Why Facebook Groups Are Freelancer Heaven DONE

freelance Facebook group community
Facebook Groups can be a welcome support network for freelancers. Photo courtesy of Shridhar Gupta

Facebook has definitely been in the headlines lately, but it still carries a huge value. So, make sure you’ve reviewed your privacy settings, and let’s dive in, shall we?

Despite the growing tide of freelancers, this is still an emerging lifestyle we all need a little guidance in molding. It’s all part of crafting our #bestlife, amiright? As freelancers, we need more spaces to connect and combat the inevitable loneliness that comes with serving clients and not connecting with enough people who understand you. Communities and monthly events – like those from Rising Tide Society and the Freelancers Union – are great for in-person adult friending. But in the meantime, you need more regular support, encouragement and – let’s be honest – lifelines. It’s a daily grind and there are so many hats to wear as a freelancer – CEO, CTO, CFO, HR, admin, cheerleader, the list goes on – and that doesn’t even include the balance of your everyday life! So, here’s the rundown on how to make use of these special spaces where you can find people like you, promote yourself, and get any number of answers to your questions. All from your bed, coach, workspace. We don’t judge here.

Groups for Support

This is by far the biggest contingent of Facebook groups that are out there for freelancers. They are often started by people within client management platforms – like Upwork and Lyft, by podcast hosts with day jobs – like Jenna Kutcher and Michael O’Neal, or by freelancer coaches – like Jenny Beresand others that require you to pay for a course they’re offering. Regardless of who started them, consider it one of your missions to look for groups you can follow or join that were started by people or companies you admire. Birds of a feather flock together – and you can have some comfort and trust about the community given who started it and why it was developed.

Many of these groups will ask you for a little more information about yourself before allowing you into the fold. They’ll also often have a pinned note at the top of the discussion thread or About page to let you know how to best engage with the community and any no-nos. Many of them will have designated days or ways to promote your own business and what you’d like to learn from the community. I love seeing these posts and giving feedback whenever someone asks for logo thoughts or how they should go about pricing their services. In addition, you’ll see a lot of people posting about their current frustrations. I find these the most wonderful posts because they’re so real – and seeing everyone surround individuals with care and help is beyond heartwarming. What in incredible show of humanity to embrace each others’ vulnerabilities. Something we can all look forward to contributing to, right?

Groups for Getting Work or Leads

These groups typically have an element of support, but they’re really where people post to get or hire for jobs. These groups typically focus on more established professions like marketing, writing, videography, accounting, etc. If you’re just starting to dip your toes into one of these fields, don’t be shy. Joining one of these groups can be really helpful to learning how to develop and market yourself. Learning the terms and needs within a field is half the battle. And if you’re just starting out you might find you can easily chime in with newer platforms or software than others might.

These groups tend to be fairly well-monitored, but as with any job postings be sure to be clear. If you’re posting a job, make sure you clearly state some of the needs and parameters, like you need a videographer for a wedding in Washington state in June and the client’s budget for this is $3,000-5,000. Being clear about the needs will help you get more targeted responses. If you’re looking for a job, ask for that level of clarity and make sure you define the scope in advance. Make sure, in subsequent correspondence, that you treat this like any other job where you would ask for contract signing and a deposit or payment in advance. Vet whoever you might be hiring or working for, so there are no surprises down the road.

A Group for You

Finally, I highly recommend that if you have a developed or are developing service, to consider creating a Facebook group. If you’re on a platform like Fiverr or Rover, you may not need or want one today. But if you have your own website or are developing your brand, you’ll want to start one because it’s a great place to start developing a coaching platform. The top 40% of freelancers out there have been developing their careers for longer than 5 years. And the top 20% have been at it longer or built a incredibles business in a shorter period. This means if you’re in that top 40%, you have a ton to share with the up-and-comers in your field. Paying it forward with your hard-earned lessons can become a great income source that compliments your continued client work.

