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Thursday
Nov052015

Ten Tips for Getting High Paying Freelance Gigs

By Theresa Ceniccola

Do you have a gift for writing, graphic design, photography, videography, web development or some other marketable skill? Let’s talk about how you can put those skills to use as a freelancer and bring in some extra cash! I’ve been a freelance writer and marketing consultant for more than 20 years and I’ve experienced the highs and lows… the feast and famine… the pain and gain of the freelancer life.

Without a doubt, the best thing about freelance work is the flexibility. A freelancer can set her own schedule, choose the projects she wants to work on and say no to anything (or anyone) that doesn’t suit her needs. And, if she sets herself up correctly, she can enjoy a full-time income doing part time work…from home…wearing yoga pants…while the children are sleeping.  (Sounds perfect, right!?)

I recently had the honor of sharing my experience as a freelancer with a group of bloggers at the Type A Conference in Atlanta by presenting a session entitled “How to Get Paid to Write.” I’d like to share some of the best tips here for you! While the focus was on writing, much of what we discussed applies to any type of freelance work.

Ten Tips for Getting High Paying Freelance Gigs:

1. Let go of your ego. When you freelance for a company or organization, you have to set your creative ego aside. There are no bylines, credits or awards for most freelance work in the corporate world. There’s no room for getting offended or defensive. But there is room for getting paid! So my best advice is to find some creative outlet that will feed your ego, and let your freelance work feed your family.

2. Stop charging by the hour. Successful freelancers will tell you that the best way to charge for services is by the project – not by the hour. This one shift in thinking can dramatically improve your bottom line and your efficiency. If you are scared to make the switch, talk to a friend or colleague who can remind you of this truth: YOU are worth it!

3. Narrow your niche. Freelancers make up 34% percent of the workforce, with more than 53 million people. So if you want to succeed as a freelancer, you have to figure out what makes you different. Define your niche either by industry or specialty. And don’t be afraid to put your stake in the ground as an expert in that niche.

4. Take yourself seriously. The concern most corporate clients have about freelancers is stability. “If I hire this person to build our website, will she disappear a month later and leave us without support?” Don’t be that person. That’s the kind of person who gives freelancers a bad name. Instead, be the kind of person who is all in! Establish a legal entity for your freelance business. Get an official business license. Open a business checking account. File taxes. Get serious. Be real.

5. Polish up your LinkedIn profile.  If you’re “out on your own” you may be enjoying all the potential of Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, Instagram or Facebook. But don’t overlook LinkedIn when it comes to attracting high-paying corporate clients. Make sure your profile is up to date, and join a few groups in your industry or niche.

6. Send warm letters. The number one way freelancers get work is through word of mouth. Like real estate agents and direct sales consultants, they thrive on the referrals of others. So when you are just getting started, you have to tap into your own personal referral network. Send a personal letter to everyone you know, telling them about your work and asking them to give you a referral if they know anyone who might be interested in hiring you. I know it’s uncomfortable. But it works.

7. Stay in touch. The second most common way freelancers get work is through repeat business. That means their clients continue to hire them for additional projects. As you begin to develop relationships with clients, you’ll want to find a way to stay in touch after your first assignment comes to an end. Do whatever feels natural to you – some people send newsletters, others make phone calls or send birthday cards.

8. Go the extra step. To secure that important repeat business, you’ll need to be better than your competition. Not only will you need to have exceptional skills but you’ll need to take the extra step that others are not willing to take. That might mean submitting your feature story along with ten tweets your client didn’t ask for but can certainly use to promote the article. Or surprising a client with 500 new business cards when you complete a website project. How can you impress your clients?

9. Hang out with clients. Think about the last conference or tradeshow you attended. Was it filled with colleagues or clients? Most of us tend to stay in our comfort zone. We attend events where we can network with peers and develop our skills. That’s important to do, but it doesn’t lead to clients. Try to determine which events your potential clients attend on a regular basis and make it a point to be there. Better yet, get a speaking gig at the event and position yourself as a resource.

10. Study your craft. As you build your client roster, you will soon discover that you are busier than you expected. Not only will you be doing your freelance work, but you may also be keeping the books, doing the administrative work and marketing for new business. Don’t forget to take time out on a regular basis to study your craft. Don’t lose sight of what your “real job” is and the importance of staying at the top of your field.

