Styling your way to success with freelance hairstylist & educator Mitchell Cantrell

Freelance hairstylist Mitchel Cantrell’s work on Instagram immediately drew us in. In bonafide solopreneur fashion, Mitchell is a talent that wears many hats. With the motto “power hairdressing for impactful women”, his creativity has led him to great success – as a traveling hairdresser, reiki practitioner, and global educator. Ads, magazines, and the red carpet feature his work. Now, Mitchell has started the “Fresh Start Workshop,” an educational program that aims to enliven the hairstyle practice within other hairstylists by making it more innovative, ergonomic, and most importantly, fun. His biggest strength as a solopreneur is that “I believe in myself 100%, I believe I am worthy and that I am capable of achieving my goals.” Read on for more of his freelance success tips.

What’s the best business or money advice you ever got as a freelance hairstylist?

Network! If you network properly and consistently, your network will refer gigs and clients to you which translates into money. Also, have multiple sources of income!

Now for a moment of realness, what are you struggling with right now in your business?

Consistency, consistency in my networking, sales work, and community building.

As a freelance hairstylist and educator that works all over the world, what challenges and advantages do you think are unique to always being on the road?

The challenge is that I am responsible for my own schedule, my own career, my own everything. I can’t just show up to a job and know that I’ll have a check every two weeks. I have to grind for mine every month. 

The advantage is that I am responsible for my own schedule, my own career, my own everything. I can say, this month I want to make X amount of dollars. I’ll get out a piece of paper and work backward including all my venue streams. I may have to sell a class, or a one on one workshop to reach my goal. Same with travel, if I know I want to go to a city, I can try to book some education in that town one day out of my trip and it could easily pay for the whole trip’s expenses.

We know the freelancer life is all about the hustle toward incredible goals, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Financially, personally, and with your business?

In 5 years I would like to be established as a top artist globally and signed to a top agency. I’d like to work on releasing either a hair product or a tool as another revenue stream. I would love to be in the position to finance my first real estate property. Personally, I want to hire a personal trainer to help take my body to the next level, continue to evolve spiritually through my Reiki practice and continue to learn a variety of things over the years to grow mentally. 

Follow Mitchell @mitchellcantrellbeauty

6 Ways To Move Your Solopreneur Business Forward DONE

You know the feeling, right? Your solopreneur business is flourishing, but you’re now approaching a slowing point and you’re starting to feel stuck. How should you move forward and what will make your business progress? These six suggestions will help get your biz back on track. 

1. Ace Goal Setting.

As freelancers, we’re constantly jumbling new ideas. It is important to manage these prospective projects in an organized manner. What exactly are you trying to accomplish with your solopreneur business? Write down your key objectives and place this somewhere you will see every day. Visualizing your future will make you more likely to attain it. Once you know where you want to go, you will be able to determine what you need to do to get there.

2. Give yourself an edge.

Realistically, there are tons of people who can provide the same services as you. Establish your specialization. As Michael Zindell explains in his interview, to differentiate yourself from other solopreneurs, focus on your strengths and target customers in this area to provide the highest quality services. Zindell is a creative illustrator and product designer who specializes in houseware designs. With his extensive knowledge of giftware, houseware, and decor, he knows all the ins and outs of the industry. He can nail any project in that field. Be confident in the skillset that allows you to utilize your talents, and makes you – YOU.

3. Make your client your priority.

Once you have a prospective client, show them how you plan on solving their problem rather than explaining what you do as a freelancer running a solopreneur business. If it doesn’t relate to your customer, they won’t benefit from your business and don’t need to hear about it. In addition, be ready to alter your processes when necessary. Being able to smoothly tailor your techniques to accomplish project goals shows professionalism. If you can’t adapt your services to accomplish your client’s wishes, they will find someone else who can. Clients know what they want (most of the time 😉

4. Showcase your experience.

Prospective clients need evidence of your qualifications in order to have confidence when hiring you. Create a vast portfolio of past projects to showcase your experience and expertise. For example, if you’re a designer, it is a good idea to keep all of your designs in one place. Many tools exist to help organize your work, like Dribble. It may also be beneficial to note previous clients you’ve worked with. One way you could present this could be displaying client logos on your website. This will not only demonstrate your abilities, but it will also set realistic expectations for your customers, ensuring further satisfaction.

