The Grand Finale

Better started as a dream to find the excellent humans in Johannesburg and share a creative space with them. We succeeded. The people who crossed Better’s threshold have been consistently high-quality people who have confirmed our belief in humans. Andrew even met the love of his life!

BUT (you knew this was coming, didn’t you) we have not been able to figure out how to make Better sustainable. So we have taken a decision to close Better on the 15th December 2017. Perhaps co-working is just not a hot enough thing in Joburg yet? Perhaps we were just bad at marketing? Better seems to be a hit as an event space, but that’s not what we want to run.

One of the good side-effects of our closing is that those of you who have been Better members will forever be part of an exclusive club. Few will be able to brag that they were once members of Better! So if you want these bragging rights you have only 15 days left to sign up and be able to tell your grandchildren that you were part of our brave experiment in finding excellent humans. Don’t miss out. (We will be signing up members until the 15th November.)

We have a great program of events lined up for November and December. Watch out for Slow Scholarship Week, the Vintage Market, the Saxonwold Shebeen, our Freelancer Year-End Party and the Great Better Auction. There will be a closing down party in December and we hope that you will come along and celebrate our year of Better with us.

We are sad, but also relieved to be rid of the financial worries and looking forward to lots of fun between now and the end. Do come and be part of it.

For next year, we hope to find new and interesting ways to stay in touch with the Better community and keep meeting, sharing and creating together. Ideas on this front are welcome.

Lots of love,

Judy and Andrew

Know what you are worth

As a freelancer you need to develop a sense of what your time is worth. Knowing what an hour of your time is worth will help you to set rates for your work, to decide whether or not to take on a particular job, and to know when to walk away from work that is simply not paying enough.

Your base rate is the minimum that you need to earn in an hour in order to live at the level and pace that you want to.

It’s worth taking some time to work out your own base rate so that you have a number in your head that you can compare to when considering if a job is worth it.

Your base rate reflects the choices you make about your freelance life. These include:

  •   How many hours a day do you want to work?
  •   How mach leave time do you want each year?
  •   How much time do you need to build your business?
  •   How much do you want to or need to earn?

Part of the pleasure of freelancing is that you get to make choices about your work, like wanting more leave or a shorter working day. You may want three months off a year to climb mountains. That’s possible, but it means you will have to make enough money in the other nine months of each year to meet your expenses. As a freelancer you are not bound to an eight-hour day, but if you choose to work for four hours a day you need to charge more for each hour.

A freelance business also involves a number of tasks that are not productive and can’t be billed to a client, but which are important to get your business established and running smoothly. These include things like marketing and finding new clients, completing your tax returns and following up on outstanding invoices. You will also want to spend time improving yourself, taking a course or learning to use a new piece of software. Time spent on these tasks is time that can’t be spent working for a client and earning, but these tasks are important for the sustainability of your freelance business and can’t be ignored.

Our free spreadsheet works out how much you need to charge per hour to cover your salary, given the time you want to work, the leave you want to take and the percentage of your time that you will be able to spend on billable work. Download our free spreadsheet to calculate your freelancer base rate, based on your choices for your business.

Of course you have to be realistic. Deciding you want six months of holiday, working one hour a day and earning ten million a year will give you an hourly  rate of R90000 and its unlikely that the kind of work you do is able to command that kind of rate.

What is realistic will depend on where you are in your career. If you are starting out you will have to work more and spend more time finding clients. Once you are well established you may find you spend less time finding clients, and are able to give yourself more leave. This is why, in the downloadable spreadsheet we give three example calculations, one for someone starting out, one for someone getting established and one for someone well established. These examples will give you some idea of what your calculation should look like.

Our downloadable spreadsheet includes a space (on the 3rd tab) for you to calculate your own rate. In fact it allows you to calculate three different rates for yourself, so that you can experiment with different scenarios. You might want to work out a realistic base rate for how you currently spend your time and an aspirational rate for where you want to be in 5 or 10 years time.

How to calculate your base freelance rate

Questions? Comments? We’d love to hear how this works for you, so please keep in touch below.

You may also like:

Seven steps to prepare for the future

Seven ways to bring more structure into your freelance life

Planning your freelance career

Only half a day to spend creating?

