How to self publish

Chella honey bee books

This week I have been chatting to Chella Adgopul from Honeybee Books, about how to self publish. The world of publishing has changed so much over the years. With the birth of the internet there are more opportunities for people to publish their own work.

In the past self publishing was viewed as more of a vanity project, but in this podcast, Chella talks about how that is no longer the case. Major publishing houses now expect more of their authors, including sharing their own contact lists. Which begs the question “Why not publish yourself?”

Chill gives loads of great advice and shares top tips if you are thinking about self publishing. You can listen to the whole interview here.

Before you think about going it alone, and publishing yourself, there are some things that you should think about.

Check list

  1. Is there a market for your book or are you sharing it with friends and family?
  2. Have you got a professional to proof read it? (Honeybee Books can help with this).
  3. Have you thought about the design and layout of your book?
  4. If you are going to take it to market you will need an ISBN number & barcode.
  5. How many print runs will you need? Will it be a large or small print run? This can affect the price.
  6. Do you already have a large following that can help you promote your book?
  7. Have you written a blurb- small summary for the back of the book? This can help with your publicity as well.

Honeybee books can help answer many of these questions. You can find out more about them by clicking the link here: www.honeybeebooks.co.uk

What would you like to self publish? Let me know in the comments below. 

If you would like to get more podcasts like this landing in your inbox each week, including free downloadable worksheets and offers that aren’t shared anywhere else, sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of this page. 

 

The emotion of business

If you are reading this article & enjoying the podcast, this is what I share with my mailing list every Wednesday. To join the gang you can sign up at the bottom of this page.

The degree of one's emotions varies inversely with one's knowledge of the facts.
When we talk about emotion and business they are two words that usually shouldn’t go together. If we are negotiating fees, a new contract, applying for grants or funding or going out to sell our products and services, we need to take emotion off the table.

As creatives we are usually emotional beings. We create our work from a place of passion, love, commitment or the pure desire to share our gifts with the world. These are special emotions and not something that you should switch off.

There are times however when you need the emotional part of you to turn the dial down so that you can negotiate. We have all experienced that moment when we have to sell ourselves, or our products and services and the emotion wells up inside us. Our stomach feels like it is full of butterflies and we stumble over our words.

Selling yourself or your own work is always harder than doing it for someone else. That is why most artist statements are written in the third person, it is easier to talk about ourself if we aren’t saying I all the time. This is why we need to be able to control our own emotions when we need to.

In this podcast I talk about ways you can take control of your own emotions, and when it is important to try to do that. Sometimes we need to be emotional to share our passion, and at other times we need a business head on us in order to be able to negotiate successfully.

It isn’t something that you will get right every time, and I know that over 21 years of being a freelancer even I still get emotional at the wrong times-that is part of learning and developing your career.

Continue reading “The emotion of business”

Communication is key

Communication is key

If you are reading this article & enjoying the podcast, this is what I share with my mailing list every Wednesday. To join the gang you can sign up at the bottom of this page.

There are so many ways that we communicate these days that we can forget that there is actually an art to communicating well.

As creatives it is so hard to take the emotion out of our business interactions because we feel uniquely connected to our work. This is one of our biggest challenges. Remember that there should be no emotion in business, and this applies to your career as well.

Tricky?

I can’t say that I have completely mastered it myself yet, but I have learnt that clear communication is part of the success of any career- especially a creative one.

Whether you work alone or with a team of people, at some point during the day you will have to communicate with someone. This could be through a text message, email or in the old fashioned way of using the telephone.

Telephones can actually be a short cut way to getting things done, but we seem to have forgotten how to use them! We hide behind the typed word on our phones and in emails.

Think about how many times you have misinterpreted an email or text from someone. It is hard to convey a tone of voice in a text unless you want to shout and USE ALL CAPITALS!

I’m hoping you don’t shout at people very often!

In this article and podcast I want to talk about more productive ways of communicating and what to do if communication breaks down. We are all human and sometimes things go wrong. More often or not it is because someone didn’t understand the instructions, or that there was little or no communication between both parties. You can listen to it here.

