How would you like to ‘feel’ in 2020?

This beautiful guest blog post, comes from Lesley Waldron, Wild Country Woman – focusing on how you want to feel in 2020.

 

New year’s resolutions are often about what we want to do or what we want to change.

 

Sometimes they come from a negative place….or because we just feel that we ‘should’.

 

But how about thinking about 2020 in a different way? About how you want to feel?

 

So, think about next year.

 

On December 31st 2020. How would you like to feel? 

 

Take a deep breath. Take a moment to bring yourself forward in time. Close your eyes if that helps.

 

Really and truly. What do you feel?

 

This could be how you feel emotionally.

 

How you feel in your body.

 

How you feel in your family.

 

How you feel in your community.

 

How you feel in your workplace or your business.

 

How you feel in your life at that moment.

 

It could be words and feelings that apply to all of those elements of your life.

 

Not what you are doing. Not what you have accomplished, but what you feel.

 

Got it?

 

Write it down if you can….I love a big piece of recycled paper and colourful felt tips. Don’t take too long, give yourself a little peace and quiet and just write from your gut, don’t let your busy mind take over too much with the realities of life.

 

Now. 

 

What could take you closer to that feeling today?

 

What could take you closer to that feeling next week?

 

What could take you closer to that feeling over the course of this year?

 

In order to feel that way, how are you acting in your everyday life?

 

In order to feel that way, what do you need to add into your life?

 

And what (or who) do you need to take out?

 

This could be behaviours, people, actions, habits, communities, obligations, values.

 

Keep writing. Keep colouring. Keep jotting. Don’t think too hard. Put on some tunes…and let it flow.

 

There is no right or wrong answer.

 

And from all of this.

 

Take one thing. 

 

Look at the words.

 

What jumps out? What makes your tummy flutter in a good way?

 

Can you take action on that. Today.

 

Not next year. Not waiting for the right time.

 

Today

 

If you’d like to explore this further, with a warm and welcoming group of women, come and join the next Wildly Well Woman retreat on 26th January 2020, for some New Year intention-setting as well as some relaxation and nourishment to get the year off to a great start.

 

 

 

The importance of working on the business rather than in it

It’s an exciting time at FM HQ, as we’ve finally announced Freelance Mum Micro Business Retreat 2020!

We know just how hard the juggling act can be and why it’s important to take a step back out of life and gain perspective again. We firmly believe there is no better place for it, than at Tractors & Cream and with The Freelance Mum Micro Business Retreat, there is something for the whole family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We take a look back over this brilliant blog from Rin Hamburgh as she looks at some of the best approaches, when it comes to working ON your business and how it can be of benefit all round.

The importance of working on the business rather than in it

If you had to break down your working week into hourly chunks, what proportion of them would be spent on working in the business versus working on the business. By that I mean, how much time do you spend doing the do – making your products, working with clients, sorting the admin – versus planning, strategising, clarifying your vision, setting goals.

Working on the business is vital but too often it gets pushed down the to do list as we frantically try to meet client deadlines and get orders shipped. All the while juggling the million and one other things we Freelance Mums have to do – the cooking, the washing, the cleaning, the ferrying of children to music and drama and football.

No wonder taking a break to plan where your business will be in five years feels like a luxury! But of course, it isn’t. In fact, without taking a step back and looking at the big picture, you’re likely to drift and either not achieve those goals you had back when you launched, or at the very least get there via a much longer and more complicated route than you need to.

 

How I learn to be more on and less in

Next month will be three years since I launched Rin Hamburgh & Co. Back when the first website went live in August 2016, I didn’t have a clue where it would all end up. I didn’t even call the business an agency, that’s how unsure I was of what I was doing!

The best thing that ever happened to me was chatting to the lovely Claire Stone, who I met at Freelance Mum, over a coffee one day and hearing all about the Entrepreneurial Spark programme. A business incubator with a focus on growing and developing the business leader not just the business itself. I applied that day.

It was the smartest business move I ever made. Previously I’d spent the majority of my time writing copy for my clients and editing the work of my small freelance team. Now suddenly I was being asked to explain my business model to my mentor. I was being challenged on whether I knew my numbers, not just now but for the future. I was pitching to a room full of strangers.

