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EXECUTION [Progress] Graphic Designer Going Freelance & Fastlane

Nicoknowsbest

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If you are like me, you came to the forum a while ago.

Reading this and that, writing up comments here and there.

It all seemed like a big buffet in the beginning. You came whenever you pleased and ate whatever you felt like.

Something didn't taste?

You left it on your plate and went to get yourself something else.

There was enough there, right?

The only problem with this approach is that you feel full before you can make it to the mouthwatering main dishes.


How To Waste Years Playing Wantrepreneur

I was dreaming up ideas every day. Sometimes big, sometimes small.

My hands were shaking in excitement when I sat down and started working on what I believed had to work. From high-tech entrepreneurship to importing, whatever sounded good and worked for others I tried too. I was not bothered by failures in the beginning, since you need a couple of them under your belt anyways - that's what experience is made of.

One day it will work.

It will work. But not, if you make the same mistake over and over again.

I thought my ideas were great. When talking to people, they thought they were great too. Just not for them. When the moment came to collect sales, everybody disappeared and was busy with something else.

Can I blame them?

No. The only person to blame is myself. If I had asked them what they had been struggling with and then had offered my help, no way they would have walked away.

It is not about me, it is about real people with real needs.


Ignore Your Skills At Your Own Danger

For years I have been ignoring my own skill set.

I couldn't imagine doing business in this specific area, since I was connecting it with so many negative experiences, coming mainly from jobs.

Apart from that, this was not where the money was, I thought.


The Moment That Changed Everything:


I was reading @SinisterLex's thread about how to achieve freedom within 15 days, when I saw that @Andy Black posted a new video.

I looked at the video and realized that the audio and the video were out of sync.

Having experience with problems like this, I thought: "Why not send him a message to offer help. What's the worst thing that can happen?"

@Andy Black replied almost immediately, suggesting a Skype call later that day.


The key take away: What are you waiting for? Help Someone With What You Know. Do It Today.


Sounds pretty simple, right?

It turns out that the skill set I had been ignoring for years can be used to help people. To create value for them.

Things started to make more and more sense. @Andy Black left me some crumbles here and there to follow. I did and things started working out.

We talk about all this in our recorded call here.


Starting With Zero Track-Records And Landing My First Sale Within 5 Hours

I decided to go on Fiverr and start offering my services. I had zero experience with selling my skills online, so I figured Fiverr is a good training ground.

I didn't research my competition, I didn't waste more times collecting tips and tricks about how to make your profile look perfect.


There is just one rule: Genuinely help people and create value for them.


With that in mind, I finished my profile, recorded videos to sell my services and went "online".

Now it was time to wait, right?

Once you gained momentum, you need to do whatever it takes to keep that moment up. Action beats reaction and passivity every single time.

So I started sending out applications to requests buyers had posted earlier. I applied what I learned in @SinisterLex's thread.

5 hours later I had my first order.

And they keep coming...

Thread-1.png

Thread-2.png

Thread-3.png


But Is This Fastlane?

Hell no. But that's fine. Process above anything. You got to start somewhere, and you better start today.

The trick is to move through the sliding scale:
Intern > Employee > Contractor > Freelancer > Agency > Productised Service > Platform

Read more on this here.


How To Measure Success

Each time you are looking at traffic, click-through rates, conversion rates, leads and sales, you should...

...stop.

Forget driving more traffic to your website, forget improving your conversion rates.

Simply ask yourself...

...how many people have I helped until now/today/this week?
...how much value have I been creating?

Don't get trapped in numbers, don't cheat the process.


What Will Happen Next?

As pointed out already here, I will be slowly moving away from the online world, because real business happens when you help real people.

Fiverr is just another excuse to hide behind my screen instead of going out and talking to people.

This is why I am saving all my earnings to spend on "Diesel And Coffee".


Become The Guy To Go To For...

For all the ones starting out, working on "the next big thing" right now or simply wondering where to start.

Put everything aside. Stop reading.

Go out and help someone with what you already know.

Refine your skill, become the XYZ guy people want to work with.

Don't try solving problems you don't have.

Save yourselves years of wasted time.

If you cannot get 1 sale within 7 days of starting, your product/service-founder fit is bad.


"The person who'll run with the ball is the person who catches the ball." (Andy Black)

Put yourself out there.

