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Saturday, August 29, 2020

When We Lose Our Heroes (Real or Imagined)

No doubt you care more about your mentor or other realistic figures than a fictional superhero but as we grow in our careers, you can never get enough inspiration.  Whether it be online, movies, or other media, there's something about inhaling good news that's invigorating.  That's how I felt when I left the theater after seeing Black Panther a couple of years ago.

I was still licking my months-old wound inflicted by a small business development center representative, who basically refused to do his job.  Everything out of his mouth was no, nope, never, negative, and nothing doing.  It was then I realized that bouncing back to freelancing after an illness wasn't going to be easy.


Before seeing the Marvel Comic blockbuster, I'd been a fan of Chadwick Boseman's work.  He brought a unique energy to his characters that I hadn't seen in a long time.  Even better, the man was about his craft.

In the past decade, there have been no snarky or weird social media remarks, no babymama controversy being aired out,  or even a brush with the law.  We all know someone in our personal lives who fits the same profile.  Maybe not an exact match but maintaining a level of self-respect in a world where people take pleasure in revealing their most personal business on film for the sake of shock value is something that's almost gone the way of the cassette tape.


While some of us are happy with our imperfections, I come from a humble place when I ask 'What happens when the gimmicks no longer work in promoting our brand;?'   For women, the not-so-subtle cleavage or provocative pose we choose to reveal in our professional photos.  Do you men really need to let your readers know your level of machismo when creating presentations, ebooks, etc?

Sometimes, when heroes move on, it may be a sign to become what you admire.  While some entrepreneurs have no problems seeing themselves as the ultimate expert, others still tend to look at their peers or someone on a slightly higher level.  Stepping up takes dedication and discipline but when you learn to move on after falling off the wagon, others will look to you as an inspiration.

Here are five quick tips to being the best freelancer in your field:

1. Never compromise quality
2. Never waiver on your beliefs (especially when it comes to that prospective client that insists on paying you less than your worth AND bills are due)
3. Be about the business (while scraping information from the internet is costly, one way to reduce the likelihood of clients seeing you at your least impressive moments is to close those social media accounts immediately)
4. Don't linger in bad news.  Even if you get rejected by similar sources, it's most likely a sign that it's time to switch gears
5. Don't spend time badmouthing those who've done you wrong.  If it's a matter of money or poor communication, try to settle directly with the person in charge instead of your social media account.

To All Heroes Who've Dimmed Their Light,  May You Rest in Tranquility

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Content Writers Beware of This One

There's a new (potential) scam on the loose.  I learned about it last week and pondered whether to post.  With all of the people out there looking to make spare change any legal way possible, I wanted to give a heads up as to what most content writing companies do in this situation.

I tend to forget about this company because they don't offer a lot of work and they recently increased their payout minimum.  Not the worst thing but I think this a ruse to get more revenue.  Here's what I got in my email -


Hi TCA Writers,
We have a new opportunity to become a provider to write Response, Staple and Pillar posts for a large community of bloggers.
There are a few requirements for this:
1. You have to be US based or have a clear grasp on writing content for US Based audiences.
2. You are willing to write content for these types of articles for $0.025 / word, with a range in writing of 1,250 - 6,000 words.
3. You're willing to be trained on exactly what is required to write these types of posts and follow expectations as provided.
4. You're willing to pay $99 USD to get this training.
If you're interested in this, please contact Shawn at shawn@thecontentauthority.com.
Thanks!
- The TCA Team
P.S. This will likely bring in orders in excess of 5,000 articles per month, so we will need 100-200 writers for this project alone. Please pass this along to other writers you might know.
____________
I stand by my conclusion based on two factors. 1) These are trying times for businesses and freelancers alike.  There are some who will enroll in classes in order to get more low-paying gigs...as opposed to better-paying jobs.  That's how desperate things were before the pandemic.  Throw in the pennies our lovely government is giving away and yes, the average newbie or struggling freelancer will pay $100 to make up to $150 for an article that will take at least two days to draft.
2)  The other is that when content companies get large jobs, they already have a pool of experienced writers that are capable of reading style guides. Or they may reach out to those who may possess certain credentials that would make them compatible for a project.  Never, ever, has anyone asked writers to pay an upfront fee to work for literal pennies.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Are Freelancing Courses Worth the Time and $$$?

Now that freelancing life is pretty much becoming the "thing" for getting paid, you may be one of those people wondering getting a competitive edge is worth it.  While the thought is logical, you have to be wary of an entity's intentions.  Especially during this pandemic when people are the most vulnerable and fear they'll lose their quality of life.

If you don't have a local government entity, like a Small Business Development Center (SBDC), then there are plenty of free resources like SCORE, the Small Business Administration (SBA), and a few others that present classes or workshops about the fundamentals.  Although my results have been mixed, these places can also place you with compatible funding options, like a small business loan or grant.

While grants can be tricky to score, it's not impossible.  Some grants are given to technology-related fields, minority or women-owned businesses.  And most of us can agree that once we receive the money we need to launch, everything else is just trial-and-error.

