Brighton Lives

How To Be Freelance And Maintain A Happy Relationship With Social Media

In 2019, the notion of not having a social media presence seems as archaic as using a typewriter. For most of the UK’s two million professional freelancers, it’s unthinkable. Whether you prefer Instagram, Facebook. Twitter, LinkedIn or Myspace (the latter of which some strange diehards still apparently use) our pages provide a space to oh-so-humbly show off our achievements whilst connecting us with a digital community of like-minded souls. Yet our relationship with social media is at the heart of a mental health crisis.

Studies have suggested social media is highly addictive, likely to fuel feelings of isolation, and adept at causing us to compare ourselves negatively with others. Freelancing creates its own unique set of pressures that have been shown to increase risk of poor mental health, so how can freelancers stay connected whilst staying productive, proactive and happy? We asked some experts (and expert freelancers) to find out.


Stick social media on your to-do list

Using social media can seem like a reflex: in queues; on the commute; yes, in the toilet. This is especially true when you’ve just posted a link to some work on Twitter and you’re desperate to feel the sweet dopamine rush of those fresh likes and RTs. Why not build social media time into your working day instead?

“Add social media time to your to-do list to keep it managed,’ says Kenny Wood, founder of digital agency, Indigo Melody. “Develop healthy habits to eliminate the urge to look at social media in the first place. This can be done in loads of ways. I looked for the cues that cause the craving for social media (like finishing an important task or waiting for a meeting to start) and replacing the act with something more productive, like reading a saved article I’ve been meaning to go back to.”


You are, in fact, not alone.

Working from home and being your own bossperson may seem a dream. But it can be a lonely game, especially on the dark days when a pitch gets turned down or a hard-won client is negative about your work. Social media – harnessed correctly – can alleviate this.

“Social media can be used as a great resource for freelancers as a way to connect with other people who are in a similar situation,” says Nicola Jagielski, Associate Director of Clinical Services at Health Assured. “With over two million freelancers working in the UK and a growing number of social media groups, industry support networks and meet-ups, the community of freelancers is only going to get better.

“Having an online community solely for freelancers to turn to for discussions around work, mistakes or successes, can be a huge benefit to someone’s mental health and can massively reduce the feeling that you’re going it alone.”

PLATF9RM NOT ALONE.jpg

Dig a little deeper

Ever find yourself mindlessly jumping between Instagram and Twitter and back again when you’re got a 30-second queue window in Pret? It could be the sign of a deeper anxiety. “When you keep going back to your apps you are trying to achieve a change of state,” says Sally Baker, senior therapist, author and speaker. “You can start to feel anxiety, even under your radar; if you’ve been feeling like it for a long time you might not register it anymore.

"So you try and distract yourself by a number of ways and social media can be another of those. It’s just a coping mechanism. What’s best is to clear the anxiety.” This could mean speaking to a GP or mental health professional. “You can find out what your coping mechanisms are but eventually you’re going to need someone to sit down with you and pick your subconscious brain apart.”


Say goodbye to the Twitter app

According to Hootsuite, 326 million people use Twitter every day. Whilst Twitter is undoubtedly a useful tool for amplifying work and staying up-to-date with news, it can also feel like there’s a world of vitriol and negative energy burning at your fingertips.

“I deleted Twitter from my phone and felt better within hours,” says Will Lyth, a conversion copywriter from Brighton. “It’s just too noisy. And as there’s a character limit, you never get anything to hold your attention – it’s just a battleground for headlines, spam and controversy. “


Focus your evenings on personal relationships

As freelancers, we can fall prey to the habit of using likes and shares as metrics for business and personal success. But online pals shouldn’t take the place of IRL friends. Finding time to maintain your real relationships will be infinitely better for your happiness, so initiate a social media cut-off point in the evening.

“Have a cut-off point toward the end of your day as part of your pre-sleep routine,” says. Hope Bastine, mindfulness and sleep psychologist “You can use Downtime [which will stop notifications from apps] option in your Screen Time settings on the iPhone to support this practice. Once you’ve applied your Downtime, make use of your time to connect to loved ones. Often our digital addiction is a consequence of our loneliness and isolation epidemic.”


Don’t be scared to unfollow

You can’t like everyone you meet, right? The same principle works for online, yet we often still follow people who annoy, upset or cause us anxiety. For freelancers this can be especially hazardous as it’s oh-so-easy to compare yourself negatively with other people in your field.

