Fifty Seven.

Stuff you do and don’t need when starting out as a freelancer.

This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from soon-to-be counsellor Juliette Toop. She says:

“Assuming all goes to plan, at the end of this year I’ll qualify as a counsellor and set up a private practice. What do you both consider to be ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ and ‘totally not necessaries’ for starting up?

Even though I’ve been self employed before I know I wasted a lot of time and money back then on things I didn’t need!”

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Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.

Here’s what was said in this episode:

Comments on the previous episode:

[00:01:03] – Frankie
Hello, you’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie, and this is Steve.

[00:01:13] – Steve
Hello! Yes, each week we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community, do our best to answer it, but of course we start each episode by looking back at the last episode. Last time we were talking about…

[00:01:23] – Frankie
…making time for having a life, having hobbies outside of work and kids.

[00:01:27] – Steve
Richard Burke’s got in touch.

Richard said:
“I really felt this episode. Case in point: I used to play and write music. I used to be pretty good. But it’s been so long since I did any music that it hurts when I think about it. In terms of advice, I agree that you have to make the time. Back in the day when I had spare time(!) and weekends — remember those? — I did hobbies just to fill that time. Now I know I have to make the time.

Schedule it into the calendar if you have to. Commitments may help. I joined a couple of book clubs recently just to have the reason to force myself to read some books. And it worked!

Another idea could be to borrow techniques from your business life to apply in the realm of hobbies. For example, people have accountability buddies to make sure they stay on top of work projects. Could you have an accountability buddy for your hobby too? Someone that you know and trust who will kick you up the bum to make sure you relax and enjoy yourself?

I say all this knowing I struggle with making time for hobbies too. But I guess just know that you’re not alone. No matter how much it seems like everyone else has ‘a life’ outside of work and kids.”

[00:02:41] – Steve
The accountability thing is good. Reminded me of me and you managing to put out this podcast if it wasn’t the two of us!

[00:02:48] – Frankie
Oh, my God. This would have died a long time ago. Yes. Probably never would have got off the ground.

[00:02:55] – Frankie
Rachel Brownlow Brown says:

“Gah! I miss those scheduled activities. I sing in a local choir, but we haven’t met since March and probably won’t for a long time as most of the members are over 70. Yes, I have a really cool social life!”

[00:03:09] – Steve
Hey, get down to the bowling club with them.

[00:03:13] – Frankie
Rachel continues:

“It was great to be able to walk out the door at a specific time and know I had an hour and a half to do something just for me. In terms of advice, I think it’s worth thinking about what you’re craving. Is it a creative outlet? Is it rest and relaxation? Is it thrills and excitement? Identifying this first might help you give yourself permission to ring fence the time to scratch that itch.”

[00:03:32] – Steve
Be part of a choir. Sounds good doesn’t it?

[00:03:34] – Frankie
Yeah, I need some of that in my life.

[00:03:36] – Steve
Dave Smyth has been in touch. Hi, Dave.

Dave says:

“You’re right on the money about needing to enjoy the hobby. I played tennis when I was younger and didn’t play for over ten years while I was studying and being a musician. I rejoined the club after some gentle encouragement from my partner and it was the best thing I’ve ever done. Old hobbies are definitely worth revisiting, especially if they’re out of the house and a complete break from the day to day.”

[00:04:02] – Frankie
See? Tennis balls. Singing in a choir with the over 70s. We are so hip. And Anneliese, who submitted the question last week, she says:

“I have just booked myself onto an online evening course about writing for children starting in January. This is something I’ve wanted to do for ages, and this has given me the push!”

[00:04:22] – Steve
Yes, Anneliese!

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:06:48] – Steve
Okay, here we go with a question from Juliette Toop. Here’s the question:

“Assuming all goes to plan, at the end of this year, I’ll qualify as a counselor and set up a private practice. What do you both consider to be must haves, and nice to haves, and totally-not-necessaries for starting up? Even though I’ve been self employed before, I know I wasted a lot of time and money back then on things I didn’t need. Thanks, Juliette.”

[00:07:17] – Steve
Juliette, okay. Do you know what? I’ve divided my paper into must-haves…

[00:07:23] – Frankie
Oh, my God…

[00:07:23] – Steve
…nice-to-haves and don’t-need-to-flippin’-haves.

[00:07:27] – Frankie
…every week, Steve takes it a next level in terms of shaming me in preparation for the podcast. Right. So, two weeks ago he’d done some vague notes on the back of, like, a cookie packet. Last week he had an actual notebook with some stuff. This week he’s got columns, next week it’ll be fucking colour coded. Anyway, sorry, carry on.

[00:07:49] – Steve
So should we start in the must-have column?

[00:07:51] – Frankie
Yes, please. That makes sense.

[00:07:53] – Steve
A bloody good idea is having a separate bank account.

[00:07:57] – Frankie

[00:07:58] – Steve
Do it from the very beginning. Separate that personal and business stuff.

