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October 2017

    Start Here!, What You Need To Know

    The Newbie’s Guide: Starting on Upwork

    As a freelancer, Upwork is a great stepping stone into the world of finding clients and gaining experience. I started on Upwork, and a lot of freelancers that I chat with did too.  They have over 1.5 million clients in the system, and the range of jobs is quite impressive. You can find a long-term engagement or jobs that will only take a few hours. There are also jobs ranging from entry level to expert, which is cool for newbies looking to gain experience.

    There are obvious ups and downs, but before we dive headfirst into that let’s chat about setting up a profile good enough to land you those jobs! I’m here to offer the viewpoint as someone who has worked Upwork as a freelancer, and who has hired freelancers as a client. That experience has given me a unique insight that helped me, and it wouldn’t be fair if I just kept it to myself!

    Profile must-haves

    Picture: Having your photo makes you seem more, well, real. I’m not talking about that cute selfie you took at the beach this summer, but a nice professional looking picture. Think about it, when you head to a job interview you dress to impress, professional attire and well groomed. In this instance, the client won’t have that first impression, so your picture is what you have.

    You want to show that you take this as serious as you would any other job. It’s an extremely personal thing to allow another person to help you build your business, and although we always say don’t judge a book by its cover, in a virtual world that holds appearance of EVERYTHING so high, the same rules just don’t apply. Don’t risk valuable time and lose out on jobs just because of a picture or lack of.

    Overview: Your overview is your place to shine. This is where you sell yourself, and all that you can offer to a client. You don’t want to rush through this. Be careful to make sure it defines what you can do for the client clearly. Make it specific enough that there is no question as to what your niche is, or what services you offer. Make sure it is error free, and the grammar/spelling is on point. A silly grammar mix-up is a terrible first impression! I use Grammarly religiously, it’s changed my life and in turn, helped me feel more confident in my writing!

    Use Keywords! Consider it SEO for your profile. You want clients to seek you out, and not just the other way around. Anything that makes it easier for them to find you is a major win. 

    Don’t be generic. When hiring, I could tell in an instant those who did a quick write up of some template they found online, and who REALLY put themselves into their overview. Most of us are creatives. I am a writer, looking to prove I am worth paying for a writing job. I can’t expect to write a boring old overview and make an impression. Maybe not everyone will appreciate the fact that you are original, but I can promise more people will than won’t. Those are your people!

    Skills: Be hyper-specific when picking your skills and make sure you are choosing ones that relate to your niche of choice. Upwork allows you to list a maximum of 10 skills, and you should use them all. Don’t just put any skills, or skills that you have that are not relevant to the jobs you are trying to win. I know it’s tempting to show that you are capable of everything, but you don’t want your relevant qualifications getting lost in the shuffle!

    Portfolio: This is your money maker! Clients want to see examples of the work you have done so that they know what to expect from you, as far as quality, tone, expertise, etc. Previous work you have been complete should be showcased here. 

    If you don’t have any previous work,  make some! Ask family or friends if you can do a small project for them, create your own website showcasing your skills, make graphics for a potential business, or open a Medium account to show your writing. Clients on Upwork are looking for a freelancer who can show them what they can do, but it doesn’t always matter how much ACTUAL experience you have. A lot of clients are willing to give a newbie a chance. Don’t leave it blank, that’s the most detrimental thing you can do!

    Tests: Upwork offers a huge variety of tests you can take to show the client your competency. A lot of people skip over them thinking it’s not necessary, but I’ve had clients tell me that my scores on tests have been a deciding factor between me and another freelancer. They take about 20 minutes each, and if you don’t do well, it won’t be shown to the public. Is it make or break? Probably not, but it is a way to help you stand out, so why skip it?

    There is also now a video component to Upwork, where you can post a quick snippet of yourself. I haven’t utilized mine yet, but video is seemingly taking over the world, and I would suggest taking a few extra minutes to do this as well.

    Now that you have this bad ass profile, that showcases how incredibly talented you are, let’s talk proposals! 

