Category Archives: Freelancing

Content Writing… And Where It Can Lead

Probably one of the most common remote jobs out there, online content writing has been around since people realized it was necessary to make $$.

Much like customer service and IT, writing is one of those fields that has translated quite well into the digital world. In fact, a lot of content nowadays is primarily produced through the medium of the Internet. Other channels are often seen as “secondary”: radio, television, billboards (although, not in all cases).

With countless online shops, landing pages trying to push lead generation, social media managers trying to expand their reach… Online content writing is actually at the core of it. Some digital marketers will craft their own content – but for the most part, many will defer to someone who can actually write.

That’s where the job of the content writer/online copywriter comes into play.

Being hobby writer as a teenager, I soon fell into a career “writing for the Internet” (Note: I was desperate, needed money and this was the best way of making some quick cash). I actually really enjoyed it but back in those days, I wrote a lot.

A lot of the texts I wrote were simple, keyword-optimized pieces of content. In fact, I can actually still remember the very first SEO text I wrote. The only instructions I had to go by was the keyword itself: “steampunk buttons”. To this day, I still have no idea where that text ended up. Probably on an eCommerce sit. Or maybe a fetish site (you honestly never know…).

I continued that way for the next year or two. My client list grew, as did my assignments. I went beyond simple SEO texts to things like landing pages, ad copy, press releases and more. At the very beginning though, I earned mere pennies (my clients were too cheap even to pay me in steampunk buttons).

steampunk buttons
Glorious, intricate, shiny: All I ever wanted were those precious, steampunk buttons…

Naturally, I had to explain my job to people. How was I sitting at home most days, but still able to pay my rent? What sort of job title was I supposed to give myself? Admittedly I was quite young then and didn’t fully understand how a lot of things worked. I could’ve given myself any kind of title.

For a while, I stuck to “content writer”. The problem was, that particularly description didn’t fully express what I was doing.Why? Because the truth is…

’Content writing’ is an astoundingly broad and varied field.

Online Content Writers – Copywriting for the new age

The Internet is powered by content. Articles, videos, images, blog posts, product descriptions, forums, rude words, keyboard warriors, trolls… Much of that content is informative with an eye to either educating or selling (in many cases, both) or simply annoying people. Online content writers literally just do that: they can write on a wide range of different topics (YES, some people are literally paid to be annoying).

When talking about the “types” of content written, it can come in a range of styles. For example, here’s a list of the types of content I’ve written over the years:

  • In-depth reviews of products. Some of these were for ecommerce, others were for informative purposes with an eye to generating leads (reviews of online dating sites, for example).
  • Advertising copy across a wide range of paid advertising networks (Facebook, Gemini, Taboola, Outbrain).
  • Press releases for different companies.
  • Product descriptions
  • Blog posts like this one for others, of course (in these cases, I was essentially a ghostwriter).
  • Content for landing pages, the majority of which needed to be optimized with keywords. Interestingly, there are many cases where clients often don’t want keyword-optimized texts. These are often for paid landing pages.

As a content writer or a copywriter, you’re literally selling your skills. You may “specialize” in writing online content. It’s still possible to write more than just online content.

Simply being a “copywriter”

A copywriter in the truest sense of the word is someone who simply writes copy. Plenty of media is online now, so most writers are “online” copywriters in some form. BUT… even in the early stages of my writing career, I wrote print advertising copy for some place in Texas. Seriously. Just because a client of mine had them as tasks. I’ve never even been to Texas. Or the States, for that matter.

Copywriting, expertise and specialization

Any literate person can do basic online content writing jobs. From then on, you can simply build up your skill and branch out into different areas. The mark of a truly skilled copywriter is not just someone who can write. It is someone who can adapt and change their writing style depending on what the client wants. In this sense, it’s essentially what a commercial copywriter will do. They’ll want to sharpen their skills with an eye to improve their personal profitability.

