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:

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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:

 

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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:

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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:

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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:

 

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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:

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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

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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 at least one stock image 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:

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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:

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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 :

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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 https://creativecommons.org/use-remix/.

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:

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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:

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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

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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

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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

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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:

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And guess what?  She loved it:

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Do you want to work with a blogger? Here’s what to look out for.

Do you want to work with a blogger? Here’s what to look out for.

Blogging is the new, cool thing to do because there are numerous benefits.

The benefits of blogging include everything from organically driving traffic to your website, to attracting new audiences via social media.

Every time you write a new blog post you’re adding a new page to your website. Every time you add a new page to your website you’re organically attracting web traffic.

In other words, why not start a blog? Exactly! Why the heck not? Here are a few common reasons why people might not consider blogging that might sound familiar:

  • It’s too hard
  • I don’t know what to write
  • I don’t have time to write

If these excuses sound far too familiar then you might be open to the idea of working with a blogger. But how do you know how to make the right choice?

Today I’m going to give you a step-by-step guide on what to look for in a blogger.

1) A Professional Website

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Some bloggers use the same interface and URL for both their blog and their website, and some don’t. Is one approach better than the other? Well…not really. A lot depends on the person’s personal preferences and goals.

When considering a prospective blogger for your company, start by carefully examining their site. Is it professional? In other words, do they have key elements such as:

2) Consistency

consistency is important

Any blogger that’s worth working with excels at consistency.  But why is this such a crucial character trait for bloggers?

Companies that increase the number of blog posts, from 3-5 times per month to 6-8 times per month double their leads.  When reading the work of a blogger that you want to work with look for patterns.

If you start to notice a pattern in terms of what they write and when they write it, then they might be worth the time and effort that’s required to work with a professional blogger.

3) User Engagement

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Content engagement is one of those things that a lot of people find extremely confusing. However, Neil Patel came up with an easy to understand definition of what it really is:

To keep it simple, I define content engagement as real people responding in measurable ways to your content.

When you’re reading the work of a blogger that you want to work with, pay attention to the quality rather than the quantity of responses. In other words, who is following their work, and how do they respond?

If people engage positively and productively to a blogger’s work, then their posts will likely have a similar effect on your readers.

4) Social Proof

where work

Social proof influences every aspect of the decision-making process. To put it simply, it’s based on this idea that credibility is about who you’ve worked with.

It’s also a powerful marketing tool, where you get to hear the opinions of everyday consumers. I know what you’re thinking:

Why should I listen to a blogger because someone from company X or Y thought that they were awesome?

However, if you’ve ever bought something online after reading a series of positive, online reviews, or gone to a restaurant because it attracted a large crowd, then you’ve experienced the unlimited power of social proof.

Do you want to work with a blogger? If so then pay close attention to who they’ve worked and what they have to say about their work.

5) Relevant Content & Writing Style

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If you want to create a blog that actually delivers valuable results, you need to make your blog customer, not industry-focused.

Not to mention, you probably have your own ideas about what counts as “good” writing, and what you want your blog to accomplish over the long-term.

When in doubt, pay close attention to the blogger’s writing voice. After reading a pro blogger’s blog, writing samples, about page, etc, you’ll learn a lot about their typical approach to the blogging process.

Do your research, so that you know if the blogger that you’re interested in is a good fit for your publication, small business, etc.

6) Ask yourself the following question: “how effectively do they listen to others?”

listener

Arguably one of the most important character traits of any blogger is the ability to listen.

In my opinion, productive listening is what separates amateur bloggers from bloggers that have successfully built up their own audience.

For instance, Problogger founder Darren Rowse is successful because he produces large volumes of useful content.

The only way to know for sure how effectively a blogger listens is to pay attention to their actions and reactions on everything from their personal and client projects to their social media profiles. You should also pay close attention to how they react to your feedback and questions

To sum things up…

When choosing a blogger for your company, always take a value first, rather than an experience first approach.

Although experience is still an important part of the decision-making process, it doesn’t automatically mean that a blogger will be a good fit for your blog. At the end of the day, it’s all about your company and what you want to get out of working with a blogger.

For instance, do you want a blogger that has advanced knowledge of SEO and technical topics or do you want a writer that can write quirky, relatable, lifestyle content? The best part of this decision-making process is that the answer is 100% up to you.

