How to run a freelance business​ while going to school

How to run a freelance business​ while going to school

Freelancing is popular with students because it’s extremely flexible. However, non-freelancers often misunderstand what it means to have a lot of flexibility.

Any freelancer that’s worked with more than one client will tell you that there’s a lot more to their work than actively doing whatever they specialize in while being paid for it.

There are always people to email, invoices to send, phone calls to make, social media promotional material to post, content to generate, etc, etc, etc. If you add the responsibilities of being a student into the mix you’re taking on a lot at once.

The good news is that juggling both the responsibilities of being a freelancer and the responsibilities of being a student is 100% possible.  Everyone from Alicia Rades to Aja Frost started their freelance business while they were still in school.

And guess what? I hit year two of my freelance business right around the time that I decided to go back to school and work towards an Editing Certification part-time at a local community college.

Today I’m going to show you what I’ve learned so far about juggling both school and the everyday responsibilities of a freelance business.

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1) Plan out your week in advance

When I first found myself in a position where I was juggling part-time studies and a freelance business for the first time it was extremely overwhelming.

Not only did I have a business to run, and clients to please, but I also had a demanding community college program to keep up with. It was a new and unfamiliar feeling for me, so I made a lot of mistakes.

Then, everything changed in my second term when I got a lot more used to my program and learned to divide the time that I dedicated to both parts of my life in half.

But what do I mean by that? On a weekly basis, divide everything up into batches, from the marketing part of freelancing to client projects, to school assignments, studying for exams, etc.

Carefully schedule everything from when you’ll do school projects and study for exams, to when you’ll write a blog post, email clients, and do projects for your clients. And whatever you do, always stick to your schedule!

2) Communicate Openly With Professors, Clients, Etc.

Every time you start a new course, with a new instructor, or take on a new client be extremely open about the fact that you’re a freelancer that’s also working towards a degree or certificate.

Both responsibilities are extremely demanding and often people can surprise you when they know that you’re trying hard, but taking on a lot.

Here’s my suggestion on how to mention to instructors and clients that you’re both a freelancer and a student:

“Looking forward to working with you (or taking your class) just wanted to take a second to also mention that I’m also taking (insert course name or names here) to help my freelance business thrive and grow over the long-term.”

See? Not hard at all! And you’d be amazed how understanding people can be once they know this!

3) Use Tools That Help You Save Time on Emails, Marketing, Etc.

One of my favorite parts of Twitter is that I keep learning more and more about awesome tools that are out there to help me automate everything from social media to emails, to just about everything else.

Because these tools exist, there’s no longer an excuse to say that you don’t have time for small but also important tasks, such as chasing people down for invoices, being active on social media, responding to marketing-focused emails, etc.

Automate whatever you can, so that you can spend less time chasing people down and signing-in to your social media accounts, and more time doing your freelance & school work.

4) Always Schedule a Catch-Up Day

You can schedule things in advance as much you want, but the problem with juggling more than one thing at once is that occasionally things won’t turn out exactly how you excepted.

This is where having one day a week for catching up on things that you didn’t get the chance to finish is extremely helpful. In my opinion, the best day to do this is at the end of the week. However, you can choose to schedule a catch-up day whenever you want.

If you’re consistent about when you schedule a catch-up day then you’ll get a lot more work done. When it’s about to happen, make a list of things that you still need to work on so that you don’t forget to do whatever needs to be done.

5) Avoid Procrastination

I totally get it. That’s a really tough one to avoid because let’s face it: it’s easier to say, “I’ll do it tomorrow”.  Don’t let yourself get stuck in that mindset! Here’s what you should do instead:

But how exactly can you avoid procrastination? Treat the actual deadline and the deadline that you set for yourself as two separate things.

 The deadline that your clients and instructors set for you is what it is. The deadline that you set for yourself should be at least 24 to 48 hours before so that you’re not tempted to put off your work until the last minute.

6) Give yourself the chance to wind-down

Occasionally there are days where I go from doing my freelance work to commuting to classes, to going to class with no breaks at all, except when I eat meals, go to the washroom or sleep.