But it’s also possible to specialize and become known as an expert writer in a specific niche. Journalists are of course a classic example: they also research and report, both online and in real life. Financial writers may be heavily involved in investment strategies or banking. The list goes on.

What does it lead to?

Online content writing isn’t a job you have to do forever. For many, it’s a foot in the door. When I originally began freelancing, writing was the only real “skill” I had in this field. I soon learned a lot about online marketing, from what my clients wanted to simply doing a lot of research myself. My freelancing led me to a job in online marketing which involved far more than writing.

These days, copywriting remains one of my core skills. But they’ve expanded beyond that: I’ve been a press manager, a content manager, a SEO and am now one of the main creatives brains working for a profitable online advertising agency.

So, if you’ve got ambition and are willing to learn, there is a whole host of different things it can lead to!

Working Nomads – A Jobseeker’s Review

Working Nomads only offers remote and telecommute jobs – with a focus on digital nomads. Of course it’s not restricted to digital nomads only – remote job seekers will find a wealth of different advertisements here as well.

Remember, though:

Like most remote-only job boards and sites, those applying through Working Nomads will face a lot of competition.

This platform is pretty simple. A lot of the jobs posted can also be found on other job sites. However, very occasionally you may find something here that’s no posted anywhere else.

What kind of jobs can I find on Working Nomads?

Like all remote job boards, you’ll definitely find plenty of open positions in the software/IT/tech industry. They’ve even got separate categories for Systems Administration, Design and Development.

Beyond that, you’ll find other categories like…

  • Consulting: Tech-related consulting at that. Which shouldn’t be a surprise.
  • Writing: Another broad field hard to pin down. Writing positions vary from journalism to content marketing and technical writing.
  • Finance jobs are sometimes posted here (tax advisors, bookkeepers, underwriters etc.)
  • Human resources although there weren’t quite a lot of them.
  • General administration such as case managers, online scheduling, broker assistant etc.
  • Heathcare jobs like medical coding and scheduling.
  • …and even a few legal jobs.

There’s also a few education jobs for online tutors and online teachers.

Sadly, like most of these platforms, the remote jobs available on Working Nomads lean heavily towards tech or maybe online marketing/general digital media. If you’re not looking for a job in these areas, then don’t rely solely on this board!

Overall, is it worth it or should I pass?

No matter what kind of remote job you’re looking for, I would highly recommend at least signing up for their job alerts. When looking for a new job, it’s important to pull out all the stops and keep your eyes open. You may have a very slim chance of getting something here – but you never know.

FlexJobs.com – A Jobseeker’s Review

When I looked at FlexJobs.com, I got excited.

There were tonnes of remote jobs advertised. Literally thousands. From all over the world. It also didn’t appear to be a scam: since this platform’s been around for a REALLY long time. So I decided to give FlexJobs a good, old-fashioned review from a jobseeker’s perspective.

When I put this site through the Wayback Machine, it told me they’ve been around since 2007. I remember them from when I started freelancing in 2011 (along with something called “All Stay At Home”… which doesn’t seem to exist anymore).

So…

It’s a good sign FlexJobs has lasted this long.

So let’s get down it, asking the most important questions first.

Is FlexJobs legit?

Lots of people are asking this. It’s understandable why you’d think they’re a scam. Especially since there are so many work from home scams at the moment. Of course, the telecommute job industry is a little savvier nowadays (though you still ought to be careful). But after reviewing them, I’ll say this: FlexJobs is definitely legit.

They’re no different to Indeed.com or Monster. In fact, if you do a quick search you’ll find many of the jobs posted elsewhere. That does take a bit of work, though.

So then, what’s on offer for remote job seekers?

Quite simply: job leads. However, applying for a work at home position through FlexJobs comes at a cost. Literally. The price is usually USD$15.00 per month. Jobs are divided into a rich range of different categories. Here you’ll likely find a remote position for almost every kind of job that you can do from home.

This is the stickler, though.

