Wednesday 4 January 2017

Gig Economy: How Does Your Online Presence Impact Your Sales?

Your online presence is your brand.

Let us take just a quick look at a few forums you think you are active and participating regularly. (Actually, you are not)


When you upload 197 photos of your recent trip to Thailand, the green grass there included and the blue sky, what are others thinking about you?

That is some sincere reporting to Zuckerberg - How do they manage time to upload 197 pictures?

Vanity metrics –The count of likes and comments gives a high – How self- absorbed is that?

Your joblessness is for everyone to see - You upload and then thank each one of them individually – Is there nothing else to do?

Your need for external validation to feel important – How does it matter to anyone what you eat in Thailand and the crockery you used? Has self-esteem gone for a ride?

Takeaway: The point is - what you do in Thailand does not matter, what you do in Facebook matter to people who intend to hire your services.

If I were a buyer, I would think twice, doubt the individual's maturity wondering how can this person deliver my complex project if these are his/her priorities?


You created a profile in this professional network when the dinosaur lived and then forgot all about it as you were extremely busy after that – with Facebook and Snap chat.

As a fresher, you have nothing much to add here and as an experienced resource, you cannot figure out how to stop – Both are potentially dangerous in this era where attention span is the biggest challenge.

Takeaway: Cut content and be crisp so that the target audience get the right messages and can gauge your capability.


I guarantee you this – there is still considerably a large population out there who has no idea and is clueless what to do with their Twitter account

They have created a profile because they thought it was something similar to Face book and they are missing being trendy. Some just add followers and follow their heartthrobs without the faintest idea about the power of Twitter in branding and business

Takeaway: Twitter is not Facebook. Learn what to do with it that can brand you well in a global platform


Some use Quora for these

How does it feel to make Crores before you are 23 years old?
How to gauge gold diggers from non-gold diggers?

What is your first opinion about the people who have these questions - Juvenile, immature, curious or plain time wasters.

You also have serious ones like these

Is Qnet a Scam?

What are your questions and expert/ experience responses on this platform? The categories define you.

Takeaway: Genuine questions and genuine responses make you a reliable resource.


It is expensive. That is history. You can always begin with a blog spot or word press

Website is not an extension of your Resume. It is not the sum total of all your roles. It is you as a person and professional, your services and your portfolio, your capability and your thoughts, your causes and outcomes.

Takeaway: This is your key marketing tool.

What is  your online reputation  or social media score today?

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Freelancing Kit: 20 Years Corporate Experience Has Nothing To Do With This.

Ok, you are new to freelancing after many years in corporate. This is one blog, I wanted to write for a very long time

You better be ready to take some blows on your confidence initially.


Let us consider your background first.

You are used to that cozy cubicle with an ergonomic chair to suit your long dedicated hours in office. Your opinions and perspectives are noted and pondered upon by Management. You begin your work day having a quick meeting with your team – those who report to you have immense respect for your organization skills and ideas.

Suddenly when you are trying to do this, you have no clue why no one cares. You thought you have so much to offer and contribute – You will definitely have a line of orders from buyers across the globe seeking your expertise.

They don’t. That’s the first blow.

As a buyer, when I see your impressive linked profile, the projects you executed and leadership skills you have, I wonder if I can guide you appropriately with my project or should I completely leave it on your shoulders to be guided by youI sense loss of control already.

It is almost the same kind of dilemma a small company faces while dealing with big names – Will we fit into their strategic interest? Will we be treated well as their premium clients? Will the fees be exorbitant? If they do not deliver as promised, can we recover our investment or seek alternatives?

Be approachable. Your profile should make your target audience comfortable. So it is not about “I” and “20 years” – it is about the value-add you have to offer "them" who want to reach out to you.

Experience/ Education/ Environment

Your past experience, high education and the environment you were exposed to so far can actually be the hindering factors.

You feel like a teenager wanting to be heard and taken seriously. You feel like a fresher eager for a breakthrough. Each time you tell your buyers that you have 20 year’s extensive experience and blah, it does not sound right, echoes in your own ears and you feel the urge to stop bragging because here, you are nothing.

Well, if you do not feel any of these, stop trying to make a mark here. You are not ready for this adventure, just yet

Whether you want to offer consultation, domain/ industry expertise or execute any assignment independently how you handle it as an individual without the backup of a company’s portfolio is something buyers are yet to see in your profile. Can you deliver?

