10 hard truths I’ve learned about freelancing since I quit my job

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  1. Freelancing is persistent loneliness and constant rejection.
  2. The ratio of rejections to successes is probably something like 19:1 – brutal!
  3. You work alone at home so you turn on the TV for company but end up watching it thinking Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares is the most important thing ever.
  4. It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of your own thoughts with no external influences so you have mini crises on an hourly basis.
  5. You drink too much tea or coffee and end up having mild anxiety attacks before you realise what you’ve done.
  6. You try to work in the library to avoid that feeling of being trapped at home but realise that most people just go to the library to kill time out of the cold, so it’s not a great place to work.
  7. You make stupid mistakes with admin because you’re a writer, not an administrator, and you feel like an idiot.
  8. You think you’ll have more time to change the world / pursue your dreams / watch funny videos, but you don’t because building a business is harder than having a job.
  9. You think it’ll get easier to network and reach out to clients but it doesn’t because you’re an introvert and the world is far too stimulating.
  10. Becoming a freelancer still rocks and even though most days are difficult, nothing worth achieving was ever easy. You’ll find a way to keep going.

Find out why confidence is so essential to freelancing and some quick tips for building confidence.

Feel free to contact me at catherine@awaywithwords.co if you have questions about freelancing or anything else.

CatherineCatherine Heath is a freelance blogger and copywriter for B2B SaaS companies. She’s obsessed with the field of personality systems theory, and she also likes drawing, yoga, meditation and being in nature. 

Image: Pineapples, Unsplash.com

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing

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I’ve adapted a well-known quote for this post because originally it said good ‘men’, and I wanted to acknowledge that women have agency too.

I was motivated to write this post after the election of Donald Trump as president.

I was not as stunned as the rest of the world. I was hardened by the tragic results of the European Union referendum here in the UK recently, which no one expected to turn out as they did.

I witnessed firsthand the chaos that is wreaked by our modern media machine, controlled behind the scenes by big business.

Its big seller is fear, by constantly feeding the masses doses of terror, recession, and violence.

Actually, we live in a more comfortable time than we ever have, at least in the UK, some parts of Europe and the US. That’s how we’re able to operate under such a sophisticated model of media and business.

One that controls the masses tightly by promoting a societal order that benefits very few.

Don’t think of politics as isolated

I normally stay out of political matters and approach them indirectly through advocating for women in tech on my blog, or helping others to develop themselves personally and professionally.

Politics isn’t a separate area of society, however. That’s just a media construction.

Political matters are inseparable from our daily lives, and legislation affects every one of us.

You can make a difference ‘politically’ by involving yourself in organisations that promote social good, which aim to change society at a macro level.

For example, women in tech isn’t just about women in tech.

It’s about the idea of equality and respect for everyone, regardless of who or where they were born.

If individual women are empowered to pursue their dream careers in tech, this will also help them become more powerful individuals in society at large. This will benefit the causes of women overall.

I chose the title of this blog post because so many of the reactions to Trump’s presidency were from good people, the vast majority of whom do nothing.

Acceptance rather than fear

I know we have no direct power to influence the American political system from our sofas in Britain. Still, I’ve noticed that the most politically active people on my social media feeds were also the ones that preached acceptance and tolerance – rather than fear, hatred and division.

Ironically, the descent into name-calling and despair is exactly the fuel that Trump’s – and Brexit’s – campaigns ran on.

If people are afraid of and hate each other, then overly-conservative and divisive campaigns (under the guise of patriotism) can flourish.

At the risk of being as dramatic as everyone else, much of Trump’s campaign – the little I allowed myself to actively absorb – reminds me of Nazi rhetoric.

A return to a lost golden age that never existed, a revival of the great American society (where’s it gone?) which is a mask for the true social injustices perpetuated by those in power. Uniting against a common ‘enemy’ (non-Americans).

