An Insightful Guide to Becoming a Freelancer | Monika Kanokova | Skillshare

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An Insightful Guide to Becoming a Freelancer

teacher avatar Monika Kanokova, Community & Content Strategist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Project Assignment: Create and Share Your Freelancer Mission Statement


    • 3.

      Always Have a Side Project


    • 4.

      Put Yourself on the Map


    • 5.

      Business Plan


    • 6.

      Build a Financial Buffer


    • 7.

      Make Yourself a Website


    • 8.

      Share Your Work


    • 9.

      Network Yourself Up


    • 10.

      Treat Your Customers Well


    • 11.

      Go Social


    • 12.

      Work with Awesome People


    • 13.

      Remember Your Freelancers Manifesto


    • 14.

      Don't Take No for an Answer


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About This Class

Are you considering going freelance? Enroll in Monika Kanokova’s class to learn more about setting up a freelance business in the creative industries.

This class was inspired by Monika’s book This Year Will Be Different: An Insightful Guide to Becoming a Freelancer and explains how to use the social web to setup and grow your career as a freelance creative.

This class is perfect for creative professionals who want to start a freelance business. No prior knowledge or experience required! By the end of this class, you’ll know what steps to take to make a living as a freelance designer, writer, consultant or any other professional who wants to get their foot into the professional world of the creative industries.

Meet Your Teacher

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Monika Kanokova

Community & Content Strategist


I work as a freelance community and content strategist with clients such as Kickstarter, Virgin Money via Hanzo Studio, Veganz and many more. Learn more about my work on You can also find my insightful guides for creative freelancers on Amazon, or get to know what I do every day on Instagram.