What did I forget? Do you have any suggestions for getting high-paying freelance jobs?

Theresa Ceniccola is The Christian Mompreneur—a Mentor to Moms Who are Running a Business that Supports Faith and Family. As the president and founder of the International Christian Mompreneur Network, she empowers entrepreneurial moms to build profitable businesses with wisdom and grace. Theresa has successfully run a home-based business as a freelance writer and marketing consultant for the past 18 years. She considers herself blessed to make a living doing what she loves and empowering other moms to create businesses that support their values of faith and family. Join the International Christian Mompreneur Network (it's free!) today and you'll receive Theresa's Mompreneur Toolkit featuring the Ten Commandments of a Mompreneur.

Thursday
Oct152015

Experiential Gift Ideas this Holiday Season

We are still a couple of weeks away from Halloween but the holidays will be upon us before we know it. Every year it's the same story in my house, no matter how early I start planning and preparing I'm still left racing around on Christmas Eve picking up last minute odds and ends and that one unexpected gift.  I've shifted my own preparations into  high gear and started executing the plans for certain loved ones on my Christmas list with the hope that I can get the major gifts out of the way early. I've taken a new approach to gift giving over the past couple of years that has alleviated some of the pressure of what to get for those in my family who seem to have everything, which is pretty much all of them.

I love experiential gift giving, finding a cool new activity or local destination and creating a fun experience is far better than adding more stuff to the never ending pile of things accumulating in every room and closet in the house.

We are very lucky to live where we do in BC, Canada as we are really close to a number of cool destinations that fit the bill perfectly for a fun weekend getaway that makes the kids ( young and old) eyes light up.

The challenge with these experiential gifts is how to present them. We all know it’s the thought that counts and having something tangible shouldn't be necessary but it is nice to have a little something waiting for you to open up on Christmas morning.

Here are our top three experiential gifts and how we presented them.

1. The Wine Tour

This is a favourite gift for my girlfriends or even for a nice couples getaway. Plan your getaway for a weekend in the Spring book your accommodations and create a map and itinerary for your tours. Once the logistics are taken care of it’s time to wrap up a cute little package that tells the story of your upcoming getaway.

  • Pick up a postcard of the destination you're heading to and write down the details of the trip on the back.
  • Print out your itinerary and map on fancy paper. I've even had them laminated before and attached a pocket sharpie so you can write notes about your favorite wineries, etc.
  • I adore these wine journals and they make a great addition for the serious wine lover in the goup.
  • These travel wine glasses are always a huge hit and are handier than you'd think.
  • Lastly, include a bottle of wine either from a local winery or one from the destination ou're heading to for them to enjoy before the trip.

2. The Snowboarding/ Ski/ Snow Shoeing/ Sledding (or any other snowy activity) Experience

We have loads of local mountains right in our backyard and we do our best to get to them all at least a few times each season. It's the ones that are a bit further away (2-3 hour drive) that we can't get to on a whim that we try to plan a bit of a more substantial visit. So just like the wine tour I've taken care of all of the logistics and then wrapped up essentials for the trip. Whether it's a new set of snow shoes, a new sled or even new snowboarding or skiing gear. This can make this a really expensive experience but if it's something that is loved it's totally worth it. To keep this type of gift in a lower price range you can nix the snow going equipment in favour of a warm up basket stocked with a new scarf, gloves and toque plus all the fixings for hot chocolate by the fire at whatever chalet you end up at. (Maybe some cozy pj’s as well)

3. The Tropical Destination

We have in past years opted to forego the multiple gifts under the tree in favour of a family trip to a tropical destination to escape the bitter winter cold. One year a friend and I decided to take the kids to the Dominican Republic partly a Christmas gift partly their birthday gift as they are just days apart and born very close to Christmas it was the perfect getaway for the moms and the kids. They each got a cool new beach bag stocked with all of the beach going essentials.