Another alternative is college courses for entrepreneurship or gig work.  Yes, these are for-credit and one class I took over a year ago had some interesting angles, like venture capitalism and crowdfunding.  However, this can be a vast investment of time if all you want to do is open a small home daycare and write SEO articles on the side.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Five Time Wasters You May Be Guilty Of

While some thrive when they work at home, others who aren't self-starters see this as a disadvantage.  This latter group most likely hung out at the water cooler or spent more time planning office parties instead of doing their fair share. For this group, time stands still but those who mismanage their time are usually the first to get laid off...even when they have some seniority.

People who struggle with remote work or online classes may have good intentions but lack a realistic plan of execution.  Unless you're on meds, no one has to live this way.  Managing time is not a miracle cure when you're realistic about your priorities.  Make those minutes count for something~

Just think about work, for instance.  If you're five minutes late every day for 20 days, you've lost an hour.  While you may stay a little longer or cut your breaks short, sometimes this isn't enough.  When you freelance or work remotely, time goes a long way.

1. You watch too much TV.  This also applies could be cat videos, gossip blogs, and even commercials.  And watching reruns outside of a designated binge period is just sad.  Yes, you can and should unwind but if you find that you're running out of steam after four consecutive hours, it may be time to retire the couch potato mode.

2. You get caught up in emails/social media.  You start off with good intentions but then something goes south and the 15 minutes you set aside for a "break" has morphed into four (or more) hours.  And this is so easy to do when there are no deadlines but even where you're searching for opportunities, being one minute late can kill the deal.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Resources for Freelancers and Job Seekers (Summer 2020)

Sometimes thinking outside of the box can be a nice thing.  You may land the job you really wanted or stumble upon a career that's a better fit for your needs...or even meet that special someone.  Anywho, I compiled this list of underrated freelancing sources a while ago because I'm always on the lookout for fresh leads.

I mean, think about it, if you go after the same ol' work leads that have been around for a minute and advertise everywhere...including TV...how the heck are you going to find the opportunity?  Not to mention, groups of people who are willing to work at a fraction of what's a living wage in your area.

Another thing I wanted to place emphasis on is being a paid influencer.  Yes, there's real money in this, and no, it's not limited to stupid diet tends or wearing some ridiculous outfit that may not fit five years from now.  There are many companies looking for legit bloggers (usually with a nice amount of traffic and/or an ample number of posts being written every month) who are willing to pay for ads.  Viral marketing is the biggest payday but in the past, I've been paid an hourly salary for simply doing a cut-and-paste.

The only challenge that I faced during this period was keeping a balance of organic (straight from my head) to paid posts.  Ideally, the ratio should be 80/20 or even 90/10...depending on who you ask.  So in addition to scouting offers, getting approved, and making sure the code uploads, you have little time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Blink and it's back to business.  However, if you don't have a volunteer to help out with posting, I'd highly recommend once you get the ball rolling$$$.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A Freelance Gig Worth Considering: Holistic (or Green) Housecleaning Business

With all the pandemonium going on, this can be hit or miss in your area.  In other words, if you live in the vicinity of working persons who care about sustainable life but don't have time for regular cleaning...you may be on to something.  If your range of neighbors prioritizes food and rent above else, they may not care about whether their cleaning products have carcinogens or are hazardous to inhale.

However, if you're a good salesperson you can use the pandemic to enlighten your prospective clients.  For instance, you can enlighten them about the effectiveness of using thymol-based products for killing COVID-19 germs.  Or just that your service can save them from burning gas when they run from one store to another looking for out-of-stock products.

If money is a great concern for prospects, try to arrange a group rate for those who live or work within a short radius of one another.  Depending on your area desired, you can also upsell other advantages of using your service - native language speaker, bondable, or steam cleaning services.  Anything that will place you ahead of the competition should at least get you a trial run. 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

A Money Management Makeover


When the pandemic peaked about three months ago, I was watching the news and saw that people who were part of the personal services industry were going to be impacted.  Many of the operators had plenty of 'tude and bling but no savings in reserve...according to them. Cash flow for freelancers or small business owners is something that many are re-considering because they know that preparation is everything...especially while the orange monster is in office.

Hopefully, you love what you do or at least love being your own boss.  However, many of us freelancers have the check-in and out mentally that comes with punching a clock.  It can be hard to shake off, especially if you grew up to appreciate an employee benefits package.

But being in complete control of your personal finances is now very necessary.  Disability insurance, medical, retirement, and unemployment should be near the top of your priorities.  While loans may help, they're ineffective if you're barely breaking even.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Don't Knock the (Micro) Hustle


While some new freelancers don't like the idea of getting paid pennies to do menial tasks, others look at the long-term benefits.  Let's say you answer surveys for 20 minutes a day, 15 days out of the month.  Even at $.075 to a dollar or so per transaction, this can knock out a small bill that's due at the end of the month.  Some small tasks may pay five dollars and up, so it's just a matter of finding the right site and being available at the perfect time.  If the payout requirements are too strenuous like every survey pays $.50, you only get three surveys a month, and the payout is more than $10.  There are way better sites for freelancers looking for something different to supplement their income,

While this only applies to simple tasks like web searches, answering surveys, and the like, watch out for those predatory clients who want tons of code or informative SEO articles with your own images.  Yep, they're still out there and the hook is the promise of regular work or a bonus.  Don't fall for the okey-doke.