Listen.

Help.

Create value.

Take action.

Run!
 

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Nicoknowsbest

Nicoknowsbest

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How To Become A Digital Slave Or How Freelancing On Fiverr Violates The Commandment Of Control

After working for clients on Fiverr for the last couple of weeks, I changed my plans of slowly moving away from freelancing platforms and cut the ropes immediately. The last couple of clients taught me some obvious and some unexpected lessons. The ones contemplating doing freelance work on Fiverr or generally on-line: you should investigate certain things before you start.

1 - Timezones Are Tricky
When sitting in Europe with clients mainly from the US, Australia and New Zealand, delivering orders within 24 hours gets tricky sometimes. It happened to me that someone ordered my gig at 9 pm my time. Even when sitting at the computer at 6 am, you already lost 9 hours. I had various on-going projects and fitting in new projects was sometimes a problem, especially when they had ordered 5+ revisions.

2 - Act From A Position Of Power
When buyers ordered a certain gig, I assumed they know the basics of what they ordered. This turns out not to be true. I sold a more technical gig for a way too low price and it took me around 8 hours to finish. Why? The buyer had no idea about the technicals and didn't really know what he wanted. Communication with him was extremely difficult. When asking him about details, his answer was "I don't know what is so difficult to understand." When finally coming up with a result that pleased him, he left a less than perfect review.

Bottom line: Don't shoot into the dark. If I had acted from a position of power, I would have made EVERYTHING clear from the beginning. I wouldn't have started working until the last details were clear. Never forget - you are the expert, selling your services to people. Sometimes they don't know what they want, or what is possible. Clear out all doubts before you start. Honesty over the attempt to blindly guess.

3 - Personal Messages Are The New Revisions
When you sell gigs on Fiverr, you create a service package that also includes a number of revisions. Once started, you deliver your work and your buyer can request a revision within the project thread. It happened to me more than once that I sold a package with 2 revisions and after delivering my work, I suddenly get a PM asking me to change things. Assuming that Fiverr somehow deals with this, I just modified the work and delivered again. 2 revisions quickly became 5.

Because Fiverr doesn't take care of this, you have to.

4 - How Late Buyers Cost You Money
When you deliver work and your buyer doesn't request a revision or marks the order as completed, Fiverr automatically completes orders within 3 days after delivery. 7 out of 10 buyers suddenly think of something they want to change around 2 hours before auto-completion. You initially sold your gig on Tuesday, 10 am with a 24 hour delivery. An hour later you delivered. Your buyer doesn't react until Friday morning, finally requesting a revision. Now, instead of another 24 hours or some fair time frame to modify your delivery, Fiverr tells you that you are...

...LATE.

Yes, because your buyer didn't react on time, but has the right to request revisions, you are now officially delivering your work late.

Now it's up to you to imagine how this will affect your profile and visibility on the platform.

5 - Leaving Feedback After You Got Feedback
After completing a project, your buyer needs to leave a review first so you can rate him as a buyer too. If he doesn't, you cannot leave a review on his profile. Now, you could leave a positive one to engage him and remind him to write one for you too. But you could simply write about a bad experience with a seller.

Bad sellers know about this and don't leave feedback on purpose.

6 - Cancelling Gigs Affects Your Visibility And Rating
I got contacted by a buyer and he booked one of my gigs. It turned out soon after that he was a spammer, requesting all sorts of weird things. After messaging back and forth, I opened a dispute and contacted the support to cancel the order. Problem is, that no matter for which reason you cancel an order as a seller, the fact that you do affects you negatively. Your rating drops and you are not that visible on Fiverr anymore.


Bottom line:

Sooner or later you will encounter "buyers", who know exactly how Fiverr works, what they can do, how this negatively affects you and therefore how they can squeeze you like a lemon. I have the feeling that some of them run some local agency and outsource on Fiverr. I am pretty sure that I worked together with the same buyer running various different profiles to look like a "small guy". When I read the same phrases, words and spelling mistakes over and over again, I got suspicious.

Fiverr is a platform for selling services on the very low end. It is heavily twisted towards the buyer's end and as a seller, you are being taken advantage of in all areas. If you really want to go that route, make sure to look at it from a buyer's perspective too. This won't cost you too much and teach you much more.

