happy little biz

2nd Annual: Awesome gifts for freelancers and small biz owners!

Can you believe it's December already?

My father-in-law reminded me yesterday that there are only 10 days until Christmas. I have to say that I'm having a hard time believing that! Between the beautiful warm weather (more like October than December) here in Toronto and the complete lack of snow, it really doesn't feel that close.

This week I am taking a break from the usual website and marketing advice to do my yearly post featuring gifts for freelancers and solo entrepreneurs.

So if you're a freelancer, maybe some things on this list work for you! Because let's face it, half the time people don't really have any idea what it is we 'do for a living' and we don't really know how to best explain it. So we end up getting weird gifts instead of something we might actually need. Or, you know, ugly Christmas sweaters. Of course, I have to admit I actually like mine.

ugly cat christmas sweater

And hey, if you're not a freelancer but have one in your life, great! Here are some ideas for your shopping list.

For those just starting out:

Does your freelancer run the kind of business that has gift cards? It might sound weird, but buying a few of their gift cards and giving them to people who will use them is actually a really wonderful gift! It helps their small business build up more clients and shows them that you support them in their business venture. Trust me, having the support of family and friends while you start your business is huge. Actually, it's huge at any time!

For the busy solo entrepreneur:

Everyone likes food, right? How about getting them a meal service for a period of time? Folks who work solo are often so darn busy that time to cook good food slips away. I know myself I've had weeks that involved a lot of takeout or junk food. Just make sure to be aware of any dietary restrictions and respect them :)

For the podcaster or ecourse maker:

An awesome microphone makes a good gift. I've sat in on a lot of online seminars/live courses this year and the subject of 'what microphone is that?' comes up a lot. One thing you learn pretty quickly if you work in video is people will forgive if your visuals are a little bit out-of-focus, but bad sound? They get frustrated far more quickly.

A top recommended microphone is the Yeti. Also it has an awesome name, so clearly you should check it out.

For the writers:

It might seem old-school but nothing beats grabbing a nice notebook and a good pen to get your thoughts organized. Often I start a project by jotting down everything that comes to mind in that moment in my little notebook with a favourite pen. Then I start lightly organizing the information by drawing lines between concepts or re-writing some sections to make more sense. Only THEN do I move to the computer to start the more formal creation process.

For Torontonians, I can recommend local shops Take Note and Wonderpens. For everyone else, your local pen and stationery shop would be happy to have your business!

For everyone. Seriously.

The Creative Class. This was the best investment I made in my business in 2015, hands down. I've met so many people through this online course (buy the extra 'community access', it's worth it) and have learned so much. Really worth checking out for most freelancers, unless they're so successful that they don't need any help!

Books! Books to inspire them and help them make things happen. Which books are the best choice depends a lot on the personality of the person who you're giving them to. But here are some that have inspired me:

  • Creativity for Sale by Jason Zook (well, that's his current last name, read the website for details on THAT adventure!). Well written, funny, and totally inspiring for anyone who wants to take their career aspirations off the beaten path and on to something totally awesome.

  • Burn your portfolio by Michael Janda. This one is better suited to those who do work for larger companies or dream of opening their own design studio with employees of their own, since it's focused on that world. However, as a small biz person who works with other small biz folks, I found it a fun read and that it had lots of great tips for navigating what can be the most tricky part of being a freelancer: relationships.

  • The Good Creative by Paul Jarvis. Jam packed with great advice on how to make your creative career more successful. Note: this was written by the guy who runs The Creative Class.

Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee. There's a running joke among most freelancers or small biz folks, that you don't need to tell people that you love coffee because it comes with the job description. But hey, we appreciate gifts of coffee, gift cards for coffee, or hilarious coffee mugs.

This post will be my last for 2015. I love to write for y'all, but I also believe it's important to have good work/life balance, so it's time for my annual December break. See you all in 2016 - and I hope you enjoy the holiday season!

Pppst. I'm currently working on a little something small biz folks might be interested in: a course teaching them to make their own awesome WordPress website. No code knowledge needed, just some time and creativity! Sign up below for updates on the course as it develops. Launch planned for January 2016!