Monday, May 25, 2015

This Blog Will No Longer Publish New Material

I started A Guide to Profitable Freelancing in November 2012, and it has been a very challenging yet fulfilling project. I devoted much time and effort to this blog, and now I have decided to stop publishing new articles, hoping to land other writing gigs.

However, as someone who's always believed that freelancing can be a lucrative full-time career (or an excellent way to make extra income), I will occasionally write web articles that link back to this blog.

For webmasters looking for content

You're free to republish any of my articles for your blog or website, or link back to this blog, provided that you acknowledge me as the author.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Events, Celebrations, and Holidays: What Makes Them Your Best Allies in Freelancing? (Part 3)

You may not be aware that the holidays are not just a festive season for celebrations. This is also the time when small businesses or niche enterprises prefer to outsource part of their work load to freelancers like accountants or bookkeepers.

While it's not advisable to look into large placement agencies, corporations, or conglomerates for freelance jobs, you can find a wealth of opportunities among smaller or niche enterprises.

There are businesses that sell handcrafted merchandise that may need to hire "extra hands" to help them keep up with bulk orders. And don't neglect entrepreneurs who sell through stalls, booths, and bazaars. They will most probably want strategically placed ads on social media -- a goldmine for copywriters -- so potential customers can find them.

Most people may not look forward to tax season, but it offers infinite possibilities for freelancers, too. If you can help a small business owner straighten out his ledger or organize his spreadsheets, financial or bank statements, or help him identify possible tax deductions, don't be shy about making a few cold calls or writing several LOIs and offer your services.

If you regularly network with other freelancing professionals and attend conventions, you can make the most of referrals from your fellow freelancers who are swamped with projects, provided you keep up-to-date in paying them commissions.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Events, Celebrations, and Holidays: What Makes Them Your Best Allies in Freelancing? (Part 2)

In my previous post, I gave several ideas about the potential of seasonal opportunities. Since freelancing professionals must be flexible at all costs, they are the ideal group of workers to take advantage of these irregular yet recurring sources of income.

Freelance directors and video editors should take advantage of occasions like a debutante's ball, a wedding, or a wedding anniversary. These celebrations remain to be some of the grandest and most memorable in a person's life, and freelancers will always have clients who would want them to capture those precious moments on video.

If you're a photographer, you may be in demand in the above-mentioned celebrations, too. You may also want to team up with freelance writers who wish to cover events around town, like an indie author in her first book signing, an exhibit of up-and-coming artists, or a new fitness center offering classes. Magazines pay more if manuscripts come with photos that look professional.

Likewise, bloggers may need your services if they want to write a series of articles where pictures might make reading easier for online users. If they publish time-sensitive articles, bloggers will benefit more from photos that enhance their blog's layout and help them get their important points across to their readers.

Also, in this age of social media, niche entrepreneurs don't need a huge budget to "launch" a product. Copywriters, social media specialists, and web content writers can be a huge help in advertising merchandise and services by coming up with a carefully moderated Facebook Page, or an account in Instagram or Pinterest.

And almost any product or service can be advertised on Facebook these days -- from baked goodies and T-shirts to scrapbooking services and making wedding invitations. Christmas is just one of those seasons when customers look for products or services provided by niche enterprises.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Events, Celebrations, and Holidays: What Makes Them Your Best Allies in Freelancing? (Part 1)

As a freelancing professional you need to be aware of the potential of "seasonal opportunities." If you keep books or records, write advertising copy, is a highly gifted artist or skilled craftsman, or a keen organizer, you can be highly in-demand among potential clients or customers.

To illustrate, let's take the case of celebrations like birthdays and anniversaries. If you know at least a couple of a dozen people, you know that they have their own groups of friends, colleagues, and relatives. And someone turns a year older everyday. It could be an aunt or uncle, the boss' wife (or husband), or the utility man's son.

Now, when it comes to shopping for gifts, not everyone enjoys going to a huge commercial complex. And there will always be people with meticulous tastes who look for unique items that stand out. It's a common misconception that popular brands are always sought after.

If you're an artist or craftsman and you can make one-of-a-kind gifts, rest assured that there will be a potential market out there.

In the Philippines alone, a lot of young, single women and stay-at-home moms get to make a living out of the stuff they can do with their hands. They even go a step further and offer classes in order to train participants in making beaded accessories, corporate giveaways, scrapbooks, etc.

Local and international events can serve as a goldmine of ideas for freelance writers who want to pitch ideas to magazine editors. Valentine's day, Halloween, and Christmas offer an infinite number of topics and themes into which freelance writers can look and develop into full-length articles.

If you're hoping to secure a byline in an international publication, several excellent topics would be the Super Bowl weekend, Kwanzaa, or Thanksgiving.