If you’re in a similar position, where you’re juggling freelancing and school work, you’ve probably found yourself in similar circumstances. Whatever you do, don’t forget to do whatever you can to wind-down both before and after class.

I find that on days where I’m going straight from focusing on a freelance project, to sitting in a classroom I do a whole lot better overall if I allow myself enough time to walk and listen to music before class, and time to do something that’s not work-related shortly before bed.

7) Don’t be afraid to ask for help

As I already mentioned, running a freelance business and going to school is a huge responsibility. This is exactly why not being too proud to ask for help is so important.

Ask for help with all the little things that may get a whole lot harder to do on your own when you have exams and client deadlines happening simultaneously.

But what do I mean by that?

I mean everything from asking either a friend or significant other if they can make a sandwich for you on a day when you barely have time to sit down, to asking your social media manager buddy if they know of any good social media management tools.

8) Know Your Limits

Always remember that you’re the one that’s in control of how much or how little work you take on. If you want to make balancing school and a freelance business a lot more manageable you need to get to know your limits.

Never take on more than you can handle, no matter what other people say to you.

If your course load is too overwhelming, take on one less course. If you’re taking on more clients and projects than you can handle consider raising your rates, and taking on less work so that you can work less and make more.

9) Don’t go to school without having a really good reason for it

Some, not all, freelance specialties require formal education and training. Don’t go to school while freelancing unless you know exactly what you want to get out of your education and training.

Why? Because it’s really hard work, and it takes a very specific kind of person to actually succeed at both at once. Before you enroll in a program think carefully about whether or not this is something that you can learn while being actively engaged in your field, or if you need further guidance and training in the subject matter.

10) Pace Yourself

The one thing that I find education and running in any race, of any distance have in common, is the fact that you have to pace yourself to get to the finish line.

In other words, if you go too fast too quickly, then you’ll slow yourself down, other people will pass you, and you’ll fall behind. This is especially the case with students who also have their own freelance business.

The best possible way to juggle school and freelancing, without having a nervous breakdown, is to get from Point A to Point B at your own pace, not someone else’s.

Take breaks from your schoolwork in between terms if you have to. Only take a challenging course when you’re ready for it. And most importantly, only take as many courses as you can handle.

This is a key ingredient, which will make your experience as worthwhile and stress-free as possible.

I hope you found these tips useful, and that you’ll use them to successfully juggle both freelancing and your studies. Have more questions about freelancing while being a student? Feel free to comment below, or send me your questions via

Why elevator pitches are important and how to create your own

Why elevator pitches are important and how to create your own

If you’re interested in, or currently sell a product or service you need a really good elevator pitch. But what the heck is an elevator pitch?

There are a lot of different definitions out there, but Investopedia explains it best:

(Elevator pitch) is a slang term used to describe a brief speech that outlines an idea for a product, service, or project. The name comes from the notion that the speech should be delivered in the short period of an elevator ride, usually 20-60 seconds.

Chances are, at some point, you’ll be doing in-person networking, or simply meeting a mutual acquaintance for the first time, that doesn’t know anything about your work. This is where having a really great elevator pitch really comes in handy! 

But how do you tell people about you have to offer, without making them either confused or unsure about what you do and what you have to offer?

Today I’m going to show you how to create an elevator pitch that’s easy to understand and attention-grabbing. So, let’s get started!

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1) Have an attention-grabbing answer to the question: “so what?”

Unfortunately, it’s way easier to get the “elevator part” of an elevator pitch: (the part where it’s quick and to the point,) than the actual pitch.

When you’re developing your first elevator pitch, you need to ensure that you’re always answering the question: “so what,” otherwise your reader will stop paying attention, and look elsewhere for similar services.

For instance, here’s an email I received from an SEO company that checked out my blog:


And here’s how Melanie Kernodle, the founder of CopyRefresh,introduces her services to prospective clients:


Which one would you be more likely to find out more info about/ actually follow through on their call to action?

Chances are you’ll pick number two. It’s friendly, engaging, and the copywriter clearly knows their audience.

Number one simply says that you’ll have access to bargain bin prices, and bargain bin prices don’t always lead to high-quality results. Not to mention, they haven’t bothered to use my name in the email.

