5 Myths About Being a Work-from-home Freelancer

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Everytime I meet some one and they ask what I do, and I say I’m a freelancer. The usual reply I get were.
“Oh My, so shiok, you get to wake up any time you want right?”
“wah. shiok la.. no limited number of leaves”
“wah no boss breathing down your neck…”

Or when I complain about work, they will be like.
“wah liao.. you work from home also got things to complain…”

It’s a bit sad as people who are not freelancing will not understand. So, I’m going to share the myths about working from home.

1. We get to wake up ANY TIME we want.
I wake up when my clients starts working… Which is roughly about 9am. The only up side is that, the time i take to wash up and travel to work is about 2 min? And i don’t have to shower.. But any way, as i was saying, I don’t wake up anytime i want. And I will need to work about 7-8 hours a day, with 15 min lunch break in between. I do know some other freelancers who works at night and have a more flexible schedule, but having a fixed schedule helps to keep me disciplined and organised.

And having a regular office hour timing make me some what more dependable as well. For example, If my client has some urgent job that they need to do, they will be able to find me. Because if they can’t find me, they will look for another designer and I would have lost that business.

2.We get to travel ANY TIME and AS MANY TIME as we want.
Well, I don’t print money, so i can’t travel “as many times as i want” and secondly, I need to be accountable to my clients. I can’t just DISAPPEAR anytime I want. I will need to notify my clients about my travel schedules. For short travels, like 3 -4 days, usually I will have to inform my clients 3-4 weeks in advance. And longer travels like a week or more, usually I will inform them 2-3 months in advance, because people tend to forget unimportant stuff. Me going over seas is not important to them, until they need me to work on something urgently.

Plus, because I work by myself, I can’t just “switch off” my work and not check emails, especially on long trips. As singaporeans have a saying, I don’t have any one to cover my backside.

So usually I would like my vacation to fall on long weekends or the christmas season, where everyone is on holiday mood. So the number of emails and phone calls I get will be at it’s minimum.

3. I am my own boss, no body breaths down my neck when I work
Sure I am my own boss as I set the price and deal with the clients directly. But I am accountable to all my clients, THEY will breath down my neck from time to time, they will ask things like what your boss will ask.
“Is the brochure done?”
“How long more you need to do this?”

“would you be able to do this faster?”
comes to you at 6pm and ask you to work on a brochure which they need by tomorrow.

So pretty much it’s the same as having a boss.

4. I can choose to work for 3 hours, and then go to the gym or shopping during office hours.
Again, I don’t print money. I work for a living. Assuming i really do work for 3 hours a day, and maybe 4 days a week, that would only be 12 hours for a week. Which mean the number of projects that I can take in is VERY limited. And if I do that, I will not be able to survive…

Is just common sense, If I want to earn more money, I would need more working hours.

5. I get to choose my clients
This is true, and false at the same time, depending on your situation.

If you are just starting out, seriously speaking, take in what ever jobs that you can, even if the project (or client) does not inspire you at all. Cause you will need all the experience AN MONEY that you can get. “One must understand the meaning of business, which is an organisation or economic system where goods and services are exchanged for another or for money. Every Business requires some form of investment and enough customers to whom its output can be sold on a consistent basis in order to make a profit.
taken from: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/business.html#ixzz4COAeTkZS

But if you are already busy with work, then of course, don’t over whelm yourself.

————————

All in all, working freelance have it’s perks of course. Like, if you need to visit the doctor regularly for some health issue, you can. you won’t have to worry that it will max out your leaves and have the best health care that you can get for yourself. Or if you have ageing parents who needs you to bring them to the doctor, you can. Or if you have kids at home and you want to be around for them, you can. Of course there are some companies who promotes work life balance and have some sort of flexibility when it comes to applying for leave, but not all companies are like that. Which kind of sucks when you really need to take more than 14 days of leaves a year.

So, never assume that a freelancer’s life is easier than yours.

