Tag: freelancers


Could You Pivot to Become a Good Freelancer if Necessary?

Does your future include becoming a freelancer? It’s very likely!

“By 2027, a majority of American workers won’t be traditional employees. And with the decline of the traditional employment model, benefits like health care, sick leave, and pensions will largely become a thing of the past. Freelancers are ahead of that curve…in building the new safety net.”

Rafael Espinal, President & Executive Director of Freelancers Union

Last week, I asked my readers to share with me how COVID-19 has changed their career plan for the better. I received two stories from freelancers thriving in the fitness industry, one of the hardest hit industries during COVID.

Freelancer Story #1

A former client emailed me to say he’s used his time during COVID to make some necessary and helpful changes to his fitness and health business. John used the personal branding methods I taught him, along with my model for virtual courses, to create online classes for his own clients. This has opened up a whole new way to reach people he wasn’t able to work with in person.

He’s recently introduced a six-part course on helping you develop mindful eating habits to find peace with food and weight loss. Check out his site at JohnHolley.com.

Freelancer Story #2

Seth and Megan are a married couple I first met when they were both working in the music industry. Seth was a touring musician, so he was already a freelancer. Megan had more traditional employment in the music industry. They both started their fitness business as a side hustle in 2017. But 2020 forced them to go full-time with it.

“Seth and I started Fitness Porter on the side with the goal of eventually transitioning it into our full-time income. But we recognized that when we only put part-time hours into it, growth was extremely slow!

“In late 2019, Seth decided to come off the road. At the time, Fitness Porter wasn’t making enough to support our family, so Seth started personal training at a gym. A few months later the pandemic hit, and the gyms closed.

“With the gyms closed, we enjoyed spending a majority of our time working on growing our business, which gave us momentum. At some point, we had the insane idea of letting go of our steady income and going ‘all-in’ on our business. It didn’t take us long to make the decision to let go of the financial security of a salaried job. We both agreed it was the right thing to do. We wanted to continue with the momentum the pandemic provided us.

“Our plan to grow our business is still evolving. We’re still working hard and leaning into the many hats it takes to be an entrepreneur. If it wasn’t for COVID, we would’ve never tasted what it’s like to work a business full-time. We wouldn’t have seen the results, and we wouldn’t have been brave enough to take the financial risk.

“Since COVID, we’ve had a significant increase in clients, and we’re diving deep into new areas of growth.”

Key take-aways

The key take-aways from these stories are important to remember.

1. Prepare for the future

As you can see from Espinal’s quote above, freelancing is not just a major trend, but a cultural shift in the workforce.

I have a dear colleague and friend who has dreams of freelancing. Her husband already freelances. Because of this, she feels it’s wise for her to stay in her current job with healthcare benefits instead of going out on her own.

But what happens if her employer decides in the next six years to stop providing benefits? Will it finally open a door for her she wasn’t able to open herself? More importantly, will she look back and wish she’d started investing full-time into her freelance business sooner? Luckily, she’s already started freelancing on the side. But like Seth and Megan, she won’t see full income results until she either decides, or is forced, to go full-time with her side-hustle.

One day, you may find yourself working as your own boss and paying for your own benefits, even if you never planned to. There is no one right way to make this career shift. But wouldn’t you want to be prepared? Now is the time to start thinking about what this will look like for you, and how you should pivot when the time comes. paNASH can help you with this.

2. Get on the same page

If you’re married, make sure you and your spouse are in agreement with your career plans, because your decisions affect them too.

Even if you don’t plan to start a business together, you’re going to need your spouse’s support, especially in the beginning when business is slow.

3. Know what to expect

As Megan said, there are many hats a freelancer and entrepreneur must wear. You don’t have to have a business degree to start your own business. But you also must understand this:  a skill does not a business make.

Along with the service or product you’re skilled to offer, you have to have some basic skills to market your business and to manage the financials of it. These can all be learned as long as you maintain flexibility, discipline, and a teachable spirit. Just don’t let the learning curve of running a business intimidate you.

4. Don’t let fear intimidate you

I’ve been there. I know how scary it is to take the leap of starting your own business. I left my full-time job with benefits in August of 2008, right before the Great Recession hit. If I hadn’t left then, I would’ve been too afraid to leave my job once the crisis hit.

But I didn’t let fear or the the lack of experience running my own business intimidate me. Instead, I learned from various sources what I needed to know as I went along.

