freelance

Hey, it’s ok…(the blogger version)

Hi all. So today’s post is inspired from one of my favourite parts of the old Glamour magazine (sob, I loved that publication!) I used to love their ‘hey, it’s ok…‘ section (which reassured readers that it’s okay to do things other might say weren’t acceptable!) and thought it was about time we had one about blogging too! All those things we’re told not to do but actually I think we should go ahead and do them if we’d like! Thank you to some of the lovely ladies in my blogging facebook group for sharing their tips too.

Hey, it’s ok…

1.  If you forget to update your blog, send out your weekly newsletter or go ‘off theme’ on your Instagram. No one has probably noticed other than you.

2. To check your traffic all the time and be gutted when it’s low. Because actually, traffic does matter (read my traffic growth tips here) for most of us. It’s ok to want good numbers and have goals!

3. To start a blog on the sole basis of running it as a business. It doesn’t make your intentions less pure, it just shows you’re business savvy!

 

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4. If you’re over blogger events. Some blogger events are amazing, but some leave a lot to be desired. Be choosy-you don’t have to go to something just because you’ve been invited.

5. To attempt to do a classic Instagram shot to boost engagement (I’m talking copper mugs with a flower wall and a stack of pancakes) then feel a bit of an idiot. But then do it again. The algorithm makes us do crazy things.

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6.If you write a blog post because you’ll know it’ll do well in the traffic stakes, instead of it being a topic you truly love. I mean don’t go completely off-topic or use clickbait, but it’s okay to have a mix of passion-led and traffic-led, SEO optimised posts.

7. If you don’t know who many of the big bloggers are. Or you think some of them are actually quite annoying. Because perhaps they are. It doesn’t make you less supportive, you don’t need to like everyone.

8. If you don’t get Pinterest but everyone else keeps going about it. Pinterest has been great for my blog but it doesn’t work for everyone. If it’s not working for you, ignore it and focus on what does.

9.If you use stock images because you can’t be arsed to faff around with flatlays. 

10.If you go from ‘I’ve made it’ to ‘Literally nobody reads my blog’ on a daily basis.  Depending on the state of your inbox or your ever-changing follower count.

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11.If you feel like blogging is a proper job even if you haven’t earned a single penny yet. (Thanks Amanda from Mummy 2 Twindividuals for that one). All businesses start without earning at first-why is yours any different?

12. To shout about the first time you get a sponsored deal (Thanks Sarah from The Gluten-Free Blogger for this one). Be proud of that #ad status.

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13. To panic the moment you press submit on a sponsored post. What if nobody reads it? What if I’m a fraud? *runs to check google analytics*

14.If none of your friends or family understands what blogging is and what you do as a job (Thanks Laura from Mum on A Mission for this one)

15.If you say, ‘actually it wasn’t free, I had to work for it.’ (Thanks Emma from Free From Farmhouse for this one) Can we stop calling things freebies?

16. Say no. (Thanks Frances from Whinge Whinge Wine for this one). It’s not ungrateful to say no or to ask for proper compensation for what you do (this video on setting your rates might help!)

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17. To go somewhere, plan loads of content around it and suddenly not feel like vlogging it, photographing it or Instagram-storying it. (Thanks to Fiona from From Fiona for this one). It still happened without your camera.

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Insider Secrets To Becoming A Highly Paid Copywriter

Today’s blog is a guest post by one of my fellow bloggers Ruth. Ruth is a freelance writer and blogs about genuine ways to make money online at RuthMakesMoney.com Ruth shares her top tips about being a highly paid freelance copywriter.

I’ve been a freelance writer for around 8 years now, and in that time, I’ve done everything from the soul-sucking content mill projects that make you lose the will to live, to working with wonderful clients who totally ‘get’ the value of a copywriter, and who are willing to pay several thousands of pounds for a job well done.

I suppose you could say that it’s all part of the journey. What I’ve learned though is that it’s very possible to earn a generous income from your writing, and you absolutely don’t have to work for next to nothing.

