QUIZ: What kind of freelancer are you?

freelancer quiz

If you’re a freelancer and anything like me, you’ve developed a very particular style and way of doing things. You have to…being financially independent comes with a lot of responsibility so focusing on perfecting your offering and your service (so it’s right for your client AND for you) comes with the job.

Take this quiz to learn more about how you deal with clients and sticky situations. Share your result in the comments below!

What kind of freelancer are you? I’m really curious…let me know your results in the comments.

How to Design Your Offering as a Freelancer or Online Business Specialist

Learn how to reinterpret concepts for enterprise strategy so that they’re relevant for you as a freelancer or online entrepreneur. The fact is this: strategic thinking is crucial, but the academic/business education world doesn’t apply these concepts for small businesses, freelancers, and online businesspeople.

This video is an excerpt from our course, Freelancing: Launch Your Career as a Successful Freelancer.

From TEDx: David Allen and The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Productivity guru and coach David Allen talks about “Stress Free Productivity” at TEDxClaremontColleges.

David Allen created a methodology for productivity that we can all integrate into our lives and benefit from. Watch David’s talk on TEDx to change your perspective on your To Do List and set yourself on the path to stress free productivity.

Book mark this post for those days when you are feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, I just put it on in the background on a Monday morning so I can start the week focused.

Useful links:
David Allen’s Getting Things Done Methodology
David Allen on Facebook
Getting Things Done Network on LinkedIn
David Allen on Twitter

About TEDx:
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

 

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Does the Government Hate Freelancers?

As tax time comes in the US, Eazl has a question: does the government hate freelancers? Should we rework the tax code to make sense for self-employed people? Have your say! Answer the poll at the end of this video or leave your comment.

• The New 40%: Freelancers and self-employed people represent the fastest-growing portion of the labor market in the US and in many countries around the world. There are currently 55mm freelancers in the US and by 2020 freelancers will be 40% of the work force [1]. This trend will only continue as millennials and Gen Z are the largest groups who opt in to the freelancer work style.

• Support for Big Business: Meanwhile, governments around the world continue to flow money towards massive corporations. For example, the CATO Institute found that $10bn in farm subsidies went to publicly-listed industrial agriculture businesses, $4.4bn in special financing was directed towards Boeing, and Walmart has received more than $150mm in land grants and financing at the expense of US taxpayers. [2]

• 43.3% Tax Rate: Now that it’s tax time, freelancers are cutting relatively huge checks to federal and state governments… and taxes on self-employed people are rising. In her Piece for the Huffington Post, Nancy Humphries shows that freelancers who make under $110k annually pay an effective tax rate of 43.3% in the US [3]. That’s a higher rate than most billionaires! The US isn’t alone in raising taxes on self-employed people. The UK just passed a hugely controversial law requiring self-employed people to pay higher National Insurance Contributions [4] which many self-employed people say makes it even harder to survive.

Sources:
[1] See https://www.slideshare.net/upwork/freelancing-in-america-2016/1
[2] See https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa592.pdf
[3] See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-k-humphreys/selfemployed-pay-highest-_b_2397853.html
[4] See https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/09/self-employed-nics-increase-budget

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Be Your Own Inspiration: Hai Ninh Nguyen Modernizes a Vietnamese Tradition

hai ninh nguyen

Did you know that Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world after Brazil and that coffee is a huge part of Vietnamese culture? Neither did I until I came across Hai Ninh Nguyen’s profile on Instagram.

I was looking for entrepreneurs who have experience manufacturing their own products when Ninh’s post about his modernized Vietnamese coffee press –called a phin– caught my eye.

A year of side hustling. Last year I started my second venture, my first physical product. It’s been a huge learning curve ever since and I learned how important it is to create prototypes before going into mass production. Fortunately, we live in a world were services such as 3dHubs or Shapeways can make our life so much easier. I created a blog post with all essential tools that you need to create a physical product. Follow the link: bit.ly/ToolsForPhysical⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #design #designer #designers #designinspiration #designing #designporn #designerlife #designproject #industrialdesign #productdesign #designprocess #inspiration #prototype #3dprinting #3dprinted #vinabrew #coffeeset #ceramics #sidehustle #entrepreneur #entrepreneurlife #lifestylebusiness #instadaily #picoftheday ⠀

A post shared by DESIGNER⠀ & ⠀ENTREPRENEUR (@ninjaninh) on

Ninh’s Creation Journey
I love Ninh’s story about modernizing a product used in everyday life in Vietnamese culture and exposing those who aren’t Vietnamese to this important part of life in Vietnam.

Check out Ninh’s beautiful and informative post about the traditions of Vietnamese coffee, how the traditional phin works, how he assessed ways that the traditional coffee press could be improved, his materials testing and prototyping, and the tools he used to create the first version for marketing purposes.

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Ninh’s How to Create Physical Products from Scratch
Ninh also developed this guide for creating a physical product from scratch (and it’s SUPER useful!).

“I created this article to help you design and manufacture a physical product from scratch and sell it for profit.

I will take my own product as an example to guide you through each step and cover as many aspects as possible so you can apply the knowledge to your specific product.