Look to your favorite people in your space to get some best practices. If there aren’t any – wow, what a great blank canvas for you to take over! Just look at stars in other spaces to get some ideas. Generally, you can create this space however you’d like but be sure to include blog posts (on Medium or your own site), updates on when you might be at a conference or open for some office hours, pro tips on how you run your business everyday, etc. All this advice is really invaluable as you’ve spent years collecting it – and you’re still evolving beyond whatever you’re sharing with this community. So, go for it! Create a group (you can always rename it later!) and start engaging with your friends, family and all sorts of freelancers looking for your suggestions and help.

A Word of Encouragement

My friends wouldn’t say I’m an introvert… but I have my days of sheer overwhelm. For those days, I especially love Facebook groups, where I can just sit back at my kitchen table and post help, thoughts, and engage without putting on makeup and driving out to an event for an undefined period of time. Just join a few groups today and see where this takes you. I’m sure you’ll gain at least a few new friends. Till then, I’ll see you on Facebook – and all the other usual online.

Oona from Lance

Should You Start a Side Hustle? DONE

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Are you ready to juggle and get ahead with a side hustle? Photo courtesy of Brad Neathery

Whether it’s through Instagram posts or conversations with friends, you’re probably hearing more people talking about working a side hustle. In addition to holding down full-time jobs, your friends might be spending their nights or weekends walking dogs, renting out their apartments or consulting for corporate clients. And they’re not alone.

Working a side hustle has become a way to both make some extra money – if your full-time job allows it – and test the waters with whether you’d like to turn a skill or passion into a new full-time job on your own.

Just like with freelancing, side hustles allow for more flexibility and freedom in how and when you work – as well as space to negotiate your rates with various clients. Over the last couple decades, there has been a significant and growing shift amongst people moving from working more traditional, 9-to-5 jobs to freelancing full-time for themselves. In fact, freelancers and side hustlers account for 57.3 million Americans today. In the next decade, freelancers will account for over half the workforce in this country and others around the globe.

Who Should Consider a Side Hustle

The type of people who pursue a side hustle do so for multiple reasons. Often they are motivated financially – to start making multiple incomes streams to save for a big purchase, secure more retirement savings or pay off debt. But just as often they’re now looking to further develop passions, expand upon budding skill sets and reinforce their hireability across multiple job types as well.

When pursuing financial reasons, people are now largely looking to diversify and add to their full-time income. They’re not alone – one in four people in the US already have a second source of income. Side hustles and the gig economy are not only for people of a certain income range. People making over $100,000 in annual incomes are using gig employment to quickly boost their retirement nest egg – and now able to do this much more flexibly thanks to online platforms, like EtsyLyft and Airbnb.

When passion-driven, people typically feel their full-time job isn’t aligned with their interests or not very purpose-driven. Side hustling allows for people to keep their full-time job along with its stability while allotting some time to these passions. These side hustles may include picking up writing, photography or house sitting for animals on a regular basis.

Increasingly, people are also looking for a way to further develop their personal growth. When surveyed, 40% of freelancers reported they got into side hustles and freelancing to keep learning and supporting themselves through new skills. These people often look to side hustling to also expand their network and reputation through these new or additional skills.

A demographic increasingly taking to side hustles is baby boomers. They’re often looking most immediately to increase their retirement savings, having experienced the impacts of the last recession and often still paying off their children’s student loans. Along with the financial benefits though, side hustles allow baby boomers to stay involved in their communities through this part-time work or develop skills they can take and charge for along their upcoming travels.

Why Side Hustles Are Beneficial

All the reasons side hustles are taken on as listed above are the reasons they’re beneficial. They can net immediate and long-term increased income. Side hustles allow for someone to keep a day job as well as pursue passions and interests without having to go “all-in”. These gigs can help grow social network and create a forcing function to learning new skills. These benefits are particularly invaluable to growing a resume and keeping it fresh. And by working in another environment or context, there are constantly new opportunities to learn, expand and get exposed to different people and ideas. This final point is significant to what is now being referenced as the future indicator of success: adaptability quotient. Defined as the ability to adapt and thrive in a fast-changing environment, this is quickly replacing long held respect for IQ and EQ.

