Crikey I’ve got a website! Taking control of my freelance life…

I have recently received some sage advice about how I must run my freelance business. I need structure, routine and a business plan. I need to market my work efficiently online, keep accurate financial records and get out ‘there’. My ad hoc bohemian approach was causing me unnecessary stress I was told. Get timetabling, project planning, networking. Take regular breaks from the computer screen. Exercise. Hmm…

Unfortunately for me, the ‘routine’ referred to did not refer to coffee breaks; the structure does not mean the comfortable back support and the business plan does not mean keeping the mortgage paid. Marketing online does not include chatting away on twitter about John Keats and Kenneth Branagh, sharing your Spotify lists or putting photos of the allotment on Facebook and although I may be rich in Bejewelled Blitz  coins this will not impress the Inland Revenue. And sitting in Costa with a notebook isn’t networking, apparently.

So – the timetable for the week is up on the wall of my little office, coloured blocks indicating what I should be working on when. My freelance admin work on Mondays and Thursdays; writing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Fridays is a ‘flexible’ day – the allotment, meeting mates, housework.  Well the first two anyway. So now, however hard working from home alone can be, I just have to stick to it. I think my husband is a little cynical about it already – I fixed it to the wall with Paddington stickers rather than motivational quotes; but as a guru you don’t get much better than the Bear.

To make a start I have just ‘launched’ my website. Have a look at www.suziegrogan.co.uk.

I am quite proud of it. I love my blog and link through to it, but my website is to promote myself as a businesswoman. Which I am. I earn money from my writing and I have been a researcher for years. If all the Grogan family required was a roof over their heads I earn enough to pay the mortgage. I need to celebrate that and work with and on it.

Interestingly though I have yet to meet another freelance writer who doesn’t procrastinate on social media, which is a vital way to market your writing . And sitting in a cafe listening to other people shouting at their children (or is that just our Costa?) whilst you flick through the papers is actually a vital way to spark the imagination. It is a matter of finding a balance, and therein lies the challenge.

So I am really interested to know how others out there cope with these seemingly opposing demands on a freelance writer’s psyche. At present it feels as if I need to be two entirely different people – one creative, imaginative and relaxed about the passing of time over a cup of coffee and a bun; the other a part-time accountant, administrator and marketing executive.

So what do you do? And what do you think of my website? I am going to be be posting regular news updates about the publication of my anthology of mental health posts from No wriggling on it. Can I improve it? Or will it just be another way to procrastinate?

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20 Responses to Crikey I’ve got a website! Taking control of my freelance life…

  1. Oh, I am so with you here, Suzie! I feel as if I need around three separate existences: teaching, family/house, running Fictionfire. No, make that four – writing. It’s always the creative aspectwhich is elbowed aside by the other commitments and activities, because it’s clearer to see their financial or practical worth. I doodle about on Twitter and Facebook too much, yet social media has provided me with contacts and support, along with work opportunities that I would never have accessed otherwise. It is, as you say, a question of balance. Haven’t quite achieved that yet! I’ll be popping across today to take a look at your website – wishing you all good luck with it. x

    • keatsbabe says:

      It is so tough isn’t it? I have freelance admin work to boost the coffers but resent the time I have to spend on it – until I see the bank balance!

  2. rinsimpson says:

    Absolutely brilliant Susie, the website looks really ‘full’, if you know what I mean – you look like you’ve got lots going on, and it’s very professional. I love the way all the aspects of your career work together. I may have to pick your brains when I come to make mine!

    I know what you mean about getting a balance. For me it’s balancing three days a week in an office job with two days freelancing – except I don’t really advertise the “part time” element of my freelancing and so I get editors assuming I can work all the time. As a result I am often up at 6am to finish something before going to the office and coming home to more writing / researching / subbing.

    I tend to schedule all my networking stuff (lunches, coffees, out of the house interviews) on Fridays, leaving me with Mondays to crack on with writing. If there’s no pressing writing work, I use Monday for pitching. It’s not always easy, I must admit, and I usually am far too busy but I thoroughly enjoy it, so you can’t complain, can you? Although I’m looking at whether I might be able to ditch the office job entirely soon…

    • keatsbabe says:

      Well they do say if you want something done, ask a busy woman! I have been in your position – if you work part time in an office you end up working harder than full timers and then if you are successful (as I know you are) the freelance stuff turns into a full-time job too!