Apart from all this, Fiverr takes 20% of all your revenues.

NO THANK YOU!
 
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Ika

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Thank you for your write up!
I'm wondering, what are your plans/how are you going to use your take aways after leaving fiverr?
Do you have recurring revenue from a fiverr client or have you learnt enough to approach clients outside of fiverr?

I'm interested to where this thread is heading!

~Ika
 
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@Ika - thank you for reading it!

I'm wondering, what are your plans/how are you going to use your take aways after leaving fiverr?
My plan has two pillars:
  • I am completing my UpWork profile as we speak. I want to get a direct comparison to Fiverr and see if I can find clients that are willing to spend more money and want to work with me outside of UpWork too. Similar pitfalls like Fiverr, but a different clientele.
  • Finding clients locally by spending my money on "Diesel and Coffee" as well as cold approaching small businesses. I am working on different strategies and will post an update with details soon.

The biggest take away from my Fiverr experience was pointed out by @FastNAwesome here:
  • Underselling vs. Overselling: I approached "getting started" with a wrong idea in my head. I set the wrong stage for future interactions. I undersold myself and over-delivered at the same time.
Lesson learned!
 
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Ika

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Thank you for your answer!
  • I am completing my UpWork profile as we speak. I want to get a direct comparison to Fiverr and see if I can find clients that are willing to spend more money and want to work with me outside of UpWork too. Similar pitfalls like Fiverr, but a different clientele.
  • Finding clients locally by spending my money on "Diesel and Coffee" as well as cold approaching small businesses. I am working on different strategies and will post an update with details soon.
Sounds like a solid plan! You might look into more niche freelancing sites as well - For example sites excusively about Graphic Design or Ads. You wouldn't have as much users to sell to but on the other hand less competition. Or country specific sites, for example twago for the german speaking market. If you can stand out on UpWork though, grow there!
I'm interested to where this is going :)
Best of luck with cold approaching, escpecially since you are a on the introverted/shy site!

Underselling vs. Overselling: I approached "getting started" with a wrong idea in my head. I set the wrong stage for future interactions. I undersold myself and over-delivered at the same time.
That is a pretty good lesson to learn!
 
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Update:

Diesel & coffee works - I expanded my network significantly within just one week.

Within the last 7 days I met and connected with
  • a guy who runs a software company with 240+ people in Romania
  • a famous radio show host who also talks about tech and business on the Austrian radio
  • a guy whose company needs a new website
  • a guy who runs a creative agency looking for freelancers that could help him
  • a guy who founded a startup looking for design freelancers
  • a girl who is a well booked and well connected content marketer/brand strategist, willing to refer me
  • a freelancer who is specialized in video production and drone flights. He immediately suggested working together...
  • a young and successful software agency owner that is well connected and will refer me to his contacts
First direct response mailing campaign is sent out - offline:
Datei_000.jpeg

Second direct response mailing campaign is also distributed - online.

Will come back and post the results.

Finally shifted my mindset away from learning and doing everything myself to...

...SELLING more.

Sell more > earn more > outsource > streamline
 
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Small update:

The average logo gig is around $ 5 across Fiverr.

Last night, I sold a logo gig for $ 130.

That is 26x what I initially sold logos for.

Same work, same time, same skill, same effort.

How mindset changes everything.

More to come.
 

The Racing Driver

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This seems to be the start of a great progress thread. Keep up the great work!

Second direct response mailing campaign is also distributed - online.

Will come back and post the results.

Finally shifted my mindset away from learning and doing everything myself to...

...SELLING more.

Sell more > earn more > outsource > streamline
Just wondering, how do you go about building your network with potential clients online? Is your direct response mailing campaign just simply cold emailing?

I noticed since I started meeting new people less...my sales have also gone down...

And for my situation, A lot of my ideal clients don't really congregate much in my city. Even if I did want to meet them, I'd probably have to make some kind of connection online to set up a meeting.
 
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This seems to be the start of a great progress thread. Keep up the great work!
Thanks! ;)

Just wondering, how do you go about building your network with potential clients online? Is your direct response mailing campaign just simply cold emailing?
For now, it is based on four pillars:
I noticed since I started meeting new people less...my sales have also gone down...
Yes. This resonates.

I am meeting at least 3 people a week over lunch/coffee/Skype.

