As a freelancer there are, unfortunately, many more things to consider than just the creative outlet, and internet security is among them. Protecting your business and yourself from phishing, scams and knowing which tools can help you is an immense support when setting up your business. TurnOnVPN specialises in internet security and I am happy to share a post highlighting how the scary way into freelancing can become a little easier.
The freelance economy is booming – and we are not even at the peak of that curve yet. In the time since the start of the pandemic, there has been a push to freelancing for many people, which isn’t surprising, considering many workers are in furlough.
If you are looking for work as a freelancer, though, know that it is not all rosy. Those that have been freelancing for a while are aware of the challenges, but you are just starting in the field. An understanding of the dangers you might face – and how to tackle them – will do you a lot of good.
Common Challenges for Freelancers
In the months leading up to this one, new freelancers have fallen to many dubious scams on the internet. The most elaborate involve a potential client contacting the freelancer and asking them to start work immediately. Part of the job would require sending a check to the freelancer, which they cash out, hold some of the money for themselves and send the rest out. The only problem is that the sent check is a dummy, which means you as the freelancer will soon found out you have a negative balance. The worst part is that the monies are usually sent via applications like Cashapp and Venmo, or cryptocurrency channels. In other words, there is little to no hope of ever getting such monies back.
And we have not even talked about the stability and security concerns you need to now take into account. Once you start putting your business out there, you will start getting a lot of files over the internet. Potential clients are not necessarily who they say they are, though. What if they are hackers trying to get you to download malicious content to your computer? Some might even want to run a phishing scam on you.
2. You are your own boss
Apart from being aware of potential scams, new freelancers might find it difficult to keep up with the task management part of the business. As a freelancer, you don’t have a boss hovering over your head anymore. This means that you have to take full responsibility for being on time – and doing the work right the first time too. Otherwise, you might start losing clients faster than you get them.
In short, freelancing is not just about having the right skills. It also goes beyond knowing where to seek clients and getting them too. Freelancing the right way means knowing how to handle all aspects of your business by yourself.
Otherwise, you might not be able to run a successful practice.
Tools to Make Your Life Better
After all that has been said, you do not have to resign to fate. The learning curve might look steep right now, but you are soon to get into the green.
To accelerate the process, you can take advantage of a series of tools right now.
If you are coming from an office setup, you will benefit greatly from tools like Asana, Trello, Slack, etc. They simulate the office experience, allowing you to interact with your clients, get tasks assigned to you, and more.
You should also get a password manager for yourself. You will have a series of accounts – from freelance platforms to other apps (email, etc.) – that you have to keep protected. Clients might even provide you access to some of their backend services for you to complete your work.
This is not the time to have a password error/ hack happen. Likewise, get a password generator so that you always have strong passwords for all of your accounts.
Still, on security, you need to download antivirus software and a VPN to secure your device too. The former will be there to prevent the infiltration of a virus on your device, which will protect you when browsing the web, downloading files, and more. On the VPN front, you are always sure of having an encrypted network – even when dealing with public/ free Wi-Fi networks.
Becoming a top-class freelancer is not rocket science, but you need to keep yourself safe and secure too. With the tips above, you should be more ready to go.
This blog post was inspired by a writing prompt handed out by the Vienna Sunday Writer's Club. If you want to get involved and get writing prompts delivered to you every Sunday, you can become a member of the club here.
When you think about the span of a human’s life, it is arguable that the ingredients to a good life potion change over time, becoming more complex in textures, but shed of frivolous frosting.
When I think back to my time as a spotty teenager, certain I would live a much better life than my parents - filled with money, luxury, fame and a badass car - I cannot help thinking how shallow my perception of happiness was back then - and how completely unhappy I actually was most of the time. The key to a good life, or so I thought, was mainly appreciation and praise from others - may that be career-wise, family-wise or sex-wise. The life my parents lived seemed tremendously mundane, and escaping the ever-present abyss of financial struggles, as well as everyday life issues, was the most pivotal to accomplish. I wanted to be praised, to sit in talk shows and charmingly tell Ellen DeGeneres about my last trip to the Maldives with my eight-pack husband and my private jet (I would, actually, often practise for these interviews on the toilet whenever no one else was at home).
