Category: Freelance Advice


Want To Be a Public Speaker? Beware of the “Exposure” Bait

If your career goal is to become a public speaker, or to offer a service where public speaking will be one of your revenue streams, you should first read this.

(And, if your an aspiring singer/songwriter here in Nashville, you should also read this since the same advice will apply to you. You’ll frequently be asked to perform locally for free at various events and charities in exchange for “exposure,” a common request in the music industry.)

Oftentimes independent service providers and industry experts get asked to speak on their particular areas of knowledge to a local group or at a special event. I’ve been called to do so several times. Here’s how the scenario typically plays out.

The Scenario

Caller: 

“Hi, I’m Ms. Organizer of the XYZ professional group. We found your web site and we’d love to have you come talk about your area of expertise to our members. Now, we’re not a revenue-generating organization, so we can’t pay you to come speak. But, it will give you GREAT exposure to those in attendance who could be potential clients for you!”

Your Reaction

Which of the following would be your initial reaction if you got this call?

  • “Wow! They want ME to come and speak? I’m so honored!”
  • “Well, I could use the exposure since I’m still trying to build my client base. It could be worth my time even though I’m not getting paid I guess.”
  • “OMG! I’m terrified of speaking in front of groups! I think I’m already having a panic attack!”
  • “Last time I spoke to a group they told me it would be great exposure, but it wasn’t. There was no one there interested in any of my services which was disappointing.”
  • “There’s no way I’m speaking for free! My time and knowledge is worth more than that!”

Most people’s reaction is typically one of the above emotional reactions, depending on how long they’ve been in business. But when you take the emotions out of the situation, what should your rational response be? Should you take the unpaid speaking gig, or not?

Before we answer that question, let’s consider a few things.

Do you really need the exposure?

It might be early in your business and you need to get your name out there. Therefore, you may have to do a few free speaking gigs, but eventually will have to transition to opportunities that are more of a win-win.

Some people will dangle the bait of “exposure” and try to convince you that “exposure” makes the request a win-win. However, I’ve found in my past experience that the amount of time spent preparing a presentation was never a fair trade for “exposure.”

Is the cause near and dear to your heart?

If you’re being asked to speak to a non-profit or a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, and your expertise will greatly benefit those being served by that non-profit, by all means provide your speaking services for free!

I have developed a great relationship with a local faith-based organization that helps those who are stuck in poverty get out of their vicious cycle of hardship. Every quarter I go in and teach job interview skills and conduct mock interviews with those enrolled in their work-life program.

I know this audience cannot afford my services and I don’t expect them to turn into clients. I provide my presentations to them and the organization as a way to give back to those in need.

While I once used to speak to groups for exposure, I now limit my free speaking services to organizations like the one described above.

Is there another way to get the exposure you need?

Free speaking gigs aren’t the only way for you to get exposure for your business endeavor. There are other alternatives.

For instance, I love to write and it doesn’t require as much of my time as preparing a presentation. I definitely get a much bigger return on my investment of time with writing than I do with any free speaking gig.

I provide a ton of free content here on my blog, on my Medium and Quora accounts, and in several published articles. Since I have clients located in various states, it makes much more sense for me to provide free content online to an unlimited audience than it does to a small audience only in my local area.

In fact, one of my Quora articles providing free resume advice has over 150,000 views and several hundred upvotes. I could never get that kind of exposure with a speaking gig at a local organization!

To Speak or Not to Speak, That is the Question

So back to the question of should you say yes to a request to speak for free?

What kind of win-win situation is potentially available if you agree? Is it one that benefits the organization’s audience while also benefiting you? For example, could this be great practice for a future public speaking career? Or if you later decide to add presentations to your income stream?

How you choose to handle this situation can set the tone for all future speaking gigs. Also, it can either make or break your piggy bank if you get these kinds of requests on a regular basis. You definitely don’t want to develop a personal brand as someone who will do everything for free!

To help you decide on your response, below are a few suggestions I shared from my own personal experience with the Freelancers Union Nashville chapter.

(Freelancers Union is a national organization that protects the rights of freelancers and independent service providers. They helped get the “Freelance Isn’t Free” law passed in New York. This law protects independent service providers from nonpayment. They have ongoing efforts in getting the same law passed in all other states.)

