Entries Tagged 'Freelance advice' ↓

The Great Work From Home Vs Office Debate

This post was prompted by an interview on BBC Breakfast this morning. The discussion centred around whether workers should be allowed to work remotely and why some companies insist on their staff being in the office.

Of course, technology today means that working remotely is easy with very few barriers to overcome, but is it really the most efficient and effective way of working?

Before I began my copywriting agency I used to work in a traditional office environment, actually is was a bank. Needless to say due to the nature of the work I did, remote working wasn’t a consideration. Being in amongst my colleagues meant that there were always people to ask for advice, always someone to bounce ideas off and a real camaraderie. Granted, at times it could be a noisy and distracting place to work, but on the whole it seemed beneficial.

Then I went out into the big bad world of business alone. Suddenly, rather than being surrounded by friendly faces I was on my own. Overnight I had become the boss, financial controller, marketing director, sales executive and customer service officer – quite a leap. But more than that, I’d gone from an office of 20 -30 people to an office of 1.

Now my colleagues were virtual and could only be contacted by Skype, email or phone. None of these are exactly difficult to use, but it wasn’t quite the same as being able to turn around and speak to someone on the desk next to me.

To my surprise it didn’t take me too long to get used to this new working environment. As I became a competent tweeter my network widened even further to include other professionals with expertise in areas that I knew nothing about.

Although the buzz of a hectic office was gone, I found the silence comforting and beneficial. So much so that now, should I have a second person in my office, it is very annoying and makes it very difficult for me to concentrate on what I’m doing.

Home or away?

Whether you should or should not allow your workers to do their jobs remotely comes down to the business you’re in.

If you’re working with confidential information then it’s a no brainer, unless you want sensitive data left in the back of cabs or on trains. But if your workers are doing a job that doesn’t demand high levels of security, that doesn’t require them to work constantly within a team environment, then why not  let them work from home?

Some companies argue that it is beneficial for their staff to work within their team, so they have people to refer to because it enhances their knowledge and will help them to become better employees. OK, for some that might be true, but for many people the option to work from home at least once or twice a week would benefit them greatly. And it they’re happy and it makes their lives easier, surely that will bring benefits to the company too?

After a quick glance at the i newspaper at lunchtime, a story about Yahoo! caught my eye. Apparently they have banned their staff from working from home. A memo was sent by the company’s head of resources told Yahoo! staff that they had until the summer to migrate back to the company HQ in Sunnyvale, California or forfeit their job amid mounting concern that workers were “hiding” from bosses who had lost track of who was supposed to be where and doing what.

The memo went on to say “to become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side by side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings.”

The article then goes on to say that in response, Richard Branson commented that “If you provide the right technology to keep in touch, maintain regular communication and get the right balance between remote an doffice working, people will be motivated to work responsibly, quickly and with high quality.”

Over to you

Whether you’re an employer or an employee we’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue.

Do you wish your company would let you work from home? Perhaps you’d prefer to remain in the office?

Whatever your thoughts, air them in the comments section below – I’d love to see what you have to say on this issue.


Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd

Time Management When You’re Your Own Boss

Working for yourself is the ultimate for many people.time management for copywriters

No moaning boss, no more clock-watching and all the profits are yours. But before you can achieve this utopia there are a few things you have to get to grips with, not least time management.

Back in May we published a post called Time Management for Copywriters, feel free to take a look at the whole post, but just to recap, the main elements you have to master are:

1. Remove distractions

If you work from a home office, it’s very easy to get distracted. Whether it’s by visitors, home phones ringing,  that book you’re desperate to finish  or the temptation to pop out of the office to take care of a household chore or two, they must be ignored.

Having a dedicated office, is a must. You can organise it in a way to suit you without having to clear your things away every evening.

If you work from the kitchen table, just think how much time you waste every week setting your bits and bobs up to start work and then clearing them away again so you can use the table to eat with the family.

2. No Facebook or YouTube

Even though you’re sat in front of a computer most of the day, it doesn’t mean you can idly search the web for your entertainment.

And just in case you were thinking that if no one sees you it doesn’t matter – it does.

Make a rule for yourself that you only ‘play’ online once your working day is over. That way, you can remain focused on the projects you’re working on during the day.

3. Learn to say ‘no’

Unless you want to be working silly hours to try and get your work done and deadlines met, you’ve got to learn to say ‘no’ to those clients who just want one more thing (and usually don’t want to pay for it), to colleagues who just call for a chat, to family who make demands on your time (especially during school holidays) and to projects you know you really can’t squeeze in.

That might sound harsh, but when working from a home office it has to be done now and then.

Make sure your family understand that, even though you work from home, you are still working and they have to respect your work time. And, if you’ve decided you only want to work a certain number of hours a week, stick to it and don’t take on that extra project that’s going to eat into your weekend.

It’s all too easy to end up taking on so much work you’re at your desk 24/7. So be sensible, decide on the number of hours you’re going to work and stick to it.

4. Calendar

Keeping a calendar is a simple but effective way of making sure you hit all your deadlines.

When you’re working on several projects simultaneously, it’s all too easy to lose sight of when each section of work has to be completed.