We understand that life is hectic, and that your creative dreams compete for time with responsibilities and the need to earn. So we’ve introduced a half-day rate for those of you who just have a few hours to spend pursuing your dream at Better.

Come and work for up to three hours. You get free fast (fibre) WiFi, free filter coffee, an awesome range of teas and free snacks. There is also great company and tools for creating. We have sewing machines, a light table, art materials and inspiration galore. There is safe off-street parking.

So your options for working at Better now include:

  • R100 for up to three hours (anytime between 9am and 6pm)
  • R150 for a full day at Better (we’re open 9am to 6pm)
  • R550 for any ten days in a month (start on any day of the month)
  • R1200 for every day in a month (start on any day of the month)

There are discounts if you sign up for more than a month and for SAFREA members (10%). Pay cash or card at the door or use an EFT if you prefer.

You can also access these optional services

  • Printing and scanning for R1 per page
  • Locker rental R30 per week or R10 per day (fits a laptop)
  • Administrative services R110 per task
  • IT support and advice R400 per hour
  • Rooms to hire for meetings and workshops from R150 per hour

Better is at 91 Oxford Road, Saxonwold. That’s between Killarney and Rosebank malls. The entrance is in Englewold Road. We open Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 6pm. Call us on 011 327 6098 or email create@better.joburg

 

 

Coach your clients at Better

Better is a warm and quirky creative co-working space at 91 Oxford Road in Saxonwold, Johannesburg

You want to meet your clients in a quiet, comfortable and neutral space. Coffee shops are noisy and distracting, your home is your private space and renting an office is pricey.

Better offers you a cosy, nurturing environment, safe parking and is conveniently located along Oxford Road between Rosebank and Killarney. We have a quiet, private meeting room for sessions, but also a beautiful garden and veranda space.

Normally our meeting room costs R150 per hour. We have put together these discount packages especially for coaches, to make it affordable.

  • 10 sessions for R750 (R75 per hour)
  • 20 sessions for R1200 (R60 per hour)
  • 30 sessions for R1350 (R45 per hour)

Your package gets you and your client entrance into Better and the exclusive use of our small meeting room for pre-booked one-hour sessions. (Please book 24 hours in advance so we can confirm that the room will be free.) Your package also allows you to hang out at Better between appointments and enjoy our free refreshments and WiFi.

Better is a homely, welcoming, safe space, ideal for coaching

View the space and buy a package

Contact Candy on 011 327 6098 or create@better.joburg

 

So you want to be a Doctor?

PhD preparation workshop

You are thinking about getting a PhD, but you are not sure about what is expected, how to go about it and whether it’s worth it. This workshop will help you to decide, and to prepare an application for PhD studies.

Many people want to get a PhD, to wear the red gown and to earn the right to be called Doctor. But it’s not an easy process. Doctoral education takes three to six years so it’s a big commitment. Many start, but few complete.

This workshop will help you to …

  • Decide if a PhD really is for you
  • Understand what a PhD is and is not
  • Choose a PhD program
  • Find a supervisor and persuade them to supervise you
  • Choose a research topic
  • Prepare your application
  • Prepare a research proposal
  • Increase your chances of acceptance into a program
  • Plan for your life as a PhD candidate

This workshop is a great way to start you PhD studies and make sure you succeed.

Who is it for?

All kinds of people do PhDs. This workshop is for you if…

  • You are employed at a university and are under pressure to get a PhD
  • You want to get into an academic career and need to improve your qualifications
  • You are employed outside of academia and want a PhD to differentiate yourself
  • You are retired and now have time to explore an area of knowledge in depth
  • You want to reflect on and consolidate your experience and knowledge in a field
  • You have a long-standing personal dream of being a doctor
  • You have applied for a PhD before and been rejected
  • You don’t have friends and family with PhDs to advise and guide you

How does it work?

The workshop takes place over two days. You must attend both days. It is held at Better, 91 Oxford Road, Saxonwold in Johannesburg. We can recommend accommodation nearby for people travelling to Johannesburg (not included in the fee).

The first day of the workshop will be spent learning about the PhD, how doctoral education works and analysing your reasons for wanting to do a PhD. We discuss how to choose a program and supervisor and go through a detailed process for deciding on a research topic. The day is very hands-on and we will have plenty of time to talk about your specific circumstances. We work through exercises examining what the information we share means to you.