  3. Rivenrod says:

    Crikey, you have a marvellous web site!

    Where on earth do you find the time to do all those things? Truly, you must be a wonder woman. I shall expect spandex, thigh length wellies and a host of gadgets, perhaps a utility dorothy bag or some such (there must be a historical connection, right).

    I love it!

    RR

  4. amanda says:

    Oh God, the P word – I used it in my first sentence on my blog yesterday. I love to hear about other people procrastinating, makes me feel so much better. I am duly impressed by your organizational savoir faire (is that that the phrase I am looking for?), Suzie. After browsing (um, I mean researching) Etsy and Tumblr and Flickr and Facebook yesterday I thought This won’t do. I have to get cracking.
    It is obviously something in the air at the moment.
    But I don’t do timetable spreadsheets. The nearest I get is lists on easily losable scraps of paper. Often beginning with stuff I’ve already done (“Load washing machine”) so I can cross it off and feel good. Really really good.
    I am waiting for the day when I put down “Eat breakfast” and tick that off with a flourish …
    Now off to look at your site and get motivated.

    • keatsbabe says:

      I don’t do timetable spreadsheets either – my husband did it! It is why he is not impressed with the Paddington stickers – shows an insufficiently serious attitude to it!

  5. Really good! I wouldn’t let the procrastination thing get you down – creative impulses don’t work office hours and you need lots of input from a variety of sources before anything halfway decent comes out the other end. This is the excuse I often comfort myself with when guilt about not working sets in.

    I like the fact that your site looks ‘lived in’ and established – like it’s been there for a long time – not just some bare skeleton of a site, waiting for you to add material to fill it out. Websites are very personal objects and I think you should feel comfortable with the end result and believe that this online persona is really ‘you’ (or at least the ‘you’ that you want to project to the rest of us). Another factor adding to the ‘lived in’ feel, is that is easy to discover your online presence through your new site – everything comes together in one place and it’s simple to discover more details about how you work, experience, etc. To me, this gives the reader the impression that the site owner is more “credible.”

    The great thing about freelance work is the freedom to plan timetables to suit yourself. By all means, get those ‘must do’s’ out of the way but I don’t think they should encroach too much on writing/research. It is this activity that pays the bills. What happens if you want to write on Monday when you should be doing your accounts instead?

    Is it coincidence that you picked Int’l Women’s Day to launch your site? In any event, this was a good day to start out. Wishing lots of luck!!!

    • keatsbabe says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely detailed comment – made my day! I agree wholeheartedly about the ‘impulse’ to write – it certainly doesn’t respect the lovely timetable my husband designed for me. I am still up writing now….

  6. Chris Paton says:

    I so need some Paddington stickers – good luck with the site!

  7. Brilliant, looks really good!

  8. Peter says:

    So that’s what you’ve been doing these late nights, I thought you said something about a “building site”. Fine job full of good content and lots of links to interesting articles etc as reflected in your rising hits count and google ranking :-)

  9. Lynne Earthy says:

    A brilliant website Suzie. I cant wait to read your books when they are published. How can I get hold of your published articles to read. They all look very interesting?Well done xx

  10. sonofwalt says:

    Excellent job on the website, Suzie! I’m so proud of you. Thanks for the boost of much needed inspiration. I’ll let you know what kind of pre-business plans I set in motion, but I think you’ve given me a little extra focus during this time when I am planning out my own next moves. Thanks!
    –David

    • keatsbabe says:

      Lovely to hear from you David and great to have more of your blog landing in my Inbox – it’s been a while? Or is that my imagination?

      Thanks for your sweet comments. My book is now to be called ‘Dandelions & Bad Hair Days’ after one of the posts written for my mental health guest slot. Not my words but the author is happy for me to use them – thought it was more interesting and dare I say it poetic?

      • sonofwalt says:

        Sounds like a great title! And yes, it’s been a while. I just started getting this blog geared up again a few days ago. I’ve missed it. :) I have been reading your updates though.

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