It will also give you an overview of your capacity for future projects to help prevent you from over committing yourself.

5. Daily to-do list

Don’t laugh, it really does help.

At the beginning of each week I make a plan of what I need to do and when. That way, I make sure my blogging fits in with my client work and meetings. And of course, it also helps to make sure nothing slips through the next.

Yes, it does have to be flexible because you never know what might come in, but at least it’s a way to plan your week effectively.

6. Email watching

OK, hands up if you have that little annoying pop up thingy that appears on your screen every time an email comes in.

It’s so distracting I want you to turn it off immediately.

Limit yourself to checking your emails once, twice or even three times a day. That way, you can get on with the task in hand without being distracted by an intriguing subject line.

7. Timed work slots

This is a great way to make sure you don’t run out of steam during the day.

From your to-do list, you’ll know what you need to do each day. So, allocate a time slot for each task. Once that time is up, have a break – leave the office, make a coffee, wander round the garden or even take the dogs for a walk.

Then, you will return to your desk refreshed and ready to tackle the next task.


But if all else fails you can always resort to drastic measures.

On Mashable there is a fantastic post that tells the story of Maneesh the blogger from San Francisco who realised he was wasting time on sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Reddit when he should have been working. To address this he took the unusual step of advertising on Craigs List and offered to pay someone $8 an hour to slap him when he appeared to be wasting time on a social network.

Did it work?

Well, during the ‘slapping period’ his average productivity level shot through the roof from 38%, on average, to 98%.

Not bad – although a little extreme.

Over to you

What do you do to make sure you stay productive whilst working for yourself?

Who can beat Maneesh for originality?

Go on, leave a comment below.

Starting Your Own Business: a few words of experience

The following guest post was written by Vicky Fraser. The author’s views are entirely her own and may not reflect the views of FreelanceCopywritersBlog.com. If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.


Anyone who has started their own business knows that it’s terribly exciting – and also that it is, on occasion, terrifying and confusing. There is a wealth of advice and information out there on making the decision to go it alone, and how to go about starting your own business.

But what if, like me, your motivation is more immediate? You don’t so much plan to start your own business as windmill into it headlong with a massive dose of enthusiasm and very little business knowledge to go on.

My motivation was The Worst Job in the WorldTM. The choice was leave, or become (more) ill – genuinely. So I left the job.

Lean on others and use your contacts

I was exceedingly lucky: some old friends who run a creative agency that I’d worked with offered me some freelance work, and my new career snowballed from there! I had always wanted to run my own business, so off I went.

Now, about 50 per cent of my clients come through the agencies I work with. These are contacts that I knew from previous jobs, courses and friendships – and they’ve proved extremely valuable.

The old cliché is true: it’s not necessarily what you know; it’s who you know. Use your contacts and if they’re not appropriate, use their contacts! Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family, too: if you’re good, they’ll know it. People prefer to do business with those they know, like and trust so start with your nearest and dearest.

Business advice and finance

I had work coming in – but now what? Like many freelancers and small business owners, I knew what I was doing when it came to writing, PR and marketing; but when it comes to the ins and outs of running your own business, I was a complete novice.

It is very easy to waste an enormous amount of time and energy on the administrative side of starting your business. Being organised about your tasks and commitments (work, study, home and leisure) is absolutely essential. Being realistic about what you can and can’t do is also key.

Consider using an accountant, especially if you’ve set up a limited company. Doing it yourself may be a false economy – work out how much your hourly rate is, then estimate how long you’ll spend on your accounts. You may be surprised. There are a number of excellent resources online – I cannot recommend SJD Accountants enough for their free advice and information, including downloadable accounts spreadsheets and freelancers’ guides. Likewise, HMRC are a mine of useful information about corporation tax and VAT – not to mention personal accounting.


Never underestimate the value of a support network. There are many and varied business networking groups out there, and there will almost certainly be at least one in your area. I attended my first local networking event recently, and it was £15 well spent (tax deductible, of course!).

Not only did I meet several freelancers (copywriters, graphic designers, photographers and others) to add to my network of talent, I met a group of like-minded, creative, friendly people who all have similar goals. They were generous with their time and experience.

Networking will gain you new contacts and new business opportunities; but it will also give you a support group who are in the same boat, facing the same issues and challenges. That’s worth its weight in gold.

My local group is the Leamington Tweetup, which is a social media-based networking group. There are bound to be similar organisations around the UK (and the world) – but the Chamber of Commerce is probably a good place to start.

Good luck!

Starting your own business is hard work. Let’s make no bones about it: you will work harder than you ever have in your life.

However, it will be the most rewarding work you ever do! Everything you work for is for the benefit of you and your family, rather than for your employer. There’s nothing like working for yourself to get you motivated.

Be prepared to be short of free time, and probably cash, for a while. Work hard, keep your goals in mind, and have fun. There is help and support out there, so take my advice: grab all the help you can get, and enjoy your new life.

Good luck!

Vicky Fraser is a freelance copywriter and marketeer based in Warwickshire. Being a science nerd undertaking a physics degree, she specialises in simplifying and clarifying scientific and technical copy but writes about all manner of things for a wide variety of clients. She blogs about science, freelancing and writing – amongst other things.

