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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
future of work Neuroscience Portfolio careers Wellness

Tame your inner critic🙄

I’ve joined a Newsletter Mastermind, and ‘not feeling ready’ came up on this week’s call. “I’m on my 100th issue, and it’s the same every time – the day before it goes out, and I still don’t know what I’m going to write about. Yet somehow, every week, it gets pushed over the finishing line.” It turned into a discussion on how to be ‘inner critic ready’ led by @ReddyToGo – he’s the man.

I said I’m the same. Working on things last minute (writing this on Saturday night) or running late. I had an argument with a friend once about my lateness, and she said: “It’s because you don’t feel ready.” She was right. I was trying to do too much – hustling hard in London at that time. It’s probably the most helpful thing anyone’s said to me. 

Tame your inner critic

The inner critic mixes negative critical comments from our parents, siblings, peers, and teachers when we were growing up. It isn’t a bad thing, says writer and author Jennifer Nelson“Researchers agree that a little self-awareness can be a reality check, but a constant barrage of self trash-talk is debilitating.”

In her talk on listening to shame, Brene Brown says it relies on you buying into it – tell yourself something often enough, and you’ll eventually believe it to be true. “Shame needs three things to percolate: secrecy, silence and perception of judgement.” 

It can be an issue for portfolio professionals as we’re working on short term projects in new environments with different teams. You’re expected to hit the ground running, be an expert and produce good work quickly. But each project is different and team dynamics and nuances take a while to figure out. You’re learning as you go and you make mistakes. You also have to put yourself out there, pitching for gigs, negotiating rates and dealing with rejection.

The inner critic is a feature of the tricky brain. Unfortunately, we can’t fire them, but they can be an extra rather than centre-stage…


Some strategies to help you deal with your inner critic

(and have a better, more productive relationship with yourself)

  • Give them a name. There are two actors in constant conversation – the nurturer and the critic. Mine is called Nancy. She’s an out of work theatre critic (failed actress, really) who never has a good word to say about anyone, except Cliff Richard. She’s 6”2, wears heels, diamante and a purple wig (a bit Dame Edna). Except she always wears black. @readyforthefuneral. She’s had no work during the pandemic and is taking her frustrations out on me. My nurturers are the Caring Committee – Spock, Jarvis, Oprah, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Mr Miyagi, Gandalf, Sean Bean, & Ted Hastings, who rally around to big me up. Never a dull day! It helps me distance myself from the drama and be a calm witness. 
  • Be mindful. The cure is empathy, says Brene. Say to yourself, “I understand, but those thoughts aren’t true.” And replace ‘I can’t’ with ‘I might’. Notice negative thoughts when they come up and write them down. Look for moments in the day when others see the effort you’ve made. Write them down. If the conversation is getting a bit one-sided, I know I’m tired and need a break. 
  • Stop ruminating – I had some negative feedback on a piece of copy this week. It wasn’t quite right, so we had to redo it after a call with the client. A bit disappointing as it’s a new gig and I wanted to make a good impression. I felt a bit flat, thinking about what I could have done better. But I’ve only been on the job for two days and don’t have much context. I let myself replay it for a bit, then distracted myself with something else: went for a walk and watched something on Netflix. Learn and let go.
  • Set deadlines – No over-editing and over-researching, i.e. procrastinating. Anne-Laure at Ness Labs says she only edits her articles once before publishing them. The aim is to get the conversation started and tweak things based on feedback. I like that. Nothing is set in stone online. 
  • Dress smarter – it’s easier to silence your inner critic when you’re looking sharp and feeling good. We had a good discussion at TPC this week on personal branding, and this came up. Fiona’s tip: Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. She’s also big on ‘fake it till you make it.’ 
  • Finding your why – LA-based writer, activist and wellness expert Katie Horwitch says the inner critic is a filler for uncertainty about your purpose. Get clear on the common thread in all you do and what you’re offering the world. What’s your story? Workshop it. It’s easier to do this with others than on your own. Others see things in you that you don’t. 

Nancy and I had a bust-up this week. She went off on one when I told her about the project feedback. Then I mentioned my podcast idea – interviewing hip hop entrepreneurs about their lives and work, and she sighed and rolled her eyes. “You don’t have the time, energy or contacts for that. You’re not in that world! Forget it, darling!” 

“Don’t patronise me. That’s the point. I don’t want to interview people like me. We have enough echo chambers out there….I want to do something different. ” 

We’re going for tea with the committee later, so let’s see what they have to say about it.  

She’s not coming on holiday with me (not till she apologises anyway). 


5 things🖐

👩‍💻LinkedIn Marketplace (launching Sept) – a new service for freelancers. Connect with employers, showcase your services, and do deals directly via the platform (initially focusing on design, marketing and software development). Good to see Microsoft investing in developing a bigger content platform with Creator mode, Services, Open to Work, trending stories. A bit of competition for Fiverr and Upwork.

✍️And some great tips from Ben Legg, CEO & Co-founder of The Portfolio Collective, on how to make the most of LinkedIn. Interesting comments on ageism. Noted and actioned! Thanks to Claire Moss for sending her notes. 

👨🏽‍🎤Personal branding. How do you make yourself stand out from a sea of competition? What makes you memorable? It’s much more than your logo. A deep dive into finding your why with brand gurus Fiona Chorlton-Voong and Alex Pitt. More on the inner critic and celebrating your differences. Inspiring to hear Alex’s story on launching her branding agency, Strange. 

💰Self-belief, reinvention and hard work: How to earn £100k+ as a freelance journalist. “I did it. So why not you? I had an end game, creativity and a pathological inability to take “No” for an answer.” Andrew Don on his 40-year journalistic career, self-belief and reinvention in his new book: The Bounty Hunter. His 10 essential ingredients to help you make serious money as a freelancer. 

🇮🇹All the Voices of the NUJ – a project helping international writers who are new to the UK by matching them up with a member who speaks their language. The guest speaker was John Worne, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, who talked about the joy and pleasure of languages. He flagged a few issues members have raised – it’s sad to hear languages aren’t being prioritised in the UK curriculum.

I’m trying to learn French and Italian, and Nancy pipes up frequently with her helpful comments. Along with my secondary school French teacher, Mrs Marchant, who told me not to do it at A-Level as I’d struggle. A fascinating chat about how being bilingual can put you in two minds: having different personalities in each language, and not taking it too seriously. Play with it and have a go🇮🇹


The future of work is now

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Categories
Advice. Opinions. Conversation.

The Shift: Issue #28

NUJ #FairDeal4Freelances – a 10-point plan; Calls for a Freelance Commissioner; Free creative training courses.

The NUJ has published a freelance charter as part of its #FairDeal4Freelances campaign.

It calls for:

1/ Trade union collective bargaining to improve T&Cs for freelancers side by side with staff.

2/ Fair written contracts for asserting your rights.

3/ Respect for their creators’ rights and unwaivable moral rights.

4/ Equal rights with employees: sick pay, maternity, paternity and parental leave, unemployment benefit, full access to benefits.

5/ Choice over how you freelance and are taxed, with an end to advance tax payments.

6/ Work free from pressure to operate on a PAYE basis or through umbrella companies.

7/ Equal health & safety protections including training & insurances.

8/ Fair fees and terms and prompt payments.

9/ Dignity and respect at work, free from bullying, harassment or discrimination.

10/ Equal professional rights, including the right to protect sources, seek information and uphold ethical standards. See more.