2) Simplification is key

When it’s time to update/enhance my elevator pitch, Twitter is often a valuable source of inspiration.

But why Twitter? Because, for professional accounts, it’s often a digital, 24/7, elevator pitch. As a result, your twitter bio should be short, sweet, and straightforward. Otherwise, all you’ll do is confuse your readers. For example, here’s a Twitter bio that needs to work on its simplification:


Although it proves that the person is credible, not everyone will fully understand what this person does, and how they can help.

Instead, focus on describing what you do and how you can help, in simple straightforward, simple, English. A great example of this is a Twitter bio of a freelance writer that I actively follow:

Screen Shot 2016-10-08 at 3.29.28 PM.png Really easy to understand, am I right? In fact, it’s so easy to understand that you don’t even have to know anything about blogging or copywriting to know what she does, and how she can help!

Keep it simple, and no one will feel excluded. Not to mention, a lot more people will be interested in finding out more information about what you have to offer!

3)Be specific

If you want to maintain people’s attention you need to be as specific as possible.  For instance, if you’re a travel blogger, don’t just say you’re a travel blogger otherwise, you might put this kind of image in the person’s head:

Photo courtesy of

Instead say something like: “I’m a travel blogger that helps make travel a lot less overwhelming for families with kids,” or something like that!

4) Know your audience

I saved this one until last because let’s face it: it’s an essential ingredient. No matter what, never create the same elevator pitch for everyone.

Create a simplified version of what you do, and then adjust the phrasing and discussion points based on what you already know about the company, individual, etc that you want to try out your elevator pitch on.

In the marketing world, this is called a marketing persona, a detailed layout of your ideal buyer and their typical needs, interests, etc. If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach, start making a list of who you’re interested in working with, and how you can make their life a little bit easier.

Knowing your audience will make you a lot more confident, and a lot more well-prepared while trying to make a really good first impression, on or offline.  The truth is, I’m a shy introvert, and this is a tactic that has helped me overcome the feelings of anxiety that I often feel while trying to make a really good first impression.

You don’t need to be the life of the party or behave like a camp counselor to make people interested in what you have to offer. You just need to be really well-prepared, while having a really good ear for details.

If all you really need is a thorough proofreading job on your web & blog content projects, then feel free to visit my website’s editing services tab for further details.

Tips for beginners on working with a blogger

Tips for beginners on working with a blogger

Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website. However, not everyone has the time, money, skills, or resources to blog on a regular basis, especially if you’re my typical clientele!

Busy business owners and marketing professionals often hire bloggers. Hiring bloggers is a great way for companies to give their blog the attention it deserves without having to come up with ideas on their own.

But what do you once you’ve hired your first blogger, and what can you do to make their job easier? Not to mention, what’s working with a professional blogger like anyways?

The truth is these are questions that I hear all the time because  the idea of working with a blogger is often an unfamiliar and daunting experience for my typical clientele. And then they get over it, once they get the chance to read their first blog post!

If you’ve hired your first blogger, and you’re experiencing something similar then keep on reading! Today I’m going to show you how to make your first experience working with a blogger worth your time and money.


1)Communication is key

The core difference between a good content writer and a bad one is communication. A good writer will make the finished product about you, and your long-term goals. A bad writer will just start writing, and not listen to what you want.

So what can you do to make the communication process strong from the very beginning? Make sure that you know the answers to crucial questions such as your target audience, goals, needs, ideal tone, and also the names of at least a few of your competitors.

Getting to know your target market will make sure that your bloggers are meeting your expectations, and not wasting their time on an audience that isn’t interested in your work.

Although a good content writer will do their homework and get to know your company, there’s only so much that they can learn by browsing your website, social media profiles, etc.

This is exactly why you need to tell your blogger exactly what you want to get out of the work that they’re producing for your company. Otherwise, you may end up making the wrong choice, and have to either write your own content or hire a new writer.

Unfortunately, that’s a problem that’s a lot more common than you think:

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2) Be Clear About Deadlines

Professional blogging and freelancing is hard work and filled with all kinds of ups and downs.

If you decide to work with a blogger, keep in mind that although they may be very good at what they do, the chances of this being their only commitment are very, very low.

