These places are how I get my work done.
Somewhere back in 2016, I made a firm choice to commit to only a few places, and this is how I really worked out what to do as a freelancer.
I’d spend so much time looking at different blogs, videos and looking for the silver bullet.
I went through a two-year space, trying to be the worlds best web copywriter, it was torture.
My heart was set on it, and I could see how it would work, but it drained me.
Every job was like finishing an essay for the class in University you only took because you had to.
I’m glad I did it as I learnt more about writing, organising, apps and execution than anything else in my world.
There are three main points I want to make with this article, and they are:
- Embracing constant learning is right for your heart, soul and bank balance.
- Peer to peer learning, working and accountability are amazing. They give a sharp kick in the groin to the fantasy and delusion that working on your own tends to bring on.
- Everything takes longer than you think and is twice as hard, but that does not mean you should not do it. I often hear people say, ‘I read this book, and then everything worked’; or ‘I did this course and then brought a private jet’. It does not happen like that, and people who tell you that are lying bastards.
Goals And Fantasy
In all these groups below, I’ve seen people thrive and dive, get in the flow and get knocked back down. I have got stopped in my tracks more than once and had to figure out what to do next.
Being part of these groups continues to build my inner self-confidence.
They’ve also stamped on my fantasy business life and enabled me to be more helpful to people.
For example, at the beginning of this year, I was on a call with my mate Catherine.
We are going through our goals for the year, this is the first year I’ve done all that geeky write them out and plan them shit.
So I read in a blaze of glory and then Catherine ask ‘that’s great Bernie, how are you going to do that?
Even after all the work, all those 12 Week year cycles and the reading I did not have an answer.
I could not say the steps I had to take every day to make my goals happen.
So here is how it all goes down every week. And, of course, the weeks I stick to it are way more successful than the weeks I look for new shiny things to save my life.
1. The 12 Week Year ‘WAM’ Weekly Accountability Meeting
For a few years now, I’ve followed a method outlined in the book 12 Week Year.
The short version is you commit to a few things for 12 weeks and drop the idea of ‘annualised thinking’.
I follow this with a friend Karen I met via our MeetUp group, every Monday at 10 am we have a call and review our week. Some weeks I turn up like Superman and some weeks it is a total shit storm.
Both are great, and it is never as bad as it seems.
Tracking every week shines a light on where I am lying to myself. I’m honest about what my hidden intention is vs my actual intention is.
For example, at the end of 2018, I made the goal of joining a gym.
I only walked into a gym, I was stuck.
I liked the idea of being fit, but it was not the gym, and then in January, I started running every day.
This time around, I am struggling with writing.
I have battled with this every week, now as you see that is starting to work again!
2. Cat Johnsons Coworking Content Sprint
I’ve followed Cat’s work since 2012 when she started talking about coworking and tiny houses on ‘Shareable.net’.
The way she builds this group is a testament to her understanding of the power of collaboration.
This is a sprint group, we all show up, talk about our goals around what we are working on and ask for feedback.
It’s an online coworking space for coworking people talking about coworking content.
You think you are turning up for marketing advice, but then the real stuff comes up and the magic happens.
You could google this shit all day on your own, but here you ask one question and get 10 peer answers back, I love it.
Join a solid crew of coworking industry enthusiasts and me for the next round here.
3. CMA 90 Day Challenge
This is part of the CMA membership, which in itself is now the backbone of my freelancer practice.
I was loving it from the beginning when I joined in 2017, and I’ve never had so much definition in what I work on and how I do that.
The weekly coaching from Chris and the peer to peer feedback has got me from pissing in the wind to laser-focused.
The 90 Day Challenge is a regular ‘in house’ sprint, this podcast here will explain it.
Every week 41 of us commit to some form of content to have the link to in slack by midnight Sunday.
On Thursday, Chris does a live coaching call on how we are doing.
This is the eighth round, and the progression of people is impressive, a good example is the ever loveable Col Gray.
Col is does branding and has amassed 13K+ subscribers on YouTube.
Most of them over the eight rounds of the 90 Day Challenge. I’ve followed his journey I’ve seen him struggle, work it out and then zoom.
