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/

Creative flow playshops with Ira Bekker

Flow is a mental state of being fully immersed in an activity with a feeling of energized focus, involvement, and enjoyment. When you are in a state of flow, you lose awareness of all other things. The idea of flow was suggested by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi who argues that being in a state of flow is the “optimal experience” of happiness.

The creative flow playshops are about experiencing this state through drawing and painting activities. These are not art classes; rather they are an opportunity to lose yourself, to forget what is going on around you, while you become absorbed in colour, texture, pattern and the act of making. They work for artists and non-artists alike.

If you think you are not creative, these playshops may make you think again. You’ll discover that you can make beauty without any skill in drawing, or training in art. The end result is not what matters, its the process of doing, so you don’t need to judge the “art” you produce. In fact you are encouraged to use the pieces you create to create subsequent pieces. You will cut them up, repurpose and reinvent them throughout the process.

If you are an artist who needs to loosen up and escape your inner control freak, these playshops allow you to explore the unexpected in a safe space where no-one, and particularly not you, will judge the outcome. Be in the moment. Watch the colour meander across the page, going where it will. Play and experiment with new materials and techniques, just to see what happens. Make a mess, make beautiful mistakes. Remember why you love creating.

About Ira

Ira Bekker used to think that being creative is just for the lucky few until she came across the idea of creative flow and never looked back. She currently works as a textile artist using natural plant materials to print onto fabric and is passionate about leading others up the garden path towards their own creative lives.

Details

What: A series of six mornings of play in the Better art studio, enquire for next start date.

When: Wednesday mornings, 9:30 am to 11:30 am

Where: The studio, Better, 91 Oxford Road, Saxonwold

Cost: R1700 for six sessions (R250 per session, plus R200 for materials). Members of Better pay R1280 (R180 per session, plus R200 for materials)

It is essential to book.  Call 011 327 6098 or email create@better.joburg. EFT details here.

 

 

 

Note: Better is a place for grown-ups to play, you must be over 18 to join Better or attend events at Better.

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?

 

Making a creative space in a practical life with Gail Schimmel

The question that I am most often asked is how I manage to make space to be a writer when I have a day-career as a lawyer and am a hands-on mom.

The answer lies in a new way of thinking about our lives – gone are the days of each person only being allowed one job or role. The new catch phrase is “portfolio living” and the idea is that each of us has several portfolios. Gone are the days when we have to choose one expertise – there is nothing to stop one person being an expert in two, often unrelated, things.

Many people experience extraordinary frustration because they want to be more creative, but they can’t figure out how to make a creative space in their practical lives. They know that they don’t want to throw up their careers and become a starving artist, so they give up on their creativity all together.

Join me for a fun morning where we explore how to make a creative space in your practical life – and what your creative space might be. Interactive, creative and lots of fun.

 

Gail Schimmel is the author of three novels – Marriage Vows (2008), Whatever Happened to the Cowley Twins (2013) and The Park (2017). She has also written a children’s book (Claude & Millie, writing as Gail van Onselen) and a text book on advertising law. Gail’s short story was runner up in the 2016 Short Sharp Stories award. She runs her own consultancy as a lawyer specialising in advertising law. Gail lives in Johannesburg with her husband and two children.

 

Date: Weekday morning, 9:30 to 12:30 am, enquire for the next dates

Cost: R550, including refreshments and all materials (R450 for members of Better). EFT details

The workshop is limited to twelve participants for maximum impact

Booking essential! Contact Patience on 011 327 6098 or patience@better.joburg.

From coffee shop to co-working space

So your little business is growing. Your income is looking steady. You have a few reliable clients and more on the horizon. There is work to be done. If the noise of the milk frothing is starting to irritate you, and the friendly waitress is a less welcome interruption than she used to be, you may be outgrowing the coffee shop.

Perhaps it is time to graduate to a co-working space?

Like any business decision there will be costs and benefits and you need to weigh these up. Yes, a co-working space is going to cost you something. Most spaces have a range of packages to choose from. You can pay for a day, week or month, or longer. Shop around and find a package that suits you. To decide what the space is worth to your business, you need to think through the benefits you may get, what they are worth and whether they matter to you.