I would prefer someone to check in with me daily and iron out any problems than sit wondering how they were getting on, and whether they understood what was required of them.

One of the best ways leaders in their field use communication is by empowering the other person that they are working with to take some ownership of the task.

There are a few simple ways that you can do this.

  • The first is to be clear what you want out of of the situation.
  • Ask them first how they would approach the task.
  • Listen to what they say before you answer them, as they may have some interesting ways of completing the work that you hadn’t thought of.
  • You want the person to take responsibility for their own work so that if things go wrong, they are more likely to take ownership of the problem.
  • Telling people all of the time what to do doesn’t allow them to take responsibility-and it is also exhausting for you!

Think of all of those helicopter parents we have seen in the playground or in cafes. They constantly interrupt their children again and again. If you communicate this way with your clients or services that you use to deliver your creative work, all that happens is that the work takes twice as long, and you end up with a frustrated team that feels like you don’t trust them.

I want you to think about how you communicate with your team, service providers or clients.

Ways of communicating

  • Do you have a respectful relationship with them?
  • Do you ask for their help or ask them to make suggestions?
  • Could you think of a better way to communicate with them?
  • Are there ways you have communicated in the past that did or didn’t work for you?
  • Examine why those ways of communicating did or didn’t work for you?
  • What could you do differently next time?

How do you communicate in your day to day. 

Do you prefer text to using the telephone, ask yourself why?

Are you nervous of using the telephone?  (In the podcast I explain how you can improve this).

Examine the words that you use in emails. Do you sound confident and clear?

In emails make sure you remove words like but, just, hopefully and I’m not sure.

These words stop you from coming across as confident. It shows that you aren’t sure what you want and this can lead to poor communication.

If you aren’t sure about something say that you need some advice with a task, or offer suggestions of how you think something could be done, and that you would like their opinion about it.

Saying you’re not sure, don’t help anyone, it only shows that you are panicking. Offering solutions (even if they aren’t used in the end) opens up a dialogue with the other person so that there is two way communication.

Remember that even if you work alone there are other people that you rely on to run your creative business or career. Whether they are your telephone provider, website host, or even the postal service. If you treat them as part of your team and communicate well, then they are more likely to help you in the long run.

What is your biggest communication problem at the moment ?

Let me know in the comments below and i’ll see if I can help you work out a strategy to fix the problem.

How to get paid on time

How to get paid on time

If you are reading this article & enjoying the podcast, this is what I share with my mailing list every Wednesday. To join the gang you can sign up at the bottom of this page.

Getting paid on time when you are a freelancer or just starting out on your creative career, can be the difference between making or breaking you.

When I was starting out I had no idea that I could set the date that invoices needed to be paid by. I thought I was at the mercy of the people that I worked for as a freelancer. I now know that was wrong.

When we hustle for work and make new client and customer contacts we are building relationships. We each come with a way of working and we need to compromise to be able to work together. This I believe should also extend to payment plans as well.

When we start out or work with a new client, we are so grateful to get the work, we want to be on our best behaviour and hope that they will hire us again.
Money is one of those areas that as creatives we still struggle to have conversations about, but it is one of the most important things that we need to do.

We have all heard creatives say “Oh I’m no good with figures.” but this is really a way of saying “I don’t understand figures, or I’m scared of figures, or I don’t know how to ask for help about money”.

I don’t want to ever hear you say again that you are no good with figures! If you can use an ATM machine, then you can figure out some basic book keeping. At its most simple level all book keeping is, is money coming in and money coming out.

We all played with money boxes as kids adding up all of the coins that we had collected, and it is no different now that you are freelancing. I’m not the world’s best mathematician, but I know that I don’t have to be. I can use calculators or pay a monthly fee to use software like Kashflow.
As creatives we have so much more access to help to get our figures sorted out, than we ever did before.

Yes it can be boring, but it is the life blood of our career so we should show it some respect. Just as you wouldn’t feel good living on junk food your whole life, you need to look after your money in the same way and feed and care for it. How we get paid on time is a big part of that care package for your finances.