When Side Hustles Can Pose Challenges

While there are many benefits that come along with side hustles, there are also disadvantages. Side hustling can leave one with very little down or free time. Once a side hustler is done with their full-time job, it’s off to the side hustle – creating an almost non-stop work life. If not monitored, a side hustle can also begin to intervene on a full-time job. Time management skills are critical to balancing a full-time job or pursuits along with a side hustle. It’s often best to wade into the side hustle waters slowly, so there’s the opportunity to increase or decrease the workload as needed around a principle income or family needs. Stress or feeling a sense of overwhelm around juggling jobs should be monitored and adjusted for accordingly.

What to Ask Yourself Before Diving Into a Side Hustle

Given the pros and cons  of taking on another job or set of clients, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before determining this is the right time to start a side hustle:

  • Do I have an idea or passion?
  • Do I have the time to learn? Whether it’s a new skill set, platform or networking medium?
  • Am I willing to fail a little bit along the way as I learn?
  • Do I want more freedom and flexibility in how and when I work?
  • Could I use some extra cash?

If you answered yes to most or all of these questions, you’re ready and capable of taking on a side hustle.

It’s going to take a lot of elbow grease but if you apply yourself and search out the right communities, you’ll start gaining more than just another income stream. Whether it’s those new skills, turning your side hustle into your main income or growing your AQ, you’ll be well on your way to joining the growing ranks of side hustlers and freelancers. Throughout this week, we’ll post more about how to setup your side hustle using all the online platforms available to manage your invoicing and even marketing yourself through various social media channels.

Oona from Lance

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4 Reasons We All Should Become Freelancers DONE

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Freelancing is a juggling act – that’s well worth the hustle. Photo courtesy of @rawpixel on Unsplash

Freedom. That’s the top reason freelancers say they left their 9-to-5 and the key benefit they enjoy today. But why else should we all incorporate and set up shop as individuals? 30% of workers in the US and across Europe are already freelancing today.  We’re supposed to outnumber traditional workers in less than a ten years. Here are the top four reasons you’ll likely start freelancing in the coming years.

Keep Learning

About a third of all freelancers have taken an online class within the last week. That’s three times the number of traditional workers who have done the same. And within the last six months, it’s 60% of freelancers! The world and technology we all work with is changing rapidly. We all know we need to stay ahead of the evolving knowledge and tools of our trades. It can be daunting, but when you’re a freelancer you pursue this, because you know staying up-to-speed is critical.

Not only does all this learning provide for a healthier income, but there is such a strong connection across freelancers teaching each other how to be better and manage their businesses as well.  This benefit will only get magnified as more people become freelancers. Those who know unique skills will be able to share their insights about the industry. Those who understand how to market will be able to teach others about how to bring on more clients and income. And finally, those freelancers who know how to manage their finances, when to buy supplies, and how to supplement their incomes across freelance types (i.e., a photographer can also market online website templates via their blog and might drive for Lyft occasionally) will be able to coach their peers in money management.

Own Our Benefits (and Finances)

Let’s face it. Medical insurance premiums are getting more expensive for both employers and employees. You can now buy them directly – and write off a majority of them in your tax deductions. So, why be tied to what your employer deems beneficial? Retirement and 401(k) programs are also largely going unmatched these days. And with programs from Vanguard, Betterment, Wealthfront and Ellevest, we all have more control over our saving for and tracking the benefits of our own investing.

The benefits aren’t getting any better in full-time gigs, and they’ll start to get worse over the next few decades. Why? As more of us become freelancers, companies and governments will increasingly hire distributed workforces (and learn along the way the benefits of releasing their HR operations onto individuals). We’ll have to wear more hats individually but have more flexibility in platforms competing for our sign-ups and usage.

