End of Year Reflections of an Editor and Writer

Editor looking into the future

 

Around about this time of year it becomes apparent that we’re all human, and sometimes something’s got to give.

This year, for me, it was Christmas cards (again) and house decorations (again).

It’s not that I don’t get into the Christmas spirit, it’s just that I haven’t got into the Christmas spirit. Let’s just say that when you have a ton of work to do and no time to bingewatch Christmas films, it just isn’t the same.

The Perfect Christmas

I tend to leave work around a week before Christmas and start back in the first week of January (hey, I rarely get a proper holiday during the rest of the year), but this year I’m having to work right up until Christmas Eve (I know, boo hoo, poor me).

So, I’ve decided that:

  1. I will enjoy the time off I give myself.
  2. No one will actually notice that I haven’t sent Christmas cards (again). I may, however, send New Year cards instead. They will actually mean more as people will be over the ‘ten ton turkey’ that the festive season usually turns into, and a non-Christmassy, upbeat card may help blow away some January blues.
  3. I will not berate myself for taking on some really interesting, if demanding, work.
  4. I will not berate myself for taking on work that will help pay off a disgustingly huge (for me) credit card bill (I know, I know …)
  5. I will try to get as much done as I can before Christmas, then put away the computer for a minimum of four days.

christmas-3019061_1920

For freelancers this time of year can be quite depressing. Unlike our gainfully employed colleagues the Christmas parties can be thin on the ground (the Northern Editorial Christmas Shindig this year was taking time out to go and see Wick Players’ Panto; we like to support our amdram rivals) and there’s nothing quite so sad as a party plate for one complete with a bottle of Prosecco drunk through a straw.

But for freelancers the festive season can also be quite liberating. The Christmas/New Year lull is the perfect time to look over the past year and see how it’s gone. We can see what has worked, what hasn’t and what has potential.

Freelancer with a Christmas wreath

I’ve realised that:

  • This year has been pretty good for me.
  • I’ve worked on a really interesting variety of projects, from business documentation, academic papers and a white paper to a few fabulous memoirs, a charity book and a rather wonderful cookbook, among others.
  • I’ve said no to a number of projects that weren’t my thing, said no because I didn’t want to over-stretch myself and said yes to some projects that were out of my comfort zone – none of which killed my business.
  • I’ve had fewer jobs that fell below my self-imposed minimum wage, due to better quoting practices and sticking to my guns (there will always be some that fall short, for various reasons).
  • I’ve had blogs read, shared and commissioned by others.
  • I’ve enjoyed meeting up with colleagues old and new, and know that I have friends around the globe that know how it all works.

    coffee and a book

With this in mind, for me, what has worked has been: sticking to my business plan, not saying yes to poorly paid work, and stepping back before immediately saying ‘no’ to something.

What hasn’t worked: I’m still not there with getting my quoting system right and I’m still too quick to give added extras to clients (the clients often don’t realise, but my bank account and timesheet does).

What has potential? Well, I’ve gained more work on memoirs and histories this year (which is something I love) and think it’s something I could take on more of.  I’ve also done more designing too, which has the potential to grow.

business plan

This is all well and good, but there are still improvements to be made. So, my New Year business plan includes:

  1. Taking more time out for myself, to look after my mental and physical health and to be present for my family.
  2. Being selective with new work that comes in. I’ve proved to myself that it can work, so I will only take on work that interests me (unless I have unexpected bills that necessitate me to take on work outwith my joy zone).
  3. Taking on new copywriting work. It’s something I enjoy and pays relatively well.
  4. Taking time out to work on a personal writing project.
  5. Quoting fairly and competently, whilst taking into consideration my qualifications, experience and value to the client.

coffee notepad pen

Taking time out to reflect like this doesn’t take too long and can be a really valuable insight into your work. So I’ll leave you with this:

  • What has worked well for you?
  • What could you do better?
  • What is showing potential?
  • What should you stop doing?
  • Which direction do you want to go in next year?

I’m taking a couple of weeks out from blogging: I need to refresh my batteries, finish the work I need to do and drink copious amounts of Baileys and Rock Rose Gin (not together, that would be minging).

Have a lovely festive season everyone, be kind to yourselves and remember – freelancers need rest too (unless you have two corgi puppies … in which case, you may never sleep again).

corgi pups @northerneditorial

Freelance Life

Life can be manic.

One minute you’re happily tootling along, work’s just fine and all is well.

Then.

One by one.

Things start going a little off track.

You’ve got a break booked. Work slides a little. You realise you’ll have to take your work with you. The house is a mess. The house isn’t as puppyproof as you’d hope it would be. You have no time left!

