Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Year-End Assessment

Take a few hours, or even a couple of days, and think how the past 12 months have served your freelancing career. If you were organized with your bookkeeping, you can easily track a pattern with the type of tasks and projects that you tackled, and whether or not you easily achieved a regular cash flow.

You may be able to look back and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for wisely selecting tasks that highlight your competencies. Or you may have dealt with several difficult clients by negotiating effectively.

Now, for the coming year, I'd like to ask all professional freelancers out there to do one thing:

Be bolder in 2014.

Even if you were satisfied with how 2013 turned out for you, keep in mind that there will always be room for improvement.

To illustrate, let's say you have consistently written and sold copy to small business owners. Maybe 2014 is the time to arrange everything in a portfolio, physical or online, and start showing them to entrepreneurs involved in other lines of business.

Or, maybe you have gotten enough experience in writing feature articles by writing for your church or community newsletter, submitting product reviews for trade journals, or querying for publications with a limited circulation. It's now time to browse through better known magazines and periodicals with a higher honorarium rate.

If you have made enough money to spare for tuition fee, you can also enroll in a class or seminar, where you can study a topic in greater depth. It doesn't always have to be skills-based. You can find out everything you can in order to add to your stock of knowledge and be able to mentor or train others afterwards. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Word About Voluntary Work

When we think about work experience, we assume that it only translates to tasks and projects for which we've gotten paid.

But what if I tell you that in some instances, voluntary work, or work done without getting remuneration in cash or kind, can beef up your professional profile as well?

I've heard about plenty of freelancing professionals who, after getting several years of experience tucked underneath their belt, mature into specialists or develop some sort of expertise. And then they seek out ways to help people or organizations by mentoring or teaching.

Volunteering is also a form of networking, and by getting out there and offering your skills, you are also learning effective interpersonal relations.

So, when it comes to work done without pay, here's the general rule:

Include any voluntary experience that is related to your field.

If you've volunteered a lot in the past, narrow them down by making sure your experiences meet the following criteria:
  • You were able to use some or nearly all of the skills you have mastered in your profession.
  • You led or supervised a team that benefited from your expertise. 
  • You gave a talk or seminar about the dynamics of your profession in order to give participants a head start or a push towards the right direction.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Five Tips for Crafting a Winning Profile in a Professional Networking Site (Part 6)

You may have figured out by now that after providing the first four guidelines in crafting a professional profile, I was teaching you to aim for coherency. And why is coherency crucial to your success?

First and foremost, you want to get noticed by potential clients by appearing as many times as possible in job searches. How can people know you're available for projects and tasks if your profile is not made visible to them in the first place?

Second, clients are looking for specialists, not dabblers, in their field. Just like in a typical resume, clients look for workers with tenure in previous jobs.

It would take around two years to learn all the ropes of a specific field, and on your third year onward, you'll find yourself easing into a routine and choosing projects with which you're most familiar. 

If you work on a freelance basis, you may experience dry spells from the start. But your advantage is you can use the extra hours that you would have spent dressing up and commuting to and from work to hone your skills.

So, having said all of the above, here's the fifth and last guideline in crafting a winning professional profile:

Be specific with keywords.

Let's say your competency lies in copywriting. Copywriting encompasses a wide range of areas, since companies, enterprises, and manufacturers have different strategies to market their products and services. 

So think about the majority of spec ads that you've written in the past. You may have teamed up with an entrepreneur that provides pet grooming services, and you wove relevant information about diabetes in dogs into your copy. 

Or how about writing for a website that relies heavily on traffic to sustain their business? A copywriter needs to master SEO among other skills to entice online visitors to place their orders.

With these things in mind, you may type in keywords like "print ad," "SEO copywriting," and "advertising copy." By being very specific, you exclude the other forms of copywriting (or writing, in general) and you separate yourself from other freelancers.

By doing this, the chances are high for your name to come up in job searches. And when you back things up with a lucidly written profile, surely you will catch the interest of potential clients.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Five Tips for Crafting a Winning Profile for a Professional Networking Site (Part 5)

In my four previous articles, I have provided the first three guidelines for creating a winning profile for networking sites like LinkedIn and SkillPages. Here's the fourth one:

Omit anything irrelevant to your professional background.

I'm specifically talking about the heading Interests, which may seem like an insignificant part of your profile, but actually, it can also make or break your professional image.

Potential clients always seek out workers that are industrious, self-reliant, trustworthy, flexible, and resourceful among others. But they also want someone wise enough to figure out that if they want to avoid burn-out, they must make recreation a part of their routine.

