jmonen

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Category: Freelancing (page 1 of 2)

Be a Reliable Freelancer: Honor Deadlines!

The last four days have been a whirlwind for me.

We closed on our new home Friday afternoon and moved in that night! The next day we got started on our first home project, which was to remodel the 10×20 outbuilding on the property so I could use it for my new office.

This project took us all day Saturday, Sunday and most the day today. But it’s done! The new doors are in. The new floor has been installed and the walls painted. I even got a little A/C unit installed to keep me cool during the hot days.

Even though I was super excited about moving into this new house and getting my dream office all setup I had to pause everything for several hours today to finish a client project. Continue reading

Why I Started Paying Myself 2x a Month

I’m a slow learner sometimes. But when something clicks I go all the way with it.

For example, for the first 5 years of being in business I paid myself sporadically. Basically whenever there was a chunk of money in my business checking account I’d pay myself.

But now, thanks in large part to my beautiful wife (and the fact we’re buying a home this week), I’ve developed the habit of paying myself every two weeks.

I now get paid on the 1st and the 15th of the month (thank you boss!).

And it feels good. I work well with deadlines so knowing that I need to come up with payroll twice a month helps me focus on important things like cash flow, sales and prospecting.

It’s motivation! I’m suddenly inspired to do the things I need to do. Funny how that works.

I even started tracking this on my habit-tracking app (Habit Bull for Android). I’m at 100% if I pay myself twice a month. And for the last few months I’ve been doing great. My goal is to keep this up for at least 12 months.

So just wanted to share this with you because this simple little decision is having a big impact on my life and business.

Spontaneous RV Trip to Bend, Oregon

We looked at the forecast a few days ago and saw it was supposed to be warm and sunny in Bend, Oregon this week.

So we made reservations at a campground yesterday and drove down today!

It took us a while to get down here because it’s been 6 months (which I can’t believe) since we’ve taken the motorhome out. So it took longer than normal to clean it out and pack up.

So it felt good to finally get behind the wheel of the motorhome again and hit the road! My wife’s sister and her son came with us too, so it’s 3 adults and 4 kids on this adventure!

When Lacie asked me if we could go to Bend this week I told her as long I’m able to work in the mornings then yes, that’s no problem. And that’s exactly what I plan to do. Today is Tuesday and I was able to work for a few hours this morning before hitting the road.

And it’s 11:36 p.m. right now as I type this. I’ll probably wake up around 7:00 a.m. and work for 3 hours from the campground clubhouse before calling it a day and enjoying the nice day in Bend with my family.

It feels good to be free to work from anywhere. If I was chained to an office or a traditional job I wouldn’t be able to just pick up and go to Bend on a whim. So I’m thankful. And I want to help others enjoy this freedom too.

I just had two people within the last week contact me asking me to help them get freelance work. On the 4-hour drive down here I told my wife about this and she said, “You should teach a freelance course.”

So it’s something I’m considering. But if I do it, I want to do it right. Anyway, I’m rambling because it’s late and I’m tired. So I better wrap this up.

I just wanted to share how thankful I am that I can work from anywhere and I want others to be able to enjoy this same freedom. That’s what’s on my mind now… that and wondering what we’re making for breakfast tomorrow. 🙂

Why You Should Pay Yourself a Salary As a Freelancer

Working as a freelancer has many benefits.

You can work where you want, for who you want, and when you want.

That’s great and all but none of that matters if you’re BROKE!

And one of the biggest risks freelancers face is inconsistent income.

One month you could make $20,000 and the next month $2,000.

I’ve been at this for 6 years now so I can tell you from personal experience about the highs and the lows of the Freelance Life.

The highs make you feel like you’re on top of the world while the lows make you want to curl up in the fetal position and cry yourself to sleep.

And since I’m not a fan of crying myself to sleep (I prefer reading novels before bed personally) I decided I want to make sure I have consistent income.

For a long time I would pay myself last. I would first pay my contractors, my bills and taxes and then whatever was left over would be my pay for the month.

Not a smart way to do this, I realized.

The better way?

Pay yourself first! Or at least treat yourself like you would any of your vendors or contractors. For example, there’s no way I would never pay a vendor who did work for me. I can’t even fathom that idea.

And then one day it hit me, “Why are you OK not paying yourself but not OK paying others?”

See, it’s not just me who doesn’t get paid when I neglect to pay myself a fixed salary. It’s my wife and my kids who suffer. So the loaded question I ask myself is this:

Are your vendors more important than your family?