“Don’t be afraid to take time out or unfollow someone who makes you feel rubbish, insecure, or like a failure,” says Hope Bastine. “Remember that It may not be their fault! But it's all about you.”


But...embrace the success of your peers

It’s certainly easy to compare your achievements negatively with your peers, especially if you’re having a slow month and their work is getting praise from all corners of the social media universe. Why not try – rather than suffering under the weight of jealousy – turning those feelings into something positive by cheering and sharing their great work instead?

“It’s great to see people you know, and respect doing really well,” says Will Lyth. “You might know about some of the tough things they were dealing with behind the scenes.”

CELEBRATE OTHERS PLATF9RM.jpg

Stop using your phone as an alarm clock

“Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock,” says Sally Baker. “Keep it away from the bedroom. When people scroll through social media first thing in the morning, they are procrastinating and putting themselves under pressure. If it’s at the end of the day it’s because they’re bored, slightly tired, off-kilter, maybe looking for a bit of a boost. Make the bedroom a place of sex and sanctuary..”

Sally cites Ariana Huffington (founder of The Huffington Post) and her sleep-espousing book The Sleep Revolution as inspiration if sleeping without your phone under your pillow sounds like a recipe for acute anxiety about missing a vital DM on Instagram. “If she can survive without a phone in her bedroom, we all can.”


Download these apps and read these books

There’s a world of apps aimed at keeping you on-task and away from the temptation of a mindless timeline scroll. [RescueTime][0] will give you detailed stats of your computer usage, whilst Chrome extension [StayFocusd][1] limits the amount of time you can spend on productivity-wasting websites. If you want to go a little deeper check out the [The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How To Change][2] by Charles Duhigg. It gives loads of insight into the nature of habit loops and how to break them. Also, [Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life][3] by Karen Ormerod is the ultimate millennial social media tome and should arm you with some positive habits.

Read these other freelance guides on PLATF9RM Press

How To Be A Freelance Writer And Stay Zen

9 Crucial Tips For Going Freelance

So You’re Thinking Of Becoming Freelance? Here’s 9 Crucial Tips For Going It Alone

Going freelance sounds idyllic, right? Working 24/7 on your passion. Clocking-in wearing your PJs. No 9.30pm emails from your boss. Long holidays and living the digital nomad life from a beachside cafe in Thailand. But that’s not the reality (for most freelancers) is it?

Going out on your own can be incredibly rewarding but being successful takes dedication, desire, bloody-mindedness, and a hefty sprinkling of talent. According to The Association of Independent Workers and the Self-Employed (IPSE) there’s over 2 million freelancers in the UK, and they contribute £119 billion to the UK economy. If you’re thinking about becoming joining the gang this year, here’s some advice.


Find someone to (ap)praise you

Everyone loves being praised for good work but appraisals are something most employees dread. Once you’re fending for yourself in the big bad world of freelance, the idea of someone taking the time (a whole hour!) to sit down and tell you relatively objectively how you’ve performed that year will feel like luxury.

One idea could be to find some similar-minded pals and set up an appraisal day where you take it in turns to discuss your successes, failures and roadblocks from the past year. Check out You’re Doing Great! for guidance on this.

Copy of PLATF9RM_1.jpg

Network makes the dream work

As a freelancer, you’re going to live and work by the relationships you build. “You're going to need to get your name out there,” says Matthew Beck, Managing Director of Lightspeed Digital and member of Brighton digital networking group, The Farm.

“Meeting as many people as possible and making sure they know what you’ve got to offer will do wonders for your workload. Brighton is saturated with networking events, there's often multiple happening on any given day. Be open to meeting everyone, you never know who might hire you or refer you on!”


You’ll have to become a jack-of-literally-all-the-trades

One of the most most-cited reasons for going freelance is focusing on what you love. But it’s not as simple as that! “It’s certainly true that you’ll be able to steer your business in any way you choose,” says Martine Warburton, co-founder of Huskii Studio in a blog for Brighton Digital Women. “But keep in mind that along with doing the bit you love you’ll need to provide you own IT support, accounts department, office cleaner, legal, business strategy and marketing. So, you may spend more time each day doing things which are not your forte.

Once you are established you can (and should) pay other experts to do some of this stuff, freeing you up to focus (again) on what you love!”

DSC_0823.jpg

Get to know your apps

Without the various (and often maddening) systems that companies put in place, you’re going to have to learn to manage your diary, juggle your clients and generally maintain a professional demeanour. There’s a whole world of apps and tools that will help you. Use Toggl to track – to the second – how much time you’re spending on each client. Trello is perfect for step-by-step project management. Shake will help speed up your professional contract-making skills and Wunderlist will help you create the ultimate, anxiety-beating cross-device to-do list.