You can’t. That’s the second blow.

You realize that dependence you had on your team to get minor works done is going against you here – You feel handicapped – uploading that logo in power point presentation, writing that blog, reading a report and making critical notes to build your talking points – All were made ready for you by your team. Though you are a great thinker, the doing part was missing for a very long time. Why are you failing here? 

Is it because you are without your label and usual branding here? 
Is it because you have to compete with 20 year olds?
Is it because the young ones are actually doing much better than you with fundamentals? 
Is your confidence taking an irreparable blow?

It is time for the unlearning process to begin. Create your slides now and yes, format them too.


Let us understand the rationale behind why some companies/ startups hire freelancers. That is no rocket science actually. There are different thoughts and focus behind such a move. 

a)  They cannot afford or they do not need full time employees.
b)   There is no continuity of work – it is just need based
c)   They need the best in the industry, even if they can afford them just once

Your capability should align with this need and deliver the outcome they are looking for. Will you, with your current capability own this end to end?

You will not. That is the final blow

Your capability has limitations. I have worked with several leaders who are great to give tips and comments on how to refine a deck however they have zero understanding about how to storyboard the deck for the proposed target audience from scratch.

Anyone with little bit of awareness on left brain dominated people (logical – data specific) and right brain dominated people (creative – imagination prone) will know how to deal with this shortcoming.

Your knowledge should compensate for what the buyers do not have.

You should be able to deliver their desired business outcomes

Either you or another hired resource should be able to continue based on what you deliver to meet future needs and bigger needs of the project.

What are the three critical things you need to unlearn today to establish your online income? 

Image Credit: Canva Design

Monday 2 January 2017

Writing Kit: My Writing Is Not 100% Error Free - Buyers Still Pay $135 For 900 Words

Non Native Freelance Writers should look for work in their home country – That’s the standard advice I read in many forums. That kind of makes you doubt the possible success for ESL writers. I take heart from these

I do not get paid for great language or error free writing. In fact I do not take risk of writing a long paragraph, apprehensive that I may mess with my prepositions.

(I do not have an editor as of now. So please bear with me)

I give that royal jazz that people remember short notes and quickly switch to bullets in my writing, like these:

·         I am not a native English speaker. 
·         I am not the Ad-words or search engine optimization expert either. 
·         I have not done my Masters in business or any other stream.
·         I am not tech savvy

(I am not playing safe here. The bullets are true. So is the rationale – People do tend to remember short notes)

Another truth is, I actually failed in Physics during graduation and I really did not have the patience to go through those practical classes in Optics and do those measurements all over again. It was just a pursuit for degree and I got my Bachelors in Arts. Some things I do is because the whole world is doing – absolute herd mentality.

(That makes me truly, sincerely and faithfully average, isn’t it?)

English was my first language.

That is just name sake. I had to learn the national language Hindi and the local language of the state Kannada. Compared to my command on these two, English was definitely first all the way. My family speaks Bengali, the language of Tagore and Satyajit Ray.

After having completed writing assignments for corporate and native English buyers and having published books in English that did not really make it to the best seller list, I realized I needed to re-visit my grammar lessons if I had to make a living* writing.

(*Make a living = Earning big like my global counter parts from English speaking countries)

I love writing.

I cannot help that. I seriously love writing. I deviated from paid blogs to business writing. Today when buyers ask me for writing samples trying to figure out why I charge $135 for writing 700 words, I can read and hear them loud.

(Like seriously? A dollar is lot more in your country)

I do not charge for what I write, but the way I think. Simple!

Custom Offer Snapshot

(The other document indicated in the screenshot above is mostly standard freebies which make the writing valuable to them)

Switching to write business plans in story board format was a conscious decision because I knew I was not very good in spinning articles. Grammar is, has been and will always remain a pain for me. I am better off with cutting content like power supply and outlining winning storyboards.

By the way, what was 900 words in March this year, is now 700 words only. We are in the era of shrinking word count, diminishing attention span and vanishing focus. Writing that short about a business idea and yet engaging audience’s mind is a Herculean task. I was okay to deal with this challenge compared to writing 1500 words error free article in perfect English.

The fundamental thought is not to write what target audience may or may not read. The idea is to write what you definitely want them to read.

(Skipping sections is a way of reading).

