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EXECUTION ZF's progress thread

ZF Lee

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Alright, just as I said. I would post some results from my Reddit tests.

It seems that the folks need to see something tangible. I still will need to develop a cheap prototype and have 50-100 batches.

I spotted a competing product being used by someone from today's meeting. I borrowed it for a while and tried using it. Not as good. Needs modification, and perhaps a bit on the aesthetics. I was flabbergested to find it priced at RM50. RM50??? You could buy a good dinner with that. Should knock it down to a fraction of the price. Underpricing can perhaps be a good secondary value attribute as long as it begins at the start of a sales funnel.

Speaking of sales funnels, I started studying up on the sales funnels of different companies in other industries. Do their products match? Are they complementary? What do the blogger pundits say about them? I even checked up some of their developments on the Wayback machine to see progress in action. Oddly, my field doesn't have visible sales funnels even with decent e-commerce storefronts. I wonder why.

I have been spending more time on diesel and coffee, courtesy of meetup.com.
Literally. I just order drinks instead of food, so that I can listen to people talk and take notes.

Coming back from this odd thread of mine...
RANT - Just When I Thought I Had it all Figured Out....
..I mentioned how in my first forays into meetup.com, I ran into another Amway trap and was fortunate to get out alive.

Today, I went to TWO meetups.

The first was a morning meeting for a money management meetup.
I met a guy working with Great Eastern insurance company and another younger college guy who did a banking and finance degree.

They discussed a rather Slowlane method of saving and planning, but I found it sound as they discouraged rash spending on speculative investing and urging me to develop a 'million dollar skill' to scale up, possibly in a biz.

Then they suggested to me an evergreen market to start out from ,which many professional like doctors and lawyers had joined for the networking. God knows what....it was selling INSURANCE....

The folks weren't pushy, but discussed matters in an educational way, which I'll give them credit for. They explained that:
1. The professional folks that come by can network and get referrals or industry know-how from each other.
2. Selling insurance is protection against uncertainty. In fact, it is merely a concept, not a product.

They invited me to pop by at their office to see how they do stuff and even a free entrance to one of their weekly meetings. I promised I would find time to hop by, for the sake of connections. Never know when you will need insurance folks.

Around the last few minutes, some crypto guy from Belarus popped by at the meeting. He started telling his long tale on working with some other blockchain folks looking to produce some open-source platform with more accurate popularity or ranking systems. Once he started pouring the jargon, the insurance guys said bye and left lol.

The guy spoke rather liberally, so I chatted with him for an hour while he worked on a Github article to explain how to fix a certain issue. There were many things we talked, but he recommended me a book called 'Doughnut Economics'. Later, I saw some videos on it, and found that it talked on some falsities of modern economical theories, as well as some suggestions to ammend that.

Later at night, I met with a group of REAL entrepreneurs for the first time in a long while. With REAL businesses. Some did property. Some did apps catering to Chinese folks. One did event organization. One did counselling for MNCs and government companies. We shared business tales, personal choices and lots of others that Fastlaners like to discuss here in this very forum. I recorded LOTS of insights from our discussions, some probably helpful to know them a tad better for upcoming meetups.

When I mentioned my work on Upwork, one of the folks took interest in it. I got a gig from him to help him out with a clipart biz selling pics for US teachers to put on kids' worksheets. The guy said it was more of a hobby to him now as he was too lazy to up the social media marketing. The guy actually asked me to be his PARTNER for that, but I told him to just get me on a contractual basis at first.

Weird. Why ask a stranger to partner up?

So things to look into:
1. Chart some time to work with the clipart guy-prepping some invoices and revving up the Wave accounting app
2. Get a prototype done and some more accurate market hypothesis to benchmark from for further testing
3. Sell off some college books for some quick capital and buy some cheaper second-hand books for my upcoming uni sem
 

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ZF Lee

ZF Lee

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Went to an e-commerce meetup last night.
Had a few entrepreneurs critic my idea.

Got a tip from one of them to visit a trade fair of my industry happening this week. Kuala Lumpur City Centre.

F*ck...two of those trade fair days are occupied by bloody classes.
I'm not sure if going for one day only might hurt my chances of going in fresh to the fair. I want to ask a shit ton of questions, talking and so on.

I could give my classes the bird, since they are just lectures and not tutorials. I do have online notes to make up for the lost lessons...

On validation, I'm thinking that the trade fair can indicate another dimension of demand as well. I'll never know what suppliers might reveal....

Yikes!

Another bad news. The clipart seller guy didn't reach out to me...so I think he either forgot about me or didn't need me in the first place. No biggie...I can find better jobs on Upwork, so I'm not needy for that.

EDIT: Registration page down? WTF? How in the hell do your people register then??? Jeezzz.

I'll either have to email the related association directly or just park my a$$ there. Thankfully, the fair allows public visitors, but with proper registration.
 
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ZF Lee

ZF Lee

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Uggh...couldn't go for the trade fair.

The registration blocked me out.

Bummer.

And one thing I noticed after the critic with the entrepreneurs. The pain that the product should solve isn't very 'painful' to solve. Sure, I could market the pain to seem more 'painful'...but I'm just starting out. I'm not going to do black magic yet.

The recent tests on social media ads and google ads seem to need more capital than expected, as well as product testing, so I decided to get a few more Upwork gigs to avoid me digging into my reserves.

I just read the Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman. Got lots of valuable tips, especially on the importance of understanding the nature of the product and thinking outside of the usual market constraints.

And when I went to Upwork....I found a nice note from the team, saying that they would switch accounts automatically to 'private' after 30 days of no client activity. That was what happened to me.