And of course, Trump is the charismatic leader, galvanizing the people by selling them a dream, playing on their fears and tempting their greed.

Good people stand up

But more fear and more division is not the right way. So that’s why I was motivated to write this blog post.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for me to do nothing.

The opposite to Trump is not ‘not-Trump’ because that’s just Trump in a different form.

The true opposite to Trump and what he represents, the answer that everyone who was upset by the result of today’s elections is seeking, is more love, courage, openness and humanity, actively practiced by every human being.

That means every person needs to go out there and be more active in the causes that matter to them. That’s the antidote to Trumpism. Whether that’s helping inner city children learn to cook, or more women to succeed in tech, or get more homeless people off the streets, just participate.

Because it’s not like anyone was happy with the state of affairs before. The political climate could not have been called good.

We may now be reaching a point where it’s sufficiently bad that good people are motivated to speak.

It’s taken the election of a conservative government, the near-split of the United Kingdom, Brexit, the collapse of said government, the appointment of an unelected head of state, and, finally, the rise of Donald Trump, to get me onto the soapbox.

I hope this post reminds a few people that they aren’t alone. Lots of people who are normally silent are humane, compassionate and progressive. There’s always another election. There’s always time for change.

CatherineCatherine Heath is a freelance blogger and copywriter for B2B SaaS companies. She’s obsessed with the field of personality systems theory, and she also likes drawing, yoga, meditation and being in nature. 

Image: Unsplash.com

Why confidence in freelancing is so important

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We all kind of know this implicitly, but in the storm of everyday life, we can forget that so many of our problems with what we’re doing stem from a lack of confidence.

Now, there are those who believe that women’s issues aren’t important. That in a global context of poverty, environmental damage, war, and Donald Trump, feminism should just shut up and go home.

But in my everyday life, feminism has been my motivating force. One day in university, I was reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and it was like a lightbulb came on in my head.

I was only to recognise its significance years later, but I realised that it was significantly better to be a man in this world.

Being a woman, well, sucked.

And that could have been the end of the story. Oh well, that’s nice, move on, get a job, get married and so forth.

Except that it’s so hard to succeed in the world when every major media message, every film, every book, tells women that they are only good enough to serve men – all the while looking very pretty. You’d better not be too fat, or too loud, or too assertive, because society will crush you.

So when I thought that I wanted to be a freelancer, almost as soon as it occurred to me, I dismissed the thought as ridiculous. That was for other people. Happiness was for other people.

I was only good enough to take the path that society had handed to me – which, given my background and upbringing, was still a damn good one.

But I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to forge her own path. I get a twisted delight from taking the road that no one has gone down before, and while there are plenty of other freelancers out there, there are none quite like me.

No one else is running my freelance writing business, or working with my clients, or building my brand. And I am so grateful for that.

Yet although I am doing exactly what I want to do, confidence is my biggest struggle. It’s not the lack of money that comes with just starting out in a new business, or lack of clients, or uncertainty – it’s that pervasive belief that I am not good enough and never will be.

If you’ve never experienced that feeling, you will dismiss feminists as irrelevant harpies that are just trying to grab a bigger slice of the societal pie for themselves. The true meaning of feminism is actually just equality. It means giving everyone the equal chance to fulfill their potential.

If it hadn’t been for all those women, living and dead, around the world who promoted the message that other women can – and should – be successful, I probably wouldn’t have even had the guts to try.

So now it’s a daily struggle with confidence, or lack of it. Building confidence takes time, and it’s incredibly hard.

