Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Admitting When You Need a Helping Hand

marsellus wallace

Man oh man, my life is in a big transitional phase, folks. My girlfriend and I did a lot of talking last week and we decided a couple things:

  1. We’re applying for a fiance visa so we can get married next year.
  2. We’re moving the eff out of the US as soon as possible.

Not that I dislike America, but if we can have a life more suitable for us in another country, why not?

The thing with a fiance visa is it can take five to eight months for approval.

Ugh.

Then my girlfriend (and parents) made an excellent point. If our ultimate plan is to move elsewhere and start a life together, why are we going to spend money on separate apartments while we wait up to eight months (if all goes well) for a piece of paper that says we can get married. Wouldn’t it be smarter to save money in the meantime? I’m taking the opportunity to do just that.

In February, I’m going to do something I thought I’d never do in a million years (or however long I’ll be alive): I’m moving back in with my parents.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

As I’ve said before, being a self-earner can be rough. It also didn’t help that I slacked off SIGNIFICANTLY over the last three months while my girlfriend has been here (not that I minded at all). But now it’s time to refocus.

My goal in making money is NOT to be rich. I don’t give a damn about wealth. I care more about living a worry-free life. That’s wealth to me. Is it possible? Yo no se (or ‘I don’t know’ for los Americanos out there). Here’s the thing: for the last three months, I discovered what I want the rest of my life to be. I’m not trying to kill myself and waste life by giving my time to other people/things. I know what my priorities are and they don’t involve fancy cars and designer shoes.

So I’m moving back home and I’ll be moving out as soon as my girl gets her visa. In the meantime, you better believe I’ll be saving money like a madman and using our time apart to earn as much money as possible.

I know this isn’t really a tip or suggestion, but still, it’s a lesson I had to learn. I had to learn to be alright with accepting help from my family to attain a more significant goal. I have a lot of pride and I am more than willing to struggle in order to achieve something on my own merits. That’s stupid and inefficient. My school loans are expensive as hell and paying rent and utilities doesn’t help matters. Sure, I can do it, but it doesn’t get me to my goal any more quickly. It just makes the journey unnecessarily harder.

So let’s be zen about this and take the path of least resistance. My pride is nowhere near as important as my future with my girlfriend/fiance. I don’t know if you can take anything from this post, but if you do, just know that you aren’t the only one who has that pride. Let it go. And once you get that help from someone, do your damnedest to make the most out of the opportunity.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: The Highs and Lows of Online Freelancing (Part 2)

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: The Highs and Lows of Online Freelancing (Part 2)

Photo Credit: Jeremy Lim
Photo Credit: Jeremy Lim

When I first started writing part one of this post, I really had freelance writing in mind. Very limited, right? Especially when writing isn’t where the money is. Not in comparison to other types of freelance gigs anyway. If you’re like me, you probably go for freelance writing gigs because they’re either what you love or what you do best. Maybe both. But it never hurts to have options.

According to Business Insider, these are the top ten highest paying freelance jobs on Elance and oDesk (by hourly rate):

  1. Patent Law ($112.20)
  2. Voice Acting ($72.70)
  3. Ruby Programming ($61.00)
  4. Startup Consulting ($54.00)
  5. Google Website Optimizer ($53.80)
  6. Investment Research ($53.20)
  7. Network Administration ($51.10)
  8. Statistical Analysis ($49.60)
  9. Amazon Web Services ($49.40)
  10. Legal Writing ($49.20)

Glad to see some form of writing made it into the top ten. Some other interesting ones are Database Development ($47.60), User Experience Design ($43.68), and Mobile App Testing ($32.90). I’m personally shooting for some mobile app testing and Ruby programming gigs, though I have to learn more for the latter.

So where do the writers out there stand? Craigslist, Elance, and the glut of content farm organizations would have you believe writing doesn’t pay squat. That’s true for those who are unwilling to dig deeper. That’s what we’ll explore next week. For now, explore other options! I believe everyone should follow their passion if at all possible, but if your goal is to make money, you have multiple paths as a freelancer. For example, my girlfriend’s visa expires in two weeks. I haven’t been on top of my game in terms of generating income while she’s been here so you better believe I’ll be busting my hump to earn as much as I can while I eagerly await her return.

Wish me luck.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: The Highs and Lows of Online Freelancing (Part 1)

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: The Highs and Lows of Online Freelancing (Part 1)

elance-odesk

Happy post-Thanksgiving! I hope you all enjoyed the time off. I certainly did. Let’s get down to business, shall we?