Why stepping back propels you forward

It was a huge challenge because it felt like a distraction when there was website copy to be written and blog posts to be proofread. But if I hadn’t stopped and looked at my numbers, for example, I wouldn’t have realised I could afford to bring on a part time assistant. If I hadn’t given some serious thought to my profit margins, I would still be underselling myself.

Today Rin Hamburgh & Co is a team of five with a six figure annual turn over. We’ve won a number of awards and been featured in Bristol 24-7 and the Bristol Post. We’ve worked with multinational clients and on five figure projects.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t taken time on a regular basis to stop, reflect on what we’ve been doing, look forward to where we’re going, adjust the vision, set goals, make plans and learn new skills to keep propelling us towards my dream business.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have to challenge myself pretty much daily to make space and time for working on rather than in the business. Thankfully we’re back on what is now called the NatWest Accelerator programme, so I’ve got a new mentor to be accountable to!

How to be more on and less in

As I’ve already mentioned, having a mentor or an accountability partner can be hugely beneficial. That might be a coach like our very own Karen Cook, it could be a fellow Freelance Mum who you meet up with regularly or someone else in your industry. There are also accountability or mastermind groups, where small groups of business owners come together to help and encourage each other on a regular basis.

Carving out ‘on the business’ time in your diary and guarding it ferociously is important too. I have two hours on a Friday that I call my reflection time, and I really notice the difference if I don’t do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also set aside a special day every now and then – perhaps once a quarter – where you can really focus on all of that big picture stuff. Because sometimes it takes a while before you can relax and get into the right headspace where you’re not worrying about what to cook the kids for dinner.

But don’t forget the value of working on your business with others, which can be incredibly encouraging and inspiring. And if you’re looking for an opportunity, check out the Freelance Mum Micro Retreat. What a perfect chance to reflect, learn, chat and have fun with a bunch of other mums in a similar position to you. Not to mention being surrounded by beautiful countryside like you will be at Tractors & Cream!

Whatever time you can squeeze out of your schedule to work on rather than in the business, you won’t regret it. Yes, you might not be earning money directly by working on your vision, your financial forecasts or your customer journeys. But you’ll be laying the foundation on which you can build a business that serves you and brings you exactly the kind of success you’re looking for.

How working with a professional facilitator can help your event

Freelance Mum, Faye Dicker, goes behind the scenes with professional facilitator, Helene Jewell and finds out how working with a professional facilitator can help your event. With live footage from Tech For Good event and  interview with Helene Jewell on her route and training into faciliation.

How the school run can be good for your business

Voiceover Artist and Freelance Mum founder, Faye Dicker, on how the school run can be good for your business.

The chances are if you’re a ‘freelance parent’, the school run will fall to you. I know it does in my house. And although my husband is good at stepping in, as a ‘freelance mum’, the lion’s share falls to me.

Not that I begrudge it, I hasten to add – I want to make sure my girls are dropped off safe and sound. Once we have managed the almighty task, of actually leaving the house, I enjoy cycling them in.

Yet the reality is, when you’re doing the school run twice a day – it can bite a chunk into your day. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a window of time available from 9.15am – 3pm, to crack on with some work. More likely, it’s smaller.

And that can be hard. Especially when you’re trying to shoehorn work into every available working minute and maximize your productivity. It’s easy to feel resentful of the school bell ringing, meaning ‘pencils down’ for your business.

But doing the school run, can be good for your business – if you make it work for you.

 

Growing your network

We hear the term ‘networking’ all the time, I often think it gets overused and as a consequence forgotten it’s about your ‘network’ of people. It’s not just about ‘networking a room’. It’s unlikely (and probably not very appropriate) you’re going to start handing out your business cards, in the school playground.

But it doesn’t take much to get chatting to the mum you’re standing next to, find out a bit more about them and so on. Without even thinking about it, you’re naturally making connections, finding out a little about them and no doubt, you’ll start asking about you. With very little effort, you’re making connections and growing your network.