Bummer.

I guess its partly my fault. I shut it for a while earlier after getting busy with my first clients.

I can still write proposals to clients though, or sign up for the Freelancer plus. So if there's something I can do about it, it'll be fine.

Funny, I applied to FB copy gigs for the first time ever. I remember being advised to test my product on FB earlier...so the coincidence is very timely.

I'm bidding for more than my usual rates. As usual, I threw in some samples for their free usage. Instead of presenting the FB copy in raw Microsoft Word form, I decided to try using an FB ads mockup generator. Very easy to use. Just google it up. I used this one:

AdParlor Mockup Generator

Not as complicated as emails and e-commerce funnel copy....the testing aside. We'll look at responses in the morning....


EDIT: I know this is kinda off-topic...but somehow listening to soundtracks of select movies during 'incubation period' (Joseph Sugarman lol) makes your revisions of copy rather different....

This is one I am listening to now...
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrXTS10h2WI

Don't mind the monster. Just listen lol.

EDIT 2: Yippee...one day later and got my Upwork profile back public again!
I added a bit of copy from FB to my portfolio. Quite a bit of fun actually.
 
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ZF Lee

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Wow....cheap bastard needing me to write 5-6 pages of sales copy for a damn e-book.

And wants to pay me $10. $10 F*cking bucks!

Should have billed at least a hundred.

And the topic of the e-book? How to save money.

Go figure.

Pass.

The tragedy is that there are 5-10 proposals waiting there already. Freelancers who don't value their skills and time enough....bloody tragedy.
 

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ZF Lee

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keep going bro @ZF Lee keep on truckin' you are getting there.
Thanks.
Odd....the Upwork clients don't seem to be responding as quickly as they used to.
This is just for some more capital....but I'm just wondering about that.
 
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ZF Lee

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My goodness....!

Suddenly got a wave of offers for work on Upwork.....had to decline a good many of them.

I guess it was a good move to update my portfolio then.

I really would like to work with them and provide value, but nah....I have limits on time and skills. And I'm don't intend to start an Upwork service business lol.

Screw college homework and group assignments. Why is everyone a dead fish until the very last week?
I'm tired of taking charge of group projects and rowing the boat from disaster, instead of just being a nominal contributor.
 
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ZF Lee

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Here am I worrying on how to test Facebook ads in a more progressive manner, to the point of stagnation, until I ran into my answer while doing some proposal sample work for Upwork...

The potential client was looking for someone to do a Canva case study to prove the results of his social media company to clients.

So I went to look for existing social media case studies to make Canva infographs on.....

AND FOUND THIS motherfcker

Facebook Ads Case Study: The Million Dollar Indiegogo Campaign

So yeah...if you run out of ideas...go do freelancing? Work a job? :wideyed:

EDIT: Making an infographic from scratch is like trying to push a pig through the eye of a needle....:rage:
 
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ZF Lee

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UPDATES.

Not much, I'm afraid...

Decided not to pursue the earlier product idea. It had demand, but it would be tied to the demand of several other products, which feels like a huge commandment of control violation.

I picked up the Wallstreet Playboy's book on Efficiency, and was pleasantly surprised to find it had some good ideas that UNSCRIPTED brushed over. Namely on demand.

In a nutshell, all products have demand. But which has the best outcome? Or do you have the ability to capture it? Or is the demand subject to disruption by government or tech?

I also picked up Competing Against Luck. It's funny that when you are doing something, the right books come out to help you, not when you are sitting in a basement, wantrapreneuring away. For now, I haven't finished the book, but I can say that it is a more thorough treatise of the Commandment of Need.

It's funny that after such a long time, I hadn't really specified my goals well enough. Not even revenue or profit or leads. That's also an error I did for freelancing. I just thought 'Use this to gain experience and gain capital.' But I had little thought for to what end of capital and experience? How much capital? RM5000? Experience? Enough to pull in some programmers or more smarter people to tackle the fields you don't have time to learn? Enough to write a proposal or create a workable product to help with that?

But good thing I didn't lose much money to find that out. :smile:

Decided to redevelop my freelancing skills from scratch, after subscribing to Brennan Dunn's set of emails, after a tip from reddit (its a negative site alright, but has some good nuggets once in a while).

So I drew my earnings so far from Upwork escrow and set to private (if I continue with my regular practices, I might actually be hurting potential clients) after my gigs ended.

Amounts to few hundred ringgit...pretty dismal, as I could have earned a similar payout by working at a cafe as a dish washer. But the plus benefit is that I learned how communications and project management run about in service businesses, something a cafe dish washer might not learn that well.

From my experience as well, I realised that I had been saying terribly, wrong things about business all those years ago.

Terribly wrong things.

I remember saying on this forum like a parrot rubbish like, "Just outsource shit." Not really.

Guys like Sinister and even Fox have been talking about getting deeper into the value game by niche or tailoring to specific fields (e.g website for boring industries). I realised it was not different than a regular engineer speciallising in product manufacturing or HVAC, or a chemical engineer dealing with either petroleum or factory lubricants. The fields as a whole are universes by themselves. So, I should use my mistakes, patch them up, and then I would truly know how to pick and use freelancers in the future.

I used to hate the thought of waiting for many years in a job to gain experience before setting out to do a business, which was a notion pushed by folks around me.

But the folks may be right. Or wrong.

You won't know how to deal with shitty people until you have worked as their peer. Somewhat like how a teacher knows the antics of her naughtiest students, because she was one of them.

