Sunday, June 28, 2020

New to Freelancing? Get Free Guidance During Pandemic

**Non-sponsored post**

Most people who work for themselves found themselves thrust into their current work situation.  And for some, getting laid off or choosing to leave without a real plan in place may have been the best thing to happen.  However, there are others who struggle with the protocol and wonder which foot they should put forward first.

The My Own Business Institute (MOBI), in partnership with California's Santa Clara University, runs a series of no-cost online entrepreneurial classes year-round.  The curriculum is in plain English (there's also a Spanish version) and the content is to the point.  Upon completion, you receive both a certificate of completion and a digital badge at no extra charge.

While the regular sessions may take up to a month for the average reader to complete, the Quick Start Entrepreneur program is comprised of 10 short lessons.  Although it takes some of the essentials of the Starting a Business curriculum, new courses in storytelling and selling have been added.  Enrolled students also have access to a host of resources, some of which help with learning how to work effectively during a pandemic.

For those who are out of work and anticipate returning to an office, having a digital badge to show off can place anyone ahead of the competition.  If you're not yet ready to start a business but want more training, Lynda is available for free through most library systems.  The good thing is that every learning path or module completed also shows on your LinkedIn account.

Sometimes, all it takes to get ahead is a little push from an unexpected resource.  We may think reading the same articles about becoming a freelancer or working at home will help with progress but since we're all individuals, that's not the case.  Everyone has a different learning style as well as different needs to get ahead.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Is This the Time for YOU to Volunteer?

There's nothing wrong with giving back, especially during an ongoing pandemic and racial tension throughout major cities coupled with a distrust for law enforcement.  You may feel (especially if your paid work has been impacted) that this may be the time to diversify your skillset.  Many employment specialists, job counselors, and even college professors encourage volunteering as a way for freelancers or career changers to land a job or raise their profile.

Finding a Compatible Opportunity
However, there's the obvious factor, as some people would rather spare 20 hours a week driving for a food delivery service than give away their time.  Time can't always buy an extension on the rent but spending time at the local food pantry can dent your grocery bill.  Before signing up and showing up at the crack of dawn, it helps to realize that the offerings are rather basic.  In other words, it's not the place you'll find speculoos ice cream or Angus steak chili in the can.

Sites like VolunteerMatch, Idealist, and the Volunteer Generation Fund are ideal for finding opportunities that are both live and remote.  Many of these positions range from entry-level to executive or upper management.  When looking up opportunities, it may be a good rule of thumb to check weekly (unless this is all you want to do).  However, media jobs and those positions found in other competitive industries may require a faster response.  So if looking up sites every day isn't for you, it may help to set up an alert so that you can be notified by email or text once a relevant position has been listed.

Creating Opportunity Instead of Waiting for It

Often, causes that are close to our hearts tend to be the best choice.  Another scenario would be to offer services outright in exchange for a reference or client testimony of satisfaction.  Things like upgrading slow websites, planning a fundraiser, or managing an organization's social media accounts are jobs not commonly found at the state unemployment office.  This is also a good to perfect pitching skills or negotiating terms that work in favor of both parties.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Freelance Gig Worth Considering: Calligrapher

Before you start laughing, remember that the former Duchess of Sussex worked as a calligrapher between acting gigs.  There's also famed artist Tyrus Wong, whose typography skills were used on a number of album covers and various other mediums.  What it comes down to is if you've got a steady hand, creative mind, are willing to market yourself as the next big functional artist, and require a low start-up cost, this may work for you.

One thing to consider is that originality sells.  If you check out these famous calligraphers/typographers, you'll see the styles stand out from the droopy black ink script we all saw growing up.  Use of color, spacing, pen stroke curvature, and other features can sell in a number of environments.  Some of these look better than computer-generated art used to promote events.

While schools have gotten away from teaching students how to write in cursive, some styles incorporate a modified block.  In other words, you don't have to start with the fundamentals.  One of the best pieces of advice a newbie can use is to look at others work for inspiration.  In the meantime, a single fountain calligraphy pen is great for practice.  However, if you feel more confident about your artistic skills, a quality pen and ink set can be purchased at a reasonable price (like less than $20).

Once you've developed a style that has received positive feedback, you can use social media to show off your gallery of specs.  If you're submitting to a company for freelance work, a site with a personal domain that uploads quickly is best.  Going with a Behance or other known art gallery site account in addition to a 3rd party site can't hurt (and you just don't yet have the ends to buy a domain). Here are more tips for fine-tuning your craft.

Specs (or samples) can be tailored for every occasion. Some works may be more suitable for non-formal events or you may want to stick to creating a personalized brand for a site or individual.  Going the fine art route may earn you more cheddar over time but it may be harder to market initially.  Trends change and so do tastes, so going against the norm may actually work for you.  If you happen to be handy with a chalk set as well, this is the perfect way to diversify your current skillset.

If you live in an area that normally (sans COVID) has a lot of live events, you can introduce yourself to the planning team and make a modest offer in exchange for exposure.  Like I said, this is something that requires thought and a promotional plan for getting new clients.  However, if you find that you're good, don't be shy about showing off!