Tales From My Pyjamas

Tales From My Pyjamas

For every working person on the planet there is a different way of working. Now, obviously I can’t transcribe the way in which all 7, 166, 269, 883 billion people on the planet work (yes yes I know that not all 7 billion of us work, give the babies and the pensioners a break) but I can name a few common job types, some of which might be familiar to you:

  1. 9-5 office job
  2. Contracting
  3. Freelancing
  4. Temping

Each type of job requires a different way of working and certain personalities are suited to certain job types. In a 9-5 job for example, you’ll usually work 9am-5.30pm with a team of people in a permanent physical location. Companies of varying sizes most often offer jobs like this, from agencies to multinational corporations, you’ll come in 5 days a week and work an 8 hour day with weekends off (sometimes). Now, your personality type will largely dictate whether or not a smaller or larger company is right for you, but the principles remain the same no matter the scale: you dive into a routine in every sense of the word. From being paid on the same date each month to what order you dress yourself in the morning, this type of job is hugely regulated and therefore hugely secure, you don’t have to think about it.

This type of job is the type I’m most familiar with. Having recently left an ever expanding digital marketing agency in the booming digital marketing scene in Brighton and adopting a freelance technical SEO position, I find myself realising that it’s not as simple as copying and pasting a working routine. Although all of this sounds terribly obvious and an easy concept to understand, I wasn’t prepared for the peaks and troughs in cash flow and I’m sure at least one of you 7, 166, 269, 950 billion people out there won’t be either.

This post is full of tips for those people who are thinking about making the jump from the regiment of a 9-5, to the perplexing freedom of a freelance jobby.

Prepare to pick up the slack when it comes to learning

For me being in an office meant being surrounding by great minds. The digital marketing industry, SEO in particular, is such a fast paced game to be a part of, that you really have to find alternative ways to stay sharp as a freelancer. Here’s where I hooking every digital marketing related blog up to feedly and checking it at least once every day. Some sites I follow include:

  1. Search Engine Land
  2. Search Engine Journal
  3. Search Engine Roundtable

There are hundreds of others which aren’t too hard to find, if you ever get stuck for sources just pop me a tweet @digitaldabbler.

Never stop selling

Now this is a basic tip brought to my attention by @darrenfell at a freelancers and contractors meet-up in London recently. A lot of freelancers get tied up in the specifics, they become really immersed in the project to the extent that at the end of it they end up in a huge trough in cash flow. Simple thing to remember here (and I have to tell myself this every day) is to remember to sell. Even if it’s a case of spending half an hour a day reaching out to existing contacts or doing something to make new ones, it will help you work towards a more consistent cash flow and avoid those nasty penniless spots you might often find yourself in.

Freelancer’s Toolbox

Now here’s my favourite part, here’s a few tools I really recommend installing, setting up and using regularly to make sure you’re keeping track of deadlines, progress and invoices.

Wunderlist is a lovely to-do list app on its surface. If you look a little deeper it’s much much more. If you’re anything like me and have a memory like a sieve, then setting up tasks, deadlines for those tasks and most importantly reminders for those tasks, then you’ll be one step closer to delivering work on time, every time. They’ve got a version for everything, even recently launched a Google Chrome extension which mimics a desktop application, gorgeous.

Trello is the key to organisation in a team setting. You start boards and set up cards on those boards. The default cards are “To Do”, “Doing” and “Done” and these do me just fine. You create an organisation, add people to that organisation and assign tasks to each and every member of that organisation. Not only keeps you on track, but streamlines the work flow for an entire team of people in such a way that no deadline will be missed.


Chances are you’ll be using this one already. For those of you that don’t have Microsoft Office (me being a student AND a freelancer puts me in this batch of people) then Google Drive is an excellent substitute (and perfectly compatible I might add) to Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. Particular great function of this service is not only the fact that all documents are stored in the cloud, but also teams can collaborate on any document at the same time.

Billings Pro Logo
You’ve got deadlines down, teamwork down and storage down, what next? Well invoicing of course! For those of you that will be managing your finances (ideally I’d suggest a freelance bookkeeper be thrown in the mix) then Billings Pro is the perfect partner for you. I find it super useful for tracking my time spent on certain tasks and getting an overall picture for how much time I spend per client. Once you set your hourly rate (or project rate) you’ll be well away to generating accurate invoices.

Any other tools you can think of that should be a part of a freelancers toolbox? Tweet me @digitaldabbler or email me at natalie@digitaldabbler.co.uk
Image credits go to ultimateslug


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Natalie Wright is a Freelance Search Engine Strategist. She is incredibly fond of technical SEO and can often be found speaking at digital marketing related conferences. She also has no idea why she's speaking in third person right now. Find her on Google+ or Twitter.

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