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How To Reduce Stress as a Freelancer

5 ways to reduce stress as a freelancer

April is Stress Awareness Month so it seemed an apt time to reach out and chat about ways I manage to reduce the stresses I encounter as a freelancer.

I’ve said on many occasions how much I love working freelance and being my own boss: I firmly believe that my decision to leave full time employment to pursue a freelance career was, and still is one of the best decisions I ever made – but that doesn’t mean it is a stress-free option.

Working for yourself brings with it so many positives (freedom, flexibility, control, being your own boss, no commute & loads more!) but it also means absolute responsibility – you are the make or break of your business. It brings with it endless admin, accounts, marketing/PR and social media jobs to be done…instead of holding down just one role, you find yourself suddenly donning many hats, and that of course can be stressful.

Over the years I have found various ways to help reduce these stresses and strains – little ways to lighten the load and keep some semblance of order and sanity to your working life.

This topic has never been more relevant for me as I am currently 33 weeks pregnant and so I have been working on reducing my stress levels recently. My tired pregnant body needs as stress free an existence as possible and of course my priority is keeping myself well and the baby safe, if you too can feel your stress levels mounting then I hope these tips can help.

Here are my top five ways to reduce stress as a freelancer:

  1. USE ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE – There are absolutely loads of different accounting software out there for freelancers: I would recommend Wave or QuickBooks as being especially easy to use, cheap/free and reliable. Using this software has massively reduced my stress and now means my accounting is no longer a headache. I use the software to categorise outgoings, create/send and log invoices, access income statements and record receipts for business related costs. All this means that at the end of the Tax Year I have instant access to organised accounts making my Tax Return much more straightforward. Head to QuickBooks’ accounting software page to find out more.
  2. USE EMAIL FILTERS – This might be an obvious one to most freelancers, but my most used mode of communication in business is via email – which means my inbox is constantly full and attacking it can be a hugely overwhelming task. Since applying filters to my emails they have been so much easier to tackle. I filter sales emails into one folder, bills into another etc – which means I can access and clear different types of email depending on priority/need and what time scale I have for admin each day.
  3. GET A DROPBOX ACCOUNT – Having a Dropbox account has been such a godsend for my freelance life – I pay just a few pounds per month for unlimited storage and it means I can confidently store all my vital images and documents for work without the worry of losing them or needing to constantly back up. It also means I can access them from any computer/device with my login, anywhere in the world, and I can share any of the files with clients, collaborators and employees when necessary.
  4. ASK FOR HELP/OUTSOURCE – This is a big one for me… it took me a long time to bite the bullet and hire an extra pair of hands, but it is so worth it. Whether you’re drowning in admin, or have no idea where to start when it comes to social media – there will be someone perfect out there that you could hire to lend a hand. It needn’t be for very long – it’s amazing what an expert in social media or someone purely focused on your admin can achieve in just a couple of hours per week. Being able to delegate jobs so that I can focus more on the creative/design side of my business has definitely reduced my stress levels dramatically.
  5. SCHEDULE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA – We all know that keeping up with the social media promotion and interaction for your business can be a full time commitment in itself. I know I’m not alone when I say that social media overwhelms me, and I easily get lost in it, wasting valuable working time and reducing productivity. For me, hiring someone to devise a social media strategy and help me to implement it has been fantastic. The biggest change I made was learning to schedule a large proportion of my social media posts. This means I no longer post infrequently just when I remember to, but instead I schedule in a variety of posts, across all platforms at key times of day – which has seen me reach a wider audience much more consistently. Between me and my social media manager we can set aside time each week to schedule in posts, and then I can concentrate on the creative side of my work – designing my prints, and just dip in and out of social media – replying to comments, keeping track of interactions etc. The social media schedulers I would recommend include BUFFER, GRUM and SOCIAL OOMPH – check them out, they will change your social media life!

What methods do you use to reduce the stress of working as a freelancer? I’d love to know!