At the end of the first day you will be set homework to do that evening, collecting information for and preparing your application. On the second day we will review your application and discuss how to strengthen it. Then we will spend time writing your proposal, discussing your proposal and improving it. This process also gives you a taste of what PhD study is like. We end the workshop by discussing how you are going to adjust your life to accommodate a PhD.

You get…

  • Two days with an expert on doctoral education answering your questions
  • Detailed information about what to expect from doctoral education
  • A checklist of questions to ask when choosing a program and supervisor
  • A detailed procedure for approaching a supervisor
  • A template for preparing a short proposal for your application
  • Insight into how to find and use academic literature to guide your choice of topic
  • A taste of what academic research and PhD learning is like
  • A personal review of your CV and academic transcript to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • A worksheet that helps you plan your life as a PhD candidate

About Judy Backhouse

Judy Backhouse wrote her PhD on Doctoral Education in South Africa, graduating in 2009 from Wits University. She has run workshops for postgraduate students and academic staff on academic writing. She has also run workshops for postgraduate supervisors at Wits University and at the University of Venda. She has worked as the convenor of a PhD program, including screening and interviewing PhD applicants. This course is a result of seeing a lot of bad applications and wanting to help applicants to improve their chances in applying.

You can learn more about Judy at:

Participants in some of Judy’s workshops have said:

“Judy has an amazing ability to create a safe space. Academic writing can feel so scary, and yet she made me feel that I could do it and that I didn’t have to be afraid of asking stupid questions.”

“This workshop gave me so much direction and clarity. I now know what I need to do next.”

Details

Dates:           The course will run in January, July and September 2018
Times:          8:30am to 4:30pm
Venue:         Better, 91 Oxford Road, Saxonwold (entrance off Englewold Road)
Cost:              R3850
Booking:      Contact Candy on 011 327 6098 or create@better.joburg

To book and pay use our EFT details.

 

Contact us

Seven ways to bring more structure into your freelance life

Freelancing is about freedom – the freedom to choose what you do when, to sleep in one morning and get up early the next, to refuse one job and accept the next. But once you have experienced it, you will know that too much freedom can be an obstacle to productive and successful freelancing. It’s too easy for freedom to deteriorate into long sleep-ins, series-watching, eating, or just excessively tidy cupboards. It doesn’t take long to work out that some structure is useful.

Without the need to clock in at 8am, without a boss hanging over you telling you what to do next, how do you add structure to your life? And how do you do it in a way that feels better than the strictures of corporate life? Here are some ideas.

Start with a schedule. Get hold of a diary (electronic or paper), or a whiteboard, or even a blank notebook, and get in the habit of scheduling your time. Put appointments in it. Refer to it regularly. Work out a system that works for you. I keep an electronic diary (in Google calendar) because I can see it on my phone and add appointments wherever I am. But I also draw and decorate a schedule for each week on Sunday evening and use the time to plan my week. I like a visual reference and I use colour for different kinds of tasks. This shows me when my week is out of balance. Work out a system that works for you.

Take regular exercise. As a freelancer your health and state of mind are really important to your business. Exercise is good for both. Starting the day with a run or some yoga is a great way to establish a routine. If you need some encouragement, arrange to walk with a friend each evening. If self-motivation is lacking, sign up for a regular class. Having shelled out the money you may be more likely to go. The nice thing about being a freelancer is that you can attend a 10 am class, and not fight the traffic at 5 pm. Exercise will make you feel good about yourself and that is an important starting point for succeeding in freelance work.

Set aside your best time for production activities. Work out when you function best. Are you an early-bird, churning out copy at 4 am, or do you work better after a good breakfast? Block out three or four hours during that time to do your productive work – that is the stuff you get paid to do. During that time close down your email and social network tabs. Put your phone on silent, in another room. Create space to focus so that you can do your best work; after all your business depends on the quality of what you produce. Being fully focussed on a task also brings a sense of mastery, making work a pleasure.

Vary your surroundings. Working in one place can become monotonous, especially if that place is also where you live. You can try moving between the study and the garden, but actually leaving your home means having to shower and get dressed. Just picking out an outfit to wear can wake your brain up and get different neurons firing. You might be able to work at a client’s site one day a week or find a co-work space that you feel comfortable in. Having to go to work on a Monday demarcates the start of the week and helps to shake the lethargy of the weekend. Experiment with what works for you. You may find some work is easier to do in a different location, while some work is best done at home. I like to paint in my home studio but doing admin is more cheerful at Better.