 

Wearing your brand

This one is a doddle. In fact, I see it more frequently in the playground all the time and think it looks ace – especially when little ones are proudly wearing a hoody with their parents business name on. I love how it’s very much a ‘family affair’ when it comes to branded hoodies at GemSec!

Children playing outside, wearing branded GemSec hoodies.

Even if your business doesn’t need a ‘uniform’, it’s very easy these days to have hoody or a T-shirt with your brand name on. The Freelance Mum bright pink T-shirts have become synonymous with Freelance Mum. On the days where I pick up the girls straight after Freelance Mum, wearing the bright pink FM top, I often get stopped and asked ‘are you the person who runs Freelance Mum’? Even if they don’t stop and ask, it’s your brand name they’re going to see and puts your business on their radar.

In fact, I even took it one step further and had the Freelance Mum logo put on my cargo bike, which resulted in gaining a new member! Don’t be shy. It’s your brand, tell the world, be proud.

 

Treat it as an opportunity to learn

Most freelance mums are time poor and juggling an ever-increasing to-do list. It can be hard, when at best we are just working in our business and not working on our business, to carve out time to actually stop and learn. Using the school run can be a great window of opportunity to download some podcasts, or audio books and take that time to stop and listen. I know it’s the approach Lucie Gray of Paper Aeroplane Creative has taken, she decided that if she was going to walk to school and back every day, that was a great opportunity to take the time to actually listen to some podcasts. Make your ‘commute’ work for you!

 

Fitness

Sticking with the theme of maximizing your time, fitness is often something that can easily fall away. Yet we all know the physical AND mental benefits from exercising. You only have to speak to Lesely Waldron at Wild Country Woman, to hear about the benefits of exercising outdoors. I love the way my head always seems to work things out, after I’ve come back from a run.

The school run might not be quite the same as an hour of yoga, but it is getting you (and your kids) outdoors. And if you make a point of putting your trainers on, you can extend your school run, to an actual run, after you’ve dropped them off. You and your business will benefit, from that extra bit of fresh air and fitness.

 

Take a break

Whether you like it or not, the school run forces you to take a break. Although it can be frustrating having to stop, when you’re mid flow, it means you take a step back and take a break from things. Otherwise, time can run away with you and you don’t remember to stop! It’s far better to take a break from your work and come back fresh, than to keep going and grind to a halt.

 

Power Hour

I often look up at the clock and can’t believe how fast the day is going by. There are days, that despite the best intentions, you can feel as though nothing has been done. On those days, when there are more jobs than time, I give myself a ‘power hour’ between 2pm and 3pm, when I leave the house. One final hour to power through some jobs and work without stopping. It’s funny how a deadline, can actually make things happen!

 

Structure

It might not have been the structure you’d have chosen for yourself, but there’s nothing like the school run to enforce a bit of structure. I love the days when I step in, after drop off, make myself a hot drink and sit down to catch up with social media. It’s a window of time that’s for me and my business and gives real pleasure. With structure, it gives us something to work with, without it can be harder to be disciplined and create rules/ways of working.

The school run can be an interruption and it’s easy to think of it as a pain, but part of the joy of being a freelancer is actually being able to pick up your kids from school. The trick is, making the school run work for your business.

 

At Freelance Mum, we know how tricky it can be, juggling children around business – which is why we created child-friendly networking for mums in business. Why not try it for FREE and find out for yourself?

 

How to make the most of networking

From making sure you’re in the right group to working out your 60 second pitch, Rin Hamburgh looks at what she’s learned about making the most of networking since she first started doing it seven years ago.

Networking is something every business owner or self-employed person is likely to do at some point. And rightly so – it’s a great way to meet people, to get support and generate referrals and new business. But it can also take up a fair amount of time and money. So how do you make sure you’re getting the most value out of it?

 

Pick the right group

I started networking when I set up my first business in 2012. The first group I joined was a very supportive group of women who met monthly for lunch. This was exactly what I needed – non-threatening, encouraging, no suits and lots of self-employed people working as sole traders.

