Detox to Grow Your Businesses & Creativity with Wellness Blogger Lina Lopez DONE

Lance Interview with Freelance Content Creator & Wellness Blogger Lina Lopez
Lance profile interview with Lina Lopez the Wellness Blogger
Lina M Lopez Wellness Blogger

Creating great content is critical to succeeding in any business today. When Lina Lopez’s recent posts caught our eye (not to mention our appetite), we reached out to get some first-handed insight on what helps her thrive. As a content creator, photographer, and wellness blogger based in NYC, Lina is all about working the balance between work, life, self-care, and growing toward her healthiest self! In addition to Lina’s great tips for you as an individual, she also shares what keeps her clients happy, ensures she’s learning more, and ultimately how she runs her business like a pro!

Hope you enjoy learning more about what it’s like to be an ace blogger and content creator! If you’re stuck in a social media vortex btw, we really recommend her blog post about taking some time to unplug.

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

The ability to create solutions for any problem that may arise. That is a skill I had to learn in order to survive in this industry. I feel like I have been able to figure things out on my own. Sometimes it can be frustrating, but oh so rewarding when you create solutions for your own challenges.

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

Please know when to ask for help. As a freelancer, I thought I could do everything myself and I ended up spending a lot of time and energy doing something I could easily delegate to someone else. Don’t be scared to invest in your business and in yourself. Hire people to help you when needed, buy a course to learn or better your skills.

My other advice is to please know your numbers. This is something I had no clue about for a long time. I estimated how much I was making per month. I didn’t have a clear understanding of how much money I was making or how much money I was investing back into my business – and how much of it was going out. Once I started treating my business as a business – and not as a hobby – my business grew 10 times more.

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

I am struggling to maintain a unique voice. We are so overstimulated and influenced by social media. Staying true to myself can be challenging sometimes. When I feel I am losing myself in the crowd, I do a social media detox. Taking a break from social media helps me to start creating without the influence of other people. I recently took almost two months off and it was incredible. I was able to come up with different ideas and also to create a new business venture which I am so passionate about.

As a wellness blogger and content creator based in NJ and NYC, what challenges and advantages do you think are unique to each city?

NYC is advanced in terms of healthy food stops and wellness centers. NJ is a little bit slower in that sense. I am so lucky I live close to the city so I can take advantage of all its opportunities. New Jersey is slowly getting better at offering more healthy alternatives. I take it as an opportunity for growth and I am not shy about offering my food photography services to any new healthy restaurant in my area.

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 want to keep growing my content creation/blogging business because it is a great creative outlet. I love photography and helping brands share their message. I am being pulled towards sharing a different message (not only healthy eating). I’d like to maybe do some life coaching for women like me who feel lost and have no idea what they want to do as a career. Financially, I’d like to keep sharing my skills with people and make a good living doing what I love.  I believe once you follow your heart, the money will follow. I have so many personal goals but I don’t have any expectations. I just got engaged and am currently planning a wedding for next year. Hopefully, babies in the next 5 years – who knows?!

Freelancer Blogger - Lina Lopez
Lina Lopez creative blogger
Lina Lopez, Wellness Blogger and Content Creator
Lina Lopez Lance Interview

Inspired and want to learn more? Follow Lina on Instagram and her website.  Thanks again for your time and sharing more about your freelancing, Lina!

Useful, Timely Business Tips from Experts

freelance business tips
Scale your businesses from expert peers in your industry. Photo courtesy of Lance

Freelancers, we’ve got you covered when it comes to your business questions! Ever been midstream in an editing session and wondered when’s the next sale on that equipment you desperately want? Or been walking your midday pack of dogs and wondered when you should raise your rates this year… oh wait, did you forget to raise them last year? Or wondered if there was a good time to run a promotion on the new hair coloring skills you’ve perfected over the last couple months?

We’ve got you! After years of freelancing ourselves, we were constantly asking ourselves these kinds of financial questions but felt like, huh, where do we get the answers? And who do we trust? And then we started asking around and seeing our friends were struggling to get all sorts of advice. We could only get it at conferences or a couple times of year from people the people we admire.