Don’t overthink it!

Much of the guidance out there suggests freelancers should save a financial wedge – maybe six months of outgoings – before making the leap. This is wrong, according to Toby Moore, Co-Founder and Director of Content Club.

“If you want a successful start at freelancing, get some clients. Side hustle for three months, six months, a year… whatever it takes. Find your time; whether it’s on the train, after dinner, or on the weekends. Go to people that know you and know that your good and tell them you have a dream, you want them to be your first client and you are going to prove you can do a great job before you make the commitment to go full-time.

People that like you and want your skills, will support you and say yes. And that’s all you need. For now.”

Copy+of+76A46856-54D2-42CA-92B5-FE8C76B5C4B3.jpg

Know your limits!

The temptation when starting out is to take every job going. There be danger, according to Noor from Freelance UK:

“When it comes to freelancing, you must make sure that you know your limits. This will be a trial and error game and you will earn with time. However, it's essential you only take on work that you have the skills and the time to do. If you produce work of low quality due to time, then this may cause more damage than if you were to reject the project. Therefore, knowing your ability and limits is key.”

IMG_5154.JPG

Get. Out. Of. The. House

We say that humans are social animals and, though the internet perpetuates the notion that we can nurture real relationships from behind our laptop screens, nothing makes up for being in the room with people. Even if you’re still working out of your bedroom, make time to be with like-minded folk: meet clients in coffee shops; go on a walkshop (a cross between a meeting and a workshop); go to dinner with your freelance pals and moan about the travails of invoice chasing. Better still! Join a coworking space and live amongst your bredren.


Don’t be afraid of going pro-bono….for the right project

Should you ever work for free? It is a question that raises the temperature of freelancers like no other. There are some that say you should never offer your finely honed skills for nothing, and that by doing so you validate bad business habits and create a working environment that increasingly excludes those from lower income backgrounds.

However, there are plenty of deserving people and organisations for whom your pro-bono work could lift them into another dimension. Emma Betty Lewis-Griffiths from The Social Club says, “I’ve also started working on a few pro bono projects with charities and it’s great to be able to channel my skills into a greater cause than just my own. As a freelancer, you can be very inward-facing and sometimes you have to be. But there’s also more to life than making your next buck. Honest.”

9Phalloween-59.jpg

Good Rebels and PLATF9RM’s Most Influential Of 2018

How do you measure influence?


Many rely on metrics like followers or engagement when quantifying the effectiveness of an online Influencer. But Good Rebels, the PLATF9RM-based digital and creative agency, take a simpler view.

“True influence is trust. The way you trust a friend telling you something at the kitchen table. That trust can then be used to drive action,” says Mark Ralphs, Partner at Good Rebels. “Think of each online person as a node; the bigger the node, the bigger their ability to connect people and make things happen.”

Take a popular music blogger. They can be the bridge between a community that includes fan, artist, record store, record label and venue, all of which leads to the music.

Brighton is blessed with an abundance of talented and trustworthy Influencers, so Good Rebels and PLATF9RM wanted to hail the city’s best. Here’s Brighton’s Most Influential for 2018. Follow them!

Food and drink

Foodie Eshé

Eshé is a food blogger, graphic designer and photographer, who’s been featured by Hairy Bikers. Her food blog is an insider's guide on where to eat across Brighton & Hove, with a focus on independent restaurants. If there’s a new joint opening in town, Eshé’s on the list.


 

The Graphic Foodie

The Graphic Foodie was launched in 2008 by Fran, a branding designer and freelance writer. Fran’s blog lists frequently updated Brighton restaurant reviews and news, along with family recipes from her Abruzzo region of Italy. Check out her ‘Best Of Brighton’ page for everything that’s good in town.


 

 

Digital

Rachel Finch

Rachel Finch is a director – along with PLATF9RM members Lana Burgess and Allegra Chapman – of Brighton Digital Women. They connect Brighton’s female digital workers and provide a nurturing, collaborative community. Rachel works at local agency Site Visibility and is an all-round champion of local ladies in those digital businesses that are still – for the moment – guy-dominated.