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1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Monica, and I'm a freelance community and content strategist. I work with international clients. Because I'm based in Vienna, I spent a lot of time on Skype, talking to everyone I need to talk to. It started with me trying to build a location-independent business. When I went freelancing in 2014, I wasn't really sure how to best figure it out. I started interviewing people who I knew better, who run successful businesses in the creative industries. Then I decided to publish it as a book. The book is available under the name, This Year Will Be Different. It was a way for me to figure out how to run a business in the creative industries using the Internet. That's exactly where you come in. Because if you're a freelancer, if you're someone who would like to work in the creative industries, then this might be the class for you. It's about how to build a business, how to present yourself on the internet. It's about how to set up everything and how to find the first clients. If you are someone who wants to grow their business in the creative industries or if you're someone who wants to start off, then please enroll in this class. 2. Project Assignment: Create and Share Your Freelancer Mission Statement: Part of every Skillshare class is a little assignment. It's for you to be able to participate in classes and for me to be able to give you some feedback on how you're doing. I would like to invite you to take a couple of sheets of paper and a pen to be able to write everything down and maybe some Post-its, if it's something you prefer to work with. Write down something that we all call today a freedoms as manifesto. Because you really need to know yourself and you need to know what you're good at, and then you also need to figure out how you will make other people know what to hire you for. The questions you should ask yourself, we'll start with you and the first question is; what are you good at? What is something that you enjoy doing? What is something other people ask you to help with? What is something that you can deliver to them? The next question is, how do you wants to be spending your days? Do you want to sit in front of the computer, or do you want to be outside, or do you prefer to work by yourself, or do you want to work with other people? The next question is, what do you wants to produce? What's the outcome of your work? Do you write block post? Do you create videos or logos? What is something that you will deliver to people? Then the last question, or like in that terms is, how will other people benefit from working with you? Your answer shouldn't be that they'll get blog post, because that's not how they will benefit, but it's more a question of will they get more clients, or will you help them reach their old clients, or will you make the logo be remembered? What is something that they'll gain, that I can say,"Yes, this really changed because we've worked with you." Now, the last question is, how will you make people know? How will you advertise your services? How will you make sure that people know what to book you for? What channels are you going to use? Are you going to be on Instagram or Facebook? Are you going to write blog posts or have a really good website? All these questions really matter. So please take this time, and I cannot wait to read your assignment and the results of it in the section below. 3. Always Have a Side Project: If there's just one thing I wish you'd take away from this class today, it's that having a side project is essential to building a freelance business. That of course, doesn't mean that you need to do something for years before you even consider going freelance. It just means that having a side project is really important if you want to build a type of business that is right for you. One that you are really excited about. As I already mentioned in the beginning, I started interviewing the men about their early days as freelancers, and then decided to turn these interviews into a book. So my side project was more or less an accidental one, but my lesson from it, given how many assignments I've received because of this one side project, is that it is the right way to go if you want to make it work in the creative industries. I would probably not say it like this if I was the only one who is seeing it that way. But the majority of the women I talked to, they made the same experience and they had some side project or a side activity they were doing on-site even before they said, "I'm comfortable enough, I know that I can make a living by doing this as a full time business." So maybe you cannot start your big freelance career tomorrow, but you can start building your freelance career a little bit every day. If having a successful creative business of your own is your dream, then that's a big dream. You can't really expect to be able to take one big step today and then achieve your dream tomorrow, that's going to be very hard in the creative industries. But you can make several small steps and eventually reach what you aspire to be. But the question very much is, when are you going to take the first small step? I would of course, like to suggest to do that now and today and just think about what you're good at and what do you enjoy doing and think about a side project, something that might have been in your drawer or something where you might have said, I'll do it eventually, because you should really take the time and focus on what you're excited about, because otherwise, no one's going to be able to come to you and say, I have seen what you have done there, just like my book, and I would like to do it for my business, and I really think that you can only build a freelance career if people have a reference of how good you are and can point to something and say, "I love this and I want you to do it for my business." Take the small step and start. You can study about anything. You can learn a new skill or develop something from scratch. Some people started making a magazine out of a blog, had to spent 10 hours a week working on their Instagram feed. It doesn't matter what you enjoy and what you want to be doing, and it doesn't even matter if this should be a business one day or not. All that matters is that you enjoy yourself. If you're lucky, this might become your freelance business, but you really have to work on it. So I would also, of course, like to give you some examples. One of them is Tanja and Carina, two entrepreneurs from Germany. The way they started their business was that one of them had a final project at university. It was for her graduation and she worked on a travel guide. After graduating, she went on a road trip to figure out what kinds of jobs she wanted to do afterwards, and what companies were interesting for her to apply at, and she wrote down this list of companies that she was excited about. One of the companies always remained [inaudible] , the travel guide she worked on during her thesis. So she caught up the other one and asked her whether she would be interested in trying out whether they could make a business out of this, and the other one said, "Give me three days so I can finish my own thesis and let's go for it." So they sold everything they had, moved to a Swedish cabin, which is a very funny part of the story they shared with me. It would be a lie to say that they haven't worked for hours and hours, that it was an easy path to take. Essentially, they