You won't know about how supply chain management works, until you have worked in the inner levels of a biz. I have mentioned that little quote from my marketing lecture in an earlier thread on how supply management, be it in goods and services, actually affects marketing as a whole!

Having started from copywriting as an area of interest, I'm ashamed to say that I overlooked the shipping and distribution of goods as a determinant of marketing. I paid too much attention to the emotional and psychological pull of marketing, which is pretty close to a bro-marketing tendency.

I'm thinking I might start a biz relevant to supply chain. But that's another story (more homework for me too)

Now to non-business stuff....

For university studies, I had to take marketing and biz law subjects, as well as an elective social entrepreneurship management course and business data modelling. The first three subjects were very text-orientated, and took awful loads of time for assignments.

I did learn many things from them, which have cleared up some of the mist of not knowing jack shit about business. But in the next sem, I'll just pick data related courses. It's just formulas, Excel and RCode, which can be done very quickly with Chegg and a thousand other materials online that I found. That way, the time steal can be cut significantly.

My girl just became the president of her environmental engineering club. Really proud of her. She'll get to do more things in her university. I've never had any doubts on what she could do. Saw her going on trips to visit sanitation facilities and such. But knowing how some of these industries are really like, having a lot of hard labour and all, I felt very scared at the same time for her. A Kak-sized entrepreneural and acquisitions play might be needed to make it big in some of these stiff industries. Guess I need to learn that side up eventually.

A Malaysian PHD guy from Quora basically summed up my fears on this issue with this phrase- 'the labour trap'. It is a problem that plagues my country, and to an extent, other nations. Probably a cause or symptom of the 'small business trap', it is an occurence where the biz sticks to cheap labour, as opposed to tech, for reduce production costs. In the short term, it does saves up more profits, but you could burn the workers out and more costs are incurred, even if you fire and hire aggressively. Bloody inefficient.

She hasn't discussed much with me on entrepreneurship, although I update her with my stuff regularly, only preferring to be more personal. "Don't blame the community." she said when I was ranting again on some crap about the tough world we live in. I guess that she is trying her best to do something about things, in her own way, as well.

That way, I feel less alone, even when she's studying far away.




If she's reading this here, I want to say....please work hard. I'm here for you, if you need it. I've always wanted a beautiful hardworking girl like you that pushes on. Please don't worry about BGR relationships and fitting in with your peers. Your best bet of breaking out and be free is to excel at our work, scale it and commit to help good people. Do it, and you can be happier and freer.

Before I get more mushy...I'll end here. Back to work. I think I wrote the last sentences for Fastlane dads/ BFs to tell to similar-minded partners.
 
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ZF Lee

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My business school sent me email recently.

They want me to send them my CV so that they can start prepping letters for any upcoming internships I might take...

.....

While it is good that my university has measures to ensure its students just don't rot away, I just cannot contemplate how it is that we have to find our bread and butter with a slave brand that is our CV.

SCRIPT crap.

I went to an investment talk, where they gave out financial statements of the company. They included the directors' brief write-up of their CV, but that was lower than the prime purpose of the report and company-creating value for stakeholders!

In all of my meetups with business people, no CV or education was mentioned. Only what kind of value they did in the present, be it event management, accounting, coding, sales.

In fact, as I have said earlier, I never used any CV-related stuff to get jobs for Upwork. I even had a few repeat clients. But I've never did the same approach to successfully get into the 4-figure range of payment. Guess that needs more work.

I found this gem here:
NOTABLE! - Is it worth it to pay for someone to redo my resume?

And I realised that I could position by freelancing gigs, as well as past co-curriculum and clubs stuff into multiple dimensions that attract the attention of folks and perhaps brighten up some bored HR recruiter's day lol. If you helped the higher-ups save time, improve performance (in any measurable manner) and excelled, beating some kind of benchmark, that would be a lot better than a plain job description.

After a few breaks, thinking and typing, it was done!

I'm wondering if I should do a Fastlane challenge on getting a plain 9-5 job without a CV though, just to spite the asses.

Now to think of it, an old client called. Need me to do another task. Around the same price level as past tasks, but since he was a nice guy and great to work with, I'm fine with it. But I don't think I should be going solo-lancing in the long term. Still working on revamping it and exploring subcontracting, so that I can focus on selling and sending emails.
 

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ZF Lee

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Had to help family move house.

I would have liked to delay it, but my relatives and only brother seem to have gone AWOL.

And nope, you can't just throw money at people to carry things for you. You have to wrap furniture up, but they still get dirtied or broken by incompetent fools. So much for hiring.

Hence, my freelance and Fastlane plans have been massively delayed until maybe Christmas, which by then, might be too late to do much, as most folks would be off for Christmas.

I'd like to be in the crowd that abandons his family, but that wouldn't be me. There's too many kids out there who just leave their parents or family to run away and live wild with other boys and girls.

I might start a thread on my experience of moving house. Feels relevant to logistics management and office designing (if any of you wanna scale up with employees), and my interest in seeing contractors put stuff into motion picked up.

In the few hours left today to write a few proposals for more freelance gigs, I found this blog during my break.

It looked pretty sparse for a business blog, but it had some interesting articles with titles such as:
Pretty argumentative, straight to the point, and deals with a lot of Fastlane survivor biases and frankenphrases.

Here's the link for you guys to read. It seems they also have a book there. I might get it after I finish some more gigs.
No More Startup Myths | Dispelling (Startup) Myths Since 2014

EDIT: Oh, I forgot this.

On February this year, I went to a talk by an alumni of my university. She's working for the Malaysian P&G division, and helped recouped some losses by closely negotiating and observing the many vendors and distributors scattered around the country.

