Posts in Freelance Life
The practical matters of personal finance for freelancers

Here are parts of my weekly newsletter I write for fellow freelancers: you can subscribe to my newsletter to get the full articles to your mailbox.

First of all, I have two separate bank accounts. I have a business account with a traditional German bank, which is where I receive all incoming payments and use for all business expenses. Then, I also have a private account. My personal account is with N26, which I absolutely love and would recommend any day! (If you consider signing up, please use my referral code – monikak3108 – which will give us both a €15 bonus.)

Recently, N26 introduced an incredible new feature and I couldn’t be happier! Customers can now create sub-accounts called spaces that enable them to assign a purpose to each. (mint.com does this in the US). One can also set a saving goal and see one’s progress. In the past couple of months, I’ve gamified how I use spaces, which is something I thought I’d share.

Next to my main account, I have the following sub-accounts:

A freelancer fund I’m aiming to save up the equivalent of how much I need for three months. My plan is to get to that goal and once I do, I’ll start paying towards my investment fund.

An investment fund where I plan to save up €2.000 and once I have that, get back to the book on investing my friend Clemens Bomsdorf wrote.

A holiday fund. I’ve set a goal of €3.000, which I know is enough money to cover flights, accommodation, and all my expenses to leave on a vacation for one month.

A relationship fund where I put money aside whenever someone pays for something I could have also paid for myself.

And a monthly savings account. I mentioned in Work Trips and Road Trips that I keep track of how much I spend every day. Whenever I spend less than €30 in a day, I move the difference into this space for me to see at the end of the month how much I put aside. On the first of each month, I move all the money from this space and also what’s left on my main account to one of the saving spaces. (Which at this point is my FreelancerFund or as my friend Theresa Lachner would call it, My Fuck You Fund). Btw. And if I haven’t mentioned it anywhere else, it’s a saving space you create to build up a safe blanket so that when you face a dry month, you don’t panic about it.

The advantage of me freelancing is that I earn money from different sources. I find this quite handy because it makes allocating money to my sub-accounts much more fun. I do that as follows:

I transfer 45% of everything I’ve earned from my business account to my private account. I’m keeping 55% on my business account to cover all my business expenses, taxes, and health insurance. On my private account, I split the money as follows:

I transfer…

40% of what I earn from my main client I keep as spending money.

5% of what I earn from my main client I immediately transfer to the FreelancerFund. In case I have another somewhat larger project going on, I move all of the 45% I earn with them to the FreelancerFund as well.

45% of all earnings I make from my books, my webinars on Skillshare, my photos I sell on EyeEm, and from small one-off projects I move to the HolidayFund.

If you feel like you too might want to consider creating multiple income streams, I’ve recently published three Skillshare classes to help with that:

Watch editing and monetizing your smartphone photos to learn more about how I monetise the pictures I take on the go.

If you’d like to set up a project but don’t know quite know how, I’ve put together a step by step class to help you come up with side projects to eventually monetize them.

And given we’re talking about monetization, you might also want to check out my class on Kickstarter and how to use the platform to finance creative projects.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out.

New Skillshare class: Brand yourself on social media through side projects

Have you ever asked yourself how to use social media effectively?

This class is for you..

  • if you’d like to learn how to make the most out of social media

  • if you’d like to know how to brand your business as a freelancer

  • if you’d like to know how to create a side income

  • ... or if you want to build your reputation to eventually find a more suitable job.

In this class, I’ll deconstruct what it means to create. I’ll explain

  • how to frame creative projects

  • gain the self-confidence to create and publish

  • ... and will also talk about how to use social media in a meaningful way.

I’ve decided to create this class to help you utilize social media and unlock its full potential. You don’t need to be a creative to benefit from this class. 

It’s now live on Skillshare: https://skl.sh/2zraT5R

How Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek Made Me Get a Dog
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When you hear about the book 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, what does it make you think of? Beaches? Traveling the world? Remote working?

I picked up the book while sitting at a pool in Bali last year. For years, I heard about it regularly, and given the title and knowing the perks but also the disadvantages of remote work, I was skeptical. Those who read his books know Tim is a great storyteller and an exceptional curator. The 4-Hour Workweek is an easy read that will make you think about your personal situation, regardless of whether you crave to travel the world or not.

Tim has never actually (at least from what I remember) said one should break everything off and roam the world. He’s only made the point one should design the lifestyle one really wants. He asks you to think about what sort of life you want and then asks you to start implementing small changes to get there. For myself, I knew I missed the perks of having a dog, and not only because you don’t ever have to pick up anything from the floor that fell off the kitchen counter. But much more because you feel the seasons. Because people on the street smile at you. Because life slows down. Because there’s a little creature that is – if you’re lucky – incredibly ridiculous and gives you a million reasons to smile.