Decide Who We Work With

Ever gotten frustrated with work politics? Or struggled with a beyond challenging client for the good of a company’s balance sheet? Those clients and colleagues are not only a drag, but we know they’re also typically more work than they’re worth – costing extra hours and sometime even team members.

As an individual freelancer, you get to decide who you want to work with amongst clients and peers. There have been several instances over the years where I’ve decided not to work with someone because they didn’t seem like they were ready for a marketing consultant. I’ve also gotten to bring friends who are designers and branding specialists along to collaborate on projects.  Creating these networks of referring clients and peers has been so rewarding for my business, and a fun way to stay connected personally as well!

Work When We Want

Work better at 10pm than 10am? Or are you most productive when you’re on a 6-week project than a 6-month campaign? That’s no problem when you’re freelancing. And it’s also why we’re seeing a wealth of books and courses coming out, like Gretchen Rubin’s “The Four Tendencies” and Charles Duhigg’s “Smarter Faster Better“. We’re all working to understand how to manage ourselves better, because part of marketing yourself is sharing how you’ll work best together with your clients. And there are endless clients and all sorts of needs you can solve for across industries. You can work on a marketing campaign early in the morning or drive for Lyft midnight. You can do your photography over the weekends and run errands and your blog during the week. As a freelancer, you get to determine your on and off hours. Of course, you have to account for when your clients might need you. But there is so much more flexibility when you can work from home or a space you determine.

Tax Write-Offs

Financial stability is definitely a fear that keeps a lot of people from freelancing. But here’s the big secret: there is so much you get to write-off when you’re working for yourself. You get to write-off your workplace (which can be a part of your home and utilities), part of your health insurance, your supplies, your marketing costs (in the form of meals and client gifts), driving costs, and more. Everyone underestimates the impact of these deductions until they get to see them in action. If you’re worried about this, go to an accountant or bookkeeper to walk you through your possible deductions. If you don’t have one handy, I’m happy to connect you. In the meantime, if you’re considering the switch or are already freelancing and worried you’re not getting the most out of your deductions, download the Lance app to start tracking your business expenses.

Have I convinced you yet? Next week, I’ll write about how to incorporate yourself for the maximum benefits as you explore freelancing – or if you’ve been at it for a bit and need to button things up!

Oona from Lance

Freelancers We’re Watching: Hairstylists DONE

freelancer hairdresser stylist
Effectively marketing your hairstyling and coloring in the right channels can grow your business considerably. Photo courtesy of @Element5_Digital on Unsplash

Becoming a great hairstylist requires at the very least a ton of schooling – as well as learning new techniques over the years – and consistently marketing yourself to new clients. While you have utter control over how much schooling you undertake, it can feel daunting to stay on top of evolving your unique style and marketing it effectively. Especially today, when there are so many people posting regularly to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and everywhere else. Separating yourself from the pack can be challenging, but it’s far from impossible.

To give you a sense of how to market effectively, we wanted to highlight two hairstylists we came across who we think are doing this well. They both have upwards of 29k followers and have learned through their trials and tribs what it takes to keep advancing as a top hair stylist. You can tell they put a lot of effort into their online presence but clearly they’re having fun and enjoying their professions too! Take a look – we’d love to hear who else you enjoy learning from or following in this industry.

Ambrosia Carey (@ambrosiacarey)

Ambrosia Carey is based in Portland, OR. As she details in her blog, her rise to fame was challenging but her ability to persevere and keep her mind right was what helped her succeed over time. She’s someone who doesn’t believe in following established boundaries or expectations set on you by others. She believes, “the only expectations are those you have of yourself.” She encourages her followers to create and pursue their own expectations.