published the travel guides and it got picked up by the media. Then the clients they now work with came to them and said, "We really enjoy your work and would you be up for doing something like this for us?" So this is a way to start a business as well. Another one that I would like to share with you is Breanna from Vancouver. I must say first time I found her brand was in 2010, and I always said when I finish my studies and get my first paycheck afterwards, that I'm going to buy one of her bags. So it's always been very special for me. I must say I didn't do that. I only got one of her bags when I got my first freelance paycheck, which was even more exciting. So the way she started her business was when she went to Mexico to take some time off. She used to work in advertising, and then she was experimenting with the local crafts and one of them was dyeing fabrics. If you look at her Instagram, you will immediately fall in love with her work. She is just wonderful. But she was working on these essesary projects and dyeing fabrics and selling her little things on on Etsy when Etsy first started. When she then moved back to Canada, she just still had some money. So she said, I will just try to bootstrap a business out of her essesary making and dyeing her fabrics and she did that. She has been in business for a couple of years. I really admire her style. This brings us back to you and your side project. You have heard some other examples, and now it's your time to take a piece of paper and write down what you're excited about, what you enjoy doing and try to figure out a side project that you could do and talk about, because next thing we're going to talk about is how to talk about things. 4. Put Yourself on the Map: So first time I said openly that I quit my job and that I'm about to start freelancing, it was at a conference in New York. Something really funny happened because people actually applauded to me. I must say it was a conference for freelancers, so it makes sense. But it did teach me something, because if you believe that taking a particular path is the right decision for you, then people will support it, and if they don't, it's not the right people for you, but it's a different story. The first person at all times who must believe that you can be your own boss is yourself. If you don't believe that you can run your own shop, no one else will either. The truth is, you can be whatever you want to be in life, but for others to be able to recognize what you do and what they could hire you for, you must be open about your passions and be able to talk about the services that you offer. That brings me back to the site project, which is why I believe it's so important to have one because it always gives you something that you can talk about, and as it was with me, I was writing a book. So it wasn't necessarily about writing about freelancing, but just that I was writing and I could talk about me writing something that essentially led to jobs where I'm writing. At the beginning, it's absolutely okay to be still working in a cafe to support yourself. I think the majority of freelancers start like that. To start building your business, you really need to be open and excited about what you eventually want to be doing that makes for a your living, the site project. I named this session, put yourself on the map because of a conversation I had with Oren Lasry. I'm going to introduce her later to you. She's an interior designer from Tel Aviv. What is really exceptional about her is that even before she worked on interior project, she went to every single networking event in Tel Aviv, such as gallery openings and shop openings. She always brought her business cards with her. Every single person she talked to, she gave them her business card, and she said, ''If you hear of a project that would be interesting for me, just please let me know.'' It does take a lot of strength to be a self-confident. But as already said in the beginning, you must be the one who believes in yourself. Let's get back to the exercise and write down what you're good at and how you want to be spending your days and what you want to produce, and how others will benefit from working with you. I noticed this is a few steps. I'm for example good at writing easily understandable texts. But someone else might be good at shooting movies or designing memorable logos, or building websites, or taking authentic photographs. So what is something that people even told you that this is something you're really good at? The next question is, how do you want to be spending your days? A lot of people think about this big what they want to achieve, but I think it really comes down to, do you want to be sitting in front of the computer? Or do you prefer to talk to people? Or could you imagine to be outside all day long or not? I think those things are relevant. Because if you do things the way you enjoy them, you are essentially much better at doing them. Just to give you an example. I love to analyze systems and I like to think of different solutions, and I really love spending time with people and getting to know what's important to them. I know that I also love writing, so I always seek working combine all the things I just mentioned. But you might be an illustrator who loves to create by hand, but doesn't enjoy computer work as much. Given that your work results will be much better if you do them the way that feels most authentic to you. This is your chance to write them down and think about how to build the business you want to work for. When you think about what you want to produce, think about the outcome. I, for example, develop digital strategies for clients, write website copy or produce articles for online magazines. But you might produce videos, develop websites. But you can also give travel tips or similar things. Tanya and Karina made that work, and I think everyone can if you know your proposition. This question is here to identify what you will deliver to your clients to be able to set accountable goals. The last question is, I believe the most important one. How will your clients benefit from working with you? I once asked this a friend and she wrote down, they'll get blog posts and tweets and Facebook posts. But that's the wrong answer because that's the outcome of your work and not how your clients will benefit from working with you. Instead, I was expecting that she say something like she'll help her clients attract new customers for a social media. That would be how her clients would benefit from working with her and that's exactly what you should think about. So what is something your client will gain from working with you? It will be much easier for you to put yourself on the map once you know how your work benefits other people, it will simply be much easier for you to talk about what you stand for and what others could hire you for and make it very understandable to them. Working for yourself from my experience also means that you constantly have to think about how your work benefits other people and you have to remind yourself a lot, because whenever you're part of a group, it's very easy to just take on the identity of the group and then it's easy to say, I know what we stands for. But when you are a freelancer, you have to keep up the self-confidence to be able to go out there and talk to people about your work, about your achievements and it really helps if you have these four questions answered, and maybe on your fridge or somewhere else in your diary