Landing that Online Job

So a couple weeks ago I landed two jobs in one week – both of them working strictly online through specific platforms.  So now I want to share a little bit (actually, a lot) about searching for and landing that elusive online job.

My specific jobs (and in case you’re counting, I’m now working with three companies) are all based on teaching English and supporting English learners.  So that’s the experience I’ll be speaking to. There are some general truths that will carry over if you’re looking at other industries online.

Teaching English is a huge online industry simply because the internet is such an excellent way to connect teachers of a language with learners while everybody has the benefit of staying comfortably in their home.

English is the dominant language of business so if you are a native English speaker you have a crazy advantage as many around the world are scrambling to learn our language in order to maximize their business, work and travel opportunities. I have spoken with people from France, Saudi Arabia,  Turkey, Syria, Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan, India, and China.  They are all different age groups and their reasons for learning English range from personal interest and a sense that it would just be good to know, to learning for academic pursuits like attending an international University to learning for travel and work.

There are a lot of companies out there that you can teach with – hence why I work with three.  It’s a good thing for both teachers and learners that there are so many platforms with similar services and job opportunities because it drives each of them to be competitive.

So, Where do I apply?

There are a few different ways that you can apply. You can research individual companies and apply directly to them or you can seek a recruitment group that will consider your resume and suggests companies you may be a good fit for.

I caution that free websites where you send your qualifications and they match you are probably not worth your time.  I tried it and they sent me an email saying they thought I’d be a good match for a company that was already on my resume.

That was the only company they sent me a notification for, despite the fact that I am a good fit for many companies.  Furthermore, they do not support you through the application process.

So really, you’re no further ahead than if you found the company on your own.

It sounds too simple to be true but I recommend starting the way I did: Google search “Teaching English Online” and consider what companies come up.

You want to understand their target client in order to determine if they are a good match for you.  For example, one of my companies targets students in China exclusively.  China is 12 hours ahead of me so if I want to teach them in their preferred time, after dinner and through the evening, I need to get up and start teaching around four or five in the morning.

I don’t mind but I do encourage people who want to do this kind of work to consider how time zones may impact their schedule and availability to work.

Other companies I work for target students around the world.  They have stronger demand from some regions and therefore still have hours where they highlight demand. However, because they do invite students from all over to learn on their platforms they are able to provide some opportunity to work throughout the day for me.

Company requirements range from preferring a long list of certifications to only requiring that English is your native language.

In summary for where to apply:

  • Research companies yourself
  • Understand the impact of their target clients and timezones for your schedule
  • Do you meet their requirements

The Application Process

How many people would love to work online? And why is that?

Because many people consider working online or from home to mean that the work is easy, low commitment, and open to anybody.

Therefore companies looking to hire English teachers and other online contractors are working hard and developing processes to discourage non-serious applicants.

Assume that competition is tough and ensure that your resume and application answers include relevant keywords. If you’re applying to teach English for example, you should be the kind of candidate that can have the words “teach, taught, tutor, children, adults, learners, English” on their resume.

Assume that your first challenge is to be filtered through an algorithm and use appropriate language accordingly. Don’t write something that would only matter to a human reviewer or a human reviewer may never see it filtered through the system. Straight forward, clear language that relates to the position responsibilities is best.

Furthermore, be prepared for multiple interview and training stages.  You’re going to have to jump through some hoops.  Jumping through hoops both demonstrates your seriousness about and commitment to the position and provides additional assessment opportunities for the company to feel confident they are hiring contractors who are a good fit.

In this process, one of the keys to success is staying organized.  Many companies will have developed their own platform that you would be working through and from the interview onwards they will be trying to teach you to effectively use this platform to meet their performance goals. You want to have clear notes on how to use the platform, all related requirements, and what the performance standards are.

Save any documents they provide you during the process all together in one folder; the documents may be provided through email and through the training platform so collect them in one place where you can access them at a moments notice.

