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How to fire difficult clients

Yes, you can fire clients! If you’re self-employed you have the freedom to pick and choose the clients that you work with. Of course, if your finances are stretched or job prospects are few and far between, you might not be a in a position to fire clients at will, but if  I client become truly unbearable, it’s nice to know that you have the freedom to show them the door.

Of course, you have to keep in mind, that if they’ve paid you to do a project, you’ll either have to finish the project before you fire them, or give them a refund. And if you fire them while they still owe you money, well it might mean you have a difficult time recovering that money.

When should you fire a client?

  • They are rude/offensive/abusive/disrespectful
  • They don’t respect your boundaries (eg. they continue to call you at 11pm on a Friday after you’ve asked them to contact you during office hours)
  • They ask you to work for free, refuse to accept pricing increases or withhold payment
  • They ask you to break the law or engage in unethical/immoral behaviour
  • They otherwise breach terms of your contract

3 ways to fire a client

Increase their pricing

If you’d be prepared to tolerate a difficult client if they pay you more money, this can be a win win for both of you. You’ll be financially compensated for dealing with the difficult client, and they’ll get to keep using your services. Otherwise, increasing pricing is an easy way to get a difficult client to walk out the door without you having to ask them to.

Politely tell them you can no longer work with them and explain why (politely!)

Tell them the truth in the most professional and non-confrontational way possible. Something along the lines of “unfortunately I can no longer work with you as you have violated the terms of our contract by…”

Make up an excuse to explain why you can no longer work with them

You could tell them that you’ve changed your business model and are no longer able to provide the services that they require, you could tell them that you have to reduce your business hours for personal reasons and no longer have availability to work with them, or you could tell them that you have to take a temporary leave of absence but hope to work with them again in the future. I generally don’t condone telling clients lies, but this kind of softly-softly approach can be beneficial if you don’t have the courage to tell them the real reason you don’t want to work with them, or if you want to keep the door open in case you want or need to work with them in the future, or if you’re worried about the negative backlash that might arise if you’re truthful with them.

NEVER be rude when firing a client

While it might be tempting to lash out at your client and tell them what you really think of them, it’s never a good idea, because you never know what kind of negative consequences your outburst will have. Your client will likely tell his networks what happened (completely skewed so that they sounds completely innocent) and you might lose clients (or future clients) as a result. You might find yourself wanting to work with the company again in future (because for example the client has left the organisation) so you don’t want to burn your bridges.



The best reasons to be self-employed

1. You’re your own boss

When you’re self-employed, you’re your own boss. Yes, to some extent you still have to answer to your clients, but how you manage your business and your day-to-day work schedule is entirely up to you. There’s no higher-ups to give you a hard time, take credit for your work, or needlessly make your life difficult.

 2. You can earn more money

The only reason that an employer pays you is because you make them far more money than you actually cost them. The design agencies I used to work for charged my time out at $120-$180 per hour, while I was paid a mere fraction of that. Now, as a freelancer, I don’t charge the same high hourly rate that is charged by agencies, but I do charge a lot more than I was earning when I worked for an agency, which is a win for both myself and my clients. When you’re self-employed you can also claim a lot more expenses on your tax than if you’re working for an employer.

3. You have less expenses

Being self-employed can also save you money too. If you work from home you no longer need to be for fuel, parking or public transport costs to commute to work. Even if you work from an office, you have the freedom to choose the location, so you can work closer to home – saving you both fuel and time. You may be able to cut down or eliminate your expenditure on office clothing. You also have the potential to save money on coffee and take-away food, as it’s a lot easier to make lunches home when you have access to your (hopefully fully stocked) kitchen at lunch time, and it’s a lot easier to find the time to make dinner when you don’t have to commute for an hour to get home. If you’re able to juggle working and kid wrangling, you also have the potential to save on childcare costs.

4. You don’t have to deal with the usual office drama

When you’re self-employed more often than not the only person you have to work with is yourself. This means you no longer have to deal with office gossip, personality clashes, egos, tantrums, or spending your work days with people you just can’t stand.

6. You have the freedom to buy things that you need for your job

Your computer is so painfully slow it’s impairing your ability to do your job? If you work for a typical corporation, the process of obtaining a new computer could means days, weeks or even months of submitting request forms to various departments, only to have your request rejected. But if you work for yourself and you need a new computer, provided you have the finances to pay for it, there is no one to stop you from going out and buying a new one on the spot (and it’s a tax deduction!)

