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November Update

1 Nov

You will never believe where I’ve moved to. Well actually, you probably will since I revealed it in my July video. I’m officially in Washington, DC after arriving  from Montana about eight weeks earlier than I thought I would. Turned out to be perfect timing. In a city of doers and achievers and where even recreation and relaxation is planned out, I am adjusting. Which brings me to my next point. The things I learned from Hawaii that are staying with me forever:

1. Work. Better, work it. I have my VBFF (very best friend forever) to thank for saving my soul from work-aholic-ism and insisting that I quit my jobs and pursue my passion. Funny that I make more and work less now.

2. Find a pace. In Hawaii your workday may end at 3 pm, but it’s so you can get home to friends and family and head out to enjoy the water before the sun sets. There’s a work-life balance that’s unparalleled to anything else I have experienced. Work hard, go home at a decent hour.

3. Always choose the restaurant’s lanai at sunset.

4. When possible, take off your shoes.

5. Friday night fireworks. Tradition. Must not miss.

6. Flowers. Everywhere. All the time.

7. Speaking of, lei etiquette. Very important.

8. There’s nothing better than meeting someone and hearing later that they called you “very aloha.” Highest compliment.

9. Don’t honk. Please. It’s unnecessary. I loved, LOVED, about Hawaii that if the girl in the car in front of yours was at a green light putting on mascara, nobody would ever honk. It was kind of like, “the girl needs to put on mascara, we can wait…”.

10. An obsession with water. I’ve tried to pretend that the Potomac is the Pacific but it’s not quite the same.

11. Life works in this order: family, friends, the office. Period.

12. When you need a slice of Teds’ pie, you need a slice of Teds’ pie. Simple.

13. Nothing will replace Fat Greek with the girls.

15. Shopping with Kellie. Lifelong tradition, I don’t care how it happens.

16. Always pay to park downtown and in Waikiki. Unless you like tickets and towing.

17. Monday night half off deals at Sansei’s.

18. Learn to surf (I did not). It’s great for business.

19. Laugh. At the big things, at the small things. No need to take ourselves so seriously.

The biggest themes for me are work and play. I learned to work less. And I, finally, learned to play. This total flip-flop from my previous way of life saved me. Doing graduate school in a program fueled by passion and vision, making some of the best friends of my life, starting to live my dream and experiencing such tremendous growth and learning to balance that work with consistent and stable relationships and play only set the tone for the rest of my life. Rest assured, this break from the 808 will be lived with the aloha spirit. I don’t know how long it will take before I can move back to the islands, but rest assured, the islands came with me to the mainland. Washington, DC, get ready!

And a bonus video that needs to be watched by all writers from one of my business favorites, Marie Forleo:

July Update!

10 Jul

How time flies. In lieu of a lengthy written post, I decided to do a little video update this month:

In short: I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I actually moved from Hawaii. I’m still in transition, but my current abode is a beautiful cabin in Montana where I’m helping family friends run their business for a few months. Then, I’ll head off to my final destination of Washington, D.C.

How was leaving Hawaii? While I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, it was the right time for my life to evolve in new directions (on the mainland. sniff). I’ll be back to my islands. I’m sure. It’s all part of the adventure.

My writing? As you’ll hear in my video, I’m learning the art of balancing time and improving efficiency. I’m back to waking up super early to get in a couple hours before heading off to my temporary “real job.” In the fall, my time will be devoted to writing again.                 I. Cannot. Wait. 

And that is pretty much it for now. Aloha all and have a great month!

January Recap and Lessons Learned

6 Feb

First, let’s address my new content strategy for Startup Freelancer.

I see that I’m actually getting visitors here, which is somewhat surprising considering that I haven’t marketed this blog at all (aside from posting new article links on Twitter). From here on out, look for my monthly recap and a couple mid-month thoughts or two.

Now, onto January.

I know I’ve said things like this in the past, but I continue to feel very…blessed. Since starting my freelance career, I’ve not had to worry a single day about meeting my expenses. And, personally, it’s amazing how many other pieces of my life have fallen into place.

I believe this comes down to a “path” issue. When you’re on the correct path, meaning your correct path, things just seem to flow.

For several years I knew that I needed to dip my toes into the freelance waters (*again), but was afraid of the slow start up and transition to actually making money. I didn’t expect the, literal, overnight success that came in the form of two, unsolicited high-paying assignments the morning after I finally declared I was ready. Basically, things have been progressively more and more great amazing ever since.

Professionally, January was awesome. My social media company, socialKINE is consistently growing and took on a new, large client at the beginning of the year. All signs are pointing toward a profitable 2012. I also whipped TaraZirker.com into presentable shape. Eventually, I’ll need more design work there, but for now it serves as a nice little resume site.

I also:

Billed out close to $4,500, all from repeat clients and within a reduced work schedule.

Took on my first $100 per hour assignment (not a huge one, but still an amazing feeling).

Established my 2012 goals.

Started running (*again).

Opened my heart more.