It’s often the cost that keeps people from using the platform. Which is totally understandable. There are a lot of pros to paying for and using their service, though. First and foremost, you have one, single place from which can apply to all relevant positions.

Seriously, it cuts out a lot of time from your job search. Secondly…

They filter out the work from home scammers.

In fairness, job boards like Remotive and Working Nomads do the same thing (for no subscription fee). But with this particular platform, you know you’re safe.

If you’re still humming and hawing about the cost, here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of FlexJobs:

Pros:

  • Work at home scams are screened out!
  • The categories and number of telecommute positions here is… Amazing. Really, up until this point I haven’t seen a wider selection on any remote job board.
  • Links are posted to the original job advertisement: though, to be fair, a lot of job boards do that.
  • Accredited by the US Better Business Bureau (if that means anything to you… I’m not American so I have no experience of what it’s worth).

Cons

  • The cost! They’re not expensive, really. A lot of people don’t like having to pay for a job board, though. Myself included.
  • Most positions advertised are published elsewhere. Which means you just have to spare a little more time to find them yourself.

Should I use FlexJobs?

Truth be told… That’s completely up to you. If you’re willing to shell out around US$15.00 a month, then go for it. You could consider it an investment. However, more people are willing to pay with time rather than money. Since its free to search for open positions on Flex Jobs, all you have to do is go through their listing. Then, search online to see if there’s another platform you can apply through.

Freelance Job Boards: Why They Should NEVER Be Your Only Option

When I started freelancing, I knew early on that I had to branch out.

I began as a “freelance writer”, my first two “clients” being content mills. Work wasn’t always stable, but I managed to get by. During the slow times when I wasn’t fervently writing to clock up a survivable hourly wage, I would research more about freelancing. More specifically, online freelancing.

A little later down the line, I also began “in person” freelancing as a TEFL teacher. While better paid than content mills, TEFL also wasn’t the most stable job. Of course, now being a seasoned content mill writer my original thoughts of “Great, I can sit at home all day, sip wine and write for cash!” were now long gone. However, as much as I enjoyed TEFL I didn’t really see a future in it.

peanuts
That is unless I didn’t mind earning peanuts for the rest of my life.

So, I sipped a lot of wine. I wrote for (not so much) cash. And I did more research into freelance job boards.

Upwork, oDesk, eLance, Guru… whatever. There were almost too many. After a lot of fumbling around, I managed to find my feet and actually snag a few decent-paying clients. I even forged one or two long-term (business) relationships. Content mills remained my “slow time” fallback (when work was available). In general, I made an alright living for someone in a cheap city with few expenses.

Between working with freelancer platforms, my own clients, content mills and teaching English, it dawned on me just how much work freelancing really is. It was a good education, to say the least. The searching, the bidding, working on projects just to get an interview… I spent hours of work without even a guarantee of getting a job.

In many ways, it sucked.

Finding work as a self-employed person is just as tiring and as much work as finding a full-time job – actually, probably even more since you always have to be hustling alongside your own projects.

When it comes to freelancer sites, really try to remember:

They should never, ever be your only option.

Get out on social media and the real world and network – forge relationships, maybe do a bit of pro bono work here and there to build up your portfolio. At the same time, do pick at least two or three platforms you feel will work and put some time and effort into crafting a profile.

Why? Well, because…

At the very least, a freelance job site offers you free advertising.

This all comes down to personal branding and a bit of advertising. After all, the more your face and profile pops up on the internet in the right places, the more likely it is that the right people will see it. The same can be said for publishing a portfolio on these sites.

Freelance Job Boards: The “keys” to increasing your chances of success

I cannot give you a 100% guaranteed formula that will definitely land you a list of clients so large you almost can’t keep up with the work. If I could, I’d probably be selling ebooks and courses on it (it’s what all the cool kids are down now, apparently).

However, I can give you the methods I used in order to land clients. Sometimes they worked like a charm, sometimes results took longer to materialize. Either way, they are reflective of the business world. You have to get the right target audience, sell the right product and market yourself the right way. Additionally, there are slow times and times when you have nothing but work to do.

