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Success & Career

Going It Alone? Tough Lessons for Freelancers




Going freelance seems like the dream… until you realize how tough it can get. It’s extremely difficult to stay motivated, find qualified leads, manage your time, and give yourself a good talking-to when you need it. From setting rates to dealing with difficult clients, here are some freelancer lessons to help you avoid burnout and stagnation. Use this fellow freelancer’s tough love as a way to become a better and more successful freelancer, yourself.

Don’t overestimate the perks

Freelance life has its perks like freedom and flexibility, but don’t get enticed by these shiny new toys. Freelancing is great, but it’s also hard work. You will have to put in a lot of work to begin with- there is no slacking off. Those glorious dreams of a life untrammeled by expectations and timelines may not be feasible. You need to actually love what you do and be prepared to put in many long hours.

Develop a strategy…to develop a strategy

Planning, planning, planning. Just let me loose at the work already!

In an organization you can blend in with other people’s plans, visions and strategies. Now however, it’s up to you to create your own. *Gulps* Keep calm and strategize:

  • Where do you want your business to go?
  • Who are you pitching to?
  • What are your main barriers to success?
  • What sets you apart from your competitors?
  • Where do you need to invest more skills or money?
  • What does your promotional plan look like?


Write a detailed business plan and keep coming back to it on a regular basis to make sure any new opportunities fit your strategy. Learn the art of saying no- not every opportunity that comes your way is a good opportunity. 

Don’t work harder, work smarter

Ok, so you still have to work hard. But can you also work smarter?

  • Make a roadmap of where you want your business to go in the next 6 months.
  • Look at your roadmap and think about where your energies are best diverted. Place your focus there. Don’t get hung up on small details- this is a stress coping mechanism that won’t get you anywhere.
  • Don’t work nonstop every day, putting in crazy 16-hour days even on the weekend. You will need distance and perspective to breathe and avoid burnout.
  • Reassess your productivity levels- can you get more out of your day? Explore different methods like the Pomodoro Technique. Mix things up to see how you work best.
  • Work with, not against, your natural rhythm and patterns (but be aware that clients will probably need you during the day).

Work around your weaknesses

Outsource, ask for advice, or take on some more training in the areas where you aren’t so strong. Maybe you are not the best bookkeeper. Maybe you aren’t so good on the phone.You can easily outsource business processes like accounting and brush up on essential business skills online. Know yourself and grow yourself. Don’t let weaknesses hold you back. Evermore, know that the worst kind of weakness is the unacknowledged kind.

Develop a personal brand…and promote, promote, promote

Oh cool, you have a nice logo and website? That’s pretty useless if no one can see it. You will need to get yourself out there and promote yourself in a way that you may find uncomfortable at first. Here are some key freelancer promotion lessons:

  • Sort out your brand’s touch-points before you promote; as people will judge a sloppy website or an unfinished project.
  • Get your USPs and key selling points right. Can you offer something unique?
  • Think about all the different lead-generation platforms: Pinterest, Twitter, leafleting, business cards, emails, phone calls, LinkedIn etc. Then decide which ones work for you. Focus your efforts and measure your conversion rates.
  • Use social proof: testimonials, reviews and advocates are much more effective than you shouting about how good you are. Don’t ever miss out the opportunity for a great testimonial and always make giving one easy.
  • Up selling may be the new selling- see whether you can maximize your existing client relationships.

Find a niche

It’s easier to sell something if it’s unique, so find yourself a niche. By specializing in a niche you have to have the confidence to become an expert. Once you have found your niche you will be able to charge more for your expertise.

To be really successful in a niche you will need to have relevant branding, relevant clients, and a portfolio      to match. Try to get out of the gates with at least some of those in place.

People skills- you need them

Networking, socializing, satisfying clients. Without people skills you are going to struggle. You will need to:

  • Effectively communicate with people to encourage repeat business and get positive social mentions.
  • Network to get new clients and reassure existing ones. Check out these 7 business benefits of networking.
  • Ask for referrals and testimonials diplomatically.
  • Go out and socialise outside your sphere to develop new ideas.
  • Develop your ability to persuade, reassure and manage people.