where you just can go back to it and maybe add some things or take away some things and redefine what you want to be working on. But you should definitely have that written down to really be able to remind yourself whenever you have a difficult day. 5. Business Plan: By now you're probably thinking how on earth am I ever going to make money with this? We talked so much about side projects, but not actually how to turn it into a business and now it's the time to talk about business plans and business models and business cases. First thing first, you might not have a business degree and that's okay, because the majority of people who've worked for themselves don't have one either. Generally speaking, every business is different, but the outline for each is more or less the same. You must invest time and money to deliver a service or product to a customer and you must have an idea of what channels are useful and effective to successfully accomplish your mission. A business plan is an assumption of how you will operate in the future and literally, nothing that's written in a business plan is ever set in stone. So everything you outline is a desired state of how you would like your company to function. A business plan is there to help you recognize certain factors you might have not thought about yet. As an illustrator, you think about illustrating, but you should actually think about how you could make the most out of illustrating. So it's like teaching or doc illustrations or creating for clients. There are always more potentials and you should really take the time and explore this. You shouldn't worry about trying to make everything right because what makes for a successful business in the end is your ability to iterate your product until you find the right market fit. So this is really the moment to go wild with your fantasies and it doesn't need to mean that everything you write down is like this is how it's going to be. Just don't get caught up in the details and most of all, don't allow your inner perfectionist discourage you right now and just really make it very simple and just write down how you think you could be making money by doing what you really enjoy doing. You might be a one man, one woman business and you only need a laptop with Internet access, and then you are good to go. Because then your only investment is your time or you can be someone who needs some seat money to even get your business off the ground and you might have a saving second, which is wonderful because you can dip into that or that's also a possibility you might need investment from someone else or you can go on a site like kick starter and get your business off the ground using the power of community, which is something I did. Generally speaking, your business plan should help you get an overview of what's to come. These things should be in there. It should help you understand what your initial investments are, what tools you need, what services you'll offer, how you'll reach your customers, how they'll pay you, how much you should charge them, and all the other questions you need answered. Writing down any and all information available and filling in the gaps that will help you determine when your business will break even and when you'll start making a profit. One of my favorite resources to learn about writing a business plan is the Business Model Generation, which is a practical handbook that will help you understand the aspect of a business plan. Their business model canvas, which you can download from their website, is the perfect tool for everyone who likes to sketch or use Post-its and really better visualize your business. So even if you don't want to invest in the book, you can just check out the business model canvas and just try to fill in the fields and learn more about what you are about to do. The best news is yet to come your business plan can also make you money. On one hand, you can apply to get a long with a business plan. They do wants to see one, when you go to a bank and you can also apply for funding at the local government, at least in Europe, that's possible because government just wants to support the local economy usually there are a lot of loans or just even money that you never have to give back that you just get to start your business and without too much depth. There's also the possibility to get a funding from the European Union. That's the information I can give you from Europe. I don't know how it is in the US or Australia, but it's definitely worth going on Google and looking it up because you might be very lucky. For example, in Austria and it's a big secret you can even apply for funding from outside the European Union. You just have to go for the struggle and use Google Translate. Different organization support different types of businesses. These organizations seek the businesses that have the same mission, but an innovative approach. If you think about submitting your business plan to some organization, just really try to align your mission or like have the same mission they have as well. That's about like the official way of writing a business plan. You can also do the most unconventional launch of your business and go on Kick-starter. I did that because when I was writing the book, I really wanted to have it illustrated because I was insecure and I was like if the content isn't good, at least the illustrations are really good. But then what happened next was that Everleener my illustrator, she sent me this very sad e-mail and she was like, I'm so sorry, I'll never make the deadline on time. I was like, I really plans to publish it in the first week of January because of the title it was, this year will be different, you better talk about it on the first day of the new year. Then I was like, okay, what can we do to make the most out of the situation? I decided to go and kicks start it. Originally I planned to do just an e-book, but with this , I was able to do a print copy as well, which was wonderful and I learned that if you include people in making a project, in like in the process, you can make them excited, then get the proof of concepts. I really think it was a great decision to do just this. But you also should see doing a side project instead of going on some crazy freelance website and competing against other people based on how little you charge for doing a service, you should really think bigger and do something that makes you excited and work on a side project and really try to invest in your future and not just think about horrendous coming from next week. Generally speaking, they say it takes about three years to build a self-sustaining business. It might take some time and you should definitely not give up. But every single time you see projects are a bit slow and you don't have as much work to do, you should focus on the future, your own future and not just retreat to some sort of a website to get $5 for your valuable works. So you should really built a business that is creative and that's worth it and not just try to fix whatever you think is there to fix. Just try to work around and in this very moment right at the beginning, start thinking about various income streams and how you can make the most out of what you can and what you are capable of. You'll eventually feel much more safe as a freelancer because then you'll have different income streams coming into your account and giving you a better feeling of security and that's a wonderful thing because as an employee you have one paycheck as a Freelancer you can have 5,10 or 15. 