By the way, I offer a variety of blogging services, so if you’re looking for an experienced lifestyle blogger, let’s talk soon:

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Over to you…

What traits do you look for in a blogger? Feel free to comment in the comment section below.

 

How to cope with imposter syndrome

How to cope with imposter syndrome

First of all, what is impostor syndrome? Impostor Syndrome, according to Forbes involves:

Having to live with the nagging feeling of being “found out” as not being talented, or deserving, or experienced, or (fill-in-the-blank) as people think is a common phenomenom.

Although I’m not a mental health expert,  I know so many bright, creative people that face the imposter syndrome struggle a lot. Did I mention I sometimes feel it too? I’m not the only one either! Approximately 70% of people have imposter syndrome.

So how do you cope when that nagging feeling starts gnawing away at you, while quietly whispering the words:

Guess what? You’re not good enough!

If that feeling sounds way too familiar, then here’s some good news: today I’m going to show you how to kick imposter syndrome’s ass.

1)Talk to someone that really gets you

talking to someone

Because imposter syndrome is such a hot topic, everyone seems to have a take on it. Yet, the one thing that I think people have overlooked is the value of just plain talking to someone that really understands all the things that make you well…you.

Pick someone that can see through all the bullshit. In other words, the type of the person that’s not afraid to speak their mind while being sensitive to you and your needs. Someone that will actually help you find new ideas that will move you forward.

If they really get you then they’ll make observations about you, that you would have never made on your own. They might even help you find the perfect solution, or at least make you feel loved and supported.

2) Get away from the computer for a little while and go outside

walk on bridge

Your metabolism slows down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting.

If you’re starting to question your own worth, sometimes it could be as simple as you really, really need some fresh air.

If your focus dies, and your inner critic starts to kick in, take a break, and walk or run somewhere close by. Or do some stretches. Or move your legs for a little while. Or take your work outside.

No matter how you chose to get some fresh air, change up your environment a bit.  Why? Because weirdly enough the guy from The Shining has a really good point:

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I can’t guarantee that going outside for a while, and getting some air, will cure your imposter syndrome. However I’ve often found is that a bit of fresh air can do wonders for a blocked, negative mindset.

3) Turn your respect for others into valuable connections

comparision

One of the most dangerous and enticing habits for freelancers is the temptation to compare and contrast. A saying that perfectly describes just how dangerous comparing yourself to others really is, is the following:

Comparision is the thief of dreams and productivity.

Often, I’ve found that I get better opportunities if I treat other freelancers like allies rather than competition. In fact, when I stopped comparing myself to others, I got the chance to guest blog for everywhere from the ProBlogger to the Freelancer FAQs communities.

Not to mention, what I wrote was so popular that my website traffic steadily increased. To this day, I still promote the work of other bloggers on my social media networks, because the results are really worth it. For instance, here are a few from bloggers who were stocked to see my retweets:

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As you can see, this is an industry where karma actually goes a long way. Most of the blog posts that I share are written by bloggers that I respect, and read on a regular basis.

I spread the word, instead of assuming they’re somehow better than me. And guess what? All of the above bloggers are still some of my most actively engaged followers!

3) Always remember that everyone is different

people and computer

On paper, someone might have more experience in your field, managed to snag a writing sample for a major publication that rejected you multiple times in a row, etc. But never forget that this is just how they are on paper.

The truth is, no matter what everyone is different. Everyone has different connections, different backgrounds, and different takes on whatever they happen to specialize in.

Chances are you’ve heard about overnight successes but the reality is that they’re a myth. I don’t read Huffington Post because I’m kind of iffy about their business model. However, one of the few times when I read Huffington Post and loved it was when I found this great quote on why we love the idea of overnight success:

In our age of instant gratification and “accidental” billion dollar start-ups, it’s easy to think of success as more of a product of luck than hard work and determination.

We work so hard to pay for material things. Go to school. Pay for food, water, and shelter. Overnight success is just “a nice idea” that people want to cling to. But it’s not that easy.

There’s always a reason why someone achieved a specific goal. Good things that are worth fighting for take time.

4) Do something creative

do something creative.png

A great way to handle imposter syndrome is to resort to something creative. The best part of this strategy is the fact that it might even help you come up with new insights.

