Charting a freelance career, lessons from Seth Godin

Charting a freelance career, lessons from Seth Godin


I completed Seth Godins brilliant Freelancer Udemy Course. Really made me reflect on what I’m doing with my freelance career, who I want to work with and what I want to be known for.

Check it out :).



Moment– a moment in time, where is the moment

Management– who is your boss? you are, manage your career

Department- biz to biz, find the right department

Movement- can you create one?

Agreement- you are more likely to make a difference they are happy to see

Environment- you get to pick

Persistent- showing up and staying, being respectful

Consistent- Find a tool and use it and use it even after it bores you

Potent- thing that really matters

Statement- what is your point of view, what do you stand for?

Investment- what are you investing in your work? What lifetime value?

Argument- objections are your friend, listen!

Equipment- better be good enough, doesn’t matter what equipment you use, how does it make us feel?

Element- are you in your element, or floundering

Comment- what do they say when they talk about you

Document- write down what you do

Excrement- every once in a while your gonna step in it, what are you going to do? That’s how we’ll judge you

Assessment- when you look at a problem assess it

Improvement- opportunity not a threat

Achievement- what do yours look like? what stories do you tell and what do you ship?

Instrument- we’ve all been given one, commit and persist


Weeks learnings/ discoveries 29.04.15

Weeks learnings/ discoveries 29.04.15

I love this collection of photographs of famous artists and their studios. It’s fascinating to see how the spaces they work in.
I signed up for Seth Godin’s course for Freelancer Course on Udemy. I’m looking forward to learning pearls of wisdom from him.
Seth Godin’s post on overcoming irrational fears. ‘Habits are more powerful than fears.’
Great interview with Mark Zuckerberg at the Y Combinator 2012.
I recently discovered the Jungalow, the beautiful blog by Justina Blakeney. It’s an inspirational design blog with some great tips like how to style shelves with personality.
Some lovely style options for natural haircuts on Huffington Post.
Random thoughts on should i work for free?

Random thoughts on should i work for free?

I saw a funny twitter conversation on my blog feed between Andy Young and James Porteous yesterday. It made me think about the question should I work for free? Whether you’re a student, graduate, freelancer or start up it is a question we at some point ask ourselves, especially in the creative industry it seems. I have usually been opposed to the idea. Mostly because i think if the client’s getting charged for the time spent, the intern should also be paid. But with the multiple hats I’m currently wearing I’ve started to look at it from a different perspective.

alt= twitter andy young james porteous

For students it is difficult. I have always felt that the prevalence of unpaid internships in creative industries, can put off those who cant afford to work for free. It’s not so bad for a week or two but unpaid work for months at a time can put you in a tough situation especially when you need to things like pay your rent. I was lucky as a student that all my summer work with architecture offices were paid but I have friends who worked unpaid. They saw they saw the experience they were getting as invaluable.

Unpaid work comes in various forms for freelancers, from clients who ask you to do the work for free in order to develop your portfolio to self commissioned work which could lead on to new and exciting work. For me the toughest part about getting paid as a freelancer has been understanding what my hourly rate should be and explaining both to myself and the client why I can’t work for less. Cultural Enterprise Office here in Scotland have a great guide to this!

Businesses have both sides of the coin, young startups and even established companies can work unpaid on projects for example on competition entries, with the hope of getting the exposure. And they can also have employees working for them for free. Young startups directors often work unpaid for months or even years while the company is get so to pay an intern when you yourself aren’t being paid is tough. These are things we have been musing over at our social enterprise start-up. A portion of our work will always be for free as we started and continue as a charity, but we believe in paying potential staff and in living wage, which is difficult until we can have enough cashflow to support that.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 21.54.25

I really respect the mantra of design giants Pearlfisher, they absolutely refuse to work for free. Interestingly in his interview with Debbie Millman co-founder Jonathan Ford explains that they have found that saying ‘no’ can be an aphrodisiac to clients. Saying no seems to make them bend over backwards to work with them. I think it comes down to being confident in the value you are bringing. This is definitely something I aspire to.

