Using Your Time Wisely – How to divide Your Time as a Freelancer

Using Your Time Wisely – How to divide Your Time as a Freelancer

The thing about freelancing is that, unlike a regular job where someone else sets your schedule and has you on a set course of activities each work period, time spent freelancing is rarely ever the same. Sure, after a time, you may find yourself with a routine of blogging on certain days, but the majority of your time will be spent prioritizing your time among a laundry list of necessary projects, all of which will keep you on your toes for months to come.

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. ”
-Zig Ziglar

Getting your priorities set helps you divide the time up you have. I understand fully that not everybody gets a bonus week off work to sit down and build a website, but over the next few weeks I hope you will join me as I write tutorials that help you build your website, marketing campaign, and client base. Let’s get busy planning your first business projects: your website, your social media campaigns, your business cards, and your presentation.

Your First Website

You may have had website in the past, or may be running a semi-successful website now. If you want to run a business, you will need a dedicated website to act as a storefront for your clients to see all about your product and how you can serve them. This website should be clean, simple, and clear about your product or service.

We will get to this tutorial next week, but for now, think about what product you will offer, articles, blog posts, graphic media, art, ebook writing, virtual assistant, etc. brainstorm what kind of career you want to do from home that is in high demand on today’s online markets. You will need a clear vision of the purpose and branding your website will have and this needs to be separate from things you might sell, like purses or dress patterns, if you also want another hobby to earn cash.

Your Social Media

Before you run along and set up a Facebook page or twitter account for your business, you need to have a clear vision of your mission as a business owner. Tomorrow’s article will talk about branding yourself.

Just for now, today’s homework is to go find YouTube videos about setting up Facebook pages, twitter, google plus, and linked in. we will have some nice tutorials laid out for you in the coming weeks. Familiarize yourself with these marketing tools and how they are used during this week’s free time.

Business Cards and Offline Marketing

Business cards will be your main offline marketing campaign. You will find a tutorial for this on my blog and learn how to use your branding to get your cards in the hands of waiting and interested people. For not, just know this is one of the most important expenses you will have. If you need to forego a few lattes this week to save up for them, please do.

Branding Your Business

Branding your business is a combination of your logo, your mission, your 5-secondd pitch, and how you can inject this into daily conversations and your online media. First things first, there is no need to go plastering your friends and families pockets with your new idea. It is okay to keep it secret, because although you may eventually sell your product to one of them, it’s a tough market and you may be underpaid as family and friends tend to think you can serve them for next to nothing. Leave them out of your dream, your market is everybody you meet and greet and more. Don’t worry if you are shy or clam up around strangers. I have an approach that makes the focus on the other person and puts your business in their hands with less than two sentences to a pitch and letting them do all of the talking.

Your Homework for This Week:

Spend your carved out time this week and weekend familiarizing yourself with setting up social media accounts and how to utilize them in marketing. That it, just some study. My next posts will get you saving up for your major expenses a website and business cards, and after that, how to brand yourself.

And now it’s your turn! Read thebooks; listen to the CDs; take the classes; and build something magnificent!

 

—Michael S. Clouse

branding photo
Photo by Travel 2.0

Photo by Travel 2.0

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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