My friend Richelle has been doing crafty, creative things since birth, I think, and I’ve been doodling since I was five. It wasn’t a hobby or a skill I really publicized, though, which was why high school classmates thought my ability to draw was honed because of my association with my then-boyfriend, who was known to have drawing skills.
Lately, Richelle and I considered the possibility of finally doing something with the skills we have. Brave soul that she is, she signed us up for the 10A Alabama Handmade Arts and Crafts Fair. We only joined the April 13 fair as we weren’t sure we could handle two days straight of that. She sold her stamped notebooks and postcards and stickers and calligraphy cards, and I offered prints of my doodles, stickers, and 3×3 inspirational quote cards. My stuff’s much less handmade than most of the other items for sale during the fair unless you consider the fact that they were all hand-drawn.
The experience was pretty interesting, and I learned a number of things that day.
1. Variety, Lynn. Offer more types of stuff, and then offer different designs for each type.
2. Business cards: you really need them. 1
3. There are so many creative people out there.
4. Bring a handkerchief and an extra shirt.
5. Prepare way, way in advance.
6. Present products in a more attractive manner.
7. The local arts and crafts community is alive and nice.
8. I seriously need to learn how to talk to people about my stuff and what I can do.
Overall, it was quite a positive experience, and it seems quite likely that we’ll do it again.
- I actually have a nice set of business cards–except they refer to my work as a writer and editor–not very suitable for promoting my illustrating work. ↩
I haven’t blogged here in almost a year. It’s shameful. It’s bad practice for a freelancer who needs to bag work online. It makes me look inactive and like I don’t care about this website, plus it doesn’t make me look like the active freelancer that I would like myself to be seen as. Sadly, work got in the way, and life always tends to fill up with so many things to work on that some things fall by the wayside.
That said, I’m going to have to make more of an effort to update this blog at least every once in a while, just to keep this alive and let any possible new visitors stopping by know that I’m alive, and so is this site, and so are any offerings I have to…offer. It’s only right to take care of the very thing that’s supposed to keep me happy and well fed.
But wow, the past year has been busy as heck. This year alone, I’ve had to work on five different websites (all still in progress, but that will change very very soon to “finished”), I’ve edited a book, I’ve written countless articles, and have tried taking the first step into promoting my illustrated works.
More on that tomorrow.
To-do lists are fun to make. It’s a great feeling to fill up your calendar with the tasks and errands you need to complete, and it’s totally satisfying to check off each one once it’s done.
From time to time, however, you might find that the items on your to-do lists haven’t been completed at all. In that case, you not only need to reassess and rework your schedule. You also have to take a good look at how much is on your list and how effort-intensive each task is.
Remember to not get too ambitious with your to-do list. It might sound cool to seem like a superhero and have so many things on your plate, but you don’t really need to pile so many things or a number of difficult tasks on your to-do list. It will just be frustrating when you find yourself unable to complete them. You should just group the tasks that you know you can do each day, and distribute everything throughout the week. You shouldn’t feel pressured when making the list, and you should also make sure that each task gets done so nothing piles up, forcing you to clog your to-do list with tasks you didn’t get to complete yesterday and which you intend to get to today.
Having a lengthy to-do list might be impressive, but it’s far less impressive when you think about how much you actually HAVEN’T done on your list.
One of the reasons people give for wanting to freelance or to work at home is that they need to have a better work-life balance. Working in an office does cut into a significant number of hours out of your day. The trip to and from the office already takes a while and you have to spend a lot of hours at work, even more when you’re on overtime. By the time you get home, you don’t have much energy to fix a meal, clean up, or spend time with your loved ones.
People think freelancing or working at home can solve that. And it does sound as though they could–you’re spending your time at home, ready to be with your loved ones and having total control over your time. It sounds perfect.
This isn’t always the case, however. If you are unable to manage your time well, working at home won’t magically give you the work-life balance you crave. You have to have a schedule and stick to it so that your schedule at the end of the day is clear and free for you to fill up with whatever you want to do.
Working at home but being glued to your computer all day is not work-life balance, far from it. Learn to do each task as it comes to you. The sooner you can get them out of the way, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits of working at home: relaxation, free time, and time with those who matter.
I work over at my boyfriend’s house from time to time, and he would laugh at me when I tell him I’m taking a break from work so I can think about the best way to approach the article I would be working on at the time. What I actually do is, I take a nap. That’s why today, he understands that thinking = napping.
