If you’ve often wondered how other people structure their freelancing lives and what on earth got them into running their own business in the first place, you’re in the right place for a good old snoop around.
This Friday, Emma Cossey of The Freelance Lifestyle gives us her insight into the world of freelancing, playing host to an essential support network. Emma recently interviewed be for her own series of freelancer interviews on her blog (“A Day In The Life Of A Freelancer”) and she has personally inspired me over the last few years, having found her through a shared love of life and afternoon tea in another life! Emma freely admits that not even she knew what “freelancing” was when she started out and you can learn more about her last 6 years here today.
So, first of all, give us a mini bio and tell us something we won’t know about you!
Hello! I’m Emma Cossey, and I’m a freelance digital media consultant, business trainer and owner of the website and community The Freelance Lifestyle. I also work as a trainer for young people, covering careers and social media, and how the two work together. What you might not know is that my previous work experience, before going freelance, included a mishmash of jobs like being a recruitment consultant, HR Assistant…and chocolate box packer!
How long have you been running your business and what got you started?
I’ve been freelancing for nearly six years now. I ‘fell’ into freelancing when I left an awful job in HR, and joined Twitter while I job hunted. I ended up spotting opportunities on twitter and volunteering to do internships with bloggers that I had followed for years – which led to a freelance editorial assistant job. I don’t think I even knew what freelancing was before I fell into it, but it fitted my personality and lifestyle perfectly.
Although there wasn’t a planning period, there were nerves when it came to deciding for sure about whether I would go freelance. At the time, it was still viewed as something that was unsecure and hard going – and my family and friends weren’t sure whether it was a good idea. Thankfully they’ve come to support me, and my husband (then my boyfriend) was and is very supportive. He knew how happy freelancing made me and encouraged it.
Tell us about your typical working day – Are you an early bird or do you tend to work throughout the night?
Definitely an early bird! I’m usually up at 6am and spend some time pottering around while catching up on emails, social media and blogs. I tend to sit down to start work properly at 8am, taking a break at 12 for lunch. Then I carry on until about 5. Working from home means I inevitably end up checking my emails later on though!
What’s your biggest challenge as a freelancer?
Accounts (I’m not a naturally organised person, but Rosie from OneManBandAccounts has got me on the straight and narrow with it). Regular income is also a challenge, especially now I have a mortgage. Plus the inevitable challenge of late paying clients. Still, after six years, I will never understand how clients can pay their employees on time but ‘forget’ to pay freelancers on time.
And what’s the best element of being your own boss?
Being able to work in my own way, and being able to pursue things that really excite me. Nothing beats that buzz of a new project or a great conversation that could lead to something new.
I think that’s an ongoing battle! I use a few techniques – use the Do Not Disturb function on my iPhone between 7pm and 7am to keep notifications to a minimum, try to take a day off a week from work and keep my phone in my bag if I’m tempted when out with friends. But as I’m young, don’t yet have the responsibility of children and love what I do, I don’t think work/life balance is quite as tricky.
Where do you work from and do you co-work at all?
At home in Bracknell, or in the training centre in London when I’m working as a trainer. I’ve been to Jelly co-working events in the past and loved it, but I’m really comfortable working on my own most of the time.
Do you allow yourself a regular break for coffee, exercise or lunch?
Tea and lunch, yes (even if the occasional lunch is eaten in front of my laptop). Exercise…not as much as I should really!
Are there any apps/tools/gadgets/people that you just couldn’t work without?
So many! Wunderlist for my To Do lists, Evernote for keeping on top of projects, Tweetdeck, Buffer and Hootsuite for social media, Mailbox for mail (hello swipe to delay an email!), 30/30 for productivity, Podcasts and Spotify for background sound. Oh, and IFTTT. Wonderful IFTTT. My poor iPhone and iPad is overloaded with apps really.
We would love to hear your thoughts on “networking” – do you go to any regular events or meet ups to meet other freelancers?
I tend to dip in and out of networking, and every time I return to it I wonder why I’ve left it so long. They’re such a great way to build new leads, learn new information and come away feeling motivated and excited. I’ve also been to a few networking events, in particular Blognix recently, and find it great to speak to people in real life about blogging.
Give it a try. If you don’t enjoy it, you can always go back into employment. But if you’re creative and introverted and never feel like you quite fit into a corporate environment, it might be for you! If you’re nervous, I run an ecourse for wannabe freelancers taking you through all the steps, so you don’t need to worry that you’re on your own or not sure whether you’re doing the right thing.
Oh also, to bust a little myth, freelancing doesn’t mean you earn less. We often earn more than if we were in an employed role
Anything else you would like to add or share?
These days you’re probably going to spend fifty years of your life working. Wouldn’t you rather spend it doing things you love, then in a job that pays the bills but makes you unhappy in and out of work?
How can we find you online (and off!)?
The Freelance Lifestyle, Emma Cossey
Thanks so much Emma for taking part in our Freelancer Friday series, if you would like to put yourself (or somebody else worthy of being featured) forward, let’s talk!
Images courtesy of Emma Cossey