Developing Her Style

When it came to growing clientele, Ambrosia did it in a way anyone can admire. She made a decision she wasn’t going to let other hairstylists out work her. She came into the shop early, stayed late, worked consistently, and surrounded herself with the stylists she admired. Ambrosia learned from them, grew through watching them, and took notes on what made them so successful in her eyes.

It’s a principle so many other successful people follow: Surround yourself with the people you want to be like.Doing this gave her all-access passes into what these stylist were doing with their time to climb to the top. Ambrosia also entered into hair competitions which further developed her style and grew her network among top talent. Not to mention, these competitions also helped build her confidence.

Growing Clientele on Social Media

When it came to growing clientele via social media, Ambrosia did this again by putting in the time. She’s focused on posting meaningful and inspiring work that makes her followers feel more connected to their passion and her style. Ambrosia also always makes sure to respond to anyone commenting on her blog or Instagram feed, whether it’s sharing the technique she used or just thanking someone for their compliments. Being active on your social media channels is so important because it’s where you get to connect with people who you have something in common with regardless of where in the world you are in that moment.

Ambrosia has been able to put all of this work and dedication into her craft because she loves it so much. You can feel it throughout all her posts! She loves being a hairdresser, she loves interacting with her customers, and she loves knowing she’s made a difference in someone’s day.

Neal Malek (@Nealmhair)

Neal Malek is based in Orlando, FL. He has a whopping 84.5k followers on Instagram. He started from humble beginnings, working at a booth rental salon where he assisted some great veterans of the industry for six months. Like Ambrosia, this allowed him to grow and learn a lot from the people around him. He was then able to work in a Ulta Salon and start climbing towards getting a full book within a year’s time. He continued growing his network, taking to social media to show people what he’s up to and how his style continues to evolve.

Tips For Upcoming Stylists

One of the most consistent tips Neal gives – and lives – is to be confident. Always be confident in the work you do and in your abilities to work with anyone and everyone. Neal has said the reasons for his success is his confidence. He is confident enough to walk up to anyone anywhere and talk to them about their hair. Talking to potential clients like this is risky but certainly gets their attention.

Walking up to anyone not only allows you to grow your network, but also allows you to market yourself. You can market yourself by handing out your card, giving tips, and proving you know what you’re talking about. You are able to illustrate your love for hair and being a hairstylist, which people enjoy seeing. When people see the passion coming through you, it makes it a lot easier to trust someone. You see they are not just doing it for the money, but doing it because they can’t control their passion! They want to be styling your hair in that very moment.

Using Social Media

Neal believes you need to regularly change what you’re doing and step outside of your comfort zone, if you want to be successful. One of the changes he made in his own business was committing to having each of his clients stay an extra 30 minutes to make sure styled their hair exactly how they wanted. This showed his clients he was truly invested in them,and would do whatever it took to make sure they were ecstatic leaving his styling chair. Neal believes going above and beyond leads to a world of success.

Why He Loves Being a Hairstylist

Neal loves that the lifestyle allows him to work on his own time. It allows him to be creative everyday and follow his own rules. He has said he was never a fan of school and would get into his fair share of trouble growing up. Learning he wanted to become a hairstylist was an amazing relief; he could finally set upon something that kept his attention.

Neal also loves the inspirational aspect of his job. He knows after he is done styling someone’s hair, their self esteem goes through the roof. Knowing he has the ability to help people find their beauty is truly amazing. Everyone should feel beautiful and he feels it’s his gift to show people their beauty.

Standing out in the hairstyling industry can be challenging, but these two hairstylists are great examples of everyone’s potential to start from the ground level and become inspiring influencers. Key is tapping into your passion, and then chasing that passion with hard work everyday as soon as you wake up in the morning. As a freelancer, it’s such a gift that we get to do what we love everyday and are able to positively affect the lives of so many people around us. With a little bit of confidence and perseverance, there’s no reason you can’t be the next Ambrosia Carey or Neal Malek.

Oona from Lance