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.

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#MyDeskView: Alexandr Ababii, Freelance Presentation Designer


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

It only has essential things, like my laptop and headphones and some other little things for inspiration. As a freelancer, you don’t need much to start working. I love my almost bezel-less laptop, it stands out even if you have a MacBook Pro. 🙂

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

I’m not doing any freelance jobs at the moment, but I was designing presentations for an expat website. It was interesting to read articles about expat life, being an expat myself. I decided to do this as my previous job didn’t bring me enough money for extra life comforts.

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

I started to do it when I arrived in the UK, two years ago. I think the biggest challenge was to push myself to do the job. When you’re a freelancer no one is telling you to do it because you don’t have the same contract, but you are doing it because you like it or have to survive.

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

I didn’t have any specific structure; essentially I was working when I had time, after my full-time job.  

What do you enjoy the most about the freelance way of life?

I would say the best thing about being a freelancer is being flexible with your workplace and working hours.

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

The flexibility of freelancing comes without stability. Usually, you have a project which you’re leading, but if you finish it or someone decides to stop it, you need to search for something else.

What piece of work are you most proud of?

A long time ago I was designing icons for a website, and these are still the things I’m most proud of.

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

I go to the gym and play tennis sometimes. Even five minutes away from the computer can make a big difference, so make sure you do that to keep your body and mind in good shape.

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

Definitely. Often after finishing something I thought I could have made it better if I’d had more time.

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

The best way to reach me is my email: ababii91alexandr@gmail.com


Working While You’re Travelling: Keeping Clients Happy

Hi, it’s Scar, Director here at Bohemiacademia and freelancer since 2001. I originally posted this article on my personal blog, jeviscachee.com, in 2015. Since then I’ve stopped travelling so much, but it still contains useful tips if you’re living the location-independent lifestyle, so read on if you’re a wannabe digital nomad… 

I think I always knew I wasn’t cut out for a 9-to-5 job behind a desk at someone else’s office. I did it for a while anyway, spending several years climbing the corporate ladder in an advertising agency before I realised that the nagging feeling that I was missing out on life just wouldn’t go away.

So I left to work for myself instead. So far, so normal: the freelance life is one that people seem to be choosing more and more, and in that respect, I was one of many.

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I’m In The Mood For Freelancing… Romancing…

It’s the month of romance around the world, and people are booking their Valentine’s Day celebrations at their favourite local establishments. I realised the other day that I’ve booked a date with myself for Valentine’s Day – accidentally, I might add. I’m going to an exhibition at the Tate, followed by dinner and a musical, all of which I expect I’ll enjoy, but I expect I’ll also be the only person there flying solo.

I’ve always been happy with my own company, though, and this is probably why I love being able to work from home and manage my days how I see fit.

But freelancing can hit your relationships hard, and since it’s the season of love, I thought we’d take a look at some of the ways relationships can be affected, and how you can make sure the impact isn’t too dire.

All Work And No Play

One of the main gripes of new freelancers is just how hard they have to work. When you look at all those posts by people who have already spent years growing their businesses, and all you see is that they seem to have spent the past eight months tanning on a beach, piña colada resting casually on a little table beside their laptop, it’s easy to get disheartened when it turns out the reality is crouching Gollum-esque on your uncomfortable sofa, shovelling instant ramen into your mouth while you desperately try to keep on top of everything.

Freelancer working on a beach with a cocktail

If only it were really like this…

When you first set up, barring some kind of huge angel investment, you will have to work hard. It’s all very well reading articles about how you should try to maintain a work-life balance – and you should, because it’s better for you – but almost every freelancer I’ve ever known has fallen at this hurdle, especially at the beginning.

Because let’s be real here, freelancing is terrifying. You never know how much money is coming in, you’re constantly worried about that one client who actually pays on time dropping you, the rest haven’t paid you for the past three months but you’re still working for them anyway because it feels like you don’t really have a choice. On top of this, you’ve probably undervalued yourself or taken on bits of work at below the rate you need to charge, because you’re just starting out and turning away any work just feels wrong.