6. Build a Financial Buffer: Not everyone commits to creating their business full time from day one. But there are several ways in which you can start. First off, you don't have to quit your job to write the business plan. Generally speaking, having a plan for what you want to do will help you understand how long it will take you until you can live off for your business, and there's definitely no right or wrong way to start your own company. Some people decide to work for themselves on side and keep their day jobs, so they freelance like in the evenings and during the weekends. Others prefer to work hard and save up, and then quit their job to strictly focus all of their energy on their own company. You can do both. Often, these people set themselves a deadline, for when they must earn enough money and lift their own business. They can focus on their long-term goals after they have left their secured jobs, while being able to support themselves in the meantime. They would say like, I need to make enough money to be able to live off my business by December. That sort of thing. Building a company takes time. Behind every overnight success, the ones we know from social media, which might be a lie, is a story of people toiling away for years and really building something in small steps, as I mentioned before. It is essential to have enough money to be able to fully focus on building the business you envision, as well as being willing to take on projects that don't pay much, but you would really like to have in your portfolio. When you think about it, everyone needs to start somewhere. It's okay if the projects you take on in the beginning don't pay your bills straight away. I'll talk to you about Frankie or Lasry Oren if you would like to transition into a different role, and do it as a self-employed entrepreneur, the best way to get there is to start taking on small projects on side and not only build up your savings account, but also your portfolio. No one can ever tell you how long it will take to build your business, and no one can give you a number to work towards. It all depends on how much you need to find peace of mind when your business doesn't make money from day one, or when you can't find clients for two or three months that you just don't run away and try to hide, you should really have enough money in your bank account as a security blanket. I would love to introduce you to Frankie. She used to be a London-based researcher, but her big dream was to become a location independent freelance copywriter. Her biggest specialist to write novels. But as you can imagine, you cannot live off writing novels from day one, so she started writing copy, and at the beginning, it was mostly for her friends. Whenever someone needed a website copy or a blog post, she would take that on. Of course it was for very little money at the beginning just to build up her portfolio. Every single cent she earned on the side, she put aside to her savings account. Once she felt she had enough to be able to survive in Southeast Asia, she quit her job and became a location independent freelancer. Now she's back in Europe and she was able to grow her business over time. She lives in Amsterdam. She just made it work and I think you can make it work too. The next one is our old friend Oren. Oren the interior designer from Tel Aviv. When I talked to her about how she managed to make her freelance career of work, she said to me, she worked in bars, and it was the best decision she made because there she was able to analyze what it takes to work in bars and just look at bars. Whenever she designed spaces now, for her, it's not just about the looks, but it's also about the functionality of spaces. She really focuses on how it is the work in a cafe or in a bar. That was clearly a time investment, and it made her grow her business, which is wonderful. 7. Make Yourself a Website: We have talked a lot about finances because that's what freelancers who are just starting out are stressing about the most. I do too, of course. But let's get to more interesting things. Whenever you meet someone and they find you interesting, they'll most likely Google you afterwards. Before they search you, remember that you are the only person who can influence what they'll find. I know I Google people and I'm quite sure you do that too. What people should find is a website that tells them about your background and shows your references and explains what they can hire you for. Your website is your virtual business card and it's in your hands, how you want to be seen by your clients, how you want to present yourself. It's very much your chance to establish what you want to be known for and what projects you want to be working on in the future. Before you start panicking that you don't know anything about web design, let alone how to program a website, you should stop yourself right there. You're already thinking ahead. First, take a piece of paper and a pen and write down how you want to structure the content. The most basic website should have an about me, where you describe your references, list of services you provide or products you offer, and explain how people can work with you. Some people just show of their portfolio and the beautiful things they have done in the past, but that doesn't mean that the people who come to the website actually understand what this could mean for a business. You should include a contact form and your email address or your phone number if that's something you prefer and make it clearly visible to potential clients how, they can contact you. I've seen so many websites where people don't have their email address immediately visible, it really is important that your website is not a portfolio of what you've done in the past, but a service explanation, an explanation of your services, an explanation of what people can hire you for, because that is much easier for them to understand. When you showcase your references, try to do it in a way that is relatable. Don't just say who the client was you worked with, but also explain the successes you accomplished and what you did to help your client reach their goals. I really believe that it is a missed opportunity if you only state the client's name, because the one thing that really distinguishes you from everyone else is the way you approach projects. People want to know about your strategies and your process. So be open because your future clients will appreciate it. Don't tell your clients who you are, these things, where you went to university and your entire history because the majority of people don't necessarily care. But what they care about or what they can understand is what you can do for them, what they are looking for. People don't really want to spend a lot of time on the internet, they do it but it's like that's not their preference. They are looking for something and it's a very efficient service. They are looking for something, they find something, they scan your website for the keywords they are looking for, which is their problems and what they want to solve. Once they've found it, they'll reach out to you, but they are not interested in your university degree. Once you have finalize the copy for your website and have someone else proofread it or if you're not good at writing, maybe get someone to write it and proofread it all together, but always get someone to proofread it. It's time to think about the technical aspects of building a website. I'm