  • You will learn about each step of creating a physical product
  • You will learn how to prototype products
  • You will learn how to find manufacturers
  • You will learn how to communicate with manufacturers
  • You will learn how to order first samples of your product”

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More Resources
You can follow Hai Ninh Nguyen on Instagram or connect with him on LinkedIn.

If you are interested in hearing additional perspective on creating physical products, check out my interview with Jessika Jake of Rist Wellness, an entrepreneur in San Diego who learned how to design and manufacture her own wellness products.

Content That Will Fuel Your Soft Skill Power

soft skill power

For the next couple of weeks, I challenge you to spend some time developing your soft skills. According to recent studies, soft skills have moved into the top listed skills that employers are looking for. Beyond helping you get hired, possessing soft skills will help you be a better manager, get you better results when you work on teams, and help you get where you want to be faster.

Here are a few pieces of content we’ve created that will help you skill up:

  1. 5 Ways to Feel More Empowered Today
    We, at Team Eazl, have been thinking about what role we want to play in the world of education because, really, it isn’t about us. It’s all about you and feeling empowered in your career. Whether you are a professional in the traditional workforce, an entrepreneur, or a freelancer, the more you know about how to build a good life for yourself through your career, the better. The less encumbered and “in the dark” you are about how things work, the more capable you are to truly have control over your life.

successful content

2. Build Your Digital Networking Muscles
It seems like all that anyone talks about anymore –whether in entrepreneurship or a traditional career path as an employee– is networking. And with good reason! Many are terrified of the idea of reaching out to a stranger. Plus, digital networking has added a whole new element to the mix.

successful content

3. From the vaults: FAMILY + BIZ Month: Tools for a Holistic Approach to Work
This compilation posts of self-empowerment, productivity, and self-development content we’ve created in the last couple of years will give you the fuel you need to develop your soft skills, which are some of the most powerful skills you can possess.

successful content

 

Have any favorite soft skills resources? We’d love to hear about it! Tweet at us

soft skill power

Viri Vlog: VIRI is Dead (+ What We Learned)

Well, it’s over. It was a fun ride, VIRI. In this vlog, you’ll find out why we decided to kill VIRI (and return our investors’ money) and what we learned from this experience.

What’s next? Bigger, better, stronger Eazl. Soon, Davis, is going to launch an equity crowdfunding vlog where you will see how we’re organizing communities around local entrepreneurs, helping them create jobs, and improving communities where people live . Our goal is to create a small business revolution and keep putting power into the hands of individuals. Ludell is going to be working on Eazl’s first physical space!

Link mentioned in this video:
How I Built This Podcast

Note: if you have full access to VIRI’s files, you will continue to have access to those files.

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How Supporters Get Money from Community Owned Businesses

☆ Learn how Eazl is organizing communities with equity crowdfunding at or join the Facebook group at ☆

Part 1 of 4 in the Community Owned Business Series
Community Owned Businesses (COBs) are funded and partially owned by neighbors and other people who support the launch of a small business through an equity crowdfunding campaign.

What’s Equity Crowdfunding?
Equity crowdfunding is like Kickstarter but instead of a reward, supporters get a small ownership piece in the campaigns they support. Learn the basics of equity crowdfunding here.

The Community Percentage
Community Owned Businesses operate with one slight difference to other small businesses: a small percentage of gross revenue is diverted into a community dividend pool. For example, if Joe’s community owned coffee shop gets $90,000 in sales over a 3 month period, his business might have agreed to put 2% of those sales or $1,800 into a dividend fund for the business’ supporters.

Ongoing Money to Supporters
Supporters of community owned businesses receive a proportional amount of the community dividend pool as a check from the businesses they support on a semi regular basis. For example, if you put $500 into a campaign that raised $20,000 to launch a new small business, you might receive $45 every three months as a dividend for your support.

Learn how you can get involved in the community owned business movement here and stay tuned for the other three parts of this four-part series:
Part 2: How to Turn Supporters into Advocates
Part 3: How to Sell a Small Business with Equity Crowdfunding
Part 4: Community Owned Businesses as a New Asset Class

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My Digital Marketing Toolbox- Updated for 2017

If you want to see what was on my list last year, check out My Social Media Management Toolbox: 10 Tools That Will Upgrade Your Marketing Game.

digital marketing toolbox

Social media management is only a tiny part of what I do for Eazl and, for that reason, I’m always looking for new tools, apps, and knowledge that will make me more productive and effective with online marketing initiatives. Last year, I put together a list of the tools I use regularly for social media management and I’ve changed the way I do things since then so I thought I’d update my toolbox for you.*

One thing you’ll notice from the list I put together below is that we’ve been investing heavily in Instagram, at least compared to January 2016. I’ve planned this out for a couple of reasons: our work is highly visual so it fits well there and I enjoy using the platform, which keeps my use consistent.

  1. Social Media Follower Management App
    The app that I use is currently no longer in the marketplace, but find any free app that allows you to see recent unfollowers and followers so you can easily manage your Instagram and Twitter accounts (including catching those annoying users who follow only to receive a follow back and then promptly unfollow).