But there are some things you can do:

  1. Challenge unhelpful beliefs like “I’m not good enough!” which run on autopilot in the background of your mind
  2. Get outside your head and go to events in your industry. Make it real. Talk to people who will reinforce that you’re doing good things.
  3. Don’t compare. We’ve heard it all before, but comparison really is the death of joy.
  4. Remember, you’ve had the courage to try, which barely anyone else has. Even if you fail miserably, you still win.
  5. Focus on the positives. Make a list of all the things you’ve accomplished in your life. Or, if that’s too hard, just pick three things.
  6. Spend time with people who make you feel good. There are some special people who, after you spend time with them, make you feel about a foot taller.
  7. Remember, the universe works in mysterious ways. You no more know that you’re going to fail than you’re going to succeed. Don’t assume nothing is happening because you don’t see the evidence for it right now.
  8. Put in the work and you will see the results pay off. Half of confidence is simply preparation, and it’s not enough to sit around and hope. Do your research, put in the time, and you will have every reason to feel confident.

Feel free to get in touch with me at catherine@awaywithwords.co if you have any questions about freelancing. Or, you can check out my professional freelancing website

CatherineCatherine Heath is a freelance blogger and copywriter for B2B SaaS companies. She’s obsessed with the field of personality systems theory, and she also likes drawing, yoga, meditation and being in nature. 

Image: Unsplash.com

Why travelling to Berlin and freelancing was a terrible idea

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The view of Alexanderplatz from a bridge
  • I wanted to learn German but I was so overwhelmed with setting up my freelance business that I couldn’t really take in anymore information.
  • Travelling to and living in a new place increases your cognitive load. Along with quitting my job and starting a new business, I really felt the strain.
  • When you travel, you probably need to be in a mindset of freedom and abandonment. Even though I quit my job to be more ‘free’, I’ve actually found my lack of rigorous self-discipline when I don’t have any external demands to be a hindrance.
  • I’ve learnt the hard way that freedom is simply a state of mind. We need to recognise that everything in our lives is the result of our own choices, and even being a freelancer doesn’t necessarily mean you will feel free.
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A captivating billboard in Kreuzberg
  • Dreams are always better as dreams – actual reality can never live up to the fantasy. Even though you can post endless exciting photos on Instagram, there is still the drudgery and mild panic of everyday life.
  • Despite this knowledge, it’s always worth pursuing your dreams because you only get one life. I wouldn’t want to live my whole life not knowing what it was like to pursue my dream.
  • I’m not saying that I regret becoming a freelancer, but it is truly difficult. The difficulty is mainly internal, struggling with a constant fear and lack of self belief. It’s so hard to keep that fire stoked.
  • I’ve realised that I’m 27 and I have no excuse to keep putting things off. I’ve learned that many things I’m supposed to enjoy are actually unpleasant, such as travelling the world.
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We went to Westkreuz and there were many beautiful lakes
  • And yet, I still keep going abroad. What I get out of this experience is widening my perspective of history and different cultures, but I prefer being a passive observer rather than an active participant.
  • Sometimes doing something crazy is rewarding because it inspires other people to tell you their crazy dreams – which aren’t really so crazy. I feel a lot closer to my friends and family, and I actually know what their aspirations are now.
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I got a visit! Here we are in Potsdamerplatz
  • Freelancing is something you need to do with a stable base so you can develop the routines and processes necessary to make your business a success. You can find stability in chaos, from a mixture of going to the library, buying your favourite coffee from the hipster café and continually staring at your bank account in panic.
  • I wouldn’t say I have any proper regrets but in the middle of my trip, I got this vomiting virus and couldn’t eat for three days. You feel pretty lonely being ill in a foreign country and it puts things in perspective.
  • Even after all these complaints and dissatisfactions, I’m still going to do it again in a few months. I’m hoping Budapest in February will be a more suitable destination for me.

I hope you enjoyed this second post about my travels in Berlin. You can also read the first one if you missed it. As always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about freelancing. 

Worst digital nomad ever: travels in Berlin

A digital nomad is a remote worker who doesn’t live at a fixed residence. They normally travel around the globe to various cool locations such as Thailand and South America to soak up local culture and meet other nomads.

I’ve come to Kreuzberg, Berlin, which is quite a popular digital nomad destination.

