Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Keep Pruning That Portfolio!

Your portfolio is like your garden.  It’s going to need pruning from time to time guys.  The longer you let the old stuff just sit, the more “outdated” it will seem is on that profile.

Case in point:  I recently went through my online exhibition of talents (aka Elance profile) and realized that for the longest time I’d been toting around the fact I’m “new to Elance”.  Uh uh.  Not so anymore.  In fact, if I hadn’t checked my profile and then adjusted it – there’s no telling how many missed opportunities there may have been after the fact. 

So, to put it short and sweet: never stop tweaking your portfolio and keep things updated.  It’s worth it.

Short post tonight folks.  And the news is good.  I’m good and I’m busy with a flood of awesome work, for awesome clients and on great projects!

Ahhh – the sheer fun of working for yourself.  You get to pick exactly the kinds of projects you want to work on.   

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


PEOPLE.  I feel the need to explain something.  Working on Elance (or any other mode of freelance avenues) is NOT “easy money”.  It’s about hard work.  It’s about dedication.  It’s about giving it a LOT of time, effort and energy.  It’s about being willing to suffer losses, enjoy the gains and rifle through the losses while dealing with everything else that comes in between.  Sound familiar?   That’s right.  It’s called a business

The only difference between a brick and mortar business and the online freelance one – is that sites like Elance are an online global marketplace as opposed to a local, regional or beyond – physical one.  You will need to go through all the motions that anyone else running a business goes through. 

First and foremost:  You need a skill.
Let’s face it.  If you are not skilled at something in particular, there’s a good you will NOT be successful when competing with countless other experienced individuals.  You can learn, and I encourage that, but until and unless you are a skilled practitioner of the trade that you are advertising as your own, it is not a business in the true sense.  I’m also not suggesting that amateurs cannot achieve or be good at this – however the notion that one can just join the website, do no research, spend very little investment and miraculously earn thousands of dollars in a very short time – is unrealistic. 

Next, polish up your storefront.  On Elance, this is your profile.  I can’t tell you how many times this topic comes up, both on online forums, as well as personally among people who genuinely want to do well on Elance but don’t know how to go about it.   How are prospective clients ever going to get to know you and the services you offer unless you don’t present them and present them well?  This is Marketing 101 guys.  Not 101 reasons to market yourself.  It’s the most basic class in the school of business. 

You need to market your skill. 
Through sufficient advertising, eventually most business get business.  But if you think that by sitting back while not doing a thing about grabbing that business and pulling it your way will prove fruitful, you are looking up the wrong tree, my friend.  Once you’ve set up shop, you have to tell the world (ok, well at least the people who are going to potentially hire you) about your business.

Deliver results.
Once you’ve said and done all the above and you find yourself staring at the first project you’ve been awarded – it will do you no good unless you can actually do the work.  Delivering the results is obviously paramount for you to keep your business vehicle moving.  So, a part of that is taking on jobs that make sense.  In a haste to be successful fast, or to speed things along – don’t be tempted to accept anything and everything that comes your way.  Take on work that you know you will kick ass at doing.  And, very importantly, if you don’t love (or least like) what you’re doing, give it up.

Put in more, more and more.
You MUST be persevering.  You HAVE to put in a lot more than you can take out at first.  And you absolutely, unequivocally and without a doubt NEED to be qualified at whatever it is that you are doing. 

Build and maintain a reputation. 
This is where the loop begins.  You start over at the top – hone your skills, tweak your store from time to time, adapt to the changing market in terms of advertising, continue to get and keep clients – and keep them happy while at it.  All the while, building a solid, impeccable reputation. 


So.  To reiterate.  This is not easy money.  This is work.  And a LOT of it, too.  The reason some people say that my “results are not typical’”is because I put in a whole HELL of a lot of time and effort into my business.  And I treat it as such.  A business.  With a service, a storefront, clients, some investments and a bottom line that SO far has been quite generous.  