This breaks a couple of myths for ESL writers.

Myth #1:     You have to be exceptional in writing.

Contradicting popular opinion, I can comfortably say no to this as I am not even close to being exceptional.

·         I  have the right ideas
·         I sequence them well in a story board
·         I ensure my readers have one or two takeaway/ learning
·         I do some research
·         I just manage to spice it up with outdated humor.

(I will tie up with an editor to manage those prepositions someday)

Myth #2:     English fluency is a must.

I am yet to go back to my Grammar books. All I have learnt is to fit my current writing skills along with my weaknesses in a market that suit both parties. They manage the minor edits and tweaks that come naturally to them while I manage the major creative thinking and writing from scratch part.

Here is a buyer who selflessly points out a grammatical error in my profile, to brighten my chances in the freelance market. He appreciates the way I think/ work and is aware English is not my first language.

(There is a world out there that is a lot more generous than you think)

1.   Tough part is to accept that you have poor command on the language
2.   Tiring part is the ongoing struggle to compete with the best
3.   Testing part is to figure what skills can you couple your writing with

Once you are done with these three, you have arrived.

4.   Triumph part is to compensate average writing with exceptional research or creative thinking or whatever you are good at.

If the four T s here are defining different stages of writing nirvana, which stage are you now?

Sunday 1 January 2017

Gig Economy: How To Choose Your Gig Buyers Judiciously

If you are a beginner with just a gig or two in the online arena, you will be pretty excited when a buyer contacts you for the very first time. It immediately boosts your confidence just knowing that a potential prospect has reached out to you for one of his projects based on what you have uploaded in the portal as your portfolio.

When you realize it is not company branding, someone’s recommendation or any sales pitch that has got you this first connect it does give you a high as it sinks in your mind - that it just all about you and nothing else here – that worked in your favor so fare. It is purely you and your online credentials that encouraged the buyer to contact you and take this forward.

Now in your excitement, do not forget to evaluate who you are working with. Here are a few clues to assess your buyer before you proceed.


It is important to note what kind of reviews the buyer has gained for himself. If you read of a few of them, you can use your discretion to rate the buyer as per your mental map and decide, if you would like to work with that buyer.


What kind of badge does he carry? Some portals recognize a few of their buyers as top buyers based on their payment track, dispute record and interaction with sellers through different orders.

Amount spent

Some portals provide amount earned by sellers and amount spent buy buyers on different projects. I somehow do not bid for buyers who have not spent a dollar yet. I am not sure, if this is the right approach. I am too busy to deep dive in to their background to check whether they are new, do they just initiate projects and not award it to any one and assess past records.

However if the project is interesting, well described that hints at the earnestness of the buyer, it is green signal for me, regardless of whether the buyer is new or yet to spend

No of Bids

For a simple project if there are too many bids already, it is better to let it pass. Either the buyer will award it to the first good resource he finds, without checking the rest of the profiles or he may delay awarding for an indefinite period (Read considerably long time) as he will evaluate each and every profile. The buyer may actually be efficient, organized and in one word great however, you cannot keep yourself available for this project till the time he decides.

Project expiry

If you notice the buyer is likely to take a call three months later about the project it is a huge signal that he is either under-prepared for the project or he must have uploaded his need/ project in multiple forums and he is aware this hiring will be a long time process.

Project description

When you read a project, you can easily assess the effort taken by the project owner to communicate the dynamics of the project to the target audience and articulate their current need. That is a huge hint about the genuineness of the need and you can be sure to get adequate support from buyer in execution if you bid and win the project

Buyer queries

Some buyers tend to ask a lot of questions in their projects along with the bids/ proposals – You can read the questions before you bid. If those are experience related, then probably they are using them to filter appropriate profiles. If they are new, or being cautious or had bad experience the questions will be mostly trust related and you got to answer them accordingly.


Above all respect your intuition. You can ignore all that is stated above and proceed with a project, be happy about your bid and submission if that is what your inner voices asks you to do. 
Beyond financials

Keep three things in your radar when you bid – How will this buyer make you rich?

·         Add to your learning
·         Improve your portfolio experience and exposure wise
·         Financially.  
     It is not always about the revenue. It is about how it adds value to your existing profile for better opportunities in future. How you decide who to work with and the qualifiers you use to filter them is the foundation for your success.