Meet people regularly. Freelancing works for people who enjoy their own company, but if you are spending all your time inside your own head you are missing out on ideas and perspectives that could enrich your work. You need to have regular contact with other people. Think about the kinds of people who will support your freelance business. If you can find a group of people doing similar work to yours, try to meet at least once a month. These kinds of networks are great for sharing ideas about how you price your work, how to deal with client issues and to swap work when you get a deluge or a drought. You also need to keep contact with clients and prospective clients, so think about events where your best clients gather regularly and how you can get involved. Come along to the freelancer’s social at Better on the first Friday of every month.

Stick to regular admin time. When you create your weekly schedule build in a few hours for administrative tasks. Keeping financial records or completing your tax return is not the most fun part of freelancing, so you are likely to put it off and end up disorganised. Set aside time at the end of the week, or first thing on Monday morning to clear your work-related emails, invoice clients, follow up on outstanding payments, pay your bills and update your financial records. If you do this regularly the work will stay manageable. Keeping an admin to do list and clearing it weekly will also free you from that distracting little voice in your head reminding you of the outstanding tasks.

Take a day of rest. It’s hard to shut down, especially if you are trying to build your client base and the money is tight. You may find yourself working through weekends (what day is it?) just to get the next job done. While the attitude is positive, it’s not a good strategy. Freelancing is a marathon, not a sprint and your freelance business depends on you: your health and your state of mind. So taking a break is really important for your long-term success. Schedule one day a week to do something far removed from work: sleep, read a book, visit family, do pottery, bake, watch sport; just make sure that it is downtime.

As a freelancer you get to craft the life that works for you. What do you do? What works? Share your comments below.

Display your art at Better

Looking for a place that will display your art? If you don’t have galleries beating down your door, its pretty tough. But Better might just be the place for you.

Better is a cowork space that hosts regular events. We are centrally located in Saxonwold in Johannesburg in an old house with a large garden. We have wall space, a flow of people, and parking; you have art. Let’s talk.

We offer three-month contracts to display up to three pieces of work. You get to advertise your price and contact details next to each work. We will also display your bio and business card and make them available to anyone interested in your art. If we make a direct sale, we get 15% commission. You will need to pay for packaging and shipping (if necessary) and insurance (if you want it).

Better is not a gallery, so we can’t promise gallery-like conditions. We do have white walls and reasonable lighting. It’s better in some places than in others. We will choose where to hang the works and try to be fair to everyone. So you may get one piece in a prime position and another in a less ideal position.

We are happy to display a wide range of genres, but we do want to see the work first. Better is a cowork environment and the vibe is light and happy so nothing too dark, violent or otherwise disturbing to the people who work here. We don’t have space for very large works or anything that requires complex installation or lighting.

Are you keen?

Fill in your details below and we will get back to you.

Name

Cell

E-mail

Where can we see your art?

Website

Instagram

Facebook

Anything you want to ask?

You can also mail us at create@better.joburg or call 011 327 6098.

Sewing lessons at Better

Itching to get creative? Wanting a totally original wardrobe? Trying to express yourself? Join the warm and wonderful women at Better for sewing lessons. (Men are welcome too!)

Come and learn

  • to use a basic sewing machine
  • different stitches and what they are for
  • sewing seams
  • making cushions, table cloths, aprons etc.
  • choosing a dressmaking pattern
  • to choose fabric and work out how much to buy
  • to use a dressmaking pattern from cut-out to made up
  • inserting a zipper
  • making buttonholes
  • and lots more…

Learn at your own pace with lots of guidance. We have ideas for easy projects for you to start with, before you move on to more complex ones. Choose what you want to make and take your time learning each step. Get help in choosing fabric and patterns and guidance on how difficult a particular pattern will be.

Better has two sewing machines and the tools you will need. We also provide practice fabric; you buy the fabric for any special projects once you start to get really creative.

Stephanie Buys is an experienced dressmaker and owns her own soft furnishings business, Certain Curtains. She will demonstrate techniques and be on hand to guide you through each step.

Enjoy the company of wonderful people and free tea and coffee while you work.