Along the way, I’ve cracked some of the secrets to being able to command premium rates, and they’ve helped me to continuously increase my earnings and make freelancing a sustainable and profitable career.

It’s probably worth noting here that my experiences are a little different to Jenna’s. Whilst Jenna mainly writes for magazines and their online counterparts, my own work has been centred about creating content for business owners.

Still, though, I believe that much of what I’ve learned is applicable right across the board, and if you want to get paid more for your words, this advice can help you to do exactly that. So let’s get stuck into the methods you can use to increase your freelance earnings…

1.Know that the rungs on the ladder only exist if you believe they do

To be honest, I’ve never really been into the whole positive-thinking, believe-it-and-achieve-it stuff that does the rounds in entrepreneurship circles online. But a couple of years ago, I came across something known as ‘leapfrog theory’ by Robert Ringer. It was a bit of a light bulb moment for me, and it’s something that’s stayed with me ever since, and helped me to increase my fees.

So here’s the thing… In the traditional world of work, we’re conditioned to believe that there’s a ladder that we need to climb. We need to pay our dues, work through the levels, and ultimately, wait until someone else deems us worthy of the next stage before we can take that jump. Leapfrog theory states that, No one has an obligation—moral, legal, or otherwise—to ‘work his way up through the ranks.’ Every human being possesses an inalienable right to make a unilateral decision to redirect his career and begin operating on a higher level at any time he believes he is prepared to do so”.

The TLDR? You don’t have to wait for permission to raise your rates – and if you do, you’re going to be waiting for a long time. You can actively decide to jump right ahead of your competitors, and become the go-to writer in your niche. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be good at what you do. But how good your work is, and how in demand you are and how much you can charge, aren’t always directly correlated. The writers who thrive are often the ones who simply decide that it’s time to take their leap.

2.Shift your mindset away from being the hired help, and become the trusted expert

Fairly early on in my writing career, I’d jumped on the phone with a new client and I explained how I worked and the information that I’d need from him to move forward… So, you know, details about his business, his ideal clients, and so on. Then, he actually LAUGHED DOWN THE PHONE AT ME, and in a really patronising manner, told me that no, he was far too busy to do any of that, and all I needed to do was go away and write the content.

And listen, I’m quiet. I’m an introvert. I’m not up for any kind of confrontation in any shape or form. But in that moment, I knew that I simply couldn’t let a client relationship work out like that. He’d end up with content that missed the mark, and it would be a bad representation of my work. So I stood my ground with him, and politely but firmly explained that actually, we needed to do things my way.

He listened, and he ended up with awesome website content that got him a load of new clients. All’s well that ends well, and all that. But the point is that when you create relationships with clients where you’re the expert, instead of someone they’re just paying to do a job, you do your best work. You get more satisfaction. And you also get paid more. Coincidentally, you also make things much easier for your client… They WANT someone to take the reins.

This is a mindset shift as much as anything else, but there are practical things you can do at all stages of your working processes to really embody being an expert. Consider the tone of your pitches, how you onboard your clients, and how you get started with your projects.

3.Create your own passive income stream

Regardless of how much you might love writing, there’s no escaping the fact that when you’re firing out a ton of content, week in and week out, it can become mentally taxing. It can feel like a treadmill that you’ll never escape from, and if you’re not careful, you can burn yourself out. Having more freedom was probably one of the reasons why you wanted to freelance in the first place, so it makes sense to think about the longer-term and how you can create an income stream that isn’t so hands-on.

After a year or two of freelancing, I created my first passive solution in the form of a membership programme where I taught business owners how to craft their own killer content. That meant that I always started the month knowing that whatever happened, and even if I couldn’t write for clients for whatever reason, I’d still have all my bills and living expenses covered. Obviously, this gave me huge peace of mind, and it massively increased my earning potential.