Succeeding Online

Most online companies I have worked with, from transcription to teaching, rate contractors on a 5 star or 5 point system.  Most consider 4.85 and higher to be a generally acceptable range for contractors performance.  Aim higher, always, but especially aim for 4.88-4.95 if you are seeking advancement and bonus opportunities.

The most successful contractors are the ones who treat their opportunities with the same respect, commitment and care that they would be expected to give in a formal office environment. They follow instructions to the letter, follow up on all recommendations (If the company says that something is helpful but not required successful contractors are the ones who go ahead and follow that recommendation!), attend workshops and access all the support offered to them and they take pride in doing good work.

The reality is that it doesn’t matter where you’re working – a more traditional environment, somewhere with a startup vibe, remotely for a brick and mortar company or strictly online – every company favors employees who work hard.

Be that worker.

Developing a Career

I wrote a while ago about diversifying yourself.  I want to reiterate that the downfalls of working online necessitate diversity and maintaining contracts or opportunities with multiple companies.

To most online companies you are an independent contractor.  That basically code for them not owing you anything. No overtime – no matter how much you work, no sick leave, maternity leave or any other leave expected in most Western work environments, no health or wellness benefits, no paid vacation, and no guarantee of work or pay.  You work as much or as little as you want within the limits of how much work they have.  If students don’t sign up for classes my wide open availability means next to nothing. I might open eight, or even 10 hours of availability in a day and still only work 2-4 hours.  The company I work for doesn’t owe me anything for available hours that go unbooked.  The deal is that I work, they pay me, and in all other aspects, I am responsible for myself.

Many people are attracted to working online because of the “set your own schedule” ability and the idea that it is flexible. As I mentioned above though, don’t expect to be paid for any time that you aren’t actively working. You don’t have to open your availability if you don’t want to – but you are going to end up wanting to work as much as possible because otherwise you’re not getting paid.

The Impact of Policy and Culture

There is generally some understanding of uncontrollable circumstances.  For example, a large windstorm took down some power lines near my home and left me without power for 24 hours one weekend.  I messaged my company and was forgiven for canceling my classes because the circumstances were beyond my control and beyond what I can reasonably be expected to cope with while maintaining quality work.

I add the caveat about coping while maintaining a reasonable level of quality in your work because if your online employer is based in another culture you may find they have a different level of tolerance for personal issues than you’ve come to expect.

Some workplaces in Canada have very open and lenient policies for things like sick leave and mental health, for example. You can not expect this from an online company.

Realize this: Your manager might support you staying home from work because of that wicked head cold but it isn’t because they feel bad for you – they just don’t want you getting them sick.  When you work from home your head cold doesn’t affect anyone else.  My sick days with my companies are extremely limited.  Not feeling well is not a reason to not work when you work at home in your PJs.

Even more prominent – mental health and what should be done for people struggling with mental health issues is a cultural knowledge.  In Canada, we have a very empathetic attitude about mental health.  Most workplaces recognize it as a genuine concern and have varying levels of support. I know many companies still fail their employees completely, however, most have good and improving policies.

When working for a company based in a culture like China, I have found that mental health is considered a nonfactor.  It falls under looking after yourself, which is considered separate from your work life and not their responsibility.

Harsh – yes, very much so. However, it is a sacrifice that comes with developing a career that ignores physical borders.  You must work fluidly between cultures and learn to meet expectations that differ from what would be expected of you if you worked strictly within your own culture.

Working from home has its own unique set of benefits – there’s absolutely no doubt about that, for me.  However, those benefits mean mentally letting go of the benefits we may have expected from a more traditional workplace.  It’s a personal decision to favor one set of benefits and deficits over the other and figure out what kind of career is going to bring you the most satisfaction.

Carmen

 

 

Don’t Fall for Spam; Don’t write off Opportunity

Okay so I want to talk about something: multi-level marketing companies.  They are also called direct sales, network marketing, and pyramid schemes, among other clever and legitimate-sounding titles.  These are companies that rely on individuals to sell out of their homes rather than building traditional brick and mortar stores – think classics like Avon and Pampered Chef, and newer companies including Jamberry, Lipsense, and ItWorks.