You don’t have to be good at it or show your work to anyone. For instance, I’ve kept a diary since I was a kid, and it’s a tool that I swear by.

However, it doesn’t even have to be a diary. You can sing a song, or draw a picture, or basically anything that counts as a creative pursuit. Creativity fuels further creativity, and further creativity will help you work through your emotions.

5) Take care of yourself

relaxing

When imposter syndrome kicks in, it can sometimes because of stress or burnout. Why? Because long work hours can cause less productivity especially in creative fields.

In fact, a study was released, which revealed that the most productive nations in the world have the shortest work weeks.

As soon as negativity kicks in, do whatever you can to make time for something you love doing for fun. Taking care of yourself can often make a huge difference.

Final thoughts:

As soon as imposter syndrome kicks in, pay close attention to what was happening in your life when you started to feel that way.

Use tools like pro and con lists and talk through your feelings with others. If you combine these strategies you’ll likely increase your chances of conquering imposter syndrome, and all of its challenges.

Over to you…

So..what are your imposter syndrome coping methods? Have you ever experienced it before? Feel free to comment in the comment section below.

How to handle your first slow period as a freelancer

How to handle your first slow period as a freelancer

A while ago I wrote a guest blog post for Freelancer FAQs on how freelancers can be productive during slow periods.

Although I offered a wide variety of tips that many of the readers found helpful, the one thing that I realize is that I didn’t talk about how stressful these periods can be. Slow periods can be extremely stressful especially when you’re just starting out.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t stressful for other freelancers, at other stages of their careers. Often the more established freelancers are used to it/ have developed coping strategies.

Today we’re going to talk about how to deal with the stress of slow periods, and get people’s attention.

Start to notice the patterns

Often slow periods for freelancers follow a specific pattern.

I often find that holidays, Fridays after 5pm, and weekends are the times for me specifically, when no one that I work with, or might work with in the future, responds to their emails.

Don’t know what your patterns are? Start to pay attention, so that you can plan accordingly.

For instance, let’s pretend that your inbox is quiet on Monday mornings. If you start to notice that’s a pattern you can use that time to do everything from getting some exercise to pitching potential clients, to managing your finances.

Plan ahead

Occasionally shit happens, and things don’t happen how you anticipated. That’s when planning ahead really comes in handy.

Small things like topping up your savings account once in a while, or encouraging referrals at the end of a project can really pay off over the long-term, if and when something goes horribly wrong, and you’ve still got bills to pay.

Don’t be ashamed of slow periods

People go on holiday, get sick, have family emergencies, etc. That’s just the reality no matter what.

This is exactly why you should never be ashamed of things being slow. Slow periods are never about you. They’re always about someone else. If you accept that then the process will be a lot less stressful for you.

Give people you’ve worked with a gentle nudge once in a while. Say “hello”, and remind them that you’re still there to help. This will make sure that you’re the first person that they call/email when they need your help with whatever you specialize in.

Never stop marketing

I can’t stress how important this is enough. Never stop marketing your work to others!! This is what makes fighting against slow periods so much easier.

In fact, ever single slow period I’ve ever experienced ended with an email from someone new. I always set aside some time aside to market my work to others, no matter what, and that always pays off in the end.

But what do I mean by marketing? I mean everything from producing content that attracts loyal readers, to pitching new and established businesses/publications on a regular basis, to keeping your social media outlets active and engaging.

If you need help with social media, by the way, I recommend the Buffer blog,the Hubspot blogthe Hootsuite blog , and Social Media Examiner. All of the above are really useful resources on social media marketing.

If you don’t have the time or resources to produce content, then I offer web and blog content writing services at competitive rates.

If money becomes your source of stress…

The cool part of living in the Uber/ Air BNB era is that the gig economy is growing rapidly. If freelancing is all you do and things are quiet right now, there are lots of creative ways to make some extra income.

Your available options include everything from selling stuff you don’t need anymore on sites like Kijiji and  Ebay, to renting out extra space to travellers on AirBNB, to a wide variety of other options.  If you just need a bit of extra cash now rather than later, this is a great way to do that!

No matter what, slow periods will happen, so turn them into a productive rather than an agonizing process. Always remember that they happen to the best of us, and you’re not the only one going through the same thing.

Over to you…

How do you deal with slow periods? Have you ever coped with a slow period before? Feel free to comment in the comment section below.