Standing Out as a Freelancer

The following guest post was written by Joshua Danton Boyd. The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of FreelanceCopywritersBlog.com. If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.


It’s a tough market out there. A mixture of an increase in freelancers and a terrible economy mean it’s harder than ever to find work. It makes it doubly hard if you’re taking your first step into working for yourself. Without an established Stand out as a freelancerreputation it maybe hard to seek out and attract those much-needed clients. You need to make yourself stand out in a sea of people offering the same services as you otherwise you’ll be doomed to endlessly trawling job sites trying to pick up some scraps. So what can you do to make yourself seem a much more favourable option?

As a freelancer, your website will most likely act as a portfolio to clients. Clearly you need to make your site as memorable as possible. Try to be original in its design and make something that will stick in the mind of prospective clients. Humour is of course a great way to do this. Beware though, because there are many pitfalls to avoid. Original does not necessarily mean good and a website can easily be memorable because of its faults. The wrong type of humour can also give the wrong impression and make people think you are unprofessional. It really is a fine line between genius and horror. If in doubt, be simple, succinct and concise. Clarity is key.

Try to sell yourself. As a freelancer, you are your business and therefore the face of it. It might not be necessary to have a huge picture of your face pop up on the homepage, but there’s nothing wrong in dedicating a section of your site to yourself. Write up a little bio, list your achievements and even mention your interests. This a great place to be a little less serious too. Clients want to know exactly who they are working with so let them know sooner than later what you’re all about.

Surely by now you’ll know that social media is an important part of business. No doubt you already have a Facebook page set-up and maybe even one on Google+. The question is though, are you using it properly and to its full effect. It’s all well and good to have a page, but if you’re not using it, there’s no point. Be as active as possible on it and engage with people all you can. People increasingly look up businesses on Facebook and if they find a page that hasn’t been updated since it was first created they might be a bit put off. These pages are also a good way to communicate with prospective clients. It comes across as much more personal, so make sure you don’t neglect your page and, in addition, any messages that might have led to work.

It’s going to be an uphill battle to get noticed out there, but once you start to pull in a few jobs, word of mouth will also start to work its magic. Break through that first barrier and you’ll find things will start to get easier. Aim to be the one wearing a disco ball suit in a sea of grey jackets.

Joshua Danton Boyd is a Brighton based copywriter. He currently works for the cloud accounting firm Crunch and contributes to Freelance Advisor.

Removing Stress From a Project

The following guest post was written by Joshua Danton Boyd. The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of FreelanceCopywritersBlog.com. If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.


Your eyes bulge, you grit your teeth and suddenly you’re smashing up the town in a pair of ripped purple trousers. People flee in fear as you shout something near unintelligible about “clients”, “cascading sheets” and “Internet Explorer Coping with stresscompatibility”. Before long the entire area is rubble and you collapse to the floor murmuring, “What does make it pop more even mean?”.

Well this is what happened in your dream last night anyway. The stress of your latest project has flowed over into somewhere usually dedicated to non-sensical dreams about the death of your first goldfish and that time you were cruelly dumped by your first girlfriend in front of everyone. You have decided that enough is enough. Your work will never again infringe on the territory usually infested by your inner mental turmoil. Here’s a few tips on preventing this all happening again.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of your stress will stem from your client who, despite knowing exactly what they want, seem to have more trouble conveying their ideas than Washoe the signing chimpanzee. It’s up to you to guide your client through the strenuous purpose of communicating clearly and effectively. Try to meet with them in person to discuss ideas if this is possible. It’s a lot easier to bash ideas out like this, especially if you’re doing something visual as you can start sketching and get a better idea of exactly what your client wants.

You’ll want to keep in lots of regular contact with them too. Each time you do may cause a little bit of extra stress, but it is much better in comparison to doing a load of work only to discover the client wants an entire overhaul of everything you’ve done because they realise they now hate it. Despite the fact that you’ll often want to strangle your boss or put polonium in their tea, you need to stay on as good terms as possible with your client. The better the relationship the easier the process will be. This doesn’t mean you can’t still be a bit forceful. Remember you’re the one with the expertise, the client needs to be told when something just simply won’t work.

As soon as you’ve managed to remove a semblance of an idea from the mind of your client don’t just start straight away. Plan every tiny, little detail out first. See exactly what you need to do and prioritise everything. Give yourself some time limits to get certain tasks done. The whole project will become much clearer once you’ve got a decent plan in place and it’ll help you focus too.

Finally, don’t go around getting advice from friends, family and that dodgy guy down the pub who sells knock-off DVDs. It isn’t going to help and it’ll just muddy your vision. If you do show your mates what you’ve got so far, you’ll find yourself getting frustrated at their suggestions because they don’t know what the client wants. You’re the only one that does and so if you want some critique, ask your boss and not your friend whose entire set of expertise lie within the field of FIFA 2012.

Joshua Danton Boyd is a Brighton based copywriter. He currently works for the cloud accounting firm Crunch and contributes to Freelance Advisor.