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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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Exciting news – digital prints and frames for all my prints…

THERE’S BIG NEWS AT TM HQ…

I’m pleased to announce that I can now offer all of my prints in a standard digital printing format at a lower price than my higher quality signed Giclee prints. This means that my prints are now affordable for any budget. The digital prints are available at any size, and start from just £16.00 (A4).

As well as the new digital prints, I am also now offering a framing option on all of my prints at every size (A4, A3, A2, A1).

You can choose between beautiful white, black or oak high quality box frames – meaning that your Tabitha Mary prints can now be delivered ready to hang! Perfect.

white black or oak box frame
White, Black or Oak Box Frame Options

WHAT’S ON?

I’ll be at the Linslade Canal Festival
THIS SATURDAY 30th July 11am-5pm

Leighton-Linslade Canal Festival Logo
The Linslade Canal Festival this weekend (logo designed by yours truly!)

Do pop by for arts and crafts, canal boats, rural crafts and live music/entertainment. It should be a great day out for all the family.

I’m proud to have designed the artwork for Leighton Linslade Town Council’s recent rebrand, including the logo and typography for the canal festival.
Photo 11-07-2016, 10 52 12
Linslade Canal Festival from 11am-5pm THIS SATURDAY 30th July

 

Bedford Proms is NEXT WEEKEND!!

Bedford Proms Commemorative Print
Bedford Proms 2016 – 20th Birthday. Commemorative print on sale now online, and on the night.

Bedford Park Proms are celebrating their 20th year of holding this fabulous event and have commissioned me to create their flyer and this commemorative print to help celebrate.

The Proms are to be held in Bedford Park on 6th August with a spectacular classical concert, fireworks and laser finale. The London Gala Orchestra, Bedford Choral Society and Brit award winners Blake and Soprano Rebecca Newman.

Tickets can be purchased from www.bedfordparkconcerts.co.uk Adult tickets £31, Children £5.

I will be there on the night of the proms selling the commemorative prints in person.

Pavilion At The Park – Exhibition 

Pavilion in the park Bedford logo
Head to the Pavilion (Bedford Park) to see my current exhibition…

My work is currently on display at the wonderful Pavilion At The Park, Bedford in the heart of Bedford Park.

Tabitha Mary Exhibition at Pavilion, Bedford
Tabitha Mary Exhibition at Pavilion, Bedford

The exhibition is on display until the 19th August.

I’m chuffed to pieces with the reaction to the exhibition so far, do pop in for a peek – and why not grab the best brunch in Bedford while you’re at it!

Brunch at the pavilion bedford
Brunch at The Pavilion, Bedford

NEW PRINTS!!

I’ve launched three brand new prints this month…I’ve been doing lots of research, asking you lovely people what designs you want from me over the coming months – these were some of my top requested designs and I was only too pleased to oblige.

Introducing:

The Needles, Isle of Wight
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
St. Ives, Cornwall

Watch this space for loads of new designs coming your way soon…

The Needles, Isle of Wight, Travel poster print by Tabitha Mary
The Needles Print by Tabitha Mary
St Ives, Cornwall Print by Tabitha Mary
St Ives, Cornwall Print by Tabitha Mary
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Print - the perfect memento for #Rio16
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Print – the perfect memento for #Rio16

And finally…

#I’mLoving JULY

I’ve been loving lots of things this month…

All the things I'm Loving in JULY
All the things I’m Loving in JULY

 

– My trip to Berlin (Berlin Bear & Bratwurst ‘n’ Chips!)
– Succulent plants
– The build up to #Rio16
– Little Low Cards
– The Leighton-Linslade TC #CanalFestival
– Rifle Paper Co. artwork of LA & San Francisco (our upcoming honeymoon destinations – eek!)
– My new copper/glass photo frame
– Clever marketing ideas
– Baking
– Breakfast at the Pavilion (Bedford)
– Drinks that come in fruit
 ——————————————————————————-
What have you been loving this month?
TM
xxx
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Launching my #SummerSale & expanding my ranges…