[00:08:02] – Frankie
I didn’t for years and years, right? And part of me was always like, ‘oh, it’s just too much faff’. Or like, it’s just one more thing to do, which is complete crap because: a) we have those challenger banks where, when I set one up it took me literally about 90 seconds to do, and b) setting it up is so much smaller than the faff of going through your personal bank statements at the end of the year and deciding what is a business expense and what isn’t for accounting purposes.

Oh my god! And also, having a business bank account debit card that’s got your business name on it makes you feel badass.

[00:08:36] – Steve

[00:08:36] – Frankie
Makes you feel fucking cool to go into a shop and be like ‘yes, I will have these three Mars Bars on my business bank account, thank you very much’.

[00:08:44] – Steve
While we’re in that vein — get yourself some accounting software and an accountant.

[00:08:49] – Frankie
And you will likely say if you’re starting out, “I can’t afford an accountant” because I also said that to myself for a very long time. But there are different levels of packages you can get. They don’t have to do like ‘everything’, but having somebody that you can ask questions to, whatever the level is priceless.

[00:09:04] – Steve
I think you’re also buying peace of mind knowing that you’re not accidentally defrauding the government.

[00:09:10.240] – Frankie

[00:09:10] – Steve
There is something to be said about having a separate business bank account, having the accountant software, having the accountant… all of these things add up and make you feel like a business and therefore treating yourself like a business. I think that getting into the business mindset thing is quite a big shift. So the sooner you can get into it, the better.

[00:09:28] – Frankie
That’s a really good point. I often hear the phrase like ‘my little business’ — underplaying what it is that they do and talking about it like it’s almost a glorified hobby through their own language.

Yet, if you had stuff like a business bank account and an accountant that you paid money to, suddenly you’re taking yourself more seriously. That would pay dividends in the end because you might say yes to things you might not have said yes to or just attract people in a different way because you’re more confident, blah, blah, blah.

[00:09:55] – Steve
Next. I would say a must-have is a website.

[00:09:59] – Frankie
Ooh controversial opinion.

[00:10:00] – Steve
Now there are people who don’t have websites, okay? There are and there are people who have successful freelance businesses without websites. But why would you not create even just a very simple website so that people, when they hear about you, can go and check you out? You seem legit…

[00:10:18] – Frankie
I agree with you, right…

[00:10:19] – Steve
But I know the argument.

[00:10:21] – Frankie
But with a lot of industries, there are, like, accredited bodies where you can be listed on their website as a provider of that service… kind of thing. I imagine with counseling there’s something like that? If I found her through something like that, through a third party, legit service and I got testimonials through a legit place like, I don’t know… Google My Business or LinkedIn or whatever and I put all those things together, I might still hire her off the basis of all that.

[00:10:45] – Steve

Here’s another side of the argument. There’s loads of listings in that counseling directory. You click on a load of them and some of them have websites where you can see the person’s face. You can read their about page. You get a feel for who they are. There’s a button where you can click and you can book. You can see the testimonials.

There’s a link to their Google My Business. Google My Business looks more legit because it’s all linked to that. Why would you not give yourself the best chance?

[00:11:09] – Frankie
No, I actually totally agree. I think you should have a website.

[00:11:15] – Steve
I don’t think a website is a nice-to-have. I think it’s a must-to-have. I don’t think you need to spend tons of money on it. I think you can create something nicely from a template in Squarespace. I don’t think you need to spend loads of money on logos and branding.

I think those are things you can come to later on. But I do think you need to give yourself that advantage by having it. I think you need your professional URL and your URL also as your email, so that people aren’t emailing You actually look legit because you are legit.

[00:11:52] – Frankie
I do ultimately agree with you, but I know there are tons of people in the community who do not have a website and have really successful businesses. So I don’t want that to hold her back because building a website can be quite daunting and take a lot of time and money depending on the situation.

I think it’s all about the platforms that you are visible on and the level of trust associated with them. Anyway, we clearly need a whole episode on this!

[00:12:18] – Steve
Part of that, though, I mentioned a photo… I do think having your photo on your website, especially if you’re doing something personal like counseling, is really important.

[00:12:25] – Frankie
Yeah, agree.

[00:12:26] – Steve
Make it a good photo. Ideally, at some point, I think a nice-to-have is to have that personal branding photo session.

[00:12:32] – Frankie

[00:12:33] – Steve
I think both of us agree that when we did that for the first time for ourselves earlier this year, it was so worth doing. It really is. It is a nice-to-have.

[00:12:44] – Frankie
Okay, the other thing she definitely is going to need is insurance of some kind, right? I’m not an insurance professional, I’m not a broker. As a graphic designer, I know that I can sleep better at night having bought professional indemnity insurance.

[00:12:58] – Steve
Also, similar vein, get a freelance contract and terms and conditions.

What else is a must-have? How about the right tools for the job? Because that’s quite a nice blanket term, which means you get to decide depending on what it is that your job is.

[00:13:15] – Frankie
Again, this might be controversial, but in the context of Doing It For The Kids, if I’m about to start freelancing or start a business as a parent, I need some sort of childcare arrangement in order to do my job.