As I gained in confidence I started going to a fortnightly breakfast meeting where there were business owners – both men and women – with staff and budgets who were able to introduce me into bigger companies and help me grow.

When the twins arrived, these groups became either too expensive or difficult to get to. Freelance Mum was – and still is – an absolute godsend and I’ve now added BS5 Business, Babies and Booze to my networking mix because, well, doesn’t that just sound like the best idea?

The key is to choose groups that work for you in terms of cost, location, mix of people and so on. Ask yourself what you want to gain from it. Do you want to get support from other business owners like you? Or are you looking for introductions, in which case you need to check how well connected the other members are.

 

Bring the right marketing materials

A business card is an absolute must for networking (although I have to admit, I frequently forget mine!). This is especially important if you’ve got an unusual name that people might struggle to remember or might spell wrong and therefore not be able to look you up.

But you might also want to invest in flyers, brochures or other printed materials in order to give people you meet an instant insight into what you do. For a product based or visual business like photography, pictures really can be worth a thousand words.

And I love the 121 packs that my friends at Hullo Creative make; little folders containing a flyer, a logo sticker, one of their beautiful greetings cards, and a selection of business cards from other freelancers in their collective.

 

 

 

 

Prepare a pitch

Most networking groups will require you to do some sort of 60 second ‘elevator pitch’ where you tell people who you are, what you do and what you’re looking for. Even at Freelance Mum, which has a much more relaxed format, there’s an opportunity to introduce yourself during the Business Exchange segment at the end.

There are lots of different ways to structure a pitch. I’m currently on the Natwest Accelerator Programme and regularly have to pitch during our workshop and other events. The structure we’ve been taught there is Hook, Problem, Solution, Traction, Ask – there’s more about that in our blog post, How to write a 60 second elevator pitch.

But essentially you want to make sure that you summarise not only what you do but what that actually means for your customers or clients. For example, I don’t just say that we do copywriting. Instead I say that we “harness the power of words to drive significant business results.”

Spend time really honing your pitch and get comfortable with delivering it – make your other half listen to you or practice in the mirror. Because, whether you’re at a networking group or not, you never know when someone important is going to ask what you do. The right words might open the door to your next big thing.

 

Remember to ‘sell through the room’

Once you arrive at your chosen networking group, it might be tempting to try and sell your products and services to as many people as possible. But let’s face it, no one likes a pushy salesperson, do they?

Remember that networking is a long game – it’s about building relationships, letting people get to know you and starting to understand what their challenges and needs are too. It may be that your product or service is right for them but let that emerge naturally.

In fact, if you just sold to people within your group you really wouldn’t be making the most of your network. The trick is to ’sell through the room, not to the room’ – in other words, build those networking contacts into advocates who can speak about you to their networks and thereby widen your reach.

As an example, the lovely Zoe Whitman of But The Books, who I met at Freelance Mum, passed my details to her husband, who works at a big marketing agency. We ended up doing huge amounts of work with them, opening up a whole new market for us.

 

Remember to follow up

The majority of the value you’ll get from networking won’t actually happen in the meeting itself but afterwards. That’s why it’s important to follow up. If you’ve taken business cards, connect with those people on LinkedIn, follow their account on Instagram or like their business page on Facebook.

You may have identified people who you think will be a good fit for you, perhaps because you have complimentary businesses with the same target audience. For me as a copywriter this may be a graphic designer, web designer, even photographer. In this case, arrange a 121 so you can get to know each other better.

A lot of networking groups have online groups too, for example Freelance Mum’s Facebook group, The Mothership. Being active on these channels is an excellent way to keep in touch with people, especially if your group only meets monthly or if you struggle to make every meeting.

If you’re going to spend time and money on networking then make sure you get as much out of it as you can. That might take a little bit more time or money – for example to write that pitch or get flyers printed – but the return on your investment will make it well worth the effort.

If you want to brush up on your networking skills in a warm, family friendly environment, why not come along to Freelance Mum? Your first meeting is free! Find out when the next event is here.

What to look for in a workshop venue

Rin Hamburgh looks at the importance of finding the right setting when it comes to booking a workshop venue and some of the considerations for getting it right.