Work for the right people

Easier said than done. But if you thought freelancing was the end of dealing with difficult people, think again sunshine. Finding the right clients, and dealing with existing ones will take up a lot of your time.

·        Qualified leads- try to vet the timewasters out. Use a web form or conduct initial screening calls. Ask prospects to give you something to see how serious they are about hiring you.

  • Don’t be afraid to say goodbye to a client, but try not to burn too many bridges.
  • If a project sounds awesome, but you know you can’t do it- either hire someone else and do it together, or refer the business on. Trying to take on something you can’t do is not a good idea.
  • Friends and family are great. But they might not make the best clients.
  • Leverage the networks around you and sell to existing contacts or leads. These people already know you and trust you and are more likely to convert. Just remember to not be too pushy.

Track time and then re-evaluate prices

Whether you are going for hourly rates or fixed project costs, getting the price right is crucial. Costing new projects is especially hard, and you are likely to undersell yourself on the basis of time. Get good at time tracking (a tool like Toggl is great) so that you can charge realistic prices based on the actual time worked. Remember to factor in admin, research and planning into project time.

Be firm with your rates

A lot of freelancers make the mistake of charging too little at first. Raising your rates can be tricky, and there will be people who just won’t get it. “You used to cost this, now you cost this”!? Don’t undersell yourself – working for free or for a low rate will just perpetuate this kind of attitude and keep you from growing. You are better off finding people who will appreciate you.

Word of warning- don’t get too greedy and charge astronomical rates. Make sure a rate hike is based on your market value.

Stay motivated kid

Don’t give up!

  • Try to stay motivated during this exciting journey, but remember that everyone has low points. Be kind to yourself.
  • Use some encouraging quotes to help you steer your daily perspective on to a more positive course.
  • Take inspiration from the people you admire, follow them on social media and read their blogs. Use the people around you as well- there’s plenty of great advice and expertise everywhere.
  • Don’t be afraid to revisit your initial plans and reassess if you need to.


Even with all the challenges – freelancing is great. Have you ever gone freelance before? What do you wish you had known before you took the plunge?

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Success & Career

5 tiny habits that can change your life and career



Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

When it comes to the daily grind, time seems to keep passing by – yet many things remain the same. We are so busy trying to get things done, keeping our heads above water, that we don’t take real time to think about things like balance, self-care, or making necessary changes.

Little do we realize that small tweaks at home and at work might create opportunities for us to have true balance, and even achieve that elusive success.

Let’s look at five tiny habits you can implement today to control the chaos – and start changing your life and career.


Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life and Career

1.) Embrace the concept of a “clean slate” at work.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

This involves implementing a few simple routines and organizational tools upfront. This will save you time in the long run, and will leave you feeling satisfied at the start – and end – of your day.

For example:

  • Create folders in your e-mail inbox by person and topic. Be sure to move applicable items there. The feeling of a clean inbox can reduce anxiety and enables you to find important material faster!
  • Write phone messages on a notepad next to you each day.
  • Return each call.
  • Note the status of what you were able to do, what needs to be done, and cross out which ones have been taken care of.
  • Complete your list before you leave work.

Nothing feels better than looking at the list and knowing that you have attended to every person, every item, and every task you started with. Yes, more may come in later. But these were your starting tasks.

You are leaving with everything crossed off, a clean slate for the day. You can start tomorrow with a clean slate as well. You’re more organized: able to look at a detailed history of each item you did, each person you spoke to, each item you completed.

A well-structured system and way of doing things is mentally good for you. It’s also a nice feeling to walk away with a complete sense of accomplishment for the day.


2.) Surround yourself with people who nourish your soul, NOT people who infect it.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

Think about the people you chose to be with. Don’t feel guilty about setting boundaries, no matter who they are. Be honest if someone is a “toxic” person in your life. Surround yourself with folks who build you up, support you, are honest but fair with you, and those who have your best interests at heart.

We of course need people who are going to tell us the truth. But remember that truth can be told with kindness. We can give ourselves permission to distance ourselves from, or let people go. These are individuals who make us feel bad about ourselves, or take every chance they can get to criticize our every choice.