Bye for now,

Tabitha x

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Pregnancy & Self Employment…

I’m currently 26 weeks pregnant & this post has been swirling around my head for a while now…

It dawned on me that being pregnant and self-employed puts me in high-pressure situation at what is meant to be the most amazing and exciting time of your life – don’t get me wrong it is ABSOLUTELY exciting and emotional and brilliant (and nerve wracking/scary in equal measure), but because of my freelancer status it has also been pretty stressful too, I wanted to share with you the pros and cons of pregnancy as a freelancer, and a few tips that might help anyone else in the same boat…

THE CONS

  • Exhaustion & Nausea: Being a freelancer means no sick-leave for this pregnant lady (if i want to get paid!), even when I was pretty sick and nauseous…feeling badly hungover on a daily basis during the first trimester (despite not drinking a drop of alcohol) was not fun. It wasn’t pretty either!
  • Markets: Being a large source of my income and a brilliant way to improve the exposure of my business, the markets I attend are absolutely necessary for me. Especially the bigger trade shows (such as Top Drawer) which I have attended twice while pregnant. I obviously have to be careful not to lift heavy things & this proved really tricky at these events – huge thanks to Mr Cross and lots of great friends on-site who lent me their muscles.
  • Meeting Deadlines: Pregnancy feels sometimes like a ticking time bomb with no real idea when it is going to explode. This means that creating and meeting deadlines is tough, and I have this constant worry that I won’t be able to fulfil my commission deadlines – I obviously don’t want to turn down work, and I’m just having to manage customer expectations, trying to be honest and realistic at every turn. This means I’m working as speedily as I can on my good-days and trying to get through my commitments as soon as possible, with the (perhaps futile?) hope that I might have a chance of a rest before this little one arrives.
  • Hormones/Emotional: The past two months has seen me turn into a crazy/emotional/irrational mess on some days.This is worse at my busiest periods when I feel like I’m drowning in work, and I often have a good cry, which weirdly makes me feel much better. I’m sure ladies who aren’t self employed feel all of this too, but being on-my-own on the work front means I can’t really share the work to colleagues or slow down as I might be able if I worked a normal 9-5.
  • Worrying About The Future: When you’re a freelancer and you’re pregnant for the first time like me it is really hard not to worry about what the future will bring. Not only am I dealing with the usual pregnancy-related anxiety, I’m also nervous about how I’ll manage my business post-baby’s birth…I’m SURE it will all work itself out in the wash, but the anxiety is there nonetheless.

THE PROS

  • I don’t have to be up/dressed/out of the house looking smart on a day to day basis – ultimate respect to any pregnant Mum’s-to-be who do have to make that happen daily. I won’t lie – I’ve spent a large majority of this pregnancy working in my pyjamas.
  • I can largely set my own hours, so I have been able to be flexible when I’ve been feeling particularly grotty.
  • I haven’t had to ask for time off for appointments.
  • I haven’t had to put up with unwanted food smells from a staff room/cafe/canteen during the really sicky months. Gosh, was I thankful for working from home during that period.
  • On the whole I haven’t had to be sick in front of people (except Mr Cross) – I cannot imagine dealing with bad morning sickness in front of an office full of people.

ADVICE IF YOU’RE PREGNANT & SELF EMPLOYED

-Know your rights: Do your research as early as possible and know where you stand in terms of self employed rights, maternity leave/pay/allowance. If you can get your head around it all early hopefully you can plan ahead with knowledge and not let it get too overwhelming.

-Be organised: Try your hardest to get as organised as possible on your good days/weeks – this will ease the pressure on your off days.

-Delegate, delegate, delegate…don’t be scared to outsource some of your work – employ an extra pair of hands if you can afford it, get family onside to help wherever possible, call in all your favours – whether it’s hiring a PA/VA, outsourcing your social media, or getting help with your emails/admin, your body & baby will thank you for it in the end.

-Get for a ‘Baby on Board’ badge for public transport use (even if you don’t commute daily) you may well need to get into London for meetings, trade shows, markets etc, and it’ll be handy to have to ensure people are quick to offer you a seat and therefore a more comfortable journey.

-Buy Supplies: Have plenty of bottles of water, ginger beer, biscuits, crackers and salty foods in stock for the days you are feeling particularly rough: these will help you to feel a little more productive on down days and ensure you keep up your energy and stay hydrated. You’ll be good for nothing unless you’re ship shape! Also stock the cupboards full of healthy, quick to prepare meals – you won’t feel up to cooking much, trust me.

-Make your workspace comfy: a new chair, cushions, blankets, quilts, footstool, fan, heater….whatever you might need to keep you as comfy as possible during your working day make sure you buy it! Your back/hips/pelvis will thank you for it.

-BE KIND TO YOURSELF: Yes, you work for yourself, and so you alone are responsible for making ends meet and keeping your business afloat, but in the grand scheme of things your absolute priority is yours and baby’s health…so be kind to yourself, give yourself regular breaks and treats, don’t work ridiculous hours and don’t beat yourself up if you need some days where you binge watch Netflix and eat all the junk!

