Weekly Update #3.5: Know Thy Industry

Yesterday, my day job brought in an expert on a subject. Due to the nature of the subject, we’ll ignore the realm it falls under. VAGUE. THIS BLOG, Y U SO VAGUE??? In ministry though, we work with sensitive things and it’s best swept under the scandal rug.

Ok, ok, so we have this speaker and they have a pretty bland PowerPoint. Like super bland. Like Argentina food bland.

Protip: Never copy a legal definition of a condition or problem to define it for a non-jargon using audience. They reach boredom to such heights that water flows from the eyes.

During the presentation, the speaker, who was wonderful and gracious, outed herself as not studying her own industry.

I was stunned… you see I’ve been reading about this little principle for the last few days. And ever since I started, I see the fruit of it everywhere now.

This happened two days ago when I got an email marketing campaign from a Christian Ministry that was proclaiming pornography and Video Games as the downfall of the modern male. The tone-deaf nature at which it handled Gaming, reeked of an outsider, peering into the foreign culture and writing off differences as character flaws.

I lost all respect for the authors views on a 99.9 Billion-Dollar Industry that he outright dismissed. And I realized, if his industry is ministering to the young male demographic, he has OUTRIGHT failed to know his industry.

Know Thy Industry

Coming back to our guest speaker yesterday.

The speaker dropped this little tidbit in her message, “Yeah, my clients are always using sites like that, it’s popular on Instagram, and tumblr. I have no idea what tumblr is though. No idea at all what the heck it is.”

BAM! Outed… you see, when you know your clients have a profound interest in something, STUDY IT. If you can’t take 15-20 minutes to research or watch a Youtube video on what interests your clients, you will become stagnant.

And strangely enough… that’s the norm. People who don’t know the industry they are in or the needs of clients. You can even do well.  Because few are really studying the industry a little bit each day. Yet you will never be the next Warren Buffett if you shoot for Mediocre.

I am cultivating a 3rd rule but I already have Industry as one pillar of my rulebook, but man, this industry concept is painfully ignored for so many people. I might have to strengthen that Pillar.

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Weekly Update #3: Still knocking off edges

Things I’ve worked on since last week:

The majority of Upwork change has been going through my profile and rewriting it (Quite a bit actually) and fulfilling the jobs I’ve already snagged and finishing Module 3 of the course I’m taking. Things I’m working on?

1.Learning to bid…

I WANT to sell myself short. I think my skill at salesmanship puts me closer to Gil from the Simpsons than a real business mind. I am influential and persuasive, of that I have no doubt, and I can talk with authority, but I’m so USED to being underpaid. I will devalue my rates way quicker than necessary (Please don’t take advantage of it if you are bidding with me…) For the first time today I just sent a bid beyond where I felt”Comfortable,” because I have a BAD comfort scale for bids. My hands are sweaty, I feel nervous. It’s because… the rejection I might face scares me. Yet, that might be good to face, right? Rejection makes one stronger.

2. My Title

Title

I just am struggling through all the profile rewrites to nail my title. I want to come up in search results but not sound so specialized I am useless to a diverse range of needs. My Niche is pretty specific after all. I rewrote this FIVE times today and walked away unsatisfied. Perhaps I need more time and studying! I need something that really HOOKS the reader.

3. My Overview

My hook needs to be stronger… I recently implemented a call to action that’s a little more salesman like. AND IT’S THRILLING. The thought that I might be doing something better than bottom tier… I took this…

Revision 10

To… And I laugh because I revised this 5 times before posting this clip.

revision 16.PNG

And I particularly like this part…

Revision 13p2.PNG

It’s fun to learn and see my profile evolve from terrible, to something a little bit better than average. I’m STOKED about it!

4. Study, Study, Study…

A lot of listening, reading, creating, and continuing to learn more about freelancing, copywriting, and more. I hope to finish two courses I’m going through, and then start on some unique skills (Such as WordPress). There is so much to be done, it keeps my eyes bright!

I hope to add a new Rule this week as well 🙂

-Jake

Upwork Journal #3: Smile

I’m not actually that happy with my smile. ESPECIALLY when it has no beard attached. I just don’t like it a lot (This isn’t a plea for self-esteem btw just how I feel). So today I was looking over tips on how to have a good profile photo on Upwork…

This was mine prior to the lesson,

Profile 1

I like the artsy photo, muted colors, the bowtie. So the argument was made by the teacher that, I don’t look like someone nice.

Nice?

Why would that matter, right???

The subject was broached that those who know Mr. Jake, look at him and say “Nice photo! So COOOOO!”

But those who don’t know me. Well, they might think I’m artsy. But they might not think I’m friendly. If you zoom in, I look liable to murder your family. Or at least just be unpleasant.

Working with clients means making impressions that really move them to want you as a Freelancer. So I was given some tips, and decided to follow the cardinal rule…

Smile.