There is enough negativity in the world. We don’t need to have it in those closest to us. You will be amazed at the difference when you give yourself permission to set healthy boundaries. So surround yourself with healthy relationships. Stop feeling like you must endure unhealthy ones.


3.) Clutter creates anxiety more than you realize.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

Whether it’s your home or your workspace, getting organized makes a huge difference in your state of mind. So start practicing tiny habits that create structure.

At work:

Get those piles into drawers and desktop storage. File folders are your friends! Label by topic, date, etc. Having things organized and at your fingertips will save you time and a great deal of anxiety.

Have trays for things that are needed on a daily or weekly basis. Organize your office supplies neatly. Remember that your desk is also a presentation of who you are.

You may think that those piles make you look busy – but they really make you look disorganized. Create your own system so that you can locate anything instantly. That, is more impressive than a pile.

At home:

Think more in terms of scaling down to get organized. Make it a goal to make you space your solace. Organize, donate, and find a place for everything. If you have not used it in a year, consider donating. If things belong together, group them. Get the right storage to hold things.

Group things where they make the most sense. Move things where they work and function best. Get rid of things that no longer work, are expired, are outdated, or that could benefit someone else more than sitting in a pile at your home.

You will not miss them. You will probably feel pretty good for sharing the love. Nothing feels better as having a fully functional home where you can live and breathe; where there is no clutter, and where everything has a place.


4.) Practice good, daily self-care.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

It may seem so simple, yet we all seem to fall short when it comes to this vital area that impacts our lives and our careers. If we practice tiny habits of self-care, we function better, perform better, and surely, improve our opportunities for success.

Good self-care includes things, such as:

  • Getting enough sleep each night. This includes going to bed and getting up at the same time, seven days a week. When going to bed, there should be NO electronics, including screens or cell phones, as they stimulate the mind and keep you awake.
  • Eating food that nourishes you – such as whole foods, not processed foods.
  • Drinking eight glasses of water each day.
  • Enjoying treats in moderation, no need to crash diet!
  • Be sure to wake up 30 to 60 minutes earlier than usual to ease into your day, and allow yourself to practice your morning routine.

Whether it be reading the paper, listening to a podcast, watching a TV show, yoga, or morning meditation, how you begin sets the tone for the day. So set aside time in the morning so you are not rushed. This is an essential part of your day.

If you start rushed, you are going to feel that way the whole day. Starting with balance, leads to a balanced day.


5.) Self-talk is one of the most powerful habits we can change.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

If we think about how often we thought something negative about ourselves, someone else, or about a situation, we would see how powerful negative self-talk can be. Now think about how better our lives could be if we stopped ourselves before doing it. It’s possible – but it takes effort and conscious work.

You simply need to pay attention and catch yourself. But as you do, the difference can be profound. You start to see how by removing negativity and replacing it with realistic thinking, you feel more balanced. Imagine the impact it can have on your work and relationships, to not see things in the worst possible light?

By implementing these tiny habits, you can bring about tremendous changes to your work and personal life. A few would only be one-time tasks. While others require minimal, but – hopefully welcome – effort.

If things are not working well in these areas of your life, why not give these tiny habits a chance? You will at least be a little more organized. And hopefully, be well-rested at the end.



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Success & Career

7 Ways to Organize Your Day for Success



Organize Your Day for Success

Nope, don’t panic. I’m not going to start by telling you to get up earlier! As an Integrative Nutrition® Health Coach, I firmly believe in bio-individuality. This is the idea that we are all unique: just as some people can’t tolerate gluten and some can, there are early birds and others are night owls. Neither is wrong – they’re just different.

So yes, just as our definitions of success look different, how we structure our days for success will vary as well. However, I believe that there are some things in common.

For the sake of having a starting point, let’s agree that success is showing up in your life (career, relationships, physical activity, etc.) in the most biologically effective way possible (i.e., you are healthy in every sense of the word).

So how would you organize your day for success? Here are seven ways to try:


7 Ways to Organize Your Day for Success

1.) Wake up without an alarm if possible (see also #7).