When it comes to freelance job boards, however, these points are non-negotiable. They’re important, even if you just want a basic smattering of visibility.

Define what you ARE and what you’re SELLING

DO NOT write “Online Freelancer” as your job title, followed by “various freelance services – online!”. Anything in the area of too vague and too general is either going a) get you a bunch of jobs no where near your field of expertise or more likely b) get you absolutely no response whatsoever.

Define what you ARE. Are you a copywriter? Are you a digital strategist with a focus on writing good copy? Are you a JavaScript engineer, with a focus on front end development? Write this down, make a bullet-point list. Let your clients know what your expertise is, what you are selling and exactly what kind of pain they have that you can solve.

Your profile(s) are important

No matter how many freelance job boards you sign up to, craft them with a whole lot of love. While the actual structure of your profile can vary from one platform to the other, in general you should…

  • …have a clean, professional profile photo. This doesn’t have to be a photo of your face although I would highly advise it for individual freelancers. You are the friendly face of the business you’re running. Alternatively, you may want to consider a logo.
  • A comprehensive tagline that defines what you ARE. Harking back to the previous paragraph, are you a digital strategist? A web developer? What’s your focus, what’s your specialty? Try to think of a creative but clear way to send the message, too.
  • Fill out your bio/profile description. It’s amazing how many freelancers neglect to do this. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) detail every aspect of your job history but you should provide a comprehensive view of your professional background, your services, skills and the type of “pain” you can solve for your prospective clients. If possible, try including testimonials.

What I would advise is briefly forgetting about freelance platforms and simply crafting and online resume with at least the above points. Additionally, include a portfolio of your work and then create a website and publish it there.

You can then take this “core” professional profile and adapt it to whatever platform you’re using.

Beyond Freelancer Sites: Be your own “command central”

Ultimately, you should view each freelance platform you sign up to as one of many “channels” through which you can spread your message. People may either reach out to you on these platforms, or you may have to do a bit of job bidding to at least get your face out there (and who knows, you may end up scoring a client/gig or two).

Ultimately, this will ensure that you have a strong presence on these platforms and additionally can spread your personal brand.

However, you should maintain your “central” profile. Publish a blog posts every now and then (once a month at least). Share this post on social media (Instagram is great for photographers, LinkedIn is good for most professionals).

Join a few online communities, get involved in discussions and publish your opinion in different (relevant places). Get to know people and build relationships online – really make a name for yourself.

Ultimately, freelance job boards are really little more than a gimmick. It is possible to get a lot of clients through them, but they shouldn’t be central to your strategy (at least when you’re starting out).

The Plague: How to Avoid “Work from Home” Scams

What I was surprised to learn was that work from home scams are pretty common – even today.

Why?

Well, remote jobs are easier to find than ever these days. There are plenty of remote job boards available with real, legitimate companies listing actual positions.

Long-gone are the days of the low-paid, “grunt work”-type telecommute jobs. Programmers and customer service workers tend to have the most choice but digital marketing, HR, finance and management professionals are also beginning to see more remote-friendly jobs available in their field.

So why, then, are work from home scams still a thing?

Well, first all remember this:

There will always be scammers and con artists. They will always try to prey on those of us who need something. If anything, the more desperate you are the more susceptible you will be to a scam.

I’m not knocking desperation here, either. We’ve all been there. Sometimes, we see an offer that is too good to be true and hope, just hope, that maybe it is the answer to our prayers.

Up until recently, I did digital marketing for online dating sites. Part of the job was researching and creating content about online dating scams. Many of these dating scammers followed similar principles to job scammers. The only difference is that job scammers aren’t playing off your need for affection. Rather, they’re playing off your need for an income.

PLEASE NOTE: Job scams exist in the “real world” too. Although remote jobs have a higher level of legitimacy these days, it is much easier to get away with a scam on the Internet.