Indeed, I’ve already met almost all the possible stereotypes – a digital nomad, startup founder and a jewellery designer.

The scene is very cool and I definitely don’t fit in!

As a result, I’ve come up with quite a few reasons why I’m possibly the worst digital nomad ever.

  1. I don’t really like being away from home. I find it stressful rather than exciting.
  2. I don’t particularly like meeting new people. I mean, they’re ok. But I like the people I already know.
  3. Learning how to navigate is stressful. I’m not very good at crossing the road or catching the bus at the best of times. Throw in a foreign environment and language, and I’m surprised I’m still alive.
  4. I don’t like eating many types of food. I’m pretty fussy and I want to know exactly what’s in my food before I touch it.
  5. I don’t actually like cities. In fact, my next location is going to be a village at the foot of the Yorkshire Dales, and I’m really looking forward to it.
  6. I’m awful at languages, with many aborted attempts to learn a second tongue. I can say a few basic words in Cantonese, German and French, and that’s it.
  7. I think calling yourself a digital nomad is lame. It puts the focus on the wrong parts of the experience, as you’re not actually nomadic in terms of the digital technology, since it is by its very nature, global. A nomad is simply a nomad.

However, Berlin really is a great city and I’m staying in Kreuzberg, which is where all the hipsters live.

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Image: The yellow S-Bahn on in Kreuzberg

I’ve seen everything from a raver peeing in daylight to people performing in front of oncoming traffic, amazingly beautiful billboards and someone buying me a meal at a kebab shop.

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Image: here’s the billboard – no idea what it’s advertising but it looks lovely. 

I’ve met someone from Airbnb, eaten tons of mustard and drunk incredibly aromatic coffee.

 

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Image: where I get my coffee on Eisenbahnstraße, staffed by pleasant hipsters

In all honesty, I’ve spent most of my time so far at the public library working on my freelance writing. It has awesome internet, especially compared to the Manchester public library (sorry, Manchester).

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Image: the Kreuzberg public library

The truth is, I’m not that much of a party person these days. I have to work really hard to make sure my freelance writing career is successful. It’s not the easy ride I thought it would be.

On the other hand, I’ve still had the chance to compare two different brands of vodka, one from the fancy, trendy market where I live and the other from budget supermarket Morma.

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Image: these two bottles of vodka were the same price! 

This is the first instalment of the thrilling tales of my travels. More to come!

Find it how I quit my job to become a full-time freelance writer, or check out my professional women in tech blog

The only personal growth goal you’ll ever need

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There is so much advice out there about how to develop yourself that it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and come to think it’s easier not to change.

Far from being motivated, too much advice has the effect of paralysing you, and you may well end up doing nothing.

I read a lot of books, about personal development, spirituality, science, business, entrepreneurship, writing. And I always hold one value in mind when I am absorbing new information, which is to strive for balance in everything I do.

Balance in what I eat

For example, I want to eat healthily so I try to eat more vegetables, less meat and processed foods, limit sugar, and all that.

But, if I go towards the extreme of eating healthily, I end up becoming rigid and joyless, unable to enjoy a treat because I’ve labelled all foods that aren’t healthy as ‘bad’.

To find a balance, I would also make sure I allow myself to enjoy crisps, or some cake, a fizzy drink or whatever. But if all I’m eating is chips and nuggets, I’m going too far the other way towards eating junk food and not looking after myself.

All things in life have a balance between opposites at their heart, conceptually speaking.

Truth in opposites

This is because all truth resides in reconciling opposites, just like demonstrating great power is a positive trait in a leader but must be combined with humility and vulnerability, to avoid sliding over into tyranny.

The strong and the weak are one, because at the heart of weakness lies strength’s greatest power. At the heart of strength lies weakness: a fear of vulnerability.

So when I’m freelancing, I strive to learn and grow, building my confidence and my experience in order to grow stronger.

