In the interest of shamelessly promoting Enhanced Freelance, I want to introduce you to Jen Kentmere, my partner.
I shanghaied Jen (and her amazing project management skills) into working with me on Enhanced Freelance when I realized that not only does she know freelancing inside and out, but that she could make the whole process of creating it that much more manageable. I asked her to answer a few questions so that you’d get to know Jen’s background and why I couldn’t have handled Enhanced Freelance without her.
Why did you start freelancing? Would you ever go back to having a day job?
Would I ever go back to having a day job? Absolutely not! I worked for the public sector back in the UK as a project manager and, while I was given some fantastic training and got a whole range of invaluable skills working there, I didn’t like the slow pace of change, the morale as budgets were constantly slashed, and – my worst gripe – the constant ‘wishing your life away’ I heard around me every day. You know, that “only an hour till lunch”, “nearly home time”, or “it’s Friday tomorrow, then it’s the weekend…” that you hear in companies everywhere.
I was stressed and miserable and it occurred to me that maybe there was a gap in the market for freelance project managers? I sent out flyers advertising my skills to every local company that fit my profile and within a week I had full time work.
Who was the first client you landed that made you think, “I really can do this!”?
My very first client, the wonderful Roger from Direct Focus, a direct marketing company. He cared passionately about what he did, and he treated his colleagues and clients with respect. I learned a lot from him about dealing with people, as well as the marketing business. One day he said to me, “You need a pay rise!” He thought I was setting my rates too low, and obviously valued my skills more than I did. What a confidence boost!
What’s the biggest problem you’ve faced as a freelancer and how did you get through it?
Overcoming my own personal bad habits, of which there are many. The worst being my horrendous procrastination. Give me six looming deadlines and I’ll get to them, right after I’ve just checked Facebook…
Being a former project manager helped: I know how to plan projects and break them down into smaller, manageable chunks. But I had to take my own advice and create some systems that worked for me.
Beyond that, I’ve read some great books and countless productivity blogs that have really helped sort out my day-to-day routines.
What inspired FreelancerProjectManagement.com?
My website offers project management advice for people who are not project managers, particularly freelancers who want to manage their own projects effectively.
It was partly inspired by my time as a freelancer at a whole range of organizations, and partly inspired by what I said above about my own lack of discipline: project management techniques provide a really good framework that you can adapt to any project, whatever your profession. It helps to keep you on track as well as plan what new work you can take on. It really isn’t rocket science, more like good common sense and anyone can do it. I have found that being more effective I have either been able to take on more projects I didn’t think I could, or else take time off for my own interests.
I think one of the great things about being a freelancer as opposed to a salaried worker is that you really do get out what you put in: it’s worth having some good planning and management tools and you can see the difference in your income or in your work/life balance!