That’s why when you’re looking for a job online (which, let’s face it, is the main method most people use these days), you need to be all the more vigilant.

What makes telecommuting a particularly “lucrative” industry to scammers, however, is the fact that getting a remote job is competitive business. The good news is that many remote job boards do a pretty good job of vetting potential employers and cleaning up job advertisements.

However, as a job seeker you still need to should some of the responsibility and…

…you should still be able to recognize a work from home scam yourself!

That means looking for certain signs. As a general rule, I would recommend remaining suspicious if anything seems fishy. And I mean really fishy, not that they just took forever to respond because, quite frankly, that’s the sad state of recruitment these days.

Evaluating a Work from Home Scam: What you should look for

There are a couple of points which immediately scream “scam!” in your face when you encounter them. As a general rule of them, I would maintain that if something is too good to be true, then it’s a lie. However, consider the following points…

  • If it looks like a “get rich quick scheme”, then it most certainly is. For the scammer, that it is. For you, it means you’ll simply lose a lot of money. Get rich quick and pyramid schemes naturally predate the Internet, however the digital world has become a very viable medium for scammers to carry out their work (hey, it’s great! Even scammers can work remotely these days!).
  • If they want you to part with ANY amount of money, then get out fast. Some jobs in the real world do require you to pay upfront for certain materials (uniform, etc.). However, this generally shouldn’t be a necessary. It is you who are selling your services to a company, not the other way around. If they want to train you then they should pay for it. The same can be said for any software or hardware they provide you – and if they want to train you. You should never have to pay out of your own pocket for any of that… Ever.

Think of it this way: the main thing a scammer wants to do is extort money from you. It is as simple as that. If the “employer” on the other end consistently insists on getting cash from you, then you know you’re dealing with a bullshit merchant. Forget about what they promise you because it’s not true.

Let me repeat that again in more clear, concise language. Just so those of you at the back can hear me clearly…

NEVER, EVER, EVER GIVE MONEY TO A RANDOM STRANGER ON THE INTERNET. EVER.

Are we clear on that? Good.

In addition to the “employer” wanting money from you, there are a few other signs which should spark your suspicions. Consider if…

  • …the job ad itself is written clearly and concisely. Now, I have seen real, legitimate job listings which were terribly So bad, in fact, I wondered how the person behind it even had a job in the first place. HR is in a sad state these days so I can understand that a lot of legitimate listings may seem “scammy” at the start. Which why you should also…
  • …check the job ad’s credentials. By credentials I mean telephone, email and web address as well as other social media. How big is their web presence? How consistent is their branding (and check URLs!). You’ll usually know pretty quickly whether or not it is legitimate.

Remote “jobs” that are usually scams

There are certain “jobs” that are indeed complete bogus. Generally speaking, the easiest jobs with the highest promise of income are out and out scams. Data-entry positions, for example, should be avoided if they offer you something along the lines of US$50.00 an hour.

Below, however, are a few “jobs” you are probably better off avoiding:

The Assembly “Job”

I hadn’t even heard of these until I actually did some research on job scams…  This type of “job” seems particularly mean (and depressing). The “employees” are sent starter kits to assemble craft supplies… And the products are then sold on by the company. Of course, the assembler gets paid… Not. It’s pretty obvious off the bat that this is a scam because… guess what? We’ve got machines to do that nowadays.

It’s simply not a valid business model. Forget it!

The Data Entry Job

Unlike assembly jobs, data entry is actually a valid type of work… And yes, a lot of people do it. You can actually find valid data entry gigs online which will pay you a couple of dollars. Honestly though, a full-time data entry is not only a) rare to come across and b) doesn’t pay very well. That’s because it’s quite literally grunt work. It’s the digital equivalent of stacking shelves.

Data entry is part of a host of other jobs. From VAs, secretaries to online marketers and programmers. All at different pay scales.

You’ll know that this job is a scam when you’re promised even a liveable salary.

Nope, forget it. These are usually bullshit as well.