Napping’s something that a lot of working people don’t seem to be able to do these days; imagine how it will look if you were fast asleep at your desk in an office. This interesting article lists down the reasons why taking a nap every day is actually a good thing.
Fortunately, it’s much easier to nap if you’re a freelancer who works at home, although it’s also very tempting to just zone out for the rest of the day. That’s why you should schedule your naps at home so you can give yourself enough time to rest and not neglect your work either. You can take a look at your usual scheduled breaks throughout the day and keep track of what you typically do. If you allow yourself a 10-minute break every hour to sit and read, then maybe one of those breaks can be reserved for a nap. If you take a break to watch TV, substitute that with a nap instead. Just remember to wake up and get up the moment your alarm goes off–you don’t want to sleep the entire afternoon, as lovely as that would sound.
Working with clients from other countries requires a good communication system (and not just a technical one), an ability to communicate in English, and trust. Even with these in place, however, there are still some issues that both you and your client have to contend with, from work scheduling to progress reports, and cultural differences could even cause problems; I’ve heard some people say that foreign clients can give instructions too abruptly to the point of rudeness, making the working relationship a bit too formal and cold for some.
Holidays can also be a problem if you and your client haven’t worked it out yet. It’s Holy Week right now here in the Philippines, a time of year which isn’t totally recognized in other countries, but which warrants a break from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. It’s a time when people usually take off to relax out of town or engage in prayer or meditation on Christ’s sacrifice, as the Church generally recommends during this time.
If you’re a freelancer here in the Philippines, you and your client might want to work out a system regarding the holidays when you’re not working. You don’t necessarily have to consider every declared non-working holiday a day off if you don’t feel like it. But if there are particularly special days which will require you to take time off, figure them out in advance and let your client know. He or she should also inform you if there are any days when he or she will not be working. One client I worked with informed me about a couple of days in every year when there won’t be much work coming in because of a holiday in his country. That’s certainly some useful information you can work with so both of you can schedule your tasks accordingly.
This article on The Huffington Post dishes out some tips and reminders for freelancers. I’m particularly interested in this question: “What do you call yourself on your business card?” If you’re a writer, of course you want your title to be a good one–which could mean either creative or business-like–which will reflect exactly how good a writer you are. While “freelance writer”, “contributing writer”, “editor and proofreader” are straightforward answers to the question, “Hey Lynn, what do you do?”, I still wish I could think of something much better that will make me stand out on sites such as LinkedIn.
This applies here in the Philippines, where the Internet providers aren’t always 100% reliable.
Since February 25, my Internet connection provided by Smart Bro has not been at its best. Technicians arrived at home on March 1, restoring Internet connection at around 6 p.m. that day. Come March 2, however, my connection was dead yet again. My connection was restored for two hours on the afternoon of March 3, dying in the 30 minutes it took me to prepare my dinner that evening, and since then, my home hasn’t had Internet connection at all.
For someone who works at home, this is a tragedy. I do have the Smart Bro plug-it to provide me with Internet, but it doesn’t always capture a steady signal, nor is it highly economical. Because I’m online most of the day, I would have to spend about P200 a day for 10 hours of Internet time, most of which I spend carrying my laptop around and trying to find a good signal that won’t be dropped.
So for the past week, I’ve been making a certain restaurant as well as my boyfriend’s home my office. The setup’s quite all right–I get to hang out with people, be out in the world and doing my job, but the total lack of Internet at home and the absence of a truly satisfactory explanation from Smart Bro have been rankling me. I think I’ll, well, sigh in exasperation the next time a customer service representative tells me that there is still technical activity in the base station.
It’s no secret that many people think that working from home has to be one of the best things ever. Imagine doing your job and making money without having to wake up early so you can be out the door and on the road. What would you do or what would you give to be able to work from home? That’s a question that a recent survey conducted by TeamViewer sought to answer. Some of the answers were pretty humorous, while the rest were quite reasonable.
- 34 percent would give up social media
- 30 percent would give up texting
- 29 percent would give up chocolate
- 25 percent would give up their smartphone
- 20 percent would give up shopping
- 17 percent would give up a salary increase
- 15 percent would give up half their vacation days
- 12 percent would give up daily showers
- 5 percent would ditch their spouses
So what can we glean from these results? First of all, people are pretty funny. Second, wow, people would be willing to divorce their spouses just to be able to telecommute? Third, telecommuting is a really, really attractive option, especially since people believe they can be really productive when they work from home, given the availability of so many tools to make this easier.