And so there I was. Following Tim’s advice, I started looking for puppies that were for sale (which is a clear downward spiral to actually getting one). I know many might say at this point, one should always take a dog from an animal shelter. I disagree because one should choose a breed and get the sort of dog for which one is able to provide a good life. Previously, I had spent a fair amount of time around Greyhounds and knew the breed is gentle, quiet, and even though they need to run free every day, they get tired rather quickly.

Greyhounds come in different sizes. My long-time dream was to get a big dog, so a Galgo would’ve been incredible, but I also knew life would be much easier with a small breed. And so I decided on a Whippet.

It was important to me to choose a dog that would be easy to take on public transport and one that others would also feel comfortable handling. Those who have followed my journey for a while know I travel a lot. Being on the road and being flexible has always been key to my business, and I knew I’d have to continue to travel a lot for work in the future. I didn’t want to put a dog from an animal shelter through the pain of seeing me leave so much, and thus decided on a puppy I could socialize to be with other people and also around other dogs.

When I first visited Orion, she was four weeks old. The second she saw me, she threw herself at my feet and didn’t stop licking them until we left. It was definitely love at first sight.

Over the next few weeks, I couldn’t stop thinking about the consequences of getting a dog and how I would handle it. My friends all questioned whether I was ready to take on such a responsibility. I just laughed and said that something would be terribly wrong with me if at the age of 31, I wasn’t able to take care of a dog. Especially because I’ve had dogs before and knew what it meant. I must admit, I forgot that training a puppy is million times more work than having an adult dog. Yet that’s a different story.

I knew I wanted Orion to be social around other dogs. I wanted to make sure she’d sleep in her own bed and not mine, as it’s common amongst Whippets. I wanted her to be loved by people so that it wouldn’t be a problem to give her to others whenever I needed to travel. The preparations started...

When I first saw the price tag of Charley Chau beds, I gulped. However, I also knew making sure the dog doesn’t sleep in my bed was more important to me. When I then brought Orion home, she was so excited that she peed in my bedroom, but then she also slept through the night in her own bed without crying even once. Things were off to a good start.

The following months were tough. I won’t lie. I had a hard time getting Orion potty trained. She needed to pee every hour and a half. The doctor, and also her dog trainer in Vienna, said I needed to be patient and it was only when Orion was 11 months old that I brought her to a vet in Berlin who diagnosed her with urinary stones, which made life for her (and me and everyone who took care of her) difficult. She hasn’t peed in the apartment since the issue has been solved.

Before the summer, I had bought a modem powered by battery that enabled me to work online and without having to have it plugged into a socket. We then spent a lot of time in the park. She played with dogs. I worked. Now that she’s a year and a half, I can say that it truly paid off. She’s extraordinarily friendly to other dogs and even aggressive dogs calm down when they’re around her.

People love her too. I’ve been able to build a community of people who’d take care of her whenever I needed to leave for a couple of days or even weeks. She’s not blown away by the idea of me leaving, yet from what I’ve heard, she’s fine after the initial ten minutes. She does build an extremely close connection to the person taking care of her and seems as much in love with them as she seems to be with me. As for myself, I notice how I scroll down her Instagram after a couple of days on the road when I miss being around her. I’m okay not having her around when I travel, and I really struggle when she isn’t around when I’m at home.

For me as a freelancer, it’s been very beneficial to have such a constant in my life. Orion wakes me up every day at 7am and demands food and going outside. She makes me take regular breaks. We spend a lot of time in the park. She even has a very set time when she wants to go to sleep, which is 9pm.

Since I got her, I’ve been feeling so much more connected to my surroundings. When you have a dog, people on the street talk to you. Other dog owners greet you. Suddenly, it’s easier for everyone to recognize you. It feels like people trust you more. You become a part of your neighbourhood. It feels lovely.

On public transport, I’m no longer scrolling through Instagram. I have a dog to pet. I feel like I feel more. Like I connect more. It’s a good feeling.

And sure, of course, there are downsides too. She still struggles being by herself, which doesn’t always make things easy. And when someone comes close to me, she gets incredibly jealous. Not always fun, I admit. Yet, I also know I can train her and she’ll be able to handle these things one day. If I can make a dog walk next to my foot without a leash, teach her how to run next to my bike, make her give me her right paw when I say “Grüß Gott” (which is the Austrian way of saying “Good Day” or “Greet God” to be more precise), then I can most certainly train her to behave in intimate situations and when she’s supposed to be by herself.