If you are deciding whether or not to work for free here’s a brilliant guide from Jessica Hirsche to help 🙂


Let me know your thoughts on working for free! 🙂

March productivity challenge- develop focus routines

March productivity challenge- develop focus routines

Set up better email & focus routines

As I said in my previous post I’ve started to make progress in my productivity but I’ve also realise that it’s me that’s making myself so busy. So for March my Productivity Challenge is to set up a better way to increase my focus when working and email routine.

The first things I’m going to do are;

1. Say no- I’m a total time optimist I always say yes and hope I can get the work done in time but I end up overloading myself. So I need to start saying no to things, and giving myself the time to do the a few key things well. I’m starting by reducing my daily list to 3 things a day, and writing them the night before.
2. Develop 90 min focus routine- I’m aiming to nail my focus routine. And I’m gonna start doing 1/2 everyday, with absolutely no internet, unless necessary. I’ll try to do them in the morning so I can have a more flexible afternoon and can faff around if I want too.
3. Test out better email routines- I want to work out better email routines, experimenting with different times to check and answer emails and see what works best.
4. Sleep earlier- I’ve been getting up earlier but sleeping at the same time, so I feel quite tired in the mornings. So I will start sleeping earlier, 15 minutes earlier this week and continue adding to the habit slowly.
Here’s to a productive March :).
Let me know if you have any tips!
Who do you want your customers to become?

Who do you want your customers to become?

How much of your day are you spending finding the clients you want instead of working for the ones you have?

Seth Godin asks this question in his Creative Mornings talk (another great one, thanks Swiss Miss). I just rewatched this talk as I’ve started the job hunt again and remembered how slow and demoralising it can be, but Seth’s talk made me realise that I’ve been looking at the whole thing the wrong way! Instead of searching for positions and trying to get myself to fit the criteria, I should be looking for opportunities to use my skills to help people. Opportunities to work with the clients/ customers/ people I want. Opportunities to do work that makes a difference.
It requires a big change in mindset, to turn from seeing obstacles to seeing opportunities. To think of yourself as your own client. It’s not easy I’ve taken three steps to open my mind to come up with solutions and start thinking of an answer to this question. I’ve done each one as a quick brainstorm and will keep adding to it.
  1. What is your idea of the worst work/ job you could do? Flip the question and describe what the worst work you could do would be. What are the worst types of clients, what would be the worst type of job, how could you do work that makes no change or doesn’t matter.
  2. What would the ideal job/ project/ client be? Write a job description of the perfect job and even draw up your ideal schedule- what percentage of your time would you want to be for creative work, client work, other work?
  3. How can you use your skills/ interests to create opportunities? Brainstorm the types of work you are interested in, why, how can I help people with it and how can I create opportunities?
Do you have any tips on how to create/ find projects that affect change? Let me know 🙂
Doing the work you love versus loving the work you do

Doing the work you love versus loving the work you do


Do what you love or love what you do? This question has stuck with me since listening to this Creative Mornings Talk by Ben Chestnut, CEO of mailchimp.
I remember speaking to a friend about this very topic a couple of years ago. We mused that it seemed like few people on our course actually loved architecture. So many had a hobby or something else they did that they absolutely loved and we wondered about whether your passion had to be your job. She loved photography and I loved fashion but we didn’t really want them to be our careers.

Loving what you do instead takes away the pressure that the follow your passion movement has. If you make the most of what you’re doing you can be just as happy and fulfilled. You will also be able to develop skills that will make “you so good they can’t ignore you” as Cal Newport says in his brilliant talk Following your passion is not good career advice.

 In his creative morning talk Ben interestingly says that if he’d tried to turn his love of cartooning into a business or career, it could have killed his passion.

I think the better and more fulfilling path is to love what you do. Find the things you love about it and start to add them up.