Flexible hours are the most attractive selling point of freelancing so the typical freelancer varies widely, from stay- at -home moms, to students and recent grads, to world travelers, to creative people who just want the freedom to create whatever they excel at.

Don’t get me wrong, freelancers that aren’t really, really bad at what they do aren’t necessarily unreliable people. However, working with professionals with flexible hours means that you have to work around schedules just as much as you would in a regular workplace.

For instance, I’m a part-time student, so I often tell my clients my course schedule so that they know that I won’t respond to emails on specific days, in the evening.

Accommodating time zones is the hardest part but fortunately, all it takes is a quick Google Search to find out your blogger’s local time.

Let’s pretend that I’ve decided to work with a blogger in London, England, and I’m unsure if this is a good time to contact him or her. My computer automatically detects that I’m based in Toronto, Canada, and all I have to do is ask Google what time it is in London:


But what if they tell me to call them at 3pm (local time)? Toronto is part of the EST (Eastern time zone) so here’s what I need to ask Google to find out when I should call them:


Every time you work with a blogger, no matter how long you’ve been working them, always include a sentence, which says something along the lines of:

I need this project by day and time X, and I prefer format X.

This will help prevent any unnecessary stress and confusion. If a deadline is unrealistic your blogger will probably say so! If they can’t accommodate your schedule be patient and kind to your freelancer!

3) Prioritize quality rather than cost efficiency

I dislike systems such as UpWork and honestly, I have a really good reason for feeling that way.

Upwork creates this unnerving, far too popular belief that winning the project isn’t about being the best choice, but about paying project fees and being the lowest bidder.

For instance, this weekend, my significant other showed me this cool meme, which puts this point into a relatable context:


In other words, you shouldn’t be disappointed if cheap prices lead to cheap results.Why? Because trust me, you could be this guy if you’re not careful, and trust me, you don’t want to be this guy:


Instead of asking for a discount, ask the blogger that you want to work with about their rates, and research industry standard rates in your area. This is the only way to  know for sure that you’re paying your blogger fairly.

If you’re still a lot more interested in getting content for free or for a bargain rate then check this out:

4) Last but not least…treat your collaborations with bloggers as meaningful, professional relationships

Although the bloggers that you’re working with are likely working remotely, don’t just treat this is something that ends once they complete the finished project.

Get to know your blogger’s available services, because even if you don’t need their help anymore with a specific project, they may be able to help you with something else in the future.

If they did a good job, write them a testimonial and/or refer them to people that you know that need help with similar projects. They’ll love you for it and will likely refer you to their friends, family, other freelancers, and anyone else they know. 

You likely hired this person for a reason, so it’s important to treat your work with professional bloggers like any other professional relationship.

Over to you… have you ever worked with a professional blogger?

Is this your first time working with a professional blogger? What do you want and/or did you get out this experience? Feel free to comment in the comment section below.

By the way…

I offer freelance lifestyle blogging services so if you ever need my help, I’m only an email away!

Four Things I learned from the Freelance to Freedom Project’s Get Clients Fast Challenge

Four Things I learned from the Freelance to Freedom Project’s Get Clients Fast Challenge

Last week I participated in the Get Clients Fast Challenge, and it was an incredibly eye-opening experience.

The Get Client Fast Challenge is exactly what it sounds like, a five-day challenge, which was intended to attract the attention of new clients by the end of the week.

Action steps included: setting up promo deals for my work that expired after a certain period of time, offering free, limited time offers, and emailing fellow freelancers, former clients, and people that I know.

So here’s how it worked:

  1. Every day a new challenge showed up in my inbox, with templates, and instructions included in a PDF document
  2.  I’d complete the challenge for the day, and then participate in community discussions with members of Freelance to Freedom’s Facebook community

Today I’m going to share with you all the awesome things I learned from participating in the Get Clients Fast Challenge.

1) Referrals don’t need to be complicated

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For those of you that don’t know me on a personal level, I’m extremely introverted so the whole “behaving like a pushy salesperson” thing doesn’t come naturally.

As you can probably imagine, this made the idea of getting referrals and testimonials a little scary at first.

Leah Kalamaki’s Get Clients Fast Challenge help me overcome my anxieties about asking people for feedback and referrals.

