Categories
Content Freelancing future of work writing

The Independent Era 👩🏻‍💻

Happy New Year. 

I’ve been housesitting over Xmas and stayed to celebrate my mum’s 70th birthday. Leaving drinks last night in McCarrolls’s – East Midlands’ first fully licensed barbers & ladies’ hair studio. Get a trim, have a coffee while you work and stay for cocktails or their evening clinic – very entrepreneurial!

50 years ago, when his dad ran his salon, haircuts were 25p – how things have changed.

Heading home today after a week of train strikes, we have a hybrid journey with rail replacement buses to look forward to. Let’s hope we don’t turn into pumpkins.

No wonder people want to avoid commuting and prefer home working. 

Just reading Upwork’s new research: the 2022 Freelance Forward survey, a study of 3K professionals, which The Freelance Informer has analysed in more detail. 

Interesting viewpoints in this post. Many of us are undergoing a once-in-a-generation reassessment of what it means to have a fulfilling career. 

“The result: in 2022, a staggering 39% of the US workforce, or 60 million Americans, performed freelance work in the past year, an increase from the year prior.”

“In just a matter of years, the US labour market could reach a 50/50 split between salaried and freelance workers.” 

Will the US freelancing surge make its way to the UK? 

Or is too much red tape counter-productive to alternative earning power? 

It’s worth tracking US freelancer trends as they generally make their way over the pond, and so many of us are doing borderless business these days. 

I had less contract work in 2022 with companies cancelling non-critical projects and the ongoing impact of IR35 – disappointing that the repeal has now been dropped. 

My agent said it’s been quiet, so he’s been travelling to the US to meet clients. I spoke to a creative director at an independent advertising agency who said they are still adjusting to remote agency life – despite a cool beachfront location near New York, many staff still prefer to work remotely.  

Anyway, I hope so! And that the government gets its act together and simplifies IR35. It would be foolish not to – the over-50s are quitting the workforce in high numbers for various reasons. And we have the digital nomad revolution.

Put the kettle on and have a read.

Well worth joining The Freelance Informer community and newsletter if you haven’t already – they are looking for freelance contributors.


My digital publishing platform obsession rolls on! 

I’ve joined Mirror.xyz and will combine publishing on Substack with Mirror and see how it goes. Taking baby steps with web3 – I’ve set up a wallet, now checking out podcasts and doing free courses. 

Still posting on Twitter but doubling down on LinkedIn this year as my main platform. LinkedIn is benefitting hugely from the musky scent of Twitter.

I’ve also invested in Brian Clark’s excellent Personal Enterprise Accelerator, which gives you a solid framework for getting more clients, creating successful products, and building your digital business empire – 7 Figure Small is the podcast.

Nika


5 Things

Creator Economy Expo – the event for content creators, May 1-3, 2023. Learn how to scale and grow your content-first business faster and smarter – without relying on social media. An excellent investment for your business – see the 2023 agenda here.

Curious about web3 but don’t know where to start or who to trust? Introducing Web3 for Beginners: Your Guide to Getting Started with Web3, a free course by Michael Stelzner, the founder of Social Media Examiner. Learn the basics and apply them to your business.

How I got 10K Followers on LinkedIn by Being Myself. Nate Shalev, Founder of Revel Impact, found success on LinkedIn once they became more vulnerable in their posts. Game-changing tips and a success strategy for growing on the platform. 

Workload Planning for Freelance Writers – how to be a better planner and stop overbooking yourself to the point of burnout (saying no to work is hard!) Delighted to discover Marijana’s Project Planner – a simple + powerful tool to help you manage your workload, track your income, and run a balanced business.

Post News – an alternative to Twitter? Just been approved, so will have a play. “Post will be a civil place to debate ideas; learn from experts, journalists, individual creators, and each other; converse freely, and have some fun.” You can share your articles under a paywall, and it allows users to tip creators via micro-payments. 

Feedback, questions, ideas? Hit reply or email me: nika@nikatalbot.io

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Categories
cost of living Freelancing Newsletter

Freelancers versus the economic crisis 💸

Cost of living – your freelance thrive guide | #105

I’m speaking at an NUJ session on freelancing and the cost of living crisis this month.

LFB’s shot at crushing the crisis, or anyway, offering a micron of easement via a 2-hour Zoom confab on 24 November, 6.30-8.30pm, open to all NUJ freelancers who care to come.

And you, if you like? I can invite a guest or two.

Two hours of problems and here’s-some-good-news-tho and try-this/try-that to address what we’re all dealing with currently. Full details here.

I’m pulling together some resources on copywriting and community – networks are your lifeline as a freelancer!

It’s not been an easy year. I’ve had two contracts cut short, and the IR35 saga continues – repeal now revoked – welcome to the UK! My freelance work has been more stable. It pays to work on critical projects that won’t be cancelled, like major events or design work. I had a kick-off call for a conference next March – a core part of their membership offering, and hybrid since Covid.

That means six months of pre/live/post comms work, which I’m grateful for – some stability and peace of mind.