In my early twenties depression nibbled on my mind with yet more persistence, and despite my still-present wishes to get praise from the outside on a constant basis, I started to have an inkling that a public and shallow career for the sake of fame would probably not benefit my already fickle mind.
And yet, I idolised celebrities, convinced that the happy facades they portrayed in talk shows must stem from a most perfect life that was denied to me - an unfairness I could not quite forgive. Yet, it was never really the art that drew me in, the acting, the music-making, the dancing - but always the fame that I was sure would come with it, if ever I had the courage to pursue it (which, incidentally, I never did). The “humble” life, for me, was nothing short of an admission to failure and to become “just a teacher”, like my parents were, was a life so soporific to me I chased myself through many toils and snares on the quest to avoid it.
A “good life” was always just out of reach - the proverbial carrot dangling in front of a donkey. If only I had a boyfriend, I’d be happy and life would be good - but I got the most wonderful boyfriend, and still I wasn’t. If only I could live in England, life would be good - but I moved there and I still wasn’t all happy. If only I was prettier, if only I was slimmer, if only I was cleverer, if only I got a book published, if only I starred in a movie, if only they named the stars and planets after me...but a small voice inside my head kept telling me it would never be enough if a “good life” was to come from an exterior source. Despite this wise voice of reason more insistently popping up, I spent my early and mid-twenties kind of miserable, on the chase of what I still perceived to be necessary posts on the path to a good life.
So, barely scratching thirty years on this planet, what makes me the expert on a “good life” now to write all smugly about it? Well, as you may have formed the correct answer in your head already...Nothing. However, I realised a few things that helped incredibly on the quest to live the good life, brimming with happiness, joy and contentment amidst problems, sorrow and occasional days of despair.
First and foremost was my admissal that a good life does not equal an exclusively happy life - happiness as the predominant force is certainly an aspect of it, but eternal happiness is an oxymoron as such, as light can only appear bright with intervals of dark. Therefore, I am slowly accepting that not feeling happy does not mean I am failing at life - it just means I am living it. I often set myself unhealthy milestones, and now as a new mother I regularly feel I need to be “happy” all the time because I finally have my little girl. However, there are many days on which I simply feel tired, exhausted, overwhelmed (sometimes even terrified) and just don’t fancy walking around the flat with her on a loop because else she starts crying.
Parenthood, I find, is an especially guilt-ridden area when it comes to happiness, as it is suggested by society that our children must always make us happy. Anyone who actually has had a go at parenting will agree that happiness is as closely tied to having children as is regular despair.
Another key aspect to slowly inching towards a life I would call “good” was the acceptance that just because you crave fame and attention, it’s probably not healthy for you. Now I know that a life filled with bland attention and superficial fame would probably be the last nail to plummet me into a throat-deep depression. If something I love doing leads to attention and appreciation, it is infinitesimally better than deciding to do something just to become famous for it. The minute you crave attention and outer appreciation, you know it’s probably not a great idea for you - or at least I found this to be true for myself.
I can even give an example. I have loved writing my entire life and I scribbled short stories on paper long before I even knew there was something like paid authors. However, the minute I wrote to gain attention with it and be invited to talk shows, my passion for it ceased and became layered with pressure, stress and an unwillingness to sit down and concoct a story. The same held true for singing, sketching, blogging and many other things. The minute I saw fame or outer praise as the main incentive, it ceased being fun and became another weight on my shoulders.
Freeing myself from these superficial endeavours was (and still is) surely the most difficult obstacle to my good life, but with every year that passes I become a little better at doing it and cherish “the simple things in life”, for example reading a good book, drinking tea, meeting friends and, above all, my little family.