 

Tom Bourlet

Tom is a Brighton-based blogger and author of the e-book, The Spaghetti Traveller Guide On How To Blog: From Blogger To Brand. He started his Spaghetti Traveller blog five years ago and has been featured everywhere from Forbes to The Daily Mail. When Tom’s not chatting about his many travels he’s also the co-owner of DrinksPal: an app that lets users find the perfect bar, restaurant, coffee shop, or events venue.


 

Local politics

Caroline Lucas

No introduction necessary. Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, is the UK’s only Green Party MP and the perfect manifestation of our city’s progressive, caring attitude. A mum to two sons and general advocate of human and environmental rights, she’s a true local hero.


 

Peter Kyle

Peter Kyle is the Labour MP for Hove and Portslade and beloved by his constituents. With a past that includes a doctorate in community development to a spell working as an aid worker in the Balkans, he brings an unbiased social conscience to everything he does.


 

Artists and Makers

Lois O’Hara

Lois O’Hara is an artist and designer well-known for her fluorescent, wave-inspired artwork. You can see her designs and murals all over the city, from the seafront, to the venue Patterns, to an entire basketball court in Saunders Park.


 

Natalie Edge

Liverpool-born Natalie Edge is a Brighton-based blogger, artist and event designer. Her blog Nat’s Life gives a peek into the nuts and bolts of her life, whilst she’s also a vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and mental health issues.

Company of the Week - Pass the Keys

Meet Nadege, die-hard Harry Potter fan and Susie, proud mum of Mia the chihuahua. Together they work for Pass The Keys, a one stop, fully managed, short-let property service.

 

Welcome both of you to your Company of the Week, could you talk us through the process of using your service at Pass The Keys?

Basically we do short let holiday management, we’ve got properties mainly on Airbnb, Home Away and many others. People give us the keys and we make sure the properties booked, generate revenue for them and then manage all their operations; cleaning, linen and other issues that might arise. If something happens in the middle of the night, we’re here, so customers have a hassle free experience.


I'm guessing you have quite the roster of handy people at your disposal?

We’ve got an extensive list of local suppliers, cleaning providers, electricians, plumbers, handymen. We also work with freelance marketers etc. There are many other offices around the UK and we work with them on a daily basis. We started in London and now we’re trying to localise the process more, because it’s how we work the best and how we can deliver the best service.


Susie, you are relatively new to the team, right? How’ve you found joining PLATF9RM?

Susie: I joined back at the beginning of September and it’s been good, Nadege has been really helpful. A lot of training has been involved as my background is actually in PR; so learning about property was completely new. But it’s been really good, I’ve picked it up really quickly.

Nadege: It’s been great having Susie here, sharing with someone else is wonderful. There are often issues that arise during the day, so it’s been good to have someone to have a chat with and share ideas on how to solve them.


How do you both find the coworking experience at PLATF9RM?

DSC_0335.jpg

It’s cool to see many different companies in the same place. I know a lot of spaces have a niche, like tech based or something, so it’s nice to have a mixture. Seeing different faces every day is brilliant. It’s also really useful that we can go between Brighton and Hove, with our roles we travel around quite often, so to be able to pop into whichever office we’re nearest to works really well. You also have Bird & Blend tea which is great.


You guys are based mainly in Hove, is there anything that drew you to this particular location?

Nadege: When I looked for an office at the start, I wanted a space close, as I have a little girl and I live in Hove, so it was convenient. I love having access to both spaces; it was what made PLATF9RM so appealing. So, when we started it was because of convenience, now we couldn’t go anywhere else.


Have you guys been attending any PLATF9RM events?

Nadege: I would like to, we missed the PLATF9RM Birthday unfortunately. Now that Susie’s finished her training we might be able to attend some. I’ve done several Cereal* Fillers, but I look forward to attending an evening event.

Susie: I’d love to attend the new yoga sessions in the morning at Hove Town Hall.


What cartoon character do you both most heavily identify with?

Susie: I don’t identify with her, but I love Betty Boop, I aspire to be like her, she’s very confident.

Nadege: Chihiro Ogino from Spirited away.


Favourite film you’ve watched this year?

Susie: I watched Wreck it Ralph because my sisters an animator for the game, it was really cute and funny.

Nadege: I’ve not been to the cinema since last year, but I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, so nothing will beat a Harry Potter film.


Money’s no object, what’s your ideal Christmas gift for yourself?

Nadege: Delicious food and wine. That’s all I want. Cool decorations and I’m good.

Susie: I would buy Mia a new friend, which would be a blonde cocker spaniel.


 

Cheers Pass the Keys!

If you want to be a member at our space, get in touch for a tour and trial.