And yet, if your hobby is unusual, quirky, or deemed as "too specialized," or one that is totally unrelated to your line of work, don't include it. There are some professionals who choose such hobbies because their careers can be mentally taxing and even physically exhausting, to the point that they want some form of escape, not just relaxation and a time to unwind.

On the other hand, there are freelancers who choose hobbies where they still get to practice a few of the skills needed in their job. It's now common to find a lot of amateur photographers and digital scrapbookers, and female freelancers who blog about their kids, dogs, and making sweet treats like cookies and brownies. 

Another thing to consider when omitting irrelevant information is leaving out your college course if it has nothing to do with your line of work, and especially if you made up by getting yourself certified through seminars and short-term courses.

Keep coming back as I round up this article series in my next installments.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Five Tips for Crafting a Winning Profile for a Professional Networking Site (Part 4)

After writing a summary and providing your educational background, here are the other categories in which you can include anything that can strengthen your credentials:


During the last few decades it has become common for professionals with college diplomas to enroll in short-term courses through online universities or distance learning institutions. They do this to keep abreast of any latest developments or innovation in their field, and to stay on top of their game.

So include any specialized training that has equipped you with marketable skills. It's no longer sufficient to say that you're "knowledgeable" about a certain task. Potential clients want freelancers who have taken time to polish their skills.

Published Articles

This is important if you write features or submit content to websites and blogs. If you're known to write about one, two, or more topics, direct your readers by providing links to the articles only within the scope of those topics.


In certain careers like information technology, tutoring, and consulting, an examination needs to be taken to gauge an individual's mastery of the material.

Potential clients  will never overlook a freelancer who has cited important examinations he was able to hurdle. And if you can back them up with skills and experience, it just shows you're professionally well rounded.

Do come back for the fourth guideline of this article series. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Five Tips for Crafting a Winning Profile for a Professional Networking Site (Part 3)

Now let's get down to the "meatiest" part of your professional profile. Your photo and job title may catch the eye of potential clients, but first, they'd like to take a careful look at your profile to find out if you're just the candidate they're looking for.

Here's the next guideline:

Use appropriate headings.

After uploading a photo and typing your job title, you will be asked to round up whatever credentials you may have in your field. 

The following are just a few basic tips to keep in mind:


Keep it to a maximum of two to three brief paragraphs, and write concisely about the nature of the majority of tasks, projects, and assignments that you've handled during the last five to seven years.

If you've been freelancing for a while and you've managed to shorten your "dry spells" by actively seeking out work, eventually you would have established a routine.

Check your log books, spreadsheets, and other records. What are the tasks that keep on recurring? It's highly probable that after a while, you have grown competent in a few areas of your job.

Here's an example:

"A pharmaceutical copywriter adept at breaking down medical procedures and jargon into layman's terms, and is aimed towards helping raise awareness about lifestyle diseases through brochures and flyers."


Most people fill out this portion with the course they took up in college, and it's perfectly fine for freelancing professionals whose courses have helped their careers flourish.

But in some cases, which aren't entirely exceptional, a freelancer was granted a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in a certain field, and then proceeded to choose a line of work that has very little or absolutely no connection with his degree from university.

Certain factors come into play why this happens, but I will refrain from digging further and mention that plenty of freelancers save up and enroll in short-term courses to get some form of certification for the field they chose. Any certification can be turned into a credential when filling out a professional profile.

Do keep coming back as I continue this article series.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Five Tips for Crafting a Winning Profile for a Professional Networking Site (Part 2)

In my previous article, I have cited mind your looks to be the first pre-requisite to creating a winning profile in a professional networking site. But a photo can be considered as mere "icing on the cake." You have to be discerning with how you write or what you choose to share on the rest of your profile.

So let's continue with the next guideline:

Brand yourself accordingly.

Take a step back and think, "What separates me from all the other professionals and workers that will be competing for the same jobs/projects/opportunities in which I'm interested? What could possibly be my edge over them?"

Some freelancing professionals have learned to cultivate an equal level of expertise in two, three, or even more areas or fields. Lest you equate this with being a "jack-of-all-trades," it's not. This only means that a professional freelancer doesn't have to limit the scope of his expertise.

To illustrate, we've all heard of writers who can rave over new products, or compare post-paid mobile phone plans so readers can make informed decisions. Since they are attuned to the needs and preferences of the market, they can, with enough training and practice, be equally as effective in writing advertising copy.