So then what is the best way to get a remote job (without being scammed)?

There’s no magic formula to finding a remote job. It’s just like finding any other kind of positions. You need to have the qualifications and/or experience for the role you want. And during your job search, make sure you’re aware of the most common types of work from home scams. As well as any other kind of job scam.

Just being a little savvy will help you separate the wheat from the chaff… and get you the job you want.

Personal Branding: Creating Your Mark

Personal branding isn’t taught in schools.

Which is a good thing for me, because I would’ve failed.

Most people like talking about themselves. When it comes to job applications though… many of us fall miserably short – myself included. Most of us aren’t great at highlighting our strengths and literally selling ourselves on paper. Again, this is something I fall victim to. That’s despite being quite good at writing sales copy.

The good news is there’s plenty of information about it on the Internet. The even better news is that creating a personal brand for yourself isn’t difficult! The majority of us just want to find a job. Even a bit of quick, slightly-better-than-average personal branding can make you stand out from the pile of CVs sitting on your potential employer’s desk.

kitten
There’s also plenty of information about cats… which may distract you.

All marketers (digital or not) are familiar with branding. A brand is the mark of a product or service. It’s instantly recognizable. It has its own style and flow. Logos are the ultimate example: many of the most successful logos are simple and can be recognized even during sunset, against the skyline. Just take a look at McDonald’s…

mcdonalds logo

Even if lights malfunctioned, the outline of Ronald’s Golden Arches would still be recognizable. There are very few people in the world nowadays who don’t know what McDonald’s is or where to find one. Pretty much anyone who has ever been anywhere know exactly what that giant M is pointing to.

So that’s just branding. Now it’s time to get personal…

What is Personal Branding?

With this type of branding, the product you’re advertising and selling is yourself. Or, more specifically, your experience and skill set. That’s what often gets a lot of people: it scares the shit out of most of us. It means we have to examine ourselves, recognize our weaknesses and really dig deep to find strengths that employers want to use.

The truth is, it’s not really that scary. You simply package what you’re good at then give it a bit of a “brush up”. Put it in front of the right buyers, and they’ll salivate all over it.

chocolate cake
If you try offering them cake, be prepared to deliver.

In my first blog post, I talked about shameless self-promotion and mentioned that I disliked it intensely. Many people are awful at marketing themselves (myself included), primarily because they feel it to be embarrassing/icky. What’s helped me in this situation is to create an emotional disconnect and view my brand as a product, a project.

Personal Branding Tips – Building the Foundation

I could give you stock personal branding tips like “Start with what you like most”, “Be honest but no too honest” or “Don’t brag but don’t hide your skills”. These have a lot of truth in them – but they tell us nothing about how to actually build your brand. Zilch.

You already know what you’re good at – if your job history is anything to go by. Since most personal brand builders are aiming to snag employers/clients, it shouldn’t be too difficult to list your skills. The trick is finding a starting point for “publishing” this list, making it look attractive and -ultimately- ensuring that the right people see it.

Your CV already does that. But it’s crap. Because all CVs are boring.

In most industries these days (outside of online-based ones), it’s still a very good idea to have a website. Failing that, a blog is better. Most tips regarding personal branding sometimes overemphasize the beauty of a blog/website. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It has to be a showcase, something that clearly displays everything you can do – as well as your greatest achievements.

cupcakes
For example, bakers can well display a portfolio of the beautiful cakes they make.

If you’re floundering and looking for a myriad of personal branding tips to get you going, stop. Gather your best work: bakers, get your cakes ready. Copywriters, compile your portfolio. Candle-makers… Get pictures of your lovely candles.