Staying Positive as a Freelance Designer

By | personal | No Comments

I just read an article about G.E.M on how she stay positive.
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/entertainment/g-e-m-young-famous-and/1587206.html

I kind of relate to something she said.
““When I see these negative reports that try to sow discord, I become unhappy. I saw a lot of these in 2014, more than ever before, so I got used to it and learnt to manage my own emotions. I also stopped reading these negative reports. That way, they don’t affect you, and you will only give off positive energy to your family, friends, fans and your production staff,” said the singer.”

The things GEM is dealing with is obviously a lot different than what I am facing.
As a freelancer, we will get bad and negative responds from clients time to time. Our lecturers always tells us not to take those comments personally. But I feel no matter how long you are in this business, it will eventually get to you. So trying to stay positive about your work can be quite difficult at times.

This is how i cope with it. When I receive a negative feed back, I will read it. fix it , then delete it. So there are no negative responds in my email. And when I receive positive feed back, I will keep them in my archive. So positive vibe will always be there when I need it.

Random thoughts

By | personal | No Comments

I remember the time when I just started freelancing. I was so young and so eager to please each and every one of my clients. Everything my clients say, I everything also say can.

“can do this or not?”
“can”

“can put that thing here or not?”
“can…”

“can cheaper or not?”
“can…”

“can free or not?”
“erm… ok lor….”

now after freelancing for a while, I learn to put myself in my client’s shoes and learn how to say no to things.

 

Yes clients knows their products and business best, but there are just SOME things, really will have to listen to us.

 

Like for example, “my brochure i want blue background, then the foot notes I want red… cause corporate colour ma…”

myopia

This would work, if my client sells reading glasses, and his aim is to give them myopia and then after that they will go and purchase glasses from his company…

 

Change of Email Addess

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

I have been using sohshishi@gmail.com when I started sending my first resume 7 years ago. I didn’t want to look unprofessional by using my email that I created when I was 13. (mailluvbug@hotmail.com… ugh…)

Then i started freelancing and i am still using sohshishi@gmail.com to correspond with my clients. Every now and then, I get random questions like “Is your name soh shi shi?!” and they don’t pronounce it correctly, they pronounced it as SHE SHE, which annoys me to no end… cause it sounded like pet name for peeing… Then I have to break into a monolog of trying to explain to them on how to pronounce it correctly.

But now, I just don’t care…. so, she she it is… (pun intended.)

After 6 years of freelancing, I have been contemplating of changing my email address from time to time. but the migration I needed to do, re printing of name card, my contacts from the old address, setup my phone, folder organisation, worry I will miss out on my client’s email when they send to my old email address… Pfffft…

So today, finally i took a step of faith and migrated my email to serene@serenesoh.com. I registered for google app for business and managed to setup everything. There were a few hiccups along the way, as I was trying to figure out where were my MX records so that my email will be redirected to gmail instead. So i managed to pull everything out and set everything up accordingly. I am happy to say that everything is working the way it is suppose to work! whoop whoop…

Now is just more of trying to remember to login to the right acct and also replying using my new email address. and I actually worry if my clients will be wandering who this new address is… But nah… If i don’t change now, I will never change it…

So now I need to print a new set of namecards… need to dig those files out… and get them printed next week…

2015 Resolutions

By | personal | No Comments

I make the same personal posts very year. And why I want to put up something that is so personal online for everyone to see is so that I would have people looking at me and so to put some pressure on myself as so to make sure that I see them through… So here it goes.

1. To learn something new.

I was thinking of learning how to sew. to make something for my husband. I really want to come up with a fashion line in the future. not near future. but one day, I really would like to start a fashion line some how and I think for me to learn how to sew would be a great stepping stone. I am not sure what I want to do with my fashion line, but I do want to style my husband up a bit. Sad to say he is not a very good with choosing his own clothes and the shirts he buys are the same old boring stuff. I will take up this challenge and tailor some nice shirts for him. I will make AT LEST! one decent button shirt for him. something that he is willing to wear to work. I think that would be great.

