Saturday, October 30, 2021

Freelance Leads for Fall 2021 Part 2 of 3

The nice thing about service work is there’s always demand or a place to create a niche.  For instance, someone who lives in an area where the weather’s nice might see an increase in electric bikes on the road.  Anyone that knows about bicycles, or maybe a mechanic, may want to learn how to repair or maintain this latest mode of self-transportation that’s growing in popularity.

While COVID has damaged many lives and created chaos within the U.S. healthcare system, it has also made many adults change the way they see their lives overall. Now that things are returning to normal, more people are saving money, making wiser buying choices, and learning how to enjoy themselves. One way that individuals and families are leading a better quality existence is by traveling more.

Show Off Your City


A few weeks ago, I mentioned becoming a local tour bus operator in your town. Even if all you have are a couple of interest points in your neighborhood, you can always coordinate a special deal by joining forces with the local restaurants and other places that can accommodate small groups. Talking to a couple of travel agents may inspire or initiate a partnership that includes the promotion of your local tour offerings.

Just a tip here. This gig is perfect for those who love interacting with people and don’t mind taking charge with a smile. Although your prime target might be out-of-town visitors, some of your clients may attract those who live nearby as well. Either way, it’s up to you to create an enjoyable atmosphere.

If you’re looking to get your feet wet before making a major investment, register with sites like With Locals or check out this article by Steve Razinski where he weighs the pros and cons of tour guide entrepreneurship.

Going for Gigs that Never Go Out of Style

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

3 Ways to Make Your Freelance Career Easier



Everyone loves the freedom of being able to call their own shots and maybe dictate directions to a small team you manage. While work may be good, there are other factors like getting paid on time, choosing the best subcontractors or team members, client retention...and the list goes on. Sometimes it seems like no matter how many gadgets or apps we own and use often, there’s always something that nearly falls through the cracks.

Then there’s the time factor. How many hours a day do we spend talking to prospects versus those who become paying clients? Even veteran freelancers struggle with time management and organization but sometimes cutting corners isn’t the answer. At least not if you’re expected to deliver the same quality as before.

While every freelancing situation varies, there are some common denominators that remain a challenge for those going at it alone.  Not enough business, not enough revenue or time in the day.  Then again, you may need to outsource certain tasks to a professional.  If money is funny, look into places like Legal Aid or a business mentor that offers pro bono services.

  1. Set aside one day to market your business.  Whether it be once a week or every other week, there’s no need to check ads on a daily basis.  A lot of people get caught up in social media and depending on how you use it, there can be a lot to unpack.  Blog posts, visuals, tagging, keyword phrases, and then responding to people you’ve come in contact with.  

Unless contributing content is the basis of your business, you may want to time how often you spend on certain sites.  Set up notifications for when you get questions about a product or service that you offer.  If someone has a complaint, it’s best to put that fire out ASAP but not before you’ve understood the problem and have a solution.  Otherwise, view analytics, A/B test results, and other related tools on a day when you can take time to notice patterns and tweak these as needed.

  1. Get a calendar that’s separate from your personal calendar.  If you’re the person who creates content, it may be best to do this anyway.  One reason is that the best social media post times vary from one tool to the other.

Another reason to get a calendar is to create time for yourself.  You may have days where there’s no getting around this but a work-life balance is important in avoiding burnout.  It happened to me early on and these days, I do what I can to vet BS clients before agreeing to do a job.

  1. Stop engaging in time-wasting tasks.  Visiting a personal social media page or networking site for more than a few minutes is a waste.  Cooling off is important but there are some instances when we cannot walk and chew gum.  Using your printer to make physical hard copies of everything is a waste, save certain things as a PDF.

In my history, Bull Shinola clients that talk about everything except the job needed during the initial meeting usually turn out to be a waste.  Either they have too many change requests, want to do a major alteration or addition after the deal’s been made.  They also tend to be slow payers or try to justify not paying you.

You may also need a software upgrade.  Recently, I tried going with an MS Office alternative for my writing. As much as I hate to say it, Microsoft is better than most office suites when you have multiple tasks or need certain features to make tasks shorter.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

What's Your Storytelling Style?



If you’re a freelancer that thinks this only works for bloggers, writers, and creative may be depriving your small business of future revenue.  Telling stories isn’t just essential to blogging or writing but can also be used to help close the deal with a future prospect.  These days, you can’t just tell someone that they need your goods or services - you have to paint a picture as to why.

More than an Elevator Pitch

You may be asking ‘Isn’t this what my introductory pitch is about?.  An elevator (or introductory) pitch more or less tests the waters of engagement.  When in live situations, you can often tell by body language whether an individual wants you to proceed.  In the viral world, it’s not as easy to gauge but you can use storytelling on your site or social media profile to draw interest from visitors.

Converting Visitors into People of Interest

The first step in this process is to know your audience, followed by crafting a voice they can relate to.  Since storytelling is interactive, you don’t want to be left hanging by using the wrong choice of words or tone.  The nice thing is there’s no singular voice or style that applies to a particular industry unless it has a specific demographic.