What to look for in a workshop venue

Where do you usually work? As a freelance mum, the chances are the your “office” is a dining room table, a patch of kitchen work surface, a lap tray on the sofa or even the front passenger seat of your car (just me??!).

Maybe you’re fortunate enough to have a dedicated study or even rent some space in a studio or co-working location so your desk doesn’t get cluttered with utility bills and Year 8 homework. But if your job involves running workshops then it’s unlikely you’ve got enough space. Which means you’re on the look out for the perfect venue.

So what makes the ideal workshop venue? Obviously we’re all going to have different requirements to suit our personal style and the type of event we’re running. But these are some of the factors you should be thinking about.

 Size

How many people are you expecting at your workshop? You want to make sure there’s plenty of room for all the activities you’re planning, especially if you’re going to have lots of resources or need people to break out into separate groups. But too big is no good either – you want to get a balance so that the room feels cosy and intimate and encourages good group dynamics.

Location

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to location. You might want a city centre venue that’s easy to reach by public transport or a beautiful countryside space that helps people feel like they’re escaping the rat race for a few hours. Think about what your attendees will be looking for. Is there parking available on site or nearby? Is the venue easy to find or will you need to provide detailed instructions?

 Amenities

The basics of good heating, lighting and bathroom facilities should come as standard but what else might you need? A data projector and blank wall or whiteboard are often useful, or even an interactive whiteboard. If you’re going to be relying heavily on internet-based resources then it’s worth checking that there’s strong, reliable wifi. Depending on the length of your workshop you’ll want to provide refreshments – even if it is just tea and biscuits – so are there facilities for making these?

Cost

Everyone wants a freebie, right? Well, possibly. If you can secure your ideal venue with no cost attached then brilliant. But don’t be tempted to scrimp on the quality of a venue in order to save a few pounds. No one is going to recommend your workshop if they spend the morning freezing in a badly heated venue or couldn’t concentrate because of the bad smell drifting in from the fish shop next door!

Atmosphere

This one is a bit harder to define and almost impossible to judge without a site visit. No matter how good a venue looks on paper, it’s only when you visit that you get a sense of the people running the place, of whether the quality matches the photos you’ve seen and so on. The right atmosphere is only partly made by you and your attendees – the venue has a part to play too.

Getting the venue right can be the difference between your workshop running smoothly and being a mess of intermittent internet, bad coffee and cramped conditions. Put in the time to do your research now and you won’t regret it when you’re getting glowing feedback from all your happy attendees.

 

 

Should you increase your rates over the Christmas period?

How should you prepare for the festive period when there is less work? And if a client does approach you, can you raise your rates?

The saying ‘make hay while the sun shines’ couldn’t be better suited for life as a freelancer. When the work is there, life feels abundant, but when it isn’t – it can feel pretty barren.

So, how is it possible to plan for the festive period, when it comes to work – and should you increase your rates?

I write as a voiceover artist and founder of Freelance Mum – the child-friendly networking group, designed to support fellow parents in business, so I know what a difficult time of year it can be, on many levels.

On one hand you feel like attaching a tap to your bank account and watching the money pour out for Christmas. On the other you watch the work dry up during the festive session. Combine the two and it can make for a challenging cash flow!

So should you increase your rates over Christmas and how can you prepare as a freelancer?

Like all things, there is no right or wrong answer, it’s more a case of finding the solution that works best for you. If you’re happy ‘shutting shop’ and taking the Christmas period off, then surely that’s the perk of being your own boss. But if some one approaches you to work during that time, should you increase your rates accordingly?

I recently pitched this question to The Mothership (the Facebook Group for Freelance Mum) and had some interesting answers, but the general vibe was ‘no, people already felt their rates were fair and if they couldn’t balance work & family around that time, then they shouldn’t have taken the job’.

I recently went to book tickets to take my girls to see Santa and was shocked to discover I had to pay more money, if they wanted to see him closer to Christmas. To me, that’s a bigger business, taking full advantage of children and surely the true spirit of Christmas?