 

When: Every Tuesday morning 10am to 1pm in the Better studio (starts 20 June)

How much: R250 per lesson (R150 for members of Better). Pay cash or credit card at the door or make an EFT payment before you come.

Booking essential, so that we can plan effectively. Call 011 327 6098 or email create@better.joburg.

Better is a place for grown-ups to play. You must be 18 or older.

FirstFreelancerFriday – Freelancer Social

Freelancing isn’t for the clockwatcher. It isn’t for those wanting the ‘comfort’ of a job and a regular salary. It is for the brave, the very admirable bold. It is for those who know their value exists beyond being an employee. We all dream of the freedom that self-employment offers, but we also know that freedom comes at a price.

The path you’ve chosen is incredibly empowering, but it can also be profoundly lonely.

It doesn’t have to be.

Join us at #FirstFreelancerFriday, our monthly social get-together for self-employed freelancers of Joburg to meet other freelancers and hear inspiring stories, struggles and successes.

Remember the chats around the water cooler back in the office? We have wine. And snacks. Haven’t managed to escape the corporate grind yet? Come along, we’ll convince you to follow your dreams. Free for Better members / R50 non-members. Tickets here: https://www.quicket.co.za/events/35530-first-freelancer-friday-freelancer-social/

Choose a co-working space that works for you

Joining the co-working trend requires some choices. If you are ready to try it, here are some steps to take to find the space that you can call home (or work, if you must).

First spend some time thinking about what you want from your co-work space.

You will probably want a range of facilities and services including a place to work – most basically a desk, chair and internet connection. Depending on your kind of work, you might need a space to host meetings, or a place to make phone calls. You might also want someone to source a courier for you or help you install some software. Thinking beyond these more practical needs, you might be looking for a great experience, opportunities to grow and contribute, or even to find your tribe: a community of like-minded people for company or to stimulate and challenge you.

I’ve been trying to break these elements down, and here is my list of the things you might want to consider when choosing a co-working space. They are broken into three categories: Practicalities, Intangibles, and Costs. I also discuss the practicalities of going out and joining a co-work space at the end.

Practicalities

So here are some of the practical aspects that you should consider…

Location. You will want to find a space that is easy to get to, taking traffic patterns into account. If you are going to get up and go to a co-work space it needs to be almost as convenient as working from home, or the lure of staying in your pyjamas might be too hard to resist. If you freelance because you can’t face the traffic, see if you can walk, cycle or take public transport. If you have a morning or afternoon school-run, look for something along the route.

Workspaces. Most importantly, look at where you will actually work. Is there a choice of furniture and spaces so that you can find one that works for you? Sit down. Are the tables a good height? Is the chair comfy? Are there meeting spaces? Have a good look through all the rooms and consider where you would feel comfortable.

Wi-Fi and power. Who can work without Wi-Fi and access to power? Check for the location of power points. Are there enough? Are they conveniently situated? Sign on and test out the Wi-Fi. Is it easy to get connected? How fast is it?

Light and air. Then consider the ambient elements. Is the space warm or cool enough? Is there a fresh breeze or are the rooms stuffy? What is the lighting like? Is there glare? Will the room be light even on a dark day?

Noise. Wherever you work you have some control over noise levels – just take a good set of headphones along. But do consider the amount of noise you are comfortable with. Do you like to work with a buzz around you or do you need silence to concentrate? Noisy coffee grinder? Traffic? Music?

Refreshments. What refreshments are offered? Do they suit you? What options are there for lunch? Is it near enough to restaurants or take-away options?

Opening hours. Make sure that the opening hours suit your preferred working patterns. Check whether the space is open over weekend and public holidays, if that is something you need.

Additional services. Other things you might want at your workplace are lockers to keep your stuff in. Even if you don’t plan to leave things overnight, it might be convenient to lock up your laptop while you have lunch. Is there a printer?

Parking and transport options. Where will you park your car? Is it safe? You will probably pay extra for off-street parking, so you might want to ask if there are alternatives, like a bus or train route nearby.

Space allocation. Do people have their own working space which they expect to use every day, or is it more relaxed? Will you need to book a space in advance? Will you need to book a meeting room?

Intangibles

After the practicalities, or maybe before, you will want to consider the intangible aspects of your co-working space. Intangibles can have the greater effect on your experience of the place and the extent to which you are relaxed and happy working there.