I am so blooming excited about the arrival of my little bundle, and I have been ridiculously lucky with an amazing husband helping me more than I could have hoped. I’m blessed with brilliant family and friends who have all helped out to make things less stressful…despite all of this it has been and is HARD and emotional and stressful, I’ve been teary and scared and tired and sick.

But I absolutely know it will all be worth it…i just have to imagine holding my baby and all the stress blurs at the edges and I suddenly feel far less scared and overwhelmingly excited.

14 weeks to go & counting….

Tabitha

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New prints, Top Drawer, MK Handmade & Vintage, PLUS exciting Press Coverage for TM!

BRAND NEW PRINTS….

Tower Bridge London Print by Tabitha Mary
Tower Bridge London Print by Tabitha Mary
Shoalstone Lido, Brixham, Devon Print by Tabitha Mary
Shoalstone Lido, Brixham, Devon Print by Tabitha Mary
Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park, London by Tabitha Mary
Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park, London by Tabitha Mary
Fishcombe Cove, Brixham, Devon Print by Tabitha Mary
Fishcombe Cove, Brixham, Devon Print by Tabitha Mary

 

Berry Head, Brixham, Devon by Tabitha Mary
Berry Head, Brixham, Devon by Tabitha Mary

I’m so excited to introduce 5 new prints to the Tabitha Mary range this week…

Tower Bridge – London
Shoalstone Lido – Brixham, Devon
Pembroke Lodge – Richmond Park, London
Fishcombe Cove – Brixham, Devon

and finally,

Berry Head – Brixham, Devon

I hope you love them as much as I do – they’ve been so fun to create and do watch this space as there’s more newbies on the horizon…!

HANDMADE & VINTAGE FAIR – THIS WEEKEND! 

MK Handmade & Vintage Sept 2016MK Handmade & Vintage Sept 2016

Mr Tabitha Mary (Paul) and his lovely Mum will be holding the reins for me at this weekend’s MK Handmade & Vintage fair (10th & 11th September) in Middleton Hall in the MK:The Centre shopping centre, opposite John Lewis.

Be kind to them won’t you?

I’ll be busy in London at Top Drawer, Olympia…

TOP DRAWER, OLYMPIA

Top Drawer Olympia London
Top Drawer Olympia London

I’ll be exhibiting my prints at the fabulous TOP DRAWER in Olympia, London from Sunday 11th-Tuesday 13th September.

You can find me on stand SP220 in the Spotted section of the show!

I’ll look forward to seeing some of you there!

IN THE PRESS…

The Lady, 12th August 2016
The Lady, 12th August 2016 – featuring my Rio print!

 

 

 

My Rio de Janeiro print has been getting all the love recently…it was featured in the 12th August edition of The Lady magazine!

Oooh er!

Living Edge RIO print sept 2016
Living Edge RIO print sept 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Rio de Janeiro print was also featured in this month’s LIVING EDGE MAGAZINE… How exciting!!

WE HAVE A WINNER…

#mytabithamary winner post
#mytabithamary winner post

We have a winner for our latest #mytabithamary prize draw!

Huge CONGRATULATIONS to @JoMidgley72 who has been notified and will be claiming her prize soon.

Thank you to everyone who has been shouting about their Tabitha Mary purchases online, keep up the good work everyone and don’t forget to use the hashtag #MYTABITHAMARY to be entered.

THE COUNTY MAP PRINTS ARE BACK!

And there’s a new kid on the block…
North Riding of Yorkshire

As well as the old favourites:
Dorset
Buckinghamshire
Anglesey
Bedfordshire

North Riding North Yorkshire County Map Print by Tabitha Mary
North Riding North Yorkshire County Map Print by Tabitha Mary

Dorset County Map print by Tabitha MaryDorset County Map print by Tabitha Mary

Buckinghamshire County Map Print by Tabitha Mary
Buckinghamshire County Map Print by Tabitha Mary

 

 

 

 

Anglesey County Map Print by Tabitha Mary
Anglesey County Map Print by Tabitha Mary

 

 

 

 

Bedfordshire County Map by Tabitha Mary
Bedfordshire County Map by Tabitha MaryThat’s all for now folks…
I’m off to finish prepping for Top Drawer and MK Handmade & Vintage this weekend! Busy! Busy!
TM xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s New, Pussycat? Bedford Park Concerts score a hat-trick! Freelance branding project.