In the podcast I talk about ways to help you get paid on time and have designed a getting paid checklist for you to use.You can listen to it below.

To download the checklist click HERE.

When you start a new relationship with a client or customer find out who is actually going to be paying you.

  • Is it them, or someone from the finance department?
  • Get their name, email address and direct phone number before you start the work.

Having these conversations at the beginning will save lots of heart ache in the long run.

Next you want to work out what terms you want them to respect.

Does that mean that you expect payment on receipt of the invoice, or that you are paid in instalments as parts of the work is completed? By being asked to be paid in instalments it offers you some protection. If they can’t pay you for the next chunk of work, then it means you won’t start it until they have paid you for the previous work you have done. This is very useful if you are a designer, as you will be working closely with the clients and going backwards and forwards to make changes with them etc.

If you are a photographer, (like I was) it is harder to ask for payment as you go along, but there are other ways of doing it. You can supply watermarked photographs, or if you still work on film then you can supply watermarked contact sheets and hold onto the negatives until you are paid.

I have had terrible experiences in the past working for glossy magazines who said they would pay me monthly (and I didn’t know I could negotiate those terms). I waited to be paid monthly and then the magazine went bust with me losing 3 months worth of work, and having to fight with the bailiffs to get my negatives back. Don’t let this happen to you!

If they can’t afford you, then you need to ask yourself if it is worth working for them. Magazines and newspapers have a policy of only paying monthly, and sometimes longer. I still think that there are ways to work around this, as I mentioned before about holding onto the negatives or making sure you get some petty cash up front to pay for expenses.

We are often so excited to have the work our professional brain leaves the building! Believe me, I have been there. It is much harder to claw back money once the work has started than to negotiate terms for that work at the beginning.

They may say that their way is the only way, but if they really want to work with you I always think there is some compromise. After all this is all about relationships.

  • Can you get per diems (money for food, parking, hotels etc) up front?
  • Can you get them to pay in instalments if they can’t pay the whole fee on time?
  • Can they pay you some of it out of petty cash?

If you keep meeting brick walls you need to ask if you really want to work for these people. It might seem like a great place to be, but there is little point working hard for them if they are not going to pay you on time when you need the money for the work. All you get if that happens is a feeling of loss and bitterness that they took advantage of you.

As single freelancers it is always hard to negotiate the money alone, but once you have tried it once, you can do it again and again. As you build your reputation, you can set the way your payment plan works, and if they don’t like it, then you need to ask yourself if you want to work with them in the long run.

Too many young people come out of University or start their careers doing work for free. I beg them to stop.

It isn’t only that they are being taken advantage of, but it also damages the industry that they are entering. I have seen too many young photographers, designers and artists giving their work away for free again and again. It often comes down to confidence and the lack of skills to negotiate.

Continue reading “How to get paid on time”

Retreat your creativity

Retreat your creativity

You may know that I have just come back from a writing retreat. Retreats weren’t really my bag before. I thought it was rather indulgent to take time off and retreat from the world, but I have now realised that it is so important to take time where and when we can to focus on our own practice.

I wanted to share some of the things that I learnt by giving my creativity a retreat, and why I think it is something that you should build into your career plan.

What I found most useful was the fact that I was sharing the experience with others who thought or felt the same way as me. We were all going through the experience together, but at our own pace and building something ourselves. This was a powerful thing.

Most of the time as creative freelancers we spend time alone making or creating. On top of that we have to sort out our books, do a tax return and find new audiences and clients. We need to know that taking time to be creative- (totally creative), is not only a gift to ourselves but it can also help us to reflect on our own career and see what is and isn’t working.

Taking time to retreat from the electronic, rushing and commitment heavy world that we live in, is something we need to make time to do.

Now, I totally understand that not everyone can drop everything and lock themselves away for a week to focus on their creative practice. But what you might be able to do is carve out 24 or 48 hours once a year to have a retreat. You don’t even need to leave your home to do it.

Having 48 hours without the internet, telephones or other distractions gives you time to experiment, to reflect, to take a moment to see how far you have already come and to celebrate that.

