There are no magic bullets, no magic formula. Those of us who have been there through sun and storm, can only smile at the fact that everything starts with a burning desire to succeed. The craft of freelancing takes years to shape and a lifetime to perfect. We are very fortunate – the Internet has redefined the word “freelance” and has made it a lucrative career for almost everybody with specialized information. Now, with a little guide and a lot of practice, success at freelance is more of a reality today than it ever was before the Internet was mainstream. It may take a lot of hard work with long hours, but in the end, it really is possible to have comfortable income through online freelance work.
To help you remember the Quick Guide, I came up with the perfect acronyms – SKIN, GOAL and LEVEL. Please do your best to memorize the acronyms because they definitely will come in handy and create milestones for you. After all, it is your life’s career on the plate.
Phase 1 – Identify your S-K-I-N
Phase 2 – Set your G-O-A-L
• Generate your product/ service
• Organize a business system
• Accelerate your sales
• Leapfrog your way to the top
Phase 3 – Bring yourself to the next L-E-V-E-L
• Leverage on joint projects
• Enrich others to enrich yourself
• Volunteer for visibility
• Earn sponsorships and favours
• Live a simple life
Let us start with Phase 1 – Identify your S-K-I-N
The objective of Phase 1 is to establish the foundation of your career. By identifying your skill, knowledge, and interest, you will also be able to recognize existing conditions, concerns, constraints, or even weaknesses. Through some exercises, you will be able to formulate decisions that will dictate the future intensity and consistency of the rate of your progress. After finding out your skill, knowledge, and interest, we will proceed to explore ways to build your network.
Follow these steps:
1) Make 3 columns on your paper and mark each column with the headings – SKILL, KNOWLEDGE, and INTEREST. Make your lists following the criteria below.
2) Study the lists and weigh the possibilities when you have to choose only one item from each column.
3) Finalize and make your conclusion as shown from the examples below.
4) Generate a random idea of the kind of freelance business you can pursue.
The skills we refer to are the “God-given skill”. These are the skills that were given to you when you were born. If you were stripped naked from all resources – money, friends, education, etc., what is it that you can do on your own without help?
Is it the ability to sketch people in detail?
Can you make up fascinating stories?
Can you write travel journals?
Are you a born salesman?
Can you make children laugh?
Are you a math wizard?
Can you compose songs?
Do you easily grow flowers?
By knowledge, we mean “specialized knowledge”. These are special information that a niche market may find valuable. Specialized knowledge can be about sunset photography, furniture designing, copywriting, wood varnishing, basket making, animal breeding, interior decorating, flower arranging, bread making, software programming, web designing, business plan writing, video making, online marketing, SEO writing, and many others.
Oftentimes, we do not recognize the specialized knowledge that we already have for so long. Specialized knowledge may be as simple as knowing so much about caring for the elderly or preparing everyday meals for a diabetic child.
In a lifetime, there could be a range of interests that keep us occupied. The interest we are looking for is the one that you are so passionate about that you do not notice the time spent in the task. In fact, you may not be producing great results but you keep on it because “passionate interest” is therapeutic and stimulating.
Now, study your lists and whenever you are certain about your personal evaluation, identify the following aspects for building your career. Take your time…
GOD-GIVEN SKILLL _______________________________
SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE _______________________________
PASSIONATE INTEREST _______________________________
Sample conclusion No. 1
God-given skill is “writing”
Specialized knowledge is “preparing salad recipes”
Passionate interest is “growing vegetables from the backyard”
Random idea: You can blog about your day to day experience on growing vegetables from the backyard. Talk about preparing the soil, which crops grow under the shade or sunlight, etc. Describe the tools you use. Excite the readers by showing videos. Solicit sponsorship from possible advertisers. Make an eBook on “Salad Recipes – Fresh from the Garden”. Place brand ads of olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, etc. On the eBook and distribute for free when they subscribe to your blog.
Sample conclusion No. 2
God-given skill is “selling”
Specialized knowledge is “computer repair”
Passionate interest is “computer games”
Random idea: Possible online business is to write your reviews about different computer games and get advertising sponsorships. Make recommendations suitable for each age group. You can also write about ways to upgrade the hardware specifications to optimize the performance of the desired software game. Tie up with computer dealers as your supplier. Create your own bundling promo package for software games and sell online.
Sample conclusion No. 3
God-given skill is “teaching”
Specialized knowledge is “publishing books”
Passionate interest is “playing with children”
Random idea: Obviously, you can teach illustrators and writers how to create entertaining educational books that children would respond to. Get samples of books from various publishers and offer to conduct random survey to see which book a child will choose to pick up based on the front cover, etc. Document the process on video. You can write reviews of children’s books and make recommendations on how to improve them. Publishers will happily pay you for the survey results before they send the prototype to the press.
