Show us a picture of your workspace and tell us about it.
My workspace varies depending on my mood, sometimes I’ll work from the garden, other times the sofa but predominantly I work from my home office. It’s only just been transformed from a junk room into an actual office, so it’s still very much a work in progress, but it’s getting there! Next on the purchase list is definitely a proper desk chair, because the wooden stool I’m currently using is not the most comfortable thing!
My office mainly consists of a large desk (which was made using a kitchen countertop and some filing cabinets to maximise storage space) and a storage unit which holds the products which I sell on my travel blog’s shop. I like working in the office because it’s quiet and as it’s a dedicated room everything is very organised. On the right-hand side of my desk I have all of the stuff pertaining to my blog and e-commerce business, such as envelopes, stamps and stationery, and on the left-hand side, I have everything pertaining to my freelance work such as stationery, paperwork and my graphics tablet. I’m a firm believer that a cluttered space equals a cluttered mind, and because I’m so easily distracted having a dedicated space for everything helps me keep my focus when working.
What kind of freelance work do you do, and what made you decide to do it?
I’m a qualified marketer by trade but whilst I absolutely loved the industry, I noticed that as I progressed within my marketing career my job role became less creative and more analytical. I know that the two go hand-in-hand in Marketing but I’m a creator at heart, and so I took the plunge and went freelance so that I could focus my energies on the areas I enjoyed the most: content creation and customer communications.
My freelance offering varies; I specialise in the travel niche and offer clients content creation. This could be anything from creating web copy, writing articles, designing email campaigns or managing a client’s social media channels. Occasionally I take on some design work too, however I’ve slowly been phasing that out to focus on the written word.
When did you start freelancing, and what were the biggest changes you had to make?
I moved abroad for a year in 2013/14 and fell into freelancing as it was one of the ways that I was able to work. At that time in my life I wasn’t really ready to freelance full-time and so when I moved back to England I stopped and took up a 9-5 with the odd freelance project on the side. In April this year (2018), I took the plunge to make freelancing my full-time career again and the biggest change has been sticking to a dedicated work pattern during daylight hours. I’m such a night owl that I could literally stay up all night working, but I’ve had to force myself to change that.
The main difference with working freelance, as opposed to in-house, is that work doesn’t just come to you, you have to go actively go out and find it. I’m not a natural salesperson so I’ve had to force myself to overcome that so I can connect with potential clients.
Is your freelance job a 9-to-5? How do you structure your time?
I wish! I got so used to working a 9-5 when I was working in-house but it’s so much harder to stick to that when you work from home!
I freelance full-time but I tend to structure my time by work item, rather than time slot—but it does vary as each day tends to be different. Typically, when I wake up I’ll potter about the house for a bit ensuring that any chores are done, then I’ll sit down and enjoy breakfast before going through my workload and making sure it’s prioritised by importance and due date. Once that’s done I’ll reply to emails before settling down and focusing on the task at hand. However, the timing of this element varies. If I have a free schedule I’ll work straight away, however, if I have meetings or social plans, I’ll be out for the day and will then focus on my workload once I return home.
What do you enjoy the most about your new way of life?
Being able to listen to my body and mind. Freelancing has enabled me to rest and work flexibly and as a result, I’m able to live a more balanced life and work the hours where I feel the most creative. Some days this could be 6am-10am, other days it’s 10pm-2am, but the flexibility to choose my own work schedule has been a game changer!
What do you find the hardest about the work you do, or freelance life in general?
Sourcing new clients. I’m not a very “salesy” type of person and feel awkward reaching out to people. But as with any business, obtaining new clients is a very crucial aspect of building a business. It’s something I’ve hard to work on being comfortable with and it does get easier with every meeting – but it’s definitely been the hardest aspect I’ve encountered thus far!
What piece of work are you most proud of?
Unfortunately, I can’t go into specifics (good ol’ non-disclosure agreements!) but to summarise; a short while ago I rewrote the content for a client’s website, which was in an industry completely new to me. Within three and a half months the content I wrote was ranking in Google’s top ten results for a huge chunk of their key terms and eleven of those terms now sit comfortably in the top three results. It was the first time I accepted work in a different niche but it ended up being some of the best work I’d created and it was incredible to see the results speak for themselves!
What measures do you take to ensure your physical and mental health don’t suffer?
Taking regular breaks – both physically and emotionally. Freelancing can be a career which has an abundance of ups and downs so it’s important to ensure that you take care of yourself. Throughout the day I’ll take regular breaks whether it’s going for a walk, doing something different or watching a movie so that I can switch off my brain, and I’ll make sure I take days out every now and then to ensure my face gets time in the sun and away from my computer!
If you had another chance at going freelance would you have done anything differently (no matter how small)?
I would have transitioned into going full-time more slowly. Everything has worked out well but I didn’t realise what an emotional rollercoaster it would be going from an in-house role to full-time freelancing—it definitely took some getting used to!
Where can people find you online if they want to hire you?
What’s the most exciting space you’ve ever worked from?
I wouldn’t say it’s the most exciting, but my favourite place to work from used to be the balcony at our apartment in Bangkok. It caught such a nice breeze and you could see the city lights illuminate the night sky and hear the hum of life below you.
What surprised you about freelance life?
How many people assume that I just sit in my PJs all day. I mean, if I don’t have to leave the house for meetings then yes, I suppose I do *technically* sit in my PJs (I mean – who makes more laundry for themselves, on purpose?) but I’m still working! Just whilst wearing very comfortable garments…
Do you miss anything about your previous lifestyle?
Having a guaranteed income. My workload has been steady but you can go weeks of having no work and then all of a sudden a dozen prospects will all come back with confirmation at once! Financially, it’s an emotional rollercoaster but the pros of freelancing far outweigh that one con, so much I wouldn’t change it. I just miss it from afar!
What’s one straight-talking piece of advice you’d give to someone who wanted to go freelance in your industry?
Have something to offer.
I see so many people get caught up in trying to pursue the aspirational “digital nomad” life, especially in the travel industry, and a lot of people forget that outside of the pictures of laptops in pretty locations, there are actual jobs which need completing.
Do you get much time to relax/enjoy hobbies? And if so, what are they?
Yes! The ability to create your own balance is a huge perk of freelancing. Usually, my hobbies involve traveling with my camera and exploring new places and foods but for the past few weeks, I’ve been on a mission to finish decorating so my free time has been spent painting and gardening! Not as glamorous, unfortunately…
What keeps you going when you get discouraged?
How much happier I am within myself. The first few months of full-time freelancing have been testing, but even on my worst day, I am so much happier working for myself than I have been in any of my previous jobs.