So their job title could be "Freelance Product Reviewer and Advertising Copywriter". Since LinkedIn allows its users to see how many times their profiles have appeared in searches for up to the last 90 days, freelancing professionals can easily gauge during which times there's a huge demand for them.

Keep coming back for the rest of this article series.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Five Tips for Crafting a Winning Profile for a Professional Networking Site

Facebook and Twitter may be leading the pack in social networking, but if you're a professional freelancer, web sites like LinkedIn and SkillPages can yield tremendous benefits for you.

Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that you will immediately be flooded with emails from clients, offering you lucrative projects or contracts. Rather, your success in meeting clients who will recognize your worth will depend on how effective you are in crafting your profile.

The following is a run-down on the basics of creating a professional profile:

Mind your looks.

Your professional image, that is. Potential clients are very discerning, and one of the tell-tale signs that a freelancer takes his work very seriously is by the way he chose to present his best face to the world, or the World Wide Web, so to speak.

Potential clients are most bothered by men and women who are otherwise skilled and competent, and yet, have not bothered to look polished in their profile photos. 

There are men and women wearing tank tops or shirts with lewd graphics, and some look like Gothic gods and goddesses. Some even go as far as putting a photo of them with their boyfriend or girlfriend!

With regards to profile photos, here are some general guidelines: Wear a collared shirt in a dark yet conservative color, and ideally, your background must be white or cream. For men, it's also appropriate to wear a shirt and tie. Your hair must be be cut in a contemporary, but still conservative, style.

Please check back for the next installments of this series.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Want to Learn How to Advertise on Facebook?

If it is within your long-term plan as a freelancing professional to make your presence felt over the World Wide Web, one of the best (and least expensive) ways to do this is to learn how to market yourself through Facebook.

With the invention of Facebook came the convenience and ease to connect with a wider audience and appeal to a potential clientele who are tech- and net-savvy. 

Having said all of the above, here are a few reminders so you know what you'll be up against as you train yourself to set up your own Facebook Page or Pages for your clients:

Learning social media marketing will take a lot of time and patience.

The only way you can reduce your time is to know your clientele really well. If you write copy for print ads, what is the nature of the majority of businesses that have sought out your services during the last three years? Do they aim to raise awareness for common lifestyle conditions, like hypertension and diabetes and offer generic brands of medicine as cheaper alternatives, or do they do the opposite, like promoting health and wellness through food supplements?

Likewise, if you specialize in web content or creating company logos, most of those entrepreneurs are probably in the process of expanding their enterprise.

From your knowledge, you can come up with keywords like "print ad," "advertising copy," "web content writer," "web content writing," "company logo," etc. Keywords are essential since online users have to enter specific words or phrases in search engines.

It will take a lot of trial and error.

You are taking your freelancing business further, and expect to do a lot of experimenting. Your efforts will be rewarded by both success and failure, but take the failures as stepping stones towards improvement.

To start learning social media marketing, log on to Facebook, scroll down the page, and click Create Ad.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Why Writing for Exposure Can Be Better Than Writing for Pay (Part 3)

Here's the last type of freelancer who can get more from writing for exposure rather than pay:

The aspiring social media specialist

Entrepreneurs wouldn't hesitate to hire a net-savvy writer who can create a Facebook Page or Twitter account to appeal to a broader base of potential customers.

Over the years I have seen countless small businesses selling pastry and other baked goodies on Facebook. And yet, in order to achieve a substantial number of "Likes" on Facebook or followers on Twitter, businesses hoping to raise brand awareness must be discerning about what they'll promote and share, and even create an atmosphere where there can be moderated interaction among users.

If the owner has come up with a catchy, unusual, or even quirky name for his business, then you have to come up with an equally catchy tagline to sustain the interest of online visitors.

When it comes to information, it's good to keep the following tips in mind:
  • Think about what lends uniqueness to your client's products. If he bakes cupcakes to be served at kids' birthday parties, you might want to put a creative spin on such keywords as "birthday," "children's party," or "cupcake" as your selling proposition.
  • Focus on the "humanitarian angle" of the pastry business' history. This is usually the part that tugs at the heartstrings of most people. For example, your client may have been a former employee who decided to leave the workplace in order to balance his time between earning money and raising his family.
  • What do satisfied customers usually say about your client's goodies? It may not just be the taste, but also the attractive packaging, or the relatively affordable price.
In my next articles, I'll give you instructions on how to gain access to free information on creating a Facebook Page as a tool for marketing.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why Writing for Exposure Can Be Better Than Writing for Pay (Part 2)

As I have mentioned previously, there are certain instances when freelancers should grab the opportunity to write not for money, but exposure. Here are the remaining types of writers who will benefit most from this:

The freelancer who wants to provide web content writing services

When it comes to growth and expansion, the majority of entrepreneurs wouldn't think twice about putting up a website. Opening an online shop is considered going a step further in their marketing efforts, because now they can reach an audience that is more sophisticated and tech-savvy.

