Thursday, April 28, 2022

Time for Freelancer Spring Cleaning


This may be the year you decided to add a new service or branch out into something entirely different than what you were doing before.  If things aren't quite going as expected - don't fret and definitely don't quit!  Sometimes the habits we've come to know as a method to the madness don't always translate to all lines of work.  Maybe you need a new social media strategy or change the way to manage business overall.

Pinpoint the Problem

Many of us have the bad habit of doing everything else except for what we really need to do.  This is especially true when we hear someone make a comment about something they noticed.  While knocking things out ASAP is always a good habit, it can take away from other time-consuming tasks.

For instance, anyone who has a blog should get into the habit of checking for dead links.  I've been guilty (hell, even as we speak) of doing this and it was extremely embarrassing when a potential sponsor or anyone else that provides money-making opportunities points this out.  One way to remedy this is to do a free broken link check at least twice a month.

Manage Time Better

Recently, I let go of a pretty counteractive habit.  For over a decade, I've spent hours per week perusing gossip blogs and message boards.  The latter is a true time killer because there are often many topics to explore and change by the minute, in some cases.  To add to my misery is watching TV and by the end of the week, this adds up to hours in the early 10s.  While it was worse when I had cable (20+ hours) and a job I hated, the time could've been put to better use in order for my business to succeed.

You may benefit from an online timekeeping system or you may want to take the manual route.  One benefit to online timers is your clients may feel better about seeing how you use your hours.  Otherwise, once you experiment with ways to save time, you may find that you can slash certain tasks in nearly half the time.

Stop Listening to Naysayers

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Do You Think Social Media Should Be Gender-Based?

While compiling a new social media list page, I had a prospect and then thought twice about adding it.  This list is a group of professional resources that may be of use to you as a freelancer.  Many entries are lesser-known entities but the one I'd like to discuss is....for women only.

Safe Spaces for Women Online

Truthfully, I don't remember if Elpha allows men to join and didn't really give it a lot of thought when I signed up.  Sometimes, as a woman, I tend to be drawn to things that are female-oriented.  Since this isn't a message board (like Reddit) where posters can rant and possibly cross the lines of netiquette, I thought this might be an interesting blog topic.

My question is, do women, in 2022, still need our own professional spaces?

After more than six months of joining, I can say that Elpha is a safe space for women.  Why should safety be a concern at this stage?  This article shares some of the dangers that women of all ages encounter when we interact with others on social networking sites, messages boards, and forums.

Keeping it "Professional"

While some sites use moderation 24/7 (or close to it), others are slow to react to online threats about miscellaneous topics.  You may be saying 'well just limit viewing to LinkedIn and similar networking sites'.  Yes, that's a reasonable solution but here's my story about some of these professional sites.

A while ago, I earned an undergrad degree and of course, I list every credential that matters in selling myself.  While this part of the basics, the fact that my profile shows a woman who's a person of color (POC) and can hardly be mistaken for a beauty contestant makes an interesting narrative.  I say this because when most see a young(ish) female minority, it's common for them to assume that my skills are limited to clerical work.

While I did this for years, as it paid my bills, I work pretty hard to ensure that my online real estate (and the work behind it) is impeccable.  And I'm not alone in this as many Gen-X and early millennial adults may be in the midst of a career change/upgrade.  The ongoing navigation of social networks and their effectiveness is something that presents mixed results for many.

Monday, March 7, 2022

A Freelance Gig to Consider: Pet Food Maker


Although some people associate this type of business with "gourmet pet food", I believe the demand is much greater.  More people are buying pets and things that give them a certain quality of life, such as clothing.  However, I personally believe that eating food that's nutritionally sound will reduce trips to the vet.  Yes, just like with us humans.

Help Change Pet Eating Habits

Then there are people who find it cute that their cat's munching down on sushi or is throwing a tantrum because they want a piece of your beef brisket.  If you don't believe me, there are numerous TV shows and streaming channels loaded with such content.  The flip side is the fact that your pet's health may be compromised while posing for the camera.