If the answer is no (and it most certainly is) then I’m left with no other choice but to pay myself on payday!

That’s it. Nothing really complicated about this. But there’s something powerful when you have a “gun to head” type of pressure to do something.

You’ll suddenly be motivated to make it happen… well, because you have no other choice!

How to Explain What You Do if You’re a Copywriter

“One of the first questions that new acquaintances ask one another is ”What do you do?“ or ”What field are you in?“ You need to be able to answer that question with no more than about 20 seconds of description. What is more, you need to answer that question in a way that sounds absolutely fascinating and that almost compels your interlocutor to ask further questions.”

– From Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

I’ll take this challenge.

I need to actually. Because last weekend my brother, Ben, came over for my daughters’ birthday party (they are 3 days apart so we celebrate them together).

As we were sitting at the table talking, he told me a story about one of his friends who had asked what I did for a living. Ben laughed and said, “You know, I have no idea what you do…” and continued on with his story.

I just laughed because I’m used to the fact that most people, including my friends and family, don’t really know what I do for a living.

I usually just shrug it off and think, ‘They don’t get it because they’re not entrepreneurs. They only understand what it’s like to work for someone else.’

But that’s letting myself off the hook too easily, don’t you think?

After reading Rabbi Lapin’s admonition this morning I’m inspired to revisit this and figure out a good 20-second answer to the question, “So, what do you do?”

I’ve actually thought about this before. You see, I went into business for myself six years ago. And since then I’ve played with a few different ways to describe what I do.

For example, when I first became a freelance copywriter in 2011 I would say:

“I’m a writer.”

But that would naturally lead to the next question: “Oh so what type of writing do you do? Have you written a book?”

Then I’d have to explain that no I’m not that type of writer.

“No I don’t write novels. I’m a direct response copywriter and I help businesses persuade people to take action using writing (now that I think about it, it would have been helpful to offer that bit of detail versus just saying ”I’m a writer” like some mysterious weirdo).

So then I started saying:

“I’m a copywriter.”

The only problem with that answer is half the people I told this too assumed I was a “copyrighter” (no, that’s not a real word or job). I would end up in the weirdest conversations and be forced to interrupt the person and explain I’m not actually in the business of helping people with copyright infringement or trademark issues.

“No, I’m actually a commercial freelance writer. I copy-WRITER not a copyRIGHTER.”

Eventually I got tired of this and simply told people:

“I’m in marketing.”

Yes, pretty dull. But at least I didn’t have to talk about trademarks, patents and or novels anymore!

But I think it’s time to give this some thought and come up with a decent answer. While I’m at it I figured I’d write this post and share some some thought provoking answers to help other copywriters come up with a good answer.

So here we go…

Here are the questions/tips to help you come up with your own answer:

1) Have you worked with any famous or interesting clients? Then mention them. I’ve written copy for Daymond John from Shark Tank and a couple bestselling authors.

2) Mention something about persuasion or psychology. People usually find this interesting.

3) Mention something about how you help produce results. I love how Eugene Schwartz does this in the Introduction to his book Breakthrough Advertising. He writes:

“I am a mail order copywriter who makes his living by producing results – in carefully-measured dollars of profit – from the written word. My income – my standard of living – depends bluntly and directly upon my ability to sell… I sell or do not sell, on the basis of one tool alone – my ad.”

Speaking of profit, you should probably mention something about money in your answer too.

4) Give examples of the type of projects you do. I’ll use my Daymond John example. “Daymond had this monthly webinar training called ”Shark Chat” that he would sell to people who found him online and joined his email list. My job was to write the emails and the content o the website that sold the course. So I read Daymond’s books and would listen to how he talked on Shark Tank until I felt I had a good grasp on his voice. Then I wrote the copy.

Hopefully that helps. Oh, and my new answer? Here you go:

“So Josh, what do you do?”

“I’m a freelance copywriter who helps successful entrepreneurs, like Daymond John from Shark Tank, and big companies, like American Express, craft compelling copy that gets people to buy. I write things like sales letters, emails and website pages that help make my clients a lot of money.”

P.S. I just re-read my answer and I already don’t like it! I see myself updating this blog post in the not too distant future! Ugh… Why am I trying to teach this when I haven’t figured it out myself? Bad blogger. You need to take a time out and sit in the corner and think about what you didn’t do.

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