Launching TODAY…
FOR ONE WEEK ONLY!!
20% Off EVERYTHING on my website when you use the code HAPPYDAYS16 at the checkout

Now that’s what I call a #SummerSale 🙂
(code expires 7th July)

Summer-Sale
Tabitha Mary Summer Sale

It’s been a manic few weeks here at TM HQ…

I’ve been super-busy with events and sales – from the Castle Quay Weekender, to the Bedford High Street Showcase: it’s been awesome to get out and about locally, interacting with customers and seeing their responses to my new prints, magnets and tea towels.

There’s such a great community vibe at events in Bedford, these two events in particular were filled with many great designers and a hugely supportive public who help to keep small (but mighty!) independent businesses like myself afloat. #lovebedford

High street showcase Bedford tabitha mary
Tabitha Mary at The High Street Showcase, Bedford

New prints on the horizon…
I’ve started lots of research into popular UK landmarks, tourist spots, architecture, holiday destinations, castles, historical houses, Points of Interest and natural beauty – my ambition is to expand my print collection to ensure I’m utilising the most popular locations for my customers. Watch this space for works in progress, and also please do send me any ideas you might have…I’ll be running polls over on my Twitter page as well as asking opinions across my other social platforms.

The hope is to have hugely expanded my range in time for Christmas and the Top Drawer event, where I’ll be in the “spotted” section! So, do be sure to check back for all your Christmas shopping needs… 🙂

Get your thinking caps on lovely people – I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas…!

Tabitha Mary Poll on Twitter
Keep an eye out for polls like this one on my Twitter feed…

NOTH Make, Do & Meet…

As a seller for Not On The High Street – I was recently invited down to London (to an awesome venue called The Brewrey) for NOTHS’ annual Make, Do & Meet event – where I got to meet lots of fellow creatives (who also sell at NOTHS), catch up with the gorgeous Beds/Bucks/Herts sellers group, as well as be truly inspired to make my little corner of Not On The High Street as brilliant as possible. It was such a fun day…

NOTH Make, Do & Meet event 2016
Fun times at the NOTH Make, Do & Meet event

NOTHS 2

New look on my website…

My time at the NOTH Make, Do & Meet day really inspired me to give the photography on my website a proper overhaul – it was long overdue, and although hard work (I worked some 12 hour days!) I’m so chuffed with the finished result, and love the fresh, modern vibes my product photos now have.

Head over to my website to see them all, but for now here’s a little peek…

Tabitha Mary new product photos
A little selection of some of the new product photography on my website…

Wedding season is upon us…

With the wedding season now in full swing, don’t forget my bespoke wedding commission service, which is available in two styles (see The Chantry and St Bartholomew’s, Wigginton prints below).

I can also personalise my St Bartholomew’s, Wigginton church print with names, dates and wedding colour schemes for other couples tying the knot in this beautiful church.

wedding commission by Tabitha Mary
Style 1 – The Chantry
St Bartholomew's Church, Wigginton
Style 2 for wedding commissions

And finally… 

My next event is the Bedford River Festival on the 16th-17th July…do pop down to this fun riverside extravaganza and check out my prints, magnets and tea towels…I look forward to seeing you all there!

Bye for now & happy shopping in the summer sale, enjoy lovely people!
TM x

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Tips & Advice on ‘Connecting with your audience’ with Creative Bedfordshire

When Sandra Dartnell first approached me about speaking at last nights Creative Bedfordshire networking event a fear of dread filled my stomach. The last time I spoke to an audience was for my dissertation at university, I remember stumbling over my words and my face and neck slowly growing redder and redder until my course mates thought I might pass out! It was not a good experience!

However, a decade on and last night I overcame my fear of public speaking and do you know what? It wasn’t that bad!

Sandra asked myself and Claire from the PlatePeople to speak about our experiences of ‘connecting with your audience.’ My perspective from being a sole trader for 1+ years and Claire’s from only 3 months in.