Friday, April 24, 2015

How to Network With Startup and Small-Scale Entrepreneurs

One of the niches in freelancing that has proven to be very lucrative is tapping into the needs of entrepreneurs whose businesses are still on the startup stage. There are also a host of small-scale enterprises that may benefit from the expertise of a savvy freelancer.

According to the magazine Entrepreneur (Philippine edition), among the total number of enterprises in the country, only an estimated four percent are comprised of huge corporations. The rest are made up of SMEs, or small and medium enterprises.

Subsequent reports have said that along with remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), these SMEs have been keeping the Philippine economy afloat.

But you need to be aware that startup and small-scale enterprises don't have the horrendously large budgets that well-known companies have. It's highly likely for them to rely on methods that are inexpensive, or cost-effective, to promote their products or services.

A common marketing strategy among small-scale enterprises is carving out their own niches. They intend to attract only a fraction of consumers or clientele.

And yet, this doesn't mean that small-scale entrepreneurs don't need the services of a freelancer to help them generate more income. This only means that you have to align your skills and services with the needs of these entrepreneurs.

To help you get started, here are several suggestions:

  • Keep tab of a couple of trade magazines and look for announcements of conventions for entrepreneurs. Different types of conventions aim to cater to a wide range of industries. There are wedding and bridal conventions, as well as photography, baking, cooking, crafts, and scrapbooking. These are the first venues to keep in mind if you want to meet potential clients. Bring several business cards.
  • Do some research and find out if there are seminars held around your community where trainers aim to teach livelihood skills. Become more familiar with the seminar organizers' advocacy by immersing yourself in their activities.
  • If you have an area of expertise, get in touch with the organizers and express your desire to train or teach participants. I personally know a young, male professional who is passionate about making beaded accessories. This led him to a stint as a mentor, where he taught women beadmaking in order to help their husbands augment the household income.
  • After each seminar, politely approach anyone in charge and ask for his contact information.
  • "Web stalk" your potential clients. Check and see if they post updates or announcements on their Facebook Page, or if they have a website or blog.
  • Based on what you've seen in the seminars and online, come up with a proposal for a marketing strategy. Make it as cost-effective as possible, and realize that each enterprise have different marketing needs.
  • Email a letter of introduction (LOI) to the contact person, briefly explaining who you are and your qualifications as a freelancer.
  • Don't immediately talk about your freelancer's rates. Your proposal must entice your potential clients and win them over to your point of view.
  • Provide your contact information, and the time when you can be reached.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Can You Help the Average Joe (or Juan*) With His Startup Enterprise?

During the past decade or so, more and more people are facing the reality that the workforce has gotten unstable and less and less secure for a majority of employees. Aside from having an adequate educational background and years of experience, one must be savvy enough to acquire as many transferable skills as possible to keep up with the pace of an ever-changing workplace.

This is one of the reasons more and more people are opting out from a corporate job and are setting their sights on putting up a business. And as a freelancing professional, how can this phenomenon be a lucrative source of income for you?

Well, for starters, entrepreneurs need a solid marketing plan. Since the success of a product or service depends only on its sales or the number of people availing the service, your clients will be keen on getting noticed, or getting their merchandise or services exposed to their target market.

To illustrate, graphic artists or designers that specialize on creating invitations for baby showers or children's birthday parties are more likely to turn to social media sites like Pinterest  or Instagram to showcase their designs.

Also, marketing through Facebook has been one of the least expensive yet most effective ways to inform potential customers about a company's products.

And yet, online users don't just "stumble upon" a Facebook Page that was meant for promoting products and services. You can help entrepreneurs come up with several feasible strategies by assessing the business' strengths, how they can communicate their mission to potential customers, the gaps they aim to fill among the market, and how to keep engaging their customers by publishing fresh content and updating their Facebook Page regularly.

Putting up a website and blogging are the other excellent ways to make sure that the market is informed on the latest about upcoming products. If you have the skills and experience in writing blog posts that generate a lot of traffic, you can meet the needs of plenty of entrepreneurs who are aspiring to make it big over the long term.

And working on a website's design and landing page takes a great deal of planning, too. A landing page that yields results must be compelling enough so your visitors would want to know more about your business, what makes you tick, and your edge over the competition.

All of these may have left you wondering, "Where can I find these startup entrepreneurs that need my expertise?" I'll discuss this further in my next articles.

(*Juan is the Filipino equivalent for Joe.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Creating Additional Streams of Income

While being a freelancing professional offers plenty of perks, you may find it beneficial to look for other ways to earn, or create additional income streams.

You may have realized that having a sideline or two helps in establishing a regular cash flow faster. Dry spells are a reality in the life of a freelancer who's just starting out. The money that you earn from your sidelines will cushion the blows of dry spells and will prevent you from doubting yourself.

As an unexpected bonus, you get to hone another set of skills, or discover new ones you may have never dreamt you possessed.