Maybe it’s not endless beaches, but picking up poop a few times a day that make me feel like I live a self-determined life, and I sure know and appreciate it every time I’m throwing a ball in the park she might only sometimes bring back to me. Things feel right and for that, I can thank The 4-Hour Workweek and Tim Ferriss. It was a rather unexpected outcome of having read the bible of digital nomads.

Enjoyed the read? It's an adapted version of my latest newsletter. Get the full versions into your mailbox. 

New Skillshare class: From hobby to a creative career with Kickstarter
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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know Kickstarter was one of my main clients for two years. I got involved with them after launching my first Kickstarter project. After five successful projects, I’ve decided it’s time for me to summarize my learnings and share all my resources to help others launch their own projects on Kickstarter.

Here is the written summary that you can download as a PDF. Please also consider subscribing to my newsletter.

Here is the link to the Skillshare class if you’d much rather watch it as a video tutorial.

In the class I share tips on:

How to frame a creative project

Why Kickstarter makes sense

How to set up your page

How to calculate the costs of a Kickstarter project

How to prepare for the launch

And most of all, what to do when things aren’t going well

I really hope my learnings on how to run a Kickstarter will help you launch yours.

Things just got official: I’m moving back to Berlin

Last week, and after a three day work session with one my clients, I left London. Months ago, I had booked flights to see one of my best friends who lives in Holland. I had been contemplating from where I should book the flights before I settled on Vienna. I figured it would be the most likely place I’d be at the end of June. That was in January.

I flew to Vienna on the last flight, only to take off for Amsterdam on the first flight again. I spent the day in Amsterdam and headed to Utrecht to have dinner with my former flat mates. Just half an hour before the dinner, I had to spontaneously book an overnight bus to Berlin to then come back to the Netherlands. For months, we had planned to go to Vlieland. I wasn’t going to skip this.

The reason I needed to go to Berlin was to meet the landlord of a place I looked at a couple of weeks ago. The couple who lived there hosted the viewings and luckily, they shortlisted me for the place. The landlord then wanted to meet me in person before he’d commit to signing the contract. 

Yesterday, I flew back to Berlin to pick up the keys and sign the contract. I can't even believe I’ll be living in the most incredible apartment I never thought I had a chance of getting. It feels like the universe is very much approving of this decision at last. 

Nevertheless, it wasn’t an easy decision. Many things happened that made me to commit to coming back to Berlin. 

You might ask why Berlin? Vienna is so clean and beautiful and life there is so good. And you're right. It is. However, and the short story is: I love my friends in Berlin and the people who choose the place to be their home. Somehow, I feel much more alive when I’m in Berlin. It’s just what the city does to you I guess.  

The long story on the other side is slightly more complicated. You’ll see none of this was easy and none of this was planned...

In March 2017, and after two years traveling around Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, I gave up Kickstarter as my main client. I was no longer excited about waking up in a new city every day. What once was fun now became work. I felt like someone new would do a better job. I knew it was time for me to hand it over. It was time to look for something different.

After so much travel, I craved being rooted in one place and having a community again. I remember many times while sitting at the plane and looking out of the window all I wished for was going to the cinema with friends. I was tired. I knew I needed some time off.

Somehow, it was clear to me I needed to go to a place where I wouldn’t take on a new project immediately. I had to go somewhere I’d actually take off.

I had never taken a proper break for longer than two weeks. Having moved out of my parents' house at the age of 17, it’s become normal to hustle. Very often during my studies, I had up to three jobs simultaneously. It never was easy and there never was any money for me to just not do anything. I knew I deserved a break, which is why I eventually booked a trip to Bali. My plan was to be away from everything and without my computer for a month. 

While sitting in Bali, I picked up Tim Ferriss’ book The Four-Hour Work Week. I was very much wondering where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. And somehow I also realized I missed having a dog by my side. Given I was planning to have a more stable life, it seemed like a good idea to get one.

Back in my apartment in May, I finally managed to fix my kitchen after getting rid of the water damage I had been dealing with since December of 2017. I got another remote project and was spending time with Orion trying to make her a well-behaved city dog. 

After that a new project request reached me. This time for a project in Iceland. I had to go to Iceland for a bit and then to Holland. Nevertheless, most of the work I could do remotely. But then, I knew that if I wanted to travel less, I needed to make my business more Austria-centric or find something I’d be excited about in Austria. 

I applied to become an associate at Teach4Austria and went through the assessment center. Yet in the last round, they turned me down. 

I then started doing what I was doing when I first went freelance; I reached out to my entire network and told them what I was looking for and what people could hire me for. I was trying to find my first proper Austrian client knowing that once I succeeded at finding two or three local clients I’d be good. Simultaneously, I started looking for jobs. One of the main things I missed when representing Kickstarter was working in a team. I figured now might be the time. 