Basically, my story follows the same trajectory of every other Personal-Fulfillment/I-Can’t-Believe-How-Rockin’-Life-Is story you read online:

You commit to your path, you experience the first stages of success, you establish new habits, you start listening to your body (and are promptly informed that you’ve been a lazy slug all these years and need to consume more spinach and start running…immediately), you wake up earlier because you can’t wait to work, you write, you go on mid-day walks and receive your daily download of inspiration and direction, you create, and you’re in awe of all that life has to offer, etc., etc.

I’m a textbook case.

January Lessons

First, it’s okay to let go of control. In fact, it is preferable. Hence, my company is hiring a part-time employee, I’m allowing others to assist me more (see the next point), and I’m letting certain things just be and see what organically develops.

Second, it’s time to get these finances in order. I’m in the market for a bookkeeper because, though I’ve always done my own taxes (worst year: something like four or five W-2s and a few 1099s), I’m starting to worry that I may not be skilled enough to cover all my bases from here on out.

Finally, I’m sending it out there…more. I know, sorry folks for being a little woo-woo for a second. I’m just constantly amazed that what I feel inspired to ask for usually happens or appears within the day.

2012 goals:

Goals are a very big deal to me. Mostly because, at this point in my life, I try to avoid over-committing myself to too many of them.

That may sound weird, but it’s progressively more important to me to keep my life simple and allow ample space for the commitments and people I value most.

In other words, if I don’t LOVE or BELIEVE IN it, I’m not buying/doing/committing to it. I’ll write more about this mid-month.

In a nutshell, this year I plan to:

•Love •Make $$ (I have specific goals, but for a future post) •Be active •Finish my Master’s degree •Start something I’ve been meaning to start for a few years •Go to Nepal •Take November and December off (maybe..hopefully) •Decide on my next big moves

Here’s wishing everyone a successful February!

December Goals

2 Dec

I’ve not been feeling so hot the past few days (flu), so I’m feeling a little tamer than usual about my monthly goals. That’s okay. These will be great accomplishments this month:

  • Finish this semester*!!!
  • The $3,400 in assignments on my desk right now (2 projects).
  • Finish my mother’s Christmas present from two years ago (yes, I know. I know).
  • Finish annual letter and website.
  • 2012 planning party with my business partner for socialKINE.
  • Enjoy two study-free weeks (here in Hawaii) before flying home for the holidays.

*This is technically my last semester of coursework for my Master’s. All that’s left, after finals next week, is a thesis in the spring! It’s a good feeling. Just remind me, if I ever start mentioning PhD ideas, how much I’ll enjoy having a real life again.

Wishing everyone a beautiful start to December (one of my favorite months),

T

My First Report: Successes Since July 19

10 Nov

I finally updated my spreadsheet where I track  assigned projects, queries and goals.

A little historical recap. In April I officially quit my job (with the intention and invitation to return) in order to visit friends and family on the mainland for a couple months.

Now, this job was ideal for graduate school; I worked two or three days a week and had plenty of time to study. It was not, however, ideal for pursuing my goals and developing personally or professionally.

I wanted needed a change.

Returning to Hawaii in June, I decided to embark on an experiment. My ultimate goal is to establish myself as as highly successful, professional writer. Instead of going back to work, and with just a little extra pocket change to tide me over, I chose to conduct a 90-day freelance experiment.

The rules were simple. If I made money, I would continue. If not, back to the drawing board. Failure was not allowed.

The morning after I made this decision, I had $2,100 in projects come in.

Talk about manifesting.

This morning, as I analyzed the last few months, I was pleased to see my success in numbers. Ready for the run down?

Queries: Part of my experiment included sending a query a day for 90 days. I stopped querying after two weeks. Despite knowing that focusing purely on work and losing momentum on marketing can create desperate dry spells, I had assignments coming in and graduate papers due. Necessity mandated work only, and marketing fell to the side.

Total queries sent: 15 (letters of introduction: 10, actual queries: 5)

Assignments: I was shocked that my initial efforts yielded such quality work assignments.

Total assignments received: 14

Closer analysis reveals that those 14 projects came from six clients with repeat projects at all but one publication. Cool.

Total Hours & Total Cash: These are the numbers I’m especially interested in. I worked a total of 234 hours since July 19, which comes to 14 hours a week (perfect with my school schedule), and includes marketing hours. My peak earnings were $66/hour and the least I earned was on one project at $20/hour. My average was $40/hour for a total of $8,994.  For an initial, part-time effort, I’m pleased.

The Verdict: Success! I’ll continue.

Some Evidence: 

See published articles here and here.

And the business I started: socialKINE

Goals Moving Forward: Since I’ve decided to take most of this month off to finish up coursework, I’m approaching my next three months with the following goals:

  • Three “Marketing Blitz” sessions (more on these later)
  • New and significant assignments from each of my previous six clients
  • Launch my two new projects (already in the works)
  • 2-4 new clients
I feel so blessed to have started down my path. I don’t know where it will lead, but I have a very good feeling about the future.
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