By tapping into their networks, I can grow mine exponentially.

Paid off well until now.
 
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Update:

My two direct response campaigns were not successful economically speaking. But I learned a lot about myself, my business and my offer. I was able to get some excellent feedback from 4 different people and a big hint about why it didn't work. A lot of mindset shifting has been happening lately and I hope to be able to translate that into concrete revenue numbers in the following weeks.

  • Instead of approaching 20 businesses a day, making it a numbers game, I am trying to find that one client who I can really help.
  • Benefits before features. Simple concept, but I have been struggling with that in practice.
  • Recurring revenues, no matter how small, bring peace of mind.
  • I need to stop trying to learn more technical skills. Commercial skills is what I need to focus on.
  • Free isn't free. As soon as people invest time, it's not free anymore. Time is a business owner's biggest asset.
  • Progress over profits. Smaller projects with different clients help you get your processes straight and prepare for bigger sales.
  • Grow with your clients, aim at making them to partners.

I am currently waiting for one of my client's feedback. If positive, I'd have my first four figure deal in the pocket.
 

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Update:
  • Over Christmas, I've been using the down time of my clients to work on my landing page. Almost done and ready to launch.
  • Starting off the new year with a bang, I was able to secure a nice deal that is pushing me more into a productised service direction.
  • MRR, or monthly recurring revenue is slowly building up. No matter how small, this makes me sleep better at night.
  • I've been working together closely with two outstanding people, both professionally as well as character-wise, over the past weeks. Complementing each other's skills, the learning curve is exponential and the speed of action is picking up more and more.
  • I started uploading assets I create to various marketplaces and collected my first royalties in December. Though small, this could turn into decent passive income. And it felt damn good. Consumer --> Producer
  • Sales have been growing steadily over the last three months. January is looking very pretty so far.
  • More importantly, opportunities have started to peek around almost every corner - more to come.
2017, here we come.
 
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Fastlane. Freedom. Forever.
(originally posted here: Sidewalk - It's too hard! I quit! I'm done!)

Mindset update:
Being here for a while now, growth has become a habit. Every day, things are falling into place. There is one thing that became clear relatively early on my journey. Most of our goals are tied to numbers. We all have the one number in our head. The one number that would change everything. This one event. Only a couple of million, a quick buy out and life is good. A yellow lambo, a tailor made suit and $ 30 drinks at the country club.

For me, there is something much more powerful. Something so powerful, that all these by-products seem small, unnecessary, heck even redundant.

Freedom.

The freedom to do whatever I please. Whenever. Wherever. With whoever.

Just because I choose to.

Or to put it with @Vigilante's words: GOLD - Because I Can

Thank you @MJ DeMarco for helping me understand that I don't want to be 60 and having to wake up to be on time for work, so I can be debt free. One day. Maybe.

Thank you for helping me understand the power of freedom.

Oh, and thank you for the rep sent.

Progress update:
  • First 4 figure deal is in the pocket
 
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Update:
  • After January being a good month, I had a small dip in February. Currently recovering from that dip and up to making March great again.
  • Passive income from royalties was up nearly 500% in January, but dipped 60% in February again. Currently figuring out how to take this to serious numbers and make it sustainable.
  • Landing page is tweaked, uploaded in two languages and ready to welcome paid visitors. After taking @Andy Black's AdWords Jumpstart Course (had access to it as a beta-tester), I'll deep-dive into this and add it to my service offer. What about my promise to stop learning more technical skills? I actually consider AdWords a commercial skill in the right context.
  • Happy clients keep coming back for more. Asking for referrals to get repeat business works wonders (R+R=profit).
  • Diesel & coffee brings me together with the most unexpected people. It's crucial to stay flexible, to not get stuck on what you actually can do and provide them with whatever they are looking for - even if it is something you have to figure out first.
  • Once you stop seeing the "sales process" as a scary thing, fearing rejection, but have conversations with people to find out what they really need, warm leads pop out of nowhere, every day.
  • The bigger picture is evolving day by day, bit by bit: from graphic design to doing the Internet thing, aka building funnels.

EDIT: Thanks for the rep sent @Vigilante!
 