However, there’s a caveats, 1) if you want the work 2) is it worth it for your portfolio etc. Then do they want it during your normal work hours or is it to be done in “extra time. ” If it’s extra / to be done in super quick / unreasonable timescales I’d add 20% + on top of the usual – but ONLY if you want to do it.

An abridged version of this post featured in IPSE – Modern Work Magazine, in Ask The Expert.

 

 

 

 

What’s your theme for 2019?

Rin Hamburgh tells the story of how she discovered theming, why it’s a revolutionary practice for business owners, and how you can apply its principles in your own work and life to make sure the new year is your best yet!

Back in November 2014, a word popped into my head. The word was Hope. It kept coming back to me in all sorts of ways – in things I was reading, in conversations I was having. As we headed towards Christmas, I decided that perhaps the following year would be filled with hopes and dreams come true. It was a nice thought.

Sure enough, in 2015 my partner finally passed his driving test and got a promotion. We sold our flat and had an offer accepted on a house. And, most importantly, I fell pregnant and gave birth to two beautiful baby girls. I also tested out a little idea I’d had about using junior freelance writers to help me increase my capacity at work.

As I sat in the hospital with my newborn twins in November 2015, another word popped into my head: Peace. Crazy! How would 2016 be peaceful with not one but two babies around?? Not to mention a house move. I didn’t know then that I’d also be a single mum before January was out, and that I’d launch my new business in the August of that year.

And yet despite 2016 being an absolute whirlwind – with an awful lot of challenges, I’ll admit – somehow a sense of peace did seem to cover the whole year. I held onto that word like a mantra during those sleepless nights, endless hours of breastfeeding, and difficult conversations with lawyers about maintenance and visitation rights.

Knowing how the previous year really had been filled with hope somehow allowed me to believe that peace could maintain me through this one.

The power of theming

I won’t bore you with all the details of the subsequent years – though I can tell you that 2017 was a year of Opportunity and 2018 has had two words, Growth and Balance – but I will tell you why this isn’t an example of me losing it from lack of sleep or too many G&Ts!

In fact, although I honestly had no idea at the time, theming your year is something of a recent trend.

It’s a technique that Mike Vardy, productivity strategist, speaker and author of The Productivityist Playbook talked about in an interview in Forbes last year. Vardy has three words, which he picks in August because he likes to start his year in September.

He says: “It’s nice to have that consistency throughout the year, that you just have to think about these three words as opposed to some massive resolution, or vision statement, or mission statement…

“It keeps me on track, and it allows me to make a quick gut check and look back at the Mike Vardy – who in August decided on those three words – as opposed to trusting what Mike Vardy in the moment might want to do, because Mike Vardy in the moment sometimes isn’t the smartest guy.”

How to pick and use theme words

While Vardy picks his theme words, mine just seem to arrive one day out of the blue. I’ve started to look out for them now but I try not to direct them because, though I don’t quite understand how, they seem to come from outside of me and be almost predictive in their nature. But you could also be very deliberate about choosing and setting your words.

You might want to take yourself off one day and spend some time quietly reflecting on next year and what you want to change or achieve. Do some journaling or free writing, without too much of a focus in mind other than the upcoming year in general.

Perhaps take some magazines along and tear out images or phrases that jump out at you. If you’re someone who enjoys meditation, yoga or some other form of mental, physical or emotional relaxation then by all means, bring that into your reflection time.

The point is to find something that resonates with you. And there are no rules! It surprised me that I got two words for 2018 but it felt completely right that as I focused on growing my business I should put as much energy into maintaining balance in my life – investing in my children, my relationships, my health and so on. Sure enough, I’ve doubled my team and my turnover but I’ve also started taking weekends off and been on three holidays!

As for how you use your words, again I don’t think there should be any rules. Mine have often been a comfort that I’ve held onto when things have been tough. In 2017 the word Opportunity came with a real sense that I needed to be active in taking hold of those opportunities, which gave me courage to apply for the Entrepreneurial Spark programme and to hire my first employee.