personally a fan of systems that I can fully control and where I don't need to call someone and ask for help. That's also the reason why I've recently switched to Squarespace, and so far this is the easiest system I've come across. But there are of course, other systems like WordPress or Wix or Weebly. All these systems work with templates that you can adjust to your needs. Just like with writing copy for your website, if you're not someone who is good with visuals or I'm not a designer, you should definitely ask someone else to help you out. If you consider yourself to be good with design, then do it yourself, but always ask other people for their opinion. That's something that's really exceptional with Squarespace. If you are someone who is visual or where you can use visuals, then ask someone to take professional pictures. I would say that pictures are the most important medium online. If you patch together different styles and different images, it's going to look like that. So if you manage to find someone who can take professional pictures of you and your work surroundings and really have one consistent style, that will all ready make your website look much better. One last thing before I forget that, with visuals, if you are not a travel blogger, then holiday pictures and palm trees, they won't really help you. You really need to make sure that the first thing people see on your website is what is relevant to your business. If you're a musician, you need to make sure that the first thing people see on your website is your music. If you are a copywriter, then the first thing people need to see on your website is that you are a copywriter and then you write copy. Basically, the first thing people see within two seconds needs to represent how you can help them. Before I hop on to the next chapter, there's one last thing, I would like to recommend to you that you should go back to your website and reread your copy and make sure that what it says on your website because your website is a finger for present, it's what people see now, that your website and what it says on it represents what you want to be hired for. If that's not the case anymore, you'll need to make these changes. Which is why I said in the beginning, I'm a fan of website systems where I can do that myself and I think that's also something that you should consider, that you are able to change the copy and that you are able to change the pictures yourself. 8. Share Your Work: You know how it seems almost impossible to get a job when you get out of university because everyone says you must have work experience to get work experience, this whole chicken and egg situation you're suddenly in. Now with projects, it's the same, you need to have references within the style of projects you want to be involved with in order to have more projects within that same style for the future. That is at least unless you're damn lucky. If you were stuck in the last chapter thinking you didn't have any projects you could show on your website, it's time to become your own client. What do I mean? Just because you call yourself a professional graphic designer, or a copywriter, or a photographer and actually make money doing that, that still doesn't mean that you always work on the projects you want to be working on. Just because you see other people's work and admire them for what they do, that's a common social media trap right there, that really doesn't mean that those are the projects that pay those people's rent. If you ever wonder where the phrase fake it until you make it came from, I truly believe this is it. As I said in the beginning, you need to build the business you want to work for yourself which also means that you need to build a portfolio that will help you get the projects you want. The more people get to see your work, the one that you want to be associated with, the more beneficial it will be for you. When I first decided to go freelance, I wrote a book about it and launched it on Kickstarter. I mainly wanted to learn more about the mechanics of community funding, and I wanted to write a book anyway, and then I also wanted to work on a project where I had a full control. What happened after I successfully funded the book is a dream come true. I'm serious, this is really incredible. I've been getting paid for writing articles to encourage other freelancers. I've also been approached by Skillshare to give you this class, which is also incredible. I think the biggest highlight for me is being that I've been supporting Kickstarter throughout their Europe launch. Actually, a lot more other projects that only came my way because I openly shared what I was excited about. So what you need to remember at this point is share your work. Everything that excites you, put it out there. Now I would love to share two stories with you. One of them is of Lauren Randolph. She has been on Flickr ever since Flickr's been around and then joined Instagram early on, you can find her when you search for Lauren Lemon. She's always been working on side project. It's never been the projects she was getting paid for until people started liking her style and actually sending her messages asking whether she would be interested in working for them and creating her own world, which is always very colorful and very exciting to help brands better communicate their own message. She could slowly transform from doing those jobs no one really likes to talk about to actually doing the more exciting shoot things. The other story, that is of Akilah, when she was in university, she wanted to become the next Oprah. There is a very funny story when I talked to her during the interview, she always tried to tape herself. But then she always said it's the Internet, and you just have to go for it because you can always delete content or exchange the content that is online. As you grow, and your shows become better, and what you post online becomes better, the audience is going to grow with you. That's a very beautiful thought. You just have to start somewhere, and just by posting and showing what you're good at, you'll eventually become better because you'll see your progress over a long period of time. That is very exciting because then you make other people excited, and you get excited yourself. 9. Network Yourself Up: My first question has always been, how do people find clients? There's a lot of competition out there, and I've always wondered, what is the secret between the people who are always busy and the people who struggled to find work. I think I've finally figured out the answer and it's that people who are more successful are excellent networkers. How does one become an excellent networker, and what does it mean anyway? If you think there is a secret to networking, I'm probably going to disappoint you, because I don't think there's a special way to approach people or like general tactics to help break the ice between you and a stranger, all these things, I don't think it matters. But what I really think, what networking is about, I think that networking is a mindset. It's a mindset that you have a genuine interest in other people's work, and you are willing to help them whenever they need your advice, your resources, or a bridge to the people they want to meet. If people already know what they can come to you to ask you for like, what help you can provide them with, then they know for what they could recommend you to other people, to potential clients, and then you are already on the right track. What I think