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Update:
  • Diesel and Coffee guys. I keep my personal, professional network engaged, take them out for dinner, expand it regularly, tell them what I am up to, but most importantly, I listen. I listen to what problems they are facing, try to help, connect give advice etc. 2 weeks ago I got a call from a friend who's an employee at a company which needed somebody like me. "Can you pass by this week?" Sure, why not. I went in, did my thing and left with my highest sale so far. Mid 4-figure volume, which leaves me with around 5,5x my hourly pay if you want to see it through employee's eyes roughly 6 months after quitting my job and starting out.
  • Second meeting into this project, the CEO of this company takes me aside after our meeting and invites me to a business owner breakfast at 6:45 am. I'm about to meet around 50 local entrepreneurs from three different regions here and got the chance to pitch them my services in 60 seconds. This will go down tomorrow.
  • I am close to a point where I have to either outsource part of my work by hiring an intern, or refuse future requests. Let's see if I can keep up the momentum.
  • 2 things I learned while doing business in the last two months:
    • Being short doesn't mean being rude. It means we are all busy and respect each others time, when communicating with business owners.
    • Being conversational doesn't mean being disrespectful. Talking to a business owner from his perspective makes him see you as a peer, rather than somebody trying to get something from him.
  • Be hard to get: somebody very wise gave me the advice to think in terms of abundance, always. I don't need no future client. Neither do you. If they don't see the value in what I do, I'll try to help in whatever way I can and move on.
  • I started protecting myself. No more negativity, no more BS. I rigorously cut everything and most of all everybody who distracts, manipulates or influences me negatively in what I am trying to do out of my life. Protect your attention, protect your time, protect your sanity.
 

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Mid 4-figure volume, which leaves me with around 5,5x my hourly pay if you want to see it through employee's eyes roughly 6 months after quitting my job and starting out.
Outstanding!

  • I started protecting myself. No more negativity, no more BS. I rigorously cut everything and most of all everybody who distracts, manipulates or influences me negatively in what I am trying to do out of my life. Protect your attention, protect your time, protect your sanity.
Easier said than done (for me anyway)

Something I need to fix about myself for sure, thanks for the reminder.
 
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Thank you for the comment and the rep sent @MidwestLandlord!

Easier said than done (for me anyway)
Indeed!

I need to be more consistent myself, but have seen incredible results. The trick is to look behind the scenes - sometimes it's not so obvious. I sometimes only find out a while after that somebody/something had been draining my energy.
 
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Passive income from royalties was up nearly 500% in January, but dipped 60% in February again. Currently figuring out how to take this to serious numbers and make it sustainable.
Just received the numbers for last month:

Disclaimer: the numbers are still very small, but I am working my way up.

Total number of downloads of my assets: + 521%
Sum of paid downloads: + 562%
Royalties earned: +268%

Very interesting development. Let's see how this continues...
 
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Mindset update

On the entrepreneurial roller coaster
From being ecstatic about my biggest win I almost immediately fell into being "angry" about myself for neglecting my principles.

From my diary
(initially shared here - Just got my first freelancing gig!)

I am somewhere between freelancer and agency at the moment. I started out in September last year and was able to land my biggest client at the end of march. Mid 4-figure deal, so around 5.5x what I used to make as an employee before that if you compare the hours put in. I was ecstatic. I am a big believer in "giving first". I always give, I give for free and I don't expect anything in return. That's part of the fastlane mindset.

The CEO of the company I closed the deal with pulls me to the side after the first meeting and said he was really impressed by me. "Please send me your offer, we'll do it with you..."

I prepare the offer, put my numbers down, send it and 10 minutes later get a call. It's the CEO. "Awesome, I won't haggle on price with you. I just have two problems. A, we need to start now. B, I agree to the 50% upfront payment, but we haven't been paid by our client yet. Could we make a gentlemen's agreement? You start and I promise you, the first to be paid as soon as the money comes in is you? I cannot tell you when, maybe next week, maybe in 10 days."

Okay, why not. Hey, I am a giver, right?

So I go ahead and give it all I've got. The company mentions on every occasion that there is so much future potential and they are absolutely in love with my work. I am super happy, checking my account every 3 days... Nothing. All fine, two weeks pass, the projects starts to look like something. Suddenly, everybody is in a hurry. The outsourcing partners refuse to start working until I am done. So I stay up until 3 am, sometimes working 7-8 hours straight, without really taking a break. One Friday, I sat at my desk until 9.30 pm to deliver.

