Carrie Dils is a freelance web developer who also teaches WordPress courses. She’s currently checking off a bucket list item by co-authoring a book on being a freelancer based on what she would say to her 22-year old freelancing self! When she's not busy with those projects, she hosts a podcast called OfficeHours.Fm where she interviews everyone from plugin developers to marketers to business owners within the WordPress world. She's also an avid book lover who lives in Texas with her husband.
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When I first heard the title of Carrie Dils’ book I knew immediately I wanted to have her on the show! It’s called Real World Freelancing: The No Bullsh*t Survival Guide, and Carrie says the content is based on the roadmap she wished she had had when starting out at 22.
On this episode of WP Elevation, Carrie and I talk about that book as well as her tips for freelancers on how to manage their time, their finances and their mental health.
When it comes to managing your time as a freelancer, Carrie understands it can be difficult. She says that it is one of the hardest things to wrangle! You can get distracted so easily, especially when you aren't working for anyone else or don’t have hard deadlines to keep you on track.
The key to managing your time is to track it. You want to know where you are spending your time, first and foremost. A great way to do this is with the RescueTime app. It is a free app that you can configure to track where you spend your time. At the end of each week, it sends you a recap of how long you spent in each app.
So if you are a developer it'll tell you that you spent 20% of your time in your code editor, 3% on social media apps, etc. It's brutally honest and there is no hiding! She says if you use that for a few weeks and watch where your time goes, it'll be very helpful.
Next, I asked her about finances. Carrie explains that when you are starting out, it's important to know what money is coming in, from where, and what is going out. So her tips for doing this essentially include keeping personal finances separate from work finances. She recommends that you have a separate work checking account, credit cards, etc. It’s something her father told her to do, and it’s been a great help in her business.
The second recommendation she has is to regularly reconcile your books. Stay on top of matching transactions using Quickbooks, Freshbooks, or whatever program you use. And by doing it regularly she means to do it weekly; it will be much easier and take far less than time than if you put it off for six months or a year!
When I asked her about mental health and what she does to take care of herself, Carrie had several more great suggestions. She has created a rule that one day of the weekend – either Saturday or Sunday – she does not turn her computer on.
Before she implemented this rule she found herself working 7 days a week. Most of the time it was only a few hours on Saturday and Sunday – but as her husband pointed out – it’s still work.
Now she leaves her computer off on Saturday or Sunday, and she looks forward to doing so! It helps her and is a big deal for her family.
Her second tip is to take a break. She makes a point of leaving the office and going outside for a walk or a run every day. It helps her come back refreshed and invigorated; she even finds she is more creative afterward. It’s a good idea to get out and clear your mind for a bit.
We also discuss working in and on your business: what that means exactly and why is it important, plus Carrie gives her top pieces of advice for someone starting out.
You’ll definitely want to hear those so listen in to today’s edition of WP Elevation!