How I Got My Start in Freelancing

I always thought freelancing was cool until I started doing it and realized the amount of work it takes. It’s definitely not for everyone because it’s highly uncertain. Your income varies from project to project and it can fluctuate for a long time at the beginning. You also have to put yourself out there and actively network because your salary depends on landing clients.

Freelancing is hard. It provides more flexibility than a regular job because you usually set your own hours, but you will miss the stability of a fixed paycheck. If you do it well and remain consistent however, it can become a secure income stream.

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I randomly fell into it after being laid off from a startup I had been working at for a year. My layoff happened a few weeks before graduation and I was already being questioned about my post-grad plans. The pressure to get another full-time job had never been greater. Then began my job search and it turned out to be a longer process than I thought. I was actively networking and applying to positions online, but hiring managers would take a while to get back to me. I needed to find a way to sharpen my skills and make money while I was waiting.

The answer came to me when I consulted one of my mentors. He suggested that I make a list of things that I’m good at. Writing, career coaching, social media branding, video editing, fashion styling. Following his advice, I started reaching out directly to people in my network (old classmates, colleagues or managers) to ask if they had a need for any of these services or knew people who did. Although I didn’t immediately acquire any client from this strategy, I would recommend that as a first step to anyone looking for freelance gigs because it works in the long run.

I then started researching websites for freelancers. My first gig came from Craigslist after I posted a few ads there. Someone needed my help with resume and cover letter writing. This turned into a regular gig because the person was satisfied with my work. I then secured another freelance gig as a Stylist, helping someone make shopping decisions and dress for special occasions. This client turned into a long-term relationship and she recommended me to other people. Word of mouth is the best type of marketing when you’re a freelancer. It’s free and it only asks that you do your job well.

If you’d like to get started on freelancing, I wrote a detailed post about the process so you can check it out here. Below are some additional resources for you!

Resources:

https://www.freelancersunion.org/

https://www.themuse.com/tags/freelancing

Are you currently looking for freelance work? Or have you freelanced in the past? What tips do you have or websites would you recommend for aspiring freelancers? Let me know in the comments!

5 Steps to Diversifying Your Income And Making More Money

“I don’t need more money.” said no one ever. This is particularly true for New Yorkers on whom the pressure to spend has never been greater. Having extra income serves as a safety net and may help you reach your financial goals sooner.

If you’d like to get started on diversifying your income, consider these five steps:

Identify your skills

Diversifying Your Income -  Identify Your Skills

What are you good at? Do you braid your friends’ hair for fun? Maybe it’s time to start charging! Do you like bringing people together and organizing meetups? There goes your event planning business! Do people come to you for career advice or help with their writing? You could be a tutor, career coach, freelance editor and more. People will always need help. This much we know is true. Write down things you enjoy doing and things you’re good at. Somewhere in the middle you’ll find a new source of income.

Let your immediate network know

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Your immediate network refers to your family, friends, old classmates, colleagues and even supervisors. These are the people in your direct surroundings with whom you’ve already established a relationship with. Once you clearly assess your skills, you can reach out to them and let them know about the service(s) you can provide.

Here’s a sample outreach email:

“Hi __,

I hope you’re doing well! I wanted to let you know I’m currently offering X (hairstyling, personal shopping, accounting etc.) services. If you or somebody you know could use them, feel free to get in touch or pass this email along. I’m happy to help!

Thanks so much,

Your Name”

This strategy didn’t help me find clients initially, but it helped spread the word. Don’t fret if this happens to you too. You’ll be on top of mind when an opportunity eventually comes their way. Don’t hesitate to follow up if necessary.

Lastly, don’t underestimate your weak ties. That gives you an opportunity to further connect with them.

Pick a platform

Diversifying Your Income - Social Media Networking

How will you advertise your skills? Time to get creative! You can either start a podcast, blog or make videos. After choosing your medium, be sure to include a social media component in your marketing strategy.

If your product (read: service) is visual (i.e. hairstyling, jewelry making, crocheting etc.), consider Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat or YouTube. Twitter and LinkedIn are great options for text-oriented services such as resume consulting, journalism, social media management etc. Facebook is where everything goes and it’s considered the most popular and effective advertising platform because of their targeted ads.

Promote your work

Diversifying Your Income -  Promote your work

As a freelancer (or side hustler), you are your own cheerleader. Work on perfecting your craft then promote it. No one will believe in you unless you do. You have to put yourself out there in order to land gigs. Keep creating and document your process. Collect evidence. You photographed your mom’s friend’s baby shower? Start building a portfolio. You styled your sister’s best friend? Snap a few pictures and share it on your platform. Go to networking events and tell strangers about your services. The quality of your work will speak for itself, but you have to go the extra mile and sell yourself to the right people.

Build an online presence

Diversifying Your Income - Online Presence

If you’re not making social media a part of your marketing, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to expand your reach and get more clients. Growing a social following takes time and requires consistency. It’s made even more difficult by the fact that the benefits aren’t immediate. Nonetheless, it’s necessary as consumers connect more with brands than with products nowadays. Besides, you wouldn’t want to limit the size of your audience.

Earning extra income is all about monetizing your skills or building valuable products. If you have a job, someone is clearly paying for your skill set so it goes without saying that you’ll find other people willing to do the same. You just have to strategically position yourself to receive that compensation.

What service can you offer? How do you plan on monetizing your skills? Let me know in the comments!

Check out: 6 Ideas to Diversify Your Income Streams

For exclusive resources and tips on diversifying your income, subscribe to my newsletter here.

I Added $700 to My Income Last Month. You Can Too. Here’s How.