The first thing I want to say is: I’m not here to bash these companies at all.  I worked for Jamberry for about two years and I loved it. I’m going to be honest in this post and share some tips, the pros, and cons of working as a direct sales consultant and some warning flags to watch for if you’re considering joining a direct sales company.

When I browse the #workfromhome hashtag on any platform an overwhelming number of posts come from direct sales consultants encouraging anyone who wants to work from home to join their team.  Of course, direct sales is generally a work from home gig, although I kind of resent their saturation of the hashtag and more seriously, how spammy and awful some of the methods they use are.

Don’t get me wrong: There are a lot of very hard-working people busting their asses and making a great living with these companies.  My sponsor with Jamberry is one of them. (sponsor = the person whose team I joined, so she gets credit for my joining, and looked after mentoring me throughout my time with the company. I loved her!)

Generalized Problems with the Industry

As much as I had a great experience there are a lot of problems with the industry.  There are a lot of people that do and say ethically questionable things with their business.  They falsely advertise earnings to lure team members and promise those team members success without being honest about what that kind of success will require.

These companies by and large are rightfully accused of preying on societies less affluent women.  They encourage them to go into greater financial duress by promising that this job is the way to pay down all debts and look after their families.  Being able to look after your family and give your family a little bit of luxury is a huge attraction, especially when you can do while being home with the kids.  Advertising success and an affluent lifetyle without being upfront about the work it takes to get there is an aspect of direct sales I’ve never liked.  Consultants or representatives gain team members, at times, by knowingly preying on women who are in financial need and not equipped to critically analyze the terms of the contract they’d be signing with these companies.  Consultants who gain team members by doing this are really all about the financial incentives they get for convincing you to sign on the dotted line, not about sharing with you a great opportunity!

Most companies require you to “join” by buying a “start up kit” of some sort. The start up kits themselves are usually great. You get a healthy sampling of products, flyers, maybe postcards, etc. You get what you need to begin operating in the business – but you don’t get it for free. Some companies have different sizes or types of kits at different price points.  This means that you may see some opportunities as cheap or at least as being a good deal in comparison to other opportunities or kits.  Realistically though, when you’re broke is not the time to start a business.  You shouldn’t be spending your last dollars on a kit like this.

And I do specifically note that as a large and generalized industry direct sales companies specifically tend to prey on women.  We are targeted as both their consultants and their customers (the two, naturally, go hand in hand.) This isn’t new.  Think back – those companies our moms and grandmas know like Avon and Pampered Chef are the pillars of the industry and although it has evolved and diversified, the products and market are still dominated by women.  Can you think of a parallell for avon that was targeted at your dad? Can you even imagine some guy knocking on your door with a suitcase full of guy stuff the way old school avon ladies came around?

Not all companies are like this. More importantly, not all consultants are willing to behave unethically to promote their business. When I first met my sponsor for Jamberry it was because she hosted a sales party with a friend of mine.  She made me aware that if I loved the product I could join the company and get paid to do what she did.  However when I told her I wanted to get to know the product before considering a career with the company she was supportive and understanding.  Her style of interacting with me as a customer is a big part of what attracted me to the company, and her team.

I could see myself wanting to be like her.  That was important.

Generalized Pros with the Industry

Realistically the most important part of accessing and enjoying the pros of working in direct sales is finding the right company.

Companies will generally offer some level of training or at least a set of guidelines on how consultants should represent them. This sets up what the company requires, and where the room exists for consultants to make the business personal and unique to them.

Find a company where their requirements fit you and what you’re comfortable with.