[00:13:26] – Steve
Good thing to list.

[00:13:28] – Frankie
Because there is a massive part of this community who don’t have any childcare at all and manage to run a business. But for the vast majority of us, if we’re thinking about starting a business and we’ve got children, we need to know where the kids are going to be, with whom, when, for how long, how much is that going to cost?

And I would think about that as early as possible because once you start committing to clients and like, blocking your time out, you need to know what’s realistic and what isn’t.

[00:13:52] – Steve
A good thing off the back of that is to think about your pricing. I would say a must-have is taking the time to figure out how much money you need to be making.

[00:14:04] – Frankie
Yes. How much do you need to be making a month.

[00:14:05] – Steve
I’d really recommend the Work Notes’ Pricing Guide if you need help on that front.

This might sound a bit weird as a must-have. I’ve written down ‘people’.

[00:14:18] – Frankie
Support? Is that what you’re getting at?

[00:14:20] – Steve
Basically, don’t do it alone. You don’t need to be alone. Find people.

[00:14:26] – Steve
A must-have. Now, I don’t think I have this for myself, but I wrote down ‘marketing plan’ and what I don’t like about that phrase is that it sounds like this massive thing. But essentially what I mean is you need to think: Who are your clients? Where are your clients? And how will you find each other?

[00:14:45] – Frankie
I don’t think I thought about any of that shit, though. I really don’t. Not to say I shouldn’t have done.

[00:14:52] – Frankie
There’s another one around money — and I did not have this — which is savings of some kind. I think most business advice-y people would say, that’s definitely a must-have. And I think the adult in me would also argue it’s a must-have. But then I do see people just hit the ground running.

[00:15:09] – Steve
It’s a sensible-to-have, for sure.

[00:15:10] – Frankie

[00:15:14] – Steve
Nice-to-haves: okay. How are people going to book you? Pay for you? So I think a nice-to-have is something like Calendly.

[00:15:25] – Frankie
It’s a productivity thing, isn’t it? It just makes it so much slicker and easier for everybody.

Yeah, a nice-to-have would be like an in-house chef! Or like an accountability buddy or like a business buddy. Some kind of mentoring situation.

[00:15:47] – Steve
Don’t-need-to-haves. You don’t need business cards.

[00:15:51] – Frankie
Hell no. This is controversial as a graphic designer, but you definitely don’t need a logo. Like, formally pay somebody to make a logo. A lot of people come to me who are really stuck on that before they actually launch their business.

And it’s like, mate — just get on with it. And then maybe in six months or twelve months time you know more about what your business is and could look like or should look like.

But these days you can make something perfectly adequate yourself in Canva or whatever. You have to think about it a little bit, but you don’t have to pay hundreds or thousands of pounds for somebody to create a brand for you off the bat.

[00:16:24] – Steve
Don’t need TikTok.

[00:16:28] – Frankie
I think what we’re saying is you don’t need all of the new spangly social stuff. Yeah, you definitely don’t.

[00:16:34] – Steve
Don’t get sucked into it. I think personally, as a counselor, it sounds like it’s so much based on personality and trust.

[00:16:42] – Frankie
Yeah. I think testimonials are like the number one.

[00:16:44] – Steve
Testimonials will be great. And putting yourself on camera on Instagram stories, if that’s where your people are.

[00:16:52] – Frankie
Yeah that’s a good point. Talking.

[00:16:54] – Steve
Yeah. It just builds up a familiarity. People get to know you.

You don’t need an office.

[00:17:08] – Frankie
Hell no.

[00:17:09] – Steve
There is a caveat here because with Juliette, she might literally need somewhere for face-to -face meetings when that’s a thing. But even then, be conscious of what you pay for that. Think about how long your lease is for, is there not a co-working space where you can have a private space that you book for sessions?

[00:17:27] – Frankie
And a bit like we were talking about in the last episode about hobbies, it’s very easy to see other people with their shed office set up and their like swanky branding and whatever else.

But again, like the mums at the school gate in their aerobic wear — you don’t know what stage they’re at! Are they five years ahead of you? Maybe you’ll have the swanky garden office situation in five years, you’re just not there yet.

You don’t need to hire other people necessarily, at the beginning within your business. So, like a lot of us, we can run a business entirely on our own, at least in the first instance.

[00:18:08] – Steve
You don’t need a podcast. You don’t need to follow all the advice.

[00:18:15] – Frankie
What he said!

[00:18:16] – Steve
And that includes this episode, by the way. Take the advice. Listen to advice…

[00:18:20] – Frankie
And then shove it in the bin.

[00:18:23] – Steve
Do what you want with it. And do you.

[00:18:27] – Frankie
I do think that’s a confidence issue, though, because when you’re at the beginning and you just want to get it right and be successful, you just soak it all up right and be like, ‘Oh, I should be doing all these things because that article told me I should’. But as you get into it, you become more relaxed and you become more confident about deciding what is and isn’t necessary.

[00:18:43] – Steve
Okay, well, I feel like we threw a lot at that!

What would your advice be?

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