It is worth noting I’ve never actually made it all the way through a 90 Day Challenge.
I’ve flunked many times, as painful as it is the learning is priceless, I find it amazing that I forget to post’.
I’ve been waiting for this round, this article you are reading is the second week, and this time I’m doing every week.
I signed up for Fizzle after hearing Paul Jarvis talk about it in one of his courses and Fizzle saved my life.
There is a lot of content on Fizzle that you’ll find elsewhere, but their edge is their silly sense of humour, and the mighty Fizzle Roadmap.
All the courses get positioned in the Roadmap that you work your way through, this stops you doing everything in one go.
It’s an elegant form of distraction learning about SEO before you’ve even written a blog post.
The best one for me was picking a topic course, there is a grid you fill in with your business idea and score to each one.
My top three topics came out as:
I then had to work out how to make income around these three, which was not immediately apparent.
For a while, a group of us would meet in our coworking space and work our way through the map together.
We all got somewhere, and this is the key you have to keep trying to get through it.
I’ve started the Fizzle Roadmap more than a few times!
This time it’s about building the workshop element of my business. I love teaching people how to get stuff on their website to attract customers, and it is more than saying “I do this.”
Going through the map gives me a structure and feeds me the questions I need to keep my idea and plan on track.
This is agony for me, but every time I do it, I get a little better.
There is a thriving online community, but I don’t spend any time there.
I’m more connected to other groups, but I know plenty of people who have done well from the Fizzle online connection.
Both Fizzle and 90 Day Challenge have punched me in the face hard. I keep getting up like Rocky, well not like Rocky, I’m a short bald man from Ilford – but you get the idea.
5. Write Club – Meetup Group
So in 2015, a group of us in Mainyard Studios were moaning about our freelance life and never having time to write.
We were in some kind of creative job, filmmaker, web developer, PR and me, I was not sure as I had not done the Fizzle Roadmap!
So we agreed to meet once a week in the meeting room and sit for two hours in total silence and write.
At first, we were like kids in the back of a car on a long journey, we could not sit still.
Then we got our shit on and started to produce, and embraced the focus.
A year later, we put the group on MeetUp, which I initially did not want to do, it exploded, and we’ve never looked back.
The range of people and what they work on is impressive, from journalists, musicians, short story writers and marketers.
As Ann Handley says, Everybody Writes, and as we all know, everyone has their story.
I’ve noticed that this is one of the things I tell people about the most, and it is such a part of my week. I almost take it for granted.
You are welcome to join us at Bathtub2Boardroom every Friday morning.
We’ll be opening another day in the new Mainyard Studios by Mile End station in July 2019
Join the Meet Up here.
6. Make Your Mark Online – WordPress Coaching
The biggest £uk-ING whine I hear is ‘I can’t sort my website out’, and I’ve had this whine myself for years.
The learning curve for figuring it out is always too much, I have never, ever got my head around which bit to do first.
Even when I’ve had a friend who is a WordPress guru I’ve felt crap asking them for help on every step, even if they offered.
Or there was the agony of which online WordPress course to take.
A lot of the basic stuff gets covered in Fizzle, but I know I need to make my site sing.
Also, when I don’t know what is going on with my website, I seize up, and that seize can last for months!
So the end of 2018 I bit the bullet, and I paid my coworking buddy to set me up on WP Engine from scratch for a fresh start.
This was when I joined “Make Your Mark” run by Martin and Lyndsay who are Jammy Digital.
This is an active online community of freelancers, consultants and other independent economic agents’ learning how to build and run their own WordPress website.
There are rock solid video courses on content and SEO, backed up by a weekly group call where you can ask anything, well anything about your website.
7. Freelance Heroes
My mate Ed Goodman started this facebook group in May 2016. We all blinked, and over 6k UK based freelancers had joined.
I hate facebook, but I stay for this group.
Why? It is excellent to know I’m not mad, that it’s ok to have a crap day and I love giving recommendations for accounting apps.
I hate facebook, but I stay for this group.
Best of all I get to meet the real-life UK based freelancers how don’t shout out ‘hustle’ all the time or Instagram themselves sports cars.
These are my people.