For instance, here’s how I asked one of my former clients for a referral on day two of the challenge, after offering to help them with their Medium Digest page and providing a quote:


Instead of just asking them for a referral, I complimented them on how awesome it was working with them, asked if there was anyone else that needs my help, and asked them to share a link to my services available page on social media.

If your work was good and you remind them that you’re available, then they’ll happily either work with you again or refer you to their friends.  Pretty simple,eh?

2) Who you know will always have hidden value

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It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, especially for freelance writers.

Unfortunately a lot of my peers struggle with is this misconception that they don’t know the right people to apply for whatever they’re interested in.

However, that’s not necessarily true. For instance, a lot of the articles on digital marketing that I’ve read use the effect of restaurants with huge line-ups out front to describe the importance of social proof.

The restaurant comparison goes something like this: a restaurant attracts a huge crowd, the people walking by immediately assume that it must be good because a lot of people are going there, the line-up gets bigger, some of the customers pay their bill and leave, and the cycle continues.

My website’s homepage is a great example of this, and as close as an online business will ever get to line-ups getting even bigger because there’s a huge line-up:



That’s 138 out of 450 clicks that happened because 11 people took the time to comment on what it was like working with me!

Who you know doesn’t just help with attracting attention to your website. It also helps with getting new leads. For instance, I emailed a family friend who owns a local theater company recently, and here’s what happened:


That’s one more, potential lead that happened just because I had the guts to tell a family friend that I had a few spots available in my schedule this month.

3) Other Freelancers are your greatest ally

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Honestly, I’ve known this for a while now, especially because my significant other has done a lot of freelancing, and often gives me advice on everything from my website, to difficult clients.

However, I avoided asking other freelancers if I could join their referral list until this challenge showed up in my inbox:


The challenge of the day involved requesting referrals from other freelancers. I knew that this was a tactic that worked when I noticed just how common it was for freelancers to refer clients that aren’t a good fit to other freelancers:


Screenshot of a passage from Alicia Rades’ contact page


And guess what? Alicia Rades isn’t the only freelancer that does this. Here’s a Reddit convo that demonstrates just how common it is for freelancers to refer freelancers to clients that aren’t a good fit:


Developing good relationships with other freelancers really pays off. Why? Because you never know when they might be too busy, or be contacted by someone that’s not a good fit for them.

And by the way, I might as well also mention that the freelancers that I contacted responded quicker than anyone else on my list!

4) Most importantly, I became a better in-person networker


Although none of the challenges were in-person initiatives, the challenge forced me to think of networking in a brand new way.

As I already mentioned, I’m super introverted so talking to big groups of unfamiliar people can be a tiring,  and occasionally anxiety-inducing experience.

In the exact same week as the challenge, I also attended the Startup Open House in Toronto. The cool thing was that my usual introvert instincts didn’t work against me, in fact, it had the opposite effect.

I was so focused on talking passionately about my work and so well-researched that people were happy to accept business cards from me.

In fact, I expressed my interest in writing for the Uber website in person, to the Content Manager of Uber, which I saw as my greatest accomplishment of the week.

The challenge equipped me with a new approach, which allowed me to focus more on adapting to the environment, and less on social anxiety.

On a related note….

If you’re interested in being my new client watch the video in the tweet below for more info about my fall 2016 promo deals:

Stock photography best practices

Stock photography best practices

Stock photography. If you’ve read a brochure, website, or any kind of marketing content that includes visuals then you’ve likely seen it before.

However, there’s way too much hate out there about stock photography and I totally get it!

Here’s an image that showed up on HubSpot’s awful stock photography list:

We’re working so efficiently together! Right, boss?

When you see examples like that, and just how overused they really are, it makes sense that there are so many stock image haters.

However, not all stock images suck, and it’s possible to use them effectively. Today I’m going to share my tips on how to use stock images effectively.

1) Make your headline images authentic

Advertising professional, David Ogilvy did a study on images, which revealed that the best images either have story appeal or demonstrate something.

This is exactly why I find that website headlines are the absolute worst places to use stock photos.  If you make a stock photo your headline image, your results will often look something like this:


And trust me, that’s not something that you want! The photo is unauthentic and reveals absolutely nothing about the company.