Most of all, I start neglecting other clients.

It's all good I tell myself...

Fast forward to today. We are 5 weeks into the project, I invested 65 hours and haven't seen a dime. I already got two emails today telling me how important it is to finish everything this week...

I got frustrated and asked somebody I deeply respect for advice.

They told me to "down my tools immediately", which I did.

I sent a note to the CEO that my clients, who already paid, are my priority until he pays me.

I am still waiting for his reply.

Despite the outcome, this brought me to a very important question:
Where does fastlane mindset end and where does selling yourself short start?


On quotes and lines borrowed from @Andy Black and Blaise Brosnan that describe my lessons:

"Your lack of planning is not my emergency."
Only because they are bad operators doesn't mean they can pressure me. Good work takes time.

"At the first sign of non-payment, unapologetically down tools."
I just have to find the sweet spot between "giving" and "selling myself short".

"Money can't be in two places at once."
Until it's in your account, it's not your money.
I was smart enough not to spend the money I expected beforehand, yet it is a powerful realization.

"When someone tells you they love everything about what you do and how they see a great future in working together. You're being setup."
Oh boy, this one stings. I'd rather learn it now than later though.

"Money talks."
Cash is KING.

"Tell me what you've done and I'll tell you who you are."
Let them swee-talk you. Don't even listen. Just watch what they are doing and you'll see who you deal with.


On acting like a business owner
This post by @Andy Black on Facebook at AndyBlack.net opened my eyes.
Do you want to be seen as a peer? Act like one.


On letting go
(originially posted here - AndyTalks with @Contrarian about starting his side hustle in local lead gen)
My Facebook feed is filled with Rolex's, big Audis, mortgage announcements and engagement rings with stones as big as my index finger's nail.

If you compare the numbers, I come out at the short end.

For now.

I know I am investing in something bigger than I can imagine at the moment.

It will all come back and more.

Once you decide to let go, half the battle is won.


On leaving my comfort zone
I started doing Skype calls with people I met online to talk about business and see how I can help them.

I also did my first video analysis of a landing page together with a fellow fastlaner.

We are starting to build our personal brands through consulting and content creation.


On being part of a team
You can do it all by yourself, but it will be much harder.

Being part of an amazing team will kick-start things and help you launch the rocket.


On my biggest realization:
If I don't WORK, I don't earn.

My income is brutally tied to me actually working, except for a few cases.


On being calm
It's a journey.

Even though I am aware of that, I tried to manipulate certain dimensions, or simply make time spin faster.

I quickly realized that this can get dangerous quickly and lead to health problems.

I decided to enjoy my journey.

I don't have to get there in 6 months.

I can also arrive in a few years.

But I'll have lived consciously meanwhile.

Because you can prepare all you want, but life is happening right now.

It won't wait for you.
 

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This is simply awesome @Nicoknowsbest. Amazing what you can achieve in only a few months when you make the decision and take action.

Sorry to hear about your experience of promised payment not materialising. Happens to us all at some point. I used to be uncomfortable with credit control, but the way I see it, your one and only obligation as a customer is to pay the damn bill on time.

What would you do differently next time?
 
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@Contrarian - thanks for taking the time and reading through everything, all the likes and the rep sent - much appreciated!


Happens to us all at some point.
We all get burned, but we need to learn!

I am happy it happened, because it's another lesson right there in my pocket.

The situation was resolved last night, so it had a good ending.


What would you do differently next time?
In big letters on my wall:

"Money can't be in two places at once."

I won't start anything until the agreed upfront payment is in my account.
 

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@Contrarian - thanks for taking the time and reading through everything, all the likes and the rep sent - much appreciated!
Credit where credit is due sir.

Nicoknowsbest said:
We all get burned, but we need to learn!

I am happy it happened, because it's another lesson right there in my pocket.

The situation was resolved last night, so it had a good ending.
Great!

Nicoknowsbest said:
In big letters on my wall:

"Money can't be in two places at once."

I won't start anything until the agreed upfront payment is in my account.
Awesome. Love it.

In my days of no-win, no-fee recruitment, I had to learn how to qualify ruthlessly. Otherwise you'll never make any money, no matter how alluring the fees might seem.

Working with five other recruiters already? Bye then.

Too busy to brief me properly? Bye then.