A good example is a foodie who uses social media to promote and sell their books and services.  While their online presence may interest those with an advanced culinary art degree, a foodie’s target audience are usually kitchen chefs, people who like to try diverse cuisine, or anyone with a general interest in food.  The language and scope of knowledge should be consistent with the communication used on social media properties.

What Kind of Stories Do You enjoy?

Do you like a dramatic ending, cliffhanger (where viewers wait for the conclusion), or a tale of redemption?  Think about how this may help your business and how you can create an interesting narrative.  The trick is to not give too many details or as if you’re only interested in the sale.  If you’re using storytelling for engagement, this is where freebies (such as a whitepaper or other digital upload) can help you close faster.

Maybe you appreciate stories that predict the future and you can work actual data into why people should buy your offerings.  Creating a sense of concern (or fear, but I hate that term) that intrigues visitors to learn more is one way to create a story based on real-life possibilities.  

5 Types of Stories that Grab Attention

  • Case studies - using data and relevant information from solid sources, along with your own findings
  • Comparison - when presented in a visual, like an infographic, this can be very effective in showing visitors why your product is better than the competition
  • Teaching - this is great for those who get to the point in their storytelling, often works with a cliffhanger as a way to close the sale quickly
  • Testimonials - these are great but story contents should support the claims by presenting immediate benefits without being repetitive.  Notice those long landing pages that were popular in the early 2000s are pretty much a thing of the past...that’s because these were so full of dribble that they seldom worked.
  • Visual - Micro-articles, short posts, and other social media tools can be great for establishing a connection.  Attractive images that leave something to the imagination should convey a direct message that’s congruent with the text.  Often I see things that are so abstract (and sometimes illegal), such as using licensed Pixar images to sell copywriting lessons on Facebook.

The nice thing about the storytelling process is there’s no set template on what will work.  If you’re familiar with copywriting basics, you can get a feel of what’s overkill and where you may need more details.  You can also try A/B testing with different story types of the same length (hopefully your online version is shorter than the live, or presentation-ready version) and compare the numbers.  After a while, you may find this promotional process to be fun.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Freelance Leads for Fall 2021 Part 1 of 3

If you've been in struggle mode with your freelance venture, here's some excellent advice!

Today is the unofficial day of getting your holiday plans together.  Cooking, shopping for and returning things, or taking time for loved ones. For many freelancers, it can also be looked at as a money grab, whether you sell goods or services. If your biz took a hit recently, you may be looking at different ways to make money using your talents or exploring a new industry.  Maybe a little of both.

While a lot of former digital marketers or graphic designers may be exploring a new career in user experience, others may desire something less formal. In other words, get in quick with minimal investment and not deal with exams or certifications. Although advancement through education or training is always a good thing, wanting a quick buck (or a stack) isn’t a crime either.  

You may even discover a new skill or full-time career along the way.  There’s even a chance of meeting someone special that will change your life forever.  Well, enough of the sentimental stuff, here’s what I’ve got so far in terms of opportunity leads.

If you’ve noticed that the ‘Freelance Gig to Consider’ post series has slowed down a bit recently, hopefully, this post will make up for lost time.  I went through a brain fog during my ongoing treatments and one day...BOOM...found a ton of leads.  Since I’d like to stay in good with my audience and SEO, I’ve decided to break these into two three posts - one for creative folks, one for unusual or miscellaneous gigs, and one for service work.

Start a paid newsletter - there are some things that work better in a publication and it’s also a low-risk way to self-publish.  Tim Stodz has some good information about how to get started and create a passive revenue stream.  If you’re still looking for your writing voice, sites like Sendfox have a free option that will allow you to send to 1000 contacts.

Get your art licensed - in these times of an unpredictable economy, there’s nothing like collecting royalties for your creative works. With sites like Etsy becoming so popular, it’s nice to diversify until you can come up with a new e-marketing strategy.  Cherbearcreative has some good information about preparation and applying to licensing companies.  The federal government also has a wealth of advice for those who want to license their work without the help of an agent.  If you’re outside of the States, Katerina Stamatelos has a ton of links and leads to licensing agencies in the U.S. and the U.K.  Lots of scrolling to get to the good stuff.

Become a personal chef - yes, I know it seems that the market is oversaturated right now but between the shortage of consumer goods and the reluctance of many individuals to eat out or spend more time in a supermarket than necessary is still a factor as of October 2021.  

There are other things to consider as well, such as the need (or desire) for certain dishes that aren’t within our reach.  I live in L.A. County and there’s no restaurant within 10-miles of me that sells fried turkey.  In case you didn’t already know, frying at home without following directions is extremely dangerous.  And those home indoor fryers can be really bulky for those of us that live in small spaces.  This is to say that opening a food truck or mobile business that specializes in hard-to-find dishes is ideal.