This is what Mike Vardy had to say in his Forbes interviews:

“When I’m choosing the projects that I want to pursue, when I’m deciding what conferences I’m going to attend, when I look at what is going to take my attention away from my intentions that I already have or what things are going to fuel my intentions going forward, I can look at these three words. If it doesn’t hit two of those three words, if my goals or my projects or any new idea, I just cast it aside.”

 What does 2019 have in store for you?

This year, things have happened a little differently for me. In October a picture popped into my head, instead of a word. A picture of a bean seedling just poking it’s head above the soil, all fresh and green and bursting with life. I wondered what it might mean, but pushed it to the back of my mind. After all, I don’t get my theme word until November and I’m something of a traditionalist!

And sure enough, on the first Monday in November as I was driving the girls to nursery and contemplating that very inspiring picture of a bean seedling, it arrived. Breakthrough! That would be my word for 2019.

Already I can see how it is going to play out – we’ve just won our biggest ever project, which will be kicking off in the new year, I’ve invested in a coaching programme to help me navigate the changes in my life and career, and we’re applying to go back into the Natwest Accelerator Programme.

I know that having a positive word doesn’t guarantee that everything will go the way I want it to. But given how important mindset is to success, I’m glad that I have such an exciting word to hold on to.

What about you? Have you got a word for next year? If not, it’s time to do some digging!

How to Balance Business and Babies

How to balance business and babies

This fab blog was written by writer, sponsor and fellow ‘Freelance Mum’ Rin Hamburgh (who writes from the heart and is a big fan of being freelance). Thank you for your brilliant blog Rin.

No one can prepare you for the realities of being a parent, can they? No matter how much research you’ve done, no matter how many friends you’ve watched go through the sleepless nights and the teething terrors, it just doesn’t hit home properly until you get there for yourself. And when you’re trying to run a business at the same time, it’s even more intense.

I was a freelance journalist and copywriter when the twins were born and didn’t really take much in the way of maternity leave. In fact, I remember taking a call from a client while I was in hospital, and writing a feature for the Guardian while balancing my laptop on a Pampers box and expressing for the girls’ next feed!

That’s the great thing about us freelance mums – we’re pretty hard core. But there’s no doubt that balancing business and babies (of any age) is a real challenge. So are there any tips and tricks that can make the process easier? Definitely. Here’s what I’ve learned in my freelance mum journey.

Set realistic expectations

Both with your clients and with yourself. It’s no good promising the earth and then stressing yourself out or doing a poor job because you’ve overestimated how much you can actually achieve. It could be that you need to take on fewer clients or give longer lead time for when the work will be delivered. Remember to build in time for disasters and emergencies – trips to A&E or unexpected vomiting bugs will happen and will definitely disrupt your schedule.

Call in the troops

If you’re going to successfully balance motherhood and maintaining your business – even at a lower intensity than before the kids came along – you’ll need help. There are plenty of different paid childcare option from au pairs to nannies, nurseries and childminders. I got a nanny in for just four hours a week to start with, when the girls were 3-months-old. I felt comfortable knowing they were just in the other room if they needed me, but I could still crack on with work.

And then of course there’s family and friends. Why not try doing a swap with another mum in business, with you looking after all the kids one day and her taking over on another day? Or look at a combined childcare and co-working space like Caboodle. You may find that a combination of all of these works best for you. My two are almost three now and we do two full days at nursery and one full day with a nanny, which suits us all really well.

Delegate what you can

No one can do everything, it’s just not possible. And when you have little people to look after then it’s even more of a challenge. Think about the things you find most difficult, stressful or time consuming. Work out how much your time is worth and then see if it might be cheaper to get someone else to do one or two tasks.

This could be getting a cleaner so you can crack on with your admin instead of scrubbing floors, or outsourcing your admin to a VA so you can get more client hours in. Do the maths before you automatically dismiss the idea as too expensive. Just because you do something yourself, doesn’t mean it’s free. Time is money!