A few things to define a good direct sales company for you:

  • It’s a product you’ll genuinely use and are happy to recommend to others
  • Its requirements are compatible with your commitments and goals
  • You feel confident you can consistently sell the product.
  • You see room for yourself in their market – if 25 people you know are already selling this product, who will you sell to start? (Ideally you’d expand, your friends introduce you to their friends, and those people introduce you to more people as you progress with parties and sales so it’s not always about your friends and fam, but it starts there!)
  • The methods their consultants are using to promote the product are compatible with your ethics and what you’re willing to associate yourself with and be a part of. I’ll tell anyone – I would %100 consider another direct sales company if the right one came along BUT I also have a mental list of companies I would NEVER work for because there are so many spammy consultants, even if I ever tried the product and fell in love I wouldn’t put my name to the company because there’s too much spam.

The claims that many consultants make are generally true when you’re working for it.  You do work from home, you do make money with every sale, you can make money by sharing the opportunity.  It’s a good gig.

However, let’s not forget that if you want to make money in any industry you have to work hard.  So sometimes consultants have a habit of making it sound like direct sales is easy money.  It’s not.  It can be good money but it isn’t easy money.

Major Red Flags

Remember that you’re joining this company to make money.  If the company requires you to spend an obnoxious amount to join and maintain status as a consultant, it’s not a good idea.  Life is not consistent – some months you’ll sell a lot and some months will be weaker.  If you have ridiculous monthly requirements you will struggle to create consistency and build success.

  • Do not sign up for auto-ship.  Some companies require you accept and pay for automatic shipments of product that you will have and sell as personal inventory.  Do not do this to yourself. They’ll tell you that you can easily sell the product but they won’t help you when you have a garage full of thousands of dollars of product you can’t move.
  • On a related note: Do not sign a time based contract that requires you to be active in the company for a minimum amount of time. Much like accumulating a garage full of auto-shipped products, you lose the flexibility that is usually a main attraction for direct sales.
  • Do not pay more than you can actually afford for startup.  Most kits run between $50-300 depending on the company and what they include in their start-up kit.  They are making money off these kit sales, for sure, but they also are genuinely providing you with tools to begin your business. Just don’t get tricked into thinking that to start this business you need to spend thousands.
  • Spammy consultants.  If consultants for this company are generally posting bad graphics with obnoxious pleas disguised as pitches and invitations to buy or join… beware! Spammy posts are a good indication that these consultants are desperate to move product and make goals. Don’t fall for it and become one of them.

Ultimately the biggest thing I can say is that sure – with a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, you might be able to make this your main income eventually. Go ahead girl, build you an empire! BUT consider it a side gig until your side gig starts out earning your day job – only when you’re out earning yourself would I recommend assessing it’s potential to be more than a side gig.

Good luck in your potential direct sales journey. I loved working for Jamberry and am entirely willing to work for another company if I am in love with their product.

What companies are you loving and buying from your friends right now?

Working for yourself versus working alone

Just because you don’t work for anybody else doesn’t mean you can’t work with somebody else.

That’s one of the hardest attitude shifts to overcome when seeking success on projects that we own.  At least for me. I get so excited about owning a project and all of the potential it has, and I take pride in working for myself. Especially when the project is walking away from the 9-5 grind and not really just leading a project, but owning my ability to be productive and profitable.  I don’t want to work for anybody else as an employee but I have to separate what it means to work for someone and what it means to work with them.

There are a lot of ways that you can work with others while still working for yourself and from home. I myself am starting just starting to explore what this means and what works for me.

I know that I value the feeling of connection.  Even if we’re just helping each other out in little ways – being generous with “likes” and comments, taking time to share, etc. there’s so much value in making connections.

Then there’s larger projects and affiliations. I’m interested in how these types of profitable partnerships work and can be worked into my current workflow.

A few ways that I know of already to work for yourself without working alone:

If you’re work is largely based on social media reach out to others and exchange engagement (likes, comments, shares)

Doing this works wonders in a few ways. It gets you reading and engaging with what others are doing. There’s no underestimating the value of paying attention to what else is happening around your digital world. However, it’s easy to forget.  We get so busy creating our content, and scheduling, and promoting ourselves that we forget to notice we aren’t the only ones.

Co-Create a Post, a Video, a Series of posts & videos, etc.

