Should I go freelance?

If you’re considering going freelance but scared to take the plunge, this course is for you.

Read about the course

Easy business development for freelancers.

If you hate sales but want to build your client list and get the right kind of work, look no further.

Read about the course

Optimal client management for freelancers.

Do you feel like freelancing would be great if it weren’t for the endless demands of your clients? I wrote this course for you.

Read about the course

Why I would hire my worst vendor again

I recently had one of the worst and best vendor experiences of my career. Let me explain.

I hired a company to help me complete an important project task. My contact was friendly and engaged, but a number of things went wrong throughout the course of the project.

Continue reading

The best way to strengthen client relationships (and grill steak)

Many people dismiss New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve had great success with them. The trick is to focus not on things you feel you “should” do, but on areas where you genuinely want to attract more into your life. One of my resolutions for this year is what I simply call: “Let. It. Marinate.”

Continue reading

The skill that separates a supplier from a knowledge provider

Those of us in professional services require a briefing before we can do our work. But this is often a challenge, as many clients struggle to clearly articulate their needs. I used to walk away from a bad briefing session internally shaking my head and thinking “I guess I’ll just figure this out as I go.”

Continue reading

How to get the best work from a freelancer

As a freelance consultant, I don’t have any expectation that my clients will take time out of their day to express their appreciation for my work. I am not their employee, they don’t have to worry about my morale and how it correlates to productivity. It is perfectly reasonable for them to expect that the money they pay me is compensation enough.

Continue reading

What I learned from a month of remote working

I spent January 2018 remote working in Montevideo, Uruguay. I’ve been excited about this experience for months, and for good reason – it’s been incredible spending a month I normally have to trudge through (I’m not a Winter person) enjoying summer sunshine, palm trees and ocean breezes, as well as light-filled skies until 9:00pm.

Continue reading

How I chose my remote work location

Last March, I decided that I would spend January 2018 remote working. Anyone currently living through Toronto’s winter doesn’t need me to explain what prompted the decision. For the next four weeks, I will be living and working in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay.

Continue reading

Three unexpected traits that help me thrive as a freelancer (part three)

The final part of my three-part series on unexpected traits that help me thrive as a freelancer  (find parts one and two here) may be the most unexpected. It is the ability to let go. You may wonder what this ability has to do with a healthy freelance practice, but it’s surprisingly important. Not to mention, the list of things you need to release is unexpectedly long. The first item on the chopping block is the perks of full-time employment. That may sound strange, since many people compare quitting their 9-to-5 to winning the lottery. But it’s not that simple. In my experience, the inability to let go of the benefits of being an employee is one of the most common reasons people quit freelancing. These benefits include: Financial security – this is the most obvious and for many the biggest loss of giving up full-time employment. For the first year or so of self-employment, I regularly woke up in the middle of the night in a panic, wondering where my next paying job would come from. The camaraderie of co-workers – I’ve always really enjoyed the social aspect of work and working from home was initially very tough. Some days, it still is. While co-working spaces and working in clients’ offices can help, nothing replaces the close-knit friendships you make with co-workers. The feeling of belonging – love or hate your job, feeling like you have a place in the world is important. When I first quit my job I felt unaffiliated and bereft. How was I supposed to fill my days now that I wasn’t accountable to anybody for what I accomplished during work hours? How do you go from being invested in the well-being of an organization to creating your own thing? These things become less critical as you get invested in your own practice. But here too, you have to let go of things to progress. In fact, there’s a whole new list of items to release: Your insecurity about never working again – it’s fear that the phone will never ring again that makes consultants take on projects that aren’t right for them or undercharge for their services. You’ve got to know that the practice that you built is standing on a solid foundation and make the choices that support it. Your self-limiting beliefs – every time you stretch yourself beyond your current experience level or skill sets, the inner alarm bells ring. You’ve got to learn to keep going anyway, and prove yourself wrong. Nothing alleviates imposter syndrome short of actually doing the thing that initially makes you feel like an imposter. The outcome of your efforts – The harder I hold on to my hopes of winning a certain project, the more stressed I get. This stress impacts my other work, which then makes me feel worse. Similarly, worrying about whether or not the effort to speak or teach will be worth it just makes the process taxing instead of enjoyable. Challenging as it is, you have to learn to put forth the effort for the experience as opposed to strictly for the results. Your mistakes – It can be harder to make mistakes as a freelancer than as an employee, since it directly affects your bottom line and you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. But mental flogging only brings bad energy to your other projects. You’ve got to learn to let go of the mistake while keeping the lesson. The fear and grief associated with letting go is natural, but as you slowly untether from society’s security blankets, you’ll also start to appreciate how much easier it is to act with integrity and in a manner that is true to yourself. For me, learning to let go began with my personal effects – after following The Minimalists, I began a year-long de-clutter of my home. The repeated act of assessing which things to keep and which to release eventually prompted me to re-assess everything in my life, from my relationships to my habits to my beliefs. Start small, and question everything. If it’s not absolutely essential, it’s expendable. This post was originally published on November 14, 2017

Three unexpected traits that help me thrive as a freelancer (part two)

Last week I started my three-part series on (unexpected) traits that help me thrive as a freelancer (find parts one and three here). Part one covered the importance of the ability to play the long game. Part two is in line with this in that it also requires patience – an iterative mindset. When you think about the risks that you haven’t taken in life, what is the barrier that typically holds you back? For most of us, it is fear – the fear of failure. Many of us struggle with the idea of having to potentially face the fact that if we actually try, we won’t live up to what we think is our potential. We believe that if things don’t work out, we’ll feel shame, along with the sting of other people’s judgment. Our cherished notion that if we tried [NAME THAT VENTURE], we’d be a superstar can only be killed by one thing – actually stepping up to the plate. The truth is, I’ve “failed” at a number of things since going freelance. But in reality, I haven’t failed at anything. I’ve simply made a first attempt that underperformed. You may chuckle thinking that I’m up-phrasing, but I honestly don’t see it that way. If you think about any professional skill you’ve mastered, from doing a great interview to giving a memorable presentation, the odds are that the first time you tried it was not your best. The same is true of consulting. As with anything challenging, you’ll make a number of gaffes in the beginning. The first time I arranged a networking lunch, I felt so awkward paying for the meal that I just didn’t offer. We split the cheque. It’s still embarrassing to remember that incident, but over the years I have gotten much more comfortable having these lunches, to the point where I actually enjoy (and pay!) for them. As a newbie blogger, I’m hardly setting any records for readership, but each post I write, I gain a little more understanding of what topics really resonate and how to write a solid headline to support it. These things are a little tough to admit, but they would only be failures in my eyes if I stopped after the first attempt. I have always been someone who sees things iteratively, from mastering my chili recipe to managing my consulting practice. The key to this mindset is to consider your latest effort not as a failure, but as the new benchmark on the ultimate journey to mastering the skill. One thing that will help you master this mindset is to regularly consider how much you’ve progressed from when you first started, or even from your last attempt. If this sounds like motherhood, or the message in a “very special” sitcom episode, consider how many things you’re holding yourself back from doing because you’re worried you won’t do well, that you’re not as good as you want to think you are. Seth Godin, seemingly the only person who can talk about failure without sounding like a cat poster (“Hang in there!”), said: “If you don’t start, you will fail. Not starting and failing lead to the same outcome, with different names”. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to try writing another blog post. This post was originally published on November 7, 2017