Find support and solidarity

Ok, so this is possibly a bit biased but honestly, the support you can find at something like Freelance Mum will be invaluable as you try and balance parenthood and business. Just knowing that you’re not alone will lift a huge weight from your shoulders and you’ll find a fresh sense of motivation and passion as you listen to other mums sharing the ups and downs of their journey. You’ll also get plenty of tips, referrals and even actual work from the other members, which will all help to boost your wellbeing as well as your business.

Do what works for you

When the twins were tiny, my mum was always berating me for not napping when they did. But for me, the process of getting a bit of work done was actually more of a draw for me. It gave me a sense of control over my life that was otherwise sorely lacking and was, I honestly believe, one of the things that kept me sane during those first few difficult months. It also boosted my self esteem no end.

That said, if napping is what will make you feel good – or cleaning, or binge-watching Netflix – then do it! Especially in the early stages, keeping sane should be your primary goal, for yourself, your children and your business (in that order).

Do you have any tips you’d add? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch on social – we’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And why not come along to one of our Bristol meetings?

With huge thanks to Super Funky Penguin for the photo.

Nail your small business marketing with our experts’ top tips

The Freelance Mum family is full of amazingly talented ladies and this month we’ve asked some of our marketing experts to share their top tips for building your business. Enjoy!

This fab blog was written by writer, sponsor and fellow ‘Freelance Mum’ Rin Hamburgh (who writes from the heart and is a big fan of being freelance). Thank you for your brilliant blog Rin.

MARKETING

Karen Norman, Sensible Marketing

1) The answer is in the data. We all have questions about how we should move our businesses forward. The answers are in the data and advances in digital marketing mean that it is more accessible than ever. Use it, analyse it, find the answers and they will take you in the right direction.

 

2) The fundamentals of marketing are still the same. The digital world moves fast and throws up new opportunities but the fundamentals of marketing strategy and planning haven’t changed for decades, only the technology that we use.

 

3) Keep your website updated. Sounds simple? But many businesses build their site then leave it for months, sometimes years. It is important to keep it up-to-date, both technically so it is secure and performing well, and by adding new content and functionality that helps you to grow your business.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY

Kirsty Northover, Kirsty Northover Photography

1) If your clients work with you because they know, like and trust YOU – i.e. you are your brand – step out of the shadows. Don’t hide behind a logo. Use yourself as the face of your brand.

 

2) Brand recognition in a crowded marketplace is hard. Have one killer headshot that epitomises you, your brand and will resonate with your target clients. Use it for everything! Website, social media profiles, byline for publications, media pack, business cards (so helpful for people to remember you from networking events), flyers… you get the drift!

 

3) Have a selection of images that tell your brand story. You can use them alone to highlight one aspect or combine groups of them to tell the story. They should be different enough to be strong as a stand alone but also cohesive so that they look good together. This aids brand identity, recognition and will help you stand out online and cut through the competition.

 

COPYWRITING

Rin Hamburgh, Rin Hamburgh & Co

 

1) If you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field you need to be sharing three types of content: original ‘how to’ posts, industry news and trends, and opinion and commentary. The best place to host the first of these is on a blog, where it will also boost your website’s SEO and both your organic and directed traffic.

 

2) Website copy need to stimulate both an emotional and a logical response. That’s why you need a combination of snappy, engaging headers, subheads, pull quotes etc as well as factual and valuable body copy.

 

3) Brand voice needs to take into account both who you are as a brand (your core offering, values and brand personality) and who you audience is (and therefore what they will most engage with). Once you understand the relationship between the two you can start building your messaging and getting specific about things like vocabulary, levels of formality and so on.

 

DESIGN

Emily Jones, Hullo Creative

In all design, less is more. Especially when it comes to things like flyers, which need to capture people’s attention quickly and not go on too much. Keep the number of words and images to a minimum and then direct people elsewhere for more information.

 

Don’t forget to update the design of your marketing materials as your brand evolves. Sometimes it’s ok to just update the dates of a workshop or swap out your old photos for new ones, but there will be times when you actually need a whole new look or things will start feeling a bit dated.

 

Give people enough blank space to digest what you’re saying. If you ram a design with content you risk overwhelming them, which means they’ll lose interest. White space might feel like a waste but it’s an essential element of good design.