When you’re out there engaging with what others are doing maybe you’ll notice someone who would compliment your knowledge and content. Maybe you’ll see a way to work together – go ahead and propose ways that the two of you can create something together and then share it with both your audiences – effectively exchanging introductions.

Find the people who are dedicated to helping you

On sites like Pinterest and Twitter you’ll find lots of groups; boards or accounts that are dedicated to promoting blog content. Personally, I’ve found several dedicated to sharing content created by women and had some success being shared or retweeted by them.

This is kind of a win in that you just need to join the group board or include the appropriate @ or # in your tweet and voila! You’re promoted! It doesn’t have to require that you do a whole lot in exchange.

Be a Gracious Guest

Look for opportunities to guest post on other blogs and websites and benefit from their audience seeing your name.

This is another way to get out there that I am currently investigating. I share these on-going thought processes because putting it out there that I want to know more about this myself puts the pressure on for me to go find the answers, live the dream, and share more with you guys.

One thing I do know is that depending on both your status (knowledge, follower base, the place where you are a guest, etc) there are opportunities that are paid, as well as opportunities that are not.

Opportunities that are not paid may be beneficial, especially when you’re starting out, but if and when you feel confident that you don’t need to share your work for free: don’t.

Once you draw that boundary, keep it, and put your time and energy in to opportunities that meet your criteria as fully as you meet theirs.

Be Open Minded

In the world of work from home, work online, work for yourself dream building the key is always to stay open minded.  Especially while working online, your platform is ever changing.  Embrace changes and opportunities or methods you hadn’t previously thought about.

That’s all for now!

What’s your favourite way to work with people without losing that boss babe feeling?

Blogging and Social media: You’re there but Why?

I am still learning on my entrepreneurial journey.  The blog is launched, posts are becoming more regular, my social media presence is growing and in every week there are lessons learned.

I share these lessons as I learn them to become the resource I crave and build my identity within this industry.  I’ve talked before about following good advice and where to start.  Today I want to talk a little about being valuable versus being accessible.

The thing is that when we start blogging, or really when we start any online project we might secretly dream of overnight fame.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we woke up and tens of thousands of people had “liked” and “followed” us?

Sure, it’d be nice but not realistic in the least.

After all, what makes people follow you?  If you read the how-to guides floating around for Instagram right now the biggest thing most of them say is be consistent.  It’s good advice but it’s leaving something out.  Be valuable. 

You can post all day long, on a consistent schedule but what are you posting? You want to be consistently valuable as much as you are consistent with anything.

The online world will demand your accessibility – people will message or comment at all hours, they’ll forget about normal family schedules and just see you as totally available to them.  There’s a lot you can do too, to foster your relationships and availability is the easy part.

The true art is in being out there and giving people content that they actually want.

Carmen

 

 

 

 

 

How to Find Followers and Be Loved by Everyone

 

Everyone’s working hard and we want to be noticed and appreciated – we want to see our hard work pay off!  We see success in rising stats and so the key question becomes: How do I get followers? How do I become popular?!

I wish there was a simple answer like follow steps 1-3 and BOOM! You’ll reach your wildest dreams! But in a world dictated by algorithms and with everyone being careful and thoughtful about what and who they follow or subscribe to, it’s a little tricker than 1, 2, 3.

I post my tips and lessons as I learn them – I don’t have mind blowing numbers to show off as reasons you should listen to me.  What I have is a genuine experience that I’m sharing as it happens (Imagine, the original purpose of a blog!)

So here are my tips and strategies for finding followers and being loved by everyone.  Maybe when I’m famous I’ll rewrite this post and let you know if it works 😉

You have to collaborate to be successful, but you do have to participate. 

You see, creating great content is only part of the battle.  You don’t have to collaborate and share credit but you do have to interact with others.  How do you expect people to find and appreciate your content if you’re simply posting it and waiting for the big rush of applause and appreciation?  When they say you have to put yourself out there it isn’t about putting your content out there – it’s actually putting you out there and making connections.