Generating a random idea of what your freelance business is a great way to visualize yourself in action. Do not worry about the details because a lot of these will change over time as you become more confident about your goal and vision. As you dedicate more energy and focus to your God-given skills, specialized knowledge, and passionate interest, the more you can propel your career to success.
Lesson 2 of our Freelance Career Guide is all about identifying your NETWORK. Network is also known as our “Market” or “Prospective Client”.
You can not even begin to think about “building your network” if you have not clearly identified the S-K-I-N as a whole. If this is the case, you need to review:
• Skill – God-given
• Knowledge – Specialized
• Interest – Passionate
• Network – Money-making
Your network is the list of people you can sell to (and if you are looking at multi-level network, then your network can be defined as the tiers of people you sell to).
The quality of your network reflects who you are. If you sell “get-rich-no-work” business scheme then the network you will attract are those who want fast money without having to work. If you sell online casino membership, then you would attract the network who would rather invest their time on “luck” rather than “hard work”. There is no”right” and “wrong” network. It is just a matter of choice.
You can build your N by first announcing and advertising your S-K-I. The fastest way to do this is by starting a blog. It may sound weird at this point but a well-visited blog is the easiest strategy and most economical venue to showcase your skill, knowledge, and interest worldwide. Only then, you can attract like-minded people, build relationship and trust over a short period of time, and eventually convert your S-K-I-N to a sales machine. In the following lessons of Phase 2, we will discuss in detail the ways to build your network based on your business plan. For now, let us focus on finalizing Phase 1.
Let us pick-up our sample scenario from Lesson 1 to give you an idea:
• God-given SKILL is “writing”
• Specialized KNOWLEDGE is “preparing salad recipes”
• Passionate INTEREST is “growing vegetables from the backyard”
• Money-making NETWORK is a list of buyers interested in salad recipes, salad dressing concoctions, spices, organic fertilizers, gardening tools, and other products related to your knowledge and passionate interest.
Random idea for the business plan:
You can blog about your daily thoughts on growing vegetables from the backyard. Talk about preparing the soil, which crops grow under the shade or sunlight, etc. Describe the tools you use. Excite the readers by showing videos. Solicit sponsorship from possible advertisers. Make an eBook on “Salad Recipes – Fresh from the Garden”. Place brand ads of olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, concoctions, etc. On the eBook and distribute for free when they subscribe to your blog. Look for other products to sell. Create an e-commerce catalogue.
Now, you may say, “but where will I get the products to sell?” Do not worry, we will go through all the important aspects, step-by-step in Phase 2 of our Freelance Career Guide.
Take a moment to study your S-K-I-N conclusion. Are you happy with it? Can you visualize the big picture and feel the excitement of the random business idea? If you feel inspired by your S-K-I-N, then you must be gearing for the right direction.
You need to be very certain about your S-K-I-N because all your future undertakings will depend on them. Any slight changes can affect the total business perspective. As much as we are leveraging on your strengths and assets, you also need to keep in mind the personal weakness that you need to work on or work around with. Working on your own can lead to crazy, lazy work habits that you would never get away with if you are employed. Remember, you need to be making money every single day.
Take your time to assess yourself before proceeding to Phase 2. Take your time – as much as your personal resources can accommodate. Take up short courses, accept freelance jobs, join hobby clubs, forums, workshops, and seminars.
Continue to maintain a blog to get used to writing down your thoughts. You will also get comments that may inspire you to write more. By the time you are ready to work on your own plan, you would have improved your communication skills – an essential tool for success.
Close your eyes. Imagine that the current date is five years from now. Where do you want to be? Will you be running a job or business that hasn’t increased significantly in size? Will you command a rapidly growing network? Will you continue to expand the opportunities or would you have already cashed out and be relaxing and enjoying your hard-won gains?
Answering these questions is the first step in building a successful career plan. In fact, without knowing where you are going, it’s not really possible to plan at all.
Why should you freelance on God-given skill?
My answer is simple: God-given skill is something that you possess no matter what happens. More importantly, it is yours freely without having to ask for it. There must be a very good reason why YOU and not everyone else in this world were given the privilege of having this particular gift. It is entirely up to you to figure out how to make good use of it.
It is both logical and practical to plan any career with that in mind. Doing freelance can get lonely at one point. Work buddies can come and go, projects can go wrong, release of fees can get delayed, your business can collapse overnight – a lot can happen that could discourage and confuse you. And when you do not have friends, money, or anything else to hold on to, you can always pick up on your God-given skill because it is truly yours free. A career charted by God-given skill can reward you a profession built on solid ground – no matter how many times you fall.
Watch out for Phase 2 of our Freelance Career Guide. You may also visit Freelance Business Success at http://mylenekasilag.wordpress.com