As I was working on a program to help clients and readers to take their ideas from inspiration to action, I started making a list of things that *I* want to do to improve my personal and professional life. I wanted the list to be a "no limits" list. The kind that would inspire me to take action. The only rule was: Each item on the list should be doable with a deadline of 12 weeks or less.
So, if I put it on the list, I have to believe that I can do it in that timeline. And, on top of that: I should be able to help others to do an item from the list within 12 weeks or less too.
As I created my list, I thought: "Hey, what if I made this list available for others to use?"
The terrible part of my brain answered: "Why would anyone want to be told what to do to improve their life?"
Well, dear terrible brain, I'm not really telling others what to do. I'm just sharing ideas on what I think might make a better life. That is, if they decide to do something from the list. The same way I'm hoping to improve the quality of my life when I choose from the list. And, yes. I have every intention to use the list.
Granted, I've already practiced and completed some of the items from this list. But, I'm hoping that those items might be helpful for others to try. Besides, I might consider taking on the challenge again.
In any case, if you would like to jump right ahead and download the "100 Things To Do To Improve Your Life" checklist, you can go to our content library and download immediately if you're already a member.
1. The checklist is in an interactive PDF format. You need Adobe Reader to access it. Most people have this installed already. If not, go here. You're missing out otherwise.
2. You can either print out the file or use it right on your computer. You can use the check boxes and the small journaling section by clicking on the check box to mark it. And, you can type write into the text box to journal.
3. You are encouraged to choose #OneThing from the list and focus your energy on it for 12 weeks or less. You can choose another thing if you wish, especially once you've completed your first thing. If you want to work on more than one thing at a time, that's totally up to you. Sending salutes and high fives your way.
4. If you use social media and you would like to share your #OneThing, please do. And, tag me @shaicoggins too! Sharing your goals help to keep you accountable. So, if you're up for it - share away!
5. You can use the checklist as a guide and choose things to work on. Or, you can use it as a way to mark things that you've already done. See how many you can finish within a set schedule. And, make sure you tell us all about it.
If you have any questions or feedback, I'd love to hear from you.Read More
So, you've started your ideal business. Hooray!
Now: How do you find your first client? This is one of the most popular questions in many business and freelancing groups that I take part in.
As an entrepreneur and freelancer for 20+ years, I've gained clients in different ways. And, with several businesses started, I've found 'first clients' through various avenues.
Here are some approaches to starting and building a client base:
This is the absolute number one approach in my book when it comes to finding great opportunities. The best kind of people in your network would be more than happy to find ways to help you when you need the support.
So, yes, tell friends and family that you're looking for a client in your line of work. Let them know what you do. Start being comfortable in telling people your area of expertise. Be open about your need to find work or clients. You don't need to beg, just share. Just make sure you have samples of your work available for your friends and family to see.
When I first started freelancing, the internet wasn't mainstream yet. In fact, I didn't even know that such a thing could exist! So, I did my networking the old fashioned way. I started a small newsletter for my class that I edited and produced. Yes, using my trusty old typewriter and the university photocopying service! And, when a former classmate discovered my love for writing, she referred me to her cousin. That cousin turned out to be an award-winning writer who was starting as an editor at a new national magazine. They needed writers, so I started contributing stories. It was my first 'real' job outside of the family business.
This network approach to finding clients and jobs continue to this day for me. This time, on a much larger scale, thanks to the existence of the web, social media, and international contacts. For example, when I got laid off from a full-time job a few years ago, I didn't even need to ask my networks to send clients my way. As soon as people heard that I left my old job when friends and colleagues started sending work my way. Even helping to set-up appointments for me and giving me ideas on where I may be able to find work. I didn't even have any programs, business cards, and other promotional materials ready yet.
In the process, a couple of friends ended up hiring me through their companies at the time. And, someone in my professional network became my most valuable first client. This client even ended up helping me to secure another great client.
So, in less than a year, I was making more in my business working less hours than I did when I was employed full time.
I'm not sure if I do this out of habit, as I've always loved looking at the classified section for as long as I can remember. Some people enjoy the sports section in a newspaper, others enjoy the puzzles, comics, and crosswords. There are those who love the gossip and celebrity section. Me, I loved my classifieds even from a time when I wasn't even allowed to apply for jobs (I know, I was a weird kid. Still a weird adult.).
But, strangely enough, I have found some good clients through the classifieds and job boards. While most of them turn out to be just small, short-time clients, others can be quite lucrative. I landed writing/editing jobs at online publications through job listings. I even found my first book publishing deal (a tiny deal, mind you) through job ads many years ago.