The people who come in and out of our life, I deem the most important aspect to a good life. I stand now, almost thirty years old, and it is the first time I can truly say I have rid of all toxic relations - direct or indirect. While climbing through various educational institutions and work places, it can be hard to avoid toxic people, and, still, it is always up to us how much we let them penetrate our world. I have become quite uncompromising when it comes to meeting new people, I must say. Not on an exclusionary basis, but an efficient one. The time we have to spend with people is limited and spending time with great people makes my life infinitely better, so why deal with people who suck your energy out?
A manifold of paragraphs have been written, much has been said, conclusions have been made. So with all being said and done, it’s time for me to curl up with Matt Haig’s Midnight Library while watching my beautiful daughter sleep and sometimes sneaking a side glance at my wonderful husband as he defeats demons and whatnot on the PC screen.
It’s time to live the good life.
It is half past eight and Lily is still sleeping in our bed, though I know the minutes to write this blog post are counted. Over the past amazing last weeks that she has been with us, I have quickly learnt a few things that make life as a new mum incredibly easier. Of course they may not help other mothers, but probably you can take up a few things on the way, so here are my 5 Things I Already Learned as a New Mum.
The one key element of being a more relaxed mum is flexibility. Especially in the first weeks, and because Lily is my first child, it is essential to me to adapt the entire day to her needs and preferences, not mine. She gets to sleep when she wants, feeds when she wants and my attention whenever she needs it. As of now, we don't yet have a real day structure. Some days we get up earlier than others, depending on how the nights went, sometimes she has two-hour windows between feeds, sometimes three. Some days I need to change her nappy every hour, some days she's fine much longer without doing any business.
Hi everyone! In case you're wondering where I've gone in the past weeks of inactivity, there are a few things that have kept me writing on this blog.
For starters, I was struggling with how I wanted to continue this blog and whether I need to dedicate it to a specific theme or topic to call it a successful blog. You know, like a lifestyle blog or a fashion blog or a mama's blog. I then ended up with far too many sub-blogs on the page and was constantly frustrated on which page the content fits best. However, I then realised that my interests are manifold and that humans don't only fit into one category. This blog is my outlet from my writing day job - it's where I dictate the steps and, so what, if a post on breastfeeding is right above one about how to work from home as a freelancer - I am, after all, a mama and freelancer at the same time, so I'm going to revamp the website a little and whittle it down - and this page is now the main blog.
And, yeah, I also had a baby.
Going through pregnancy is one of the most intense periods in a woman's life - especially when it's the first time for you. Pregnant women know this - suddenly everyone chimes in with their (unwanted) advice on pretty much everything. Oh, and the books - walk into the pregnancy section in a bookstore and you wonder how there can be left enough paper for any other books - it's OVERWHELMING!
Now, books sort in various categories from the generic pregnancy tomes that include everything about every condition, stage, possibility, malady etc. etc. to the more alternative approaches, including personal opinions, memoirs and alternative healing and birthing strategies, etc. - oh, and don't even get me started on the books for the Afterward - nursing, co-sleeping, raising, the first year with baby...
I have leafed my way through pretty much every category, but for the past weeks, I have decided to put them all away and stop reading them because I have noticed that they actually just accentuate my stress levels instead of making me feel informed and rested. Upon chatting with a few other pregnant women, I have also realised that I don't seem to be the only one feeling like that. Knowing too much can also be harmful because you may end up faffing about every 1% disaster that may happen to you.
I cannot even count how often I've been to the doctor in the last year. Over the summer I checked in with my orthopaedic about every two weeks to fix my crooked hip (old ballet injury) and when I got pregnant, the doctor appointments just toppled over. Add the psycho and physiotherapy and you've got yourself an invalid, apparently.
Doctors and I have a very ambivalent relationship. Unlike my parents I don't belong to the super-alternative group who, as a principle, distrust doctors; however, it really comes down to how good your doctor is - and I have seen incredibly bad ones.
This week I went to see an orthopaedic in Innsbruck because my hip was acting up again and it was simply a disaster. So, first and foremost, I called ahead and told them I was eight months pregnant, so I wasn't sure if anything could be done anyway, but the scheduled me in nevetheless. Arriving there, I am led swiftly into one of the practices where a "doctor" tells me that, due to my pregnancy, there isn't anything he can actually do.