7. You can set your own schedule

Working for a corporation, you’re typically expected to be at your desk from 9-5 regardless of whether that suits you or your work schedule. But when you’re self-employed you have the flexibility to create a schedule that works for you and your clients. Want to work until midnight and spend the morning watching TV in your jammies? No worries!

8. You can choose your clients

Working as an employee, you’re forced to work with whichever clients are sent your way. And if a client is incredibly difficult, rude or offensive, there’s not much you can do about it. But when you’re self-employed, you have the freedom to pick and choose your clients. Sure, when you’re starting out or you’re having a quiet week you might have to take on less-than-ideal clients, but you have the peace of mind of knowing that if/when they become truly horrible, you have the freedom to (politely) fire them.


How to find work as a freelancer

1. Make sure you have a web presence, and work on your SEO

First and foremost, get yourself set up with a professional looking website that showcases your skills and enables people to easily contact you. You can do this yourself, or hire a web designer to do it for you. Make sure that you clearly state on your website that you are available to take on work. Include plenty of keyword-rich copy on your site and update it regularly. This will help to improve your SEO and make it easier for people to find you through Google and other search engines.

2. Register with freelancer websites

You can set-up a profile on websites such as eLance, O Desk and People Per Hour and gain exposure to clients from all over the world. Just be aware that these websites typically take a percentage of your earnings (usually around 10%) and you’re competing with thousands of other freelancers from all over the world, many of which are prepared to work for an extremely small hourly wage.

3. Call/email potential clients

Make a shortlist of businesses that you would like to work with, give them a call or do some searching online to find out the best person to contact, and then send them an email or call them and ask to set-up a meeting so that you can pitch your proposal to them. You’ll probably have to contact a lot of businesses before you find someone that is prepared to meet with you, but if you can get just one new client out of a week of cold calling it can be well worth it.

2. Network

Attending networking events and other functions is a great way to meet you new people and tell them about your business. Aim to make connections rather than sales. People will be put-off if you go in with the hard sell. For more tips on networking, you can read my article: How to Handle Networking Events Like a Pro.

1. Encourage referrals & word of mouth

I would argue that the best way to get work as a freelancer is through word of mouth. Of course, this is easier said than done, and is really only something that can happen over time as you build up your client base. When I was starting out, I got the ball rolling by doing free work for charities and community groups. Not only did this allow me to build up my skills and confidence, but it also generated paid work for me through word of mouth. You can also offer incentives to encourage your existing clients to spread the word. For example you could offer them a gift card for any new business that they send your way.



How to have a drama-free vegan wedding

First and foremost, discuss your wishes with your partner and anyone who is financially contributing to the wedding and come to an agreement that everyone is happy with. I was very fortunate because my partner is also vegan and our families were pretty supportive of our desire to have a vegan wedding, but not everyone is so lucky. If you partner doesn’t want to have a vegan wedding, you might be able to come to a compromise such as having 50% of the food vegan. And if your parents or anyone else is financially contributing to the wedding, then they get to have a say too.

To tell or not to tell?

It’s really up to you whether you mention to your guests that catering will be vegan or not. Details of the menu don’t usually go on the invitation, so don’t feel like you’re obligated to tell people. If they know that you’re vegan and they’re concerned that the wedding will be vegan, they will ask you about it. My husband and I chose not to mention it. Some of our friends who are devout carnivorous asked us about it were a bit worried when we told them everything would vegan, but they still came and they even told us how much they enjoyed the food.

If people refuse to come…

Honestly, if someone doesn’t care about you enough to want to celebrate your big day with you no matter what, then why would you even want them at your wedding? I suspect that one or two of my guest’s partners refused to come because of the vegan catering, but that really didn’t bother me in the slightest. If people complain about your decision to have a vegan wedding, perhaps you could polity tell that you’re paying for the wedding, and you don’t want to spend your money on things that compromise your values. Or you could politely tell them there is a McDonald’s nearby that they are welcome to head to before or after the reception. Or you could just tell them to stop being babies and suck it up for one night (or maybe not). Try not to take it personally if people get upset, some people just really don’t like to be taken out of their comfort zone.

If people bring non-vegan food…

I’ve heard all kinds of stories about people bringing KFC or other non-vegan food to vegan weddings, and although that kind of behavior is incredibly rude, unfortunately there’s not much you can do to stop it. If you friends and family are good people they will respect your wishes on your special day, but sadly this is not always the case. In situations like this, the best you can do is try to ignore it and not let it upset you or ruin your day. On my wedding day, my mum insisted on putting cows milk on the tea & coffee station. Instead of trying to argue with her, I just choose to ignore it and focused on enjoying my day. In a perfect world, everyone would respect your values, but as this is not the case, the best you can do is try not to let people’s behavior upset you.