The joys and wonders of freelance living …

A lazy freelance day

 

a manic freelance day

 

freelancer with bags of money

 

skint freelancer

 

Freelancer at party

 

Freelancer having a night in

 

Happy freelancer at work

 

Freelancer with money

 

Happy freelancer at home

 

It’s all good. I’m a little up-to-my-eyeballs at the minute, but it’s fine. We’re getting puppies! So, if all goes well the work will be done, the house will be puppyproofed and we’ll soon have two new editorial assistants to keep Moss (our 14-year-old collie) on his toes.

And if I go awol for a week or two, you know why.

One thing freelancers are brilliant at …

juggling freelancer

Ten Reasons You Absolutely Must Network If You Are A Freelancer

networking, meeting, business

Network.

You must network.

 

Whether you’re a writer, an editor, a designer, a llama wrangler or any other type of freelancer you MUST network.

 

This is non-negotiable if you want to survive your freelancing years.

alpaca who isnt networking

ok, it’s an alpaca, not a llama, but it’s not networking and it looks sad.

I know, it’s a pain. You’d rather walk over hot coals than go to that networking event or join an online forum. Heaven forbid if you have to actually talk to anyone. I know, I sympathise, it can be the most awful thing in the world. But it must be done.

You know what? For years I didn’t network. Honestly, I sat in isolation not being able to get out to networking events in person and not taking advantage of online networking (ok, at the time there were few online networking places, but still I could have tried harder). I attended a few professional meetings, but stayed in the background. Do you know where my freelancing career went?

Nowhere. It went nowhere.

People, you NEED to network.

empty stadium, lonely freelancer

Here’s why:

  1. It builds relationships with your peers.

    Getting to know other freelancers in your business is good for everyone. Don’t see them as rivals, see them as friends. Soon you will have a network of likeminded souls who you can rely on to be there when you need them, and you can be there for them too. Share your failures and your successes, learn from those more experienced than yourself and help those with less experience. It’s all good.

  2. It builds relationships with potential customers.

    Get to know them and help them where you can. Go to networking events geared towards your ideal customer. Answer their questions, help them out and they’ll remember you for all the right reasons. Word of mouth is still king

  3. It builds business confidence.

    You can see where you are going right and you can get help if you’re going wrong. Use your local Business Gateway or regional business advisers, they often have talks and networking opportunities. Use your local Chamber of Commerce or the Federation of Small Businesses if you think they will be of use. It’s a great way to let yourself see just how good you actually are at your job. Freelancers don’t get the feedback that the employed do, networking can help fill that gap.

  4. It facilitates learning.

    Networking allows you to identify gaps in your professional knowledge and allows you to address them. Through networking you can spot the perfect development opportunities that may not be immediately obvious to the lone freelancer.

  5. It opens doors.

    It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. It’s a cliché for a reason, and it’s as true today as it’s always been. Networking gets your name out there. You will get to know people who you feel confident passing work on to when you can’t fit it into your schedule, and know who to recommend for certain jobs out of your remit. In turn, others will get to know you and pass work to you, or recommend you to clients.

    wall of doors, choices

  6. It allows you to understand your business environment.

    With all the will in the world, it’s much, much harder to understand your working environment if you’re only used to the theory. You can train til you are blue in the face, but it’s only by actually ‘doing’ that you will become knowledgeable in your chosen field. Networking allows you gain understanding through talking to those more experienced than yourself. You can see how others tackle business, see what works and what doesn’t and put this into practice with more confidence.

  7. It allows you to spot opportunities.

    The smart freelancer can spot gaps in the market, see what’s needed or even find a whole new direction to go in. Effective networking can lead you down avenues you would never consider in isolated working.

  8. It builds your communication skills.

    Very few people start off as confident communicators, it’s something that’s learnt. The more you network the easier it gets. Pretty quickly you’ll find out what works for you and what doesn’t – and soon your communication skills will improve.

  9. It can help you break away from the monotony of your own four walls.

    There’s no getting away from it, networking in person can give you break. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of going somewhere new, to meet new people and learn new things. Networking can make you a more adaptable human being. So what if it takes you out of your comfort zone?

  10. It brings you new friends.

    This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of networking. Freelancing can be a lonely business, and you can be amazingly good at your job, but if you have no one to talk to about it, to chat with over coffee or meet up virtually with over forums and social media, you will feel isolated and deflated. Networking on an informal level can help form strong bonds and friendships that can last a lifetime.

power rangers, super group

Why be alone when you can be a freelancer with a network?

See? It may feel daunting. You may feel like a gatecrasher or an imposter to begin with. But you MUST network. It’s good for your business and it’s good for your soul.