In October, I then started talking to Die Presse about a role of a digital product manager. In a small country such as Austria, newspapers need a very different approach if they want to be financially viable. In my opinion, here a newspaper can't just copy what has worked for The New York Times, The Guardian, die Zeit, and others who have a much bigger market potential. Having a community strategy background seemed like the best background for such a role considering the constrains. 

To sum up how these conversations went; we talked for six months and in April, after much time investment from my side, they changed their mind. They no longer planned to hire a digital product manager (I still can't believe they’ve had an online presence since January 1999, yet only the editorial team decides what gets displayed on the main page and how). Instead, they requested a quote for a communication strategy. After they’ve received my quote, they simply sent a note they were no longer able to work with me. I might have asked for too much money. 

Given I actually really wanted that job, I spent a lot of time between October and December on acquiring new skills. I learned all sorts of things that the job of a digital product manager requires. I also spent much time researching the media industry. I thought the role would have been exciting. And for once, no new project requests arrived in my mailbox. There were definitely no project requests from Austria.

At the beginning of December, I called a friend in Germany. I told them I needed new projects and that Berlin would be okay again. It took two days and thanks to him, I was fully booked again. On the 15th of January at 11am, I had my last in-person conversation with Die Presse. The same day at 3pm, I was flying out to Berlin to then join the Veganz marketing team for three months. 

In the same week, my friend Eva asked whether I was able to support her as she was working on a project together with Hanzo. Given I always wanted to work on a project with Eva, I said yes. Now I wasn’t just fully booked. I was overbooked. And once I started teaching at the New Design University in St. Pölten, I was literally swimming in work. 

But swimming in work feels more like me and while I was in Vienna last year, there was no work and very often I felt lonely. I had a hard time reconnecting with people in Vienna. It’s understandable as I hadn’t really been there much since I have finished my BA. Despite the fact I’ve always paid taxes and also rent for my apartment in Vienna, I wasn’t really a local.

In a way, it would have been a no-brainer for me to move back to Berlin. Yet with the political situation in Austria and my moral desire to get involved instead of packing up my bags again and leave, I wasn’t ready to give up on calling Vienna my home just yet. 

Another thing popped up I thought could work. After being rejected by Teach4Austria and Die Presse, I then found a job as a digital campaigner for a political party in Austria. I only found out about the role two hours before the application deadline, so I applied thinking I could think about whether I could commit to working for a political party later. 

I’ve always had my issues getting involved with a political party. Nevertheless, the party seemed like the one alternative that could have a chance to challenge the current government. When they then rejected me after two interview rounds as well, I felt like I did everything I could to stay in Austria. I didn’t quite see myself there anymore. That was a new feeling. 

Personally, I’ve always felt like Berlin was too unstable for me to move back to. I remember talking to Sarah, one of my soul friends, and telling her how I didn’t like how people came to Berlin, got what they wanted, and once they met someone and things got serious for them, they’d move back to where they came from. She laughed and replied: “Oh well, you might meet someone and move back too and then your apartment in Vienna wouldn’t be suitable anymore anyway. Think about it.” 

She was right. And for the first time in ten years, I felt like it was time for me to close the door to Vienna. At least temporarily. 

Between February and July, I applied to about 40 apartments. I was invited to about 20 viewings. Right before I left Berlin on the 10th of June, I saw 9 apartments within 48 hours. Somehow, the very last apartment I went to see, and literally the one where I felt a big Y.E.S. but also had zero chances to actually getting it, is the one I’m sitting in right now. 

It’s crazy how the universe is always giving us what we need. Somehow I needed to go through a lot of rejection, loneliness, disappointment, and 20 apartment viewings only to be holding the keys of a place I’ll tell my grandkids about. That’s how good it is. I’m still in awe. 

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Getting ready for GDPR as a freelancer, Part 1

Before I say anything, I’ll say the following: this is no legal advice. All that follows is merely what I’ve done in order to prepare my business of one for the GDPR.

Generally speaking, freelancers are most likely not the target. However, I do believe we should work to comply as best we can. Not only because of the information you store and process in order to run your business, but also to make sure the way you process data on behalf of your clients for them to be able to work with you.

As an EU citizen myself, and having read a fair amount of what GDPR means, I am excited about it and grateful to be living under the law of the EU that puts us as consumers first and before the profits of businesses. As a solopreneur, I am grateful to get a kick in my bum to finally think about how I run my business and implement proper processes. Additionally, it gave me an incredibly good reason to get in touch with all of the people I met in the past.

From what I understood, there are different requirements to how one handles data based on whether one is a processor or a controller. As a freelancer, you’re most likely both, given you process your clients’ data and they will have to make sure you and your business are compliant with the GDPR law enforcements. In some industries, you might have less touch points with personal data you process on behalf of your clients. As a community strategist, I mostly deal with personal information of people and thus it’s important I make sure I do it in a way people feel comfortable with.