Remember what the wedding is really about

At the end of the day, your wedding is about showing your friends and family how much you love your partner. It’s a celebration of your love first and foremost. But it can be easy to lose sight of that and get caught up in trying to have the most vegan wedding possible, while trying to keep all your guests happy. Dramas will inevitably arise, but if you can keep in mind what the wedding is really about, then things won’t seem so bad.


How I made my wedding vegan

My husband and I are both vegan, so when we tied the knot, it was important to us that we make our wedding as vegan as possible. At first we were a bit worried, but it wasn’t nearly as difficult or as controversial as we though it might be, and we ended up getting great feedback from our guests. Our vegan and vegetarian guests were delighted that they didn’t have to order a special meal, and even our most carnivorous guests told us how much the enjoyed the food!

How I made my wedding vegan:

The Reception Meal

I looked at several catering options and was pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of catering companies were happy to create vegan menus or included vegan options are part of their standard packages. But I found most wedding caterers to be incredibly expensive with prices ranging from $60-$180 per head, and their vegan options weren’t particularly appealing. I’d heard stories from friends about having truly awful vegan meals at weddings, so I really wanted to find a caterer that would do good job.

I shortlisted two mobile caterers – the first offered wood fired pizza and was happy to do vegan pizzas provided we were able to supply the cheese, and the second offered paella (a Spanish rice dish) and was happy to make everything vegan. At just $20 per head each, both of these options were incredibly cheap.

I also looked at restaurants as another catering option and found that are large portion of restaurants were able to wedding catering. Overall I found restaurants to offer better prices, a larger menu, and more flexibility than caterers.

In the end, I hired a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant called Kuan Yin to do our catering. My husband and I chose them because it was the same restaurant that we went to on our very first date, and they also make very, very yummy food. We were able to choose from a huge menu and they were happy to make everything vegan. They brought in a team of chefs and cooked everything fresh on-site. We chose to do a buffet so that our guests could chose whatever they liked. We chose a variety of different dishes to suit all tastes, ranging from healthy raw vegan options, through to deep fried mock-meat dishes. They kept re-filling the buffet until everyone had finished eating, and there were plenty of leftovers that guests were able to take home.  At $40 per head, it was incredibly good value for money.

Beer, Wine & Other Drinks

For the cocktail hour and reception, we served beer and wine as well as non-alcoholic drinks. As some beer & wine contains animal products, we wanted to ensure our drinks were vegan also. We made our own beer at a micro-brewery called Brews Brothers because it was much cheaper than going to a bottle shop, it was also a lot of fun, and the beer tasted great. For wine, we severed a variety of Yalumba wines as it is a brand that offers a large variety of vegan options and at around $10 per bottle is fantastic value for money. For the toasts, we served champagne purchased from Goodwill Wines.

10347239_10152451914300865_1326752363671795280_nThe Cake

I looked at several cake suppliers and was pleasantly surprised to find that many offered vegan cakes as an option. But because they were so expensive (the type of cake that I wanted was going to cost over $1,000) my mum volunteered to make the cake instead. Every year she makes gorgeous looking Christmas cakes, so she felt confident that she could make a 3-tiered version. But she’d never made a wedding cake before, and she’d never made a vegan Christmas cake before. I purchased all the supplied that she needed for $60 (including bases, cake tins, smoother and fondant) and gave her a few different recipes as well as an instructional wedding cake making DVD. The cake ended up looking amazing and no one could believe that it was her first ever wedding cake.

The Candy Bar

I filled the candy bar with a mixture of home-made and shop bought vegan lollies including:

  • Fairy Floss (homemade)
  • Coconut Ice (homemade)
  • Sweet & Salty Popcorn (homemade)
  • Black & Gold brand milk bottles
  • Black & Gold musk sticks
  • Sweet William Chocolate
  • Lollypops

Hair & Makeup

My good friend and hairdresser did my hair for me, and I provided her with De Lorenzo styling products as it is my favourite brand of vegan hair products. For makeup, I hired Kristen Judge because I loved her portfolio, and although not vegan herself, she uses vegan makeup brand Arbonne.