What I will say here is that there’s a lot of hype around passive income streams, and much of it is fairly misleading. If you think that you can just knock together an e-course and retire to a tropical island, you’re going to get a shock. Launching something like this takes a lot of work, a lot of trial and error, and it’s a big learning curve. Ultimately though, it can definitely be worth it.

4.Know the type of work that will allow you to command premium rates

Much of my early work involved writing blog posts for business owners. And here’s the thing with that… Those blog posts were usually part of a wider strategy to drive traffic to their sites and increase brand awareness. But in most cases, those blogs weren’t directly monetised. So whilst they were a ‘nice to have’ for my clients, they didn’t necessarily have a really clear ROI that was directly traceable back to that piece of work.

That put a bit of a cap on my earnings. You could be the best blog writer on the planet, but when it’s something that just doesn’t have an ROI within your clients’ business models, it’s not going to make a great deal of difference. I quite quickly cottoned on to the fact that businesses will happy to pay a premium if it’s for something that has the power to make them a load of money. And it was at that stage when I threw myself into mastering direct response copy.

Direct response is basically anything that results in the reader taking action… Like a landing page that collects leads, or a sales page that sells on autopilot. These actions can be hugely profitable for businesses, so that means that there’s way more scope for getting paid higher fees.

I’ve spent a ton of time (and money, too) on getting up to scratch with direct response copy, and learning how to really create the kind of content that converts like crazy. Of course, ultimately you need to be able to deliver if you’re going to be charging premium rates. But the time and cash that I’ve invested have definitely paid off, and have given me a much more profitable business.

Direct response might not float your boat, but if you want to charge more, consider how you might be able to tweak or pivot your services so they’re highly desirable in your niche.

By making strides in these four areas, I was able to ditch the low paid content mill jobs for good. Which ones can you put into practice, and which do you think will make the biggest difference to your freelance earnings?

When are youtubers going to stop getting away with it?

Happy Sunday! Today’s blog post comes in light of the recent Alfie Deyes scandal. I watched that video and left a comment which said ‘this video has so many things wrong with it I don’t know where to begin’; a statement which pretty much sums up my feelings about the behaviour of lots of big Youtubers at the moment.

To be fair, this isn’t going to be a blog post that goes into detail why making a video about living of £1 for lols (and then proceeding to get loads of free stuff and spend money on a beard comb) is terrible; because if that’s not clear to you then I’m not sure what to say. But more to discuss why, in an age of social media where everyone can have their say, how are these massive YouTubers still getting away with this shit? How are they still getting subscribers, advertisements, brand endorsements and succeeding-when they continue to make mistake after mistake? (and not acknowledge or rectify them?)

Problematic Youtubers

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Why outsourcing can help your blog and how to get started

Happy Sunday all! Today I wanted to share my journey of outsourcing work-how it’s helped my blog, how easy it is to get started and why you don’t need to be a limited company to do so. Outsourcing is something I’ve been experimenting with since the start of the year and it first, I wondered if I was doing it far too early (I worried I was being a bit pretentious or felt it was only something huge bloggers did).

However, it’s revolutionised the way I work and has helped me take on so many more projects. Today I’ve teamed up with App Paye a super-simple, effective payroll solution for small businesses and bloggers like me- to share my journey of outsourcing and tips to get started.

Why you should Outsource

‘Outsourcing’ is when you take the jobs you hate the most (or perhaps the ones that are the most time-consuming or you know that you aren’t great at) and pay someone else to do them instead. The beauty of freelancing today is that this can be super flexible. You don’t necessarily need to take on permanent employees but might want to find some ad-hoc help for things like…

  • Making pins: If Pinterest is part of your traffic strategy, it can be way quicker to pay someone to create a bundle of Pins for you.
  • Checking broken links. Who has time for this?
  • Social Media scheduling: Even more important now Twitter doesn’t allow duplicate tweets.

It might seem counter-productive to outsource these things, but they’re often things that take the most time and could be done far more efficiently by someone else. If you spend an hour faffing around finding the perfect pin-then you may well be able to earn more money in that time; if you dedicated an hour to pitching for sponsored post or networking, and paid someone who’s much better at it to create a bundle.