  • Suncreen
  • Sunglasses
  • New Swim Suit
  • Flip Flops
  • Snorkel Gear
  • Inflatable Pool Toys
  • Lots of cool activity books and funky crayons to keep them occupied on the flight.
  • One of those waterporof disposable cameras (I was suprised they still made them) plus the photos that resulted were priceless keepsakes of our trip through the eyes of our pint-sized travelers.
Friday
Oct022015

How are you branding YOURSELF on Social Media?

How are you branding YOURSELF on Social Media? Sure, you have probably read everything about getting exposure for your business and taken countless trainings on how to market your company, BUT how are you branding yourself???

Ok, so you are probably thinking, I spend all my time working on my business, why do I need to brand myself on social media. My business is the most important thing.

Let me pose this question: Are you reaching ALL your potential customers with your company’s social media pages? Odds are, probably not. You could be paying for ads that aren’t reaching your ideal customer. And if you aren’t paying for ads, then are you getting the engagement you want on your page? If not, the algorithms are not playing in your favor and exposure is low which means your page is not very effective.

As a small business owner, it is your responsibility to represent your company in all facets of social media. You need to be the brand and face of your business. Since many entrepreneurs are in charge of their own social media, you need to be embracing your personal social media pages as well.

Let me paint a picture for you: people are loving your brand, they are loving the product or service you are providing and then they go to do a little more research on the company especially the person behind the curtain.

They start Googling you and find amazing articles and interviews that show how awesome other people think you are. Curiosity sinks in and they start following your personal page on Facebook or Instagram. It turns out it’s not quite what they thought it was going to be. There is a strong disconnect between your business and your personal brand. Your page is full of unoriginal posts, shared posts, game requests, candy crush scores out the wazoo, political rants, obscene pictures of you getting wasted at a family party or worst yet it’s ONLY posts about your company.

All of a sudden the brand they loved is something they are questioning now. All they wanted was to get to know the owner and with this, they really are seeing a side of you that is incongruent with the message your company is putting out there.

Enhancing your personal brand on social media is going shift the whole landscape of your business. It will open up a brand new network of customers that might have never even come into your scope because you chose to forget a major outlet that you were unaware of tapping into.

How do I do this without turning my friends away but instead turning them into paying customers or even better REFERRALS!!??!!

It’s all about authenticity and giving them a peek into your amazing life without flat out selling or pushing a product 24/7. Think about it, when you log onto Facebook in the morning, do you sit down at your computer and say “hmm, what am I going to buy from Facebook today?”

NO!

You are going on to see what your friends are doing: who had a baby, who went on an amazing trip, who ate what and basically being a voyeur into their lives. It’s fun and that’s what it’s all about. You like and you comment because it’s interesting not because you want to buy something from your friends.

Let me let you in on a formula that has worked well with my business. If you go onto my personal page, you can easily figure out that I do something in the health and wellness field, but that’s what I do, it’s not who I am.

Who I am is a positive person, pouring motivation and inspiration into others, a mom who loves posting pictures of her kids, a woman who shares her travels and adventures and how she incorporate fitness and running into her busy life!

This is a general formula I use when planning out what I will post during the week:

10 lifestyle posts: meaningful posts with pictures of your family, your amazing life and all over positive posts. No political rants or negativity on your page.

4 posts somewhat inferring about your business: giving your friends a glimmer of what you are doing. Are you traveling somewhere fun for your business? Can you take a picture with your product placed in the background? You are looking to post something nonchalant about what you do without pushing it into people’s faces.

1 power post: this is a post where you share a deal you have going on, a new product you are launching, or a new service you are offering. You can put it all out on the table with this one post during the week.The point of only doing this once a week is so that people do not get annoyed with how many times you are posting about your business and in turn will probably unfollow you. They are also more likely to purchase this particular offering if you are only bringing it up once in awhile. What’s better than free marketing?

The point of doing it this way is to create curiosity but to not overwhelm your friends with your business either. By using this method, people will start asking questions like, “oh, are you still doing…?” or even better “what do you do? I have to know because your posts are amazing!”

Remember you are the person behind your company so project the persona in your personal social media pages that will make people know, like and trust you equaling more revenue for your empire!