Go find, like, follow and comment others who might be interested in your work. Find your audience and invite them in to see what you’re doing.  (And show a little love for them – you know how hard the grind is, after all!)
Pro tip: Do this on multiple platforms! Running a wordpress blog? Go like and comment on other blog posts.  Working on upping your instagram game? You know what to do – double tap and show some love! Looking to be the next twitter superstar? Twitter is a giant conversation platform – don’t just talk to yourself 😉

How much do you love it when you connect to someone, or to a company because they make you feel like a person instead of a customer?  When you are waiting for people to stumble across your content and appreciate it you’re thinking of them as customers or follower stats – not people.  In a fast-moving society where we often feel kind of lost in the masses, we have come to value personal connections.  So provide that!  Provide what you crave!

Support doesn’t cost you anything!

All the practical reasons aside – going out and giving those likes, follows and comments doesn’t cost you anything! Okay, so actually finding people who belong to your target audience and connecting with meaningful comments does take time. But you can work that into your workflow.  It’s actually an enjoyable part of my day so I use seeking and connecting with others who might like my work as a way to break up the heavier lifting.  If I am stuck in my writing I can work my social media a bit. If I am dizzy from the research I can find some new people to follow.  Work the different social media platforms you want to grow on into your daily workflow and watch how much making the first move helps you grow!

Just remember… Don’t be an asshole! Don’t start getting spammy and desperate leaving lazy comments that are just emoji’s or one word like “Great”. It doesn’t feel personal or thoughtful.  You want to invite people to connect with you so it’s worth being a decent member of the online community in the process!

Open your mind – what’s the vision when you say working for yourself is the dream?

So here’s the thing – a lot of people say they want to work for themselves but everyone has a different vision of what that means.  For me, it means the freedom to work from anywhere (usually from home), and to be fluid and ever changing in what I do.  I can control the content I produce and in the vision where I create my own line of products they are my design and I can change up the style as I feel like it.

So as you go seeking an audience don’t forget to look inwards and keep a clear vision of what you want.  It’s easy to get so caught up being someone who will attract followers and likes that you lose sight of who you are and what you want to be doing.

Carmen

Don’t Mistake a Passion Project for an Easy Gig

One of the most frustrating attitudes I encounter is that my life must be easier because I’m pursuing projects I love, and because I work from home.  I’ll admit the commute is alright but that doesn’t mean that I live a life of leisure.

The first word is still “Work

Between teaching and the blog, along with some volunteer work on the side I keep busy.  It’s easy to assume I’m free and open all day but in reality, I have a long to-do list and my projects suffer when I don’t get dedicated time to work on them.

I could be making calls, writing, answering emails, researching or alternating between tasks.  I still look forward to an evening of relaxing just like everyone else.

This choice came with sacrifices

I think part of the reason I get frustrated when people make assumptions about my lifestyle is because they tend to overlook the sacrifices.  It’s not easy to make a full “typical” salary working from home, so there are financial sacrifices.  There’s no health benefits or sick days.  A lot of the things we assume come with a 9-5 we forget don’t come with working for ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working for myself and being creative.  That being said, I don’t want people to imagine I have it easy just because I don’t leave the house.

The things I’m passionate about doing and the things I find easy are not necessarily the same

Working on a passion project is great – take this blog for example. I get to define what it is about, focus on what I’m interested in and develop ideas from start to finish.  However, that hasn’t made it easy.  I’m not a trained web developer, I’m still learning about entrepreneurial work (a dedication to constant learning is a whole new blog post), and self-promotion is a time-consuming process.  The fact that I am proud of this work and enjoy doing it does not mean that it’s a no-brainer for me.

Don’t assume that people who are pursuing their passions are doing so to get out of doing “real work” or because it’s the easy path.  Really building your own dream takes a lot more than what people see and is about the reward of following your heart, not about doing less work, I promise.

 

What are the misconceptions people have about the work you do (whatever work that is!)?

