Freelancer interview: Christian Lowery – social media manager & copywriter

This week’s interview is with NYC based social media manager, copywriter and SEO specialist Christian Lowery

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Christian Lowery, based in NYC, and I am a freelance digital marketing professional specializing in social media marketing, paid advertising and SEO copywriting

What led you to start freelancing?

I started freelancing somewhat by choice, and somewhat by necessity. I was in my mid-20s, not sure what career I really wanted to have, with a lot of uncertainty around me. I studied music at NYU, then got into real estate on a whim, and really got lost in the process of it all. Real estate wasn’t giving me a steady income, so I decided to start freelancing as a way to make money on the side.

Plus, I had always wanted a job that didn’t look like your traditional 9 to 5. One project led to another, which led to another, and I eventually got to a place where I didn’t need to do real estate anymore. I started as a freelance copywriter because I did a lot of copywriting for real estate marketing materials, and it led to this incredible digital marketing career I wouldn’t trade for the world. More on my story: https://christianlowery.com/career-change-advice/

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?

  1. That you have to be STELLAR at self-motivation and time management. No one tells you to get up in the morning and get your work done. Similarly, no one tells you how much time to spend on each client and how much time to spend growing your own business.
  2. That you will pay the self-employment tax all on your own (nearly 15% on top of your income tax)
  3. That some days get lonely and you may miss an office setting every once and a while

What three issues have you had since starting up?

One was charging higher rates than many low-cost freelancers on platforms like Fiverr, another was finding the time to generate leads and write for my blog while still completing client work… but the biggest was getting people to see me as a professional in my new freelance career, after multiple career changes.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

You get more time in your day to do the things you love. I don’t commute or waste time talking to friends around an office. I get time to make breakfast for myself every morning, catch up on the news, shower, mentally prepare for a productive day, and all by 9:00am. Then, I get to go straight to work without wasting time to get there.

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

I am building my personal brand to generate revenue from my website, eGuides, consultation classes and more. For me, it’s important to generate streams of revenue that have nothing to do with client work.

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing? 

They should take my freelance quiz to see if freelancing is really the best choice for them. The quiz is simply a list of 11 questions that will help them know if they have what it takes to be a successful freelancer. Also, I would tell them, above all else, to be extremely patient with themselves. You may start by making $10/hour on a very insignificant project, but make $50/hour less than a year later – that’s what happened to me.

Freelancer Interview: Jonathan Talks, Photographer

Our interview this week is with Nottingham based photographer, Jonathan Talks. He did my recent headshots and gets a thumbs up from me for putting me at ease during the shoot!

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Jonathan and I am a commercial photographer specialising in headshots, products and press photography.

What led you into freelancing?

With photography being very much an individual pursuit and working in the provinces one has to lend themselves to many avenues.

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?

  1. Work on your skills if you provide a service or trade. There is a real joy and pride in being “good” at what you do. Upskilling yourself in my opinion is “non negotiable” in importance in my opinion. If you have skills this will help you get work and get recommendations. If you are lucky enough you can hire specialists to do marketing, admin etc.
  2. Its a big learning curve but one that can give you a lot of development as a person in work and life. Maybe they can make a degree in freelancing! (Now there’s an idea… Nick)
  3. Don’t waste your money, get as much as you can for free and only spend when you can.

What three issues have you had since starting up?

  1. You are very much on your own, of course you can forge alliances and contacts but the truth is nobody cares about your practice or in my case my photography, they really don’t, so from this you have to work on your trade and your networking.
  2. Obtaining finance takes real skill in this era. Lots of organisations promise a lot but unless you are already established or have a business degree then obtaining finance for your business or practice is a challenge.
  3. Prioritising has been tricky, as a freelancer you have to wear many hats and being organised has been a learning curve for me as a creative. I’ve had to learn to be an all-rounder.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

The challenge of delivering work beyond what you previously thought capable of. Working on new projects and delivering is a joy, one of the best parts of work.

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

For me, the next steps is to gain new clients, develop skills and eventually have a top notch photography studio in Nottingham. In fact I am hell bent on this..

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing? 

I’m cautious on giving advice as it is such an individual decision, however I would say think carefully and then give it your all…

Jonathan Talks

jonathantalksphotography.com 

@jonathantalksphotography

New Co-working hub soon to be unveiled in Nottingham’s Lace Market

Contemporary co-working, shared office and event space, Works Social, is set to open in Nottingham soon. Click To Tweet

A brand new co-working hub in Nottingham’s historic Lace Market is almost ready to be unveiled. Situated in a completely refurbished four-storey, Grade II listed building in Commerce Square, Works Social is a contemporary co-working, shared office and event concept aimed at independent workers and small businesses.

Bringing a new, fresh and inspiring environment to co-working and collaboration, Works Social will facilitate connections, build communities of interest and act as a hub for sharing resources, ideas and talent. With potential for 40 dedicated desks and a range of virtual membership and hot-desking options, it will offer cost effective office and meeting facilities to suit remote workers, sole traders, micro businesses and small teams.
The local collective of entrepreneurs behind Works Social have been busy renovating for over 12 months and have transformed the former Lace Works to bring their vision to life.

Virtual assistant and Works Social co-founder Lise Garner Morgan, understands that it can sometimes be isolated and lonely as a freelancer. It was this experience that fuelled the team’s passion to set up a space for businesses to thrive and develop. Lise said:

“Community spirit underpins Works Social’s core ethos. Our manifesto is about promoting ideas, enterprise and exchange – working amidst a variety of skills, ventures and projects can inspire far more ideas than working in isolation. Works Social aims to provide a fresh and stimulating space, cultivating a vibrant coworking community which encourages and supports innovation among our members.”