    Nailing The Proposal

    When you find a job you want to bid for, you will need to write a proposal to the client. Each proposal costs connects, (you receive 60 connects a month on the free plan, which I have found to be enough) so you want to make sure you’re not just wasting your time. The proposal is what your cover letter would be when you submit a resume. Your overview details your experience, let your proposal be your selling point. 

    DO:

    • Make sure you really understand the job. Don’t waste your time applying for jobs that you only understand SOME of. It’s a waste of your time and the clients as well.
    • Ask questions. If something is unclear, clarify it before accepting any job. 
    • Make it personal. If their profile shows them by name, address them by it. Personalization is HUGE.
    • Introduce yourself and write naturally. Your overview details the depth of your experience, so there is no need to repeat it all in the proposal. A personal touch is part of a perfect proposal.
    • Share one or two pieces of work that relate directly to the job, if you have them.
    • Answer any questions they have in detail. Clients are allowed to put screen questions on their jobs, that need to be completed with your proposal. DO NOT skimp on these. The client went out of their way to put down these questions, so they are important to them. If you skip the questions or give lackluster responses, the client will most likely put your proposal at the bottom of the barrel.

    Don’t:

    • Copy and paste your proposal. PLEASE, read this and remember it. Trust me, clients know when you are giving them just another generic proposal.  Using a template is fine, as long as you are customizing it enough to be specific to the job you are bidding for.
    • Underbid yourself. Know what you are worth and ask for it, this will weed out the clients who are just looking for cheap work. Unless you are aching for clients, it’s not worth it.
    • Bid just to bid. If you don’t really want the job, don’t waste the clients time. It reflects badly on you and your services for the future. 
    • Blow off a message or invitation, even if you have accepted another job. You never know when that contact may come back for work and you want to be in good standing. Send an email explaining that you have started another job, but give your information or ask for theirs so that you can approach them in the future. The connection is everything.

    Finally, my friends, don’t overthink too much. You are talented, you are motivated, and even if you feel like your lack of on paper experience is spotty, there are clients out there who don’t care. A lot of them started out similar to where you are and want to give you a chance to prove yourself. You are ready to send in a proposal, and TVC is rooting for you!

    When you have completed the job, make sure you leave feedback on the client’s page. If you don’t it doesn’t allow them to leave it on yours, and you want that praise! 

    As I mentioned before, there are obviously some pros and cons to using a site like Upwork to find jobs. I wanted to note a couple things you should know before diving in head first! 

    • Upwork takes a fee out of your rate. It sucks to see happen, and it will make you rethink about using this venue for work. My suggestion, use it for the experience, or when work is really low. Take a few clients, get some great contacts and after the initial job, contact them outside of Upwork. The pro to this is that they pay through Upwork, and this ensures that you won’t be getting scammed. For that reason, I like to think of that fee as insurance, just in case. 
    • Don’t let anyone convince you to connect outside of Upwork for interviews. Guys, there are dirtbags out there and they prey on those of us who are over-eager about finding work. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. 
    • Be mindful of time zones! There are people from all over the world on Upwork, and if their time zone is the opposite of yours, it may make scheduling or deadlines difficult. 
    • Be realistic in your bidding, and don’t just accept the first thing that comes your way. Value yourself, value your craft, and make sure you are taking jobs for the right reason!

    So are you ready to dive in? Share your Upwork stories with others, or ask some questions in the comments below! I’m always here to help! Go get those jobs! Make sure you come back and share your success!

     

     

     

     

    Social Media Management, Start Here!

    What is a Social Media Manager?

    There is so much buzz around the up and coming job field of a Social Media Management. If you haven’t heard about it, this is your “woke” moment. Social Media Managers are superheroes when it comes to marketing, exposure, and brand awareness for companies through different social platforms. They are behind the scenes, filling their ever-evolving minds with algorithm changes, trends, scheduling, and much more. Personally, it’s one of the most interesting and challenging jobs I’ve ever worked!

    If you are new to the SMM world, or a veteran looking for a brush-up, let’s talk about what exactly a Social Media Manager should and will be expected to do when they are hired. Social Media Managers are different from VA’s, and shouldn’t be expected to do the same tasks. Some people decide to offer it all as a package deal. If that’s what you want to do, make sure it’s a workload you can handle. 