Here are some to consider:

  1. At a personal level working in a shared space can be less lonely, but you will be interacting with others. If that makes you self-conscious or uncomfortable, it may not work for you.
  2. If the space offers a community (and not just office space) you get to make new friends, chat over coffee, have a drink of an evening, and celebrate successes with a set of colleagues that are walking a similar path to you – like when you worked in corporate, but with a more diverse set of interests and knowledge.
  3. You get to meet other freelancers and small business owners so you can learn, share contacts, discuss challenges. The kind of network that the co-working space provides can lead you to new clients, new opportunities and new knowledge.
  4. A co-working space can improve your work habits. You won’t be around to hang the next load of washing, serve tea to your sister when she calls or accept that Takealot delivery. But that could be a good thing because you will be able to focus and your sister will finally learn that you do real work. As for Takealot, you could have your package delivered to your new co-work space instead.
  5. A space more conducive to work is likely to increase your productivity. Work faster and get home sooner, or up your rate of output and build your business. Either way the additional cost may be worth it.
  6. And don’t forget that the cost of a co-working space is tax deductible as a business expense (easier to do this with an invoice for the use of the space, than trying to claim all those coffees).

But after all the careful weighing, the acid test will be whether a co-working space makes you feel inspired, happy and heading towards your dreams.

Co-working spaces are very different, from sleek and professional to cottagey and homely. Most will offer desk space, Wi-Fi and refreshments. Some will offer tools and equipment, meeting rooms, quiet spaces and places to mingle. Some actively build a community with events for learning and socialising. Try more than one to find a space that matches your business and your own style.

It’s time to take your business to the next level. Get out of the coffee shop and try a co-working space.

The “very easy facebook for small businesses” workshop

If you’re a small business owner, entrepreneur, freelancer, crafter, artist or author struggling to work out how this whole Facebook for business thing works, Better are hosting an informal workshop that is perfect for you, run by Content Writer and Social Media Manager, Tracey Walker.

Learn how to set up and effectively manage a business Facebook Page that nurtures your business or product with content that builds a loyal community of clients and customers. With 1.86 billion active monthly Facebook users, the potential to find people who need just what you are offering is endless, just as long as you can get them to listen to you.

As marketing expert Seth Godin remarked “marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell”. And Facebook is where everyone is talking and more importantly, listening.

So come along to Better for a morning on Thursday 21st September from 9:30 until 12:30. You’ll get coffee, tea and a workbook with all the information we discuss as well as a monthly content template to help you get started. (Free stuff, yes!) The workshop costs R550 and members of Better pay R450.

Space is limited to 10 people, so please book your place now. E-mail Tracey at walkertracey0@gmail.com or call her at 083 424 7749 for information. Contact Candy on create@better.joburg or 011 327 6098 to book.

Planning your freelance career

There is a lot to like about freelance work: being your own boss, control of your time, chosing your customers. But making the transition to freelance work is difficult and scary.

If you have been thinking about it, or have made some steps towards freelance work, but are not sure whether to commit fully, here is an opportunity for you to think it through.

The course is very hands-on, working through exercises. We work with small groups so that there is time to listen to each person’s story and discuss specific strategies and solutions for you.

 

The workshop runs over three evenings, discussing:

Session 1: Where are you now?

In this first session we assess where you are, your skills, opportunities and challenges and why you want to freelance. We also look at the kind of person you are and how suited you might be to a freelance life.

Session 2: Where you want to be?

In our second session we get creative, and you imagine your perfect freelance life. How much time will go into work? How much money do you want to make? What will your working day look like? We also take a sober look at what might be feasible in the next year or so.

Session 3: How will you get there?

In our final session we discuss strategies for making the transition. What needs to be in place before you can make the move? Whose buy-in do you need? We look at strategies that have worked for other freelancers and discuss what might work for you. Then you craft a plan and map out the steps you need to take.

 

Does it help?

Donna Chiang had this to say after attending:

“Please could you pass on my thanks to Judy and Andrew for hosting such a wonderful workshop? I really enjoyed it and felt that I could propel myself in a practical and inspired manner towards the things that I enjoy doing. And make an income doing so.

We spoke about things that were so relevant to me and they gave such practical tips to apply in my current situation and things to think about when I’m eventually where I am where I want to be. The 3 days spread over the 3 weeks, helped solidify my learnings.”

 

Judy has a background in business strategy as well as experience of freelance work and Andrew is a long-time freelancer. This workshop shares what they have learned and the resources they have collected in their freelance journeys.

  • Who: Those contemplating freelance work or in the process of making the transition
  • Cost: R400 (R300 for members of Better) (for all three evenings)
  • Time: 6.00pm to 7.30pm
  • Dates: Wednesday 8th, 15th and 22nd November

Maximum 6 places. Booking and prepayment essential. E-mail Candy at  patience@better.joburg or call 011 327 6098.

Find our EFT details here.

 

 

Social media Q&A for freelancers

  • Should I be using Facebook or LinkedIn?
  • Do I want my clients to friend me on Facebook?
  • Should I have a separate Facebook page for my freelance work?
  • How can I use social media to get more clients?