I took interest in some points in her speech and stayed back to ask some questions and talk.

I don't remember what I said, but I supposed the P&G folks were extra alert that day because I received an invitation on Linkedin for me to join some CEO Challenge contest to solve business problems the best.

Turned out to be some corporate hiring and talent acquisition ploy by their HR department.

Ordinarily, if I weren't aiming to do Fastlane stuff, I would have happily joined. Corporate competitions are great for the CV, at most. But I've heard too much of corporate horror tales to just jump in.

Somehow though, its funny that I got an offer that I never asked for just by talking to the right person.
 
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ZF Lee

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Went to work on planning to niche my freelancing. Ray Dalio's book gave me some hinters on execution.

Looked back at my past gigs, and realised that even though I put my profile out as a copywriter, most of my gigs done in the past were VA.

And VA gigs weren't exactly very lucrative.

Thought for a bit. Started worrying about re-positioning myself as a copywriter with the major lack in portfolio. Thought about deleting the account and starting over, which would be a sad waste as my past clients, especially the VA ones, rated me very well.

Researched some examples of how copywriting can be niched. There's copywriters who just help create titles for health books and copywriters who help write technical white papers only. Nothing like the bullshit all over the Internet.

Took a break and thought some more.

Then I realised that I actually didn't really know what a VA really was.

I had thought VAs did only menial tasks like Word, content creation and Excel crap. Maybe nottt....

I looked up on freelance.com and Upwork.

I realised that I was so blind. I had only been looking up for writing and copywriting jobs, and never at VA jobs strictly.

There were VAs who did accounting, coding, emailing and appointment booking in specialised fields such as manufacturing, medical and tech. And some happened to be specialised for Chinese, Spanish and European companies.

So here's what I'll do:
1. Get a list of common tasks (or problems) that VAs are regularly hired for. 10-15 will do. And I'll look for gig openings that display a certain barrier of entry/niche potential.

For instance, if a client is needing helping in his manufacturing line, and he's only getting 5 or less proposals, it might mean that the big M scared off the birds. He shouldn't be the lone client with the same field and problem!

My bet is on education, focused on seminar/camp-styled industry, and health (alternative medicine, herbal, allergies). Both seem to be very 'easy' industries to work with, as they are B2C, but they actually aren't! Why do you think they are the last to be automated by the bots?

I'll see what the search engine tells me on the gig stats!

2. Re-examine my present skillset. See if I need to redevelop it (which I definitely have to), and cut down things to what I know, and what I don't know, so that I can choose the best learning materials.

3. Visit the Upwork forums. I only discovered that it had forums just recently. How shameful....

4. Skill up, rearrange my portfolio and profile, and restart the proposals!

Might be able to learn something there lol.

Potentially, if I market and create the gigs track record well enough, I can eventually transition into a full-blown copywriter with all the works.

I suppose that after discovering what I went wrong, I shouldn't blame Upwork too much. I haven't used ALL its stuff yet after all!

Not sure if I'll get it all done by the weekend. Got a seminar at university for internships. Might meet some businesspeople there.
 
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ZF Lee

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Wooah! The Upwork Forum is like a universe of its own!

Has similarly strict rules like here though on posting. Which is a good thing. And similar mechanics as well (they use a kudos system, similar to our Rep system, and have different badges as well)

Fastlaners on Upwork, if you haven't popped around there yet, now's the time. Lurk and read the stuff. Plenty of tips and tales to start learning.

I really was freelancing blind.

Will check up more on niche in a VA, as well as further client management strategies.
 
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ZF Lee

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1. Get a list of common tasks (or problems) that VAs are regularly hired for. 10-15 will do. And I'll look for gig openings that display a certain barrier of entry/niche potential.

For instance, if a client is needing helping in his manufacturing line, and he's only getting 5 or less proposals, it might mean that the big M scared off the birds. He shouldn't be the lone client with the same field and problem!

My bet is on education, focused on seminar/camp-styled industry, and health (alternative medicine, herbal, allergies). Both seem to be very 'easy' industries to work with, as they are B2C, but they actually aren't! Why do you think they are the last to be automated by the bots?

I'll see what the search engine tells me on the gig stats!

2. Re-examine my present skillset. See if I need to redevelop it (which I definitely have to), and cut down things to what I know, and what I don't know, so that I can choose the best learning materials.

3. Visit the Upwork forums. I only discovered that it had forums just recently. How shameful....

4. Skill up, rearrange my portfolio and profile, and restart the proposals!
The weekend was a bust, as I said it would be. Family stuff popping up, with less help from all edges coming to me. I used my phone data to squeeze in some research and work on the run.

Had to decline the university talk on internships because the city had a high risk of going nuts over some stupid rally, and because of more family stuff.

Now to think of it, I don't blame the younger generation just packing up and running away from their family, getting busy in work and all. I used to see them as the 'bad guys' when I was a kid....but now I understand why.

1. OK, remember that I said that my bet was on health and education?

Hmmm the Upwork results didn't show a lot of demand for both. Or probably I need to dig deeper.

What do you mean?:bored:

Well, each of these fields are universes of their own. I'll brainstorm here to show what I'm talking about.

Health can be on:
Skin/Dermatology (allergies, acne, blackheads, hives)
Dental
Dietary (vegan, no carb ,etc.)
Pharma (antibiotics, steroids, etc.)
Surgery
medical machinery
Medical disposables (medical mask, the stick they put on your tongue, medical gloves)
Hair (dandruff)
Supplements (liquid form, capsules)
and much more...