I wish you the best of luck!  If you want it, you can have it – just be sure to go out and GET it. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The "Free" in "Freelancing"

Lately it’s been crazy.  But isn’t that the case with everyone these days?  I honestly can’t discern heads from tails sometimes and this past several weeks has very much been like that. So in the spirit of how life has been for me lately, I thought it’d be useful to put together a few words about knowing when to pull back – and using the “free” in “freelance” when you need it. 

This blog post is about slowing down when life dictates the need for it – and understanding that “it’s ok” to slow down, chill out and opt for a steadier pace. 

So yes – the sky’s the limit.  I understand that.  But no one ever said you have to go skyROCKETING all at once!  So, I’ve consciously decided to set a few rules.  With a few weeks of practice implementing these rules, I can honestly say it’s been doing me (and my family) some good.

Rule Number 1
Family First.
Yep. It’s sad that I even have to PUT this down as a rule, but very quickly and equally as easily; freelance work can devour your days (and nights).  Not that the fam isn’t your first priority – that will never change.  But I can’t tell you how easy it is to put other things off so that you can ‘get just one more project out of the way’ or get a ‘few emails sent out’.  These past several weeks, I’ve vowed to put work second – and boy has it changed things. For the better. 

Rule Number 2
Weekends are Weekends for Freelancers Too.
Whoever decided that people working for themselves must work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all the freaking time?  As I was slowly and steadily climbing up that ladder on Elance, I was waaaayyy to quick to accept projects with ridiculous deadlines and insane amounts of communications required by the client – at all times of day and night.  The thing is, in almost each case, there was no regard to my time.  My time is valuable.  And aside from an occasional urgent assignment that must be done immediately, I have decided to (semi) strictly adhere to the rule of weekends being down time for me.  I say semi-strictly because old habits die-hard and even though this rule has been in place for a few weeks now, I still find myself working on Saturdays and Sundays.  But things have changed.

Rule Number 3
Establish Clear Parameters.
Right about when I was having this epiphany that “Hey! Freelance is supposed to be fun, liberating and somewhat, well for lack of a better word, free – I started getting ridiculous requests from some existing clients.  Clients that were feeling very free to help themselves to anything and everything under the sun that they could get away with, in terms of additional work done on their projects.  I had to draw the line.  So from now on, whenever I begin a project with a client, new or established, I always outline exactly what services will be rendered in exchange for what exact price.  Not only that – I have also started outlining exactly what they’ll be charged for possible additional work.  Basically, leaving no stone unturned.  In this business – there is NO room for gray areas.  It’s all black and white. 

Rule Number 4
Charge What You Are Worth.
I undersold my worth one time – and one time only.  Since then, I’ve been tempted time and again to lower my price(s) to accommodate a project I really, really wanted, or to gain some additional experience in a fairly new field.  But the bottom line is this:  I am good at what I do.  And no amount of bargaining on the part of a client (existing or potential) is going to change the value I can provide to their business/organization/task.  So, to lowball on any project, no matter what the reason is and how badly I feel it can be justified, I simply don’t do it.  In fact, I’m actively looking at areas where I can charge what I’m really worth.  As it is, freelancing shaves off a bit from the regular old ‘brick and mortar’ business rates I would have otherwise charged.

So there you have it folks.  Yet another set of rules.  Well, they’re for me but you can feel free to use them if they make sense to you.

In the interim, anytime the work starts bogging you down, try to remember that there is something to the word ‘Free’ in ‘Freelancing’.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Six Tips To Help You Manage Clients’ Expectations

Well there’s good news and there’s bad news.

I’ll start with the good.  I have been SWAMPED with work.  I know, I know – there are people reading this right now wondering “Who considers being swamped with work ‘good news’?”  Well, if you’re on the freelance bandwagon, trying hard to achieve success on a daily basis and in the long run, then being swamped is definitely a good thing. 

Which brings me to the bad news.  I simply haven’t had a single moment to write on this blog.  So, folks – here I am.  I had to schedule this into my work.