So, we thought what a great opportunity to bring people who have been there, done that, and succeeded into the Lance app! Now as soon as you sign in you can get tips customized to the jobs you’ve told us you do – and you get new tips every week! They’re specific to making and saving money in you job at that time of year.

How can you make the most of these tips? 

  • Just click on Tips in the More Menu of the iPhone app to see all the tips automatically customized for you.
  • Slide through the tips to see which ones you’d like to follow.
  • Click on the Thumbs Up or Heart images to let your experts know you’ve liked their tip.
  • If you want to start a conversation with one of your experts, just click on the Talk bubble and you can ask any questions you might have. They’re looking forward to helping you learn more and grow.

We’re thrilled to help you get all kinds of advice you need – when you need it – to save and make more money. Between the expenses tracking and these new tips, we look forward to helping you grow your income streams and savings!

P.S. While we have friends all over the place, we know there are freelancing experts you’re really excited to connect with more. We’d love to hear more about who those people are – just drop us a note at the Contact Us link on this site or through the app. We’re sure they’ll be flattered to know you want to hear more from them!

7 Best Business Podcasts for Solopreneurs DONE

business podcast freelancer
You’ll want to take notes while listening to these business podcasts. Photo courtesy of Juja Han

As a solopreneur, you’re busy and jamming at making your business and side hustling run smoothly. But you know the value of a little focused direction and inspiration in making more happen, right? Podcasts have really started to break out over the last couple years as a way to learn more while we’re at the gym or running around. They’ve certainly become a background playlist to my everyday. Through all that listening time, I’ve been listening to more business news and insights. I generally walk away from each half hour show with at least one insight I can immediately apply to my work.

So here are some of my favorite business-related podcasts below. I’ve curated them over the past few years to be my companions while I travel, run, fly and drive around the globe. Hope they keep you company and inspire you with some sparks of new insights or trends you should be paying attention to as well!

How I Built This

Guy Raz, the host of this podcast, is just the personification of curiosity. He really dives into the lives and habits of his interviewees. And you get the benefit of hearing all about their trials and tribulations of developing their products and companies. More recently, really enjoyed the episode with Alexa von Tobel and live episode with Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman. Great content about pushing through and also co-founder relationships.

Slate Money

This podcast makes economics, market trends and finance approachable. Not every episode will be relevant to immediate business impacts but listening to the three hosts will definitely make you curious about broader market trends and make you think about what to be pay attention to on a regular basis. Also, it’s still refreshing to hear a female voice in podcasts. Cathy O’Neil was a fantastic co-host when she was on, and Anna Szymanski is just as impassioned and ready to dive in with her perspective.

Exchanges at Goldman Sachs

Tbh, I downloaded this on a whim while I was taking MBA classes. I thought it might be a good (boring) supplement to my Barron’s subscription. But it’s been great! A weekly overview of macroeconomic trends, global trade, etc. I know that sounds a little “how could anyone get excited to hear about this stuff” but it’s delivered in a super digestible way and again, brings you up to a 30,000 foot view of what to think about in the world around you.

BBC Business Daily

I listen to about half of these episodes, along with a few other BBC programs. If you’re based in the US, it’s critical to be more mindful of sourcing global news and content. This program along with From Our Own Correspondents and Desert Island Discs is really a great daily habit.

Hidden Brain

Shankar Vedantam. You will get to know that name. While you’re focused on your business, it’s always great to infuse your thinking with how the human brain actually works. Listening to Shankar talk about the patterns and psychology that directs our decision-making and actions will inevitably turn you into a stronger business person. The “Me, Myself and IKEA” episode from last May is a great one to start with in this show.