5. Ask for testimonials and referrals.

Clients want to know what it will be like to work with you. Request feedback and provide clients an easy way to access it. Use websites like Yelp and SiteJabber to keep these reviews in one place, and make sure you incorporate these in your website. In addition, sending a survey after you’ve completed a project is simple and convenient for clients. This survey information will be helpful when determining what was successful and what needs improvement when reflecting on your projects. This can easily be done with Google Forms. Also, maintaining business relationships is key to developing a powerful network, so notify your circle about current launches and updates. Keeping past clients in the loop will promote familiarity with your business. This consistency boosts your reliability and creates a cycle of referrals. 

6. Be patient.

Take a step back, look at where you are, and reflect on your progress. Have you achieved your project’s goals? Are you satisfied with the work you’ve done? Do you have the resources needed to grow? Are you ready to make another move? Discuss these ideas with other freelancers to learn and collaborate. Join discussion forums or online communities that bring freelancers together, such as Business Advice for Freelancers. And before you jump into the next endeavor, don’t forget to give yourself credit for the work you’ve done.  

If you want to satisfy prospective clients, showcase your past projects so they have a better idea of what you’re capable of. Reflect on your progress and use the feedback you receive to modify your business. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back, and keep working towards the business of you.

Joining Solopreneur Forces: 5 Ways To Boost Productivity When Collaborating DONE

The average solopreneur commonly experiences this same phenomenon: so much to do, in such a limited amount of time. How should one deal with this? The answer is simple: collaborate instead of competing. Don’t look at other solopreneurs as your rivals, but as your teammates and teachers. By collaborating with other freelancers, both sides can benefit from learning from each other’s mistakes and successes. These unique tactics can then be implemented into your own practices. But as a solopreneur (keyword: solo) how does one suddenly transition into working as a team? Here are some ideas to promote productivity and ensure smooth sailing when collaborating with other freelancers.  

1. Communicate and delegate.

Communication is key in any collaboration. To effectively communicate with other freelancers, building a strong relationship is crucial. Do your homework. Make sure you are well-informed of your potential collaborator’s previous work, past clients, and overall image. Having these details will allow you to see if this solopreneur will be beneficial for the project in question. Furthermore, it will provide a strong initial impression of your own brand as a professional that’s in the know.

Once this relationship has been established, give your collaborator clear instructions on the intentions of your project. Distribute the responsibilities between each freelancer. Listen to each other and ask questions.  Learn about the skills they have developed and the tools they have used to grow their success.

Everybody works differently, so it is important to identify everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t hesitate to speak up. Start your project by outlining individual tasks with due dates to ensure timely completion.

Be clear when stating responsibilities and what to expect from one another. If you assign designated roles to each person involved, you set yourself up for the smoothest working environment. Make sure these expected tasks are reasonable in order to create a fair and orderly group dynamic. Create a detailed game plan and assign deadlines.

Taking charge and being communicative when problems arise will make you a reliable freelancer and a successful collaborator.

2. Stay connected and organized.

Expand your network and nurture relationships by connecting with other freelancers and talent. This can be as simple as participating in discussion forums, or by working in a co-working space. Our Facebook Group Business Advice for Freelancers is a great place to start.

Once you’ve found your go-to hustlers, there are many resources available to facilitate and encourage communication. Slack, Trello, Monday.com, and Evernote are only a few of the services out there designed to streamline collaboration. With regular check-ins and discussions, participants should have no confusion regarding the tasks they are responsible for. Being organized means everyone is on the same page.

