Happy (half)birthday to me

It’s my freelancer half-iversary today – send (gluten free) cake!

For those among you who are interested, that also means we’re halfway through the tax year. It’s also boxer Ricky Hatton’s birthday (seriously, only name I recognised on Google’s list of “famous people’s” birthdays), the 30th anniversary of Fiji becoming a republic, and just 80 days until Christmas. What a day!

Today I will mostly be wondering when I entered the mysterious time-space continuum which magically transported me to this point, because I just can’t fathom that it’s been six months since I packed up my desk and left the world of full-time work.

So, how has freelancing been?

Well, good, thanks for asking. And so, so different to anything I imagined. I had definitely envisaged more lay-ins…

I probably spend too much time on this blog moaning about things, like unhelpful people in Currys when I’m trying to buy a computer or coffee shops without wi-fi.

There are some things I haven’t even got around to moaning about on the blog yet – like the woman a few weeks ago who went to aggressively hail a taxi as I walked past her and punched me in the face instead. She did not apologise, and the taxi did not stop. Ha.

So, I thought what I should really dedicate a post to are the things which have helped me through these first few months. Some of these might be pretty obvious, but hey, sometimes the best solution is the simplest:

Free help

This is an ode to the friend of a friend of a friend who patiently talked me through setting up a website and not laughing at me even when I asked the most ridiculous of questions. I’ve never felt so technologically inept as I did during this phone call. Yes he did suggest WordPress, and that resulted in many hours of my swearing and threatening to break my computer in half, but anyone who is happy to share some expertise for nothing in return is a hero in my eyes. The same is true for all those people who have given me valuable pointers on all things freelance – tax, receipts, expenses etc. The lesson is: if you know an expert, ask the question!

Free image libraries  

Shout out to the likes of Pexels and Pixabay for helping me put images on my blog. Sure, the selection is limited and yes, it’s surprising how often whatever I’m searching for seems to result in a picture of semi-naked lady being suggested but, for the most part, these sites are a vital resource for people trying to run a very basic blog without forking out for photos.

Microsoft Office

It was a dark, dark day when I realised I’d have to shell out for Microsoft Office when I bought a new laptop. Isn’t Word, like, a basic human right? Shouldn’t the Government provide it in return for National Insurance Contributions or something? It was very evident after my first attempt to share a Google Doc, however, that it was Bill Gates’ way or the highway. And it pains me to say I couldn’t do without the damn thing. New freelancers – just spend the money, you’ll make it back with your first commission. Top tip: get the downloadable software rather than the disc, it’s cheaper.

Gmail

I don’t care if you’ve had your Hotmail account since you were nine years old (just me?) or you’re wedded to your @yahoo.co.uk address – start fresh and get a Gmail account, they’re not even paying me to say this. There are three good reasons to do this: no spam, the server has not yet crashed unlike other providers, and keeping your work emails separate from private ones means if you don’t want to think about work for a day you don’t have to.

People

I have heard horror stories from freelancers about emails never answered, invoices never paid, articles that are never run. It’s pretty terrifying stuff. Maybe I’ve just lucked into working in a part of the industry where the people are really nice but, if that’s the case then, thanks everyone – you make this a lot easier than I know it could be.

I’m also unbelievably grateful to anyone who gets in touch about any blogs posts I write – this is a bit of a work in progress and it’s really awesome to know when I’ve touched on a subject that’s important to you. All suggestions for future topics also gratefully received.

Right, cheesy bit over. Where’s that cake?

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