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Monday, January 18, 2021

A Freelance Gig to Consider: Trendspotter

 Also known as trend forecasting, this not to be confused with an influencer but there are some similarities. While this title does deal with visuals, ideal candidates must also possess analytical skills, as well as the ability to create reports based on historical data and cyclical information.  If you're wondering where to start as a freelancer or career changer, your personal blog can be a great starting point.

Instead of catering to the consumer first, and then other companies that want to pay you through ads and endorsements, you will do the opposite here.  The reason being is that consumers don't always care to hear the backstory of things and usually want to hear what's good so they can buy ASAP.  Companies, on the other hand, want to go over the data, history, and other information that will support why they should invest in a trend.

The above video covers four types of trends but how deep you go is up to your level of expertise.  You may want to build a strong influencer following before while learning consumer behavior, marketing, and psychology on your own.  So far, I've seen no hard educational requirements but if you don't have paid experience as a buyer, you have your work cut out for you.

Get to know organizations and agencies that can supply information about your desired industry.  Although fashion is the industry most associated with trendspotting, food, home products, and even technology want to know what's the new thing that will interest people in the near future.  Without the facts, companies have to deal with the expense of product fails.

Orbitz soda (1997).  It sounded cool at the time but not long enough to stay. @Wikimedia

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Making Up For Lost Freelancing Time

 For the past 11 months, freelancers have been thrown curves left and right.  In addition to the pandemic and how we live, some of us who live in California had to deal with statewide restrictions by companies that don't offer gig workers a benefits package.  Not to mention having to balance family and social life so that we don't get sick.

And while some of us have managed to sidestep the tragedy, every day is a new adventure we're forced to challenge.

Stay Ahead While Seeking a Better Life

And then there are bills.  Monthly expenses we may have been able to skip or reduce for the time being for some.  On the other hand, people are relying on local and federal resources to stay alive.  Even the best freelancers have made sacrifices since companies, large and small, have either downsized or closed their doors altogether.

So it's a new year and normally people promise to change for the better.  You may have realized that it's time to get that advanced degree or go into a new line of work.  Others may be ready to continue the search for good clients while looking for ways to increase marketability.

Back to School isn't Always Best

There are a number of resources that can help but it's best to remember that a solution is never one-size-fits-all.  One thing I've noticed is an increase in online university ads.  What makes these more noticeable than before is they're targeting minorities, single parents, career changers/older workers, or any group that appears to be in dire need.  

While you may be part of one or more of these demographics, it doesn't mean that going back to school (or that particular learning institution) is for you.  Diploma mills are just as prominent as before and like some small businesses that are barely hanging on, they're more desperate than ever for your money.  Chances are strong that a community college may serve the same purpose, or can at least save you some money down the road. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

A New Outlook for Freelancers to Consider

 Now that the holidays are over and you're still making progress on your New Year's resolution list, you can get back to the freelancing business, right?  Well...yes and no.  In a lot of areas, COVID-19 numbers have increased and more people are looking for ways to make money or add to their current income.  While you may be thinking 'well duh', think of the growing numbers of people coming for your clients (eventually).

So you may be ahead of the game and are already thinking about ways to boost profits.  Nothing wrong with that but you should determine if the method is even necessary.  For instance, if you run a popular blog, more ads may seem like the way to go, even if you get paid a couple of dollars for a few clicks without commitment.

At the same time, think about whether this is necessary or whether it's something your readers will appreciate.  A lot of times, popular content is rewarded with what was once described as 'lazy revenue' but bloggers (and I, too, have been guilty of this) tend to reach for anything that sounds good and not consider the content.  Imagine visiting your favorite website and having to sit through a 60-second (which feels like an hour) video ad or a pop-up that can't be turned off easily on a tablet.

We as freelancers are trained to seize the opportunity and sometimes act aggressively for those that may be within reach.  This is fine until we shoot ourselves in the foot by not considering the future.  Instead of giving into ad companies, think about new ways to reinvigorate sluggish revenue.  

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Here are 3 Little Words You Can Use to Increase Client Sales

This cashier is not of the upselling kind but a twisted kind of funny!

In these times, it can be sink or swim when it comes to freelancers getting and retaining good clients (because the bad ones are always on the lookout for anyone that appears to be "green").  And clients want the most for their money.  At one time, that exchange was so simple and continuity could be looked at as a way to build relationships and pay bills.  While many newbies might not have mastered the art of upselling, it's simpler than you think.

Last week, on two different occasions,  I was out running errands and got insanely hungry.  One franchise I bought from had a variety of heat and eat goods that serve the purpose.  The other is a local small business that makes everything from scratch.  Both places are extremely popular, which means a wait but faster than going home to fix something.