So if you haven’t already guessed with all the self-earning posts I write, I make a portion of my income from freelance work. There have been times when I’ve told people to give freelancing a shot, especially when they already have a full-time job. It’s more so they can dip their toe in the pool instead of fully diving into these treacherous waters.

Because let’s be real, freelancing, like pimpin’, ain’t easy.

The biggest problem with online freelancing is the level of competition out there. You essentially have 7 billion people who may be looking at the same gig as you. Chances are it’s not that many, but you know what I mean. Because of this, potential employers/clients have the ability to hire those with exceedingly low rates. As an American, that sucks for me. And possibly you depending on what country you’re from.

Here’s the good news: people still pay for quality, something that exists less with cheaper payment. You simply need to get over the hump of building that freelancer resume. For example, I come from an eDiscovery background, but I’m doing mostly freelance writing. When I started, I was relegated to dirt cheap gigs that pretty much weren’t worth the amount of effort I was putting in. Still, I stuck with it and have slowly fleshed out my writing resume in order to open myself up to higher paying opportunities.

Sites like Elance and oDesk are great for beginners, but just know that many folks on there are shooting for rock bottom prices. You have to sift through the noise to get some good gigs, but your best bet is to go with a dual-pronged approach: promote yourself as you hunt for gigs. Let the internet know who you are as a freelancers. Have a personal website. Use social media. Join online communities. Do what you must to raise your stock so you don’t fall prey to the surplus of bottom-feeders out there.

There is a ton to write about freelancing and I plan to do so. Tune in next week; I’ll go into more specifics and a breakdown of the highest and lowest paying types of gigs.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Multiple Revenue Streams

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Multiple Revenue Streams

money tree

During the 33 years of my life, I’ve started more ideas than I can even remember. My first business venture started when I was ten years old. My buddy Ahijah and I began drawing our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics and sold them for a quarter.

Copyright infringement FTW.

Since then, I’ve had more ideas die and go nowhere than I’ve had successes. Many more. Over time, I began realizing what leads to a big part of failure: not embracing pre-existing strengths.

There was a point in my life when I was building websites as a part of a business my buddies and I started up. We got a couple clients, but I was way in over my head because I was learning as we went along. Eventually, I couldn’t fulfill requests and, unsurprisingly, the business died. This trend repeated itself numerous times until I finally broke out of it recently. Why was I trying to learn how to do things myself instead of partnering with people who could compensate for my weaker areas? Why was I even pursuing ideas that didn’t take advantage of my talents?

Every self-earner should be keenly aware of their skills and how to apply them to a money making idea. Sure, enjoyment should go into it as well, but skill is essential. Otherwise, you could easily lose momentum because you’ll eventually reach some hurdle that, for one reason or another, feels too daunting to overcome.

Embrace your strengths and exploit your skill set. If you want the challenge of learning and creating something new, good on you. I’ll worry about that later when I’m more established. For now, I’m just going to continue doing what I do best.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Embracing Your Strengths

100 Days/100 Ideas: #1 – eLance Meets eHarmony

eLanceHarmony

I love ideas. I may have even said as much at one point on this blog. I love ideas so much, I had an idea for a site where people just share ideas. I told my buddy Pat about it and he didn’t seem like a believer. Mainly because he felt ideas are no good without execution.

I agree to a certain extent, but my problem is I don’t always have the knowledge, time, resources, or motivation to execute every idea I have. I have more than enough on my plate. But I do have ideas that I think would be cool if someone executed them.

It was this thinking that led me to taking on the challenge of posting an idea a day (excluding weekends) for the next 100 days. Here we go!

Idea: eLance meets eHarmony

Synopsis: I know a lot of people who do freelance work, but the client/freelancer relationship can be a tricky one. I think this relationship should be treated more as dating. People create a profile and list the traits their looking for in a client or freelancer. Skills and credentials are also on display. I think it may even be interesting to show when two parties are in a “serious relationship.” That way, freelancers who have many serious relationships are seen as more desirable.

Polygamists might find this handy as well.

I kid.

Other Thoughts: While I think this could be good as a mobile app, I sort of feel that starting with a traditional website is the way to go. That’s just my personal opinion though. The typical things that stop me from moving forward with an idea like this is the cost to build. However, with the availability of online freelance work growing, I think this might be an awesome way to build healthy working partnerships.

Or maybe not. It’s just an idea.

Peace out, party people.

Tracking My Progress: Week 4 – Side Projects

Holy crap today is cold compared to this time last week. Anyway, happy Sunday! Let’s get right to it shall we?