But here's the deal. Having a domain name for a business will require entrepreneurs to shell out anywhere from USD10 to USD40 monthly, which means a handsome amount of more than USD1,000 annually. This has to be an on-going part of their marketing strategy.

So imagine the pressure entrepreneurs face in getting as many online visitors as possible to buy their products or avail of their services. Oftentimes the secret to the public's clamor for a certain product doesn't lie in the product itself, but how effective a web content writer makes a sales pitch online.

An aspiring web content writer must be aware that many online readers can detect "marketing fluff," which is the effect of exaggerating a product's benefits, ending up with copy that is far from being concise.

And since online selling is different from other types of selling, most netizens would fine it a chore -- and an absolute bore -- to read text that turns out to be nothing but fluff.

The aspiring copywriter

Freelancers who'd like to specialize in writing copy for brochures and flyers should start submitting spec ads to small business owners. Brochures and flyers, especially glossy ones, may require less text. And yet, when written with the needs and wants of the target market in mind and strategically placed as a caption or anything else, it can pack a punch and deliver a strong impact on the consumer.

Stay tuned for the last installment of this three-part series.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Why Writing for Exposure Can Be Better Than Writing for Pay

Since freelancing is already considered a legitimate profession, it's not unusual for someone outside the field to assume that freelance writers equate remuneration only with money.

That's because it seems counter-intuitive to refuse every paid writing opportunity, especially when projects won't always be around for the taking.

But smart freelancers who rely on their ability to craft coherent paragraphs know the benefits of writing without pay for something better than cash. Something that would bring them long-term gain: exposure.

Yes, you read that right. Exposure to a wider audience is especially crucial if you want to be known among the right kind of clientele -- the people who will have no second thoughts to hire you or give you an assignment if you can prove that you're competent and capable of turning in a great job.

Here are the five main groups of writers who will benefit most from writing for exposure instead of pay:

The aspiring writer of feature articles

Since the associate or managing editor of most leading magazines will ask to see a couple of clips from you before requiring a full-length article, it is important to land several unpaid gigs with less known publications first, or periodicals with a limited circulation.

Volunteer to be a "stringer" for your local paper, get something published in your community newsletter, or rave about the successful Christmas party for orphans that was organized by the non-profit organization you support in their website. That's how one gets started in article writing.

The blogger who'd like to establish himself in his niche

Guest blogging, or writing a short article to be posted in another person's blog, is a terrific and cost-effective way to drive more traffic to your blog. Here's how it works. 

Occasionally, bloggers who've been writing about a specialized topic for more than a year will put up an announcement to attract other bloggers. Usually, the goal is to gather a group of like-minded netizens who write about the same topic or different aspects of the same topic.

The blog's author will then ask the candidates to provide the links to their blogs and then sort through the selection and pick the best. 

The established blogger will require the chosen candidate to write one or even a series of articles. The guest blogger must be cited, and he will be asked to include links that will direct readers to his own blog. If the guest blogger had been effective in arousing the curiosity and interest of his online readers, they would want to take a good look at what his blog has to offer.

There are blogs that are well established and popular, to the point that getting 1,000 unique views a month is not unusual. Imagine what 1,000 unique views a month can do for a guest blogger who has yet to build his readership.

In my next article, I'll cite the other three types of freelance writers who will benefit more from exposure rather than money.

Friday, November 15, 2013

How to Make an Extra Php3,000-Php4,000 Monthly (Part 2)

In my previous post, I've shown you a couple of ways to catch the attention of potential buyers by phrasing your advertising copy effectively.

I have mentioned that magazines are some of the easiest things to sell online, and as a magazine collector myself, I know that most of the issues in my stash can be a prized possession for another reader.

There are a number of periodicals that publish collector's editions, like a double issue featuring two different celebrities. 

Also, magazines that cater to teenage girls usually have a separate issue for prepping up for the prom, from choosing a dress to finding the right hairstyle to applying makeup. Girls and their moms would surely want to take advantage of this to help them decide on which items they can afford to splurge or scrimp.