Won't see the first candidate I sent you for no valid reason? Damn unicorn hunters. Bye then.

Stopped returning my calls half way through the search? Down tools immediately.

Pathetic low ball offer to a great candidate who's now insulted? No, I won't help you find someone else.

Good to learn the difference between being helpful and being a mug. Or being productive and being a busy fool.
 

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In my days of no-win, no-fee recruitment, I had to learn how to qualify ruthlessly. Otherwise you'll never make any money, no matter how alluring the fees might seem.

Working with five other recruiters already? Bye then.

Too busy to brief me properly? Bye then.

Won't see the first candidate I sent you for no valid reason? Damn unicorn hunters. Bye then.

Stopped returning my calls half way through the search? Down tools immediately.

Pathetic low ball offer to a great candidate who's now insulted? No, I won't help you find someone else.

Good to learn the difference between being helpful and being a mug. Or being productive and being a busy fool.
100%

"Sales is a screening process."

"How you do anything is how you do everything."

"Your job is to find out asap whether they see the value or the cost in what you do."
 
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Good to learn the difference between being helpful and being a mug. Or being productive and being a busy fool.
Not only good, but essential I'd even say.

Making good judgement calls in situations like this can lift you a level higher. Or not, if you miss them.


"Sales is a screening process."

"How you do anything is how you do everything."

"Your job is to find out asap whether they see the value or the cost in what you do."
All day, every day.

Don't take it personally and move on as quickly as you can.
 
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Small breakthrough this week:

I decided to outsource my book-keeping and my accounting.

Moving towards becoming a better operator, instead of learning another technical skill.

Despite the relatively high cost at this point, it's well worth the time I can now invest in growing my brand.
 
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Very interesting development. Let's see how this continues...
Total number of downloads of my assets: - 2,53%
Sum of paid downloads: + 194,44%
Royalties earned: + 38%

Interesting fact: I didn't touch anything - neither did I add assets, nor did I drive traffic whatsoever.
Oh, and despite the total number of downloads decreasing, my paid downloads nearly tripled.

Digging deeper...
 
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The Calm After (Or Before?) The Storm

Chasing Paper
Over the last 4 months (counting June too), I was able to stabilize my income. Due to a big project that is about to come to an end, my revenues were in a steady mid 4 figure range. I was working crazy shifts, long hours, early mornings, late nights and everything in-between, while juggling some smaller projects and this one, bigger one. Jumping up a level in income compared to my first 4 months was a mental test to my ego, my plans and the answer to the question: "How bad do I really want it?".

Suddenly making a comfortable amount of money made my mind go places it shouldn't go. I was catching myself checking new cars, making excuses to go to the mall and go "window-shopping" and thinking about a new phone. Talking to my accountant quickly put this day dreaming to a halt. Even if I made a good amount of money, that would be needed to balance out the weaker months when it comes to paying taxes, health insurance and such.

What is more important though is the fact that I never relied on this big project (and future big projects) to keep up the pace of my income development. I have been working quietly on the side to develop monthly recurring revenue - not by myself, but as part of a great, great team. I am about to invoice the company I am working with on the big project for the last time. Knowing that next month money will come in without me even selling anything gives me peace of mind.

A period of weakness was immediately interrupted by a wake-up call. Now I can say: "Been there, done that." Not that it won't happen again, but I learned a couple of things about myself, my inner workings and how to deal with them.

A Moment of Unsubscribe
I was catching myself sitting at the table with my better half, checking my emails over dinner, manically waiting for client feedback, a new email introduction, a new idea, a new prospect, a new payment... I was taken back to reality when she made noise already on the couch. She had left 15 minutes ago without me noticing.

Last week some day in the city, after meeting a client, I was sprinting through the streets. After almost crashing into a biker, I had to collect my notepad from the floor and suddenly realized...

"Why the hell are you sprinting like a maniac?"

I realized that it is not normal to be able to go for a coffee in the sun at 11 am, because I can. Of course I knew it was not normal. But it took me a while to realize it. That was a small taste of the power of being "unscripted". I didn't have to rush back to the office to punch in my meeting time in front of my boss's eyes.

Because I am my own boss.