    Whether you decide to work freelance, or are hired for a contract position, it’s important to understand just what a client expects to receive from a skilled Social Media Manager. That way, you never fall behind!

    • They know their target audience…Essentially, they have the investigation skills of a seasoned detective. They understand what the company’s target audience is, where to locate them, and how to track their activity online. They note the targets daily social media patterns, in order to be effectively market to them in a way that specifically speaks to their needs.
    • Can quickly adjust to change… Social media is always evolving, and your marketing techniques could require a change at the drop of a hat. An exceptional SMM is flexible and able to easily adapt their strategies dependent on changes throughout the social world. Can it be stressful? Hell ya, it can be incredibly annoying to have to change a strategy that had been working so well. That’s the way of the world though, and it’s their job to be able to deal with it.
    • Customer service champions…When the audience reaches out, an SMM makes themselves available to listen and reply, in a timely way and always with relevant and helpful answers. Every interaction is a direct reflection of the brand they are working for, so there is NO option to drop the ball. The audience will judge the brand pretty heavily based on the responses they get from social media.
    • Hashtag superhero…There is a lot of research and behind the scenes work that goes into developing the perfect hashtag strategy. Hashtags are awesome for connecting to the target audience, generating conversations, gathering leads, and generally building a brand overall. SMM understand the power of good hashtag implementation, and how to use them to gain exposure.
    • Dependability is their middle name…Social Media Managers don’t just play around online all day. They need to be structured, organized and prepared. Dependability is key! A missed day on social media that hasn’t been scheduled for can cause follower loss and engagement drops. Clients don’t like that. To avoid that, they always have a content calendar and scheduled posts in place, just in case. They know about all of the scheduling apps and coordinating apps out there to make this part of the job that much more efficient.
    • Super SEO conscious…SEO improves searchability, which in turn will produce more exposure for your client’s brand. A skilled Social Media Manager knows how to craft posts and headlines to optimize that and gain traction. They know how to implement specific keywords to bring people to the brand.
    • Always on-trend… Marketing trends change like the weather, and SMM needs to be able to stay on top with every adjustment. Whether it is graphics, videos, or live broadcasts, whatever is on trend will be the top of their technique. And when it changes, they will adjust accordingly.

    It’s not just playing around online all day, as some people may think, but if you encompass these qualities and have a passion for helping people grow their dreams, this may be the job for you!

    Social Media Managers are not Virtual Assistants, and shouldn’t be expected to carry out all the tasks a VA does. Make sure that clients understand what you offer and distinct definition of your job. Now get out there and kick ass! In such a new, and exploding job field, make your mark and get those jobs!

     

    Build Your Brand

    How to use storytelling to build your brand

    When you think marketing, social media, email campaigns, and events are probably the first things that come to mind.  You have read post after post about the best things to post for engagement, but how often do you use storytelling to help successfully brand your business?

    Facts and figures are helpful, but did you know that in recent studies 92% of consumers said that they retain information better in the form of a story?

    We are creatives, storytelling is in our blood.

    Implementing it into your marketing technique, however, can seem overwhelming at first. How can you guarantee that your story will be enough to drive clients to you and produce the results you want? 

    The fact of the matter is that stories help a consumer connect with you on more than just a business level.  They will remember you, they will remember your brand name, and even if they don’t need you now, you have planted a valuable seed in their psyche. That in a nutshell the first step to nurturing a lucrative relationship, right?

    The answer is YES, but you knew that!

    You don’t have to be a seasoned wordsmith to put together a good story capable of driving traffic and sales. You just need a point of view and a great baseline.  There is no one who can tell the story of your brand better than you, it’s your baby and it deserves a great backstory.

    I’ve compiled a list of some great angles to work your storytelling into the branding of your company.  You can, and SHOULD apply them to your blogging, social media marketing, and advertising techniques as well.  Give the consumer no choice but to relate to your brand.  With so many people out there doing similar things, you need YOUR stories to help you stand out!

