Branding Your Business Gets Results

Branding Your Business Gets Results

You may not have heard of business branding before, or may feel uncomfortable about the kind of scary term. Business branding really means the logos and slogans you use to promote your business. Before you put up a website, open up social media accounts for your business, or buy business cards, you need to think about your brand. And I mean, think of the face you want your business to show to the world. As an example, you can see that my brand is a carbonized version of my face, my name, my slogan, and my title.

“Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.”

~ Zig ziglar

Brainstorming Your brand

In the business of freelancing, it’s a really good idea to put your face and your name as your brand, and it makes things much simpler when you go for a business license, since you won’t need to copyright your own name.

As you go about your weekend activities, take note of the name brands you see on billboards, store shelves, and commercials. Note which of these is most memorable to you and how many public figures use their name and picture to promote their business, aka their brand.

Unless you are hiding from an abusive ex where using your name and face could put your life in jeopardy, like I am, you should have no problem using your real name and picture. Many writers and freelance artists use a combination of either their first and middle names, or middle and last names, along with a decent looking selfie, as their personal brand.

Designing Your Personal Brand

Before you go buy cards with your name and picture on them, you can use a free product like PicMonkey to design your brand, logo, headers, profile images, favicons, business cards, and much more.

“Selling is essentially a transfer of feelings”
~Zig Ziglar

This weekend, or this week, take note of brand logos, designs, social media headers and icons, (those of businesses in your area), and your personal tastes in font types, colors, and icon images. Then familiarize yourself with PicMonkey features by checking out these tutorials. Feel free to doodle in your notebook until you get an idea how you want your website header, social media header, profile icons, and business cards to look like.

Next week I will put up a nice tutorial on setting up and designing your graphic media that will become your brand. This tutorial will be complete with image size requirements and placements. In the meantime, think of a catchy title for your position, mine is “Freelance Blog Writer” and my slogan is “Professional business blog writing and promoting. Turn your website & social media into a sales funnel.” I hope this helps you decide on the type of freelance work you would like to provide and how you would like to present your sales pitch in a conversation.

 


brand photo
Photo by Brett Jordan
Saving Up to Start Your Home-Based Business

Saving Up to Start Your Home-Based Business

In an earlier article I showed you how you can start up for under $40. But for the purposes of assuming that not everybody can barter for a free website host, let’s just say you need the bare minimum of $100. And let’s assume that you will need to pay recurring expenses, yearly fees, for keeping your business open. Next year you will need about $200 to keep the doors open. And in about six months, if you earn over $5,000, you will need to purchase a business license, and that cost can vary by state.

Let’s get started on adding up your expenses and then looks to see where you can pull these expenses from your budget. Chances are, you can skimp and save here and there over this next month and easily come up with $100 to start your business. The remaining fees will be earned from your clients. Let’s not think of this first $100 as an expense, but rather an investment into your new bright future and the lifestyle you dream about. Let’s make your dreams a reality.

When designing your MLM business, and your life, remember every detail you leave out must be filled in by someone else.

—Michael S. Clouse

The Startup Expenses, Plain and Simple

The investment of $100 into your business can be divided up into the following:

  1. $15 for a domain name
  2. $49 for your first year of webhosting* (Some places throw in a free domain name too)
  3. $25 for basic business cards with taxes and shipping (If you refer a friend and they order cards, you can get $10 off your purchase)
  4. $10 for office supplies (Binder, divider tabs, binder paper, notebook, day planner, pens, pencils, highlighter, and sticky notes all at the dollar store. For $9 plus tax.)

Buying Out the Savings for your Business Investment

Having been homeless exactly three times in my life, mostly due to jobs not paying me my last check, I know how hard funding can be. You have two options here, the first is to start a crowd funder. This option is much more difficult and entails a long process and a lot more work. If you are interested, here is a book called Step by Step Crowdfunding: Everything You Need to Raise Money From the Crowd* can help you get started.

The second option is to save this money from your current budget. Most people are living paycheck to paycheck, but there money is there, promise. One of the simplest ways to save, but it takes more time, is to simply round each item up in your check book or financial records to the next dollar. So if your rent was $659.35, you put $660 down in your ledger. And you do this for every shopping trip, bill, or expense you have. Those nickels and dimes add up fast.

The alternate second option is to buy less. This means foregoing eating out for a month, buying coffee out in the mornings, or putting a couple of items back when grocery shopping. So if you see yourself reaching for a fast food latte, put it on your list to buy coffee and creamer to use at home. And if you usually buy a soda or candy when you buy groceries, put these items back and subtract their cost from your account and place it in savings. Start actively looking for things you don’t absolutely need to survive, and tuck those dollars away here and there.

