic setup is quite good. The personal features allow us to share and collaborate fairly well. But the permission structure is, well to say the least, simple.
For example, recently I wanted to give a client view access only to one of my projects. Unfortunately, given that it was under a personal profile, they could either get full access or nothing. There was no middle ground. But organizations changes all that and I’m sure you’re going to love it. Here’s why:
Your blog can be a powerful tool for attracting and signing new clients for your freelance business. Like every part of your marketing, it pays to invest the time needed to publish a blog that shows your skills in the best possible light.
I believe that a blog needs to “pay its own way” and justify the time and money you will invest. The good news is that a few “tweaks” to your blog can boost its performance and deliver high-paying clients.
Here are 7 ways you can turn your blog into a powerful client-attraction tool. Continue Reading
Keeping people on your website for as long as possible is something everyone who owns a website wrestles with. The longer people stay on your site, the more engaged they become, the more you can sell—whether it’s your services or web advertisements.
But how do you do it? How do you engage your visitors and entice them to click through more of your pages?
Getting 1,000,000 unique visitors a month will not matter that much if they are all leaving in droves as soon as they get to your homepage. Keeping that traffic on your website is just as important as getting them to your website in the first place. —SloDive
Scott Gerber, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, tackles this very topic in one of his recent “Ask Gerber” videos on Inc.com. I found his points to be helpful, so I thought I’d share some of his tips, along with tips from others, in this blog post. Continue Reading
Grammatical rules provide boundaries within which greater written communication is possible.
If you lack a clear understanding of grammar rules, it can keep your ideas shackled to a fear of writing or even speaking publicly. This fear can put quite a damper on your freelancing career, too, since through writing you can grow your freelance business.
This is especially important for you as a freelancer.
Your website, emails, even your comments on forums and blogs are ways through which clients and prospects judge your business. If you lack grammatical grace, outsiders may begin to see you as less than legitimate.
Now, don’t panic. You do not have to retake your high school English class. Knowing what common grammar mistakes to avoid will grow your writing skills leaps and bounds. In addition, you will have more confidence in both written and oral expression. And you’ll have less fear of the perceived “persnickety” police that gleefully ticket offenses. Continue Reading