Thanks, that's two hours of my life down the drain (AND I have to pay for the stupid visit nevertheless!). In addition he drones on that he "doesn't believe in manipulation and only does injections".
Especially during the prevailing times, anxiety knocks on many people's doors. As part of my anxiety disorder, I have been battling with the rush of fear, the sweaty hands and the quickening pulse for years, and anyone who's regularly experienced that will agree that it's surely not a nice feeling.
Anxiety can have its roots from an infinite source of possibilities. I remember my husband once said, "But at some point you'll have to run out of things to be afraid of."
I laughed. Hard.
Sadly, you can be scared of anything, rational or irrational. With my pregnancy going on at the moment, I have encountered an entirely new and vast field of opportunities to be afraid of. And when you're a freelancer, fear of failure, fear for your existence and the permanent fear to hold and gain new clients is a permanent companion for most. If I counted down the fears I've had in the past year alone, it would be quite a list.
The problem with anxiety is that it paralyses us, as the sympathetic nervous system kicks in and leaves only the fight or flight instinct. Great if you want to survive, not so great if you want to get creative. Although the present situation is very challenging for most smaller businesses and freelancers, anxiety must not dictate our next steps, as we need to be creative now more than ever. So how can we deal with anxiety better and probably even overcome it during our everyday lives?
Hardly anyone is hit harder economically by the coronavirus than freelancers, some might say. In Austria, at least, we enjoy much less financial security and cannot apply for unemployment support like people who lost their jobs due to the crisis, for example. If I cannot work anymore and don't make money, I am simply screwed. Especially my friends in the entertainment area are hit hard, as God only knows how long it will take until concerts, plays, musicals, operas, etc. can take place again.
But I don't want this post to be about the dire situation for freelancers, as I think the coronavirus can also be used as an incentive to explore new territory and get creative when it comes to making some extra cash during these times. A friend of mine in the theatre business has started online tutoring and fills out paid questionnaires for studies to cover the time, and my father posts regular Yoga videos to keep it afloat.
I am sure you're sick of coronavirus (ironically) like I am too, but I cannot help thinking how much such an extreme situation outlines the strengths and weaknesses of prevailing systems. I have already written a blog post about this issue, Save The Economy: A Modern Nightmare, but want to delve in with a more personal perspective with this blog post.
What irks me most about the whole coronavirus issue is the division of humanity over it, once again. It seems we can even hate each other when we share a global enemy that was not caused by human nature, like war. Demonstrations make life for already overworked policemen and nurses even more strenuous and the inability to accept that "normal" is just not going to happen anytime soon doesn't seem to sink in with some.
Now, I don't want to say you shouldn't reflect, react and also criticise the measures taken against the coronavirus in general, but does it really help to beat up policemen, refuse to wear face masks and just generally be against everything the government proposes - without offering any solutions yourself? I definitely don't think so and have to say it is really emblematic for the selfishness of our society, as well as the unwillingness to compromise even an inch on the own luxury and convenience for the greater community and claim it is your personal right to put your personal needs above others - which is sadly not only true for the virus but the same with global environmental issues and political problems.
Are you going stir-crazy already? Maybe your eyes wander across your windows now and then, wondering when you'll be allowed to resume your normal life and leave. Maybe you feel the drag of loneliness and depression tugging at you more and more insistently with every passing day.
It feels like while half of the people are going in overdrive, killing themselves in their jobs as nurses, doctors, salespeople and more (and APPLAUSE to those!!), others have been literally benched from their day-to-day activities. Those hit hardest may have lost their job altogether, while others frantically try to get career, children and household all together at the same time.
I guess it is easy to agree that these times are challenging for everybody and needed adjustment to some extent. As a freelance writer, I feel I am among those who actually had to change very little to my everyday lifestyle, and yet I feel the isolation insistently knocking at my mental door. And maybe BECAUSE I am used to working from home.
Writer. Editor. Blogger. YouTuber. Freelancer. Traveller. English fanatic.