How to Decide

First, wait until the emotions (excitement, uncertainty, fear, etc.) subside before agreeing to anything. Ask for a couple of days to check your calendar and get back to them with an answer.

Then, in those couple of days, spend some time developing your priorities and a strategic plan for agreeing to non-paid opportunities (because if you get one request, you’ll like get more requests!).

Your plan should be made up of two lists:  a “SAY YES IF” list and a “SAY NO IF” list.

Say YES if…

The “SAY YES IF” list can include any criteria that make it a win-win situation. Suggestions of criteria to include in this list are:

  • If your target market/ideal client is represented in the audience. But don’t take the caller’s word for it. You know your market better than they do. Do your research and ask enough questions to determine if your market will actually be represented.
  • If they allow you to promote your own business/services at the end of your talk or to sell your products.
  • If you get to choose a topic that doesn’t require a lot of time for additional research and preparation on your part. It should be a topic you know well enough to speak on without any notes. If it’s simply a Q&A or a panel with other experts, that’s even better because those scenarios require little to no research or preparation.
  • If the prep and delivery time doesn’t cut too deeply into your billable hours. Always keep your paying clients and paid projects your top priority.
  • If they offer to give you an honorarium for your time and expertise. It’s okay to ask them if they ever do that for speakers who agree to come speak for significantly less than what you’d normally charge and/or what other speakers would typically charge.
  • If the organization is related to a cause that’s near and dear to your heart.

Say NO if…

The “SAY NO IF” list can include the following suggested criteria:

  • If at least 3 of the criteria from your “SAY YES IF” list aren’t met.
  • If the organization has very specific or unrealistic demands, keeps changing details on you, or does anything else to make things difficult. An example of an unrealistic demand would be them asking you to teach their audience your trade secrets or how to do your job! (I actually received such a request recently.)
  • If you’re not allowed to invite participants to visit your web site or subscribe to your newsletter.

Feel free to add your own criteria to each list. Remember, it must be a win-win situation or you’ll become resentful!

Beware though, when enforcing your criteria people may accuse you of having a sense of entitlement. But it’s not entitlement if you’ve worked hard in your industry to gain the knowledge you have. Besides, who’s really the one with the sense of entitlement? Could it be those expecting you to give them something for nothing?

Be Strategic

You don’t want to say yes to every opportunity. Doing so won’t only cause you to lose money but also time you could dedicate to your paying clients.

You also don’t want to say no to every opportunity (no matter how fearful you are of public speaking) because you’ll miss out on helping others and also getting your name out to potential clients.

The trick is to be strategic about it.

If you start to get an unmanageable amount of requests, then it’s time to consider doing one or both of the following:

  • Include presentations into your business as an additional revenue stream since your topic is in high demand. Then charge accordingly.
  • Limit the number of free gigs you do per year to only a few. This will require you to be selective in which organization you want to donate your time and expertise to.

Why You The Public Speaker Are Worth It

Public speaking or performing on a stage can be an extremely stressful thing. In fact, it’s the number one fear, before death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

It can even be stressful for those who love it or have done it for years. Ozzy Osborne has been performing onstage for over 40 years and admits to still getting jitters before every show. Even though I’m energized during or right after a big presentation, I experience a looming sense of dread the week leading up to it.

If you also experience this kind of stress, it can be a tremendous cost to you, including lost sleep or sickness from nervousness.

In addition, you’re sharing your expertise, which is basically your intellectual property. It’s what your clients are already paying you for. You deserve to be paid for your knowledge, and you also need to be fair to your paying clients!

If you have knowledge and expertise that people want, then it’s in demand. Don’t worry if you present it in a different way from other popular speakers. As long as you’re providing something helpful in an engaging way using your own unique approach, then you’re worth getting paid something.

And if none of the above convinces you you’re worth it, then consider this: it’s biblical. Both I Timothy 5:18b and Luke 10:7 states, “the worker deserves his wages.”

Related Post:

Stand Up For Your Worth

public speaker

The Best Way to Write a Successful Elevator Speech


It’s Time to Ditch The Pitch for Something Better

Do some people’s elevator pitches make you wish you’d taken the stairs?

Does the thought of having to share your own elevator speech make you want to pitch yourself down the elevator shaft?

Most elevator speeches are very awkward. And it’s obvious when someone has over-thought their pitch when reciting it.