Nowadays, you get a lot of good sources like LinkedIn Jobs. There are even job-specific groups on Facebook. In my line of work, I've opted to join these Facebook groups: Social Media Jobs (Worldwide, but mostly US-based) and Australian Social Media Jobs.
Apart from looking at general classifieds and job boards, one of my favourite ways to go about doing this is to look at "Jobs Available" or "We're Hiring" links on company websites that I like. If I already like the company, chances are, I can promote myself better.
But, do note that advertised jobs get more competition. So, it's harder to stand out. But, it doesn't mean it's impossible.
You can also look into freelance job sites like Upwork.
This is possibly one of the scariest approaches to landing a client or a job. But, they can also be the most exciting. I don't do this often, partly because as an introvert, I tend to be a wimp in these types of situations. Also, thankfully, I haven't felt the need to cold call all that much.
In the few times that I did, I started off by identifying a company that I wished to work with. For example, when I was living in Singapore, I came across Elle Magazine. It was a women's magazine that I wished to contribute to, so I contacted the features editor and asked if they would be open for me to pitch some article ideas. I was thrilled when she responded positively. It was tough to get an article get to print to start with, but once I found my groove, I ended up getting paid assignments on a regular basis.
Of course, this doesn't always pay off. I've been turned down a few times. And sometimes, in difficult and embarrassing ways. That's why I'm not so crazy about this approach. But, I do acknowledge that there are times when you do have to hustle and this is the only way to get yourself out there.
Usually, the best types of companies and organisations to cold call are those that you're already familiar with. So, if you don't know the business all that well, make sure you do your research first.
Building your online presence can definitely pay off in a big way, if you know how to manage your personal brand. That's why you need to make sure that your blog/website can represent you and the work that you do.
I've had various clients through this avenue. Some have hired me after watching me online for a period of time. Others have hired me after coming across a few of my written pieces and reading about my work experiences.
One editor of an in-flight magazine by an international airline once contacted me for a monthly travel writing job after they came across my work online. I believe I was blogging about travel and they found that post.
My blog/website was also the reason I ended up being a part of a VC-funded business that gained a lot of media attention.
So yes, you never know who will end up finding you online. The important thing to remember is that you first need to be found.
As an extension of having your personal networks and your blog/website, using social media effectively can lead you to your first client. And hopefully, more clients in the future too.
If you take part in online communities where you are able to showcase your skills, personality, and expertise, it is easier for people to see your value.
For example, when I did a call-out for coaching clients at one stage, I was surprised to hear from so many people. Even people who don't usually 'like' or comment on my posts.
That's one of the times when the importance of being a contributor on social media on different levels was highlighted to me.
When I say contributor, it's not just about sharing our work. In fact, it's important not to just ask for help or get people to 'like' or comment on our work. We need to be as generous as possible with our time for other people. We need to comment on, like, and share people's posts. It's good if we can contribute to fundraising calls whenever possible. And, to respond to those who leave comments and say thanks to those who give their time.
It all seems pretty simple and mundane, but all these things go a long way in establishing your personal brand online. And, ultimately, in finding the right first client for you.
Also read: 45 Secret Ways Social Media Can Land You A Job (Forbes magazine)
Do you need help in finding clients for your business? Let me know if I can help you as a coach. Send me a message and we can discuss your specific needs. If you have other questions about your business, leave a comment below or send a message.
How did you get your first client? How are you continuing to find new clients? Do you have other tips you'd like to share?Read More
When asked what would be the most interesting topics for friends, colleagues, and readers of ShaiCoggins.com, one of the most requested topics was about starting one's ideal business. And, this got me thinking about the best way to share my business knowledge and experience with those who also dream to be their own boss.
As a serial entrepreneur, I've had my fair share of starting and running businesses. Four years ago, I started Vervely, a boutique digital media company that enabled me to work with some great companies, including Microsoft. Although the journey to this business was unexpected and had a couple of bumps along the way, it helped me to have the flexibility that I longed for, as well as a good amount of freedom and a six figure income.
The flexibility, freedom, and income I received from this business then enabled me to explore other businesses that I love - my fledgling art and design business, as well as a small independent publishing business. These two other businesses do not bring me the same income as my main business, but to me, they all work well together. And, I have been learning a lot in the process. I can only hope to grow each one as best as I can.
Prior to these business ventures, I've started, run, and sold other businesses. Including a media start-up that gained a lot of attention and a multi-million venture capital funding from North America, a freelance writing and blogging business, a small press business, a workplace training, teaching, and tutorial business, a drinks stand, and many more. And yes, I owe my early business experiences, in part, to my parents. Growing up in a business-minded family, with parents who both owned businesses that I helped to manage, I became aware of the ins and outs of starting and running businesses from a very young age.