If you are dead broke and unemployed, actively now find a part time job. Even if you are handing food out of a drive through window, bagging groceries at a supermarket, watching the neighbor’s dog, mowing a few lawns on the weekend, or taking in someone’s laundry. There is money you can make and save up to start your business. And you can use this part time job as leverage to meet new people and potential future clients.

Part Time Job = Full time Networking

A part time job is a gold mine for both start up investment funding and a network of people you can make friends with who can be potential clients. Remember the job is temporary and the job is pure gold and a rich source of potential for your business. Just don’t try to sell to them yet, simply start making the connections, trading phone numbers and getting to know people in your area. Keep good notes on where they work, if they own businesses, and minor personal data you can use to start conversations about them and keep your interest focused on them and their lives. Congrats, you just started networking.

To the degree we make our invitation inviting, it will be to the same degree that our prospects will want to be invited.

 —Michael S. Clouse


*Affiliate Disclosure

Getting Your Business Set Up

Getting Your Business Set Up

Getting set up as a freelancer is a lot easier than you think. Many people think you need a lot of money, even though there are scads of tutorials on people’s blogs about setting up a business on a shoestring budget. Actually, barring the tablet and computer time I purchased, setting up can be, and actually is a lot cheaper. That is if you are willing to work harder. No, becoming an independent contractor still isn’t free, there are costs involved. For instance you will need to pay for internet, a website, and possibly business cards. Here are a few more costs involved in setting up shop as a freelancer.

The basics are the business.

 —Michael S. Clouse

1. Office Products

Not everybody will want to be as organized as I am, I’m sure, but keeping notes, client data, and lists of projects does make it easier to keep track of things. Aside from the usual supply of sticky notes, pens, pencils, highlighters, and a notebook, I’d say your most important expenses will be a planner to calendar with daily pages and a binder with organizer tabs and notebook paper. Because it is easier to keep your website and its content separate from, say, the 2 to 5 clients you are also keeping tabs on.

I know Annie hooked me on this when she started keeping notes on my website, when she was helping me set it up. It is super helpful not only to have a planner to sort out projects and client project due dates, but also that handy binder to keep lists of their contact data, security codes, and article lists. Because, when you are in a rush to get something done, it is way easier to flip to the fifth tab to find out the color code client XX wants is a hexadecimal of blue, than try to match it on a screen that may or may not show their exact color of blue in the text editor.

2. Electronics

I know a few colleagues who use all the above products on their tablet or laptop, carefully sorting their calendars onto google Calendars and their notes in excel sheets. For me, working on a tablet, it’s harder to switch back and forth between screens when I’m typing. But you will want at least a means of typing our articles, a small $150 to $350 laptop will do, and a cell phone to create an internet hotspot.

If all you can afford is a free tablet, like I got, then go for it. Last year Verizon was doing this deal where the tablet was free if you signed up for a $10 data plan to go with it. Just pay the tax, which also got footed onto my phone bill. So for a hefty extra $11 a month, I have a tablet to work from, until I replace that water-ruined laptop I lost two summers ago.

3. Online Business Marketing

Many businesses cannot fathom why they need a website or social media. Let me tell you, the difference is catching all those people plugged into electronic media, or not. If you are not online you’re at the mercy of people being able to walk past your storefront to find you. Don’t have a store front because you are working from you laptop at a café? That’s why you need a website, it is your virtual storefront. The cost is someplace around $10 to $100, depending on hosting plans, carriers, and whatnot. It is still worth the virtual reality to purchase. Add to it social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook pages, and you are basically adding the internet equivalent of fliers and business cards to everyone who frequents the internet.

4. Offline Business Marketing

Business cards are all the rage still. I mean, why mess with a good thing, right? Business cards are about the only real offline marketing expense you need right away, as a freelancer. You basically need a card that you can hand to people when they ask you what you do and this card needs to tell them just what you do and how to get in touch with you. Business cards run from $10 to $50 and are well-worth the splurge.

5. Future Business Expenses

Just starting out as a freelancer means there are very few actual expenses. You can easily get away without having a computer for a while, if you frequent a local library. Which leaves just a notebook, planner, and business cards. You need to save up about $100 to get started.

I Got Started with Just $20

In fact, I started with supplies I got for about $5 at yard sales during my summer trip. Because buying a tiny RV and refurbishing it ate up my entire savings. So I found odds and ends at penny and dime bins any time I crossed paths with a typical garage sale sign. Then, a quick trip to a dollar store netted the big final expense of a daily, dated, day planner. Like I said previously, I bought the domain several years ago, so the recurring $10 renewal fee wasn’t much to keep up with, even though it really hurt some years to keep it up. Wrapping that up with the $5 deposit I placed on my tablet, and I think anyone can actually do this.

How You Can Get Started

If you want this thing to work, you’ve got to work this thing you want.