Not to mention, Websites That Suck.Com Called The University of Advancing Technology website  one of the worst websites of 2014.

What to do instead…

Only use photos in your headline of your own, authentic images.

The Pierre Herme website is a great example of authentic headline photography. That’s precisely why my significant other and I had such a great time browsing their website when we were planning our first ever trip to France :

Now that’s what I call some serious story appeal!

Not only is the web copy extremely enticing and poetic, but the photography paints a flattering, attention-grabbing portrait of Herme’s Macaroons.

The photo’s vibrant colors and picturesque first impressions reel you in. You can’t help but press the “click here” button because the product photo put a face to the look and feel of the product.

2) Use Stock Images in the Background instead of the foreground

The one place where I’ve found that stock images work is when they’re not the foreground focus.

For instance, my most recent website redesign was inspired by the fact that there was too much black text on a white background, and I found its appearance kind of…boring.

So I browsed Unsplash and downloaded some stock photos that I could use in the background of my content.

I deliberately placed the stock photos in places that made sense, where the readers were a lot more interested in the content in the foreground. My starting rates chart, for instance, was a crucial focus of my redesign process:

Screen Shot 2016-09-18 at 7.15.18 PM.pngOnce I inserted the photo in the background, people were paying more attention to the chart and the description above the chart. So how do I know that?

I turned on heat maps on both pages that included this graphic and noticed that the number of clicks increased.

Here’s the heat maps result for the place where I inserted this graphic on my Services Available page:

Screen Shot 2016-09-18 at 7.25.08 PM.pngAnd here’s the heat map result on the part of my Hire Me Page that uses the exact same graphic:

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-7-28-46-pmBefore it was just a white chart, with black text, on a white background, but now people are actively engaging with the content.

3) Know your creative commons copyright

If you use any photo that’s not yours, stock photography, or any other source, you have to pay close attention to attribution and usage restrictions.

Here are a few questions that you need to know the answer to before you use someone else’s photo in a public context:

  1.  Is it public domain?
  2. Is it free for commercial use: any context where someone is profiting off the context in which the photo is used?
  3. Are modifications okay?
  4. Is the image attribution free, as in you don’t have to credit the author?

If you’re ever confused about an image’s creative commons copyright license, and what it implies, visit

Stock image sites, and also sites such as Flickr make their license restrictions easily accessible to users before they hit the download button.

For instance, the stock photo database, Pexels , displays its creative commons license on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen:

Screen Shot 2016-09-18 at 9.29.13 PM.png

Carefully check the CCO license before you use an image so that you don’t break any laws.

Last but not least…

The truth is people buy things without actually seeing it.  If you don’t want to just another site that has laughable stock images, don’t just use images for the sake of using images.

Put some serious thought into where you’re using these images and why. If you see a blank space, don’t just fill it for the sake of filling it. Fill it because it will actually leave an impact on others’ impressions of your products.

Probably one of the weirdest examples I found of unnecessarily used blank space was the Yale University School of Art Website. Here’s what I saw when I scrolled to the bottom of the page:

Screen Shot 2016-09-18 at 10.04.06 PM.png

I’m so confused: what does a random close-up of an animal’s eyes have to do with an art school? And what the hell am I supposed to do next?

Blank space, in moderation, can actually be a good thing, as demonstrated via the Curry’s website’s simple, straightforward design:

Screen Shot 2016-09-18 at 10.23.35 PM.pngWhy? Because they only fill the space with what’s 100% necessary. You don’t have to know anything about Curry’s to look at the website and know exactly who they are and what they do.

Over to you…

What’s you take on stock photography? Is there ever a time and place for it on blogs and websites that’s not the least bit cheesy? Feel free to comment in the comment section below.


My take on producing authentic content online

My take on producing authentic content online

The gig economy’s popularity is exploding and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because I think remote work is pretty awesome, and I’m excited about its future.

Yet, the growing popularity of the gig economy also puts a lot of pressure on freelancers to not sound like everyone else.  You’re probably thinking something along the lines of the following:

Isn’t that something that all creative people have experienced at some point, pre and post digital age?