One more thing before I dive into my processes; you should note that in the following paragraphs, I talk about clients and customers and that a client or/and a customer is anyone I hold any sort of information about, regardless of whether there has been a monetary transaction between me and them or not.

This article summarizes what I have done and how I have prepared. I hope it’s helpful to you and your freelance business. The process is most likely not over just yet, given that many companies have only updated their privacy data policy and their terms and conditions in the past couple of days.

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First of all, what does GDPR mean and what are you required to consider. There are several rights for EU citizens you must comply.

Right to be forgotten, which means that if someone emails you, they’d like for you to delete all information you have on them you must do so within 30 days. This most likely excludes people you had a business transaction with, given it’s mandatory to preserve tax related information for a certain number of years. (It’s seven years in Austria.)

Right to object, which means they can object companies process of any personal data concerning them, which also includes profiling based on those provisions.

Right to rectification, which means that they have the right to request changes of their data to make sure it’s correct.

Right of access, which means your customers (whether they paid you or not) must be able to access all information you hold about them.

Right of portability, which means you must give your customers all data you hold about them if they request to receive it, be it to work with someone else or store their data somewhere else.

Here is what I have done in the past seven days to prepare for GDPR. I’d appreciate if you’d send me an email if you notice something I forgot or where my process is not according to the rules. Any tips, help, and feedback are welcome:  

  • Structure your data

Before I started doing anything about any sort of services or data, I decided to go through all my documents and sort them out. Delete anything and everything I didn’t need anymore. I made a folder structure and sorted all information accordingly. Now I have a structured folder for each client sorted by year. It simply feels amazing, even though the five days I spent doing all this really didn’t.

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Given I had all my documents spread across Google Sheets and my Dropbox, I decided to use Dropbox as the only storage space where I keep documents. I decided to download all the documents I had in my Google Sheets and do so with all documents once my work in them is complete. While I’ll continue using Google Sheets for Work In Progress, I’ll be storing all finished documents for seven years in my Dropbox.  

  • Excel sheets with contact details

Among the documents I stored, I found a number of excel sheets I used to collect email addresses and contact details of people. Most of the time when I worked on behalf of a client, I was responsible for the outreach and thus generated many leads and contacts. I used to save these email addresses in Excel Sheets because you never know when you might need someone’s contact again in the future. Often, people email me asking for contacts of people to help them with something and I am usually able to think of someone, which is why keeping people’s contact details has always been important to me.

From what I found out, it’s okay to keep lists with contact details of media people. It’s usually business emails and thus it’s B2B anyway. I looked through all these lists and made sure I only have their name, their email address, and the name of the publication they write for. I named these Excel Sheets based on the type of content these journalists write about and made a dedicated folder on my Dropbox to store them.

I then took all the other contact lists and wrote them one last email to inform them that I’m deleting their contact details and that I’d like to connect with them on LinkedIn where it’s more equal for us to decide whether we want to be on the platform or not. Most people of course ignored my message. I guess everyone has received more than enough emails in the past couple of days and thus my email might have slipped people’s attention. Which is fine. From time to time, it’s good to make a clean cut.

  •  Newsletter lists

Mailchimp, which is the service I use for my newsletters, has introduced extended data protection features and given one needed to actively opt in to comply, I decided to have everyone who still wanted to hear from me sign up to a new list. I knew I’d lose many of my past contacts and people who wanted to hear from me, however, I also knew those who would choose to opt in once more would actually really want to hear from me.

This is how Mailchimp suggests one deals with the changes of data protection:

https://kb.mailchimp.com/lists/manage-contacts/reconfirm-a-list

https://kb.mailchimp.com/campaigns/design/add-an-update-profile-link

However, I felt like a new beginning would kind of make sense, so I created two new mailing lists. One for other freelancers where I’d share learnings about freelancing, and another one more client and work related for me to share case studies and work processes that I thought others could benefit from knowing. In recent years, I haven’t published that many case studies as I used to and I wanted to have a dedicated outlet for me to position not just my books for freelancers, but also my work as a community strategist. From what I’ve realized, most people don’t really understand what I do and it’s about time for me to change that. :)

  • Give away in exchange for data

Just like everyone who works in marketing or wants to sell their products, I used to have newsletter pop-ups on my website and also collect email addresses in exchange for the digital files of my books. According to GDPR, that’s not legal and thus I decided to cancel my SumoMe account, which is how I collected people’s email addresses.

Additionally, I needed to go through my website and make sure that I change all the copy that suggests to sign up to receive the files in exchange. Not just on the static pages of my website, but also in all my blog posts. As you can imagine, a lot of work.