When we are running around and trying to build or keep our career on track we can forget how much brain space is taken up from just being!

Ask yourself when was the last time you didn’t check your emails for 48 hours or left your mobile phone at home?

Technology has seeped into everything we do. You can see this from the craze of Pokemon Go that has exploded everywhere- People taking a walk with their phones held out in front of them trying to catch a small animated creature to earn points.

Retreats are a moment in time that is purely yours to do what ever you want with. I talk about how you can create mini retreats in your life, whether you have children or other commitments to work around.

If you fancy going off on a writing retreat, this is where I went for a tutored retreat ARVON.

When you take a retreat or a mini retreat, there are some things that you need to think about before you begin.

  1. Make sure that you let other people know that you are going to do it. Let your nearest and dearest know that you are not going to be available (do create an emergency contact that they can reach you on if they need to). Then let your email list know that you will be unavailable by setting an out of office reply on your email and mobile phone.
  2. Unplug all of the technology and put it away- all of the tablets, phones, and internet. If you don’t trust yourself give a friend the key and ask them to bring it back to you in 48 hours.
  3. Focus on one thing. Trying to cram all of your dreams, plans and ideas into one retreat isn’t only exhausting, it is unproductive as well. You end up making lots of starts, as like love, they are more fun in the beginning. But what you want to have is a bit of a break thorough or time to create one thing- or at least start it.
  4. Start early (unless you are a night owl- in which case start late and work late). You only have a retreat for a period of time, so treat it as precious. You can have lie ins other times when it is over.
  5. Make time for exercise. Taking a walk or a run round the block when you are retreating helps you to clear your head, come up with new ideas and take a breather from the intensity of creating all day.
  6. Prepare all of your food in advance so you don’t have to cook, shop or even think about those chores. (On my retreat this was the most relaxing part of it. I didn’t have to plan meals or do the shopping, it was all catered for).
  7. If you want to do the retreat with others you could all hire a place to come together or share the day time work with each other. Working alone but coming together for meals works well.

    This is the most important point:-

  8. You may not create the best work while you are on a retreat. It might be that you discover a new way of doing something or a way or writing that you hadn’t explored before. Don’t be disheartened if at the end you have a few bits of work in a folder that you may or may not use. The benefits will come later when you look back on it.

So now I have a challenge for you!

Over the next month try to block out 24-48 hours that you use to create your own retreat. Make sure that all technology is banished and locked away. If you usually work with computers as a designer etc. try to take this time to use paper and pens instead. Literally go back to the drawing board.

In the comments below let me know how you get on and what break throughs you made. 

Dealing with difficult clients.

Dealing with difficult clients

It doesn’t have to be painful.

There will have been some point during your career when you have had to deal with difficult clients. You may have started off well with a good relationship, but as the work commitments piled on the relationship broke down.

Usually there is a basic cause to the problem and 9 times out of 10 it usually relates to communication.

Communication can break down due to a number of reasons. They might have given you more work than was agreed, or else they keep moving the goal posts, or they keep making changes to the work which leaves you with many more hours than you imagined you’d be working on it.

All of this can be prevented. In order for that to happen you need to start at the beginning. I explain how in the podcast below.

When we begin freelancing we often think that we have to say yes to every project. We fear that we will never work again if we say no. I spent my early creative career saying yes to things that I later resented doing- and no one likes an unhappy employee or client.

We need to learn to say no more often. Now I’m not talking about the shouty kind of no which makes the person who offered you the work feel bad. I’m talking about taking the time to say no. Rather than saying yes immediately, ask them if you can get back to them, or check you diary. Anything that buys you a bit of time so that you can weigh up whether this is the right thing for you to be doing. I always as myself these three questions:

  1. Will I enjoy working on this? (You are at work for many hours in a day, so you have to want to work on it).
  2. Will this help to further my creative career? (If we keep on working for free we are going to end up bankrupt and still on the bottom rung of the ladder).
  3. Are these people who I want to work with? (Just as you need to enjoy the work, you want to enjoy working with the people. Trying to work with someone who is difficult from the start isn’t going to end well).