Looking for Advice? Be Picky

Yes, even when considering mine. The thing about wanting to work from home or for yourself in any capacity – actually, the thing about ANY thing you might be searching for advice on… is that there is A LOT of advice out there.
And the big secret: a good chunk of it is good advice. But you still can’t follow all of it.

Take blogging for example. I really am a successful example of how the Western school system molds our brains to value research and hard data so with a new project in mind step one was research.  Before I logged on to wordpress, named my project or even knew what I wanted my scope and subjects to be I was reading other blogs and articles about blogging.  There’s all kinds of advice from what and how to write, to how to promote it, to sample schedules, and the list goes on.

The reality is that while it might mostly be sound advice for starting a blog, it isn’t possible to consume and then follow all of it. Pick advice that makes sense with who you are, what project you’re working on and what you want from it.

The bottom line is this: Don’t be afraid to ignore good advice.

As for deciding what to ignore, don’t overthink it. Actually, you don’t even have to look at a piece of advice and then decide to ignore it. Really, the key is finding a few sources of advice that you trust and are interested in – then, stop looking.

As long as you’re looking for advice you’ll find it. You’ll find new or different strategies, approaches, ideas, etc.  You’ll find new gurus, leaders, and writers who will want to help you on your journey.

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed from hopping around between gurus and programs the key that they promote is consistency. Regardless of the platform or product, no matter what strategy you use to promote yourself the gurus agree: you have to be consistent.

So I offer you this: be consistent with the advice you choose to follow. Even if you don’t see immediate results or you see others selling advice that promises everything you’ve ever wanted… choose your advice and follow it consistently.

Focusing on Control

One of the biggest challenges working gig-to-gig is feeling that I don’t control my work or income.  I can’t force students to book a certain number of classes just because that number would equal out to my ideal income.  I can’t always make jobs appear or make my efforts pay off as big as I want them too.

So what’s a girl to do?

Focus on what I can control and how to make those things go as far as possible. I wrote in my post Find Your Hustle about the importance of keeping more than one stream of income.

For example, right now my students are celebrating a national holiday and bookings are way down.  How am I going to make up the income of a couple weeks having lower than average booking rates?

Main gig not paying? Give your side hustles some love

Teaching is really my main gig. Of all the streams of income I have right now, it pays the most, and it pays the most consistently. At times like this when that consistency is a little less reliable than normal, I can focus on transcribing. I don’t transcribe that much in an average month because I’m very picky about the jobs I’ll take (I need high-quality audio to ensure I transcribe accurately and produce good work.). Perhaps this month I’ll be a little less picky and more focused on putting in time at the keyboard.

Add some Extra Hustle

I’ve had a lot more time than usual on my hands with these lowered booking rates.  It’s allowed me to give this blog some much-needed love at the time of launch, for example.  Even though I’m not counting on the blog for major income it’s still something I value having the time to build and work on so the lower bookings can be taken as a blessing.

Stay Fresh on what’s Available

This almost goes with adding some extra hustle.  Just as you might use the unexpected time off from your main gig to put some love into a project that may or may not be income-generating you can also use this time to check out any new companies and opportunities in your field. Maybe you’ll find a few more gig-providing companies to start a relationship with and further diversify your streams of income.

Keep your Lifestyle Flexible

Ultimately a downturn with one gig might just mean lower income for a period of time.  Even if you mitigate the impact by increasing productivity on some of your smaller gigs you need a flexible lifestyle.  For example, if you have subscription boxes or other lifestyle expenses you can “skip” for a month or cancel go ahead and cut costs to lessen the impact of a low-income month.

Or, enjoy the Vacation

When it comes down to it sometimes you have to just go with the flow and enjoy the time off!

Carmen

The Gig Economy & You: How to Start Working for Yourself

So you’ve decided that you’d love to let go of the 9-5 and make it on your own, doing work that you’re connected to. But how? The moment I realized this is what I wanted felt great, and the moment right after I was filled with daunting questions.

If I work for myself, what the heck do I even do exactly?
If you’re not sure what it should be that you set up a business doing start listening to the people in your life.