The Wrong Way to Write an Elevator Speech

I have a friend and colleague who, every time I get his voicemail, I have to sit through the sound of his voice reading his elevator speech word-for-word from a piece of paper.

While it’s a well-written and well-thought-out pitch, it still sounds and feels “manufactured.”

It’s much like the endless elevator speeches I’ve had to sit through at networking events where we all have to go around the room and introduce ourselves with our elevator pitches.

I couldn’t begin to tell you what each person said in those meetings because I was probably sitting there trying to decide what exactly I wanted to say when it came my turn.

You’ve probably experience the same thing.

All I know is by the end of it, I felt like I’d had everyone’s industry jargon vomited into my ears.

And it was obvious some people took the term “speech” literally and used the very outdated advice of making their pitch one minute long.

Have you ever timed yourself for one minute?

It’s WAY TOO LONG!

In fact, 30 seconds is WAY TOO LONG!

Especially in this day and age where attention spans are shrinking.

Do you know what else?

Not one of those pitches spoke directly to me. I never felt like the person was trying to relate to me or engage me or anyone else in the group.

They just spewed out an obviously rehearsed MONOLOGUE.


How to Write a Better (and Less Annoying) Elevator Pitch

If you’re in a place where you need an elevator speech or you need to update your current elevator speech for networking purposes, you’ll want to follow these tips when drafting your pitch.

Doing so will result in more authentic and more productive networking conversations that are less awkward.

Best of all, your listener (or listeners) won’t feel like they’re being “networked.”


1. Keep it to 7 seconds or less!

Yes, you read that right. Gone are the days of long drawn-out diatribes about what you do.

Don’t give your listener’s eyes time to glaze over as you keep babbling on about something that makes no sense to someone outside your company or your industry.

You may be wondering though how you can say everything you need to say in only 7 seconds. Read on!


2. Start With a Question to Create a Dialogue

Always start your pitch first with a question. This allows you to engage your listener or audience and begin a dialogue


3. Make Your Question Relatable and Use Common Language

Think about what is a typical problem or challenge your market faces. What kind of wording do they typically use to describe their problem or challenge?

For instance, I’m a career coach who specializes in helping people make career transitions to work that’s more related to their passions.

But I don’t introduce myself that way.

Instead, I look at the types of words my clients use to describe their situation when they first come to me or when they fill out my intake form.

Many often say they “feel stuck” in their careers.

Everyone has felt stuck in their career or their life at one time or another. Therefore everyone can relate to that feeling.

So, my own elevator pitch starts out like this:

“Have you or someone you know ever felt stuck in your career?”

(Most people at least know someone who has felt stuck even if they personally haven’t, hence the phrase, “or someone you know.”)

The word “stuck” is easy-to-understand language that’s common to most people’s vocabulary, as opposed to some kind of industry jargon that only my fellow career coaches would typically understand.

Plus, the word also stirs up the listener’s emotions.


4. Pique the Listener’s Interest

Nine times out of ten, the answer to my question is “yes.” A “yes” then creates buy-in to what I say next.

“Well, I help people get unstuck.”

That’s it. That’s my whole elevator pitch.

From there, the listener’s interest is piqued and he or she now wants to know more about how I help people get unstuck. This usually leads to a question from my listener:

“How do you do that?”

Now we’ve got a dialogue going on that allows me to go into more detail about what I do, why I do it, how I do it, etc., all the while asking the listener additional questions to keep it conversational.


So when you sit down to draft your own elevator pitch, make sure you’re writing one that is so simple not only for you to remember but for the listener to understand.

Remember to keep it short, ask a question, create a dialogue, make it relatable, keep it simple, and pique the listener’s interest.

That way, once you’ve written it, you can toss your sheet of paper out because you’ll never need to read from it or use it to memorize something that’s too long and boring.


More Networking Tips

For more networking tips, check out two of my most popular articles:

7 Comfortable and Easy Networking Tips for Introverts (or Anyone Who Dislikes Networking)

and

How to Be Realistic About Networking

Subscribe to the paNASH newsletter and receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan.

elevator speech


Make 2018 the Year of the Right Regrets

8 Ways to Avoid the Wrong Regrets in 2018

Like most people, my biggest regrets in life have been the things I didn’t do as opposed to things I did do.