    1. An example of exemplary problem solving

    As a business owner, I am sure that not a day goes by where you are not facing some sort of problem for someone.  You go above and beyond, work well beyond normal business hours, and go out of your way to show your customers/audience that your customer service is feet above the other guy.  The chances of you having a great story that showcases that are high. Talk about it! Give an example of a time your brand has skyrocketed over expectations.

    The story should be focused on the customer, and how their needs were taken care of, but be careful that it doesn’t have to be a pat on the back for yourself.  You don’t need to stress that you were the hero in this story, let the reader draw their own conclusion.  They don’t want to read a post about how awesome you are, they want to read about how awesome the experience for the customer was.  Their opinion of you will be reflective of that.

    I read an article the other day on Help Scout, that gave examples of 8 companies with exceptional customer service.  Each example is a testimonial of a time when exemplary customer service was given and it is all told through stories from consumers.  It’s worth a look, especially if you are wondering how storytelling can really leave a lasting impression.

    1. How your business came to be

    Is there anyone who doesn’t love a good rags-to-riches story?  Seriously, I read them constantly.  I love to see how talented entrepreneurs took the seed of their dream and grew it into an empire.  It’s inspiring, encouraging, and riveting. You have a story behind what brought you to do what you do, tell it.

    When talking about TVC, I always begin with where I started.  The steps that ignited the fire in my soul to help virtual entrepreneurs.  From the darkest of times to where I stand today, I have been blessed to make a huge impact doing this.  My readers can relate, and so they want to read more.

    Make a timeline of your business, starting with the first moment it became more than just a thought in the back of your mind. I guarantee you have an amazing story there just waiting to be told! Did tagging along with your aunt to yard sales every Saturday inspire your love of upcycling old furniture? Maybe your Dad spent your childhood teaching you about tech, pushing you towards your love of web design. That’s a story your readers want to hear! Consumers want to connect with you on a higher level, give them the opportunity to do so!

    1. How your brand is different

    You are likely in competition with many other similar products or services.  Defining what makes you different is a crucial key to winning over consumers. Using storytelling to show what makes your brand unique is a great way to grab the attention of consumers that are swaying between you and a similar service from someone else.

    An example: You are a Virtual Assistant who specializes in video production and editing. How can you use storytelling to define what makes you different, while showcasing your skills? This is where your best out of the box thinking comes into play. How about a “day in the life” video to show consumers what goes into delivering them the best services possible. Another idea would be a video compilation of client testimonials, showing the consumer how much you truly care about you’re their needs being met.

    Set yourself apart. Offer more conducive hours to your busy clients, provide incredible customer service, and always go the extra mile. You don’t need to showboat every step you take, let the story speak for itself.

    1. A thank you to your client base/customers

    Customers and clients are the heart of any business, and they want to feel like they are the most important part of your day! Again, there are hundreds of people out there offering the same services as you, standing out is the only way to get ahead.  What better way to stand out than being known for unmatched customer appreciation!

    The idea of spotlighting great customers, through stories of their own business ventures or accomplishments will set you apart from those who just provide customer testimonials. Show you are invested in the long-term happiness of your client. The idea of a customer spotlight on your social media channels, or as a feature on your blog not only benefits you but gives the client/customer more exposure. They won’t forget that you gave them that opportunity, and they will prove that with brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is earned, not given!

    There are so many ways to integrate storytelling into building your brand. What’s your favorite memory of a time storytelling has worked positively for your brand?

    Tools for Success

    6 Apps to demolish procrastination

    Procrastinators of the world unite! You know that to-do list hanging out in the back of your mind? The one you said you would get to later? There are some great apps out there to help you conquer those tasks and so much more, without the perils of procrastination pulling you down.

    The good news here is that being a procrastinator doesn’t necessarily mean you are a lazy person. In fact, often procrastination is a direct reaction to anxiety, fear of failure, or negative perfectionism. It is understandable, but when you are trying to start and grow your own business, there is no room for putting off work. The more you avoid, the longer the list gets and eventually it gets overwhelming. You can’t expect to be able to effectively give your all to a project when your brain is in 5 places at once.