  • Create a portfolio site. With the countless free website builders around, this is pretty easy. WordPress it up, Joomla the crap out of it (or try Wix… very slow, but useful if you’re scared of HTML).
  • Do try to make it look nice. Like I said, it doesn’t have to be masterpiece. However, it shouldn’t be an eyesore (and no flashing/spinning/undulating images… this isn’t Geocities in the 90s).
  • Blog about it! You don’t have to, but it helps. You also don’t have to blog often… Once a month should do.
  • Promote it: Put the link to your portfolio in your CV. Link it to whatever social media accounts you have (personal branding definitely calls for the likes of a LinkedIn account!).

So, when getting your personal brand off the ground… That’s pretty much it. Personal branding tips will also dictate that you actively promote it. How much you do this, however, depends on you. Freelancers who are always on the lookout for new clients should dedicate a little time to getting their voice out there.

megaphone
Megaphones probably aren’t the best way, though…

Personal Branding Tips – A Few Ideas

Once you have a solid basis, you can take a look at a few tips to bring your personal branding further. Sharing your knowledge is a great way to get interested parties reading your blog. Twitter it, Instagram it, Facebook it. If you’re a writer, use your own unique voice (and establish the “voice” of your own brand first). SEOs can optimize their sites and track the analytics.

When it comes to discussing professional topics, I’d actually recommend LinkedIn and Twitter. Sure, Twitter’s not as “serious”, however I’ve found it to be a valuable source of knowledge and insight… All while letting you have a little fun. While LinkedIn is more “stiff” – it is actually a brilliant place to craft your professional persona.

Thoughts on Freelancing and Stability

I originally became a freelancer because I didn’t like working in a kitchen. The only other skills I had besides cooking were speaking English and being able to write. Since work as an English teacher was scarce, I turned to “writing for the Internet”.

welcome to the internet
My first day on the job.

This really meant content mills – Textbroker, The Content Authority and MediaPiston (who were actually pretty decent, but it’s dead now so don’t get any funny ideas).

There was no guarantee of work, but I turned the computer on every day. I wrote most days – sometimes very little, sometimes far, far too much.

I read many resources on freelancing. How to get clients, where to find them and new places to find work. As time went on, I managed to pick up a few of my own who paid better and delivered more consistent levels of work. At the end of every month, however, I was still living hand-to-mouth.

peanuts
In being paid peanuts, it was sometimes all I ate (this may or may not be true).

I loved the freedom of being able to work from anywhere. I enjoyed being able to shift my hours so I could meet friends who usually worked night shifts in bars. I had a lot of fun adventures disappearing off to another city and still being able to make an income. Yet at times, I was wondering if I could pay my rent next month.

Instability and Freedom, or Stability and Being Chained to a Desk

At some point, I realized that experience in a company might be valuable. So, I managed to blag my way into a job where I became a full-on online marketing manager. It was nice to have a stable salary, regular working hours and my own desk.

carol beer
I tried my best not to impersonate this person. It didn’t always work.

Unfortunately, the charm wore off pretty soon. I went into the office every day. I sat in the same place. While I still appreciated the stability and loved learning new things, the feeling of “sameness”, of being trapped in one room for forty hours a week, began to creep in.

I started to miss freelancing, or so I thought.

In truth, I wasn’t missing freelancing at all. I had diverse projects to work on (admittedly within a very niche industry). I was constantly learning new things and training my SEO muscles. I was making lots of money from our affiliate partners. What I was really missing, in fact, I was simply the lifestyle I had been accustomed to. While my hours were flexible, my presence was required in the office because it was the done thing.

When it comes to freelancing, people often make the choice for two reasons. The first is having their own business, trying their hand at being successful and seeing how much money they can make. The other is simply freedom. This kind of freedom is traditionally not thought to exist in most companies.

However…

…these days, the online industry has made full-time jobs as flexible as freelance positions.

Things are different now. If you’re adamant about the option of working in your underwear (or in the Sahara or eye of a hurricane or wherever gives you the most “inspiration”), you don’t have to go at it alone. Remote jobs are plentiful – if a little competitive.

In essence: Things nowadays are not as clear-cut as “freelancing = freedom” and “employment = imprisonment”. There are freelance positions which require you to be on-site, and permanent employment contracts that let you work from anywhere in the world.