One of my biggest regrets was not studying abroad in Australia while I was in college. I’d waited too late to inquire about it, when I had only one semester of school left.

This was a big regret because I’d always wanted to go to the land Down Under ever since I was a little girl.

Since I didn’t get to go in college, I tried to make up for it several years later by taking a month-long vacation to Australia as a gift to myself for my 30th birthday. 

The Cons

There were a lot of reasons not to go on the trip. 

Like the fact that it cost a good chunk of money. 

And that I was in the midst of a new relationship.

Or that I would have to go by myself since none of my friends could take off that much time from work.

The Pros

But there were also a lot of other reasons for me to go.

The trip would occur during my birthday. I’ve always wanted a summer birthday, and in the Southern Hemisphere I’d get to have one.

I’d be gone during winter break, the same time my students at the college I worked at would also be away. Therefore I wouldn’t put an extra burden on my co-workers.

I had enough time built up to take off 7 weeks from my job at the time (and still had an extra 10 days of vacation left over). 

Also, being single with no children made travel and travel planning easy. It could be another 18–20 years before I’d have that kind of freedom again!

Not Letting the “Maybes” Cloud My Judgment

I can remember my initial thoughts when trying to decide to book the trip or not. They went a little something like this:

“Maybe I should wait until I’m married and go to Australia on my honeymoon.”

OR

“Maybe I should wait until I’m retired when I have more time and money.”

I quickly pushed those thoughts aside. 

I knew there was no guarantee I would even be physically able to go when I retired. 

And why in the world would I want to wait on some man to take me when I can do this now?

So, I hopped online, did a little research, and found a very reasonably priced flight. 

I still wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for a month-long excursion, but I had 9 months to figure it out.

I gave myself a few days to sleep on the information I’d researched. And then I booked my trip.

No Regrets (Except One)

I’ve never regretted my decision. 

In fact, if I hadn’t done it then, I would’ve spent the past 15 years regretting it. 

My only regret? 

Not doing it sooner.

8 Ways to Avoid the Wrong Regrets in 2018

1. Don’t settle for “good enough.”

“Most people settle for ‘good-enough.’ Their diet, dating partners, job, income, and relationships are all merely ‘good-enough.’ But since their choices are common, that’s what their life becomes.” — Anthony Moore

I could’ve settled with my “maybes.” 

I could’ve blindly accepted my initial thoughts of deferring the trip until I was married or retired. 

And I could’ve rationalized those thoughts were a “good enough” plan.

But guess what? Fifteen years later I’m still not married and I’m not even close to retirement. 

In fact, since then, I left the security of a job with retirement benefits to start my own business (something else I don’t regret).

While today I’m probably the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life, undoubtedly due to leaving a 9–5 job working for someone else, I know I wouldn’t have the energy I had when I was 30 to do all the rock climbing, hiking, and snorkeling I did in the heat of the Outback and the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

Every day I’m so glad I didn’t settle for “good enough.”

I encourage you not to settle for just “good enough.”

2. End the wrong relationships.

So what about the relationship I’d just started a few months before going to Australia? It ended one week after I returned. 

Even though it was heartbreaking, looking back I’m so glad the relationship didn’t work out. (What a regret that would’ve been if it had!)

Don’t wish you hadn’t wasted time in an unhealthy relationship. 

Instead, start the year knowing you can make it on your own and you’ll be available for an even better relationship before or by the end of the year. 

3. Say no to opportunities that don’t support your life mission statement.

Speaking of relationships, I’ve written before about how I had to make the decision to end a relationship a little over a year ago because I recognized it didn’t allow me to fulfill my mission in life. 

Having a life mission statement in place will help you to say no to choices you’ll regret later. 

4. And say yes to opportunities that do support your life mission statement. 

A life mission statement will also help you say yes to some pretty cool things you hadn’t previously challenged yourself to.

Even if nothing materializes from these opportunities by the end of the year, you can know it wasn’t time wasted because these things will have led you further in fulfilling your mission in life, which may lead to something even bigger and better down the road!

5. Learn something new.

Don’t let another year pass having not learned the one thing you’ve always said you wanted to learn. 

Instead, end the year knowing you’ve developed a new skill. 

I personally have always been a big believer in lifelong learning and continually encourage my clients to embrace also it.