Satisfy a Need that May Be Affected by the Pandemic or Recession

In the meantime, there's another factor to consider in starting a pet food business.  Our current economy has availability of certain goods and some of what does make it to the shelves has been marked up.  Since this latest war, we can expect further price increases in the coming months.

Help Pet Owners Save Money

Gourmet pet food is already marketed to certain breeds (read: premium or pricey) but now some claim to act as a preventative health product.  While I have no personal knowledge of the industry, I do know that many pet foods on the lower price scale contain less-than-healthy ingredients that may damage their organs or other vital body parts.  Anyone with a cat knows that alternating wet food is best for their kidneys, especially if they don't drink water regularly.

Getting Started

While there are some videos and other resources that say you can get the ball rolling for about $1K, it may be best to research your target audience. You may find the dog and/or cat food market may be oversaturated if you're going live.  On the other hand, opening up an online store that targets a specific need, such as pet weight loss may be profitable.

Whatever concept you come up with, this article by The Balance has some good feedback for making sure you take to right legal steps next.  In these times, following safety provisions is key to not getting dinged financially before you even get on a roll.  It may also help to see what your competition is doing and look into ways to prove the effectiveness of your final product.  Oftentimes, seeing is believing since pets can't tell us whether something is too salty or they don't care for a particular protein

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Site Update: March 2022

With the current economic climate being what it has been for the past couple of years, we've decided a change was the best move to make right now.  We know many of you are struggling to grow your business or get resources without buying someone’s outdated Patreon project or sitting through a directionless presentation.  One of the new blog goals is to be a place for you to share your business. 

Give yourself a plug for less than a regular cup of coffee and network with like-minded brands! Freelancing has become a way of life for many and often growth is achieved when we step outside of our comfort zone.

When you fill out the form, state the name and nature of your business in 50 words or less, along with contact information, social media links, and any visuals you believe are relevant to a specific audience.  Like any other advertising plan, we at Anthracite Creative Solutions reserves the right to deny any content that doesn’t appeal to general audiences.  If you’re in doubt or would like to appeal your case, contact us and we may be able to work something out.

The other matters include the new format we’ve adopted.  Our big change involves becoming a strong resource for freelancers.  We want to provide regularly updated information about new opportunities, legal matters, and changes that affect your business.  The tone will remain the same, meaning we’re steering clear of the political stuff and any bad news (like a content company that doesn’t pay) will have verifiable proof.

Thanks for stopping by and we hope you’ll share this info with others!

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

When Taking Shortcuts Goes Wrong

By now, you’re probably experimenting with new ways to generate more income for your business or brand.  Sometimes, the only way to know whether something will work is to dive in and flow with the learning curve.  This is how many people move ahead in their career or business aspirations but the tough part is moving ahead when you’ve fumbled.

While we all make mistakes or feel we’ve got it in the bag with a few mouse clicks based on our solid credentials or reputation, due diligence never hurts anybody.  EVER.  Here are a few moneymaking ideas, along with easy step-by-step directions, that can increase anyone’s profits in a short period of time - 

  1. Converting blog contents into an ebook

  2. Selling photos to stock companies

  3. Doing a video summary of things that reflect your brand and uploading it to YouTube (or other video streaming service).

  4. Repurposing your slides into an MP4 video

  5. Creating a (live, written, or streaming) tutorial series based on things you know

My latest personal account regarding hustles gone wrong involves a digital marketing class I took recently.  Just to give you a background, I have a degree in social media marketing.  It’s an undergrad degree but I don’t feel my studies, at the time reflected what’s being going on with online marketing overall.  While I love my alma mater, I hate the protocol they must follow to get a for-credit class approved.  Create a proposal, present it to tptb, hope it will be added to the college catalog, and find an instructor with the right credentials to maintain decent attendance so things aren't up in the air come the next school year.

This is why when I found a college district with a fatter budget (long story) offering free classes, I thought I’d hit the jackpot.  Not quite.

I have work experience and formal studies in many things involving creative marketing.  Obviously, I love it because I keep returning to this blog.  However, I respect my audience and their time so if I can’t come correct, I wait it out a few days.  If days turn into weeks, then it’s time for a new strategy (Stay tuned, because we are making some new changes for 2022).