Education can be:
seminars
webinars
books
appointment booking
Corporate training
High school kids motivation and training (I did a gig here before)
product launches for info products
PowerPoint presentations for pitches
White paper (to educate buyers, not SELL them)

For starters, I'll just put them down as my area of preferences, then if a client picks me up, we can talk later on whether we both fit. Simple.

I could also look at my present VA competitors to have an idea. So far, most don't sell their profile and portfolio like what Lex does, and very few show any niching. So there's room for me!:)

For the few that did the right things ( with more welcoming profile write-ups and feedback), they could bid up to $25-ish per hour.

I've been wondering though about offering services as a niched VA VS a focused skill provider (VA with email service vs email copywriter) Which is better? Or different?

2. Here's a few skills that VAs seem to be called for to do most of the time. Not limited though:
  • Email managing
  • Email prospecting
  • Social media management
  • Customer phone calling
  • Internet research
  • E-commerce management and research
A lot of email demand....I will reskill this first of all.

Gotten the Dan Kennedy Ultimate Salesletter Book to glean some tips. Never read it before although its widely recommended around here lol.

Suddenly realised that I didn't have a lot of time to finish reading. Might look to get a Blinklist sub to learn quicker.

I found some free courses on email and marketing by the emarketing institute (Free Digital Marketing Certification Courses | eMarketing Institute), but was unsure of whether their material is still solid, even for starters.

EDIT: Will try out the free courses first...no money is at stake anyway except my time:arghh:

3. The Upwork forum is just a complaints center...a bit disappointed. Hoping to find some educational stuff there.
 
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By Reddit tests, you're referring to running ads on Reddit? If so, you've got balls :rofl::thumbsup:
 
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By Reddit tests, you're referring to running ads on Reddit? If so, you've got balls :rofl::thumbsup:
Nope. I think I'll only put in my money after I find folks that need the product after talking directly to them via the PM or email (demand).

By tests, I meant opening up threads and talking to the folks as if I am on the same user level as them.

I am aware that the folks at Reddit aren't exactly welcome to ads.

I've been wondering whether social media ads is the only way to validate a product. It seems to be the most touted way around, but few entrepreneur actually land a viable market demand accurately. I guess some people can beat validate by meeting people directly, some by looking thru data.
 
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Yikes...upcoming entrepreneural meetup in KL is the biggest I have gone to yet.

They are having a special Christmas event though. Have to pay RM15 for food and stuff. OK price.

Still got the jingles. A bit nervous walking into room full of strangers.

Let me look through the steps:
1. Identify interesting members/regulars (it can be their background, industry, regular life tales, humility, etc.). Might be 2-4 I guess. My hunch is that they will be more towards extroverts, as introverts don't share about themselves until you prod them.

2. Know them better (how did they become regulars, their pains, favourites, concerns, etc.)

3. Get contacts, follow up

Meetup is at 7.30pm. Got to go about....now.

On the freelance retraining, the free eMarketing ebook is very comprehensive compared to most guru crap, but I started glazing over after an hour. I'll supplement it will some Mailchimp vids on Youtube. Found a bunch of vids that had encouraging reviews.

Don't think I can finish the Kennedy book in time. I'll have to push it off for now....
 
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Yikes...upcoming entrepreneural meetup in KL is the biggest I have gone to yet.

They are having a special Christmas event though. Have to pay RM15 for food and stuff. OK price.

Still got the jingles. A bit nervous walking into room full of strangers.

Let me look through the steps:
1. Identify interesting members/regulars (it can be their background, industry, regular life tales, humility, etc.). Might be 2-4 I guess. My hunch is that they will be more towards extroverts, as introverts don't share about themselves until you prod them.

2. Know them better (how did they become regulars, their pains, favourites, concerns, etc.)

3. Get contacts, follow up

Meetup is at 7.30pm. Got to go about....now.

On the freelance retraining, the free eMarketing ebook is very comprehensive compared to most guru crap, but I started glazing over after an hour. I'll supplement it will some Mailchimp vids on Youtube. Found a bunch of vids that had encouraging reviews.

Don't think I can finish the Kennedy book in time. I'll have to push it off for now....
Very interesting meetup is was!

Featured an ex-finance guy who got burnt out after 10 years, and went on a gap year to do a Masters in Wine making. Travelled throughout Europe to work and study wine.

He's opening a wine club here in KL soon, so in this meetup, he had us sample champagne, sparkling wine, rare Christmas stuff from France ( as it's going to be Santa season).

The meetup is hosted by a lady who eerily got into similar stuff like MJ. Hated the job life, did business, sold it, depression and now building a peer learning and sharing community based on a self published book of hers. She'll be sending it free to the meetup.com group. I am eager to learn more about her and the work she's gonna bring up.

It felt more like a general sharing session than entrepreneurship, so I guess it's a testbed for folks who want to get feedback for consumer products.

As they say in games, channel unlocked!
 
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Note: I feel that a lot of things that I'm writing here somehow doesn't directly lead to Fastlane profits, but they do help connect the dots. Now I kind of understand what 'grinding' might mean. It's not just sitting in your room, crunching on the computer keyboard. It's more than that.

For that, I'll detail as much as I can on what's going on as far as I can go. Anyway, I'd want a record of things to tell my girl. I'm looking at a lot of meetups or networking, to know who's who, as well as freelance and eventually, a solid business?

TBH, I felt a bit sad that I'm not living in the USA to benefit from the direct contact of the American Fastlaners. But looking that I am operating largely in Malaysia, I don't really need to worry too much about copycats to post stuff here.