HISSSSSSSS…

So here is the new profile…

Trusty

It’s a slight change. It’s not really perfect either because I seem to be looking into eternity somewhere, but it makes me look a WHOLE lot more enjoyable.

And that’s really it. Making sure people look at you and say, hmm, he’d be ok to work with. Instead of, “I wonder if he’ll yell at me.”

So smile. Grin. Be cheerful.

You can always show your cool photos to mom.

Upwork Journal #2: Keep on Chiselin’

Made some more profile changes… And boy, or man, or undefined gender pro-noun… does it look so different from the original! This reminds me of an ancient proverb. Usually foretold by wise sages, and inscribed upon Baltic birch.

How do you eat an Elephant?

1 Bite at a time.

(FYI Baltic Birch is the wood used for Popsicle sticks)

Perfection is this myth that we seem to ascribe to in modern society, chasing after consistently. It’s almost as if the very idea of a work in progress is repulsive to many people. Yet I’m trying to be a hardcore WIP. Erry day erry day I want to be engaging my work and asking?

How hard does this suck? Is non-suckitude obtainable? Does this make you feel sad to read, because you feel guilt that such terrible authors exist?

I want to be real about the quality of what I do and pursue mastery over years, instead of moments.

Maybe it’s TV, or Movies, or Websites that have zero mistakes, high standards, and insane grammar rules that gives us this impression.

Regardless, we often look at starting our new business, less as a progressive step towards better and more as hitting a bulls-eye on day one.

I’m learning to live less like a published piece and more like an unfinished sculpture. Finishing is hard for me. I start to loathe my work near the finish and want to just start again.

When a man sculpts, he takes a big block of clay, marble, or whatever he is using and slowly chisels bits away (Probably not clay. Now that I think about, clay is a terrible chiseling material). Over time the big block of marble, goes from a hunk of bland geometry to a beautiful work of art. And yet throughout the process… 30% of the way, 40% of the way through, you start to see what it is.

“Oh, that’s a beautiful statue of a gazelle with lasers attached to it’s head.”

And this knowledge of the finished art piece, this idea of being able to see what it is and what it will become, informs every chiseling.

The most defeating work, is when we near the finish, and we think “Dude, this is the worst sculpture, in the history of bad art. And there is some pretty bad art.”

Sometimes that’s life, we work and we work, and we need a new block of marble because, boy did we mess this up.

Yet often… it’s just a WIP. A work in progress. We are judging the art in infancy. Other times, the problem our lack of skill, and yet even if we practice for YEARS producing really good starts. If we never release a product, even if incomplete, we never practice finishing. We never practice the final stages. We can find yourself getting to the end of a book, unable to close, because we have nailed the intro perfectly during practice for a decade.

Yet have never finished.

So I am learning to release lower quality products until my endings improve. Until my writing improves. Because you might be able to achieve perfection, but I know I chased that for years and just became static. Never finishing anything.

So I’m updating my Upwork profile daily. Here is what it is starting to look like…

Overview.PNG

And strangely enough… I don’t know if I like it. I don’t know if this overview is good. I don’t know if it will be effective. But I am SOOOOO proud of the journey that my profile has taken. Yesterday, upon my 5th revision, it was something to the effect of…

“Text flavors every aspect of our life. From articles on 10 ways to love your cat, to a good Tolstoy romp in the bath. We find ourselves looking at text all day long. You are looking for a writer because you believe in your vision and that vision needs to be communicated. You believe in yourself.

Yet getting others to believe in us, is one of the most challenging aspects of a Social Media driven economy.It might not be a problem with the product you sell or the business you do. It could be with the writing. Bad writing is not just unremarkable. It’s forgettable. Bad writing dooms your blog, your articles, and your game to fade away into the void of ignored advertisements and unwatched videos.”

Basically… nobody knew what I do. What I’m selling. Or why they need it within the first sentence. I will talk further in the future about why these changes matter, but I’m starting to get it.

I’m starting to chisel. I’m starting to speed up my updates. And lower my standards.

Yet that’s ok, because this constant revision, has made my finished work, all the better.

-Jake

Upwork Journal #1: Profile

Upwork journals will chronicle my journey to not suck at freelancing. Mediocre, here we come!

I seem to update multiple times a day. While this would be obnoxious to subscribers, I don’t have any yet… MWHAHAHAHA…

It also is expected.

When you first learn a skill, you make more mistakes than victories as you cultivate ability. I see what I am doing wrong DAILY. Although, I see it more often than that. In the course I’m taking, they asked me to learn about Strategic Positioning. I don’t want to drag someone’s secret notes into the daylight, so I’ll spare that, but I have been learning more than I can begin to say.

Lesson of the morning: On Upwork, I didn’t stand out (I still don’t). And my job was so vague, you didn’t really know what it was.

