#MyDeskView: Caitlin Galer-Unti, Freelance Writer

 

IMG_4985

Show us a picture of your workspace and tell us about it.

My desk doesn’t have a lot on it because I find it very distracting having lots of things on my desk, so each item I have is carefully chosen. The most important items: my laptop, a TV that came with my flat which I use as an external monitor and my diary, which is on a holder I got from my great aunt (it must be fifty years old but is still in perfect condition!). I’ve also got some pens and pencils in a mug my friends gave me before I moved to Barcelona (so it makes me happy every time I see it) and a coaster for coffee, which I always need.

What kind of freelance work do you do, and what made you decide to do it? 

I write about vegan food and travel (on my blog, in my books, in magazines and for online clients). I had been running my blog for four or five years, and I’d written (but hadn’t yet published) a book on vegan travel when I quit my job, and it sort of evolved from there. I’d always wanted to be a writer and I’d wanted to have a vegan job for years, so it combined together quite nicely.

 

When did you start freelancing, and what were the biggest changes you had to make?

I quit my job and started freelancing in mid-2015, and it was challenging to change how I structured my time, particularly since the first year I freelanced I was a part-time student teacher in Spain. I’d have to do some freelance work, then prepare a lesson plan, teach it and then do more freelance work after class (and our class schedules changed every month, making it hard to arrange my own work schedule).

Another change I had to make was around my free time. They say never to turn your hobby into a job, but that’s exactly what I did, and I’m so glad I did. However, this did present a challenge at first since I wasn’t sure how to spend my free time. When I first started freelancing, I didn’t set good boundaries and ended up working most evenings and weekends, which meant I cleverly avoided the question of what to do with my free time but also meant I burnt out regularly. Now, I try to keep more regular hours.

Is your freelance job a 9-to-5? How do you structure your time? 

Yes, it’s a 9-to-5, or more accurately, a 10-to-7. I try to keep more or less regular office hours, although if I have a project I need to finish up, I’ll work late or over the weekend. On the other hand, it is nice to have flexibility so sometimes I’ll skip out of work early to take care of an errand or meet a friend.

What do you enjoy the most about your new way of life?

My favourite part, above all, is a sense of contributing to the world. I’ve always wanted a career where I felt like I was making a positive impact on the world, and the hardest and most soul-destroying part of my old job was feeling like I was having a net negative (or at best, neutral) impact on the world.

What do you find the hardest about the work you do or freelance life in general? 

Forcing myself to take breaks and/or holidays is the hardest part. With a never-ending to-do list full of things I really want to do, and a desk in my living room, sometimes it’s hard to stop working in the evening. Likewise, I find it hard to take holidays; knowing I can work from anywhere means it’s hard to go offline completely and take an actual break. Plus, since my personal and business social media are one and the same, I can’t check Facebook or Instagram while on holiday without getting sucked into work.

What piece of work are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the first edition of my first book. As a child, I often pretended to write novels, but I never thought I’d actually hold a book I wrote in my own hands one day. Holding a real copy of my book was mind-blowing, and I remember thinking then that I could die happy.

What measures do you take to ensure your physical and mental health don’t suffer? 

I have a dog, so I’m forced to leave the house and take a walk several times a day. I think my puppy has been invaluable for my mental health (in spite of him being completely mental himself).

As I mentioned before, I find it difficult to go on holiday, so I’ve made a spreadsheet with my holidays for the year, just like I used to have when I worked in an office. I try to use that to force myself to take time off. I also remind myself how my old boss used to tell us we should take at least a week off every quarter, so I try to adhere to this (although I don’t always succeed).

If you had another chance at going freelance would you have done anything differently (no matter how small)?

I definitely wouldn’t have done a student teaching course at the same time that I started freelance life. While it helped me get a visa I needed at the time, it was distracting, time-consuming and stressful.

Where can people find you online if they want to hire you? 

You can find me on theveganword.com, or on social media (Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest) as @theveganword.

What’s the most exciting space you’ve ever worked from? 