In the meantime, there's a little strange tale similar to the P&G story up there....

Went a church cell group tonight.

I had joined it for the first time some weeks ago, but the packed schedule didn't allow me to pop by until today. I also had a bit of earlier disgust towards the church in general for not helping me to solve my problems (very entitlement mindset and selfish of me), so I got into the cells later than I should.

Tonight was a Christmas celebration, and everyone had to share what they were thankful about for the year, and what they would like to improve in.

A tall Indian lad (let's call him Dan), who's one of the regulars, said that he was looking to land a flying job with the country's top budget airline. Before, he had run and sold a tech company that did an online job platform.

I asked him why he chose a flying job instead of going onwards to his next venture, as most successful entrepreneurs do. Dan said that flying was his passion, and he was a co-founder for another tech company during his present gap months.

The company was Jibble. A HR management software that of one of its notable features, is a geo-tracking ability to keep folks under curfew (e.g. cadets/trainees in their living quarters around XXXpm).

Jibble, Jibble, Jibble.....hey, why does it sound so familiar?

Then I remembered my past time on Quora (I still haven't written there in a while).

Jibble was founded by Asim Qureshi. A Harvard grad that ran away from finance to tech entrepreneurship in Malaysia. So I asked Dan about him. He's a top Quoran in the business department.

https://www.quora.com/profile/Asim-Qureshi-17

Turns out that indeed Dan was partnering with Asim himself. Even was having a tennis session the day before our night meeting!

It was like having a friend revealing to you that he works directly with Mark Cuban or Ray Dalio. Effing unexpected. Small world indeed.

Dan was quite surprised that I knew Qureshi (from Quora), and he said he would put a word in to him about me.

I don't have any plans to work in tech, let alone with Qureshi, but have I opened a door? :(

Side story:
He also had a few funny tales on the tech world.

He had apparently met Nick D'Aloisio (remember the 17-year-old who sold Summly to Yahoo?)- saw him as a very clever lad for his age. The guy's now in Oxford. Kicker is that the lad didn't design the algos and stuff for the app. He instead got the help from other devs. So when the Yahoo folks hired him, he just ended up warming the office chair, instead of the command prompt, for some time as he didn't really have the regular coding knowledge.

Weird though. I thought at least Nick could go help out in the non-programming side of things.

There were a few more he shared, but I'll talk about them later.
 
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UPDATES:
Nothing to do with more money, I'm afraid. :clench:

This freelancing niching is taking me more time to plan and create....

Not surprised though. Anything of more value than a Fiverr $5 gig is gonna take time to figure out lol.

A lot of email demand....I will reskill this first of all.
I found some free courses on email and marketing by the emarketing institute (Free Digital Marketing Certification Courses | eMarketing Institute), but was unsure of whether their material is still solid, even for starters.
I discovered HubSpot has their own free email course and certification.

Decided to look into it. Don't think I'll be using their platform personally, for a freelance thing. But their email course is applicable even for others like Drip and MailChimp.

However, both Hubspot and eMarketing content material seem to be very theoretical.

My eyes glazed over one too many times.

But I needed to know solid stuff like 'opt-ins', differences between 'close' and 'open' rates and so on. Some clients would definitely look for that vocab.


Found a more practical book called Email Marketing Demystified: Build a Massive Mailing List, Write Copy that Converts and Generate More Sales by Matthew Paulson.

I realised then how little I actually knew about email after reading the stuff....:happy::happy::happy:


Decent book. Touched on copy, recommended email infrastructure (I learned that Gmail is out of the picture, what with mass email volumes, so that means 99% of my country is living under a rock lol) and good practices. The author actually runs his own email marketing for finance newsletters. Would recommend that you use one of the classics (e.g. Michael Masterson, Dan Kennedy, etc.) to supplement the copy part though.

Was actually surprised that it revealed that email results generally beat social media returns, as well as being relatively unaffected by company policy changes, as Facebook algos often do (with the exception of the spam issues, GDPR and general hatred towards usage of bought lists).

Still, I decided that a cert from HubSpot (free, BTW...they have a good plan of roping in people to use their products :smile:) would do well to add to my Upwork profile. Clients who use HubSpot would favour someone who has been in touch with the platform before (lots of mentions on the Upwork job board for that).

So I watched their videos, read their transcripts, and took their test.

Bummer. Was 1 mark shy from passing....

Gotta wait for 12 hours to retake the test. :arghh:


On the side,
I did a bit of thinking and reflecting on my experiences with email.

On the area of email management, I thought about the times where responses to my queries (especially when it came to paying rent and college fees, sending online proof and all) were delayed by the high volume.

I thought about the hate mail and complaints some email departments might receive.

I thought about the few times the emails made me click, buy a book, visit a web article or bookmark it.

I also thought about email reminders, promotions and the long series of emails to be sent.

My guts telling me there's a hidden gem in there. Can't really define what it is. I'll reflect on it and see if I can do a better research on it. Talk to people, if needed. I don't see many VAs specifically niching into email or industry in general.

SIDE NOTE: I forgot to mention earlier that the VAs who niched on Upwork denoted their niche mostly by stating their education/job background, which 'implies' what they do best in.

e.g. I have done a Bachelors' in Supply Management, did jobs in the fisheries sector, etc.

I'm thinking cheap, weak companies will be taken in very quickly by these things. The past does not represent the present, many times. But more mature (and higher paying) folks would dig deeper. And it does go back to the interview, portfolio or any links to personal websites/online presence.

Wonder how they did in the interviews though.