Social media presents wonderful opportunities for freelancers, but at the same time, vexing questions.

Join the freelance community at Better for an informal evening of Q&A about social media. Share your experiences and listen to how other freelancers use social media. Learn from each other’s mistakes and get ideas about what you could do differently.

Tracey Walker will be on hand to offer advice and guidance.

 

Time: 6pm to 7pm

Dates: Enquire for next dates

Cost: R50 for entrance, wine and snacks (free for members of Better).

Dreamcrafting (strategic planning) for freelancers

Strategic planning is something that big businesses do, right? And you left all that behind you when you shifted to self-employment or freelancing, right? Maybe not.

If you have been freelancing or self-employed for some time and are struggling to make it work, or if you are doing OK but want to take your freelance career to the next level, take some time out to think strategically about what you are doing.

Close your eyes for a minute and think about what you want from your freelance business. Happiness? The joy of creating? Fame? To make enough money to stay unemployed? More time to spend with your kids?

Dreaming about the future is a great way to clarify what you really, really want. It can also help you to know what you don’t want. These dreams can help you to

  • identify what is and is not working for you,
  • move in the right direction towards a better situation,
  • choose what work to take on and what work to say no to,
  • clarify where to spend your time and what you shouldn’t be doing,
  • decide when you need help and
  • feel more relaxed and secure.

Dreamcrafting is the process of turning your dreams into reality.

In this workshop you will dream about your freelance business using fun, creative tools. You will learn to listen to your emotional responses to help you decide what really matters. Then we will take some of the lessons of strategic planning that businesses use and apply them to your freelance mini-business in order  to craft that future. You can pick from a basket of tools those that you think will work for you.

The course is very hands-on, working through exercises. We work with small groups so that there is time to listen to each person’s story and discuss specific strategies and solutions for you.

Take away a pack of creative dreamcrafting tools, your own personal vision for your future and practical steps for moving towards that future.

Judy Backhouse has taught strategic planning at business schools and universities and has adapted what she taught there to the context of freelance or self-employed businesses.

This workshop is for established freelancers who want to take thier careers to the next level. If you are just starting out as a freelancer you should consider our Planning your Freelance Career workshops instead.

Next workshop: Tuesday 24th October

  • 2.00pm – 3.30pm: Dreaming, feelings and introducing the toolset
  • 3.30pm – 4.00pm: Tea break
  • 4.00pm – 5.30pm: Working with selected tools to craft your dream

Cost: R400 (R300 for members of Better). Our EFT details

Maximum 6 places. To book your place, e-mail Candy on patience@better.joburg or call 011 327 6098.

Membership options at Better

Make Better your regular work and play space by becoming a member of Better.  We’d love to have you join our community. Here we explain our membership options.

The free stuff

All members of Better get, for free

  • fast WiFi,
  • coffee, tea and snacks,
  • access to books and curated information, and
  • the use of a range of creating equipment and materials.

Members can attend many of our events free and get discounts on workshops and training.

The membership options

There are three tiers of membership:

As a starving artist (tier one) you want access to Better more than four times a month, but your budget is tight. For R550 per month, you get:

  • access Better up to ten days in the month
  • 5 pages of printing free each day, and
  • a discount on one guest per day.

If you are at the point of creating every day, and want a place to work regularly, leaving your stuff overnight, then the regular maker (tier two) option is for you. You pay R1200 per month for

  • access to Better as often as you want
  • 10 pages of printing free each day,
  • a discount on two guests per day,
  • off-street parking, and
  • your own locker.

If you run a successful freelance business and want, not only a place to work, but the kind of services that will free up your time for more important things, then we consider you a creative agent (tier three). At this  level, for R2600 per month you enjoy

  • access to Better as often as you want
  • 20 pages of printing free each day,
  • a discount on four guests per day,
  • off-street parking,
  • your own locker,
  • 8 hours exclusive use of a meeting room in the month
  • 12 free secretarial services in the month
  • 2 hours of tech support in the month

There are no contracts. Our memberships run from whatever day you sign up to that same day in the next month. We’d like you to renew each month, but only if you love being here.

You can pay for 3 or 6 months at a time, and we’ll give you a discount of 5% or 10% respectively.

Sign up here.

The pay as you go option

You can also pay R150 per day to come and use the space. Once you are inside, you will have access to the free stuff for members. You can also pay for other services as follows:

  • Printing R1 per page
  • Locker RR30 per week
  • Meeting room R200 per hour
  • Secretarial services R110 per task
  • Tech support R400 per hour

The discounted rate for guests of members is R100 per day.

Or sign up here.