3. Follow each other on social media.

By engaging with other freelancers on social media, you are able to expand your reach. For example, when you share other freelancer’s posts with your followers, this joint effort stimulates the circulation of unique ideas. Your social media audience will benefit from accessing your resources and that of those you share. Essentially, you are adding value for your audience which allows them to form deeper connections with your brand. Sharing and crediting the ideas of other solopreneurs will make your business more likely to receive shout-outs in return.  

4. Never say no, always refer to another solopreneur.

Recommendations are better than rejecting a customer. If you are unable to provide a service but know another solopreneur who would be perfect – pass it along. Fellow freelancers will appreciate your confidence in their abilities and are more likely to return the favor in the future.

Despite the benefits from referrals, it is important to be aware of the possible unfavorable impacts on your reputation. If a referral ends up going in the wrong direction, this may negatively alter your brand image. Be mindful of who you recommend to clients, but always stay open. The more connections you make, the more opportunities you will be exposed to. Remember, what goes around comes around.

5. Ask for feedback

Receiving feedback from your collaborators will save you in the future. It’s hard to critique your own practices, so listening to outside feedback on your business processes is key. Use the advice you receive to alter your performances. Constructive criticism is not always easy to hear but is crucial to improving the business of you.

A project may arise that will push you to work with a freelancer you may not have chosen yourself. If points of tension occur, make sure to speak up and articulate the specific problems that have challenged you. This will allow other freelancers to learn about their mistakes and move forward with new tactics.

Looking for solopreneurs to collaborate with? Join our Business Advice for Freelancers Facebook Page to connect with hustlers just like you!

Turning Passion Into a Business with Freelance Photographer Kara McCurdy DONE

When we came across freelance photographer Kara McCurdy’s heartwarming wedding images, we simply couldn’t look away. Vintage flair and a whole lot of compassion bring out genuine emotion in her photos. We were instantly inspired not only by her work but by her journey to starting a business-first freelance career. When Kara felt “stuck” last year, she decided to pick up a camera and pursue her long-lost passion for photography. This time, as a business. Kara now shoots portraits and weddings, capturing love in all of its forms through her images. We love how her independence and burning passion for art and photography, has driven her to great success. Here Kara shares valuable insight into how she turned her life around by freelancing.

Let’s make sure you pat your own back… What’s your biggest strength as a solopreneur?

I’m incredibly proud of my journey. I was raised in poverty, got my first job at the age of 11, and by 20 I was working multiple jobs to make ends meet. I worked my way through art school to get my photography degree and put in long hours at a day job. Then I’d come home and put in even more hours on my photography to bring it to fruition. If I fail tomorrow, I’ll be left with the lessons I’ve learned just to get to this point, and that’s honestly more than enough.

What’s the best business or money advice you ever got as a freelance photographer?

Get legal and do it now. DO NOT WAIT! Get your business registered, open a business account, and keep those personal and business expenses separate. When tax season comes, you will thank yourself!

Now for a moment of realness, what are you struggling with right now in your business?

I struggle with digital marketing most! I’m currently getting by just fine, but I know that I could be more purposeful in my marketing if I could just sit down and figure it out. Or maybe my biggest issue is that I’m too prideful to just hand this job off to somebody else, HA!

As a freelance photographer focusing on weddings and portraiture in New York, what challenges and advantages do you think are unique to your city?

I’m going to be real right now. I think that my struggles with New York are unique to me and a select few others. New York is the center of art in the USA, so I think a lot of young artists feel like they need to be in New York to be a “real” artist. But New York only sometimes feels like home to me, nd I frequently feel homesick for wide open spaces. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle bustle of this city- there is always something going on (a big advantage!!), but sometimes that ends up being a trade-off for time spent outdoors, in the wild, which is something I personally really need as a creative to refresh. Because of this need that I have, I’ve built a big part of my business around destination weddings, which allows me to travel quite a bit! I definitely utilize New York’s big airports for that.

Photo Courtesy of Kara McCurdy

We know the freelancer life is all about the hustle toward incredible goals, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Financially, personally, and with your businesses?