It was really great to get the opportunity to talk about my life running my own business and it really hit home just how busy i’ve been and how much i’ve learnt about myself and business in the last year.

Some of the top tips that were given by myself and claire:

  • Listen to your audience, if they ask you for a product or design; do it! Be as flexible and engaging as possible.
  • Be transparent. To be self employed is something to be proud of. Shout about it! Don’t try and hide behind the pretence of being bigger than you are. People like to support small businesses so it often goes in your favour – small but mighty!
  • Social Media is a mind field of variations and can be really time consuming. Pick a few channels you are comfortable with and do those well. Better to do a couple well then to do all of them half heartedly.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask – that old saying “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” is SO true.
  • My business plan has always been “Say YES” In the past year i’ve not turned down a single opportunity, you never know where something might lead you. Even if at first it scares you or doesn’t seem to be your thing – give it a go! If its wrong, you don’t have to do it again. But you tried.
  • Be smart on connecting your social media – for example on Etsy you can now update your store and link customer photos to your actual products and then share on twitter for people to directly link back to your shop! GENIUS! (I stole this tip from Claire!)
  • Network and make the most of all the fantastic organisations around Bedfordshire: Bedfordshire Business Women, Creative Beds, BCA, Velocity, Wenta… etc etc etc
  • No your facts. Approaching year 2 i’ve had to face reality and hire an accountant. You need to know where you stand to know what you’re doing is working.

Any questions do ask. Lots of people asked me about packaging last night! Why struggle when I’ve tried and tested every possible way and courier, so save time and ask!

TM x

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

xmas newsletter 2-01.jpgGosh! What a year 2015 has been! My first full year of trading as a self employed designer and it has just been incredible. Mainly thanks to all the fantastic support I’ve received from everyone I’ve met. Predominately in the Bedfordshire community, what a great place to be self employed.

I end the year pretty exhausted but exhilarated to announce that I am a finalist for the ‘Best New Business Award’ presented by Bedfordshire Business Women. The winners are announced on 21st January, I couldn’t think of a better and more exciting way to start 2016! Good luck to all the fabulous finalists.

I’m signing off now for some well deserved offline time. Orders can still be placed on my website but won’t be despatched until 4th January.

There’s so many super exciting plans for the New Year, a new website, new prints, new collaborations, wholesale licensing and a wedding! EEK!

Watch this space for all the updates as they happen!

Thank you once again for all your support and making 2015 better then I could have ever dreamt of. Have a wonderful Christmas and I’ll see you in 2016! TM x

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Bedford Park Proms

Bedford Park Proms are back and all systems are go in organising their 20th event in the Park which will be held on 6th August 2016.

It’s going to be a night to remember with a spectacular classical concert with the London Gala Orchestra, Bedford Choral Society, Brit award winners Blake, Rebecca Newman and all finished off with a fireworks and laser finale! And guess who’s designed the flyer?! Only little old me! I was so excited when Mark & Louise approached me about doing the flyer. We’ve also created a fab print as a great keepsake of what’s set to be a night to remember.

Bedford Proms Flyer-01

Tickets and Prints are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased from Bedford Park Concerts an exclusive early bird rate is now on pricing Adult tickets at £24.50 which rise to £31 from 1st May, Children £5. They can also be bought in person at the Pavilion, Bedford Park.

The prints can be bought from myself here and are at a reduced price until 1st August 2016 when they’ll go up to full price. I will be at the Proms on the night selling them in person too.

Bedford Park Proms copy

Follow Bedford Park Proms on Facebook Twitter or Instagram

We hope to see you there! 🙂 TM x

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Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Park Commission

I was recently commissioned by Bedford Borough Council to produce a print advertising their plans for a Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Park.

The Brief was to capture a canal within our lovely countryside with people enjoying being outdoors doing a variety of activities:

Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Park copy Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Park Crop copy

I believe the council will be using it is as advertisement and may also be producing it for retail. It will  be available on my website in A3 and A4 formats from 10th August.