 —Michael S. Clouse

Let’s add up you first expenses: Internet access (free at the library), computer (also free at the library), Hosting ($0 to $50 per year, depending on how you procure it), a domain name ($5.99 to $15.99), Business Cards ($15), and office supplies at a dollar store ($10 should cover everything – pens, pencils, highlighters, notebook, binder, planner, divider tabs, notebook paper, bag to carry it all in.) Total cost to get started $31 to $91. Can you afford this? Can you save up for it? I bet you can repay yourself for this after just one client too.

 

planner photo
Photo by danyeela

 

Photo by danyeela

The Truth About Freelancing

The Truth About Freelancing

Hello Reader, I’ve been on the road looking for that perfect spot to set up camp for a long cold winter. And I’ve been thinking about you. Not long ago in my journey I was stuck, or thought I was stuck, living a life I really didn’t enjoy. See, when you work for someone else, it can suck all the joy out of your job and make it, well, feel like a job and a chore. I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to live that way, and you don’t either.

From time to time we all need to be reminded, that if we just stay the course, we will reach our goals.
—Michael S. Clouse

The Journey is in the Attitude

See, I kept hanging up my freelancer hat to take in-home-care jobs I did begrudgingly. I’d be a nanny for some ungrateful parent who was going through a divorce, or be the care nurse for an elderly person and their nasty-tempered family. I’d be stuck as their personal servant without even a tiny amount of respect for a hard and underpaid job. I liked the work because the cash was quick, and when you are paying off student loan debt, quick cash and free room and board is very appealing. BUT, it wasn’t the life I wanted to live. Sure, I picked up writing jobs here and there, and even stooped as low as to sign up for those awful and soul numbing places known as content mills.

I’m here telling you that wherever you are, whatever paycheck you are earning, you are not stuck there. You can, right now, start working to get the dream life you want. And if that dream life is a career and lifestyle, because freelancing really is a lifestyle, then I am here to help you build that dream.

The Truth About Freelancing

You are the architect of your destiny… Because you write the blueprint for your life!
—Michael S. Clouse

Freelancing is many things, like setting your own schedule and choosing who to work with. Like many jobs, it can be romanticized and we can tend to forget that it is still hard work. But, unlike working for corporate America, it doesn’t have to be a soul-sucking daily grind. And you don’t have to be rich or have a savings account to get started. You just need to know the right people.

For me the right person is a colleague, who wishes to be nameless to protect my real identity, so let’s call her Annie. You see, I was broke. Broker than broke. Being a nanny or hospice nurse doesn’t pay much. It should, but the media lies about the real pay of workers. So, when I wanted to get back into this writing game, I contacted Annie. Annie wouldn’t and couldn’t just hand me money, after all she too is in the process of redefining her freelancing career, and she wants to break into magazines. YOU GET EM ANNIE! For me, I still want the freedom on business clients, but I want clients who pay better.

So, we stuck our heads together and she came up with a solution. She had a website hosting account paid up for 3 years and I had a domain purchased years ago that I hung onto. So she offered to host my site for free, in exchange, I would work as a VA for her in a small capacity.

In short, the moral of the story is, if you are broke, you are only as broke as who you know. For me, being broke didn’t mean I had to go without a website to relaunch my career. It meant that, at the end of my travels to a new state, I could set up shop and relaunch my website and freelance career for the mere price of borrowing another friend’s couch for a week.

Living Out of an RV

I don’t recommend this life for everyone, but if I can run a freelancing lifestyle out of a tiny, one-room RV in the dead of winter in an icy state, like Rhode Island, you can certainly do it from your warm snugly home out of any office you set up. You don’t need a reliable internet connection either. I don’t have one. Instead I make sure my cat, Norman, has a heating pad going at the RV and take my little Vespa to a nearby coffee shop while I sip on something warm and upload my latest creation. In fact, I don’t even have a computer or laptop. I am really doing this all off a tablet. YES REALLY, a tablet. Okay, maybe not completely. I found someone that lets me rent time on their desktop when I need to make major repairs or work on the website. Like week before last, when I rented their PC, while they were at work, for a mere $50. They were $50 richer and I had 40 hours, during their split shifts, to rebuild my website.

Now that the website is up and running and I have Annie as backup, monitoring for any hiccups in exchange for me editing content for her, I can revert back to my tablet or pulling research from computers at internet cafes.

You Are Already Way Ahead of Me

So, if you have a steady home internet connection, a laptop or desktop, and at least window 7 or higher, you are way ahead of me at this freelancing game. If you are willing and ready to work harder than you ever have before, you can break free of your job. The time frame all depends on how much time and effort you put into it.

Launching a freelancing career takes breaking a few habits, like video games, TV and reading novels, for a short time. But it’s worth it. Rest assured those TV shows will be on Netflix waiting for you when you get back. And when you have your freelancing career in full swing, then you will have the time, and money to sit back and watch them. Getting started really does depend on you and your time and effort. It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and get motivated.

Like Zig Ziglar says, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

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