I held other jobs and worked on a variety of tasks aside from freelance writing. I once had a friend who hired me to format while proofreading political speeches using Microsoft Word, and I charged a rate that was fairly competitive in spite of me being a newbie during that time.

I was also sought by a couple of job applicants who needed an editor to tweak their resumes. I have ghostwritten first-person articles and essays and helped corporate professionals with business correspondence.

In 2007 I got into the business of designing greeting cards and selling them for a profit. I did this during the holidays, when demand for Christmas cards is at its peak.

And all these tasks and new responsibilities didn't distract me from writing. Because I was getting paid for being more productive, I was able to build my cash stash, and this afforded me more time to write.

And having more time to write led me to start this blog in November 2012. By maintaining a blog, I trained myself to write content of the highest possible quality and incorporate SEO techniques.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Why the "Little Pleasures" That You Allow Yourself Might Be Hurting Your Cash Flow

As a freelancing professional, you work hard and are extremely dedicated. You always think of ways to craft a marketing strategy to attract new clients. You return your clients' calls as soon as possible, and you submit your work promptly.

But here's the deal: you realize that while "dry spells" are happening a lot less often in your career, your cash flow could still benefit from, well, a few tweaks here and there.

Plenty of people have aspired to turn freelance, but the ones who manage to stick and thrive in this business of being your own boss did several things radically. There will be a time when projects and assignments fly left and right, raising your confidence in your abilities and earning capacity.

But beware. This self-confidence might border on complacency, leading to a lack of budgeting and planning your finances.

Here's what you may need to do if your savings aren't as huge as you'd like it to be: evaluate your spending habits and see if you've been spending on items that may not cost a lot, but when added up after, say, a month, three months, or even a year, would have put a huge dent in your income.

To illustrate, when I started supplementing my writing with designing and selling greeting cards in 2007, the money came pouring in in ways I could never have imagined. I hit a nerve among employees in a corporate office that needed my prototype paper product, the gift card, and I found myself with a constant supply of jobs. 

I set aside small amounts with every sale, but I didn't think twice about shelling out Php200 on a thin-crust pizza and Coke every time I went out to replenish my supply of cardstock. My magazine reading habit reached an all-time high at that time, too.

For other freelancing professionals, three-figure lattes or having a sweet snack all too often might be the culprit. And think about this: a bag of potato chips might not cost much at Php14-Php16, but if you buy two bags a day, seven days a week, you would have spent roughly Php224.

So what's the solution to these "little holes in a freelancer's ship that might cause it to sink"? I'll give you a hint: it doesn't involve depriving yourself. Next week I'll give you practical tips on how you can enjoy on a freelancer's wages.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Want A Month's Worth of Paycheck by Year's End? Reduce Your Overhead Expenses (Part 3)

This is the last installment of this three-part article series, and I'll talk about two essential elements that comprise part of the routine of a freelancing professional.

Here's how to save up on --

Transportation and Meals

There are times when you have to go out and do research in a public library, or venues that allow access for research. You would need to plan your course of action carefully in order to maximize your days out. 

Setting a budget for transportation fares and meals is very important, especially if it will take more than a few days for you to find all the resources you need in libraries and other venues. 

A budget will prevent you from spending unnecessarily, causing you to deduct very little amounts from your cash flow. Consider the following in order to cut costs:

  • Pack a water bottle in your bag.
  • Bring a couple of sandwiches so as not to be tempted to turn to vending machines for soda and salty chips. Whole-wheat bread is best because it's extra filling.
  • Take the jeepney, bus, or train whenever possible. Riding taxi cabs can rack up horrendous amounts of cash.

I have talked about this in greater detail in a previous post (click here to read).

Monday, February 9, 2015

Want A Month's Worth of Paycheck by Year's End? Reduce Your Overhead Expenses (Part 2)

In this next article installment, I'll cite additional ways for you to have a substantial amount of savings by year's end. Here's how you can save on --

Health Care
  • If you're freelancing in the Philippines, I strongly suggest that you start making contributions to Social Security System and PhilHealth. Google "SSS contributions" for further details.
  • If you started freelancing in your 20s and 30s, you will probably be less likely to be prone to serious illnesses. Still, you should think about getting yourself covered for routine check-ups like annual physical exams and dental and ocular inspections. When acquiring health insurance, simply settle for the one that would be most affordable given your monthly cash flow.
  • The cheapest health insurance still remains to be eating healthfully and exercising moderately. Make physical fitness a part of your daily routine.