    Did you know that one out of 5 adults has admitted to being chronic procrastinators? You’re not alone, love! I am also a procrastinator extraordinaire! I like to say I am recovering because when I started TVC I made it my mission to learn how to banish procrastination and conquer my work head on! Through this little personal journey, I realized that there was a multitude of resources right at my fingertips. Literally, all I had to do was touch my finger to my iPhone. The amount of time management, productivity, and scheduling apps that are out there actually makes me feel much better. If there is that much of a demand for them then there must be lots of other people who deal with what we do!

    Check out the list of my 6 favorite procrastination fighting apps, dig deep, and figure out what works for you! Just because you have been known as a procrastinator doesn’t mean you can’t learn to just get shit done!

    Zero Willpower

    You may be able to trick your other apps by toggling back and forth from work to social media, but not with Zero Willpower and their Website blocker! With this app, you can set a social media freeze, anywhere from minutes to hours. It also works with other sites that you can easily add or remove, because let’s be honest, we all have that one website that we can get lost in for hours. I’m talking to you Pinterest! Once you see how much your productivity increases using Zero Willpower, you will never turn back!

    Available for $1.99 on Apple

    Simple Habit

    If you haven’t tried meditation to help with your mindfulness, you need to give it a shot! Meditation helps you center your thoughts, calm down, and stop the constant cycle of procrastination, anxiety, and alas, more procrastination. Simple Habit offers tons of customizations for helping improve your focus and combat stress and that crazy overwhelming feeling. As a busy business owner, being able to take a chunk out of your day for meditating is seemingly impossible, which makes Simple Habit a great option because each session can be set for as little as 5 minutes! Like I said earlier, procrastination is sometimes a direct result of anxiety, so before your next big project or deadline, give Simple Habit a try! It might just be the stress combating tool that you’ve been searching for!

    Available on Apple & Android. Free & Paid versions

     

    Mindly

    Mindly is my newest obsession, my friends. Seriously, it’s such a cool concept and so useful for those of us who tend to formulate ideas quicker than we can process them! Mindly wants you to take back control of your brain! The app allows you to organize your thoughts with related interconnecting thought bubbles. The three-dimensional approach is way less overwhelming than an old fashion to do list. Each bubble can be customized with colors, emojis, etc. and there is no limit the number of bubbles you can add! If your brain needs some spring cleaning, try it out! I guarantee it will make you more productive than getting lost in random memes for hours!

    Available on Apple, Android, and Web. Free & Paid versions

    Todoist

    Todoist is my go-to To-Do list app. It’s probably the most straightforward and user-friendly app for to-do lists out there, with options to organize tasks by the project which is incredibly helpful when you have multiple clients or entities. If your task is overdue, you get a notification warning you. I hate seeing that something is overdue, so I challenge myself to get everything done before the reminder has a chance to pop up! Sometimes you need to make tricking procrastination a game! There is also a web version, so your list can be accessible no matter where you are!

    Available on Apple, Android, and Web. Free

    Freedom

    Freedom is the perfect tool for those of us that constantly switch between 800 different websites at a time. You know, when you know something needs to be written, but the top 10 pins of the day are screaming your name. Freedom makes it possible for you to block out apps on your phone, emails, and websites. You can Create and edit blocklists, schedule your block sessions, and use Locked Mode to prevent cheating. If your lack of self-control contributes to your daily procrastination, this one is for you!

    Available on Apple, Android, and Web. Several plan options.

    Unroll.me

    Are you a subscriber junkie? We all know how distracting a full inbox is! Even worse when the inbox is full of junk! Unroll.me is here to make our lives a bit easier by allowing you to easily unsubscribe from the bounty of things clogging up your inbox. Another really cool feature is the “roll-up”, which allows you to combine a list of subscriptions, and receive them in a daily digestible email. Since starting with Unroll.me, I have freed up so much time by cutting the time spent in my inbox to ¼ of what it used to be. Less overwhelming situations=less procrastination!

    Did I miss any great apps to help boost productivity and fight procrastination? Let me know in the comments below! Now go get back to work!