also helps, especially when you think about people who you think are somewhere higher at the social ladder is the knowledge and also the appeal that you have something to give, just as the other person who you are about to approach has something they can offer you or help you with, your equals. I'm saying this because one of my strongest beliefs is that there are no hierarchies between people. You are a human, the other person is a human, and they have as much respect for you as you have for them, and if not, they are not worth your time, seriously not. When I think about how I found my clients, it's very diverse. Some of them knew me from my previous job and then they came to me because I left and they still wanted to work with me. Others, I've been recommended to by my former work colleagues, so you know those people also know what you are good at. Sometimes I just had a coffee with someone and then they approach me months later saying, "I would love to work with you or are you free or interested to do this with me?" Some of my clients became my clients because I sent them an email about some other issue and they enjoyed Skyping with me so much, or just communicating with me via e-mail. I also got a client because of my Contently page. If you are a freelance writer, you should definitely put up your work on Contently. If you're a graphic designer on Behance, really put your work out there because that's how people can find you. Then you are part of a broader network. But there's a difference between an online network and a personal network. I found my clients quite randomly, but I think there are several ways to find your clients. When we talk about networking, I would say that generally speaking, there are two ways to meet new people. At networking events and conferences or you can also approach people directly via social networks. Which for me is the easier one, for others, it might be the harder one. The best way to find out about networking events in your area is I would say and because it's easy to do a keyword search and then find a group of people with common interests and also if you go somewhere to another city, you can also look up if you're a freelancer, maybe a group for freelance graphic designers, all of these things might be available and some of my favorite events that you should always look for if you're going somewhere or maybe in your own city is PechaKucha love to format, very quick, very exciting and interesting. TEDx talks, which you can also watch online. But there is no networking involved. CreativeMornings, which is one of my favorites. They are growing every month. You should definitely find one of these events in your area. The other part is like gallery and store openings and you can meet people anywhere. Now you might say, but I live in a small town, in a small city, that's also great because now it's up to you to found a group to be a founding member and say, I would like everyone who works as a freelancer to come out and have drinks together, let's say first Monday of the month or something. Just take the lead and do something about your own networking situation and your own client situation. The other way I already mentioned is to reach out to people on social networks. It's easier when you have some sort of an audience, especially on Twitter and Instagram because if you write to people just give them a reason why you're reaching out or like talk to them, react to their own content and at some point you can always, if both of you are curious about the other person to say, "Hey, I'm coming to your city". That's at least how I always do it and then ask them to have a coffee with you. A lot of people might struggle with networking and meeting new people altogether. If you are someone who is rather introverted, don't worry. Look for organizations where you can volunteer, where you can put your best knowledge and your skills into work. Because if you help out in organizations that you admire and then show what you are good at, eventually people who might want to pay you for it might come your way as well. If you rather do things and not just talk to people, try to join some sort of an organization. The one last thing that I would like to say about networking is if you are a creative, try to be part of a network, some sort of a collective, then all of you might have a different style and be approached by different people. But knowing other people who do the same thing once a client comes to you and you cannot help them out, or it's not necessarily your kind of thing, you can always hand them over to someone else in your collective. They are great if you don't want to lose clients that came to you and you can just hand them over to other people, to your friends, to people you like working with. 10. Treat Your Customers Well: I told you a little bit about finding new people and meeting new people. But you should always think about the customers you've already had, the clients you've already worked with. Because it cost about five times as much to acquire a new customer than to keep one you already have, and it's not just money but also energy. So how do you engage customers and make them come back for more and how do you make sure your customers talk about you? So social media is an instant click away. It's much more likely that your followers have a bigger following than you could ever build yourself. You should engage your customers and gift them something they'll take a picture of. For product-based businesses, packaging is the ultimate answer. If you can put up a nice cloth or say something nice, or maybe if you are a freelancer just write a handwritten note and send it to your client. Do something that would make you happy yourself. Because a nicely wrapped product or a note you include in your package can make all the difference. So once you have finalized your order and delivered it to a happy customer or finished a project, include people in your mailing list and reach out to them regularly. You don't have to send out a weekly newsletters, but make sure you reach out to people who have brought you to where you are now and update them on the latest offers or the latest news or what you're up to and especially how you can help them. When we were designing the cover of this year will be different to give you some crazy insights of what I did and what my team helped me with. We started our research on Instagram and we looked for the books people took pictures of. Then when I send out the books to my Kickstarter backers, I've wrapped every single one of them as a present and wrote a personal note. That is an approach that is how I would like to be treated by people, and that's also why I wanted to treat people like this. So it's like to me, every single one of them who ordered a book or someone who gave something to me. So I really wanted to give back to them. Given the numbers of images people shared of the book on their own social media channels, I would say it was the right way to go because they made all these people really happy and they also help us spread the word about the book, about the product. The best marketing you can do for your business is by really going out of your way and making everyone happy who works with you, who get something from you, who buy something from you. If you're a service provider and can send nicely wrapped packages to your customers, that can happen too. Make sure your work experience with others is mutually positive, and don't hesitate to ask for a recommendation