Freelancing

Posts about Working for Yourself

Screw Your Job, I’m Going at It Alone

What motivates someone to work as a freelancer? I think that it often isn’t an abundance of confidence or any type of a business plan. No, the decision to freelance can be similar to the inspiration of invention- based on a necessity.

Many freelancers go at it alone because they need to. Perhaps they needed to find a job and one suited to their skills wasn’t available. Maybe they are unable to work in a corporation due to discrimination, lack of access, or personal choice. There are even some people that choose to freelance because their abilities are too unique to fit a traditional job role. Basically, freelancers go at it alone because they have to.

Many times I think about what motivated me to start freelancing. Although my current situation is rather new, technically, freelancing was my second job. I began freelancing at The Charlotte Post as a sales person. It was my second job (while in college) after a 1 year part-time career in telemarketing. It quickly grew into a writing position.

At first I didn’t understand the big deal of having my own route, my own customers, and my own tax liability. It wasn’t strange because my father had lived that way my entire life. It wasn’t until my next job in computers that I realized the difference. While beginning my experience in technology sales, I longed for the emotional reward that I received while freelancing.

Working for one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world had its benefits for sure. I received industry training in computer hardware, everyday people considered me an expert, and there were the benefits of course. But, what that job didn’t offer – one that I’d always received while freelancing for the Post – was emotional gratification. I needed the reward from doing a good job, and while my customers regularly gave it to me, my company never did.

I moved from computer hardware, to cell phones, to software, to online retail- all the while staying close to those who’d validate my efforts (the customers). Though my regular jobs fulfilled a financial need, deep down, I wanted something more. I felt like I had a job- I wanted a career.

So I got back into freelancing- only a little at first, then completely at one point while working in event marketing. I was happy, but society frowned upon my decision. Believing I was a failure because I found no joy in my fortune 500 jobs, I tried it one more time… this time staying 3 years- only to crash harder than I’d ever crashed before.

I now know I was meant to be a freelancer- I was meant to explore and build using all of my talents, not just the ones the job entailed. My career was doing what I was passionate about- whatever that may be- and supporting my family with it. Isn’t that the ideal?

I definitely understand that everyone isn’t designed to be a freelancer- but those that are, should give up trying to fight it. I have.

Now, I no longer work; I finally have a career.

 

The Importance of Confidence

A few weeks ago I responded to an ad looking for bloggers to review an online confidence course.  At first I was hesitant, I mean, what does confidence have to do with freelance writing? But before I could even finalize my thought, I answered my own question. Confidence has everything to do with freelance writing! As a matter of fact, confidence should be a requirement for freelancing.

For that reason, I decided to review the course and share my review on this blog. It is my firm belief that confidence will not only help you in your personal life, but also in your professional life. When you learn to approach your freelance business with confidence, you can command better rates, and likely, larger amounts of clients. If you aren’t already working on your confidence, I encourage giving this class a try.

Instant Confidence: A 45 minute confidence course

Let me begin by explaining that the instant confidence course will not give you confidence. It’s a 45-minute course for goodness sakes! What it does promise is the tools and knowledge for giving the appearance of confidence.  We could call it fake-it-till-you-make-it 101.

It is set up in short modules with quizzes after each one to make sure you understood the last section. For the most part, the course is simple- 30-50 words of text per slide with attractive attention-grabbing photos, while a  narrator reads it to you. There’s even some interactive exercises on the second half that will engage you while driving in the point. In all, I enjoyed its arrangement, except for having to push next after each screen. Clicking is terribly bothersome for me. The British accent made up for it though.. (I always giggle when I hear the word bum.)

The information in the course is not anything you haven’t heard before … unless perhaps you are not natively a part of Western society. What is valuable about the course is the fact that it is all in one place, logically organized in a 45-minute chunk. I’ve read plenty of self-help books, taken public speaking courses, and consider myself quite the communicator, and I still learned something from the course.  That’s because the beauty isn’t in the ‘what’, it’s in the ‘how’.

The Instant Confidence sells for £19.99 (that’s $31.98 USD), and it is worth it for anyone who wants to improve their communication skills.  They also offer a sample of the course on their website.  For freelance professionals, aside from what it is we sell, confidence in communication skills needs to be on the top of our skillset.

It’s also an obvious win for business owners, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals for which communication skills are directly related to their success.

So try out the course and let me know what you think. I’m curious to find out if anyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

Disclaimer: I received this course in exchange for a  review. I receive no additional compensation for purchases as the result of this post.

Writing A Profile That Isn’t Crap

I have always been amazed by some of the professional profiles I have read online. Some of them have you clicking away thinking ‘Man, I wonder if they will even acknowledge my email’ while others have you thinking ‘Are they for real – they want people to pay them?’