Some things to consider are…

Décor and design. A co-work space gives you the opportunity to work in a cool or creative environment. Find one you like. Does the décor appeal to you? Do you feel comfortable in the space? Will your clients feel comfortable in this space? Does this space reflect the kind of work you do? Does it match the brand image you are trying to project?

People. One of the benefits of co-working is that you get to meet people. In choosing a co-work space, think about the kind of people you want to meet. Are you looking for a party crowd, or a thoughtful bunch? Who uses this space? Are they the kind of people you want to spend time with?

Networks. Meeting people is partly about good company, but it can also be about networking opportunities. It might benefit your business to meet others who do similar work, or people offering products or services that you could use. Your next client, or supplier, could be sitting at the next table. Also look at what events are on offer. Are these the kinds of events that suit you and the work you do?

Diversity. Think about your need for diversity. Do you want to meet people like you or do you want to rub up against different ideas and ways of thinking? Are you looking for a place to meet people who are like you, so that you can fit in, or do you want to trip over new views?

Opportunities to learn and grow. As a freelancer you are responsible for your career growth. Some spaces offer training sessions and workshops, and if these are targeted to the kind of work you do, it could be a good space to keep learning and growing.

Opportunities to contribute. Being able to contribute to a community can be satisfying. If this is something that matters to you, you might want to consider what opportunities there are to contribute. Is this a place that you can play a part in shaping? Can you run workshops, facilitate interactions or plan events? Ask about the ways in which you can get involved.

Vibe. Then there is the indefinable “vibe” that you get in a place. Is it professional and office-like? Is it cosy and homely? Is it fun and frivolous or more serious? Find a space that suits you and your kind of work.

Costs

When thinking about the cost, there are quite a few aspects to consider…

Basic cost of access. Like cellphone packages, evaluating the real costs of membership at a co-work space can be difficult. A good place to start is with the cost of access for a day. Co-work spaces in Johannesburg charge between R100 and R300 for a day.

Structure of packages. Packages vary from monthly access with limits on the number of days to bundles of days that you can use as you please. Look carefully at the conditions and ask if you are unsure. Match your choice to how you will work. Do you want a place to go to every day, or will you work two or three days a week? How much flexibility do you need?

Bundled perks. Packages often come with bundled perks. Have a look through the perks that you value and see which package includes most of those.

Contracts. Some venues offer discounts for taking longer contracts, while others operate from month to month. Decide whether you are ready to commit to long-term use of the venue before opting for a contract. You may want to start with one month until you are sure you have found your place. You may prefer not to be tied to contracts.

Are refreshments included? Is the coffee and tea included in your entrance fee or does it cost extra? If you are paying extra, check that the prices are reasonable. You don’t want to have to pay high prices for the convenience of having coffee at your desk.

The cost of a guest. If you need to bring a guest along or a group of clients for a meeting, will you have to pay extra? That could add up. Read the details on guest pricing.

Cost of other services. Even if you choose a lower-level package with fewer perks, you will usually be able to buy the extra services offered. Check the prices for those. Occasionally paying to have data captured, or some typing done for you, might be a life-saver in a busy week.

Ask for options. If you can’t find a package that works for you, do ask about alternatives. Most co-working spaces are flexible and, as long as you are not expecting everything for free, will try and find a way to accommodate you.

Getting in and getting acquainted

Most co-work spaces will gladly show you around if you just drop in. Call and make an appointment if you want the undivided attention of a host to explain the facilities and options.

Most places will offer you a chance to “try before you buy” in the form of your first day free or discounted. Make use of this. Pick a day when you will go to the space as if you were working there. Take along a project you are busy with and spend a good few hours finding out what it’s like to actually work in the space. You need that long to assess the comfort of the chairs, the ambiance, the Wi-Fi and to get to know some of the people. Do go and grab coffee when others are doing that, so that you can introduce yourself and ask about their experiences.

If the venue has some kind of informal social or meet-and-greet event, go along and use the opportunity to find out what kind of people inhabit the place. Mingle. Ask people what they do, how long they have been using the space and what they like about it. Take a friend if you are shy. At the very least, have fun investigating the different co-work spaces until you find what suits you best.

What do you think? What have I left out? How do you choose?