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.