Again, the secret lies in crafting an enticing hook. Take a look at the following:

Looking for SLAM Magazine Collector's Editions? Get 6 for Php750

Back-to-back issues of SLAM are priced at Php200 each, so that's Php1,200 for a total of six issues. Offering them for Php750 is slashing almost 40 percent off the original total price.

Here's another one:

YM Prom Edition 1997-1999 for Php650

During those years, an issue of YM was priced at Php300, so three issues will add up to a whopping Php900. So imagine getting them for almost 30 percent off. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Make an Extra Php3,000-Php4,000 Monthly (Part 1)

In my previous post, I talked about how you can make an easy Php1,000-Php2,000 out of helping homeowners who put up livable quarters for rent. Here's another tip that will help rake in more money for you:

Make yourself available to people who advertise value rather than novelty.

What does value over novelty mean? Simple. Products fall into the category "second-hand" or "used items," but usually, sellers of second-hand items are experts, or at least knowledgeable, of the existing market that will be willing to shell out cash for their goods. 

But second-hand sellers still need the right approach to assure that they don't end up shortchanged. There's a very fine line that separates haggling and settling for the best bargain. That's the top reason these sellers need a good copywriter. 

Now, who are the value over novelty merchants who are most in need of the touch of an expert communicator who can write effective copy?

I'll list a few to help you get an idea:

(1.) People who sell their second-hand stuff online

The term "second-hand stuff" covers a wide range of items, from vehicles (e.g. cars and motorcycles) and exercise equipment to something as seemingly trivial as comics, a deck of cards, toys, books, and magazines. 

Websites like and are two of the best-known local sites for buyers and sellers. If your clients are interested in peddling their wares through these sites, I advise you to err on the side of caution and take time to read and understand their terms and conditions before getting into any form of transaction.

Now, as a copywriter, I'll give you a simple illustration on how to create value for your second-hand sellers. 

A glossy magazine sold at a newsstand price of Php120-Php200 will lose more than half its value just two months later. It's not unusual to spot racks of magazines at the mall where an issue that fetched for Php120 in March come out in their stalls in May for the price of Php40-Php50.

Now, there are magazines that are prized for their excellent content and wide circulation, like Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping, Sports Illustrated, O, and fashion magazines like Vogue, Seventeen, Vanity Fair, etc. 

Also, if you're a dedicated hobbyist, you may have invested money on magazines that focus on topics like photography, needlecraft, and scrapbooking.

Magazines are some of the easiest stuff to sell, especially if you catch the attention of the readers who avidly read the types of magazines your clients want to dispose for cash.

You can negotiate with your clients that you will write three different copies for their online ads starting at Php3,000. Ask for your usual flat fee and a down payment of 30 to 40 percent of your copywriter's fee.

When writing your ad, it's best to craft your hook this way:

Get 3 Back Issues of Good Housekeeping for Php120!

It's a fact that the majority of online users have short attention spans. You have to catch their eye within 20 seconds after they land on the web page where your ad is located. If a buyer is interested, he will click on your ad to read further.

Notice carefully that I used a figure and didn't spell out the word "three," since we're not talking about writing a term paper or formal essay. If you happen to capture the attention of two to three avid readers who know their magazine like the back of their hand, they would easily know that three issues for the price of one is a steal.

Here's another way to write to entice online users:

Buy 3 Back Issues of Preview for Php200 -- and Get Your Fourth One FREE!

Because foreign publications are deemed a luxury here in the Philippines, local fashion magazines are highly preferred by salon owners, frugal shoppers, and students of cosmetology.

While it may seem like your client is charging Php200 for three issues, adding a fourth issue for free is actually offering four magazines for Php50 each.

Now, if your client has at least a year's worth of Good Housekeeping or Preview, that can already fetch him a total of Php480-Php600. If he has two, three or more years' worth of issues, that is already a goldmine.

In my next post, I'll show you how to craft more hooks to make potential buyers read your sales pitch.

Monday, November 11, 2013

How to Make an Extra Php1,000-Php2,000 Monthly

As a freelancing professional, you will soon learn that part of your success will lie in your ability to communicate and negotiate effectively with people. But what if I tell you that there's another skill that, if you will just take enough time to master, can be a surefire way for you to rake in additional income?

Here it is:

Make people's lives easier.

Yes, you read that right, especially with entrepreneurs. Even those that are in the process of growth and expansion still seek ways to keep their operations as simplified as possible to manage costs.

You can use this to your advantage. If you have an extra hour or two all throughout the week or during weekends, think, "How can I use this time to help others end up with a rosier bottom line while helping myself as well?"