I’m lucky that I have now got enough of my career behind me to be more picky these days, and I spend most of my time saying no to things. Often it is because what they are asking me is actually going to take several days rather than a “can I pick your brain”.

Saying yes to the right things, will help you progress your career, will help you to shine as you are enjoying the experience, and you are more likely to deliver your best work when you have felt valued and excited about the projects.

There will always be days when you need to pay the rent and have to say yes to something for the money, but there are ways to manage that job so that it doesn’t turn into a horrible experience with difficult clients demanding more, and you hating every moment of that. I talk more about how to deal with that in the podcast.

Communication is key. From the beginning, until the end. I would always rather someone was informing me of their progress every day than not at all.

Think about the times that you have been waiting for a bus or a plane and it is suddenly delayed. You sit and wait and no one tells you what is happening.

How do you feel?

I imagine that you begin to feel frustrated and annoyed that no one is telling you what is going on, or when the transport is actually going to arrive. This is how clients feel if you don’t tell them what is going on.

There will be days when we realise that we aren’t going to meet the deadline, or that a problem arises and we need more time. As long as you are communicating this to your clients, reasonable people will understand. Reasonable people can turn into unreasonable people if they are left hanging, with no idea of what is going on.

The second thing that can create difficult clients is money. Money makes the world go around, whether we like it or not. Creatives are particularly bad at pricing themselves correctly. (There will be a future podcast and worksheets to help you with pricing).

Sorting out the money before you even start the job is hugely beneficial. You get those uncomfortable money conversations out of the way first. Often the person who hires you isn’t the person who pays you, so before you do one single hour of work, make sure you discuss how you want to get paid and who is going to pay you.

  • Do you want to be paid before the job starts? (This is possible if you have a good relationship with them. All of my mentor sessions are paid up front).
  • Do you want to be paid in instalments as you deliver the work in chunks? (This can be a great way of working as the client gets to see the work progress and understands that they need to pay for the next piece of work etc. It also allows them to give feedback as the job develops.Plus it protects you. I have had the horrible experience of a magazine going bust on me and months worth of work went unpaid, and I had to contact the bailiffs to retrieve my photographic negatives! Not a nice experience. If I had requested payment in chunks this wouldn’t have happened).
  • Look at what terms you add to your invoices. And if you don’t put payment terms on your invoices do it now! Payment terms basically mean the number of days you are willing to wait until the invoice needs to be paid.I put 15 days for most work, and 30 days for magazines and newspapers as I know their departments take that long to process things. I’ve seen designers as to be paid on receipt of the invoice. Work out what you need in order to survive or what you are willing to wait for, or put up with, and then set your terms.
    Continue reading “Dealing with difficult clients.”

Comparing your career will kill it.

Comparison is the theif of joy

You will have days when you are building your creative career and are struck by the Comparison Killer. The comparison killer happens when you are doing just that…comparing yourself to your competition.

Of course a bit of healthy competition helps us to keep moving forward and innovating. It only becomes a problem when it makes the green jealously monster come out of hiding.

It is useful to take the odd look at what your competitors are doing so that you can either improve on what they are offering or else check-in that you are on track, offering what your customers and audience are interested in. There is a balancing act between looking and feeling overwhelmed.

We are naturally tribal creatures. This means that we constantly check that we are doing what our social group approves of, and changing our habits and dress accordingly. We can do this completely unconsciously.

I’m sure that you have seen gangs of teenagers out on the weekends looking like carbon copies of each other, and I challenge you to look at your own social circle. I have no doubt that the majority of them hold similar ideals and taste to you.

The Comparison Killer is bad for our health. It can not only kill our confidence, but also paralysis us from moving forward, or putting our creative work out there.

We need to be brave to create. We are often pioneers trying out new ways of creating products and services. This takes guts, especially if you are doing most of it alone.

In this podcast I talk about why you need to be kind to yourself and what you can do when the comparison killer strikes. I want you to be able to carry on being creative rather than allowing it to kill your confidence.