Although yes, one can argue that the fear of sounding the same as everyone has always existed, I would definitely argue that this is a fear that has become a hundred times stronger.

So how do you create authentic content? How do you convince people that you’re not just a clone of peers that have similar specialties?

Today I’m going to share the tips and tricks that I’ve picked up while writing for both my personal blog and a wide variety of blogs and websites.

1) Do your research


If you want to write for someone else besides yourself, especially online, you have to do your research. Doing your research will help you adapt your own writing style to your audience’s needs and interests.

Fortunately, you don’t need to fill notebooks with pages and pages of notes. You don’t even have to read tons of articles. You just need to listen to your audience.

To give you a good idea of what I mean by that here’s what I do before I start writing a blog post:

  1. Talk to the content manager, business owner, or whoever has asked me to write something for them. Find out what they want, and what they’re hoping to accomplish.
  2. Read a wider variety of affiliated content that the company or publication that I’m writing for has already produced.
  3. See what other people are saying, and how they respond, via forums such as social media, Yelp,  Quora, the company blog’s comments section, etc.
  4.  Read relevant content by credible sources. See if any relevant stats or news items have been released on this topic.
  5. Start writing draft one.

Authenticity is about engaging with your audience. If you want to engage with your audience on a personal level, without sounding out of touch or patronizing, doing your research is extremely important.

2) Find your Writing Voice

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Early on in their careers a lot of writers struggle to find their writing voice. This was never a concern for me because I’ve got a lot of formal training in writing over the years, but not everyone has had similar opportunities, and that’s okay.

If you haven’t found your writing voice yet, take the time to practice. Set some time aside to write for the sake of writing.

Maintain a weekly diary. Do some freewriting (a fancy term for writing, non-stop for a sustained period of time, and not censoring the words that show up on paper.) Join a writing group if there are any in your community. These are just a few suggestions on how you can find your writing voice.

If you want to successfully stick out in a crowd of thousands, your writing style is what will help editors and long-term clients decide if you’re the perfect fit for their publication.

3) Find a new spin on popular topics


When I’m out of blog post ideas I often check out TwitterQuora, and Reddit to see what people’s burning questions are about the subject that I’m focusing on. When I do a quick Google search I sometimes find that I’m not the only one that’s written about this topic.

If others are writing about the same topic this is a sign that it’s a topic that an audience will find engaging.

If you want to make a popular topic authentic, find a new angle, and provide your perspective on what others are saying about the topic that you’re discussing.

4) Use your expertise to fill the gap of something that’s missing on someone’s blog or website



One of the biggest accomplishments of this year thus far was when I scored a guest blogging opportunity on a popular site for blogger.  Want to know how I did it?

I used a similar strategy. Because I have experience writing about image editing tools, and I’m a blogger myself, I started off by checking out what articles on image editing software were available on the site.

I only found one result, and it was an opinion piece by the site’s founder. Then, I found the email address of the managing editor, and made this the unique selling point of my pitch:


And guess what?  She loved it:


If you want people to be wowed by your content’s authenticity, take a reader first approach, and use what you know to educate readers on something that might be extremely unfamiliar, but also useful, to them.

5) Last but not least: stop comparing yourself to others


If you want to write authentic content you need to stop comparing yourself to others because feeling like an imposter is really bad for creativity.

Freelance writer, coach, and stay-at-home mom, Elna Cain put it best when she said that no one can write like you. Why? Because you automatically bring your own values and how you tend to talk, to everything that you write.

That’s exactly why the right writer, for a specific publication, is never the most experienced, but the one that has a similar writing style and background.

Never feel like you need to change your writing style because a writer that you respect did something similar. Otherwise, your web copy will be robotic and dull.

Every freelancer is different, so whenever you feel overwhelmed by:

  • The impressive publications that someone wrote for
  • The quality of someone’s website
  • Etc.

Always remember that there’s probably a lot you don’t know about how a fellow freelancer managed to get from point A to point B.

Keep on learning, and always use whatever resources you can to use your unique writing style to develop authentic content. Because let’s face it, writing is yet another activity where practice makes perfect.

Over to you…

How do you keep your online content authentic? Is this something you’ve found challenging? Feel free to comment in the comment section below.