What do they admire you for? What do they wish they could do like you? What do they pay someone to do that you do for yourself?
For example, I’m really bad with numbers. Not only that, but perhaps more problematically, I have very low confidence in my ability to work with numbers. So even when  I sit down and figure out the math on something I’m still very uncertain that I’ve done it correctly, and I don’t trust my own results. Come tax time this means I pay someone to do my taxes.
Friends who are great with numbers and confident in their abilities save the fees that I gladly pay to know for certain that things are done right, and if they aren’t it isn’t my fault.

My mom is amazingly creative, she has a scary good eye for color and is very crafty.  When I was growing up there were lots of quilts, dolls, and clothing I had that others admired and she made with her own two hands. I remember her having various business projects making things like wedding dresses, dance costumes, and quilts for others. What she was great at, and they couldn’t do themselves, she made a profit from.

That’s the key to this whole gig economy thing. Listen to what others admire about you, become conscious of the skills you have that are so natural to you that you almost forget they’re special.

Those skills are the key to monetizing yourself.

I have always loved writing. It never seemed like a special skill to me. It was just something I loved and others seemed to enjoy so I kept at it. Now here I am making it part of how I control my income – from the blog to transcription.

Even teaching is part of this for me. I love to talk, I like kids, I’m good at English and approaching a concept from different angles until I’ve made it make sense for someone else. It’s all communication and strong communication is what I excel at. I never really practiced those things, I never really realized that they were different for me than others. Yet so many people listen to me describe my teaching job and say “That’s awesome, I couldn’t do that.”

When you have something you love that others say they just couldn’t do, you can usually find a way to take that to the bank. Let them know they don’t have to, for a small fee, you’ll get it done for them!

Comment with a skill or a few skills you have that others pay for (even if they aren’t paying you for it, yet 😉

Self Care in the Gig Economy

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If your boss offered you more money, would you be like “nah, I need to stay home and not make money that day…” ?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

But what if you are your own boss? This is the self care challenge I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I decide what times to open for classes, and of course I open as much as I can stand to work in a day because I like getting those pay cheques.   My classes get booked about two weeks in advance, so it’s really reassuring to watch my next 7-14 days fill up and know that I’m going to keep making the income I need to look after my family.

But then there’s those days when the alarm goes off and I don’t want to get up and work. I open my classroom to greet my student and actually have to pause, take a deep breath and remind myself to smile. This isn’t normal for me.

I love teaching. I love my students. I’m genuinely happy in the moment while I’m working.

Until I get run down and start feeling burnt out, tired, and unmotivated.

That’s when I know it’s time to take a break for self care.  Not a long break – I tend to work 7 days a week so when I start feeling run down I know its time for a weekend or two off. But to do that I’m literally saying “I am okay with not making money during a time when I could be. I’m going to take that time to technically do nothing instead.”

When that Friday or Saturday work time comes around and I’m watching a movie instead of making money, it’s a challenging conundrum. In that very moment, and even in the days leading up to my time off, I tell myself “I’m fine, I would benefit more from the financial security so I should just open the times.”

I can easily take time off when there’s an event or plans I want to prioritize. But those things don’t give my mind or spirit any rest. If I take a day off to go to a concert and work the other 6 days, I have fun but I don’t take a break.

It can be challenging to prioritize ourselves, whether you work a 9-5 where it’s probably your job to, in some way or form, make other people’s days easier or if you work for yourself and control your own schedule… it’s really hard to say no to work and financial security to take the bubble bath, get your nails or hair done, sleep a little longer or just breathe easy for 24 hours, assessing your own needs instead of everyone else’s.

There’s no easy answer. There’s no three steps to self care without a second thought. The best I can offer is to follow some accounts on your social media that might post positive, self care oriented content that will remind you to look after yourself. And when you hear that voice in the back of your head saying “You’re fine, just push on and keep working.” You have the right to fight that voice a little bit and put yourself first.

 

Carmen