Just recently I started learning Italian. I hope by the end of 2018 I’ll be somewhat proficient in it.

I may never have an opportunity to use it in my future. But at least I’ll have further developed the language center of my brain and added a new skill to my repertoire. 

(Even if the only thing I learn is how to say “food” in Italian [“cibo”], I know I’ll be able to survive getting lost in any future trips to Italy!)

6. Start that side hustle or passion project.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb

If there’s something you’ve wanted to start, whether a hobby, a side business, or a passion project, what are you waiting for? 

Just start!

Don’t put any pressure on it to be perfect or even successful. Just let it be a creative or fun outlet for you from your everyday routine. 

Let it evolve and be open to what it might grow into organically.

For instance, a few years ago I started writing a blog about my adventures in stand up paddling and the spiritual parallels of those adventures. It was really just a place for me to record and preserve my thoughts. I didn’t promote it at all. 

My little side project turned into my 2nd published book, which eventually helped fund my recent mission trip to the Amazon jungles of Brazil.

You never know what can happen with your own passion project. And you’ll definitely never know if you never start.

7. Turn your side hustle into your full-time gig. 

If you start to see some momentum with your side hustle and discover a market for it, it may be time to consider turning it into a full-time gig. Especially if you already know how to think like an entrepreneur.

It was much easier for me to start my own business after working it part-time for 9 months before going full-time with it. 

But, eventually I had to pull the trigger and take a leap of faith because I knew it would never be the right (or perfect) time to leave my job and pursue my business full-time.

While being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, if you’ve got the desire to do your own thing and you’ve calculated the risks and counted the costs, this year may be the year to give it a go.

If it doesn’t work out, you may have some regrets, but you won’t die.

And you’ll never have to live with the regret of never having tried. 

You may even experience freedom and success like never before!

8. Develop your positive self-talk.

You’ll never be able to accomplish the above if you keep listening to your negative-self talk

What if I had listened to my “maybes”? 

What if I had told myself I couldn’t go to the other side of the world by myself? 

Well, I don’t have to wonder “What if?”

Instead, I have memories of the places I visited, the beauty I experienced, the wildlife I saw, and the people I met. Some of whom I still keep in touch with to this day. 

When you start to hear the negative thoughts that are determined to keep you in just a “good enough” existence, re-frame them with positive self-talk. 

Stepping Out in Faith

Shortly after I’d stepped out in faith and booked my dream vacation to Australia, things started to fall into place. 

I found a fun part-time gig to help me earn a little extra money for the trip. 

Also, I received a sum of money previously owed to me which covered the remainder of my cost for the trip. 

And remember how I said I was able to take 7 weeks off of work and still have 10 vacation days left over? This all occurred because at the time I worked for a state university and for two years in a row we didn’t receive a raise. 

To compensate us for it, we were all given 20 extra vacation days on top of our annual 3 weeks’ vacation time for salaried employees. 

Add in to that amount the holidays we all got off during winter break and I had it made!

I was able to spend Thanksgiving with my family before leaving for Australia. 

Then I spent my birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s Down Under. 

Finally, I was able to have a week for some much-needed rest and time to readjust my internal clock before returning to work, just in time for the students’ return to campus.

Without the vacation compensation, I probably wouldn’t have had so much time to really relish the experience. 

The timing turned out to be perfect and “the stars aligned” for it to all work out. But I had no way of predicting all those things would happen. I didn’t have a crystal ball telling me it would all work out. 

I just had to take a chance while at the same time being smart about it. And I’m all the better for it. 

Now I have no fear of traveling alone (or doing anything else alone for that matter). 

I have more knowledge about the history of one of the most fascinating continents on earth and a new respect its native people, the Aborigines. 

I no longer have a fear of bugs. (Sleeping on the ground in the Outback where the spiders are the size of your fist will help you overcome your fear pretty quickly!)

I encourage you to commit to at least one of the 8 ways to avoid the wrong regrets in 2018. 

If you can commit to all 8, you’ll likely end the year with only the right regrets.

And who knows where those will lead you in the years to come! 

If you want to make 2018 the year of the right regrets, subscribe to my 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan to start setting the right goals for your future!

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10 Lessons I’ve Learned From 10 Years of Freelancing

Last week I posted an announcement about the celebration of paNASH’s 10-year anniversary. In it I told how I started my freelance business, the fears I faced in leaving a secure job to go out on my own, and how my business’s mission has evolved.

