This month, I celebrated the milestone of a year of my freelance business. One of the first pieces of advice I was given when going freelance was to ask people for help, and I continue to be amazed about how open and supportive the freelance community is to each other.
On Friday 6th November, I joined close to a hundred other freelancers who were taking valuable time out of their diaries to think about their own businesses and learn from each other at Freelance Heroes Day 2020. The theme of the conference this year was focusing on ourselves as freelancers and strengthening our work-life balance, personal growth, mental health, and personal success.
If you missed it, here’s a run through of my five top tips from across the speakers.
Remember you are your businesses’ most important asset
Andrea Goodridge, leadership coach, challenged us to think about how easy it is to sink into the habit of working, or thinking about work, all the time. We end up giving all our energy to clients and customers and when we come to spend time with loved ones, we have little left. Instead we need to build time into our day-to-day routine to reflect, recharge and refocus. Andrea spoke on the need to consider your energy levels as well as your capability. If you’re capable of taking on a new project or client, but it will zap your energy levels, you should seriously consider saying no.
Picking the scary options often leads to the most fun
I loved Alex Hughes’s anecdote of his nan’s advice to “pick the scary options as they can be the most fun”. A wise woman. Alex spoke about carving out an entrepreneurial life after some tough teenage years. He believes personal growth comes from challenging your mindset and your own beliefs.
Alexis Charkiw also explained why business owners should not be afraid to pivot, adapt or make hard decisions. Everything single one of us has had to change this year – whether that is adapting to Coronavirus restrictions, needing to work from home more, or changing our business model. Alexis’s advice to freelancers was that, when challenges or opportunities surface, you decide whether you want to ride that wave or not. You do not have to stick with something just because you made the decision originally.
Remember that marketing is all about how you can help others
You do not need to do anything if it not benefiting your customer. Joseph Glover who started the Marketing Meet Uptalked pure sense about how marketing is all about how you can help your customers, rather than following trends. Joseph reinforced something that I always emphasise in my work too – you need to understand your audience before you put your marketing tactics in place.
Make imposter syndrome momentary
A poll by Freelance Heroes found that 92% of freelancers feel they suffer from imposter syndrome and doubt their talents and skills. Drawing on her experience of managing imposter syndrome while interviewing Prime Ministers and royals, freelance journalist Ellen Manning, encouraged us all to think about selling ourselves like we would others. A key takeaway for me was how, as freelancers, we embody our businesses, so when doubts creeps in, we need to make sure we sweep them out with the help of friends and fellow Freelance Heroes and move on from that moment.
Use your time with intent
In a brave reflection on the reality of being a freelancer, Bernie Mitchell talked about how helpful it is to keep an eye on our long-term goals so we spend our energy on the right things. Think about where you want to be this time next year, in three years, in five years. How is what you’re doing now helping you meet these goals?
Lynda Pepper, social media manager, also shared her tip that time spent on social media becomes more enjoyable when used with intent. Rather than spending time passively scrolling, turn up on social media ready to engage. Her challenge: As you open each app, know what you are there for.
Sharing your top tips
The fantastic thing about the freelance community is its ability to signpost you to that person or advice that will help you take your next step with your business. If you ask a question with clarity, with specifics, without assumptions and with gratitude, there is always someone there to help.
If you were at the event, what was your top tip? What are you looking to learn more about as a result?
If you missed the event this year, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a freelancer?
Helen Deakin is a freelance communications specialist who helps charities, social enterprises, and companies who care about their communities to communicate with clarity.