One of the best ways to earn a thousand-peso bill or two a month is to write collection letters for people who offer rooms or houses for rent. Often, one of the main problems of owners is tenants making delayed payments, or making the decision to leave the vicinity with delinquent accounts.

Be informed that within areas where people place a high value on real estate, homeowners usually ask for an amount of Php7,000 to as high as Php12,000 monthly. While this may be lucrative, it can cause some significant problems in the long run if not handled properly. 

As you can see, homeowners would do anything to prevent any amount of money to remain as an outstanding balance, as this will be disastrous for their business. To be able to do this, the owner may need to issue subsequent collection letters to tenants, and, if needed, letters of negotiation.

You can phrase your collection letters this way:

Please be reminded that you still have an outstanding balance of Php___ after depositing Php___ for October's rent. In order to make payments more manageable for you, I will allow you to settle the balance on an installment basis. 

As the deadline for your next payment is not until the 30th of this month, you can deposit the amount of Php___ on or before the tenth, fifteenth, and twenty-fifth, respectively. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

This Blog is "Temporarily Closed"

This is going to be short and sweet:

HAPPY ALL SAINTS' DAY, everyone! Enjoy the long weekend!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Making an Upgrade

In my previous post, I talked about making an upgrade to keep sustaining yourself as a professional freelancer. Here are the other essentials that you must get:

(3.) A basic bookshelf

After several years of freelancing, you must have figured out what your specialties are and chose to focus on those. Take it to the next level and start investing in books about your specialties.

Other people may argue that everything can be Googled these days, and if you were smart, you should have joined at least a couple of networking groups for freelancers.

But reading to keep abreast of the latest developments in freelancing still remains to be an important aspect if you don't want your career to become stagnant. 

A bookshelf is also needed if you submit feature articles to editors, and you have a growing collection of published articles in magazines.

(4.) A filing cabinet

Freelancing professionals who learn to manage their work load, schedule, and income will eventually stabilize their cash flow. Attaining a five- or even six-figure salary is not totally impossible, even for freelancers.

Your files must always be kept current, and make sure to double-check for accuracy. You need documents as proof of your transactions and cash flow. 

Financially stable freelancers here in the Philippines may start thinking about getting some form of coverage and making monthly contributions to the Social Security System

Also, affordable health care is being made available these days to freelancers. However, I'm not in the best position to help you determine the best company where you can get access to health care. If you're interested, make sure to do some research and talk it over with your family.

Monday, October 28, 2013

When Is It Time for You to Upgrade?

When you've been freelancing successfully for two, three, four or more years and you have managed your cash flow, you may now think about "upgrading," or investing money to help you go further in your career.

Some professional freelancers are nervous, or at least hesitant, about shelling out money to land more lucrative projects. They may have reached their comfort zone after years of being aggressive in presenting themselves to clients, and now they may not want to rock the boat.

But upgrading has nothing to do with spending more of your hard-earned cash to sustain a high-spending lifestyle. It only means that you're putting a certain amount back into your business by going for something that will make your job easier.

Now, when I mentioned "making your job easier," what immediately came to your mind? Was it having your workdays shortened because you became more efficient, leaving you with more time for recreation?

It could also mean weeding out your clientele, settling for the ones who recognize your worth and respect you as a professional instead of constantly going after those who haggle for the lowest rates just because you don't want any dry spells.

Now, take a look at the following essentials that, in the long run, will save you more time and money:

(1.) A post-paid mobile phone plan

Even the cheapest, most basic plan will already allow you a variety of perks, and using your mobile phone is ideal for making and receiving calls. If you're not at home, this would be the best way to contact you.

(2.) A web hosting service that allows you to choose from a wide range of monthly fees

Again, even the cheapest plan is usually more than enough to have more space for your portfolio. This is ideal for copywriters, web developers, editors and proofreaders, artists and illustrators, and aspiring models and actors.

In my next post, I'll cite three other essentials crucial if you want to make a career upgrade.

Friday, October 25, 2013

How to Handle an Unreasonable Client

By citing two of the most common "sticky situations" you're most likely to encounter in your career as a freelancer, you now have the idea that you need to alert and prepare yourself. There's no need for you to push the Panic button should you find yourself in a tight spot.

Let me orient you towards the last one, and this is especially tricky:

Sticky Situation #3: Unreasonable Demands Made by Your Client

To illustrate, an unreasonable demand could be a client asking to be billed after you dispatch the finished project to him, either through snail mail or email. And then, as soon as you send your invoice, your client contacts you and asks for further revisions in your work, otherwise, he shall withhold the remaining balance.