  • You need not spend Php40,000 or even Php30,000 on a new computer. Pre-owned desktop and laptop computers that are still in good condition can now be bought at olx[dot]ph (click here to view site). Be forewarned, though, that making transactions in this site would mean complying to certain guidelines.
  • There are a multitude of free software that can be downloaded from reputable websites. Be selective enough, and make sure to choose the ones that are virus-free and will be most practical for you.
  • Forego furniture stores and visit garage sales, or ask friends or relatives if they have an old desk that you can repurpose.
  • If you would need to send your manuscripts and CDs through snail mail, National Bookstore sells brown envelopes with bubble wrap inside in various sizes. Apply for a Laking National Bookstore card to accumulate points for your other purchases, like pens and stationery.
  • Save up on folders and brown envelopes by buying a separate USB for backing up files like copies of your Freelancer's Contract, collection letters, replies to promissory notes or negotiation letters, and records of transactions. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Want A Month's Worth of Paycheck by Year's End? Reduce Your Overhead Expenses (Part 1)

Would you like a cool, one month's worth of salary (around Php12,000-Php15,000) by the end of 2015? Take time to re-evaluate your overhead expenses, and see where you can cut costs.

Here are several suggestions:


To save on electricity:

  • Unless you're a film critic or you write guides to increase one's chances in winning video games, limit screen time (TV, internet, video games, etc.) to no more than two hours a day. 
  • Limit the time you spend on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) unless you use these sites as platforms to promote your freelance business.
  • Make it a habit to unplug appliances from their sockets when not in use. A MERALCO advisory claims that this will save you Php300 monthly.
  • Have your meals planned a week or even two weeks ahead, and then assign Saturday or Sunday afternoon as the time when you cook food in bulk. You can freeze them in the refrigerator, and then, come meal time, heat just enough portions for you and your family.
  • If you prefer to have your meat, chicken, and fish grilled, invest in an electric grill to save on charcoal (this would also mean less time cleaning up). Consider grilling huge portions of chicken and fatty fish so you can have enough for lunch and dinner.

To save on phone bills:

  • Consider getting a telephone-and-internet "bundle," and opt for the cheapest plan. You can make and receive phone calls at home, and setting up a free Skype account would mean additional ways to get in touch with you.
  • If you have to be on the road a few days a month, get a post-paid plan that allows you a free cellular phone. Settle for the most affordable plan that will bring you the most benefits.

To save on utility bills and home maintenance expenses:

  • Always have a couple of LED bulbs handy. LED bulbs come cheaper since they're lower in wattage, but they give off more than adequate lighting.
  • Plan your laundry and ironing. Since freelancing at home may mean a lighter load, you can limit the frequency of laundry to twice a week at most.

Friday, January 2, 2015

To All Freelancing Professionals Out There, Make It Happen This 2015

It's a brand new year, and it's crucial to assess how the previous year went for your freelancing career so you can determine your moves for 2015.

You may have figured out the kind of routine that has brought you the most benefits, not just in terms of boosting your productivity, but in eliminating, or at least, minimizing distractions.

But due to the nature of our jobs, freelancing professionals shouldn't grow lax over time. Take a few hours now and assess where you need to improve and what you'd like to do. If your goal is --

to have a regular cash flow as soon as possible:
  • Diversify by having at least three specialized skills. 
  • Team up with other freelancers, establish a network, and recommend each other when you're swamped with projects. While you may not earn actively, you can still collect a 12- to 15-percent commission.
  • Set up several payment options. PayPal is best if you have clients overseas, but Xoom is also just as effective.
  • You may need to vary the standard 50/50 payment plan. I operate on a 40/60 basis, which means I only require a 40-percent down payment and a flat fee and I can immediately proceed to work and have my client settle the balance after I turn in the finished draft. If the project is large in scope and will stretch for weeks and even months, I adapt it to 40/30/30, which means getting a 40-percent down payment and some time into the project, I'll receive another 30 percent of the rough estimate so I can have something to keep me going. And after I turn the work in, I'll collect the remaining 30 percent.
  • Offer your client an installment plan for more convenience. 

to discover new markets:
  • Take a good look at your hobbies, interests, and other pastimes. Even something as seemingly "quirky" as frequenting garage sales can be a goldmine of ideas for articles and blog posts.
  • Google blogs and websites about the topics that interest you, and spend a few days doing market study. Skim through the articles, notice how they're slanted, and see how they appeal to you as a reader.
  • Ignore the newsstands and grocery store racks that sell magazines. I was able to discover two new titles at a rack inside a hardware store. The pet shop may have a number of publications about pet care, and the Sunday edition of your favorite newspaper may have "inserts" where you can pitch article ideas.
  • To be able to keep within a budget when buying magazines and other periodicals, click here and here.

to improve your "soft skills":
  • Draft your emails and cover letters carefully, keeping them brief yet concise. Highlight two to three of your skills, or other qualifications that present you as the best person for the job.
  • Organize your portfolio and keep it up-to-date. If you're applying for a writing gig for a parenting blog, make sure that you can immediately retrieve two of your written samples and attach them in your email.
  • Click here if you don't have any clips, or published articles, yet.
  • To save time writing emails, click here.

Have a happy new year!