How can creative entrepreneurs make friends with like minded people?

How can creative entrepreneurs make friends with like minded people?

The one thing that’s not talked about enough is the isolation aspect of freelancing. Unfortunately, the average work-from-home creative entrepreneur can go an entire day without talking to a single human being.

For those of you, that have never given freelancing a shot you’re probably thinking something along the lines of:

No office politics?! Must be nice…

However, if you’ve ever done a solitary activity for 48 hours or more, without talking to anyone then you’ve experienced just how isolating that feeling can be. Not to mention, our bodies can only work at optimal levels for around 90 minutes.

Turns out the concept of water cooler chatter is also really good for productivity. So what can creative entrepreneurs do to work around the fact that there’s no water cooler chatter, in the traditional sense of the word?

Basically, freelancers have two options:

  1. Befriend a furry friend, and make them your typical co-worker. I tried that once, by the way, while working on an article, on a day when I also had to babysit my brother’s dog . It was actually a load of fun because the dog was fascinated by every single movement.
  2.  Or: you can find a creative way to fight against the loneliness of freelancing.

Today we’re going to focus primarily on option two because let’s face it, not everyone can handle a pet. Here are five creative solutions to dealing with the isolation of freelancing, and ideally making friends while you’re at it!

1) Take an (offline) class


No, I don’t mean go back to school, or spending thousands of dollars on conferences. Well, that works too, if you have the money to do it, but  I mean take a class like…anywhere that’s offering a class that you’re interested in taking.

Within the first year of freelancing, I took courses at everywhere from Brainstation to my local community center and got the chance to network with a lot of like-minded people while polishing a lot of applicable skills.

Course fees were less than $30 Canadian, which is less than the cost of university-level courses.

If you’re open to taking a class, you’ll have a structured community to look forward to on a weekly basis.

2) Join a Meetup Group


Meetup Groups are great because they create a structured sense of community, without the pressure of the average, classroom environment. If you have an interest, chances are there’s a Meetup group for that.

Everything from film buffs to people who like to write, draw, etc. can easily meet people with similar interests.All it takes is a quick web search, and the willingness to sign up for an account, to find similar groups in your area.

3) Do something outside of your comfort zone

Go outside your comfort zone

I believe in the ultimate power of doing one thing, every once in a while, that is way outside your comfort zone.

I’m extremely introverted, so this is something that I have to actually work hard to maintain, but man, is it ever worth it! Why? Because so many great stories and experiences start with the willingness to just be brave and try stuff.

By the way, I’m by no means advocating for spontaneous decision making that was haphazardly planned out. What I’m really talking about are positive risks, where you think through your decisions, and anticipate the end result, before you jump.

Positive risks that are really worth it are ones that broaden your horizons to new people and ideas. These risks involve the willingness to travel, either in your own backyard or somewhere totally new and unfamiliar.

4) Use social media for making valuable connections

social media browse

Although a Facebook like, SnapChat message, etc probably won’t solve all the world’s problems, social media is actually a powerful way to connect with others.

There are 2.307 billion internet users worldwide, so why not use social media to connect with others? The reason why it’s so effective is simple: you can connect with a carefully targeted community, at any time, anywhere. 

There are social media groups for everything from fans of popular TV shows to fans of a specific restaurant, store, or organization. As a result, if you’re looking for a specific kind of person, you can probably find them online.

5) Go to conferences and special events


Last but not least, if you want to make valuable connections, with people who really get what you do, be open to going to conferences and special events.

Why? Because you never know who you will meet, and how they’ll benefit your personal or professional life.

I quickly learned that it’s always about who you know, not what you know. This is exactly why keeping your eyes and ears peeled for relevant events and conferences is so important. For instance, this month I’m networking with local startups at

For instance, this month I’m networking with local startups at StartUp Open House Toronto.

Final thoughts…

Next time you feel as if making new friends, that get what you go through on a daily basis is an overwhelming process, take a look at all the groups out there for people like you. Once you realize how common your struggles and triumphs really are, you won’t feel so alone on your journey.

Over to you…

How do you make friends as a creative entrepreneur? Any further tips to share? Feel free to comment in the comment section below.