 

Bedford PROMS Bedford Park poster
Bedford Proms banner on the bandstand in Bedford Park

Last weekend Bedford Park was home to the most amazing three night run of concerts, organised by Bedford Park Concerts.

On the Friday Dizzee Rascal headlined and was supported by Kurupt FM, Miss Dynamite, Wiley and Jaguar Skills. The Sunday saw Sir Tom Jones himself perform, supported by The Shires and Tunde (from The Lighthouse Family). Then on Saturday night it was the incredible Bedford Park Concerts 20th PROMS in the Park, with fireworks and laser light show! What a line up it was!

I started working with Bedford Park Concerts back in September 2015 when I created a special commemorative print to mark the 20th anniversary of their Proms in Park concerts. (Still available to purchase online here)

Bedford Park PROMS commemorative poster
Bedford Park PROMS commemorative poster

From there, I became their official graphic designer for the entire triple event and produced all of the marketing material, online and offline as well as on-site material for the weekend itself. It was a really fab creative experience, I loved every minute of the design process – from the initial ideas right through to completion.
I was really proud to work with such great Bedford companies and become a part of the famous Bedford crowd! I love the sense of community that is abundant in Bedford, and working on this project only highlighted this for me. What a friendly, hardworking bunch you Bedfordians are!

Tom Jones in Bedford Park
Tom Jones in Bedford Park

 

Dizzee Rascal Bedford Park
Dizzee Rascal played at Bedford Park on Friday night!
Tunde Bedford Park
Tunde performed at Sunday night’s epic concert!
The Shires advert Bedford
The Shires supported Sir Tom Jones

Proms night itself was absolutely EPIC!! I can’t tell you what an incredible atmosphere it was, and I was chuffed to see how popular the branded merchandise was, I sold out of most of it! I also sold lots of my other designs too, and I’m thankful to anyone who took time out of their night to show an interest in my work.

Mr Cross Tabitha Mary Bedford Park PROMS
My Mr Cross manning the stall!
Bedford PROMS merchandise
Bedford PROMS merchandise was for sale on the night
Bedford Park PROMS magnets
Bedford Park PROMS magnets
Bedford Park PROMS tea towels for sale on the night
Bedford Park PROMS tea towels for sale on the night

The sun was shining and life was sweet – thank you weather gods for smiling down on us!

Bedford Park PROMS
Glorious sunshine at Bedford Park Concerts fabulous weekend of concerts!

Hubby and I were also lucky enough to see Sir Tom Jones himself on the Sunday night – what a showman he is! We danced our socks off all night and I so enjoyed seeing everyone coming together and enjoying themselves.
The whole three night event was really so well put together- Mark and the team should be really proud of themselves!

I’m hoping to work with Bedford Park Concerts once again on next year’s events and I’m so excited to find out what acts will be playing next year…watch this space…

Bye for now…

TM xxx

Photos from the weekend…

Amazing fireworks Bedford Park PROMS
Amazing fireworks Bedford Park PROMS
Amazing fireworks Bedford Park PROMS
Amazing fireworks Bedford Park PROMS
Sir Tom Jones in action!
Sir Tom Jones in action!
Dizzee Rascal in action!
Dizzee Rascal in action!
Bedford Park PROMS
Bedford Park PROMS
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What is Giclee Printing?

I often have customers ask me what a Giclée print is, so I thought I’d write a little blog to answer this question…

An important starting point is to understand that a Giclée Print is simply a high quality digital print. The confusion comes when understanding what the high quality elements are that separate a standard ink jet print to a Giclée print.

Let’s start with the actual word Giclée; pronounced “G-clay” it is a french verb that means to squirt or to spray. So in terms of printing this would relate to an inkjet printer. So to fulfil the quality aspect the inkjet printer would need to be of professional standard with more than the basic CMYK, so 4 ink cartridges. One of the beauties of Giclée printing is the depth of colour that can be achieved and this comes from the multiple ink cartridges. My printer for example has 9 different inks.

So we’ve got the ink side down, now if we used for example my 9 cartridge inkjet printer and printed onto standard A4 printer paper. We would not achieve a Giclée print and you’d probably also find that the paper would be soaked through with the ink!