Organize Your Day for Success

Jolting awake to an alarm is a sure-fire way to feel like you’re off to the races first thing in the morning. Instead, learn how many hours of sleep you are naturally inclined to. Then try to get that every night.

Waking up naturally prevents that influx of fight-or-flight chemicals coursing through your veins: nobody needs that kind of stress at the start of the day! Chronic stress can wreak all kinds of havoc with your body, starting a cascade of poor health outcomes.


2.) Start the day with screen-free “me time”.

The moment you check your email or social media, you are giving others power over how you spend your time. There will almost always be an email that just can’t wait or a post that brings on a severe case of #FOMO. Before you know it, you’re sucked in.

Instead of reaching immediately for a device, consider starting a new practice that can take as little as 5 to 10 minutes (or less) or as much time as you create for it: breathing, meditation, mindfulness, gratitude, journaling.

The Web is full of resources for these – just don’t go looking for them first thing in the morning! Are you an early bird? Use this gift of time to work out, meal prep, read, etc.


3.) Create time blocks (see also #5).

Organize Your Day for Success

As much as we think we can multitask, research shows we really can’t. “Task-switching” – what we’re really doing when we think we’re multitasking – can cost us as much as 40 percent of our productivity.

The solution: block out specific times on your schedule for tasks that require your full attention. During those times, close all other tabs and turn off all your notifications – and I mean all of them!

In between these blocks and not before, take a break to check email, make some calls – take care of some smaller tasks. Set a timer that indicates your next productive block is starting.


4.) Schedule your workouts and meals.

We seem to have time for everything but what really nourishes us: fuelling our bodies well and moving them regularly. As a health coach, when you tell me, “I don’t have time to…” what I hear is, “I don’t prioritize…”

I see you rolling your eyes. Let me tell you: if you do that enough, they’ll stick back there. But seriously – it comes down to this: if you wouldn’t cancel on your work, your client’s needs, your spouse’s needs, your kids’ needs, why would you cancel on yourself?

Meaningful self-care is putting on your oxygen mask first so you can help those who depend on you. Organize your day and put those blocks on your schedule. Treat them as unbreakable appointments with yourself.


5.) Multitask…intentionally (see also #3).

Organize Your Day for Success

Yes, I know I told you not to multitask. Now I’m telling you it’s okay if you do it intentionally. What does that mean?

In my work, I talk a lot about primary foods – all the other things in our lives that nourish us (or don’t!) besides what we put in our mouths. Think: sleep, career, spiritual practice, physical activity, time in nature, etc.

The multitasking I encourage is the kind that helps us nurture ourselves on the primary level, NOT the type that tries to manage a staggering number of little tasks that make our schedules so overwhelming.

What this looks like:

  • Need to spend quality time with family members? Instead of adding an outing (with all the planning, preparation, and consensus-building it requires), combine it with another area that needs some attention: take suggestions on the week’s meals, shop together, do some meal prep, etc.
  • Missing time with your girlfriends? Combine it with a workout or better yet, a walk in nature.
  • Desperate to do a little meal prep for the week? Invite a few friends over to cook so that you all get to stock up for the week. (There might be wine involved?)
  • House feeling like a hardhat zone, but you’d rather read? Clean while you listen to an audio book.
  • Time constraints making you choose between a workout and your spiritual practice? Take a walk in nature or practice a walking meditation.


6.) Make a plan for tomorrow.

You don’t have to organize your day down to the minute (although that works for some people). Instead, write down 1-3 large tasks to be done tomorrow and prioritize those once you’re done with your “me time.”

Are the tasks unpalatable? Brian Tracy has written about this concept in his book ‘Eat that Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time’. He calls the tasks we are most intimidated by (and therefore put off doing) as “frogs”.

His recommendation: start your work – not just the day – by “eating a frog”. If all the frogs look big and ugly, eat the biggest, ugliest frog first.


7.) Get to bed on time to get the sleep you need (see #1).

Organize Your Day for Success

Once you know how many hours of sleep you need, organize your day and figure out when you need to get to bed. Make sure to end the day as you began it: NO screens for at least 30 minutes before bedtime!

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