99% Invisible

Roman Mars has been in the podcast game about as long as anyone. For most of us listeners, he was the person who originally drew us into podcasts. I first heard him speak at a Fast Company Innovation Summit, and I’ve been listening to his take on the world ever since. Much like Hidden Brain, I listen to this podcast because it focuses more on very human stories and explores why we do the things we do. And Roman Mars is a fantastic storyteller – take notes.

The Tim Ferriss Show & The Tony Robbins Podcast

As much as I didn’t want to like these podcasts, I can’t help it. They’re a solid injection of inspiration whenever you need it. Yes, Tony tells the same stories over and over again (so you will be able to repeat them to others). And Tim has a penchant, like Alec Baldwin (in Here’s the Thing, another favorite), to share over his interviewees. But both of them do several things very well: score incredible interviewees, self-promote like crazy, and share some very practical insights. So here’s my suggestion: Listen to them ahead of pitching clients, when you’re developing sales materials, or ahead of stepping into your office space. Draw inspiration from their interviewees. Remember to think about and deliver your story to your clients. And keep up the hustle, it will pay off over time!

Hope you enjoy listening to these podcasts. I’ll be sharing some more entertaining ones from comedians and others I listen to when I’m really wanting to zone out – usually on a long run – next week.

In the meantime, would love to hear which ones you find most interesting and useful. Have you found any that are totally relevant to your specific business? Or that talk about managing finances in a compelling way? I haven’t yet but am always on the hunt. Continuously adding to my playlist – and wishing I had more time to dive into these!

Hope to one day start our Lance for Freelancers podcast.

In the meanwhile would love if you’ll download the Lance ios app.

Solopreneur Profile: A Pet Painter DONE

freelance pet photographer
Erica holding up one of her incredible recent pet portraits. Photo courtesy of Erica Eriksdotter

Every week, here at Lance, we’re going to introduce you to a different solopreneur around the country (and sometimes the world). We hope their stories inspire you whether you’re new to working for yourself or are considering different creative outlets after years of freelancing. 

This week, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to an old friend from my DC days, Erica Eriksdotter. She’s a Swedish-born, but still Washington, DC-based artist. Her works are largely commissioned as gifts – and she has an incredible talent for capturing very sentimental moments and pet friends.  

Profession(s): A fine arts painter at Studio Eriksdotter  and professional juggler of 1.5 year old son.

Home Hub(s): Reston, VA (part of Metro DC)

Favorite expression or euphemism:

“Eff it, it’ll work.” In regards to taking chances and braving all sorts of situations!

How do you describe what you do?

I bring joy through color. I sold my first painting at the age of 10 in Sweden (where I was born and raised) and have had the honor of helping customers all over the world since – capturing pet loves on canvas and turning bridal bouquets into modern keepsakes. I work off of photos to make detailed paintings which have become popular gifts to give in celebration of a birthday, anniversary or “just because”. Today, I live outside of DC with my husband (also a creative), our son who is 1.5 years old and our two cats (who often “help” me in the studio).

While my art is modern, the profession is not and I work the same way as the old masters did – one brushstroke at a time. Each painting takes roughly 40 hours to paint and prices depend on the size of the canvas, not the complexity or amount of details.

With a commission, it starts with a customer’s desire to want something unique and ends with a painting that has more meaning, backstory, layers of culture, depth and generational mileage than maybe anything else in their home. Because I work so closely with a client along the way, there are no surprises. Many of my clients are moved to tears when they unwrap their paintings.

What does your “everyday” look like?

For many years, I had two full-time jobs (climbing the corporate ladder by day and painting by night), and today is really no different. I work every minute of the day either as a mom or painter or both. I try to seize every moment: I’m writing this during nap time, and may answer an email right after playing with legos, and tonight after bedtime I’ll work on a commission in my in-home studio. And somewhere in the middle of all this, I try to squeeze in time with my husband, rest, snuggles with my cats – and am always striving, always, again and again, for more balance. It’s all part of the daily as a solopreneur, right?!