There’s no shame in asking for help if things are quiet. Being bold and vulnerable – Lauren Pope was on Twitter

I’m not super busy either, so focusing on biz dev till Xmas – need to update my portfolio and website SEO, do my comms calendar, grow this newsletter etc. Also doing a bit of mentoring via the NUJ and BIMA.

Investing in myself: upskilling and self-care, which includes massage – finding deep body work essential for joint stuff, creativity and mental health.

👀 My digital HQ  some freelance-friendly forums and networking I enjoy!

Leapers

Independent Work 

Hoxby

The Dots

Yuno Juno

Content + UX

Online Geniuses

The Portfolio Collective

Center for the Transformation of Work

The Association for the Future of Work 

Groove

r/freelance – have you noticed how most Google searches now have Reddit in the title? 🤔

Freelance Twitter community and #ContentClubUK #FreelanceChat #FreelanceMafia #CopywritersUnite

I’ve bookmarked them to save time and blocked out the calendar, or it won’t happen. I’m trying to keep Fridays free for networking – a social start to the weekend.

Offline networking, too – there is life beyond social media. I’ve signed up for co-working at The Observer Building – finally open for business! And a discounted rate till Xmas. It’s an inspiring work space and all creative/arts/tech/community businesses, so let’s see who’s around and what I can help out with.

It will make a change from working at home alone and lift my spirits.

For copywriting, media agencies have been a good source of work. Most use freelancers, so it’s worth getting on their books to find projects outside the UK market. Interesting to see how work is becoming fractionalised – I had a one-hour gig with Google – Small Business. Hoping for more little jobs like that – inbound enquiries, well-paid and it fits in with my other freelance work.

The news is all doom and gloom, but hang in there; there are reasons to be cheerful! Past data around recessions shows businesses are more likely to hire independent freelance workers during a downturn.

The future of freelancing – interesting to hear PwC’s thoughts on the future of work.

My strategy is to focus on building products, not rates – e.g. niche newsletters and digital downloads, and I’ve created some service packages.

You’re less likely to have your time commoditised, and you’re charging based on the value you bring, not your time. It’s scalable, too.

What are you doing to keep the fires burning? Love to hear your thoughts – feel free to send any resources to share on the 24th.

– Nika


Upwork – the new Hays! Love their ad campaign – much better user experience 😉


5 Things 

👩🏻‍💻 What is the Metaverse? A free course explaining what it is and how to use it. New ways to connect, learn, and work. The eco ramifications and the role of decentralisation in making it ethical, inclusive and accessible. NFTs, crypto, avatars, devices, AR/VR/ER – a good overview! (Meta/Coursera)

💬 Dread networking? Here’s how to make it feel less icky. Showing up online is no fun if you take yourself too seriously. You have to separate yourself from your online persona and create distance. Loving Jodie’s thoughtful blogs for entrepreneurs who want to think differently. (Jodie Cook)

📧 How to add your newsletter to your Twitter profile (even if you don’t use Revue). A few people have asked me how I did this, so here’s a workaround – helpful if you use Substack, WordPress or Mailchimp. It does drive new subscribers – you just have to add them manually to your list. (Jacob Morch)

✍️ It takes this freelance writer just a few minutes to make her every client pitch 100% personalized. How to present your work to prospects (and save time on personalized pitches). Handy if you’ve written hundreds of articles on different topics. A fab tool – lovely to get a testimonial from someone thanking me for a book I wrote years ago! (Authory/Maya Middlemiss)

📆 Working on your content strategy? Here’s a brilliant content calendar from Anna McLoughlin of Inkspillers. Daily, weekly and seasonal prompts to help spark timely ideas and help you smash your goals. Working on mine and finding this helpful for goal-setting and staying focused. (ProCopywriters)


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Categories
Freelancing future of work Open Talent

Work Without Limits 2022 🚀

Hey, a quick reminder about the Work Without Limits Executive Summit next week.

It’s a hybrid event bringing C-suite executives together to explore business growth strategies, challenges, and societal changes leading to the breakdown of old ways of working.

Join online on Tuesday 16 August (starts at 4 pm GMT) for insights and actionable advice from executives, thought leaders, and industry experts.

I’ll be on a train to Devon – workation in an eco-lodge next week with six teenagers – bit of an experiment, wish me luck! Will tune in to listen to Scott Galloway on The New Abnormal – our post-pandemic economy and the implications for public companies, startups, and individuals. 

Looking forward to hearing his thoughts on remote work, the attention economy, loneliness, community, and the importance of making the most out of each moment.

Also, Tim Sanders (Upwork VP of Client Strategy) on how leading companies are redesigning how teams are constructed, how they collaborate, and how work gets done.

Should spark a few ideas for collaboration.

For a full debrief, tune in to How The Future Works with Barry and Eleanor Matthews at Open Assembly. My favourite podcast!🍷The format works brilliantly – a mix of news, talk show, and insightful interviews on open talent. Barry will be at the summit, so it will be interesting to get his take on it.