I thought it might be useful to share a few tips on how to manage clients’ expectations:

Do not EVER promise what you can’t deliver.  That is simply bad business.  If you know you can’t write a 4000-word dissertation in 2 days, don’t promise to do it 48 hours!  DON’T!

Always, ALWAYS tell the truth.  Whether you are pitching for a job that is beyond your skills set or if you are pretending to have a master’s degree from DUKE when in actuality you got that Liberal Arts degree from DRAKE in Iowa -  (what’s two letters’ difference, right?  WRONG).  You cannot.  I repeat CANnot just fabricate things like this.  If not now, then later – it WILL come back to bite you and eat you whole.  Mom knew what she was talking about.  Always tell the truth.

If you don’t understand something, ask.  This is something that has helped me plenty.  Instead of being so sure of yourself as to not ask or not asking for fear of appearing stupid, set all inhibitions aside, try to ask and clarify (as many times necessary).  I’m not saying don’t use the information.  You will need to process what your clients are telling you and put thought and effort into it making sense but if you don’t understand what they need, how on earth could you possibly be successful at it?

Be open and honest.  I try to be real with my clients and for the most part they really appreciate it.  Whether I’m telling them that the concept needs to be matured more, or that my three kids ranked their mother very low on the “quality time scale” that week or that the logo for their business just doesn’t exude the right message; being open and honest goes so far and is absolutely necessary.  Obviously it builds trust, but it also demonstrates your integrity as a provider of services.  NOT doing so will only mean shooting yourself on your own foot.

Learn to say “no”.  I repeat.  You HAVE to be able to say “no” when saying “yes” is just not the right answer.  Yes, it’s really cool to have every single available music project on your belt – and yes the earnings pile up and yes your stats keep rising.  But at what expense?  I can guarantee, from personal experience, that it will later cause MUCH grief.  You will find yourself pulling your hair out trying to knock out just one more article for the night or do research for that 300-page eBook you accepted an editing job for – but what’s the point if you can’t love what you’re doing? 

Choose projects that you enjoy doing.  Projects are a dime a dozen – and the ones you have expertise on or that you genuinely enjoy doing, WILL come.  I find that the projects I’m working on begrudgingly almost always suffer at least somewhat.  Those that I’m really good at or that I truly love learning something new about – come out stellar!

I’d really love some feedback from you guys.  Were these helpful?  Too obvious?  Would you like to see tips in another area?  Tell me what you’d like to hear about in my next post.  And folks, comments please.  I’m a Leo.  I crave feedback.



Friday, January 7, 2011


My successful friend, Salma Jafri, is one who shoots for the stars and usually gets her aim spot on.  So for her to feature me in her blog is a true honor.

Please click on the link below, read the interview and then don't forget to bookmark her site.  She's always got something interesting going on.


As for me, on this blog you'll continue to see a journal of sorts of my freelancing experiences.  If you visit, pleeeeeease leave a comment.  (I LOVE comments!  Who doesn't?)

Happy January to you all.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

1 - 1 - 11

Don't they call this the GOLDEN something?

It must mean something super special then, and with that - I want to wish you a warm and resounding

Happy New Year!!

Here's to a FABULOUS 2011! Success, prosperity, new lessons learned, old habits buried - and nothing but good things in store for us.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

80 to 3. WOOHOO!!

Ok, to clarify what I’m talking about here:
Friends, I am 80 bucks away from $3000 earned on Elance.  Yayyyyyyyyyyy!  Hard work, perseverance and being true to myself – are paying off in the nice form of tangible greenbacks.  Clams, smackers, dough, bread, moolah – pick one, any one.  Because the bottom line is that it's coming in and it SURE is a good feeling to have a quantifiable way to measure this freelance success. 
(image courtesy of liz-green.com)

This hasn’t been without sheer determination and a TOTAL round-the-clock devotion to my clients and their respective projects. 
Sorry – just HAD to get this mini-rave out there.
By the way, if you are reading this and decide you want to join up – please do it through this link  That way, I get to enjoy a small reward for latching you onto Elance.