To achieve a Giclée Print you need to follow this formula:

Quality pigment based inks + Archival quality paper = Giclée Print

It’s really important that the paper is of Archival Quality as the inks require it to do there thing and work to their full potential. With this right formula you can achieve a gorgeous print, rich in colour and depth, which will stand the test of time and not fade.

Of course to gain a Giclée print isn’t cheap and I often see artists selling digital prints at the same price as my Giclée prints and it is frustrating, so if you’re ever buying a print ask what the print process is, the artist will only be too happy to explain.

I hope this answers the key question and makes somes sense!

TM x

 

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‘Best Use of Social Media’ Award & some super-special prints…

Well, well, what an exciting way to step into Spring…this week has been absolutely full to the brim with lots of hard work, but that work was well and truly rewarded when I learnt I’d been named the WINNER of Wenta’s Women and Broadband Business Awards 2016 (WAB Awards) in the Best Use of Social Media category! Wahoo!

WAB - awards logo

My winning the award is based on the crowd funding/social media commission I did last year of The Embankment area in Bedford, which was thanks to Katie Gregory who pitched the commission idea to me and then set to Facebook to make it happen. You can read more about our exciting journey from idea to print here or watch the video below… #socialmediarules #makeithappen

The power of social media has never been more apparent and I’m trying hard to push forward and embrace all things social, especially since the launch of my shiny new website!

Wenta's WAB Award for 'Best Social Media' - hooray!
Wenta’s WAB Award for ‘Best Use of Social Media’ – hooray!

I had to take a silly smiley selfie with the award, obviously! I wouldn’t be living up to this new title of “Social Media Whizz Kid” without a good selfie now, would I?

In all seriousness though, I’m super-chuffed at having my hard work recognised in this category, it really means a lot. I’m gutted that I didn’t get to actually attend the award ceremony (remember all that hard work I was telling you about?) but I did get to go and pick up my award this afternoon and what a lovely award it is too…

Such beautiful flowers...what a lucky lady!
Such beautiful flowers…what a lucky lady!

In other exciting news this week…

I’m off to the Country Living Spring Fair in London next week (16-20th March) and I’m bringing with me an Exclusive Limited Edition version of my popular Shipping Forecast print.

Do make sure you stop by and say "Hi!" if you're visiting this years Spring Fair.

Do make sure you stop by and say “Hi!” if you’re visiting this year’s Spring Fair.

Only 10 of these Limited Editions will be printed: they’re numbered, signed and super-special! So, if you’d like to own one for yourself then you can grab your copy now for just £40.

Also at Country Living’s Spring Fair, I’ll be launching my brand new print of The Flying Scotsman to honour the fact that it is now back where it belongs…on the tracks and touring the UK. The print will become available online towards the end of March, but Country Living attendees get the chance to purchase ahead of online sales, lucky things!

I’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait to see some of your lovely faces there…

A little sneak peek of the newest addition to the Tabitha Mary family... The Flying Scotsman.
A little sneak peek of the newest addition to the Tabitha Mary family… The Flying Scotsman.

That’s all for now folks, but do keep an eye on my social media channels for news/updates and don’t forget to share photos of your Tabitha Mary purchases across social media with the hashtag #mytabithamary to be in with a chance of winning my monthly giveaway!

#mytabithamary

Best of Luck!

Have a super-happy rest of March guys and hopefully see some of you at Spring Fair.

TM x

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Brand new shiny website!

Hey! I hope you’re enjoying the new website? I have to say I am super pleased with it. White-Label-Dev.co.uk have done an amazing job, so thank you very much!

What can you expect from this shiny new site then?

  • Brand new design for starters, including a loading scroll on the homepage where you can view all my products in one go.
  • Rolling banner on the homepage telling you about all things Tabitha Mary, this will be updated regularly with new promotions and news.
  • Better product categories.
  • Postage is now calculated product specifically hopefully meaning you are never over charged.
  • EIGHT new print launches!! That’s my biggest launch ever!
  • The option to create an account which means you can log in, track your order and view past orders if you wish.
  • New announcement regarding wholesale options.
  • Pin button now on all prints, so you can save it to your pinterest boards.
  • Social media buttons.
  • New monthly competition running across all social media platforms, share a picture of your #mytabithamary print and be in with the chance of winning a prize!
  • Gift Voucher option – coming VERY soon
  • A4, A3, A2 and A1 prints are now available to order as default options.

I think that’s about it! It’s been a lot of hard work and I’m sure I’ll still be tweaking and updating as we go… but for now! I hope you like it!

TM x