On a recurring revenue framework, I read somewhere that one of the best areas of copywriting to have folks come back to you again and again (recurring) with money is email. I can understand why. There's always room for A/B testing, and the folks who subscribed in the first place tend to place enough importance and trust in the email sender to risk the spam, thus being more likely to be high-dollar. Not something I always see in Amazon or FB copywriting.

God, I should have taken that hint from the Israeli Upwork offer for cold emails work more seriously. It was a hint!:rage:
 

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I discovered HubSpot has their own free email course and certification.
OK, Merry Christmas Fastlaners!

I'll do my best to crank some work out today.

For new freelancers who are interested in learning up HubSpot stuff...
I passed this course and discovered something...

I know you might be able to google this up, but here's the rub on Hubspot certifications and Upwork:

Now, if you look in this corner, you can see that you can put up certifications. That way, you won't be a $1-gig loser on Upwork with an entry barrier, as long as you can deliver the goods for clients.

upload_2018-12-25_11-47-36.png

However, Upwork only allows certain certificates via that section:

  • Inbound Certification
  • HubSpot Marketing Software Certification
  • Contextual Marketing Certification
  • Design Certification
  • HubSpot Agency Partner Certification

I think you can put other 'non-certified' HubSpot certificates in sections like 'Other Experiences' and 'Portfolio' though. According to the Upwork forums, the folks are pushing for new certifications to get a green light from Upwork, such as the Inbound cert. However, it seems that the Upwork folks aren't exactly paying attention, judging from the angry comments lol.

Whether or not Upwork wants to allow new certifications shouldn't be the top biggie though. It still boils down to what the client NEEDS, and is looking out for.

I'm asking myself these:

Does he need a HubSpot certified guy? Or someone who knows how to use it very well? Certified and experienced are two different things very often.

It depends on your ideal client in mind, I suppose. Would you prefer working with someone that has an eye out for certified folks? Or hard-nosed clients who just want work done and practicality? Don't think there's an exact right answer here.



Links: Add your HubSpot certification to Upwork

Add your HubSpot certification to Upwork

EDIT: If I were looking to dig-in a specialty (i.e. helping clients with HubSpot), and wanted a nice, bright certification, I might look into the Inbound and Marketing Software certifications. By then, I might need to shell out a few bucks for platform access to practice.

EDIT 2: Finished the David Goggins book.

Reminded me so much of my years on the drill team in high school, as well as beating my STEM subjects for the finals.

I'll discuss some of them IN DETAIL when the discussion thread pops up.:):smuggy: I haven't done so yet so far. I'm tired of seeing high school kids go thru the motions without a sense of purpose.

I was surprised to find that I had created a similar mindset and framework of principles for uncommon success, but I didn't go through with it after high school....

I'll need to reconnect and finish up the odd ends. Which is to say that I should look at the 'Challenges' Goggins suggests.

1st challenge is tough....list down every 'bad hand' you have in life, which serve as excuses for success. That might be similar to an FTE, but this challenge goes one step further- list ALL BAD HANDS.

I might take some time later to watch some podcasts of Goggins. He's on Joe Rogan before.
 
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I'll keep it short.

1. Got into an argument with my parents over some stupid issue. Usually we can learn from our mistakes and conflicts, but this just wasn't one of those.

I packed my stuff and went back to my university accoms in KL.

There's almost no one there, so I can work in peace.

Need some time off from them, even though it will be the end of the year soon. Very disappointed that my own flesh and blood cut me to pieces.

2. Decided to make the push. Researched and formed at least 3 potential client profiles/avatars that I will be writing sales proposals to. One is based on my past experience, and the other two based on upcoming fields/ industry/ specific problems that are relatively new to me.

Wrote and edited for hours, with Masterson's Great Leads next to me for reference.

I had always preferred to read the whole thing first, and then do. Now I see I have no time to waste at all. There is no rule that says you can't look and do as you go, as least in the beginning.

I also found this gem during an online search for John Carlton's stuff. Here is it. I recognised some insights from Eugene Schwartz and Sugarman, but its nicer to have the gems in tidy little article instead of an entire treatise.

Welcome to Gary’s Arsenal (The Bullet Archive) –

Will work on other client profiles, if needed, and will work to finish my Upwork profile by tomorrow.

EDIT: On Point 1, that argument with my parents made me realise how dependent I am on them, financially and emotionally. I wondered if that was the same with my girl.

Replace parents with boss, company, government or whatever else.

My girl and I really need our own sources of financial and emotional support, so that if we can choose to walk away from anything and not suffer, we'll be able to do it.

Frightens me, yet enlightens me at the same time.

I might have to consider the threat of dropping studies, moving out to a cheaper place, besides getting up the speed with my freelancing returns. It's not what I want, but that is a threat I shouldn't put away. On moving out, this would need lots of research on my part for a good place. There are threads here on 'living rent free', and I am wondering if there's a Malaysian-equivalent, since we don't have the loans or certain paperwork here that the threads outlay. I guess it'll be up to me to explore and broker a new path to share with you guys!

Look to the best, but prepare for the worst.

EDIT 2:Will be following up on that KL/PJ entrepreneur meetup group (the last one with the wine club demo that I talked about). They are screening a movie next meeting. Should be fun...
 
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Man that sucks that your family is so unsupportive. Hopefully they'll feel different about your choices once you've attained a measure of success. Keep the momentum up! It will all work out for the best.
 
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Man that sucks that your family is so unsupportive. Hopefully they'll feel different about your choices once you've attained a measure of success. Keep the momentum up! It will all work out for the best.
Thanks for the support.