How to manage outsourcing

So far, so good. But how to go about it? Do you need to set up as a limited company? How can you do everything above board? Here are some of my top tips for managing outsourcing…

-There’s no need to set up as a limited company-unless you want to. A limited company has many benefits but if you’re happy as a sole trader, you can still outsource and pay workers! App Paye is a new payroll system that allows you to pay workers without being a limited company.

-Sometimes it’s worth spending a little more. When I first outsourced, I used sites like fiverr and also found a VA that offered low rates. I thought it made sense to pay as little as possible, but the time I spent chasing them and redoing the work meant it was actually worth spending a little more!

Now, I outsource a lot to my lovely friend Emma (here’s her blog; I’d 100% recommend her for VA work) and we’ve built a great working relationship. It was worth taking the time and money to find someone reliable; it will SAVE so much hassle and money in the long run.

-Make sure payment is secure. One thing that worries me about Paypal is that things can obviously be refuted and I’m always nagging people to send invoices. Once you invoice, you’ve no idea if that person is declaring it on their taxes etc and  AppPaye keeps payment in one place; with payslips and the ability for them to upload hours and then helping ensure tax is deducted.

The freelancer/contractor can also just press ‘pay me now’ button; making payments secure and so much easier than faffing around with bank transfers. I can log on to the app and see the hours I’ve outsourced and clear record of payment. I’m hoping that companies I work with in the future might also consider this as a payment method-as freelancers are offered benefits like BUPA healthcare that regular employees would have!

 

-Use the time gained wisely. The whole point of outsourcing is to maximise your time; so make sure you put the time you’ve gained to good use! You might choose to dedicate one hour a week to a passion project or tackling introductory emails! There are a few books worth reading about outsourcing, such as The Four Hour Work Week (although that takes it to the extreme!)

I hope you’ve found this blog post useful. And remember: don’t be afraid to outsource! You don’t need to be earning lots of money to do it and you may very well find it boosts your blog traffic and earnings! Once you’ve set up, do take a look at App Paye to help you navigate payments. I’d love to hear your experiences of outsourcing:would you do it? has it helped?

*This post is in collaboration with App Paye*

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what to do when your invoice is overdue

I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages but have only just got around to doing so. It’s something I’ve mentioned many times on Twitter or in my Facebook group but I wanted to sit down and write a proper post about everything payment related-and specifically what to do if you’ve not been paid.

When should you expect to be paid?

Blogging is a funny old business as we do all the work before the post goes live. Therefore, it’s frustrating that we’re often waiting for payment when the post is doing its thing and getting traffic and engagement! Sometimes a company will specify payment conditions upfront but otherwise, you can revert back to the government who state: Unless you agree on a payment date, the customer must pay you within 30 days of getting your invoice or the goods or service.

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The ultimate freelancing handbag (and WIN your own)

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be sent a handbag by Mia Tui. This couldn’t have come at a more perfect time: as I’ve been massively struggling when taking trips to London and meeting my blogging pals for a day of co-working in Birmingham. It got to the point when I booked a massage after my last trip to the capital-as a day trying to lug my laptop, notebooks, food (since I’m gluten and dairy-free) and various chargers in a bag that wasn’t suitable had wrecked my back and neck.

In my opinion, there’s a massive market for handbags that look beautiful but also double up as functional work bags. I’ve tried with plain, sturdy laptops over the years and I’ve alternated between my handbag and tote bags; but as soon as the Mia Tui Elise arrived; I just knew I had found my freelancing handbag for life!

I’ve taken this bad boy everywhere over the past few weeks and am completely in love with it: from hospital appointments (great if you have lots of paperwork and prescriptions like me) to meetings to days out. I opted for the new rose gold colour-and at first was worried it might seem a bit too over the top for everyday; but as you can see, it’s a beautiful muted shade.