  •  Decide what information you collect via your website

My website is hosted on Squarespace and thus the moment they released their latest GDPR compliant updates, I’ve reviewed all functionalities and decided to remove the Activity Log and also disable Analytics cookies. Given my website’s purpose is to simply represent who I am and what I do, I don’t think it’s actually necessary to collect any of that information, given I don’t process them in any valuable way. Instead of helping the frightful five collect more information about people interested in my work, I decided not to do that at all. At the end of the day, the core of my business is to deliver value to my clients, not to help others use their data to sell them more.

On these terms, I’ve also decided to disable the comment function on my blog. People are still able to send me an email anytime, but the commenting culture is not as active as it used to be just seven years ago. The way we interact online has changed and thus I don’t think this is such a big deal.

  • Update your terms and conditions and your data protection policy

For decades, it’s been required for all businesses based in the EU to disclose various information about the company publicly and have easily accessible imprint. Impressum in German. Nevertheless, and given the rules for what must be included have slightly changed, it makes sense to review one’s terms and conditions.

As a solopreneur, it’s not very likely you’ll get a custom one from a lawyer and thus you might want to look for a generator that will help you create one. For Austria, I found an Impressum Generator on Firmenwebseiten. They also offer one to help you generate a data protection policy. However, and given I only found this one after I paid for this one, I’ve opted in for a paid service.

Don’t forget to make sure your imprint and your data privacy policy are accessible from anywhere on the website with just one click. The footer menu seems like the best place for that.

  • Audit what software you use

Most of all, review how and if you want to use it in the future.

So this step should probably be done right at the start of all your efforts. However, it’s so much work that I’ve done everything else before I finally started dealing with this task.

You’ll need to write down all software you use to process and manage data and make sure you have their DPA. I’ve decided to review the DPA of all the services I use, print it out, and store it in my documents with a remark of the date I’ve downloaded it.

Here is the list of the software and third party services I use:

Squarespace

As my website host. I’ve mentioned above what changes I have made. I use Squarespace to represent my business and collect email addresses to send promotional emails about my services and products.

Here is their DPA: https://www.squarespace.com/dpa/

Mailchimp

Is the software I use to send promotional emails about my services. I keep two lists. One is addressed to fellow freelancers and the other one I use to send out case studies and information relevant to my past clients and the people who one day might want to become my clients.

I only request people’s name and their email address, and the simple opt out Mailchimp offers feels like the most fair solution for people to unsubscribe with just one click. Mailchimp is also one of the two places where I keep and am planning to keep personal detail of people in the future. The other one is Freshbooks, which again, is business information.

Here is their DPA: https://mailchimp.com/legal/privacy/

Google Docs

I use Google Docs for projects I work on actively and collaboratively. I share documents with people I work with on other teams. Once I finalize working on a document, I file it in the archives on my Dropbox and delete the original Google Doc. I no longer use Google Docs to process people’s contact details for projects for which I research press contacts.

Here is their DPA: https://services.google.com/fh/files/misc/gdprwhitepaperenglish.pdf

Google Analytics

Given I use Squarespace and they have Google Analytics integrated, I have decided to delete my Google Analytics account. As mentioned above, I don’t technically need to run all the analytics there are and am happy with what Squarespace provides me with. I did keep the Google Analytics paragraphs in my imprint and my data privacy policy given Squarespace uses it automatically.

Freshbooks

Everyone who’s been in a monetary exchange with me has a record in my Freshbooks account. By the Austrian law, I am required to store all tax related information for seven years. Freshbooks is a Canadian company and given this is where I store the most sensitive data, it’s also important to me they process my clients’ data in a sensitive way.

I really love Freshbooks because it helps me keep organized like no other software out there. Given my usual data mess, using Freshbooks has been revolutionary.

Here is their DPA statement: https://www.freshbooks.com/policies/security-safeguards

Loydolt&Partner

Given I am not naturally the most organized person, I use all the help I can get to help me. My accounting is done by Loydolt&Partner. Even though I sometimes send them tough emails, they’ve really been a great tax accountancy to work with.

Here is their DPA statement: https://www.schweitzer-partner.at/datenschutz

Mention

I use Mention to track news, updates, and mentions about my name and my projects. I don’t process and store any customer information on their service besides having them track my name.

Skillshare

While I upload classes to Skillshare, I don’t own the platform or any sort of details about the people who have subscribed to my classes. The team at Skillshare has done an amazing job promoting my classes to their community and thus I’m happy with the service as it is. I don’t store or process any sort of personal data.

Nevertheless, and given I receive money from Skillshare each and every month, I keep their data for tax reasons.