While placing my order at each place, the cashier said, "And what else?"

Now, the irony was that the heat and eat place had a drive-thru, which not only would have been more convenient but I had to pass.  Close decision but I've been eating too many carbs...though as the day passed, I'd regret my decision.  However, when the homecooked place said the same thing, my additional order just flew out of my mouth.  Not only was there a line of live orders but the online orders made the wait close to half an hour...which I've never done for a casual/fast food joint.  Almost 45 minutes after placing my order, not only was I ready to eat a couple of bears but was so satisfied with my food.

As you can see, no one said anything fancy and neither cashier was pushy.  Not sure if they get commissions for upselling but obviously it can raise an order to double or more.  Services that sell for $10 can convert into $25 on up with the right words.  What are your right words?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

A Freelance Gig Worth Considering: Online Reviewer

Hey there!  Not talking about books or those sites that have rigid requirements and pay pennies after you write thousands of words for them.  This would be more along the lines of blogging or vlogging but under your name and/or your true identity.  Yes, it can be fun venting on sites like Yelp but this not only requires a little planning and can be a great service to consumers worldwide.

Consider What You Will Talk About

There's a lot that people will read and share but they want a consistent voice and possibly topic.  For instance, you may be a big fan of Trader Joe's and vintage car restoration.  Can you write about both?  I don't see why not if you're willing to invest the time into creating two different entities to share your honest views.

On the other hand, it may help to ensure there's some congruency in your topics.  Let's replace Traders with Whole Paycheck Foods (or another premium grocer with a following) but you also like to shop at Dollar Tree.  This makes sense to some but most likely, not the majority.  If Amy Dacyczyn (author of The Tightwad Gazette series) were to share the best places to buy goose liver, she'd been laughed out of her book deal.

Plan Your Brand

Are you funny, informative, serious, or so darned detailed that it's not funny but people love you anyway?  Will you need visuals or a funny theme song as your vlog/podcast intro?  Like any other venture, consider what your competition is doing and see how you can make it better or different.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

What New Freelancers Can Do to Attract Better Clients

via Gfycat

 If you're thinking 'any client that pays is alright with me', you may want to change your thought process for the long-term.  A good client not only pays on time but will want repeat business AND possibly refer your services to their colleagues.  This, of course, eliminates the time you spend hustling or cold-calling by email (which may not bring much of a return since this type of mail tends to land in the junk pile).  It can also free you from having to learn personality quirks and other things that come with the freelancing hustle.

While you may be a person that loves to meet new people, this process can wear on you after a while.  It's not quite like having a storefront if your clients aren't local.  If you're regional or global, this may mean learning about different cultures that affect everything from communication to how you get paid.  

The 15 ways freelancers can stand out is a good start to defining who you are and what you can do for a potential client.  Most newbies think in terms of offering the lowest price (there's a strategy to this if you're serious) in order to land the gig but offering yourself on a platter with all the trimmings will filter out the deadbeats.  It's kind of like the old-school job classifieds where the legit companies usually stated the job description, benefits, and more in a medium-to-large display ad but hole-in-the-wall operations often used no more than two lines.

Unless you come with a lot of connections in your industry, presenting yourself in the best light pays off in a big way.  A good social media profile with relevant links and education/industry certifications can get you some notice.  However, using a platform like LinkedIn to tell a story about what you have to offer clients is much better than having a bunch of degrees, or using glossy words to describe yourself.

Don't get me wrong, education and power words go hand-in-hand but don't make that all you have to offer a client.  The right storytelling techniques for freelancers can help you develop a voice that not only reflects the quality of your work but will make your profile stronger than your competitors.  It's kind of like dating.  If you wonder why you keep attracting the wrong mate, often you'll find that a makeover (either external or internal...or a little of both) gives you the confidence to build relationships with people who can make things happen.  And that's in a good way!

Friday, October 2, 2020

Should New Content Writers Give Away Their Work?

Instead of giving a yes or no answer, here's a quick summary in question form... what are you looking to achieve?  If it's just a temporary gig that pays a small flat rate, think twice before signing on.  However, freebies that can lead to increased exposure should be done on a secondary or tertiary basis.  And that's only if you're new to freelance writing.

  • Organizations linked to your niche industry - if this is a nonprofit with a limited budget BUT a lot of traffic, there's room for negotiation.  From a byline to a link to your relevant blog to the possibility of earning a paid spot.  Some writers work their way into editor positions or assistant with communication duties.  This move can add to your resume if you're a student, career-changer, or looking to get back into the working world after a long absence.
  • Outsourcing Companies