Abbey Fatica is a busy mom of four, a runner and loves to travel. She is passionate about helping others transform their lives by become physically and financially free. She loves helping other moms feel comfortable in their skin and be able to dream again. She is a Life and Business Coach working with entrepreneurs who are wanting accountability and increase productivity to balance both their business and their personal life.   She is on a mission to help families create their healthiest life, full of financial and time freedom, so they can live out their passions with a strong purpose! Connect with Abbey Fatica on Facebook today!

Friday
Sep252015

Managing the Chaos for Mompreneurs

By Lara Galloway, author Moms Mean Business: A Guide for Creating a Successful Business and a Happy Life as a Mom Entrepreneur

If you—like I do—sometimes feel that you’re only barely managing to juggle motherhood and all the ins and outs of running a business, then it’s time to take a good, hard look at how you spend your time.  No matter how much I plan for it and expect it, getting back to school in the Fall always leaves me exhausted and flustered. I’m stressed out with all the deadlines that come with school programs and field trips and with the logistical nightmare of carpooling three kids to all their after school events. Add to that the renewed energy and ambition for my business that shows up for me at the end of summer, and I struggle to figure out how to get it all done. I give myself a week or two to figure out our new schedules, and then I get down to business and back to owning my time. Here are a few of my favorite tips for getting things done. 

1.  Get a routine.  Now I understand that there are those of you who will balk at the idea of a formalized routine.  But hear me out.  While it’s totally not necessary to plan your day in strict, 15-minute increments, a regular schedule of sorts will support the flexibility you value in your life, allowing you time to work on and in your business, as well as time for household chores and family events.  Start by creating a loose schedule—morning, lunchtime, afternoon, dinnertime, evening—for Monday through Friday, blocking off office hours and your regularly scheduled daily activities, like packing lunches, getting kids off to school, and so on. Knowing when you have time set aside to do certain tasks will help you get them done without stressing out all the time.

2.  Break down your office hours into manageable chunks.  This one is simple, and you can block off time by just observing your habits.  Is there a particular time you tend to work on the computer?  How about returning emails or phone calls?  Schedule time to work on your business—marketing and the things that cause your business to grow—and in your business—actual, billable hours of production or face-to-face client time. 

3.  Make appointments for yourself.  You would never stand up a client with an appointment.  Why not show yourself that same respect?  Need to work on your website redesign?  Make an appointment! How about Tuesday from 9-11am? Have a business proposal due?  Set a time for yourself to work on it.  Give importance to the things you want to accomplish by putting that time and date on the calendar, and then showing up for that appointment. 

4.  Schedule downtime.  Yes, productivity is important.  Yes, as mom entrepreneurs, it seems that 24 hours is never enough.  But taking care of yourself is a priority, and it needs to be planned for!  Try alternating tasks that require mental focus with good-for-you breaks—a walk around the block, a healthy snack, a phone conversation with a friend—whatever relaxes and recharges you.  You may be surprised at how productivity soars when you’re fresh and energized. 

These are a few tips that I use to manage my time as a busy mompreneur.  All of this will help you round out a really ideal schedule for you, adding up to more time to get things done in a way that makes you feel productive and purposeful—not overwhelmed. 

Which of these tips can you implement today to help you get control of your time? 

What other tips would you include that keep you focused and productive? 

Lara Galloway is an author, speaker, business coach and host of the Mom Biz Solutions Show podcast. Her passion is helping entrepreneurs create and run businesses that honor their priorities and make them successful and happy. Her book, Moms Mean Business: A Guide to Creating a Successful Company and a Happy Life as a Mom Entrepreneur, published by Career Press, offers inspiration, advice, and a healthy dose of how-to. She is frequently interviewed for her expertise on work/life balance, starting and running a successful small business, marketing your business on Social Media, and creatively managing your time by Inc., Fast Company, Forbes, Crain’s, The Chicago Tribune, and More Magazine. Her extensive online influence and unique approach to coaching mompreneurs to success have led to her being named one of “30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter” and one of the “100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter.” When she’s not working, she’s wrangling her three kids with her husband, drinking good wine or micro-brewed beer, and baking something with lots of calories since food is her love language. She loves living in Michigan, especially when it's 80 degrees and sunny. Learn more and connect with her at LaraGalloway.com.

Thursday
Sep172015

Childcare options for entrepreneurs