Plus you have to do everything yourself. Even if you’ve hired an accountant, you’re probably still doing some basic bookkeeping and your own marketing, perhaps your own web design. Almost certainly you’ll be managing your own social media profiles and having to deal with HMRC when they come knocking.

Businesswoman working late in an office

Freelancers often don’t clock off at the end of the day

All of this adds up to a big fat lack of time. Many freelancers find it hard to switch off in the evenings and over the weekend, because it’s horrifying to think that you might miss out on a piece of work just because you weren’t in front of your emails 24/7. And of course, this lack of time impacts on your relationships; not just romantically, but friendships and acquaintances too. If you’re going to networking events on top of everything else, then finding the time for even the bare bones of a social life can seem overwhelming.

Other People Just Don’t Get It

Living with your partner is one way to ensure you see them more often, but that doesn’t guarantee a good relationship. If you’re both freelancing, you can at least share each other’s pain and maybe even provide some backup if you’re in the same industry. But often, one partner is freelancing while the other goes to work in a 9-to-5 office job, leading to a lack of understanding and resentment on both sides.

The freelancer may feel like their partner doesn’t understand just how hard they’re working, and may be annoyed when their partner goes out for drinks after work, or comes home tired at the end of the day and doesn’t want to help around the house. Sometimes the freelancer will want or need to work late, prompting them to skip the time they’d normally be spending with their partner and driving a wedge into the relationship.

Woman in bed with laptop

Not actually what it’s like

On the other hand, the partner who works in an office may resent the freelancer’s freedom, and unless they’ve freelanced themselves they probably won’t understand exactly how much work their partner is doing. A common conception of freelance life is that you just sit around in your pyjamas all day, idly tapping away at a keyboard but essentially just playing at life, and this is a hard one to shake off.

So What Do You Do?

This post sounds a bit doom-and-gloomy, doesn’t it? That’s because freelancing is hard. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to break up your relationship.

The #1 way you can help yourself to keep your relationships going is to set aside time for them and stick to it. I find it helpful to have certain days when I see friends, and certain days when I take myself on date nights. If you have a romantic partner, you’ll hopefully want to add in some time for them too. Make sure the people in your life understand that just because you work from home, that doesn’t mean you can drop everything at a moment’s notice and spend loads of time hanging out at restaurants.

Lesbian couple hugging

Communication and understanding are important in all relationships

Which brings me to the second tip: communication. If you’re finding that people aren’t understanding what your life’s like, tell them. Better still, show them; show your partner how hard you’ve worked and what you’ve been doing all day. If you have a timesheet, show them that. It sounds overly simplistic, but sometimes just seeing the number of hours someone has spent on a particular task can help others to properly get it.

And most of all, be strict with yourself. It’s way too easy to be swayed either by other people’s demands or by our own desire to see them more often. But there are only so many hours in each day, and it’s important to make sure you work hard enough to keep yourself afloat, while also taking enough time off to stop yourself from burning out. We’ll talk more about how to do that in a future article; for now, I’ll let you go and book your Valentine’s Day restaurants.

Happy New Year!

Hello and a very happy new year to everyone!

We’ve been running a reduced service over the holiday period, since most of our clients were offline anyway. We kept things going in terms of content, making sure we were still writing, posting and sharing articles for our largest clients, but took a break from the more strategic stuff, because that’s what the rest of the year is for.

If you’d like to commission any projects in 2018, or if you’re planning to become a freelancer and want to know how to get started, drop us a line.

Christmas Plans

What are you planning to do over the holiday period? Does it involve lots of drinking whilst desperately trying to still keep on top of your inbox?

For freelancers, the holiday period can be a difficult thing to navigate. You probably can’t pass your entire business over to someone else, and virtual assistants who are willing to work the whole period are hard to find (but not impossible, so that’s something to consider).

In this post I thought we’d talk about why it’s so hard to deal with the holidays as a freelancer or small business owner, and what you can do about it.

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What To Do When Things Break Down

This week I am limping along on my backup computer because my main computer died. I’m awaiting delivery of a hopefully more reliable machine, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about what to do when the things you rely on physically break down.

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