2. Read more

I used to have the habit of reading when I travel to work. But now I don’t really travel TO work, I just roll out of bed and there is my office in the living room. There is not much free time for me to read any more as I was always so busy. don’t even talk about reading, I didn’t even have the time to eat. Ever since I started freelancing full time, I lost like 6kg. (that would bring lead me to the next resolution later). So any way, I will read more and actually find time to read. I have found a good time to read, which is on my treadmill. I did it this morning. I was on the treadmill (slow speed of course) with a book. And time passes so quickly. I walked/jogged for about 6km in an hour. which is not bad. Let’s set it as a goal to do this once a week.

3. Draw and paint a bit more

I am ashamed to say, as a designer, I don’t really draw or paint a lot. I really should. Helps with my skills and with the way I think and also to de stress as well. Maybe some leisure drawing once a week on weekends. I think that would be good.

4. To stop drinking drink less.

No I can’t stop.. that would be unrealistic. I usually drink about half a bottle of wine everyday on a weekday and 1 bottle (or 2) on a weekend. I think I have a problem..

nahhhhh~

But any way, I am not getting any younger, and drinking that much surely can’t be beneficial to my health in any way. So, first goal is not NOT get drunk in year 2015. I think that’s a good start. and reduce my Alcohol in take to ONE glass a day on weekdays and half a bottle on weekends. (BUT it should exclude special days like anniversary, parties and birthday celebrations….. what? i need to be realistic here…)

5. Exercise more.

I used to hit the gym 3 times a week when I was working full time. And I was able to clock at lest 10km a week. I could ran a half marathon with a timing of 2hr 15 mins… That was 2 years ago… Ever since i started this freelancing business. I quit the gym, cause it is just ridiculous to travel to orchard JUST for a run. And when work starts to get more more hectic, I quit running all together. I really want to get back to my original fitness level again. don’t really have to run a half marathon at 2hr 15min, but more like coming out with a plan and have a regular work out schedule.

Lets just start with working out 2 times a week, 30 mins each time. And I would very much like to touch my toes. That was my goal in 2014, but till now, nope… still can’t reach my toes. I almost could cause I attended pilates every week, until I stop gym…

And speaking of fitness level, I really need to eat regularly as well. I was only eating once a day, that is dinner time. So during the day I will just sit in front of my computer for 9 solid hours, only getting up to pee occasionally. Some times i get so busy, i didn’t even drink a sip of water… Man, I think I will die really young if i continue like this.

SO! eat! and drink lots of fluids. I say, 1 litter of plain water each day. I’m not so much of a breakfast person, so, I will eat lunch instead.

6. Business Goals

So far, I am pretty happy with my freelance business. This was my dream since 10 years ago. Of course there were some down periods where I kept thinking why the hell I am doing this. And when I started freelancing since july 2014, the first 6 months was a struggle. I kept worrying about things. Things that are going to happen, things that might happen, Things that might not happen…

Well, After one and a half year, I kinda got used to this. The worries that I have are still there, but is not the main focus any more.

So, a nice 20% increase in sales will be good.

7. Spiritual goals

Yes I am a Christian, and I am a woman, So I pray a lot. I have increase the amount of prayer this year by almost 200% compared to 2013 due to the fact that I started this business and there were a lot of insecurities building up inside me. So praying was the way I took to handle these kind of emotions, and praying helped me to keep going. It has definitely helped my life a lot. Last year I had the resolution of starting to read the bible more. Not to complete, but to read it more regularly. Currently, I have completed about 60% of the book, which is not bad, considering the fact that I have never read more than 10 pages ever since Jesus came into my life 10 years ago. I back slided,  went back and slide off again. So now, although I am not attending any church at the moment (cause I am just SUPER LAZY. waking up early on a sunday morning is a torture!) but I attend an online service every week. I think that’s better than nothing. I guess god will have his way to make me a better christain one step at a time.

So for year 2015, I aim to complete the bible. Lets finish up the reminding 40%. and to pray even more. And also to give back some more.

Currently I am helping out for salvation army by lending them my services. So some times I will design a few invites, flyer banner brochures and stuff. Maybe I could help more with my money or something. don’t really have a goal for this, so will let god lead the way.