Today, I want to share some of the freelance lessons I’ve learned over those ten years in working for myself. I hope they will serve as an encouragement to those who are thinking about starting their own thing, are new to the freelancing world, or have been in it long enough to have faced some common struggles.

Freelance Lesson #1

I had to be disciplined. Being your own boss requires A LOT of discipline. Why? Because there’s no one looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re showing up on time or getting your work done. Discipline has always come naturally to me, and I was raised by a former Marine Corps officer who further instilled this trait in me. This is not to say that discipline can’t be learned later in life. But the discipline required to work for yourself will make things easier if you’ve already mastered it through other methods such as playing a sport, sticking with a commitment, etc.

Freelance Lesson #2

I had to use my love for life-long learning. I’ve always loved learning new things. And I realized the need for constant learning when starting a business because “a skill does not a business make” according to my friend and colleague Melody Bowers, co-owner of VirtualCollective.

You need to either already have some business sense, or be disciplined enough (see lesson #1) and have the ability to learn it as you go while managing your other responsibilities. If there’s something you can’t learn, there’s always someone else who has the knowledge you can pay to either teach you or to do it for you.

Freelance Lesson #3

I learned it was normal to question my decision almost every single day. I also realized it was normal to feel like giving up on a regular basis when things got hard. But, once I began working in a way that was true and authentic to my own personal mission in life, those doubts and insecurities started to diminish. I became okay with the discomfort of a process that isn’t linear. Instead, it looks more like this:

freelance lessons

Entrepreneur Darius Foroux further explains the figure above in his encouraging article Don’t Quit When It Gets Hard. I love it when he says, “If you never feel like quitting, that means life is too easy and you need to take action in your life.”

Freelance Lesson #4

I learned I had the ability to figure out the logistics. It turns out the things that seem intimidating at first (i.e. getting a business license, paying for your own health insurance, tracking your income & expenses/P&L, etc.) aren’t really all that scary. In fact, a lot of this not-so-fun part of having your own business is easier than you think.

And Freelancers Union has made a lot of it very simple. They provide tips and resources on the logistics of running your own freelance operation and even provide access to affordable insurance.

Freelance Lesson #5

I learned what I’m worth. The toughest thing for me was figuring out my pricing. At first it was hard to know how much to charge. And even when I thought I knew, I then had to figure out which pricing model worked best. An hourly rate? A day rate? A package or retainer rate?

Like most people first starting out, in the beginning I was devaluing my skills and expertise. But, after I started getting clients and began listening to their feedback on the services they received, I started to better understand my worth.

Yes, it helps to look at your competition and the average rate others charge for the same service or product to get an idea of what you should charge. But, what helped me most was asking current and past clients if they would’ve paid more based on the value they’d already received. To my surprise, most of them said yes, and even some told me flat out I was undercharging.

Now, most people (both potential and current clients) say my pricing is reasonable and fair. It took some tweaking and trial and error, but now my pricing structure is in harmony with the service I’m providing.

Freelance Lesson #6

I learned when to say no. This included being selective of potential clients, turning down certain speaking gigs/presentation requests, not wasting my time with potential contacts who only wanted to talk about themselves but never wanted to listen or make the relationship mutually beneficial, discontinuing professional relationships when trust had been broken, etc.

This is difficult to do when first starting out. Especially when it comes to turning away money. But, I can tell you the times I listened to my gut and turned away the opportunities that weren’t the right fit for my business, I was always glad I did. And the times I didn’t listen to my gut, I always regretted it.

Freelance Lesson #7

I learned not to compare myself with others. My pastor’s wife always says, “Comparing yourself to others makes you either small or smug, and neither of those are good.” I realized because I do what I do in my own unique way, comparing myself to my competition is a waste of time because it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

The same is true for you because you also have your own unique way of delivering your service or product that no one else can duplicate. Instead of comparing, focus on what makes you and your brand solely yours. This is what becomes your selling point!

Freelance Lesson #8

I learned (and am still learning) when it’s time to shift gears. When learning to drive a stick, you start to develop a feel for when it’s time to shift gears. This doesn’t mean you won’t grind your gears on occasion.