Fellow co-founder and freelancer, Han van Oudheusden brings 10 years experience in running international membership organisations to Works Social, as well as working solo as a digital designer. She adds:

“Like every community, we understand that the needs of our members are going to be diverse. That’s why we offer a variety of membership packages from a simple virtual address through to 24/7 dedicated office space.”

“As flexible and remote working becomes more of the norm rather than the exception, Works Social aims to offer a place for independent workers, micro business and home workers to take a tentative step towards a place of their own. It also offers an ideal way to bridge the gap for expanding teams waiting to move into their own premises.”

The entrepreneurial team strongly believe that communal working helps forge connections and opens up opportunities for mutual and meaningful collaborations.

One of the first members to sign up is marketing and PR freelancer, Rachael van Oudheusden from Big Old House. She commented:

“Having worked from a home office and in coffee shops for three years, it is time to get somewhere a bit more permanent. It is exciting that Works Social has come along to meet the need for businesses on the cusp of scaling up, but not quite ready to invest in a full scale office of their own. With a dedicated desk at Works Social you get the best of both worlds – freelance flexibility and a collaborative community, all at a reasonable price.”

With three floors dedicated to communal desk space, hot-desking areas, shared facilities and personal lockers, the ground floor offers a bookable meeting room space, chillout areas, a cosy outdoor terrace and an honesty bar. Members can use the ground floor space for their own staff party once a year as part of their membership or it can be booked for external events, training courses and networking.

A range of membership options are available from annual virtual office arrangements to monthly membership packages for independent workers, teams and pairs of freelancers.

For more information about Works Social or to book a tour visit: https://www.workssocial.co.

#workspacerevolution #futureofwork #Coworking #Nottingham

Sales Tips For Freelancers

As freelancers we have to sell ourselves and our services to potential clients. Possibly due to shady tactics and high pressure sales from other people and companies (looking at you, car dealers), it’s easy to feel bad about ‘selling’. There’s no need however as it’s possible to sell yourself without any need to mislead or pressure people.

When thinking about ‘selling’ yourself or your services, it can be more useful to think about how you can clearly let people know what you can offer. It’s not hard selling but rather giving them the information and letting them make up their own minds.

Selling Yourself As A Freelancer

When speaking to potential clients, ask yourself can you do the job, and do you want to do the job? You can (probably) choose your jobs now you’re freelance. If it’s a good fit, then let them know and explain how you can help. Stating that you’re a ‘consultant’ or using other vague terms can turn a lot of people off as it sound expensive and it’s not clear what you offer.

I make websites, so if I’m talking to someone and can help, I let them know that I can design and build them a fast, easy to use and mobile friendly website that will help them promote their business. I don’t need to tell them I use Sketch, code in PHP or jQuery and use SASS. They don’t care about that bit – they want the end product.

I believe that confidence and clarity will get you more jobs. If people trust you can do the job, you’re enthusiastic and are clear about the end result it’s an easy choice for them.

Selling your Products and Services

When selling your products and services you can ask yourself is it a good fit and is this what they need right now? Selling people things you know are not fit for purpose or that they don’t need is pretty shady – leave that to telesales drones and used car salespeople. Chances are you went freelance to avoid the shady end of business and do good work, so these questions will help you stick to that.

Ask for the sale

After discussing things with a potential client and providing a quote, ask if that is within their budget and if they’d like to go ahead. There’s no need for months of back and forth or work up front – they either want it or they don’t. It’s up to you whether you negotiate, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to pay your bills and continue to do good work for people.

There are people out there who will try and waste your time either by being confused, or more rarely, because they enjoy it. Don’t let them steal your time – move on to better prospects.

Summary

I’ve covered some selling tips for freelancers including asking if the job is a good fit and if you can deliver, as well as being clear about what you can offer and asking for the sale.

Tech security tips for freelancers and digital nomads

While working remotely from Thailand, Bali, Gran Canaria and Lisbon I have seen a worrying lack of security awareness in fellow nomads.  We’re responsible for not only our own data and passwords but also client related files and passwords so a security breach would be more significant than a tourist losing their phone. This is even more important in light of the recent GDPR laws in the UK and the consequences of breaking them. Here are a few simple tech security tips for any freelancers or digital nomads working on the road.

VPN

Some websites are blocked in other countries and a VPN gets around this. I was using Tunnelbear (love their branding) but found that FTP connections to our server were not reliable via this VPN so I switched to Private Internet Access which has worked great. It runs on my laptop, tablet and iOS/Android phones.

Another benefit of a VPN is that it secures your traffic which is peace of mind when working from busy coworking spaces and cafes.

Password manager

With sites and services constantly getting attacked and compromised, it’s vital to have hard to crack, unique passwords. This makes remembering them hard though and that’s where a password manager comes in handy. I use 1Password as it works on my Mac, tablet and phones.

I also use the team version so my tech support guy can access client passwords without me having to provide them manually. Different password vaults allow granular access to various logins and passwords.

Cloud storage

The worst case scenario is losing the laptop and my data through theft or hardware failure. To get back up and running as fast as possible, I keep all my important data in cloud drive systems. I use (paid) Dropbox and (free) Google Drive.

I also keep filling my iCloud up with pictures of sunsets so can back files up to Dropbox or Google Photos to free up space and not have to pay for a larger iCloud account.

Drive encryption

To prepare for the worst, I encrypted my hard drive before leaving the UK. This way even if the laptop is stolen the data cannot be read without my login details.

Lock screen passcodes

I work from home most of the time in the UK so don’t have lock screen codes as they annoy me. I enable these on all devices while traveling though to reduce the chances of someone accessing my personal and business stuff.

Summary

These were some quick and easy security tips to help keep your data safe while working remotely as a freelancer or digital nomad.