TM x

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My first video advertisement

So, rumour has it that video is the new social media frenzy and is an absolute must for any self employed business owner.

The thought of making a video scares the living daylights out of me! But luckily, for my first attempt the lovely Katie was willing to share her story of our work together and here is the result:

I’ll be shooting footage whenever and wherever possible of my business, what I get upto and sharing many more videos to come!

If there are any pre-existing customers out there who are willing to help me out i’d really appreciate it! It only has to be a 5 second clip! I can mash them all together to make another video.

I will I guess feature on one at some point…

Hope you enjoy!

TMx

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The Bedford Clanger Embankment Suspension Bridge Cover

Today the July issue of The Bedford Clanger was launched, and guess who’s on the front cover and featured inside…. me!? EEK!

CIa8oL1WsAAHx3v Suspension Bridge, BEdford V2 copy

The cover sees the launch of my NEW Bedford Embankment print. It captures the suspension footbridge at a different angle and in more detail to the original.
I’ve already had interest from people who want to hang both Embankment prints together and some also with the Bedford Park Print.

village show Classic_V2Hope you like the new addition to my Bedford range.?

Come say hi tomorrow at Steppingley Classic Village Fete, 11-5pm. I’ll be there with all my bedford prints.

My boyfriend will also be there who runs The Retro Vintage Room as a hobby selling toys, games, kitchenalia and more from days gone by!

See you there! TM x

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Kite Festival, Kiosk at the Park’s 3rd Birthday and the WIND!

Wow! What a lovely way to spend a Saturday.

We started off having a delicious breakfast at the Pavilion and checking up on the exhibition and restocking. Then headed down to the Kiosk to set up the stall for the afternoon.

What a buzzing fab atmosphere! The kite festival looked great, there were boat races going on and the kiosk was 3 years old!

IMG_1724IMG_1725IMG_1727Yet again I was totally overwhelmed with the amount of people who had come down just to say hi and buy a print. Sold out of my Embankment print (don’t worry! I’ve printed more!) and there’s only 2 left of the limited edition version!

Suspension eclipse copy Suspension Bridge, BEdford copy

The wind was a bit challenging! but everything survived unmarked! (just about!)

Thankyou to everyone who popped down, said hello, enjoyed the cake and fizz, tweeted and bought a print.

Bedford – you rule!

TM x

P.S. Look out for me on the front of the Clanger next month!

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The Suspension bridge print commissioned on Social Media!

The power of social media never fails to amaze me! But yesterday the most astonishing thing happened.Suspension Bridge, BEdford copy

I received an email from Katie who wanted me to do a print of the Suspension Bridge down on the Embankment in Bedford. She couldn’t afford to commission me, but was determined she wanted this print! So she went on Facebook and advertised the idea… After an astonishing response she came back to me with a list longer than my arm of people who also wanted to purchase this print and so I agreed to do the print for free.

As the demand was so high I got to it right away and today have barely stopped to breath! But the print is done! I’m super pleased with it and feels it sits alongside my Bedford Pavilion print perfectly.

I’ll pop up to the Pavilion tomorrow to display it there along with the rest of my exhibition, which is still up for 5 more weeks.

You can buy the new Embankment print HERE!

TM x

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The Pavilion at the Park Collaboration & Exhibition

The time has finally come! and last night saw the launch of my collaboration project with The Pavilion at the Park and my 6 week exhibition at the Pavilion.

It’s been such a fun project to work on and I really hope everyone at the Pavilion loves their new print, I personally love the limited eclipse edition:

Kiosk, Russell Park Main copyPavilion, Bedford park copyPavilion, Eclipse Bedford park copy

The Pavilion’s sister company the Kiosk at the Park, down in Russell Park, Bedford also have their very own print! A much bolder, fun and bright print.

I’ll be down at the Kiosk on 6th June @ 4pm celebrating their 3rd birthday. Come say hi! Cake and Fizz all round! TM x