No matter what your business background might be (whether complete novice or some experience), you can start the path to building your own ideal business. And, I hope to develop content and resources to help you get on this path.
That's why as a result of the survey, I started developing materials for an e-course: "Authentic and Creative Abundance: Building a Business That Matters". I'm a long way off completion, as I have a number of other projects happening at the same time. But, I thought I'd chip away at this idea bit by bit, and share some insights along the way.
One of the first things I developed with this idea in mind is the "Ideal Business Worksheet". It's an interactive PDF where you can fill in a questionnaire to help you identify your ideal business and what you need to make it happen. You can then save and print the worksheet for your file.
The worksheet is available from The S Squad Library.
Below the image, I'll share with you a guide to starting your own ideal business, which can also serve as a guide to the worksheet.
1. Identify your ideal business. In order to start your ideal business, you need to define what it is. Different people would have different ideals, so you need to focus on what matters to you first.
If you're not sure how to articulate your business idea, try to complete this sentence: "I want to build a business that..." Or, "I would really love a business with..."
This is the start of identifying your ideal business. Don't worry if your business idea doesn't seem polished! This will evolve as you work on it.
2. Define your business focus. You can then define whether your business is product-focused or service-focused. If you're selling tangible items, then your business is product-focused. If you're trying to offer services like coaching, counselling or consulting, then you're more of a service-focused business. You can also have a combination of both, but it's good to know how much of your business products-orientated and how much is service-orientated.
3. Identify which industry your business belongs to. It can be in the arts, technology, sports, or other types of industry. Knowing your main industry would help you to hone-in on your market or your target audience.
4. Describe your industry experience. Knowing how much experience you have in the industry will help you to identify your strengths or your challenges. Even if you don't have direct experience in the industry that you're trying to break into, consider all your experiences and see how it relates to your business idea.
5. Know your why. It's always a good idea to know why you wish to do what you do. It would help you to identify your motivation and inspiration, which can be key to your business mission.
6. Understand the problem that you're trying to solve. While many businesses may be developed from a personal interest, business ideas should be more than just serve the business owner's needs. Every good business idea should solve a problem for its target audience. If you want to sell art, for example, you need to have a reason that's more than just "Sell my creations." The problem you may be trying to solve with your art business could be: "To provide affordable art that makes people feel happy." Or, it could be: "To offer fine art to high end, passionate collectors of realistic pieces." Those two problems would lead you to different types of business approaches even though both are ultimately trying to sell art.
7. Consider various sources of income. Remember that old adage of "Never put all your eggs in one basket."? It's definitely very much applicable to businesses. Regardless of the type of business you want to build, consider what would be your main offerings. If you're building a coaching business, what type of offers would you have? Would you just have one-on-one coaching? Would you add digital coaching? How about group coaching? Or, how about self-paced coaching products or e-courses? It's always good to have at least 2-3 offers to start off with, and see how you wish to grow from there.
8. Plan and source your offers. If you already have your offers in mind, flesh them out. If you don't have them available yet, consider how you're going to source or create them. Do you need to purchase external products and services? Do you need to put together packages and plans?
9. Come up with a quick action list! With some aspects of your business idea in mind, list 3 to 5 things that you can do quickly to make your ideal business happen. Make sure those action items are not huge items. Avoid listing things that are too big to do, as big TO DOs could get you stuck. Consider listing things that you can do within 5 to 15 minutes.
While there may be a lot of steps to get to your ideal business, being able to clarify some of your ideas on paper (or electronic files!) would be a great first step. I wish you all the best with it!
And, if you want to work with me directly on making your ideal business happen, consider hiring me as your digital coach.Read More
Getting the recent survey out was an eye opener for me in more ways than one. And, I'm very grateful to all those who took the time to respond. It's still ongoing, but already, I have learnt a lot. The survey will be up until Friday, so please do give it a go, if you haven't done so yet.
Anyway, before I close the survey, I thought I'd share some of the things that people have shared so far, with some insights that I've gathered based on the responses. And, what I hope to be able to do about it all. I'll also share some key findings later, after the survey ends.
In any case, here are some things I've learnt so far -
Close to 60% of the participants have identified "Turning ideas into action" as one of their top topics that they want to learn more about. A few people have shared more information in the text box provided for. And, I hear 'ya! In fact, this is a topic that's very close to my heart.
We can be abundant with ideas, but remain time poor, so implementation of such ideas can be a bit daunting. Not to mention, needing to battle those nasty blocks that we often encounter along the way. That's why I'm so keen to create content that would provide ways to address this topic. I hope to share processes that I've learnt and developed, as this is a topic that's recurring.
