I like to call The Zen Freelancer “a quiet space for busy minds”. In this blog, I share useful freelance tips and inspirational stories. Because I believe that everyone has dark days when they need a bit of extra motivation in order to move on.
When you think about it, what makes your freelance mind busy?
Probably not having enough time for all the things you have to do. Not having enough energy to cope with everything. Or struggling with finding clients who will allow you to keep a healthy work-life balance.
As an attempt to help you find zen in the chaos of everyday life, I started “Freelance Tips With…” – a series of interviews with freelancers who have somehow inspired me. They all share their story and give useful advice on various topics related to achieving success as a self-employed.
Check out all the interviews from the series “Freelance Tips With…”!
Today’s interview is with Francesca Baker. Read her story now…
What’s your freelancing niche?
I’m a freelance writer and marketer. My skill set and experience are varied – covering copywriting, journalism, marketing, research, and PR – but always centered around communication and creating a connection.
Ultimately, I work with words and messages – and creating the right messages to resonate with an audience. I’ve been working in marketing for over ten years, and have been a full-time freelance communications consultant for the last two.
Why did you decide to become a freelancer?
Because I had to leave my job in London and move back to my parents in Kent due to illness. I wanted to do something that enabled me to work from home. It’s so much better for my physical and mental health, and I love it.
What was your job before that?
I worked in market research and consumer insight with a focus on helping brands and businesses improve their communications and marketing. Curiosity is central to my work as a writer, so I still use those skills.
What’s the secret to becoming a successful freelance writer? Have you considered writing a book?
Of course, I’ve considered writing a book. Just not got round to it. To be a writer, you have to love words, be curious about the world and people in it, enjoy creating, and have a zest for finding the best way to communicate an idea.
I’m still working on the successful bit, but I’d say accurate filing copy that meets a brief on time is a big win! And ask questions that will help you solve a client’s issue. They’ve brought you in to do something that they can’t do – so be an authority on your skill, and ask questions to become an authority on them.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a freelancer?
Finding new clients. I don’t know the answer, other than keeping yourself visible. That and getting invoices paid on time. The stress!
What are the best tips you can give to the people who’re making their first freelancing steps?
Have a buffer of cash. Think outside the box when it comes to finding clients. Tell people you’re now doing something different.
What would you say to the people who hate being trapped in their office from 9 to 5 but don’t see another option to make a living?
It is always possible. Plan ahead, so you’re not just jumping in. Think about what skills you have to offer and what you’ve learned in your day job. Consider whether you’re cut out for being a business owner – you’ll have to do your own marketing, finances (although I recommend finding a good accountant, IT, planning – everything!) Remember that all jobs have difficulties, so don’t presume that the grass is guaranteed to be greener.
What’s the best part of being a freelancer according to you?
That I can work when and where I have the most energy. This enables me to do the best work for my client. That and the variety. Many people say you should have a niche. I don’t, and I love it. I work with for charities, healthcare clients, arts organizations, on B2B content, and consumer-facing brands.
What advice would you give to the freelancers who’re struggling to find clients? What’s your secret to finding clients?
Build a network with other freelancers who might pass you on work. Have a portfolio online so people can see what you do. Use your existing network and tell people what you are doing. Don’t refer to yourself as ‘just’ a freelancer or homeworker – be proud.
Should freelancers be active on social media or have a website presenting their services?
Yes, or how will people find you? It’s your shopfront. But you don’t have to be super professional or only speak about your business. Just be visible.
When are you the most productive: when working from home, from a coworking space or from a cafe? How do you stay focused?
Working from home, in the morning. That’s my witching hour. Ideally, with some good breakfast and coffee. I also have a second wind early evening. And quite enjoy doing some creative tasks with a glass of wine.
If I’m distracted, I make a list. If I’m really distracted (and not on a deadline) I indulge that distraction and come back to the task at hand when I’m feeling more focused.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made as a freelancer?
Undercharging, or not getting a down payment, and then the clients vanish. Now I ask for 50% upfront.
What are your best time management practices and tips?
Knowing when I work best and how I work best. This means that I can plan my day with tasks according to when I will do them in the best way.
How do you boost your productivity? And creativity?
Taking part in creative projects can be a great way to keep the creative juices flowing. I’m part of an organization called 26, which runs events and projects for anyone interested in words. Keep learning, and keep reading – you can always discover something new.
How does one of your best days look like?
Sunshine, a cup of coffee, in the garden. Writing! Maybe a jaunt to the library. Getting good feedback on my work. Having to do some research for a project. Getting leads in. All of these are the ingredients of a good day at work!
How do you stay zen?
Ha, I’m not sure I do! I guess just remembering that I’m very lucky to love what I do. And at the end of the day, no one is going to die if anything goes wrong.
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