The same is true in running a business or working as a freelancer. You’ll start to learn when to give something a little more time to grow before uprooting it. When to pull the plug on what’s not working. And when to simplify if you’re trying to do too much or be too many things.

This type of self-awareness can mean the difference between success and failure.

Freelance Lesson #9

I realized the real risk. At first I thought the obvious risk of starting my own thing was leaving the security of a full-time job with benefits. I was wrong! Since leaving my job at a prestigious university where there were constant hiring freezes and multiple firings, I’ve had more job security than ever before.

I’ve been able to develop the grit and skills required to work for myself and bring in a steady stream of clients, to supplement my income at times when the stream was unsteady, and to eliminate the salary cap I had at my previous job.

The only real risk I faced was potentially losing any or all desire to work for someone else again. Let’s face it. It’s pretty hard to go back to working for someone else after having worked for yourself. But if I ever had to again, I’d be very selective in who I worked for (see Lesson #6).

Freelance Lesson #10

I learned fear is inevitable. Fear is not a reason to not venture out on your own if it’s what you truly desire. Instead, it’s often an excuse. Everyone who’s ever done this has had some level of fear.

Do your research. Prepare (but don’t wait until you feel fully prepared because that will never happen!). Then push through the fear.

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paNASH is Celebrating Its 10-Year Anniversary!

Ten years ago today, I walked into the Davidson County Clerk’s office to get a business license for paNASH. I had no idea what I was doing since I’d never started a business before.

It was scary to say the least. But, I put one foot in front of the other, filled out the form, and paid my fee.

When I walked out I thought to myself, “Okay, this is real now. I have to do it.” My business license was more than just a little piece of paper. It was something tangible that was holding me accountable.

I started working hard on my business part-time while still working full-time. Nine months later I took a leap of faith and quit my cushy career advising job with benefits to pursue my business full-time.

paNASH’s Beginnings

paNASH originally began as an image consulting business working primarily with up-and-coming recording artists here in Nashville. I used my skills from my previous experience as a college career adviser to teach new artists how to present themselves in media interviews, to labels, and more. The additional wardrobe styling piece of the business served as a creative outlet for me at the time.

But after eight years, I started feeling restless in my business and it no longer felt right to me. I couldn’t yet put my finger on why, but I knew it was about to undergo some big changes.

I loved working for myself and knew I didn’t want that to change, but I was burned out on the original concept of the business. And, I’d become extremely frustrated with the way the music industry works. I loved my clients, but I was done with the constant frustrations.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being called back to what I loved most and was best at, career coaching. Only this time, it was taking on a new approach. For the full story, read From Fashionista to Passionista.

paNASH

paNASH Today

Since making the change to my business nearly two years ago, I’ve been much happier. It thrills me to see my clients gain the confidence to pursue their own passions that have been lying dormant for so many years.

Although they face a series of common challenges while going through the process of pursuing their passions, they start to sense an excitement in the transition to a new life and career. They have a light in their eyes again.

And while I’m also happier, I still face some challenges in my own transition of the focus and mission of my business. One of those is still being thought of as an image consultant. I guess I did a really good job of establishing paNASH’s brand early on. Too good of a job! When you Google paNASH, there are still some things that pop up indicating image consulting. I’ve had to turn away several people seeking image consulting services.

But, I’m using the same branding strategy now that I did then to eventually replace my former brand. And it’s working. Just like it works for my new clients whom I’m teaching how to develop their own personal brand for their career and their lives.

The Importance of a Mission Statement

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s so important to have a brand and a mission statement for yourself. My personal mission statement is:

To boldly pursue my passions and purpose, and to teach, encourage, and inspire others to do the same, resulting in lives overflowing with joy, peace, and fulfillment.

This mission statement helps me to make better decisions regarding both my business and my personal life.

My business’s mission statement also aligns with my personal mission statement. When I changed the mission of paNASH nearly two years ago, it became:

To serve, educate, and encourage you by assisting you with the discovery and pursuit of your passions in a way that honors your purpose and your own vision for success, while amplifying who you are personally and advancing you professionally.

No matter what your goals are, I encourage you to also develop your own mission statement. To learn how, check out my on-demand program on personal branding (45% of proceeds go to Justice & Mercy International). You’ll be glad you did because once you’ve completed the program, you’ll be able to make better life and career decisions. Decisions that are true to your unique passions!

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