Then there’s the fact that some people are not at their best in the kitchen, particularly with healthy meals. Even for us decent cooks, it can take a minute to get seasonings and other ingredients right.  If you have healthy and/or delectable cuisine mastered, I recommend registering with Hire a Chef and Eat With

Remember folks, this is a 3-part series.  The other leads I have deal with different areas of the service industry that are rarely explored but so far, are not limited to trades or blue-collar work.  Other leads are on the unusual side but I’m also double-checking to make sure these extra money options are safe.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Why Introverted Freelancers Should Reach Out to Local Businesses



You've probably become very comfortable in your freelancing routine, even during a pandemic.  You know which clients pay on time, who talks just enough for your personal taste, and what your job will entail.  What you can't predict is whether or not you'll get paid or if the same client will be around this time next year...or even three months from now.

While the scenario is typical in the freelance world, what we introverts didn't count on was the vast number of people who quit their jobs from hell to join our world.  Former allied health, hospitality, and service workers are now coders, marketers, and virtual assistants.  It's a safe bet to say that they're making more money than ever and their job satisfaction has exceeded their wildest expectations.

This is to say that complacency isn't a good look right now because we never know which way the wind will blow when it comes to the economy.  It's probably about time to flex certain muscles and venture out.  While many of us hate the task of selling, promoting your services to local businesses should be a little easier.

The Benefits of Keeping it Local
Assuming you have some experience and speak the language of the surrounding neighborhood, this puts you more than a few steps ahead of some random person they found on an outsourcing site.  Not knocking that particular hustle but it's getting oversaturated. Another thing that works for both parties is accountability but here are some other benefits - 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Does Your Client Communication Get in the Way?

When it comes to meeting new people in business, all we can be is ourselves.  Or, maybe putting on an accent of sorts does help in getting deals secured.  If you grew up using a lot of slang, you may have been encouraged by a teacher or someone with authority to slow down, if not enunciate.  However, it's that and the choice of words used in conversation that can make or break a deal.

These days, we have Zoom meetings, chat, or maybe you're still using Skype video.  While these are convenient for those multitaskers, some people still get nervous at the thought of conversing with someone to go over details of the business that you're in.  

For those who hate to converse and would rather just say anything to get the job, you know you're shooting yourself in the foot.  It's a common tactic with those who lack confidence and/or experience.  While it's good to say that you've closed a deal rather quickly, often people who do this have regrets because they don't realize what they've signed on for.

Remember You're in Control

Having a conversation is one way to ease the tension early on.  Experienced freelancers usually give themselves a limit to discuss a proposal or task.  Newbies should do this, especially if you're using an onboarding freelance site.  I've met some characters that will talk your ear off and then an hour or so later leave you empty-handed.  

Even if you get the job or there's another step involved, you can use conversation to gauge things that eventually come out.  Is the client easily distracted?  Do they change their mind or have a new thought mid-conversation?  Are you ever addressed by your first name?  These and other events are worth considering before signing on to do a job.

Choose the Right Words

I struggled with this one in my work life and as a freelancer.  With time and patience (with myself, that is), I improved in a short time.  Sometimes,, prospects want to hear you ramble to see what they're dealing with for the reasons listed in the previous section.

Public speaker Precious Williams has simple advice for engaging with others while selling your services.  Her 5 Tips for a Better Presentation can lead not just to more opportunities but will make you more memorable.  Often when this happens, you may be called for a future assignment or just in case the person chosen doesn't work out.  Remember, when the latter happens you can re-negotiate fees or turnaround times.

Often we, as freelancers, tend to remember the clients that didn't work out so well more than the ones that did.  Taking a constructive approach to client communication and noting where you may have gone wrong is one way to eliminate bad habits.  Even though you may be an articulate individual, what are your listening skills like?  While we all know to be wary of clients/bosses who slander past workers, it may help to notice some of their communication habits.  This isn't to say that a person may be bad but might require a different approach when discussing business.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

A Freelancing Gig to Consider: Tour Bus Operator


This is way different than being a tour guide for a company. While most operators do engage with riders and love showing off the best parts of their city, this requires a small investment, as well as accountability.  You also have to know how to think on your feet.  

In my area, there are quite a few independent tour bus operators.  Los Angeles is so wide and diverse that there's room for just about everyone.  While a good majority focus on traditional Hollywood, others have success working with niche themes.

For instance, the area where I grew up has multiple locations where many urban films were made. Some of these are in high-crime sections of L.A. and not for the TMZ tour bus crowd.  Operator "Bill" has some interesting feedback to share.

Bill: I do this as a weekend thing to supplement my income as a government worker.  The cost of living is getting more costlier every day (laughs), so I'd rather be my own boss than work for someone else.  That was a couple of years ago.

Years ago, me and some out-of-town guests went on a tour bus trip around the city but their focus was on old school stuff. Like that time on I Love Lucy when she grabbed the fruit from that actor's home.  Anyway, I got to thinking about those movies and TV shows from the 1990s, when Black and Brown life movies were crossing over into the mainstream.

Me: So what was the investment like, what was the ballpark figure?

Bill: Renting a 20-seater every weekend runs me about $400 a month.  Then there are city fees, insurance, and maintenance. Now, some people I know do a bootleg version where they may use their own large-capacity vehicle and pay nothing to the local or state government.  Some been doing it for years but I like to remain legit, even if I take a loss some weekends.

We went on to discuss more stuff like dealing with unruly clients, working with vendors, and how to market services.