How to get funding for your project

How to get funding for your project

We had a fantastic class on how to apply for funding for your project or idea, yesterday at the Artist Mentoring Programme (the course I’m on with Impact Arts). I just made a quick diagram just highlighting key lessons and tips. Also below is the LEAP Process diagram, which is a framework for evaluating community/ social impact work used by the Scottish Government.

alt=how to apply for funding

alt= Leap process diagram

James White = You dont need clients to make work

James White = You dont need clients to make work

I found this brilliantly funny talk by James White on Organised Wonder. He talks about passion projects and using them to find your voice. 
He spent 4 years making experimental projects, just for fun. Playing with different things, different processes. He  ended up making drive poster that went viral, but more importantly it showed him what he loved to do. Making posters. 
His honesty is great
“I don’t know where it’s going but I’m getting out of the woods, being renegade and trying new things”
Schedule makeover_ Productivity Challenge

Schedule makeover_ Productivity Challenge

My productivity challenge for February is to create my ideal schedule and start working towards it. This is gonna be difficult, so I’ve tried to preempt the hardest parts

1. Getting up early

This is difficult. Nothing seems that important at 7 in the morning. But as Bg Fogg says, I am starting small. I’m aiming to get up by 8 o’clock every weekday this week.

2. Focusing while working

Whenever I sit down to work, I try to multi task, but end up surfing the internet (I have a problem with having too many tabs open). Taking inspiration from Tabless Thursday, I’m going to start by having no more than 6 tabs open at any one time. Maybe one day I’ll achieve 1 browser tab pinnacle. I’m also going to start with a 90 minute focus block, on my most difficult task for the day.

3. Setting realistic expectations

I don’t know if it’s over optimism, but I seem to have a problem with setting too many things to do. I seem to start the day with a list of 20 things, and then end up disappointed because I can’t finish them all. To combat this I will start the day by writing my list on a post-it note. If it doesn’t fit, then I know I’m being way too ambitious.


Productivity challenge: 7 ways to makeover your schedule

Productivity challenge: 7 ways to makeover your schedule

woman running
In aid of increasing my productivity this year, I have been doing a lot of reading and research about how to create a schedule that will enable me to work more proactively instead of reactively. I have been looking everywhere from blogs such as Cal Newport, Jessica Hirsche to reading Manage Your Day to Day by Jocelyn K. Glei, to watching online videos.
Here are the top tips I’ve learned so far for creating that brilliant schedule.

1. Mornings (Manage your day-to-day) 

Get up early! This is the hardest thing for me but I’m trying one step at a time. Write a post it note with your goals for the day (keep it short) from most challenging to least and then start with the most difficult one. As Manage your Day- to- Day describes “Start your day with your most meaningful creative work, and leave “reactive work”-  like responding to emails and other messages for later.”

2. Emails 

Don’t spend your mornings on emails if that is when you are the most productive. This seems to be the golden rule, and for me its true, by the time I’ve answered all the emails I’m exhausted and can’t focus on the next task.  Much better is scheduling a time during the day perhaps after lunch, (with the post lunch lag) to answer them. This is a brilliant post on Virtual Trombonist on keeping your inbox clear.

3. Focus blocks, set limits and progress markers 

This post by Steve Pavlina explains in how to do a full days work in 90 minutes. It’s all about creating hard edges that stop your task from taking longer than they need to. This starts with deciding at the start of the task what your milestone is and setting a time limit. I have started setting 30, 60 or 90 minute timers for my activities. It’s amazing how much it’s helping me focus on the task at hand.  My next step will be setting start and finish times for my workday.

4. Fun work time/ Unnecessary creation

In this humorous post by Jessica Hische, she advocates, scheduling a fixed time every week for fun/ side projects/ unnecessary creation. As I find so often it’s too easy to procrastinate on those side projects, where there is no real deadline. So putting this time in your calendar, so you can’t plan anything else is brilliant solution. You can also do the for “deep projects” as Cal Newport calls them.

5. Admin time

Another brilliant tip from Jessica Hische is set aside one day a week to deal with all the admin work that clog up your time. Either at the start or end of the week. This way you won’t feel so you don’t feel so guilty about spending your time on admin work during the week. It is also an opportunity to plan the upcoming week as Cal Newport  advices. These are two things I have just started doing, not particularly successfully yet.

6. Habits

Most importantly, it takes time to build these habits so start small as BJ Fogg says. Use triggers to help you, for example, if you want to exercise more, start by doing one push up after you pee. If you want to get up earlier like me, start by getting up 5 minutes earlier and build it up every week. Also keep the habits frequent, like work on a project at the same time or same place every time.
If you have more tips on how you to create a productive schedule/ routine let me know!