In terms of the work I do “everyday” it’s not actually painting. Because unlike the old masters, there’s a lot of other aspects to my business that need tending to, especially since this is an online business. I do a lot of marketing outreach (which can be sharing behind-the-scenes photos or videos on social media, advertisement, newsletter, etc.), customer research to understand how my customers think and feel and where they are on the customer journey, editing photos of my art, analyzing discovery data, working on my website, bookkeeping or shopping supplies.

Who is a current role model to you? Why?

I’m always inspired by compassionate female thought leaders who pave their own way with big open hearts. Those with a greater understanding that nurturing yourself leads to elevating consciousness in your community and the world. People like Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Glennon Doyle, Gabby Bernstein and Marie Forleo who also run socially conscious companies and constantly assist and inspire, and rise up for social change and follow their hearts instead of the old society’s checklist.

This is one of the reasons why I started my Studio Eriksdotter Presents Fika podcast, to talk to people who inspire me. This is also why Studio Eriksdotter is a socially conscious company. I help where I can, by donating commissions to silent auctions benefitting people in need, giving funds to animal rescue organizations, and supporting other entrepreneurs via kiva.org.

Where do you go – online or off – to develop your skills?

Because I’m a self-taught 3rd generation painter, my ‘skills’ come naturally to me, so I let them do their thing. I focus on honing my business skills and study the people mentioned above. I’ve benefitted from taking Marie Forleo’s B-School for example. I also do meet-ups with my marketing and communications network to stay on point, and stay connected with other solopreneurs for that extra boost of a sense of belonging and community.

The skills I need to really develop more of, however, are self-care and becoming a student of another art (versus always being a master of the current one). These are two important ingredients in continuing to evolve the flow of creative energy. Sometimes a bubble bath will have to do for self-care, and I’m currently teaching myself how to hand sew a large quilt – maybe not the smartest thing since I need to rest my hands from painting, but it’s what my heart was craving so I gave in.

What’s the best financial advice you ever got?

Growing up, I received two pieces of advice from my parents that have stayed with me:

1) “Do what you love doing and the money will follow,” which I love because it gave me the permission to follow my dreams and taught me the importance of loving what you do; and,

2) “Never put yourself in a situation where you go to bed worrying about money”. I still worry about money sometimes and where the next commission will come from, but I don’t lose sleep over it – because “eff it, it’ll work out”. Just don’t limit your freedom by having too many expenses though, it’ll in turn limit your risk-taking capacity (which is need to do to follow our dreams) and suffocates the creative ability. This is general advice that has meant the world to me as I’ve grown my business and my own family has grown.

What do you wish you knew or understood more about your finances?

I would like to know how to utilize finances so they benefit me. I enjoy digging into my finances but have never really used my business finances as a tool for making the dollars work for me, I have even resorted back to Google Spreadsheets as my bookkeeping (gasp! hello, Lance!) because frankly, it can be overwhelming when the to-do list is already so long. And no thank you to in-person appointments with middle-aged financial planners who only want to talk retirement savings. I want the easy, quick and very reality-based discussion, please.

What do you think will be most significant development in the future of work and freelancing?

I believe more and more people are searching for ways to ignite their souls and “braving the wilderness” to become their own bosses. To take chances because they’ve outgrown society’s mold. Within that scope, people may crave going back to trades for that tactile experience. To touch and feel the work they produce, and produce something that benefits the world, seems to be more rewarding than just pursuing money (because I think we all understand that money doesn’t equal quality of life). Fewer and fewer are striving to be the VP “of this and that” or a CEO “for someone else”, especially when we can have the freedom to move and grow on our terms and in our own unique ways. I think the trends are clear that there’ll be more solopreneurs and more freelancers in the U.S. in the near future and with the (still open) internet there is no geographic limitation on where or how we work. The future is total freedom, without ever retiring.

What do you always have with you?

I would love to say my sketch book because it would be so aligned with being a painter, but funny enough, I can’t sketch to save my life! Instead, I carry my iPhone which I’d go to business on all day long and make sure my family gets inundated with my son’s every move.