Having been through this career pivot myself, I’ve been able to teach my clients what I’ve learned. As a result, I’ve saved them a little time and energy in starting their own thing. I can help you do the same.

5. Make your product or services accessible

Like John, there may be a time when you have to shift how you deliver your product and services so they’re accessible to current and future clients. This is where your creativity comes in.

Look at what others are doing to see what works. Determine how you can tweak it to your own brand. If a necessary shift requires a re-brand, paNASH can help! We can walk you through the same branding process we taught John.

This service is useful for anyone having to make a career change, even if they’re not starting their own business, but just changing jobs or industries. Whether you work for yourself or not, your skill set is your product, and you need to make it as accessible for as many opportunities as possible to continue making a living.

Need help?

If you need help preparing for the future of your career, figuring out how to become a freelancer, or re-branding your skill set, email me. I’m happy to schedule a complimentary initial consultation with you!

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Why You Need to Think Like an Entrepreneur (Even When You’re Not One)

We’ve been in a good job market recently. But, companies do continue to downsize. I know because said companies often call me to provide outplacement counseling for their former employees as part of their severance packages. In working with them, many of these employees discover they’d rather work for themselves instead of working for someone else again.

Did you know 94% of the 15 million jobs created between 2009 and 2017 were either part-time or freelance jobs?

And did you know, by next year 40% of the workforce will be independent workers? This is according to a study conducted by Freelancers Union.

If you find yourself in the near future having to look for a new job or become your own boss, whether by choice or by force, will you know how to do so? Will you welcome the opportunity as a way to finally pursue your passion?

Why You Need the Skills of an Entrepreneur (even if you’re not one)

Even if you never become an entrepreneur, you’ll still need to think like one to gain future employment. Regardless of how good the job market currently is, competition will always be fierce. Especially for full-time jobs with benefits.

Therefore, you have to really sell your skills to employers. These skills should include the ones employers are demanding which I’ve listed below. And these same skills will help you succeed if you choose to go the entrepreneur route instead.

The 8 Skills Everyone Needs to Make a Living (entrepreneur or not)

Let’s look at each of these skills and how paNASH’s on-demand courses help you develop them:

  1. Creativity. The free on-demand course 5 Ways to Pursue Your Passions in Life and Work encourages you and provides you a safe place to explore your passions and creativity.
  2. Ability to generate and execute ideas. The course Don’t Just Set Goals, ACHIEVE Them! teaches you how to set, execute, and achieve your goals and ideas. (Free with purchase of course bundle.)
  3. Communication. In Personal Branding: How to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic, you’ll learn how to clearly communicate your “WHY” and your “HOW” of what you do. (E-book included.)
  4. Public Speaking. Also in Personal Branding, you’ll learn how to find your authentic voice and develop your message for your audience.
  5. Writing. In Resumes That Get You the Interview, you’ll learn how to write a clear, concise and effective resume that will make it through the applicant tracking system to a human. (E-book and sample resumes included.)
  6. Likeability. In The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively, you’ll learn how to make networking a more pleasant experience. Especially if you’re an introvert. It’ll teach you how to network more comfortably and naturally, in return making you more likeable. (E-book included.)
  7. Salesmanship. In Steps to Acing the Interview and The 3 Super Powers of Successful Job Seekers, you’ll learn how to sell your skills and abilities in an authentic way that matters most to employers and potential clients while helping you reduce your interview anxiety. (E-book included.)
  8. Negotiation. In Make More Money Without Taking a Second Job, you’ll learn how to negotiate a larger salary offer, a pay raise, or a promotion. (Free with purchase of course bundle.)

Invest in Yourself

If you learn these skills now, you’ll be able to pursue your passions and make your own money with your own resources. Or you’ll be able to market yourself to a job doing something you love working for someone else. It’s your choice!

One way to begin is to invest in yourself. Take the money you’d normally spend on something unnecessary and instead put it toward some classes to learn the skills employers seek and some other new skills. This could include taking continuing education classes or online classes, including the ones listed above.

These courses are easily accessible, affordable (some are even free!), and allow you to work at your own pace. paNASH’s on-demand courses are designed to teach you how to market your new skills to a new employer or as an entrepreneur to potential clients. You can purchase them individually, or you can save $235 when you purchase the course bundle!

What are you waiting for?

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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 or sell your products at the end of your talk.
  • 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 will cause you to not only 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.”

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