The thing that I’m most excited about is the bags practicality. As demonstrated by my handy diagram.

The reason I’ve gone into teacher mode and provided an annotated diagram is I just wanted to show how functional this bag really is. When I’ve been looking for a bag, I’ve never known how roomy it is until it arrived. So, with the Mia Tui Elise you get…

  • ample laptop space (I have a google chromebook and you can see there is room to spare here!)
  • A dedicated space for water bottles-no more leakage.
  • A slot with a free plastic wallet; big enough for keys and mobile phones.
  • A second slot which comes with a gorgeous matching purse.
  • A zip slot on the outside of the bag.

This has literally changed my life! First of all, the plastic wallet is SUCH a simple idea but it has saved me so much time. Everytime I go out, I make sure my keys are in the wallet so there’s no rooting around (and as it’s clear I don’t even need to open it to check). I also store all those bits of paper in here that I’d otherwise lose: parking tickets, prescription forms etc. No more panicking over whether I’ve lost my keys!

The water bottle holder is also amazing! No more leaks! Although I just wish it was a bit bigger. It holds a regular plastic bottle but I’ve recently started using a Hydratem8 water tracker-and it’s just a little too big for that.

The only thing I haven’t used yet is the matching wallet-I imagine this would be great when travelling as it’s the perfect size to stash your passport and travel documents.

I’m so grateful for Mia Tiu sending me this because it’s the bag I’ve been looking for since I went freelance last year. What’s more, it’s made from vegan leather and they’ve also teamed up with Disability Campaigner and Actress Samantha Renke-as their bag is wheelchair friendly too!

As well as gifting me a bag for review, the lovely folks at Mia Tui are offering my readers the chance to win an Elise bag in a colour of their choice (subject to stock availability). Enter via Rafflecopter below-and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to UK entrants only. I will contact entrants by their entry contact and they will have 7 days to reply with their address until I select another winner. Winner will be shared on the blog.

This is what it is REALLY like to be a freelancer

 

 

Today I wanted to shine a spotlight on the realities of what it’s like to be a freelancer. I write a lot about things like ‘how to get into freelance writing’ or my monthly and yearly business updates. I’ve been lucky that my career has kept building from strength to strength, but I’m also conscious that my blog posts might just surmise ‘be a freelance; it’s great’ without actually sharing the realities of it.

Last week, one of my favourite bloggers, Cat from More About Cat  (who also does amazing weekly freelance vlogs) dropped a bit of a truth bomb.

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How to create a privacy policy for your blog

GDPR is just a few weeks away from being implemented! Hopefully, you’ve read my The Ultimate Guide to GDPR for bloggers’  and have understood a little more about what GDPR means and the consequences for your blog. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, one of the simplest things you can do today is to get your privacy policy sorted!

Why do you need a privacy policy for your blog?

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5 ways to save money as a freelancer

I don’t blog about it much on this blog, but I’ve been really into ‘money saving’ for a few years now. Over on my main blog, you can find my ‘how to get FREE gluten-free food series’ where I share my tips on being gluten-free on a budget. Starting out as a freelancer, money can be tight so I’ve teamed up with Latest Deals today to share my top tips for saving money and budgeting.

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6 ways to be proactive during quiet blogging periods

Quiet periods and lulls are so common in the freelancing and blogging world- the summer months can be frustrating for bloggers as traffic can be down due to the hot weather and there are so many bank holidays which means communication can grind to a halt (especially when it comes to unpaid invoices and accountants not being in the office!) All of this can leave you feeling a bit deflated, so today I wanted to share some of my top tips to be proactive during these quiet periods.

This blog post is in collaboration with Boost Capital, who like me, are champions of small businesses and help them with flexible funding via their Merchant Cash Advance (which you only repay when you’re paid!). As a small business owner myself, they’ve asked me to share my own experiences and suggestions on how to keep proactive during these quiet periods to make sure your blog keeps ticking over and of course- money is coming in.

 

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