The danger: The worst that can happen is for your client to get you to cave in to his demands, and you're pushed to the losing end of your transaction.

Your way out: If you have a copy of your Freelancer's Contract, calmly explain to your client that you are only allowing a certain number of rewrites within a given time frame, and should your client end up dissatisfied with your finished work, tell him that you'll revise your work after he has paid an additional fee.

Now, you might think that you're being too harsh by asking for more money, and be prepared for objections and complaints, but this is not a financial issue. Rather, it has more to do with your professional integrity. You're sending off the signal that you value not just your skills and creative talent, but your time as well. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Here's A Terrific Web Site for Project Management and Billing

If you want a one-stop resource center where you can manage your tasks and projects at an affordable rate and even download free basic templates to use for your invoices, click the link below:

I came across this web site through my Twitter account (look me up as @gcblogger) when Cashboard "favorited" two of my Tweets. 

I'll finish this article series by citing the last "sticky situation" that you'll surely run into as a professional freelancer.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Importance of Keeping A Paper Trail

In my previous post, I named a "sticky situation" that a professional freelancer is sure to encounter in his career and possible solutions to save face while still maintaining professionalism. 

Here's another one for which you must watch out:

Sticky Situation #2: Billing a Client When You Have Incurred A Lot of Expenses

The danger: Your client may feel like you're charging him unjustly.

Your way out: Keep a paper trail.

Keeping a paper trail involves getting all your expenses accounted. Develop a system and enter any data that have to do with money you spent within the given time frame for the project.

You must be ready to submit a document with a breakdown for the following:
  • Meal expenses, although keep in mind that paying for three Starbucks lattes when you could have had a meal at an affordable diner is never reasonable.
  • Money you spent for your fare.
  • If you drove a car and spent money for gas, keep the receipt and have it photocopied. Have one copy for your client and one to be kept among your files.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Are You Caught in a "Sticky Situation"? Here Are Possible Solutions

In my previous article, I mentioned several tight spots that a professional freelancer is sure to find himself at one point of his career or another.

These tight spots can aptly be called "sticky situations." If you don't know how to handle them adeptly, it could cost you your freelancing business.

When you do encounter one, don't fret and hit the Panic button, for there are solutions for these tension-producing incidents.

Take a look at the following:

Sticky Situation #1: Missing a Deadline

The danger: You might be seen as unreliable, or worse, inconsiderate because you didn't care enough to see the project through until the end, and this may put a dent in your reputation.

Your way out: Own up to your mistake by maintaining professionalism and ask your client for an extension.

Possible steps:
  • Politely negotiate with your client and ask for an extension, but make it no more than one week. Rearrange your schedule and set aside large blocks of time in that extra period. You can devote an hour after breakfast and another hour before preparing lunch to finish the project. 
  • Be willing to offer a "buffer" for falling short of your client's expectations. For example, when it's time for you to bill your client, you can deduct a certain percentage from his remaining balance (three to five percent is adequate).
  • As soon as your client has paid your fee in full, write a message of appreciation and send it through email. 
Stay tuned for my next few articles as I cite other possible "sticky situations" you may encounter in your career as a freelancer.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Watch Out for "Sticky Situations"

When you are in business, it's easy to think that it's all about the product or the service. But here's the truth: business is all about turning people into loyal, satisfied customers. And the more satisfied customers you have, the faster your business will grow.

It's the same thing with being a professional freelancer. You may think of yourself as an independent contractor because you're not in any company's payroll. 

And yet, pause for a moment and consider: you are competing not just with other freelancers for jobs and projects, but with salaried professionals as well.

You are in the business of presenting yourself to potential clients, making them see your worth 

Now, I have mentioned the importance of being professional in all your encounters and transactions with your clients, but be reminded that there will be times when you'll find yourself in inevitable "sticky situations."

What are these "sticky situations"? Consider the following:
  • You have underestimated the length of time it would take to finish a proofreading assignment. Your client has made it clear that he's on a tight schedule and expect you to deliver on time. But the truth is, it's just impossible for you to meet the deadline.
  • You accepted a project where you have to write copy for a three-fold brochure promoting a catering business that specializes on parties and events on a budget. In addition to knowing everything about the business, you had to look for satisfied customers and interview them for the testimonials section of the brochure. You racked up a considerable amount of time calling people on your mobile phone, and, not to mention, expenses on mileage. How should you bill your client?
  • You made it clear to your client that you are only allowing up to a certain number of rewrites in your article writing service. You email your client the number of articles he wanted, and he replied that "you did a good job" and asked you to bill him right away. You had your invoice prepared and emailed it to your client, but when he replied, your client says that your articles "could still use some work" (read: further revisions). Otherwise, he will withhold full payment. What would you do?
As you can see, "sticky situations" require handling with extreme care. I'll talk about possible solutions in my next articles.