When choosing my wedding dress I avoided anything that included silk, fur or pearls and ensured my shoes were leather-free. My husband chose a suit that was made of cotton instead of wool, avoided shirts and ties that were made of silk, and ensured his shoes were leather-free also. Our circle of compassion also extends to humans and environment, so we purchased second-hand where possible and chose reputable brands that don’t use slave or trade labor.



What’s a Vision Board?

What’s a Vision Board?

A Vision Board is used to help you clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on your goals. You create a poster the visually represents your goals and you display it somewhere where you’ll be able to look at it regularly.

How to create an empowering Vision Board:

Vision boards can be digital or printed. You can cut out pictures from magazines or find pictures online. Vision Boards can be neat or messy, framed or stuck on card. It’s really up to you! The only crucial element is to ensure that you look at it regularly.

1. Write down your goals for a specified time period

You could create a list of goals for the next 6 months, the next year, the next 5 years or even the next 10 years. You could even create multiple Vision Boards for multiple time periods. Think about what you want to achieve in the time and set realistic goals. Yes, you do have to be realistic. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but you do have to be able to put steps in place to achieve.

2. Find pictures that represent your goals 

You can find pictures in magazines, online through Google image search, or if you’re talented enough you could even draw your own pictures. The pictures don’t have to correlate directly with your goal, as long as they relate to your goal in a way that is meaningful to you.

3. Assemble the images together

The most popular way to do this is to create a digital or printed collage, but you could also frame your images or put them together in another way that works for you. I created mine digitally and printed it out in A2 size. I used Google image search to find images and placed descriptive text over the top.

4. Display it somewhere that you’ll see regularly

It’s not just enough to make the Vision Board, you also have to work to make your goals a reality! Looking at your Vision Board regularly will help you to stay focused on your goals and keep you on track.





How to save lots of money on your wedding

10446488_10152451914685865_4202740142040776326_nLet’s face it, weddings are typically very expensive. It seems as soon as you mention the word ‘wedding’ prices soar, and all the little bits and pieces really seem to add up. When I was planning my wedding, as I was determined to keep costs down as much as possible, while still having the wedding that I wanted.

Here are some of the ways that I managed to save money on my wedding:

1. Avoid wedding venues

Venues that specialise in weddings tend to be expensive. The wedding industry is extremely competitive, so vendors have to spend a lot of money on marketing and that money needs to be recouped somehow. Try looking at restaurants, bars, halls, art galleries, bed & breakfasts, resorts, and estates that don’t specifically promote themselves as wedding venues or spend a lot of money on marketing.

For my wedding, I wanted an outdoor, rural location with amazing views and plenty of guest accommodation, so I looked at school camps. The venue I choose, Midginbill Hill was perfect because it was primarily school camp but they were also able to do weddings and it was very cheap compared to comparable wedding venues.

2. Avoid paying for a venue all together

There are plenty of venue options that are totally free, such as your backyard, a park (but check with council because you might need a permit), the beach (once again check with council) or maybe a friend or relative has a nice yard or acreage that you could use. Other venues might not charge you a venue hire fee if you spend a minimum amount of money on food or accommodation. Just keep in mind that if you’re having the reception in an area without facilities, you’ll need to bring in everything yourself, which might end up costing you more money overall.

3. Avoid packages (maybe)

Many venues offer inclusive per-head packages that include venue hire, catering, seating, tableware, etc. These packages are a great way to save time and stress to a minimum. I found that to have everything the way that I wanted, it was going to cost me more money to get a package, but if you’re happy to forgo some of the extras that aren’t included in packages or cost extra (like decorations, alcohol, etc.) they might be a cheaper option.

4. Avoid hourly drink packages

One thing that years of working in fundraising taught me – hourly drink packages are generally always more expensive than paying on consumption. If for example you pay $70 a head for a 4 hour drink package, each guest will have to drink about 10 glasses of wine in that 4 hour period, but on average people will drink half that at most (and a lot of people won’t drink at all). If possible, set up a bar tab, or better yet, supply your own drinks if your venue will allow it, so that you pay bottle shop prices instead of bar prices. If you want to save even more money, have a cash or dry bar.

5. Choose a budget caterer

When you’re paying per head, the cost of catering can really add up. I found wedding caterers to be extremely expensive, so I looked at more unorthodox catering options. I found mobile food van style caterers to be the most economical option, and there are a variety of different options to suit your taste such as pizza, burritos, burgers, etc. If you’d prefer something a bit more upmarket, many restaurants also offer wedding catering. Just ask a few of your favourite places. For my wedding, I used a restaurant that supplied an unlimited buffet for about half the cost of the caterers that I looked.