once you have delivered. That is really important if you want to keep a flow of clients. I would say that you should make it your business to reach out to former clients to ask them how their business is going and really show interest and wish them all the best on special occasions such as Christmas and New Year's Eve. I never understood why I was sending out hundreds and hundreds of messages for Christmas when I was working with my former employers. But I think it is your chance to reach out to everyone and just say thank you for helping you become a better freelancer and making your business a successful one. 11. Go Social: We might all agree that there might be too many social media channels by now, and that it's making everyone incredibly insecure where should be, and what they should be using. I would say that you shouldn't stress yourself too much. You should be maybe on to max free channels and you should always think about what you want people to see. If you're a musician, you want other people to find your music. That's the most important thing. Then you should look for a social media channel that shows your music. If you are someone who is, let's say, a graphic designer or an illustrator, then Behance and Instagram, and probably also [inaudible] might be the best channels for you. Because on Behance, you are compared with other designers, and if people outside of the design world know that they are looking for designers and they wants to see different styles, they might go and look for a designer on Behance. But Instagram is something where people are searching for pictures and searching for styles, and it's also something where you see what other people liked. If you are someone who works visually, that is probably the best platform for you. Then LinkedIn works with keywords. If you can put in what exactly you can do for people, you might be found by recruiters, which also could be wonderful for you and your business. I would say that you should always keep sharing what you're up to, and what you're working on, and how you're doing things. The best way to keep doing something and keep sharing your work is by joining one of those 365 days projects or hundred days of something, and really make a countable goals that you can achieve. Where you say, "Okay, for hundred days, I'm drawing something every single day or I'm writing hundred words," to really keep growing and to keep getting better at what you do. What I would also say that if you want to get better at maybe posting better pictures on Instagram, because that is essentially what people see of what you do, then you might want to look on Skillshare and maybe find someone who shows how to edit pictures for Instagram or how to take the best possible image. Learn from other people who are already sharing their knowledge and sharing their work, because you needs to share it and you should share your work to be able to be found by people. But you can also learn how to best do it. 12. Work with Awesome People: As a freelancer, you're most likely a one man or one woman business, at least in the beginning. Unfortunately, it's very unlikely that you are good at everything in business requires. I'm damn jealous, because no one's good at everything. It is advisable to delegate all tasks to other people that slow you down or hold you back from doing what you are really good at. Because your business should make you happy in the long run, chances are high that a competency doesn't. Do not just built a business you want to work for, but to be part of a flourishing community, an important one. I would recommend looking for people in your circle to help you do the jobs that you have no time for or don't have the skill set to take care of it yourself, or just really don't want to do yourself, which is perfectly fine. If you happen to be in a situation where you need to look for people outside of your social environment, you can find many freelancers online. There are pages where people offer help, the logo design and website design, and copywriting, editing, photography, graphic design. I mean, you can even find people to book your flight. There is anything and everything out there. Pages like Upwork, Behance, 99 designs, might be incredibly helpful when looking for someone to fill a role that you cannot find in your own environment. I would say that it's important to never start working with anyone, not even your friends before a proper contract. In business, there are four types of partnerships and you should have a contract for all of them: your business partners, your investors, your employees, third-party providers, and your customers. When you start working with friends, you should have a contract that clarifies the boundaries, expectations, and circumstances if things don't go the way as expected. If you sign without having clarified what's expected from you in black and white, you might get disappointed and maybe even slowly turn bitter if more things go wrong in a short period of time, which might happen. A contract is there to protect both parties and you should never just blindly accept the terms, because some people gave the same contract to everyone they start working with. So just really read through what you are about to sign. The people around you; help them get clients, make anything they want, just help them move forward in their life and they'll help you the same way, and that's just wonderful. I think just work with awesome people. Don't work with people that had a gut feeling isn't right, because that's going to be a tough one. It's easier to find future clients if you're existing clients or if you're existing people that you're working with together as other freelancers, have the same mindset, and that you share the same vision, and actually enjoy collaborating with them. Just trust yourself and work with awesome people. 13. Remember Your Freelancers Manifesto: Thank you so much for watching this class today. I really hope you enjoyed yourself and that you could take away something from everything I said to you. I hope that you start your side project today and that you let me know in the comments what you are up to. Feel free to use the hashtag, this year will be different. I use it on Instagram a lot to keep track of how people's lives changed and what they've been up to and to simply follow up on the businesses people created or are trying to create with their work. I really would love to rate your freelancers manifestos in the project gallery below to be able to see what you've been doing and give you some comments. Feel free to send me an e-mail. I really love receiving e-mails, especially after I send out my newsletters. If you have a difficult day one day or forget why you've started this then take your freelancers manifesto back again into your hands and reread it and I really hope that that's where you'll find some more inspiration and that you keep going because that's all that counts. 14. Don't Take No for an Answer: I owe you some parting words and that's, don't take no for an answer. Remember, it's the Internet, and people can do whatever they wants to be. If you wants to be a museum curator, then find a way on the Internet to curate. If you wants to be a fashion designer, then start making clothes and post about it or pictures of it on Instagram. Take the chance and do whatever you want and just share it with people who find it interesting because there is audience that is big enough for everyone to find the people they should be working with.