 

So, that sums up my year 2015 and the things I have planned to do.

Site Revamped!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

I am really really, REALLY tired. I worked from 9am till 3.30am yesterday, only had 6 hours of sleep and I continued working from 9am today till now as I need to clear a few of my client’s work before I could start working on this site. And finally my site is completed. It is really a nerve wrecking time for me because I depend a lot on this website to bring me business. When I took my site down yesterday at 6pm, I swear my heart stopped for a few second when the blank page showed up instead of my website. And even the admin login failed. (because I shift my wordpress from one folder to the root folder).

So many things ran through my mind. What if i screw this up and my site will never run again, what if I can’t do this? For heaven sakes this is CMS! You are a GRAPHIC design, and your coding sucks. what if your site will never be up and there will be no more enquires and you have to go back to full time job…. arghhhh… nooooooooo!

So I read a lot of forums yesterday, watched so many youtube tutorials and thank god! everything went really well and plus. I am really happy with the outcome. Just that I am a teenie tinie bit worried about the SEO aspect of this website. Just like learning how to code, I learn how to do my own SEO by reading a lot of forums and articles. And frankly speaking, I am not very sure what I did in the previous site to get myself so visible on the search engine. So I am keeping my fingers crossed and pray really hard that my ranking will not drop. (please god please….)

So now, I am quite confident with my cms skills right now. Mwahaha. I have been rejecting clients who request for CMS website in the past. I think… I have the courage to take them now… So, any one needs my help to build a CMS website for them? *wink*

Please bear with me for a while

By | personal | No Comments

Hello everyone! I have updated my website and it is bigger, new and better! and it is responsive as well. I am really excited. But of course it is still a work in progress and I am trying to populate my portfolio page. I have been working on my site since 6pm yesterday and right now it is almost 3am in Singapore. This whole CMS thing is still really new to me. But after almost 9 hrs of work, I would say I have leveled up on my CMS skills. very soon, I would be able to help my clients to create CMS website. ( plus i was working on my client’s stuff since 9am today.. I officially have worked for 16 hrs today!)

this lay out gives me so much more freedom and I would be able to blog easier too. Due to my lack of CMS knowledge, it was really difficult to update my previous site. So obviously right now, I will blog more often.

So in the mean time, just bear with me for a while, while i try to populate my portfolio page. I am really really tired right now.

PS: Just had 6 hrs of sleep and I am up fresh to fix my website… 🙂 But, gonna do my quiet time first.

 

Moving Forward

By | personal | No Comments

2014

When I was 19 and in school, my lecturer was telling us to find our passion, the thing that we want to excel in. Be it web design, graphic design, great at illustrator. Just be great at ONE thing, and you can go a long way with that skill. I didn’t really believe him. I was trying to learn as much as I can and basically when I started freelancing, I wanted my niche to be a one stop solution. I did all the graphic stuff and also tried to go into web programming (commerce, CMS). I picked up coding through forums and tutorials and I was really proud of myself.

Slowly, as the internet world starts advancing so fast, I was not able to catch up. As I was swamped with so much work, I didn’t had the time to upgrade my skills. Then slowly, I find my website design suffered as I dare not design things that I can’t code. So I have stopped taking in so much web design jobs as well. Until I met some one, who got me to do purely web design. I was having fun. I didn’t have to think about the code and really focused on the design aspects of the website. I could take my design so much further! It was exciting.

Finally understood what my lecturer said about finding that ONE thing you are good in. Maybe in the future, I could find a fantastic programmer to work together with and I can start taking more exciting website projects.

It’s a brand new year and my business (Praise Lord) has been growing steady. Looking back when I just started freelancing in year 2007, giving out free stuff to build my portfolio. And 6 months ago, quitting my job to do this full time. Have registered my company as well. My clientele grow and worked with people like Johnson and Johnson, Far east floral, Mediacorp. I never thought that this will happen. I think should pat myself on the back, I have came a long way.