If you are looking for that kind of freedom, the key here is your perspective. If it is easier to find a freelance job, it’s best to build up long-term partnerships which can similar to regular employment. Forget about security for a minute and focus on regular pay. After all, you can still be fired pretty fast on a permanent contract. Though you’ll most likely receive some “I’m sorry” money.

So, What to Do?

Research!

Have a look at your industry. What are the most feasible options for you? Do you mind going into an office maybe only once or twice a week, but having partial location independence? If so, you may luck out on finding a local job. Are you so utterly fantastic that companies and clients will come to your door, begging for your services? Then maybe freelancing is the best option.

There are a lot of possibilities out there. How much money you make and whether you can live on it also depends on how in-demand you are. Those with programming skills will make more in a shorter amount of time – SEO experts fall somewhere a little lower in the pecking order. Unfortunately, writers tend to be seen as the grunts (unless you’re so fantastically good that you’ve written for Vogue, or something).

So, what’s my secret? Well, I mix it up.

I have freelance work which ebbs and flows. However, I strive to maintain some kind of “basis” income. Theoretically I could get a job in a coffee shop, though since I prefer location independence I went for a part-time remote job. Having at least a guaranteed coming in every month covers my bases – train ticket, health insurance, candle supply (I light a lot of smelly candles).

So, when it comes to flexibility there is a lot of wiggle room. It just means that you have to add a dash of creativity to your work strategy. Which shouldn’t be a problem… We are creatives after all, aren’t we?

Shameless Self-Promotion: Starting Off as a Digital Marketer

I’m not new to the digital and online marketing game. I’ve been doing it for over six years, beginning as a humble copywriter (at first working with content mills *shudder*). Eventually, I was taken seriously enough to work in what some might call a “grownup” job. I did SEO in the online dating industry. That being said, I believe any job that gets the bills paid on time is a grownup job. Though some might disagree…

There’s a lot to be said for self-promotion: and what I can is… I hate it. I don’t like writing about myself. However, in a professional context it helps to get the word out. It’s much easier to big-up dating sites, dental offices in random US towns I’ve never heard of and countless other products (even VoIP… though I had to research thoroughly into what VoIP was back in the day). So, the first step was creating my own site.

Building a Professional Website/Online CV: Where to start?

If you work in any marketing job, you’ll probably want to have your resume or CV out there for everyone (who is relevant) to read. So, it makes sense to have a website. Whilst my web development skills are currently still nascent, I do know my way around HTML and CSS at least. However, during the last week I’ve needed to get things done fast. So, I chose Wix.com to help me build a professional site – quickly.

wix landing page
Beautiful… but SLOW

I must say I found it confusing at first, coming from a coding background. I eventually got the hang of the tools. Although you can’t actually code anything yourself, the Wix site builder does helpfully indicate what titles and paragraphs are (h1, h2, etc.) for SEO purposes (which, to be honest, would be ridiculous if they didn’t…).

The site actually looks quite nice. There are a lot of themes that you can easily customize and quite fast as well: the site was up and running in a few days, and all I had to do was add content, chop and change things until it turned into something I could bear to look at.

My Biggest Problems with the Wix.com Website Builder?

I live in Germany. The word “Wix” in German (pronounced “Vix” and spelled “Wichs” by Germans) sounds like something very indecent that you ought to do in the privacy of your own room. While potential clients and employers may or may not be German, there will probably be a few people who’ll have a good chuckle.

Practically speaking, the site is very slow when it comes to loading (it does have a ton of features to make the site-building process as easy as possible). It took a good few seconds. While I’m not expecting the site to rank high on search engines, it doesn’t look very good for a digital marketing strategist to have any site that takes an eon to load.

I do plan on leaving it for now, though. The site looks nice, clean and displays my work experience, portfolio and projects clearly and efficiently. However, I think I will be migrating it to a new provider in the very near future… Lessons learned!