Continue reading “Comparing your career will kill it.”

Digital detox

I’m quitting!

For the first time since Christmas I am taking a week off. This time I have decided to go one step further and have a digital detox.

You might be like me, one of those people who checks their emails the moment they wake up, looks at Facebook and other social media platforms, then suddenly realise that you’ve been sucked into the time wasting vortex.

I do love social media, and I do schedule my day so that I am most productive, but over a weekend I find I’m checking social media more often, and actually a phone call or letter to friends means more than a 140 character post.

So with that in mind I’ve decided to quit everything for the week- no podcast, no social media posts, no emails.

I’m going to be doing more of this! I was drinking this yummy coffee on the beach in St Ives, Cornwall this morning.

Coffe

My challenge for you this week is to look at your own social media usage. Can you send a card rather than an email birthday post, can you make a phone call to your overseas friends rather than writing an email, can you go out and have coffee with friends this week rather than trying to fix a day in the future?
Let me know in the comments below what changes you have made and if they have brought a positive effect to your life. 

Digital detox is so important to try to do at least once a year. Technology is becoming part of our everyday lives and it is important to remember the everyday, rather than letting it take over our life.

Why you need to build a community of clients.

They are so many benefits to building a community of your clients and customers.

When I set up the CWI I wanted to create a place for women to come together, share ideas, help and inspire each other. We have members from over 27 countries that are generous with their advice and support. It is this type of community that I want to talk about today.

When we work as freelancers we have to continually innovate and find new customers and clients to sell our work to. It is important to understand how the climate has changed in terms of customer service and need.

Gone are the days when we met our prospective clients and customers for the first time during an interview. We now use the power of Google to check out who wants to hire us, or whom we can sell to.

I like to think that we have gone back 100 years in terms of customer service. Our ancestors would have shopped in the corner store before super markets were invented. The owner would have known what you bought last week, what you might like from the new stock, how your mother is and whether you need to pay on credit or can pay the full bill this week.

They knew your name, your family and neighbours; they were part of your community. This is how it is now that social media and on-line selling has arrived. We want to know whom we are buying from and if they share the same values as us. We want to know if there is a story behind the work, which makes it all the more valuable by knowing it.

Why you need to build a community of clients

Whether you sell face-to-face, online, with one client or many customers, to make a success you must now create your own community. A community will spread the word, be your biggest cheerleaders and fans.

In this week’s podcast I talk about the benefits of thinking this way. How you can make people value what you sell to them, and how they can become your biggest fans and part of your marketing strategy. I also talk about how they can make or break your business, and must be handled with care. I talk about a FREE workbook that you can get access to if you sign up to the mailing list at the bottom of this page.

Continue reading “Why you need to build a community of clients.”

Making A Success Of Failure

I want us to start to embrace the success of failure. Now that might sound like an oxymoron, but I really do want us to celebrate our failures for a number of reasons.

We live in a culture that has forgotten how to reward failure. We are all about the new, the bigger and better. Rather than looking at what failed, and improving on it, we tend to resign it to the rubbish bin and start again.

I blame the cult of celebrity for this desire to have everything new and perfect. Every photo on social media, every piece of art or presentation has to be immaculate. They hide the failures that went before, because who ever gave failure good press?

When I work with University students I am constantly surprised how often they believe that they should be able to do something after the first try. Otherwise they label themselves no good at it. They have declared something impossible without giving it a real try.

Successful failing

As babies we didn’t come out of the womb knowing how to run across the room. We spent days and weeks, falling over, face planting or landing on our knees, then over time we grabbed onto the corner of a chair, or reached up for a parental hand or toy with wheels that helped our progress. We failed. Not once, not twice, but many times. We got up, we tried new ways and eventually we ran.

The next generation have been told that success is possible but without knowing how hard it is to achieve it, or how much mess, tears and failure has to happen first to make that possible.

In this podcast I talk about how we can make failure work for us, how we need to encourage the next generation to fail more often, and how Silicon Valley is actually celebrating failed projects.

Continue reading “Making A Success Of Failure”