I love finding creative ways to make money. I developed the habit of building different income streams after I got laid off from a job I really enjoyed. The startup was failing and they had to let go of most of their employees. It wasn’t personal. These things happen and this is why you shouldn’t rely on only one source of income. In today’s economy, it’s highly recommended to diversify your income as job security is no longer guaranteed. Luckily, I had some savings and my family support to fall back on but I needed to find other ways.

Let’s be real, we can all use some extra cash.  Whether it’s to support our travel plans, buy a new apartment or increase our savings, generating side income is often a lifesaver.

This past month, I added $700 to my income from different gigs. I hope you get some ideas on how you can increase your earnings.

Tutoring – $560

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As you can see, tutoring was the bulk of my extra income. I made this amount by having four weekly tutoring sessions at $35/hour after work. I signed up for a program at my school that connects students with parents who need help with babysitting, dog walking or tutoring in the area.

Now you may be thinking you’re not an expert in any subject so you can’t tutor, but that extends to anything you know how to do well. You can certainly monetize any service you can provide because people always need help. They are willing to pay for things they either cannot do themselves or are too lazy to attempt. Whether you’re a web developer, graphic designer, video producer or tutor, offer your services to your immediate network and you’d be surprised how you can fill certain voids.

Translating – $90

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Because I speak four languages, I quickly realized I could be of service to people or companies who need help interpreting or translating documents. I made $90 from translating documents from English to French for about two hours. How did I land that gig? I went to a meetup for French learners and connected with an art curator who needed help because she didn’t speak the language well enough. It might have been a chance encounter but there are agencies who look for native speakers of various languages.

Translation services cost a lot (up to $65/hour depending on your expertise) so if you speak more than one language – and if they happen to be popular like Spanish or Chinese – you have a competitive advantage and an automatic moneymaking tool. If you don’t, you can also learn from many free online resources.

Personal Shopping – $50

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Shopping can be tedious and energy consuming.  Not everyone likes to spend hours browsing aisles for groceries, clothes or furniture. If you enjoy it however, you can get paid to do it. All it takes is a combination of good taste and a penchant for all things visual and pretty.

I landed this gig via Craigslist and it’s now turned into occasional freelance work. I never considered styling or personal shopping until I started making fashion videos on YouTube. This comes to show that you can develop many skills once you decide to focus on a project. From video blogging, I learned how to film and edit videos, capture and retouch photos, market content on social media and more. You know that travel business you plan to start or these guitar lessons you’ve always wanted to give? You can’t begin to imagine how much you’ll learn from it. The simple act of practicing a skill can attract job opportunities. So let these creative juices flow and go prosper!

Remember: diversify, diversify, diversify. It’s key to making more money. Assess your skills and start putting yourself out there. Network your way to landing gigs and take classes if necessary. If you have any questions on how you can monetize your skills or where to find gigs, let me know!

Check out: 29 Smart Ways to Make Money on the Side in 2016

How do you generate extra income? Let me know in the comments!

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How to Maximize Your Time and Be More Productive

If you could master only one thing in life, I would argue it should be time management. It’s the one skill that allows you to do everything – and do it well. Until there’s a cure for procrastination, we’ll just have to try our best. Even then, I’m not sure it’s possible to be human and not procrastinate. The two seem mutually exclusive. But it’s worth learning how to maximize our time for greater, long-term gains.

I’m currently juggling multiple projects: two part-time jobs, two writing gigs, a career development blog and a YouTube channel. People always ask me how I manage to get these done and quite frankly, I’m still figuring it out. Like everyone else, I procrastinate way more than I’d like to.

Recently though, I decided to make some adjustments. I took a hard look at the way I spend my days and realized a few techniques that have allowed me to be more productive.

Reduce time spent socializing

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It’s easy to think one can just make time for things they care about, but with a finite amount of hours per day, a more effective strategy would be to change the way one already spends their time.

I used to go to at least three networking events per week and go to brunch every weekend. I quickly realized I was doing myself a disservice by doing things that weren’t directly helping me reach my goals. Instead, they were costing me valuable time and money.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t set time to meet new people. There’s nothing wrong with having a schedule for that though. Don’t just go with the flow when you have things to do. Be more intentional with your time. It’s tempting to go to every dinner party or free networking event. But realize that the more you entertain these distractions, the more you’re delaying your projects. By structuring social time, you save on precious hours and money (#winning).

Limit content consumption

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The Internet has a way of hijacking our mind without our own input. When you watch a video on Facebook or YouTube, the next one automatically plays and you often find yourself checking it out. Netflix releases all episodes of a series at once – which leads to binge watching. It’s never been more important to be aware of the trap of mindless consumption.

I used to delay launching my blog by reading a bunch of motivational articles on Medium. I convinced myself it was worth it when in reality, I was just looking for an excuse not to start. Don’t make the same mistake. Figure out why you spend time doing something. Don’t confuse being busy with being unproductive. Don’t mindlessly consume web content and distance yourself from what needs to be done. Take control and be more selective.

Prioritize 

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You’ve heard that one before so I won’t spend too much time on it. I just felt the need to reiterate how crucial it is. Listing out your priorities helps you spend your time more efficiently as it keeps distractions away. What works for me is setting calendar reminders of what needs to get done. I treat my personal projects like I approach my tasks at work. I write them down, create an action plan and execute them one by one. Having a fixed deadline to complete them and people to hold me accountable definitely helps. Try setting these standards in your personal life.

Check out: How to Manage Time with 10 Tips That Work

What are some time management tips that have worked for you? Please share them in the comments.