Lately the majority of the ones I have seen had me thinking the latter. It should be no wonder why people pay to have professional profiles written on sites such as Linked In.

So how do you write a profile that isn’t straight crap?

I don’t know.

I’ve rewritten my profiles so many times, at any given point I couldn’t tell you what it says. But I can say that everything that is written in them is true.

I update my profile regularly, and that is how it should be.

One of the biggest mistakes freelancers make is not evolving. How can you explain not having learned anything new in over a year of freelancing? I can understand that happening if you work a traditional job – a factory worker may have the same task as they’ve had 6 months earlier. That is typically not the case with the online freelancer.

I used to work (yes as in typical job) for a company that had a motto of move at the speed of the Internet. That means: learn something new today, but expect to re-learn it tomorrow. You need to be able to take on new assignments, learn from it, and then do something else. The Internet is not stagnant, so why should the experience of an online freelancer be any different?

That is why a stale profile is a useless profile, or at least a sign that the freelancer is not suited for the online economy.

So if you are like me, an online professional that moves at the speed of the Internet, it makes as much sense spending time ensuring your information is updated as it does using the right keywords. If you are going to drop $100 on a professionally written profile, be prepared to update it in a month or so. Otherwise, save your money making a website and promote yourself the old fashioned way- with business cards.

For online professionals, writing a profile that doesn’t suck is all about staying fresh, because it’s the Internet, and search engines can’t read.

Why the Online Freelance Economy Is Great for Racists, Nationalists and Sexists

Remember when the Internet used to be anonymous? I do. Now it’s full of avatars, bios and videos. People want to know who they are working with, where that person is located, and what country they hold allegiance to. While I can completely understand the rationale behind this practice, it is quite troubling to me for one reason. It makes it extremely easy to discriminate and prejudge based on factors other than actual qualifications.

The Internet Should Not Be EEOC

Let me start off by making that very clear. I believe that the Internet is the ultimate free economy. Anyone with the ability to go online can theoretically offer their product or service. Ten years ago it was the perfect playing field. It is the reason a bookseller could become a cultural icon, and a dating website the marketing tool of businesses. People made decisions based on the merit of the product or service being provided, not the attractiveness of the creator’s avatar. We didn’t care who wrote it, we cared about what it said.

So I am not in any way suggesting that there should be some type of quota to ensure that disenfranchised populations get equal access at the Internet economy. (That would mean that someone would have to regulate the Internet, and that is when you start opening up a huge can of worms.) I am suggesting that it would be awesome to have a blind internet economy. Otherwise, what solution does someone who knows they will be discriminated against have in today’s economy?

Lie?

Most of What You See Is an Illusion

What would you think if you knew that the Connecticut legal blog you referenced the other day was written by a 20 year old Ukranian college student? Regardless of whether or not the information was correct- would you feel cheated? Did you have an expectation that the blog would at least be written by a paralegal?

What about the online profile of the attractive girl you viewed the other day. Did you think that was her real picture? When you chatted with her, were the responses a little bit too perfect? Maybe it’s because the picture was purchased and you are actually chatting with a motivated professional from Bangladesh.

The point is, those making money from the Web have learned that Internet users are prejudiced. Since anyone can promise the world, these users make decisions based on information they already know.

Well he clearly looks like a lawyer, I’ll click there.

She likes the same television show I do, and look at her gorgeous eyes! I’m sure she is trustworthy.

Instead of focusing on the information being delivered, they instead focus on the package it is delivered in.

How this Affects Freelancers

When you are working as a freelance writer, this stark reality will quickly hit you in the face. Potential clients don’t judge you by your capabilities- they judge you by your profile picture.

The oDesk community is made up of professionals from around the globe. To maintain a high-quality workplace for all oDeskers, identity information associated with an oDesk User Account must be real and verifiable.

This includes pictures and videos.

I still wonder: why do clients need to know what I look like in order to determine whether I can write well? I would understand if I was still modeling, but I work remotely and I write.

Regardless, I play the game. I upload the clear profile picture, I record the video.

As a result, I get clients who expect me to write in ebonics, know something about fashion or decorating, or be willing to write about television shows. I get passed over for projects ‘seeking a male voice’ as well as those who ‘prefer not to work with Americans’. Five years ago, I would have been at least able to get my foot in the door, because they wouldn’t have a profile picture to base their ridiculous assumptions on.


 

I knew we were headed in the wrong direction when I was contacted on twitter about my dystonia blog 5 years ago. A fellow advocate of dystonia awareness sent me a private message.  He had read my tweets, my blog, and visited my portfolio websites. (At the time my income was from promotional modeling.) Regardless of all of the effort I had put in concerning awareness, he was most struck by the following fact:

You’re pretty for a black girl.

I would have had better luck spreading awareness had I worn a dystonia bikini.