Have you used Upwork to find clients? I’m not drawn to platforms like this as they tend to favour the client over the freelancer. Being graded, reviewed and competing with other freelancers isn’t my thing, but I know some people have made good money there.

If you’ve used it to find clients, let me know your thoughts.

RSVP for the free virtual event

Get in touch if you have a project to share, a link suggestion, or just want to say hi 👋

Buy me a coffee

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Categories
Freelancing future of work Small business Wellness

Thoughtful exit interviews: how to offboard yourself

My summer work project ended with a bang last week. I was given a day’s notice via email and asked to quickly hand over to the new in-house copywriter. 

I get it – budgets and a new project manager, but it still took me by surprise as we were in the final stages of the work. I also felt a handover was a bit out of my scope as a freelancer – surely this was the PM’s job? So I asked my hiring manager for advice. She backed me up and said she’d speak to the PM. I told the copywriter I was happy to chat but checking the process first (also not clear if I’d be paid for this). 

I was onboarded quickly to fill a gap during the holidays and the project ended as abruptly. Here I am three months later, waiting to be paid for work that started in July. I enjoyed the work but the transactional nature of it has left me feeling frustrated and a bit fed up – where’s the humanity? All a bit soulless. Adland can be like this and it’s something I struggle with. I like to build relationships with the team and see the final end product.

It’s made me realise how important offboarding and exit interviews are with clients, so I have a process and checklist for my personal sanity and mental health…

  • Review the final project – what went well, what could have been improved?
  • Get a testimonial from the PM.
  • Say thank you to the team (people move around all the time, you never know when you’ll be working with them again). Ask to see the end product if possible – for my portfolio.
  • Send the final invoice.
  • Give feedback to HR and ask them to fill in a quick survey if they have time.
  • Leave a review on GlassDoor to help others. 

I may not get a response from the PM, but at least I’ve wrapped things up my side. 

Onboarding and offboarding is something companies need to think about more as the freelance revolution grows, and they need to manage freelancers at scale. Even better, hire a Head of Remote as my hiring manager was in a different country and not involved day-to-day.

Good communication is crucial for remote teams and having a handbook means new starters feel connected and can jump right in. Otherwise, it’s easy to feel disconnected and undervalued – which won’t foster good work. 

I’m also wondering if I need to tighten up my T&Cs and ask for a part payment upfront with overseas suppliers (I’ve been burned in the past). I’m grateful for the NUJ – if I end up chasing payment I know they have my back. Union membership is worth every penny.


Pandemic social fatigue

Is it just me, or is going out exhausting? I went out for a meal last week at a new restaurant, and we ended up sharing a table with a group of guys who’ve just moved here. Sensory overload. Too bright, too loud, too many people. I found it a bit overwhelming, so I guess I’m just out of practice.

I’m not alone – a piece by Lisa Milbrand on why socialising is more exhausting now for both introverts and extroverts and how to get your mojo back. 

Wishing you a relaxing and restful World Mental Health Day🎗 🧠

I’m not going to overload myself this quarter. I’m focusing on what I have, taking care of myself, reflection and R&D – the key to the productivity puzzle, Bojo…

Take care,

— Nicci

P.S. The most beautiful thing I’ve heard lately.


🔗🖐 5 Things 

★ Global Study on Freelancing: 75+ research partners and 1900 freelancers. It’s a big tent – 31% were over 50, and 64% were full-time freelance by choice. Most have a solid workload, but ⅓ are struggling (consider timing and context with Covid). Tech workers are the happiest. Freelancing is large and growing, but the platforms must continue to add value — great to see the expansion into coaching and education.

— Global Study on Freelancing

★ Facebook outage: offline for over six hours on Monday and on Friday. I enjoyed the break, but it highlights the issue of small businesses putting all their eggs in one basket and selling their services via social media rather than websites and customer service software. Excellent piece on how Facebook is acting like a hostile foreign power, and it’s time we treated it that way. Wow to the new cover of Time👀

— Facebookland: The Largest Autocracy on Earth.

★ The future of work should mean working less. Now we have space to reimagine how a job fits into a good life.A call for creating policies to keep work in its place: Universal Basic Income, rights to housing and healthcare, a living wage, and shorter hours at full pay. Human wellbeing is more important than productivity.

— The Future of Work Should Mean Working Less.

★ Headlines Network: free workshops starting in November to support media workers’ mental health in partnership with Google News Initiative. Great to hear they’re working with MIND to tackle mental health stigma in the media. Free, weekly 90-minute sessions: tips and tools for wellbeing and space for a chat – looking forward to it.

— Headlines Network

★ “There is no such thing as info overload. The overload is from ‘noise,’ and your ability to segment and ignore that noise will be a crucial survival skill for the future of your career and personal sanity” – Rohit Bhargava. A deep dive into how we develop this skill from Nir Eyal’s perspective as a tech insider who wrote Hooked: how to build habit-forming products. Clever tips on how to improve your attention and limit distraction. 

— How to Survive in a World of Information Overload


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