Monday, October 14, 2013

What Ruins a Freelancer's Reputation

When you as a freelancer do your best at all times, gradually you will build a solid reputation for being no-nonsense and reliable.

I'll let you in on a little secret on how business is conducted in the corporate world. With the meteoric rise of networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn during the past several years, many employers have used them to screen applicants.

Now, employers want to make sure that a potential hire has what it takes to be a team player and the patience to ease himself into the company's culture. So should they spot any form of indiscretion (e.g. lewd or questionable behavior shown in photos in the accounts of a potential hire), employers will not hesitate to pass him up no matter how strong his credentials.

As a freelancer, you most certainly can use Facebook and LinkedIn to build your platform. But be selective about what you choose to upload. 

If you're a graphic artist or illustrator, make sure that you have your best artworks laid out in a way that it will attract a lot of potential clients. If you write online articles, provide links to the ones that have most recently been published.

You may also allow a certain level of interaction in your Facebook account, where you allow your work to be critiqued by your peers. But you must make sure that comments are moderated. Otherwise, you run the risk of dealing with hecklers, or even worse, cyber-bullies. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

If You Don't Do This, Your Freelancing Business is Doomed to Fail

A good number of people who aspire to be freelancers end up disillusioned after just a year or two of trying. That's because when we think about working without a boss, we immediately paint a rosy picture in our heads about getting ardent calls from clients, working at our own pace, and getting paid at a rate that is at par with our creative talent. 

In short, we fantasize about every aspect of our careers running smoothly.

Well, I'll be honest with you. This is something that happens only after you've gone through all the hard work necessary for you to sustain yourself as an independent worker.

You may find it appealing that a freelancer has the freedom to choose from a wide selection of projects and tasks. But it will take time building a resume, and it's even more difficult to build a good reputation, so let me give you the formula -- the only formula -- you should master if you want to be a top-earning freelancer.

Here it is:

Be professional at all times.

Allow me to illustrate further as I talk about another field that has similarities to freelancing: modeling.

Talent scouts and agents are unanimous in saying that the most lucrative jobs and assignments don't always go to the best-looking or prettiest models. One even went as far as saying, "There are lots of pretty faces in the business, but they have the most horrible people skills."

And no aspiring model can make it big if it's apparent that she's not prepared during go-sees and is often late for photo shoots.

Likewise, you need to conduct yourself in the most professional way possible if you want to be a joy to work with. As soon as you receive a request for a price quote, whether by phone or email, do your best to respond within no more than 48 hours.

Improve your skills in articulating your worth as a freelancer and learn to negotiate. There will be clients who will allow you to "name your price," so to speak. And unless you have a fairly accurate assessment of your skills, you might come out in the losing end of the project.

Stay tuned for my next few articles about developing professionalism.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How to Cut Your Time Writing Emails by at Least One-Third (Part 5)

As I round up this five-part article series about cutting your time composing emails, here's the last type of template you must learn to write:

A template expressing thanks and telling your client that you'd like to work with them again should they need your services.

In the field of freelancing, it's always easier to eventually build a network of repeat clients, which means those that would be willing to hire you every time a new project comes up, than you going around looking for new clients again and again. 

This is the main reason doing your best and being professional can't be stressed often enough. Clients enjoy working with freelancers who possess a positive attitude towards their job, has initiative, and is creative and flexible. 

And clients already know that they'll get a real bargain by hiring a freelancer because they'll pay less for the services, so finding a freelancer who prioritizes quality and excellence is like discovering a goldmine. So think about the advantages of having six, eight, or more repeat clients giving you jobs year-round.

So once each client has paid every remaining balance, compose a thank-you email. Here are a few samples that you can use:

Here's to acknowledge your payment of (state amount of remaining balance) made through (state mode of payment) for my copywriting services. Thank you for being prompt. Should you need a copywriter in the future, don't hesitate to get in touch with me.

I appreciate the way you've entrusted me with applying guerrilla marketing to sell tickets for your three-day event that is aimed towards raising cultural awareness and appreciation of literature.  

As a freelancer who has participated in literary festivals and awareness campaigns, I would like to help you promote any of your succeeding events.