The script is everywhere. Running a business and talking to other business owners doesn't automatically mean you enter the land of the "unscripted". I had an eye-opening meeting with fellow local business owners the other day:

Just yesterday I had a networking/collaboration meeting with two people in my industry.

They have been doing this for 6 and 13 years.

They still struggle to pay bills.

"This industry just sucks."

"Well, I wasn't born to have a better life."

Trying to suggest something productive, I was thinking of things that work for me.

"Nah, this is not how you do things." was the answer.

Uhm, really?

Thanks, but no thanks!

(Original comment: When did you realize the system is rigged?)

It was a realization that hit hard.

It hit hard because I realized that the script is EVERYWHERE.

But it hit even harder because I knew the difference that moment.

It hit harder because I know I have the CHOICE.

Thank you @MJ DeMarco for leading the way. And thank you for sending rep the other day!

I decided to hurry less, because as @biophase asked correctly, Why does everyone want to get there so fast?.

tl;dr:
 
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UPDATE:

The summer has been interesting, but also showed me that I need to move on and develop myself further.

Let's see what happened:
  • I finished a big, ongoing contract at the end of June and was left with a significant drop in income and some more time to think about what happened over the last year.
  • For the first time in around half a year, in-bound leads were drying up a bit and I needed to find some ways to generate leads and sales again.
  • Before I could get into serious strategic planning, the company I worked with over the last couple of months on the big project called me up again - they'd need some more help in the coming weeks.
  • I put the strategy back into the drawer and worked away at my tasks.
  • August was again up in terms of revenues, since I also got a new referral job. The amount of hours worked was crazy and left me wondering if that was it at the end of the month.
  • I cleared out almost all remaining work and the beginning of September left me again with a serious dip in revenue.
  • Now, finally with some time for strategy, I sat down and thought about the last months.

Things I don't like and that I'd need to change:
  • Work was so much at some points that I barely could handle it. This felt good initially, but I was wondering if I should hire some help. Good thing I didn't, because I wouldn't be able to pay for an employee only a few weeks later. My margins were a bit too tight to be able to outsource the work to somebody external, and since I am still building my reputation, I didn't want to risk a bad result.
  • My revenues have been jumping like crazy, month in, month out. I'd need to find a secure stream of leads and work coming through.
  • Sometimes, it feels I created another job for myself, just with more responsibility and less security in terms of money coming through at the end of the month. Also, I haven't been able to really make strategic decisions since I my workload didn't allow this.
  • Not having many leads/sales lined up for September is a blessing and a curse. I need to watch my spending for now. On the other hand, I was able to put my AdWords knowledge to work, which opened up completely new worlds for me. I talk about my journey of creating leads with AdWords here: Progress Thread - Paid Traffic For Creatives
  • I started buying media and found out, what people are looking for in my vertical locally. I will run the same experiment globally and see what the market wants.
  • I should again do more of what's already working for me: diesel and coffee.
  • I'll finally start documenting my journey to create more content that might help more people.
  • I started engaging and helping people more on Social Media.
  • I have been working from home for the last year, but I am starting to be done with it. I feel I need a regular change in environment to help me keep up my performance. I'll look into finding a cheap (shared) office somewhere close.

Short-term tasks:
  • Get a blog online to store all my content.
  • Develop a social media presence across all channels and produce content regularly, following the rule of doing the actual work 50% of the time and talking about it the other 50% of my time.
  • Refine my local lead gen AdWords campaigns, setup a targeted landing page serving the need I identified as well as update my generic website and send visitors to these.
  • Collect more global data with AdWords, identifying more needs to fulfill.
  • Meet more people again - I locked myself up at home to be able to cope with the work load.

Adapted course slightly and now full steam ahead - let's see what changes.
 
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Quick Update:

I restructured my days and I now spend 50% of my time doing, and 50% of my time talking about it.

Things accomplished since my last post:
  • Founded an umbrella brand who unites all my single service.
  • Built a website for the umbrella brand and the first single service landing page.
  • Started preparing content and case studies from the previous year to be published on my blogs and social media handles.
  • Made the promise to myself to reach out relentlessly.
  • Dived into LinkedIn and connected with around 200+ people.
  • Got invited to a business owner event with 50+ CEOs to pitch my services to.
  • Got approached randomly in the street by a local entrepreneur who I'll meet for coffee next week.

Less technical work, more hustle.

This is fun!
 

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