Tag Archives: freelance

Is Your Home Office Giving You Headaches?

When you work for yourself, you can find that your work schedule frequently spills over into leisure time and before you know it, you’re sleeping less, feeling decidedly less relaxed and the more aligned work life balance that had been part of your original plan seems to have gone out of the window. Another potential hazard is headaches, which along with colds are reportedly the number one cause of absenteeism from work and when your work for yourself, sick days are a tricky topic to navigate. Headaches can be stress induced from overworking, brought on by lack of fresh air or may at least in part be due to an ill conceived desk set up, so how do you protect your health in your home office and is your home office giving you headaches?

Is Your Home Office Giving You Headaches?

Let there be light – in the right places
It’s very important to introduce natural light into a working space. Not only will this help you feel bright and more awake, it is also proven to aid a good sleep pattern and productivity. If your desk is nestled in the corner of another room away from a window, consider aiding flow of light with bifold doors. These from Vufold are available in both classic oak and more modern finishes to match your décor.

Whether you are positioned near a natural light source or need to rely on a desk or ceiling lamp, you’ll need to take steps to prevent glare on your computer screen, which can trigger headaches and migraines. Position it directly in front of you with the top at eye level and take time to set the brightness and contrast level to comfortable settings. Glare from light bulbs and windows can cause issues, so try and ensure they don’t shine directly on your screen. Along with careful positioning you may want to fit an anti-glare cover to your computer screen.

Find the right angle
It’s not just your computer screen that needs to be in just the right place, if you’re spending more than a few hours a time at your desk it’s recommended that you invest in an adjustable ergonomic chair. As well as supporting your lower back, you should be able to alter the height and position of your chair so that it comfortably supports you at the correct height to comfortably navigate your keyboard and mouse and type with your hands in line with your arms and wrists straight, this should stop nasty aches and pains developing. If you find that your feet are away from the floor when you’re at desk level, purchase a tilting foot support and resist the urge to cross your legs, it’s really not good for you!

Keep things fresh
Keeping a clean and tidy desk doesn’t just help you to find and do things quicker, it also minimises the amount of movement you need to make, which can help you avoid uncomfortable twisting and turning of your head and neck. Back pain is a common byproduct of working at desks and while regular massages can ease problems, it helps to take preventative measures too. Can you position items such as calendars and telephones within easy view and reach? You should also clean your keyboard and desk regularly – it’s estimated the average keyboard harbours over 7500 bacteria, which is not the kind of office party you want to be promoting.

Take a break
One of the best things you can do to protect your health and productivity is to take regular breaks. Try and step away from your screen for five to ten minutes every hour and think about getting some fresh air during your lunch break too. Staring and sitting for long periods can cause a host of problems with your back, legs and eyes. While it can feel like taking a break is slowing you down, spending a moment stretching or resting your eyes will keep you more comfortable, which could just help you finish that important project.

How is your home office set up? Do you wish you had more sunlight or a more comfortable desk or chair? Are you good at taking regular breaks or do you find yourself staring at your screen and typing for hours on end while you’re in the zone? Perhaps you’re planning a home office refurb to support your health goals?

If you have any tips for creating a healthy and comfortable work environment, please share them below.

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Freelancers – value yourselves

Hello, my name is Jane and I’m a Freelance Copywriter (amongst other things); I write and people pay me. I use that money to go to shops and buy things like food and clothes, and sometimes bottles of gin. I also lavish my meagre funds on heating, electricity, water and the endless things school asks me for. I work hard each and every day to put food on the table. I pay my taxes (hello Starbucks, are you listening?) and my National Insurance and because I work for myself and don’t have access to a stationery cupboard, I have to buy my own paper-clips too. In short, my life isn’t given to me for free, nor will Mr Supermarket do me a deal for cash.

In my line of work I frequently get offered “amazing” opportunities to work for free or for buttons (quite literally) to apparently “help raise my profile”. It’s exciting to be asked to write for a magazine and to see your name in print, it’s a great feeling, but do you know what’s a better feeling? Being PAID to write and then seeing your name in print. I understand there is a whole chicken/egg scenario here, but I’ve never written for a publication for free in my life and I often see my name in print. If you don’t value your work, the words you sweat over, the research you have done, then no one else will.

Everyone has to start somewhere you say. I agree. But if you write for free now, you can’t turn round in six months and say “now I’m a proper published writer you have to pay me now”, because they won’t. They’ll just move on and find someone else who will write for free, because we’ve all been new and we’ve all been tempted. Not only are you devaluing yourself and your product, you’re making it harder for other writers (including you) to make a living.

But what if they want to pay you? Fabulous news, but what do they want to pay you? What’s your rate? You have two options, a notional hourly rate (I reckon that’ll take me two hours so if I work for £10 and hour that’s £20*) or a pay-per-word arrangement (for example, 800 words for £15*). I hear of writers (usually ones dabbling on the side of a “proper” job) who agree to ridiculous things, like 2000 words for £15. I saw one today which was 750 words for £8. If you’re working and writing for that amount of money, you’re pretty much giving it away for free. Your hourly rate probably isn’t even half that of the minimum wage.

It’s hard to know what to charge when people ask you to write for them. I’m as guilty as the next person for undervaluing my work, but I will charge the going rate based on my notional hourly rate. The best advice I can give is make friends with other copywriters and bounce ideas off them. If you have a gang of copywriters (I’m going to call a group of copywriters a scribble, a scribble of copywriters) then you’ll soon find they pass work onto each other, have each others back, even blacklist really shoddy clients; but it’s good to have “colleagues” in the same boat as you.

If you’ve got what it takes, you can and will earn a good living from being a Freelance Copywriter, it can be a lot of hard work, but if you devalue yourself, give your hard work away for free, then why would people pay you well, let alone pay you at all? Know your own worth and respect yourself enough to be paid for what you do. That’s what any other profession and professional demands. Don’t devalue your worth.

*Not my rate, please contact me if you wish to hire me and we can discuss pounds, shillings and pence.

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