I started with something all New Agey

“Story Artist and Vision Sculptor for Growing your Kingdom”

While I might internally know what that means, Mr. Awesome Client, has no freaking clue what a vision sculptor does… I.E. make your vision come alive. I also kind of suck at advertising right now, It’s not like I WANT to be writing real estate ads… I think mentally, my profile was just what a client read when they got a bid. The truth is though, some clients invite you. They are searching for awesome talent and want to find you. Yes you. The one who does what they want done!

But they can’t find you.

Oh no, no, no… you are hidden. Because the man searching for a journalist to write his article on Mass Effect: Andromeda and getting the best loot isn’t searching for “Vision Sculptor.”

Nope. We need to be findable, understandable, and unique.

So I need a better profile than just vague random musings.

I found I’ve been falling into a niche through the assignments I’ve been taking on.

Tech and Game writing… So I think… for now… I’ll try those Niches. It is amazing though, now there is a tangible, searchable, term for what I do. This probably will improve my results!

Look below…

Profile

Now I’m not super content with this… It will be improved upon, but it is SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER.

I don’t expect someone to find me until I have more notches in my belt. But before, I could expect no one would find me. Ever. And if they did, they’d message me just to tell me I’m strange.

Takeaway: Look at your profile, could someone new understand what you do? Is it vague? What are some of the most incredible titles you’ve seen? Comment below! It won’t hurt… I promise…

Changes #1: WordPress, Y, U, So, MEAN?

First Changes post! Hopefully… in the future… like 2290, archaeologists can look back at this blog… never mind… bit rot… will kill it.

Well, in the future, I’d like to be able to track what changes have taken this blog from terrible, to moderately OK! (That’s our goal line, because I am a low bar setter! WHAT! WHAT!)

So I’m going to have an Update section (About all the things going on in El blog and life.) but also a CHANGES section. So you can look back and be like, “How did Jake get such a fly blog?” and then after reading you’ll be like “Oh, he changed his stock photo to something worse then the stock photo… uh cool…”

Today I fiddled around with getting a better photo up top. I unfortunately have my photo’s on a separate computer so I started loading them from Flickr. It occurs to me, I don’t have the best Flickr portfolio!

They are blurry, pixelated, and gross comparatively. The best I could find was a hastily edited Scooter that looks like Sepia puked all over it.

Yet I picked it for the header.

Pro-Tip: Don’t upload a bunch of JPEG quality to Flickr just because 3rd world WI-FI is bad. It won’t help years later…

Because, the reality is, I like perfection. I can’t achieve perfection. So I will chisel a little here and a little there.

Of course I plan to change this header, but it’s one step at a time. A cool feature of this theme is that you can load up an album and have it change daily. I like the idea of having cool art but it occurs to me…

THIS PHOTO HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING AT ALL.

Is that a big deal? I need to study marketing…

Takeaway: If you wait until perfection to launch, you might never launch, if you launch a boat with holes in it though, you need to start patching them or you will sink. JUST DO SOMETHING AND KEEP DOING IT.

What’s something you’ve been waiting to do but are not doing, because you want it to be FREAKING PERFECT? Comment below. Like please comment. I have no friends.

 

Archive #1

I hope to change the theme, content, and make this website evolve like a Clefairy near a Moonstone. Because of this, I occasionally when ramping up for big changes will create a wayback machine into the site. My hope is that I don’t screw this up. Anyways, here is the first copy of the home page (I archived the rest as well, but the about page is the same as the first blog post)

https://web.archive.org/web/20170320225342/https://jakethefreelancer.wordpress.com/

My next project is to make the Themes sing a bit, add a subscriber bar, and change out the stock photo’s. Hopefully afta all that, this page will look a bit more personalized.

Things I need to Change Soon

The Picture up top. That’s really the one that makes the eyes, bleed. GOODBYE STOCK PHOTO. YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED.

Also I’d love to add a subscriber bar except for the fact, I am still working towards being worth following!

P.S. When I am about to Change the Stock Photo, this will be the first Archive of this blog. My goal is to record changes in generations, in order to show how a skill-set progresses when someone smart and hard-working learns a craft that they suck at. And I mean really suck at.

#WordPressmakesmeits

Rule #2: Study

As a teacher, I often have students who live below the average threshold of “Getting it.”

They just don’t understand a subject, what I’m teaching, or why it matters. Despite my attempts to rattle the noggin and inject wisdom, it often flops. A flacid failure to impart knowledge.

Every once in awhile though, a tenacious pupil rises from the crowd with sub-par understanding and a brutal attachment to rejection. They aren’t any good. But they keep trying.

From Religion, to Writing, to Gaming, these pupils may lack the ability that I have obtained from a mixture of practice and just being above average intelligence.