I have thought about this for a while. Honestly, regardless of what success I reach, it is likely that it would matter little to my parents. In a nutshell, their perceptions of what 'success' stands for, was placed upon them by their peers and experiences. If I had followed their approaches, I would still be aiming to settle in a 9-5 job today.

My girl was the one who saved me by giving me a cause to work towards, which needed more out of me. For that, I am grateful to her. I'll ensure that she enjoys the most of the rewards, when they come. Which includes the records I'll be putting up on TFLF now and then.
 

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My girl was the one who saved me by giving me a cause to work towards, which needed more out of me. For that, I am grateful to her. I'll ensure that she enjoys the most of the rewards, when they come. Which includes the records I'll be putting up on TFLF now and then.
I can relate to that! I found TMF and this forum shortly after meeting the woman who is now my wife! She is a very talented and successful person and being with her made me realize I had been living a life that was mediocre at best, and lazy.
 
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I can relate to that! I found TMF and this forum shortly after meeting the woman who is now my wife! She is a very talented and successful person and being with her made me realize I had been living a life that was mediocre at best, and lazy.
Great for you! I wish you both good health, happiness and success.

Does me good to know that not every relationship is going into the shitter. These days, boys and girls my age just go for the candlelight dinners, condoms (ahem) and beaches before the hard work of building up each other. And that's where ruin comes.
 
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Researched and formed at least 3 potential client profiles/avatars that I will be writing sales proposals to. One is based on my past experience, and the other two based on upcoming fields/ industry/ specific problems that are relatively new to me.
Ugh. Had to do a backtrack. Had to stop and kill off hours' worth of work. Back to the drawing board.

During a break at 4pm, I thought a bit and looked at my 'ideal customer avatars/profiles'

Then I rechecked the jobs list on Upwork and other job boards.

Even the most detailed of the descriptions, with websites and LinkedIns, the avatar write-ups I had made (goes something like: Mr X serves in X industry, needing help for Y problem/looking for Z solution, in order to achieve A result) seriously made my own profile write-up look robotic and stiff. Who knows, my eventual interviews might even turn out robotic and stiff as well.

My hunch is that I was trying to reinvent the wheel with the customer avatar. I decided to be honest with myself, and saw that for certain customer profiles that touched on certain industries, awareness cycle (e.g. warm vs cold), I wouldn't be able to serve them well. Moreover, for my Upwork profile and subsequent proposals, I could only sell with ONE UNIFYING IDEA. All great sales letters and copy center around one unifying idea. Having multiple ideal customer profiles in mind would cause a conflict of interest within me.

So what was the ONE UNIFYING IDEA, that I could sell based on? Some might call it the USP, some call it the ultimate benefit, some might call it niche, I'd like to call it the one unifying idea, thanks to Great Leads.

So I dug around the Internet, and read up more detailed stuff on freelancing niches.

I won't post the sites I read up here, but I'll put some highlights here. Up to you folks to decide what to do with these basic information as a starter.

There are 2 routes of niching, in a nutshell:
HORIZONTAL NICHING: Do one task for multiple industries, e.g. doing bookkeeping for bakeries, electricians, plumbers, doctors, lawyers....

VERTICAL NICHING: Do a whole suite of tasks for ONE kind of industry, e.g. do the taxes, finance reports, invoicing, payroll, insurance, journals for only public libraries

This is Niche 101, but I think that there's still some folks out there who still don't know what it means! :)

I considered my options. Horizontal niching definitely would allow me to position myself to do just one task for some select industries. One task, one unifying idea to sell with. I could later transition into vertical, but I need more practical experience and re-training (which I don't want to get bogged down with, the email marketing stuff ate me a week or so, especially to tinker about with MailChimp and Trello for the first time....)

Then I got torn between choosing to be a VA that manages stuff and a VA that markets on the clients' behalf.

So I wrote my thoughts out on some rough paper, googled some keywords that stood out, only to find a surprisingly humble, but decent-paying task.

Won't reveal it, but let's say that all of us do it every day. And now to think of it, it was hinted as an actual PROBLEM here in this very Forum! Forgot which thread it was, but it wasn't in the INE or Insider section...

Will leap back to work on the Upwork profiles, send a few proposals and test this out!

Shit, its 11pm....I want to wake up early tomorrow for a jog, and my body still wants to work.
Need to seriously time block or something.

NOTE: Find the time to take breaks so that your brain can work its magical gears to figure it out. I noticed that throughout my past efforts in the last few days, some new insights came out of breaks.
 
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OK, should be done with the profile and other stuff in a few minutes.

I got a hint from the outsourcing spokesperson himself, Tim Ferriss. Visited his blog for a while as I had a hunch that a considerable amount of clients would grab some of his frameworks and are less likely to modify them greatly.

In one of his articles, he wrote to the outsourcers (not VAs), warning them that some of them might feel touchy about having the VAs handle their personal stuff. This would cause them to have less time for important stuff.

In other words, resistance. I need to help clients cut it down so that I can help them.

In this case, I'll make the decision to make a quick video tomorrow for the Upwork profile with my webcam. At my accomodations, the study area will be empty, so I can use it all by my own! :playful:

Video should be around 1-2 min long. Will include a screen recording on my computer on how I roughly do the bread and butter of things. I've never seen the other VAs do it, so it should help me stand out.

I've done screen record stuff before, but this time, I need one without the watermark and less laggy. No Bandicam messes.
 

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I've done screen record stuff before, but this time, I need one without the watermark and less laggy. No Bandicam messes.
Get OBS studio, completely free. or Loom for an easy-to-use Chrome plugin. In case you haven't found an option yet.
 

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