No matter how experienced and professional we might be in many aspects of our lives, there are certain situations where no amount of experience and knowledge can propel us forward. Sometimes, we need extra guidance to move from A to B to C... all the way to whatever letter of the alphabet we need to get to.
Around 62% of the respondents have said so, so far. Since some of the participants on this survey were from a product creation workshop that I'm taking, this didn't come as a complete surprise. What I didn't expect was that many people from within my regular circles are also thinking about this. It wasn't in my list of ideas for an ecourse/online workshop/ebook/content to create, so this has given me a lot of juice for content creation.
Combined, it would be close to 80% of the respondents' answers were looking to learn more about these topics. As a lifelong serial entrepreneur, I know I have a lot to say about these topics. In fact, I started Just Make Money Online many years ago because I used to keep getting so many questions about how I've managed to make a living off the web. But, with the influx of Internet marketers (both good ones and dodgy ones, I must say), I became uncertain about whether or not I have more to say than what everyone else was already saying.
But now, I remembered: Even though there may be many other people talking about the same thing, we all are able to say things in different ways that will appeal to different kind of people. I only need to concern myself with those who want to approach business (both online and otherwise) the way I would like to.
Some people want to make money in any way they can. Others just want to do so by following their passions. I'm in the camp of wishing to create businesses that resonate with my interests, but also with the view of being ethical and practical. If people wish to be in the same camp, then I'm more than happy to be camp facilitator.
With all the articles and guides out there, I thought this topic has been 'done to death'. That's why I was surprised to see this as one of the top favourite topics in the survey, with well over 70% combined responses to two social media-related ideas that I have shared.
With social media being the main offering of my main business, I know I should be overjoyed. But admittedly, when I began this journey of seeking content to develop that people would love to know more about from me, I didn't expect social media to come up. Yes, even though it's my 'day job' and it's the area where I am most known in, I didn't think that people within my circles (outside of my Vervely work) would be interested in learning more about this topic. That's why I don't often talk about it here at ShaiCoggins.com. That's why this survey is helping me to re-think my approach on this matter.
With the realisation that people do want to learn more about social media use in a professional and more structured manner, I am keen to pull together as much information as I can based on 15+ years of using social media to sell products and services, find jobs and clients, connect with communities, expand my networks, develop my expertise, and more.
Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. - A.J. D'Angelo Click To Tweet
In spite of all our busy-ness in day-to-day lives, many of us long to practice creativity - be it developing a sketchbook practice, a journaling practice, a writing practice, or learning how to use mobile phones for art-making. A combined response of 80%+ were directed towards wishing to learn more about creative practices.
Those who mentioned creativity as something that they wish to learn more about, a few also mentioned that part of the challenge is not knowing how to start or maintain such a practice. I've already started addressing these concerns here at ShaiCoggins.com and through my work in publishing. However, as some of the participants pointed out, there is a need to provide a more structured approach into developing creative practices. I'm determined to figure out a way to do just that.
So, the big question now is: With all of these things that people wish to learn more about, which one should I focus on first?
That's what I hope the survey will help to answer. So, if you haven't had the chance to give your say yet, please do so. I'd really appreciate it. You'd only need 5-10 minutes to complete the survey. And, apart from the gift offers I have, I hope to be able to create content that would help YOU the most in return.Read More
It has been a really long time since I last did a survey. But, even though I felt a bit rusty setting it all up, I'm glad I finally did it.
But, a survey is not a proper survey without respondents. So, please, please spare 5-10 minutes to complete this ShaiCoggins.com Survey 2016. I'd really appreciate it!
As a thank you, I'd like to offer a gift to all respondents.There are two gift choices:
Once you complete the survey, you can choose your free gift and I will send it to you.
All respondents will also be entered into a draw to win one (1) of three (3) Free Coaching via Coach.Me slots (2-4 weeks' worth of coaching per slot). The three winners will be chosen once the survey is concluded.
It's mostly information gathering about your interests and challenges, so that I'm able to plan for better content here on the blog and elsewhere.
With VALUE being my Word of the Year, my constant question to myself is: "Am I providing value in this place/situation?" or "What value am I bringing to this job/project/person?"
That's why part of my goal this year is to find ways to provide as much as value as I am able to in the things that I do, including this blog. And, in order to provide that value, I'd love to learn about what YOU would find valuable in what I can offer.
There are only 10 questions. Mostly multiple choice. Very simple. Shouldn't take longer than 5-10 minutes to complete.
Hope you find the time to give it a go! I look forward to hearing from you.
The survey will be limited to 100 respondents only and/or until next Friday, 17th June 2016 (whichever comes first).Read More