LinkedIn

I am a very active LinkedIn user and find the platform incredibly valuable to keep in touch with my professional network. Given I have a social media widget that connects the visitors to my website, I have a paragraph about LinkedIn in my imprint and my data privacy policy.

As we all know, LinkedIn is probably the biggest data mine out there where people publicly display more private information than they do on Facebook or Instagram. Nevertheless, it’s a professional network and thus all who decide to connect with me there do so on professional terms. I don’t save any people’s information I find on LinkedIn and thus can only access what people decide to publicly display on their profiles at any given time.

Here is their DPA: https://www.linkedin.com/legal/privacy-policy

Slideshare

Given Slideshare is a LinkedIn service and I sometimes embed Slideshare presentations on my blog, I have a paragraph about LinkedIn in my imprint and my data privacy policy.

Here is their DPA: https://www.linkedin.com/legal/privacy-policy

Issuu

I use Issuu as an archive for the preview pages of my books. Unfortunately, they have not published their GDPR compliance statement just yet. Fingers crossed they’ll do so soon.

Twitter

I used to have a pinned tweet in which I asked people to sign up to my mailing list in exchange for their contact details. I needed to delete that tweet. While on it, and given I don’t really give a crap about my Klout Score, I’ve also decided to delete all my past tweets. Theoretically, I am still keeping my liked tweets. If their compilers decide to delete them, I will lose access to them as well.

There are free services that allow you to delete your latest 3,200 tweets in one go. I decided to use the app https://www.gocardigan.com/. It will take a couple of days to get a clean account, but given I’ve already previously tried to get rid of my past tweets, it’s pretty good to now actually do that. I don’t know what normal people would do with my Twitter history, so the people who care about it are probably people who are not necessarily up for any good.

Last but not least, I used this opportunity to revoke access to all the various apps accessing my Twitter profile. You can do so here: https://twitter.com/settings/applications

Given I link to my Twitter profile through a social widget on my website, I have a paragraph about Twitter in my terms and conditions, as I have a plug-in on my website too. I don’t save any people’s information I find on Twitter and thus can only access what people decide to publicly display on their profiles at any given time.

If you want to read Twitter DPA, it’s here: https://twitter.com/privacy

Facebook

I’ve not really been fan of having a business presence on Facebook for a long time. I remember the time I worked for an agency and we first persuaded our clients to run ads so that people become their fans on Facebook because it would be cheaper. Then, not even six months later, we had to go back to these exact clients and ask them for budget to then reach the fans on Facebook they have already paid for.

I deleted all my Facebook pages. I only have a personal profile on Facebook which I don’t use for any business related data exchanges. Additionally, I’ve also enabled two factor authentication when logging in.

Instagram

Those who follow me on Instagram know it’s one of the platforms that’s significant to me online. I have been an active user since early 2011 and thus have seen the platform grow and evolve from the start. I don’t just share pictures on Instagram; I also embed them on my website through a direct feature Squarespace offers. I don’t store anyone’s information people publish on Instagram but my own.

The platform’s changed the direction significantly in recent years and I’m currently just observing how I want to use the platform in the future. I’m grateful they must now allow me to export all my information whenever I request in case I’ll want to use a different photo sharing platform in the future. I’ve also enabled two factor authentication.

Here is their DPA statement: https://help.instagram.com/519522125107875

EyeEm

A wonderful stock image seller. I regularly upload pictures and receive royalties in return. While I upload a decent amount of pictures to this platform, I don’t actively participate in its community and thus the only data I store is the data that allows me to process EyeEm’s payment to comply with the Austrian tax law.

Foursquare

I love Foursquare and Swarm, however, and given it’s been impossible for me to find how to best include something about their service in my data protection policy, I’ve removed all social widgets from my website. I don’t use the platform to store or process any personal information.

LaunchRock

I have a landing page on LaunchRock which I have been trying to get deleted. I’ve gotten in touch with their customer support because it’s impossible for me to login and do anything about that page unfortunately.

Trello

I use Trello for all of my personal project management and to coordinate with teams. Given Trello’s servers are in the US, I’ve reviewed all my boards and cards to make sure they don’t contain of any personal information. Additionally, I’ve archived boards I no longer need and left the ones I no longer need to be a part of. I’ve also enabled two factor authentication.

Here is Trello’s DPA: https://trello.com/privacy

Slack

Another software I use in my day-to-day as a freelancer is Slack. Let’s face it, every team needs a place to share gifs. Personally, I haven’t connected Slack to any other software. It’s a work in progress kind of place where if anything, one might share drafts of copy or links to Google Docs that would still require the ownership of login details. Additionally, Slack messages are deleted after one has reached the limit of 10K.