(not the actual instructor, I thought this was kind of funny)

This is all to say that some people who call themselves college instructors don’t always work by example.  They didn’t receive their credentials using other people’s work (online articles or videos) as submissions for projects when they were a student.  So what’s the problem with creating content for students that’s easy to read and understand?

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Why Not Be a Niche Consultant?

If you began the New Year wondering how you can supplement your current income, sharing your knowledge with outside companies or brands is a greater possibility than you may think.  Even if you don't have a 4-year degree, your working knowledge of an industry can give insight to those (like managers) who may be stumped when coming up with a solid resolution.  Choosing to be a niche consultant can help give your brand the boost it may need.

A niche consultant is someone who has an in-depth understanding of something and sells their knowledge to companies or individuals that may be missing out.  Anyone in this line of work should be a good presenter and be able to express their ideas in writing.  In some cases, it may also help to gather data from reliable sources that support your claims, as well as persons who can vouch for your ability.

Here are some good niche ideas but if you've got a creative mind, there may be more possibilities.  If your ideas can generate or save a company money, it's definitely worth exploring. When you think outside of the box, you may be able to come up with some profitable ideas that don't require a degree or certification.  One incentive to adding this as side income is the startup costs are minimal.

One good example of this is Jackson Galaxy a.k.a. The Cat Daddy and host of My Cat From Hell.  If you've never seen the show, which airs on Animal Planet and some streaming channels, Jackson isn't a talking head but a real-life cat behaviorist.  Although his title came from a natural ability to deal with crazy felines, many of his methods are backed by veterinarians.

If you think a cat behaviorist sounds crazy, how about consultant titles like Food Taster, Technology Evangelist, or Fashion Curator? (  The Balance also has some good consulting ideas that appear to be out of the ordinary.

A New (-ish) Way to Brand

Don't feel like writing an e-book or teaching online courses?  That's understandable when you're still building an audience.  However, in order for others to take your consulting abilities seriously, you better get ready to pitch.  If you can hit at least three areas that concern (or have the potential to do so) companies and your resolution ideas, you should be able to make noticeable sales.

Even if you don't make a sale right then, this can be a networking opportunity that will lead to better things in the future.  This is where your promotional takeaways come in handy.  If it's something that relates directly to an industry and not the usual engraved cheap stuff, you will generate new, legitimate leads, if nothing else.

How to Get Started

Ed2Go (I recommend using your public library instead of paying money through a college or on your own) has a Start a Consulting Practice online class.  The above video has some good ideas for defining a niche as well.  Universal Class has a few consultant online training classes but their outline gives more detail as to what newbies can expect on the job.  This varies from one situation to the next, so it's not written in stone.

While you may benefit from life coach training, it's not needed.  While industry credentials or a degree may say something, it's not the primary focus of clients.  However, you should use your credentials to justify why you charge a certain amount and use your achievements to upsell services.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

A Freelance Gig to Consider: Certified Juice Therapist

I have no personal knowledge of this entity, as it came up on my Facebook feed over the holidays. It's a new year and some of you may be considering a new hustle.  Hey, bills have to be paid but this juice therapist certification is the only one I've seen of its kind. do we know it's legit?  Maybe poke around the site and ask yourself some very important questions.

The Juice Guru website looks interesting and appears to be informative.  While I couldn't find a page with the startup costs, there's a payment plan for those on a budget.  In their refund policy, they state the program isn't for the person who isn't serious.  This is good to know because refunds are prorated depending on how far a person's progressed.

I'd say this is a good business idea for those who have - 

  • Improved their health through juicing
  • Lost weight safely (as in maintaining for a lengthy period) by juicing
  • Know the science behind healing with food
  • Willing to create a solid social media campaign testifying the benefits of juicing

While there are freebies and other things that look promising from a health perspective, I'd proceed with caution.  With further navigation, there's a soft spot I never play with, regardless of how much money is involved.  To this day, I've never heard of anyone curing cancer with juice consumption and for someone who's currently in remission (again), I think it's a bold statement.  While The Juice Guru has been accredited and has a long list of good reviews and testimonials, it can't hurt to do thorough research.