Five years from now!? WHEW! I really want to empower upcoming female artists. We’re told as women that we’re so petty and can’t ever be genuinely supportive of each other, but that’s not true! Women challenge each other in ways that men do not, and that can make us all a lot stronger if we can just realize our potential. I love the work that I do to empower young creative women, and I’d love to continue doing that on a larger scale in the future. And maybe I’ll move out of New York City and live in the mountains, haha!

>> Find Kara’s work @karamccurdy and www.karamccurdy.com <<

Feeling inspired to turn your passion into a career? Read “7 Steps to starting a Side Hustle”.

3 Reasons Why You Should Set Higher Rates as a Freelancer DONE

One of the most daunting aspects of being a solopreuner is setting your freelancing rate. We all have moments of insecurities about our work and the value we actually deliver for clients. In turn, it’s common to develop fears around setting a rate that exceeds our actual value. This results in many freelancers actually charging much lower rates than deserved. If you’ve already taken the first steps to become a self-made independent, making sure your rates are high enough is imperative to building a viable business.

Most Freelancers are Currently Undercharging.

You might believe you are charging a high rate for your freelancing work, but there is a good chance it’s still not as high as your time is actually worth.  According to the Payoneer’s 2018 Freelancer Income Report, the average freelancer has a rate that falls short of the actual value of their time; even ⅔ the price they could be charging. The same report claims that 68% of all freelancers are unsatisfied with their current income. Together these statistics highlight the paradox of a growing pattern amongst freelancers: the desire to make more money and the inactivity around asking so.

Another common misconception is that since freelancers set their own rates, there is no wage gap between males and females. A recent HoneyBook study showed that 63% of freelancers, both males, and females, believed both sexes are paid equally in their respective line of work. Unfortunately, this is a major mistaken belief as females are earning less than men across the board: a staggering average of 32% less. This is significantly larger than even full-time employment, which stands at 24% less.  To highlight this issue even more starkly, over a third of female freelancers are bringing in an hourly wage that is shy of the minimum wage of 15 states. Freelancers, especially female freelancers, are making significantly less than they should be given their skill sets.

So why should we be asking for more money, and how do we go about it?

1. It Buys Time

Freelancers with hourly fees are even more mindful of the number of billable hours in a day. Increasing your freelancing rate simply allows you to make the same amount of money in less time. To put this in perspective, let’s say you were to increase the rate you charge by 50%. This will generate the same revenue, yet it will take ⅔ the time it currently takes. A simple increase in your rate results in significantly greater value to your time.

Even if the number of hours you work decreases, your income will not falter and can even grow. Furthermore, the time saved by increasing your rate will serve as a very valuable asset to yourself and your brand. This time can be spent searching for new clients, promoting yourself and your work, and continuing to master your practice. You could even pick up a new skill to add to your freelancing profile! More importantly, this free time can be spent with family and friends, a rarity amidst the freelance hustle. Time is everything for a freelancer so every opportunity to increase free time in your schedule should be jumped at.

2. Pricing Psychology

It’s no secret that the greater the price of a product or service, the greater the expected quality is. Naturally, human beings are wired to believe this to be true in all cases- it’s simple psychology. Therefore, the freelancing ate you set for your work is a direct reflection of its *perceived* quality. If you set a high rate, clients will expect high-quality work, while a lower rate will generate expectancy of less. But clients want their freelanced work to be exceptional if they are going to pay an outsider to complete it. They are willing to pay the higher rate for higher quality work, you just have to hone in on it.

3. Freelancers have overhead costs.

The reality is that our rates should encompass so much more than the time it takes to complete a task. A full-time employee really costs 1.3-1.6 times their salary due to benefits such as pensions, insurance, vacations, and taxes. When deciding on a rate, freelancers should calculate it the same way.

Not sure where to start? Check out the feature on the Lance app that lets you see what peers in the same industry are making. This freelancer’s hourly rate calculator may also be helpful. Once you’re confident about your numbers and your expectations – it’s all about how you communicate it to your clients.