I totally didn’t make $100 per day as I intended (I made $70).

Womp, womp.

I’m starting to realize why this is: I simply have more passion for my side projects and, therefore, spend more time on them.

PRO TIP: As a person, you should always be aware of your tendencies in situations rather than just feeding into them. I’ve realized more tendencies about myself in the last five months than I ever have before. I just try to separate who I am from the tendency and figure out how to use it as an advantage rather than a hindrance. EVERYTHING has a positive side.

So this week I’m going to focus on side projects. We already know my daily goal (which I plan on increasing to $200 per day once I achieve it) so let’s explore some projects that may potentially be money earners.

PRO TIP: Collaborate. I have a lot of ideas, but I can only do so much on my own. Collaboration is key for execution and refinement of ideas.

Self-Publishing – Without a doubt, this makes the most sense in terms of earning money because I do it all the time anyway. If you’re a writer, take the time to just publish something for Amazon Kindle, even if it’s just as a test. Familiarize yourself with the process. I did no research and was able to publish a test book in a day. If you want to increase the likelihood of people finding your book, ditch the creative title for one that let’s potential readers know what your book is all about. In other words, SEO is key.

PRO TIP: Romance and sex novels are some of the most successful on Kindle. Some authors have based an entire career on this. It’s not my forte so feel free to run with that information. This method also motivates me to write more often because I know there is a secondary purpose.

PRO-TIP: There are certain blog posts that will make it into books I’m writing. I’m talking to all you bloggers out there: DO THIS! It’s easy because you’re kind of already doing it.

T-Shirts – A buddy of mine and I are working on producing a line of t-shirts to sell on the internet. I’m not quite going to reveal what they’re all about because I think the idea is brilliant, but as far as products go, this is one that doesn’t require too much knowledge and overhead to get started. The biggest components are the designs and the shirt supply.

PRO TIP: I only take on projects that play to my strengths and embody the things in which I am passionate. You can sell products two ways: as a means of simply making money or as a means of sharing who you are. I choose the latter because it reinforces my passion and helps me see an idea through to the end.

Hosted Service Reseller – The company for which I work part-time provides hosted Exchange services. This also includes email protection, archiving, voice services, SharePoint, and more. I’m not trying to advertise them at all, but as someone who comes from an IT background, I find it crazy that I’m not doing what most of our clients are doing.

A number of our clients provide IT support to a couple small businesses and also resell these hosted services. This is all super doable. Finding clients is the hardest part.

Alright, wish me luck.

Or don’t. Either way motivates me, to be honest.

But I wish you all luck regardless of your path. Just make the most out of the present and be the best version of you possible. Could it really be so simple?

It is.

Peace out, party people.

My Journey Toward Financial Freedom – Planning Stage

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Ohhhhh man, I’m pretty excited. My girlfriend is moving in with me in three weeks. All the way from Sweden no less. This means I have to get my act together and start making some real moves.

So here’s what I’m looking into this week:

  1. Cancelling my car insurance
  2. Selling my car
  3. Cashing in shares I have with my old employer

With those out of the way, my current major expenses will be down to the following:

  1. Rent – $1200
  2. School Loans – $1100
  3. Electricity/Gas – $150 (over-estimation)
  4. Internet – $75

So with this, you see how earning $100 a day (my current goal) is enough to cover my bills.

If not, you suck at math.

But why the hell am I paying so much for rent when I could start on my nomadic lifestyle now? Well, I have a few things I need procure first:

  1. New Laptop – Can’t work remotely without it.
  2. PO Box – If I’m going to be taking on the life of a nomad, I need a place to send my mail.
  3. Storage – I might be able to get away with storing some of my stuff at my parents’ place. If not, I’m just going to invest in storage.
  4. Home Base – This would be a place, most likely in the US, that I plan to keep rented while I’m out and about in the world. Colorado and Arizona seem like affordable options.
  5. Updated Passport – Duh.

All of this is great, but $100 a day isn’t going to cut it. The laptop is priority because I won’t be able to work on-the-go otherwise. The passport is obviously the next priority. Everything else is optional.

That said, this is just my goal. Life has a funny way of guiding one’s journey despite their ambitions so I’m not going to fight whatever comes my way. If I stay in the US longer than intended, so be it.

I’m still going to do it on my terms.

Final Thought: My friend Fallon had an idea about taking a tour of the US by train. How awesome of an idea is that? I may just steal it.

Peace out, party people.