I got the idea for this post from Emily Quinton, who posted a list on her new blog. This will hopefully represent things that are important in my new life as a full-time freelancer, or need to be made more so this year. Oh, and the picture is related to P!
A is for authors. I really respect people who can write creatively (I can write, but my talents lie on the marketing / informational side of things) and who have the determination to see the whole project through. I’m passionate about helping authors who are going down the self-publishing route to avoid being ripped off by the unscrupulous companies that exist out there, and showing them how they can get their work in front of their audience at a lower cost, for example by publishing e-books rather than print books.
B is for BookCrossing. While I keep some BookCrossing Zones going, I’ve really scaled back on this hobby, which is a shame; but the admin does take time that’s been filled by Libro activities. I did enjoy doing some wild releasing on Christmas Day, so I’ll get back into a bit of that. But nothing like I used to do. I have met some lovely people through the hobby and maintained those friendships, but times change and we move on.
C is for colleagues. I do miss my colleagues from my old office, but I have virtual (and real-life) people who are filling that role. On Twitter, I’ve found a group of people who are up early, like me, and we all say “good morning” first thing. Then there are various people who run small businesses or work from home in Birmingham, who I see around and about and meet for coffee, and then my fellow editors, all over the world, with whom I swap thoughts, ideas and questions.
D is for diversity. When I launched Libro, it was as a proof-reading company, mainly working on student dissertations and theses. Since then, I’ve added substantive editing, fiction editing, transcription, localisation and copy-typing to the mix. All fun, and keeps me on my toes.
E is for Ethiopia. Since I started working at the University of Birmingham Library and found out about it, I have supported a charity, LUCIA, run by library staff, which in turn supports women and children in Ethiopia. I love doing sponsored events knowing that the LUCIA ladies can tell me exactly who I’ve helped and what I’ve done for them with the amount raised.
F is for friends. I did apologise in advance to my friends at the beginning of 2011, the year when I worked part-time and ran Libro part-time – and that apology was warranted, as I did miss several important developments in people’s lives, didn’t reply to emails very quickly, and when we did meet up, often arrived late and/or left early, citing work as the reason. I will do better this year!
G is for giving something back. I didn’t go into freelance work just to make money and grasp – I like to help people (see below) and I like to give something back. That’s why I share my experience and give out the odd hour of free work to people just starting up, through events like the Birmingham Entrepreneurs meetup, and help out at the Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery every month.
H is for helping people. I became a librarian because I wanted to help people, but sometimes it’s hard to feel you’re really helping individuals when you’re sitting in an office buying books for courses. Now, I know that I’m helping people with their English skills, their marketing, helping translators to produce the best text possible, etc. It’s a good feeling.
I is for Iris Murdoch. She’s my favourite author and I’m writing a research project on her books and reading groups. I re-read at least one of her books every year or so.
J is for jelly beans, which fuel my running. I’ve loved running since I started doing it seriously about 6 years ago. I’m slow, but I’m getting faster, and I’m proud that I can keep going for ages, and have run 4 Birmingham Half-Marathons, all supporting a small charity.
K is for Kindle. I haven’t given up buying, being given or reading “tree books” but the Kindle is so useful when you don’t want to drag loads of books around with you (for example, on holiday). I’ve also found a lot of books I like available free of charge, as they’re out of copyright, and picked up some useful business and social media books very cheap via special offers.
L is for Libro, of course, the reason I’ve given up employment for self-employment
M is for Matthew, who has provided meals and tea with horrible regularity, computer support at the drop of a hat, and put up with having to sit in the corner with his blog reading if he wants to spend time with me.
N is for networking, something I’ve got to grips with and come to enjoy over the last few years. Someone commented recently that I couldn’t really be a librarian, because I’m outgoing and not shy. We’ll leave the library stereotype for a moment, but I am actually pretty shy, I’ve just learned to hide it. Nobody wants to labour away trying to winkle me out of my shell, so I go out there, take a deep breath and plunge in. I do have to have some own time afterwards, though!
O is for obsessiveness. If you run a small business, you have to be a bit obsessive – but I use many of the others things on this list to counteract this. I also need to be obsessive about details and consistency in my work. Here, it’s fine to be like that. But I do try not to shriek and shudder (too much) when I come across bad grammar or dodgy punctuation in real life!
P is for photography. I have a decent camera and like taking photos, but this, again, has got a bit subsumed recently. I’ve decided to use some of the images I’ve produced to illustrate this blog, hence the picture on this post (I wonder if anyone knows where I took this).
Q is for quiet time. Being an introvert, I need regular periods of time on my own, recharging. Luckily the people in my life understand this! I also need a quiet environment in which to do my work – although not too quiet; I enjoy being able to hear the sounds of the street outside. Quiet reading time after a hard day’s work: even better! A country walk that’s quiet except for birdsong: bliss!
R is for reading. Reading is another thing which has suffered while I’ve been growing Libro. But I’ve already got back into it in a big way, and I’ll carry on making time for my oldest and favourite hobby.
S is for stereotypes. I spent years with my bun, glasses and cardigan getting cross about librarian stereotypes. Now I come up against the business ones: I’m going to be obsessed with money, try to claim more against my tax than I should; I’m going to change and become hard-nosed and lose my decency. Nope!
T is for Twitter. It’s a great marketing tool and a good way to connect with people. I have got work, including long-term regular clients, through Twitter, and it does help me feel a bit more connected to the world.
U is for understanding. Something my friends and family have had to have over the last few years! And something I’ve had to develop too. Understanding when I work best. Understanding that one late payment isn’t the end of the world.
V is for validation. Everyone needs this. I get mine from seeing my Gantt chart coloured in, from seeing I’ve got projects booked in for the future, and from balancing my books and seeing my profit grow. I’m also validated by the lovely comments from clients, and from when people I’m close to tell me they’re proud of me.
W is for Word and Excel. Where would I be without these two? I learned to use word processors with WordPerfect, which was great, and I would be lost without these up to date versions. I do the majority of my work in Word, using Track Changes where I need to show my working. Excel is used to track my income and expenditure and for my Gantt chart which tells me what I have to do and the deadlines.
X is for eXercise. I know, I cheated. But I don’t have a xylophone. Exercise keeps me sane, it really does. If I’m upset or stressed, or need to mull things over, a run is just the thing. If I need some human contact and to straighten myself out after sitting at my desk all morning, I’m off to the gym. Keeping strong and fit has been important to me for a number of years now, and it’s even more important now I work from home.
Y is for whY do I do this? Yes, another cheat. But why? I love being my own boss. I can go to the gym or read when I want to (within reason). I can do a creative and interesting job. I can choose my clients (again, within reason). It was getting too much, having two jobs, and that plus my trusty spreadsheets told me it was time. I’m choosing to believe this and go for it.
Z is for zzzzz – I need to get more sleep this year. My bedtimes crept back and my mornings stayed early, and I know I do best on at least 7 hours of sleep!