But I consciously allow myself to be weak, not to beat myself up for feeling scared or stupid, and even openly admitting my insecurities to others, to keep myself in balance.

Conscious living

Always striving to find a balance in everything you do means you can never go on to autopilot, because momentum means that we’re constantly prone to swinging to extremes.

Once you’re moving in a certain direction, it’s far easier to keep moving than it ever was to just get started in the first place.

So when you’re moving through life, and you’re considering yet another piece of advice from another guru, claiming the next quick-fix to help you improve your life, consider whether it will help you achieve balance or not.

Over time, you will instinctively keep adjusting your path. And that’s not to say that you will never find yourself losing your balance or swinging to another extreme. Rather, it means finding balance will start coming more and more naturally to you, and it will become easier and easier to keep finding the right path again.

Read more about how personal growth is the way to happiness, or find out more about my freelance writing business

CatherineCatherine Heath is a writer and digital communications professional obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes drawing, yoga, meditation and being in nature. 

How freelancing is a lot like dating

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I thought of this analogy a long time ago when I was first learning how to interact with clients and pitch to them.

Freelancing is not only like dating, but it’s like being a man playing the dating game. And as I’m not a man, it was a really hard thing to get used to.

I gained a renewed sympathy for how hard it is to be (a heterosexual) male and looking for love in our society, because all the pressure is on you to go out there and ‘attract’ a woman – and all the while, without coming across as too aggressive or desperate.

Hunter-prey dynamic

I’m not saying it’s right that we have such an imbalance of power in the dating game, but it does obviously arise from ancient hunter-prey dynamics fuelled by testosterone.

But in some ways, taking on the ‘hunter’ role was also very empowering, and I became a little jealous that men get to be the ones to come up with all the little strategies to attract the object of their affection.

As a freelancer, I have to attract clients effectively, and without showing them my desperation, which would make them run a mile – especially when I was just starting out and had absolutely no clients!

How to attract clients (or dates)

The only answer to the conundrum of attracting clients while not feeling your best is to build confidence, which can be applied in many areas of life.

You build confidence by trusting that the universe will provide what you need, and also applying proven techniques to draw your clients to you.

And it works – I now have twelve regular clients.

Hopefully, as a male in the dating game, you wouldn’t end up with twelve lovers, or that may require a trip to the sexual health clinic. In that way, freelancing and dating are different.

But here are some ways where freelancing is like dating:

  1. You have to present an attractive image of yourself that clients/dates will like
  2. You have to narrow down your market to attract a certain kind of client/date
  3. You have to make the effort to reach out to people or they will never know you’re in the market (for clients or dates)
  4. You have to risk rejection and failure to get who you want (clients or dates)
  5. You have to try many different platforms to ensure you’re reaching out to as many people as possible (sending cold emails and attending networking events, or going on Tinder and to speed-dating)
  6. When you finally land someone you want, it’s the best feeling in the world
  7. If you don’t hear from your client/date in a while, you start to panic that they’ve forgotten about you
  8. If someone goes quiet, you have to make the effort to follow up with them a couple of times, but then if you don’t hear from them, LEAVE THEM ALONE (some men should take note of this)
  9. Hopefully, if you’re both suited to each other, your client or date will turn into a satisfying long-term relationship

And that’s it!

The conclusion of this piece is that we can all learn a lesson from freelancing.

Heterosexual men trying to attract women can be emboldened by the fact that they’ve got a lot of pressure on them, and even if they get rejected, can take heart from the fact that at least they’ve had the courage to put themselves out there.

Heterosexual women can realise that they can take a bit more responsibility to become the ‘hunter’. It seems terrifying to put yourself out there but even if you get rejected, you’ll still be on a high from the fact that you tried.

As for homosexual men and women… I can’t even imagine how hard that must be!

If you’d like to find more about my freelance writing, you can check out my women in tech blog awaywithwords.co

Image: Adriana Velasquez, Unsplash