Reader questions

Reader questions vol 5: Portfolios, scams, and freelancing!

By March 2, 2016 No Comments

Got a business, school, or career question? Ask it here!

Kamran asks:

I have a question that I hope you can cover in a future article: I’ve seen these people from time to time… They’re always talking about living life with “total economic freedom”, not having a boss or anyone to answer to, posting from exotic places in the world, etc. This guy works for a weight loss shake company and I think he makes money either by bringing people into the company somehow and/or by selling people the shakes. They typically have outlandish beliefs like traditional schooling is unnecessary, all you need to do to get rich is be like them, etc. Something about the whole thing is very shady to me, but I can’t pinpoint what it may be exactly. For all I know, he could be living the life, but something about it screams scam to me. Have you encountered these type of people in business?

I think your instincts are totally correct here— if someone is bragging loudly about how awesome their life is, especially when the mechanism seems shady/dubious, they’re probably full of shit and/or peddling Vemma. Kind of like when some douche in a terrible local/regional metalcore band humble-brags about how they’re “fielding a bunch of offers” from labels or something, but only 40 people show up to see them play… it just doesn’t add up. If they are trying to sell you something then it’s FOR SURE bullshit.

That said, it’s totally possible to build a business that generates passive income (“make money while you sleep”), enables you to work from anywhere in the world, etc. I know a few people with businesses like this that make $10-50k per month in mostly passive income (and they’re my friends so I know they’re not bullshitting me).

But obviously it takes a lot of grinding and some luck to get there, because if it was easy then everybody would be doing it, right?? If you’re interested in that sort of thing I suggest checking out Ramit Sethi’s stuff, he is the MAN when it comes to that– trust me, he is legit.

online portfolio

Chris asks:

I’m a young composer that wants to get into writing and selling jingles. However, as someone who’s only released one EP and doesn’t know any important connections in my desired industry and current city, I feel that making a portfolio is the best option to get my foot in the door. What is the best way to construct and present a professional looking creative portfolio that I can sell?

A portfolio is DEFINITELY the key to getting freelance work, you’re 100% correct about that. There are a lot of different options but I think it’s pretty hard to go wrong with Squarespace (I use it for my site). It looks great, it’s super easy to use, supports any media you can think of, and it’s very affordable.

As far as how to present yourself, put yourself in the shoes of the person looking at your portfolio: what’s the ONE thing you would want them to know about you, and how can you get that across in an instant? Assume that they’re looking at this on their phone and will only give it 5-10 seconds of their attention.

For example, I agonized over the tagline on my site: “I am a full-stack marketer and youth culture expert.” Believe it for not, that took me hours of work to come up with! It’s really hard to describe yourself in one sentence, and you only get one chance to make a first impression!


Bob asks:

I’ve been working in market research for 5 years and I’m considering potential freelance/consulting work in the future. Would you recommend building a personal brand through social media beforehand? If so, how can I build up my online presence? I’m super late to the game and just started my own twitter account. Are there any good general business/marketing related accounts I should follow?

You’re putting tactics before strategy… Whether you should build a personal brand on social media depends on the unique dynamics of your personal situation. If your goal is to get freelance/consulting work, you should take a step back and ask yourself how you’re going to get that work and whether Twitter (or any other social platform) will help you.

A couple questions to think about: Who will your clients be? How do they find consultants? What will make them pick you over someone else? I doubt that they are finding consultants through searching on Twitter, which begs the question of why have a Twitter account at all? It might make sense as part of a larger content marketing strategy, but just making a Twitter isn’t really doing to do anything for you, you know?

So my suggestion is start from the clients you want to get, and work backward from there. If you think Twitter is the way to reach them, then go for it, but my guess is that there will be much easier/more effective ways of doing it— for example, putting together some kind of amazing personalized package and sending it directly to the person who makes those decisions (then following up with phone calls, etc).

Got a business, school, or career question? Ask it here!

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