How to tell your clients.

If you’re giving it your all and going above and beyond to make your customers happy, you’re already halfway there. Satisfied customers are more receptive to a price increase. And yet it is still nerve-racking to write that price increase letter.

As a freelancer, much of the service you provide is measured beyond the actual work you produce. Ultimately, clients chose you for YOU. What else can you offer that would add value beyond your work? Perhaps it’s a new logo or new packaging. Or perhaps it’s an infographic showing the positive results and ROI you’ve achieved for your clients. Once you show your client something is worth more, or that you have improved a part of your service, it will be easier for them to say yes.

Learning to Scale with Freelance Content Writer Carrie Dagenhard DONE

We were first enthralled with Carrie Dangenhard’s storytelling on Instagram, where her announcement of transitioning from employee to full-time freelancer caught our eye. An Austin based freelance content writer and strategist with years of experience, Carrie is no stranger to the language arts.

While the story of why she quit her competitive salary job is inspiring, she also shares the 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Quit Your Job to Freelance. Carrie’s honesty when it comes to running your own business and openly talking about money strongly aligns with the work we do here at Lance. In this interview, Carrie eloquently shares insight into the adventures of being her own boss, growth, and her plans to expand her business and income streams.

Photo by: Galen Rutledge
Let’s make sure you pat your own back… What’s your biggest strength as a solopreneur?

I’d have to say my passion for my work. I really love what I do — which, in my opinion, is critical to success as a solopreneur. If you’re not excited about what you do, the quality of your work suffers, and you’ll burn out much faster. My passion sustains me through the late nights and drives me to continue growing, learning and honing my craft.

What’s the best business or money advice you ever got as a freelancer?

Pay for help and outsource the tasks outside your area of expertise. One of the best investments I’ve made is hiring a CPA — she makes things much clearer, and having someone help me manage my financial decisions and handle taxes is a huge weight off my shoulders. Trying to save money by doing everything yourself wastes time and causes massive headaches.

Now for a moment of realness, what are you struggling with right now in your business?

Balance! I’m consciously trying to break the addiction to “being busy,” but it’s tough. I’ve always been somewhat of a workaholic.

When I started freelancing full time, I said yes to every opportunity because I was terrified I’d run out of work and starve. Since then I’ve built up and diversified my client base and developed multiple revenue streams to safeguard against dry spells. But it still feels unnatural turning down requests, even when I’m drowning in work. I don’t think the fear of famine ever really goes away.

As a writer and content strategist based in Austin, what challenges and advantages do you think are unique to your city?

As far as advantages, Austin has a massive network of entrepreneurs and startups, which means there are plenty of small business resources and networking opportunities. I’ve met tons of really brilliant people. The prevailing mentality is that there’s enough opportunity to go around, so most folks are refreshingly helpful.

Also, Austin is (and always has been) highly supportive of the arts, so it’s a great place to launch a creative business.

As far as challenges, Austin is growing really fast and having a bit of an identity crisis. Sometimes the Silicon Valley-esque atmosphere threatens the “weirdness” that makes Austin special.

We know the freelancer life is all about the hustle toward incredible goals, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Financially, personally, and with your businesses?

I plan to keep growing and expanding my business. One of my passions (and content verticals) is health and wellness, and I’ve been considering getting my certification in holistic nutrition and doing more work in that industry. I’ve also chatted with a few former colleagues about starting an agency or creative hive. More recently, I’ve been looking for opportunities to give back through my work — to use my writing to help fight for causes near to my heart, like animal rights, climate change and social justice. Finally, I’d love to carve out more time for creative writing. I used to write short stories for fun, and I’d like to pick that up again.