Apps like this are such a time saver and they enable growth on social media accounts by keeping the number of accounts you follow reasonable and providing analytics on the growth of your account. Plus, it’s super convenient that you can use it on your mobile device!

Remember to try to only follow accounts that are actually relevant with content you actually want to see.

2. Repost It! App for Instagram
I’ve been using this app for a few months now and I really like it. It’s great for sharing posts in between accounts. In our case, I’ll sometimes cross promote between my personal account and the Eazl account.

3. Boomerang App
I love the new dynamic that Boomerang brings to Instagram! I use this app most often when we’re doing something out and about for Eazl, like filming or traveling. I’d like to start featuring more people in my Boomerang posts but haven’t worked it into my process yet.

4. Eventbrite Organizer App
We don’t host as many events as we used to and I’d like to change that as we move into the second quarter of 2017. The organizer app is great for keeping an eye on sign ups while traveling or during a heavily scheduled week. I really don’t like having to log into my account every time I want to check our RSVP numbers.

5. Instagram Stories
I am loving Instagram stories (especially because I REALLY don’t like Snapchat…I REFUSE to become a Snapchatter) and it’s the perfect way to get your content prioritized over other users’ content. It’s kind of like a reminder…”Hey, remember us? You followed us on Instagram a while back and you should come check out what we’ve been posting lately.”

I also like how casual Instagram Stories can be. It’s really about showing users what you are experiencing at the moment and doesn’t need to be anything fancy, however, I recently saw a fun, interactive, and thoroughly planned out campaign that a retailer published via Instagram Stories and it inspired me to think outside of the box in the future.

6. Likestagram
Now, before you go “poo-pooing” bots, they are the future so you better get used to them. With Likestagram, you can target the bot to like posts with hashtags of your choice. That way, you’re bringing in new views to your profile from users that are relevant at a higher rate than would be humanly possible otherwise.

Of course, you want to pair your Instagram growth through Likestagram with your traditional digital marketing efforts and make sure you have good and consistent content to post.

I like to go back to Likestagram and edit my hashtags to reflect my three most recent posts so visitors feel like they are in the right place when they arrive after the bot has called their attention to us.

7. Facebook Retargeting Pixel
I’ve been building my pixel power on Facebook for about a year now and the audiences I’ve created with my pixel a finally becoming large enough to use in my retargeting campaigns.

The retargeting pixel, in my opinion, is the only feature that makes Facebook actually useful to businesses. They’re lucky they have that because I would otherwise drop Facebook from my marketing mix without a second thought about it.

I trust Mark Zuckerberg about as far as I can throw him. If you aren’t from the west, that means I think he’s super shady. 

I know, Instagram is now owned by Facebook and I am using that platform a lot…it just doesn’t have that Zuckerberg stink of a platform that was originally launched to rate women’s appearance on college campuses (barf).

  1. Social Media Examiner
    I’ve actually followed Social Media Examiner since it started and I started social media management. That was around 2010. I have yet to find another source for up to date content about social media marketing that is as good or as useful as they are. So, I continue to use it as the main source for staying up to date with the social media bit of digital marketing.

I don’t have as much time as I used to so I skip to only the most relevant posts for my use case and I use Feedly so all of my news is in one place.

*Note that I still use all of the tools mentioned on last year’s post except for Crowdfire (that one didn’t stick).

See any tools that you love that I’ve now failed to mention twice in my lists? Leave a comment below!

You can connect with Ludell Jones on LinkedIn, Twitter, or in the private marketing group she manages.

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How to Define Your Tribe

Define Your Tribe

Who is your offering for? When you know this, you’ve made a huge step forward. The old way of thinking about this “who” question was through demographics; segmenting the world based on age or sex or race. But, that’s not that relevant.

What’s relevant is the stories that people tell themselves.

You want to find a group of people that share the same dreams, that share the same fears, that share the same histories and stories. You can call these people your “tribe”.

You want to reach and serve this tribe. And once you’ve identified your tribe, you want to make sure that you’ve identified them in a way where you know where they hang out because it’s a lot easier to reach out to people if they’re all on the same island than if they’re spread out everywhere.

You want to make sure that you know your tribe and you know where your tribe hangs out.

define your tribe

Let’s take Namita for example. She’s thinking, “Who are we going to serve with our search engine optimization offerings?” Namita might think, “Well, I know a lot about travel and travel writing and I also really value lifelong learning and e-learning. So, what tribe could I serve well with these skills and special characteristics?”

She might think, “Alright, so travel and e-learning. Maybe an international school for graduate students. Maybe that’s a good tribe for me to reach out to. Maybe travel organizations that specialize in educational experiences. That’s another tribe that I might reach out to.”

Now, Namita knows her tribes and she’s going find out where they hang out.

What blog do they read?

What newsletters do they subscribe to?

Once she has that equation, she knows a lot more about the audience that she’s serving, which is critical to success in marketing.

These ideas come from Seth Godin, who’s a brilliant marketer. You might want to check out his blog or read some of his work.

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