(Like we all are. (Seriously try to find one person who claims to have below average intelligence, we tend to think mightily about ourselves)).

Sometimes though I encounter that pupil after a couple years. And the M Night Shamaylan reveal is that Mr. Below Average has blossomed into a reputable source and sometimes even an expert in a field. A field that I was surprised they managed to care about at all, given the quality of assignments they produce.

The Religiously naive pupil now uses terms that I find myself ignorant of because when I was all high-horse about knowledge, I let myself get stagnant. I let myself feel as if I had arrived. And now they quote elegant about ancient dusty books and are fluent in Greek and Latin.

Meanwhile, Mr. Teacher is using google more and more these days just to get by.

This is My second Rule.

Study your industry a little bit each day.

There is this fascinating passage in the C.S. Lewis book Mere Christianity where Snior Lewis talks about love. Instead of using something remotely interesting, he turns to the thrilling journey of plants.

I’m sure his musings on gardens will eventually be rebooted as an action movie.

Ever the poetic genius, Lewis talks of how a nubile green thumb at first feels extreme excitement and immense highs at planting, nurturing, and cultivating a seed. Eventually though, that thrill subsides. Truth be told, Gardening isn’t necessarily all action. At least until the reboot.

Rather than action, the act of gardening requires large amounts of waiting. You watch the soil like a hound dog watching the Mailman. And then one day, BAM! Greenery sprouts. Elation. Joy. Accomplishment.

This is the first seedling. You celebrate, and feel as if you should throw a plant Shower for the new born.

Overtime though, once again, you find gardening becoming dull. Plants explode from the soil, only to grow sluggishly and die over minute details such as sun and water.

Yet talk to a master who has achieved perfection in any craft. Like an old married couple, they have a depth of fondness and understanding that few have ever seen for the mundane. They know the terms and culture of that hobby and can talk for hours about it.

An expert gardener may be able to tell you the latin names of plants, the growth patterns of bizarre sprouts, the joy of seeing this tree grow and this flower bloom.

It is in the depth of knowledge that love for the craft is born, and the beauty of the craft revealed.

Yet, no one was ever born an expert and most experts were forged in less than two decades. If you are serious about your industry. Start now. Pursue excellence. Read everything about it, the good, the bad, the terribly uniformed opinions. And openly learn.

You might find yourself a master of a craft, deeply in love with it, without ever realizing it was a lifetime of work. Because it was actually a joyful walk of love. Everything is new once.

This is my Second Rule.

Study your industry a little bit each day.

-Jake

Weekly Update #2

Man, I feel like Eminem before he goes on stage during 8 mile. Except, I would never throw up moms spaghetti, that’s just rude hood-rat behavior.

Milestones for the week:

First completed job. $100 in the bank.

I just submitted my first request to be paid. $100. I am far more proud of those dollars than I am of money earned doing manual labor in a steel mill in North Carolina or mowing lawns. It is in some ways, my first entrepanueral cash. My first time being paid as a self-employed freelance copywriter.

In a few hours, I will be a published Author. Or maybe Author is a bit stretching it… I did write a killer how-to article though!

Victory #1!!! WOOT!

Learning a ton from SSFU (Not a dirty acronym)

I’m currently taking a course on working on Upwork. It’s been great! It’s like looking into a mirror and seeing mustard all over my face. There is so much I can improve upon.

My writing has been consistent and often.

I have had writers block for three months. Freelance work has kicked that in the teeth. My workflow is productive, I am learning more about my craft, and my writing is improving! What What!

Hurdles for the week:

My professionalism needs a reboot.

I misread the instructions for an article bid, while being tested on my ability to read instructions. I sent a large article out to a client and eagerly awaited feedback. And I’m waiting to here back from a candidacy that looked really promising but might be a money/time hole.

I think some moments I feel so confident, other moments, I am in over my head.

It’s thrilling and yet, I’m learning so much about making sure you clarify expectations, ask questions, and keep learning. After all, reputation is a currency that freelancers trade in.

I need good clients.

So far I am bartering a lot of time for very little payback.

I need to be better at writing bids and winning proposals.

Well, this is embarrassing…

Marketting

Goals:

My Freelance goal for this month is to win one stellar long-term client and finish Secrets of a Six-Figure Upworker. I set this goal to be accomplished by April 18th. 

Thanks for reading! Track my journey with me and join along. What are your tips for finding success in my hurdles and achieving better milestones? Comment below!

-Jake

Edit: For those who have seen that awful picture above of the $100 bill. It is pixelated because I used snipping tool and loaded up a picture into the featured image category without realizing that it doesn’t go to the main page but merely stays on the articles I publish. My mistake! Next time, put a picture in the article to snag attention and use a featured image that is relevent and interesting. Instead of improving on errors like this, I keep them as a testament to the changes this blog will go through in time. #Smallwins