What to Look for in a Coworking Space as a Freelancer DONE

In this heyday of hustle and DIY, coworking spaces are blossoming into incubators for freelancers and even some side hustlers. One of the most attractive aspects of freelancing today is the freedom to choose where you work – offering an escape from the typical dull office space. While working from home or a coffee shop may be intriguing (and a cheaper option) as a freelancer, those locations present their share of challenges as well. These places come with many distractions and often a lack of boundaries, which can hinder focus and productivity. Finding the right space for these elements is critical to building success as a freelancer. Coworking spaces offer a middle ground between a typical office space and the coffee shop around the corner. They allow you to work in a professional environment while maintaining the sense of freedom you love as a freelancer. While all coworking spaces deliver these general benefits, each one typically offers something a little different in terms of community, style, and amenities. Finding the right one for you will make or break your coworking experience. Here are the aspects of coworking spaces you should pay close attention to along your own search.

An Inviting Environment

Nothing hinders productivity more than loathing the place you work in daily.  If you wake up in the morning and dread going to the office, there is no way you’ll sit tight long enough to get some serious work done. The coworking space you choose should bring excitement – or at least comfort – to your day.  Make sure you invest in a space where you’re able to access different areas. Look for quiet spaces where you can focus or produce content (with webinars and podcasts becoming more popular), outdoor nooks to get a breath of fresh air between meetings, your own desk space comfortable enough to sit at for a few hours at a time, lunch or coffee spots nearby, and tables to meet and work with clients in-person!  

Strong Community

When you choose a coworking space you are not only investing in a business space, but a community to engage with on a regular basis. A majority of the other members in coworking spaces are usually freelancers like yourself or other businesses who may become clients. While everyone is in that space to work, almost everyone is also looking to expand their network. If your coworking space has a healthy community, it’ll show in terms of people saying hello to each other as they come in and out of the space, lunches will be saved in a communal fridge – or brought in every-so-often, and there’ll be flyers up for events happening over the next couple weeks. Ask the community manager which event you can attend over the next week to get a sense of the membership.

You want to find the right community for you, as these are people you’ll likely bounce ideas off of, commiserate with, gain clients from, and collaborate with in the future. Moreover, freelancing can be lonely and full of uncertainties, so it’s helpful to have other people to befriend and socialize with to pull you through those tough moments.

Meaningful Events

Many coworking spaces offer events that serve to benefit their members. These events typically include talks performed by successful entrepreneurs, workshops on developing a profitable practice, yoga and meditation lessons, and happy hour events to network with others. Events such as these serve as supplementary ways to grow your business by learning new skills and continuing to connect with your peers. Within a coworking space that has a really healthy community, great events further heighten the impact and growth of you and your business.

The Right Amenities

Like Airbnbs, the best coworking spaces have great amenities too. Most now have coffee and a bunch of other complimentary beverages on site for you to refuel and get back to taking on the day, without having to halt your work to go out and search for the basics outside. Not only should you look for food and beverages at your coworking space, but you should pay attention to the hardware amenities that are offered and how they fit your own needs. You may want to make sure your coworking space has a couple of printers, copiers, and scanners. These may not be necessary but can save you a trip to FedEx or Kinkos last-minute. Do the community managers take care of mail for you. What’s the check-in process for clients who may visit you?

Furthermore, there should be comfortable breakout rooms with whiteboards and TVs that can connect to laptops and can be booked in advance. Make sure your coworking space has at least a few of these rooms, depending on the membership size. These rooms are crucial when you need to speak on the phone, run through a presentation or meet with a client. Finally, once you leave, take a look around the neighborhood. Are any amenities missing from the coworking space within walking distance? If you’re going to spend at least a few days per week in the area, make sure it’s accessible for you and most of your daily needs.

Now, Go Find Your Hustle Home

There are many aspects to a coworking space that will impact your happiness in the space and the work you do there. Each coworking space has its own unique culture – from the community to the amenities – that will compliment or accelerate your productivity and network growth. If you are new to freelancing or looking to switch up your scene, check out coworking spaces. They can make a significant contribution to your success as a freelancer. And don’t forget – they’re tax-deductible too! Happy hunting for your new hustling home!