If you’d like to learn more about Erica and her work, please visit her website. And as an added bonus, you can check out some videos of her painting here and here. They’re really quite relaxing.

You are always welcome to check our financial app for freelancers

5 Podcasts That Will Help Craft Your Brand Narrative DONE

freelance story narrative podcast
Listen to these podcasts whenever you’re feeling the itch to rework how you describe your business or between big projects! Photo courtesy of Neil Godding

Last week, I wrote about the business podcasts that keep solopreneurs like me motivated and learning about finance and business markets. This week I thought it’d be fun to highlight the podcasts I listen to on runs to unwind and think about storytelling. This skill of developing a narrative is so fundamental today to promoting and running a successful business.

Take a moment to think about any company that inspires you today. Two things will likely come to mind almost immediately – 1) a person within the company you know and admire and 2) a great story, whether about its origination or something that happened recently. Are you with me? Thinking about Southwest Airlines? Virgin? Toms? Patagonia? Chipotle? These can also be stories of overcoming great failure or challenges. As we look at the typical storytelling paradigm of a hero’s journey, these are often the stories that we remember the most strongly.

And these podcasts are great reminders of how to spin up and relay great story up through with from a bit of curiosity and often facilitating great interviews. Listen and take notes. You’ll want to review them later when you’re thinking about your business.

Reply All

This is a podcast led by two guys, PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, about all things relating to the internet. They solve techie challenges – like cyber security hacks – and untangle obscure culturally relevant tweets and Reddit posts on a weekly basis. Not only will they keep you up on relevant cultural news, they’ll draw you into the most unique corners of the internet with their genuine curiosity, contagious laughter, and entertaining character interviews. Start with the episode about the Uber hack. It’s a series but well worth it.

2 Dope Queens

These ladies have an incredible resume from across the entertainment space. Both are comedians and actresses, Phoebe Robinson frequently writes and consulted for shows and popular culture outlets while Jessica Williams was a senior correspondent on The Daily Show. If you can catch a live show, do it. The ladies start and end every show with their own sass and random stories. That conversation is then infused with comedians and actors sharing their own stand-up routines and stories. In addition to the incredible perspective of Phoebe and Jessica, they’ve created an incredible space for a broad range of major players, minorities and up-and-comers to feel welcome and relevant speaking about race, gender, sex and the topics of today. Listen to any of these episodes to listen and think about the unique voice you have as well.

Death Sex & Money

Anna Sale is just fantastic. She has one of the empathetic interviewing voices ever.  The summary of the podcast is that it’s about “about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.” It’s that and so much more. She coaches her subjects through talking about the most vulnerable subjects and drawing you into their stories deeper than you thought possible. If you’re listening to this podcast, I hope you have Kleenex nearby or don’t mind squishing up your face with concern every-so-often.

From Our Own Correspondent

Pitched as “insight, wit and analysis from BBC correspondents, journalists and writers from around the world.” This podcast provides bite-sized tastes of what correspondents are experiencing in their lives all over the world – whether in the midst of a war in Afghanistan or trying to understand poverty in Malaysia. Within 30 minutes, you’re regularly whisked around the world with the stories and experiences behind the news we read.

Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin

His voice and his own special way of interjecting. Alec interviews “artists, policy makers and performers” in only the way he can and it makes for a regular feast. A favorite of mine remains the interview with Elaine Stritch from 2015 because of the candor and delivery that only someone in the latter part of their lives can deliver. Each interview provides a wonderful insight into the life of Alec’s subject and will make you think about the balance of your own life in terms of luck and intention. Alec has a very different style but he’s another voice forcing you to think about what it makes it so damn compelling.

Again, hope you enjoy these podcast suggestions. Next week we’ll move onto other freelancer tools and tricks of the trade by the Lance team. Until then, happy listening and I dare you not to take notes on what from these episodes you should take away to apply to your own business narrative and expression. As always, look forward to hearing about your favorite shows as well.

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

4 Reasons We All Should Become Freelancers DONE

freelancing business growth
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