Here is their DPA statement: https://slack.com/intl/de-de/gdpr

Gmail

First of all, I pay for my Google Services. Google claims that their G Suite Services are fully compliant with GDPR. Email is of course tricky because we send and receive so much data and also a great amount of various files and thus I feel like one should mostly make sure how one accesses their emails is secured. I’ll talk more about it below.

You can read more about it here: https://cloud.google.com/security/gdpr/

Google Calendar

For years I used the calendar of my private Google account, however, I am switching my calendar to my business email address to make sure it complies with the GDPR requirements.

Dropbox

Last but not least, I use Dropbox. Based on my research, Dropbox is one of the organizations certified as compliant with the new ISO27018 code of practice for protection of personally identifiable information (PII) in public clouds. I use Dropbox to store all my clients and customers data in order for me to be able to be transparent about what I store. I want to make it easy to transmit information or delete it if needed. Additionally, I have enabled two factor authentication to access my Dropbox account.

Here is Dropbox’ DPA statement: https://www.dropbox.com/de/help/security/general-data-protection-regulation

  • Install a VPN service

If you haven’t done so already, you should install a VPN service. Whenever you log into a Wifi outside your home (and even in your home), it might be pretty easy for hackers to steal data you store and process, be it your customers’ data, your credit card details, or even the access to your online banking. No one wants that and thus, using a VPN service is inevitable. Your client will be grateful you’ve taken precocious measures and made sure all data you process is safe. If you need more reasons to finally opt in for a VPN service, you might want to read Tobias van Schneider’s article on data security. 

The next challenge of course is choosing what VPN service to go for. Tobias’ suggestion was Tunnel Bear, however, they got acquired by a US-based company just a few months ago and thus I decided it wouldn’t be such a smart choice. I’ve asked my friends and then went with Zenmate. It’s a German company and knowing how cautious the Germans are when it comes to data, it felt like a good choice.

  • Use a password manager

This is another thing on my “yes, I should probably do that” list of things I’ve been putting up for years and simply never took the time to deal with. I’ve now finally signed up for an account with 1Password. Given I run an online business, I would say I consider this a must, but you know how it goes with going out of one’s comfort zone. It simply took some time to actually follow through. And so, here you go, I’m finally a one-password customer.

  • Securing your hardware

Last but not least for this post, I’d like to nudge you to secure and encrypt all the hard drive you use. You can find a detailed report here: https://www.apple.com/business/docs/iOS_Security_Guide.pdf

You’ve reached the end of the first part of my report on all the measures I took to make sure my business is GDPR compliant. If you have any comments or see something I could do better, please don’t hesitate and send me an email. I’m currently working through the following list: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/gdpr-plan-do-you-have-yours-liz-henderson/

How have you been dealing with GDPR? I cannot wait to hear some encouraging stories. I feel like this should make us found an online “book” club to discuss our experiences.

GDPR: I'm starting new mailing lists

Some time ago, I sent out a questionnaire asking about what to do with my newsletter. Most of my readers said I should keep it as it is. Maybe make it a little shorter. I’ve not quite followed up on it. I’ve more or less stopped sending out newsletters and have mostly just been busy doing my work for Kickstarter, then recovering from the intense experience, and traveling around to visit friends. I also got a dog.

Needless to say that since going freelance in 2014, a lot has happened. I’ve not only worked with clients such as Hanzo, RubyCup, Veganz and many others but have also published three guides for freelance creatives and uploaded several classes useful to freelancers to Skillshare.

Now with the upcoming deadline of the GDPR, I felt like it’s time for a spring clean. I just spent five full days clearing and sorting out all my data. You won't find anyone whose Dropbox is as orderly as mine :)

I’ve also forced myself to discontinue and delete the projects I once started, but fizzled out. I’ve also decided to play it safe and restructure my mailing lists; in other words, delete all existing ones and start new ones. 

If you wish to receive emails from me in the future, please sign up to one or both of the following:

Newsletter for freelancers

Will be similar to the one I’ve been sending out until about a year and a half ago. Subscribers to this list will receive my articles about freelance life. I will also share life hacks as I go and develop my career. Over the years, I’ve received a lot of positive emails and would like to continue sending out those updates in the future. Additionally, should I launch a new project or learn about a new service I think is of value to you, I will share it with you as well.

 

Newsletter on community strategy

This is a list I will use to share case studies and updates I believe are of value to my past clients or people who would like to become my clients eventually. You’ll learn more about the day-to-day of my business and about the events I’m participating in. I might also share links to articles, projects, and work or products of others I consider noteworthy. I’m also going to share step-by-step articles on all the things I’ve done as a freelancer to get ready for GDPR.

I’d also love to take this opportunity and invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn. I hope that one day we’ll get to work on a project together. That would be wonderful!