6. Keep the guest list to a minimum

For each person you invite, you need to pay for their catering, drinks, chair hire, place setting, etc. And if they bring a partner, all those costs automatically double. It’s no fun, but if you want to save money on your wedding, consider culling the guest list, and/or not allowing plus ones. There’s also the option of having a “wishing well” where guests give you money instead of a gift, so if you do invite more people hopefully they will cover their costs (but don”t count on it!)

7. Don’t buy flowers as a wedding package

I used to work at a florist shop, and I know for a fact that as soon as you mention the word ‘wedding’ the price of flowers soars. Floristry is an art form like any other, but if you’re prepared to learn, you can buy fresh cut flowers and make your own bouquets and centerpieces. Or you can buy individual bouquets. For my wedding, I just had my rose bouquet plus rose petals for the isle (as there was no bridal party). I purchased the flowers from a flower market a couple of days before the wedding and put the bouquet together myself for a total of $30. To purchase a rose bouquet from a florist would be at least $100, while a wedding package would be $500+

8. Look at renting vs buying

For my wedding, I weighed up the cost of buying vs renting for everything I needed, and looked at a number of different rental options because I found that prices varied dramatically between vendors. Americana chairs were $30 to purchase or $4 to hire, so I elected to hire them. Cutlery, crockery and glassware was cheaper to purchase new rather than to rent, so I elected to buy those. I was lucky enough to find a secondhand wedding pack on Gumtree that included everything that we needed for $600. After the wedding we gave away some things to friends, kept other things as keepsakes, restocked our cutlery draw and glassware, and sold the rest on Gumtree for $400.

9. Borrow or buy secondhand where possible

I saved a small fortune by buying as much as possible from Gumtree, and borrowing things from friends. Instead of renting some items, I purchased them secondhand and then sold them again after the wedding. Ask friends and family if they have any of the things that you need, even if they don’t, they might know a friend of a friend who is willing to lend you something for free or cheaply.


5 Things that selling on Etsy taught me about business

1. Don’t be afraid to enter a saturated market

When I started my invitation business on Etsy, I was skeptical. There were already so many stores on Etsy selling invitations, I was doubtful I’d be able to compete with them. But I gave it ago anyway, and to my surprise, my invitations started to sell. Of course, if you are entering a saturated market, you will have to work much harder to complete, but it’s certainly not impossible!

2. Your business may not be successful in the way you think it will

When I started my Etsy store, I thought that success would only come in the form of invitation sales. But to my surprise, my freelance graphic design business started to receive enquiries from people who found me through Etsy, which proved to be much more lucrative than selling invitations. So now, although I still love selling invitations, I mainly keep my Etsy store open because of the referral traffic it brings to my design business. Likewise, when you start any kind of business, it could end up evolving into something completely different, and that’s really exciting!

3. Doing research will help you to develop strategies for success

Once I started to research selling on Etsy, I discovered there were all kinds of little strategies that sellers use help you gain better exposure and get more sales. Having great photos, updating your store with new listings regularly and creating treasuries are all strategies that can be used boost rankings on Etsy. And the same can apply to any kind of business. Research your market and look at what your competitors are doing to develop strategies for success.

4. Delight your customers

The Esty community is encouraged to add a little something extra to customer orders. This might come in the form of lovely packaging, free samples, a discount voucher, or a handwritten thank you note. One of the many things I love about buying things from Etsy, is that I never know what little extras are going to come with my order. These little extras cost very little, but are a great way to delight customers and encourage referrals and repeat business.

5. Business success doesn’t only come in the form of profits

While the money I’ve made from Etsy sales has been modest at best, designing invitations is something I really enjoy doing in my spare time, so I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed running my Etsy shop and creating new products. In addition, I’ve received lovely feedback from the Etsy community, met new people, discovered new products, attended Etsy networking events (with free booze!) and received referrals to my design business. Success doesn’t only come in the form of profits alone. Yes, of course it’s important that you earn enough money to cover your expenses, but business success isn’t all about money. Success could mean having the freedom to do what you love, or having the flexibility to spend more time with your family.




Guess What….!!

My husband and I are absolutely delighted to announce that I am currently 12 weeks pregnant with our first child! Needless to say, we are both extremely excited. Our baby is due on the 15th of April and we can’t wait!