I have a second workspace (though it’s seasonal only). My building has a shared roof terrace, and in the summer I set up shop up there. It’s spacious, sunny and has an amazing view of the London skyline. This summer, I bought a parasol so I can see my laptop better (in the shade) as well as stay out of the sun when it’s hot. I love working from up there with an iced coffee!

IMG_4609

What surprised you about freelance life? 

As I said before people tell you not to make your hobby a job, but that’s exactly what I did, and I have no regrets. I went into it with the knowledge I’d have to find a new hobby or other things to do in my spare time. What I didn’t consider, though, is that I’ve ended up writing about things that most people do for fun, or to unwind: cooking, eating out and travel. As a result, holidays are never the same and now, even if I take a holiday offline, I end up making notes (actual notes or mental ones), taking pictures and writing about it afterwards.

Do you miss anything about your previous lifestyle? 

I miss the social aspect of having coworkers sometimes (although at other times I’m glad to be able to concentrate on a project and not have to make chitchat or waste my time in endless meetings). I usually work from a coffee shop several times a week, which allows for some social interaction, but you don’t normally have long conversations with other customers in coffee shops the same way you do with coworkers. Perhaps, as a result, I’ve ended up becoming friends with the owners and baristas at some of my local cafes.

What keeps you going when you get discouraged? 

I have a document called ‘Nice Things People Have Said’, in which I copy nice comments from my blog, positive Amazon reviews and kind words from emails. When I feel discouraged, I open up the document and read some of the nice comments people have made on my work.

 

#MyDeskView: Rhiannon Robertson, Freelance Copywriter

Show us a picture of your workspace and tell us about it.

My workspace changes often, depending on my circumstances and where I am in the world. It could be a cafe, a co-working space, a hotel room, or occasionally poolside. At the moment I’m back home in England staying with my parents, so my current workspace looks like this:

pic1

What kind of freelance work do you do, and what made you decide to do it?

I’m a freelance copywriter, so I craft content in the style and tone of voice that fit the specific brand. I work with various clients (but mostly within the travel industry), from luxury hotels and tour companies to expat groups and hostels. Read More

Should I Charge By The Day, Hour Or Project?

by Scar de Courcier, Founder, Bohemiacademia 

Last week’s post about pricing introduced the idea of working out how much to charge for your services based on what you need to earn in order to survive (and ideally enjoy life a bit too!).

However, a lot of people get confused about which pricing structure they should use: should you charge by the hour, the day, or the project? If you’re a writer, should you charge by the word? What if you’re transcribing a video or audio file – should you charge by the minute?  Read More

Let’s Talk About Pricing

by Scar de Courcier, Founder, Bohemiacademia 

The freelance life is a complicated one, but for many it’s worth the pain of doing your own admin and being every single department because of the freedom that’s offered.

How much is your time worth? That’s what it all boils down to, in the end. But pricing is hard to work out, especially when you’re at the beginning of your freelance journey. Every industry is different, and your prices will depend on the industry you’re working in as well as the location you’re based in, your level of experience, and a number of other factors. Here is a quick guide to getting started with pricing, and to some common mistakes people make when they’re starting out.  Read More

#MyDeskView: Amy Morgan, Freelance Content Creator

IMG_7418

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. Read More

How To Go Freelance: Q&A

Scar here, Founder of Bohemiacademia, with a repost from my personal blog. It’s not cheating if it’s relevant to freelancing, right? 😉

how-to-go-freelance-qna

Did you meticulously plan what you wanted to do before you left work or did you just bust out of the office in a flight of fancy?

Actually a bit of both. I spent two years before I left planning to be a private investigator. I did training courses and went to conferences and stuff, and spent a lot of time studying the trade. I had been planning to leave in March 2013, but a few things coincided that meant October 2012 felt better, so the final decision to leave at that specific point was quite quick, if not exactly impulsive. Read More

Why Being A Bit Of A Quirky Weirdo Can Actually Be Good For Business

Hi, it’s Scar, CEO here at Bohemiacademia. This article was originally posted on my personal blog a few years ago, but I thought I’d share it here too since it has some hopefully useful tips for client pitches and interviews.

I always used to be paranoid about interviews.

Doesn’t everyone get paranoid about interviews from time to time?

I think so.

The thing is, they’re so artificial.

Read More