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Progress Thread [Progress] Graphic Designer Going Freelance & Fastlane

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by Nicoknowsbest, Oct 25, 2016.

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  1. Nicoknowsbest
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    Nicoknowsbest "Next time, there will be no next time" - Eminem Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    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...
     
  2. Nicoknowsbest
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    Nicoknowsbest "Next time, there will be no next time" - Eminem Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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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:
     
    Azure, Contrarian, Ika and 4 others like this.
  3. Nicoknowsbest
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    Nicoknowsbest "Next time, there will be no next time" - Eminem Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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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.
     
    Kai, masterpuff, Contrarian and 4 others like this.
  4. Nicoknowsbest
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    Nicoknowsbest "Next time, there will be no next time" - Eminem Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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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!
     
  5. Azure
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    Azure Perpetual Motion Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Great work man. Love the post formatting too - so easy to follow and concise.
     
  6. Nicoknowsbest
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    Nicoknowsbest "Next time, there will be no next time" - Eminem Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Thanks for reading and for your awesome feedback @Azure!

    Happy this helps one way or another :)
     
    Andy Black likes this.
  7. AdamMaxum
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    AdamMaxum a worthy successor indeed Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Great thread, although your latest posts indicate that something has to change and it sounds as if you're making those changes so that's good.

    You mention you considered hiring someone to do work, but didn't because you may not afford it, I would advise you to find someone who can do what you do at the same price or ideally lower at the same quality. Test them with some small projects. Once they pass those tests, use them to sell your service so that they start doing the work and you sell / oversee. As work increases, you simply scale the people to grow with demand. When you bring people in, pay them a fixed cost for the project if possible so you can break out the costs/profit.

    Basically, you want to outsource as soon as possible and focus your energy on sales/material/managing. It sounds daunting when you don't have a lot of money to pay people but as long as they are charging fixed prices and only working when a project happens, it's hard to lose money. I do this with website design, development and various marketing services.

    I know my web developer charges me $600 a site or a custom quote when needed. I then sell the website for 3-4k. Repeat. As long as you have a solid understanding of the service you're selling, you can begin outsourcing pretty quickly and scale as you grow/sell.
     
    Nicoknowsbest, Andy Black and IlyaP like this.
  8. Nicoknowsbest
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    Nicoknowsbest "Next time, there will be no next time" - Eminem Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Hi @AdamMaxum!

    Good spot - I am changing things up a bit and started to see some first, small results.


    Great advice. My work is very time intense and I pay the price for not spending some time on documenting what I am doing, talking to more people and start implementing sales processes.

    My key task is to find somebody I can outsource some tasks to, apart from getting a steady stream of leads.

    I somehow only really felt that work was achieved when I could deliver a project to a client, and not when I was on LinkedIn chatting to people.

    Big mistake.


    Freelancing by yourself is a tough game, because if you don't create assets or processes that you can re-sell or outsource, it's basically just another job - without any scaling opportunities whatsoever.

    You are working away, but not really building a business.


    It's been quite a thunderstorm over the last two weeks, but I started seeing some patterns emerge.


    Thanks for your comment!
     
    Ika and TheKing like this.