Celine Roque here, of Pinoy500.com. Thanks for downloading “The 3 Foundations of Strategic Freelancing”.
I really wanted to get this particular email lesson right. It's very, very important to me - and to the results you'll achieve with Pinoy500 - that I get
this lesson perfect. It's the foundation of the rest of the freelancing lessons you'll get from me, whether it’s through the blog or the email lessons
or any of my courses.
The only thing I expect in return is that if you want to take this course seriously, if you really want to "level up" as a Filipino freelancer, please do
the action task at the end of this guide. In many of the Pinoy500 lessons, there are action tasks. These are exercises that can help you apply and
internalize the principles taught in each lesson.
Plus, they often take less than 5 minutes to do. So I encourage you to take the time to do them.
After all, it's ACTION - not ideas, plans, or thoughts - that makes us succeed.
So let's get started.
Tactics are NOT Enough
When you go to most Filipino freelancing forums or groups, and you participate in these groups, you might encounter some
really successful freelancers. When you interact with them, it's easy to think that successful freelancing consists of the following
Becoming an expert.
Having a "big brand" (whatever that means, but it almost equates to "Kapag sikat ka").
Charging high rates.
But these are just what's on the surface. These are the RESULTS of successful freelancing, NOT the reason behind it. They are
the EFFECT, not the CAUSE.
Sometimes, even these successful freelancers aren't aware of the difference. So they write posts, give talks, and send generic
"Have a Facebook Page! Get on Twitter! Engage your audience!"
"Start a blog!"
"Do SEO. It's how people will find your website."
In fact, you may have already followed their advice. You probably spent hours doing these things. Had a Facebook page. Started
a blog. Did SEO on all your blogs. "Engaged" your audience (again, what does that even mean?!?)
Maybe you've even gotten 1 or 2 clients from these methods. Maybe. You can tell this for sure if you've been tracking where
your clients are coming from.
Pero, kung mag-papakatotoo tayo, how many of these tactics have really consistently increased your income as a
freelancer? How many of them have really brought you reliable, long term clients who treat you like a partner?
Or do we just search for the latest tactics, tools, and tips without ever analyzing what our fundamental freelancing problems
As you look at these other Filipino freelancers, those who are successful, those who are getting great clients, and who could be
charging higher than you, you might be comparing yourself with them.
You might be thinking, even just at the back of your mind:
"I should be doing something. But I don't know what."
If you think this, it's a sign that you should be digging deeper. Ano ba talaga ang kina-uugatan ng mga problema natin bilang
Filipino online freelancers?
There are many "gurus" out there who would have you believe that if you just have a Facebook Page, or if you just use "Job
Bidding Site A" rather than "Job Bidding Site B", or if you have a blog and apply SEO, then you'd be successful.
The problem with this approach is that it assumes there's a "magic pill" you can take that will cure your freelancing problems. It
makes people think that there are short, easy, quick fixes out there.
I am not going to BS you. These quick tactics will not solve what's lacking in your freelancing career. Hindi ganoon kasimple.
The CAUSE, the real reason why successful freelancers - local or foreign - get great clients and charge high rates starts with
The Foundations of Strategic Freelancing
To have a constant stream of long-term, reliable clients, to have clients who treat you like a partner, and to earn more as a
freelancer, you need a strong Foundation. This is a set of rules and values that you follow as you make business decisions.
Whether a successful freelancer is aware of it or not, usually their Foundation is solid and sincere. You need this Foundation too,
if you want to get where they are. This Foundation consists of the following:
Foundation #1 – You Know What Your Real Job Is
Madaling sabihin na ikaw ay "freelance writer" or "virtual assistant" or "web designer". But, the truth is that your services are
there for a REASON. And that reason is either:
To help your client solve a problem. For example, they might need content to attract readers to their site, they are too
stressed with the daily work of running a business, or they want their website to convert more visitors into paying
To help your client reach a goal. Some common goals: get more readers who may turn into paying customers, have
more free time to spend with their family, or increase their profits.
So if you’re a freelance writer who creates blog posts for your client, your job is not to create blog posts. That’s just a task. Your
Real Job is to create blog posts to help your client solve a problem (people don’t go to their website) or reach a goal (attract new
visitors to turn into customers).
In other words, tasks are just the things you do. Your Real Job is the reason why you’re doing your tasks.
Image Credit: Image by JD Hancock
Unmask your Real Job. Who are you supposed to be?
Successful freelancers understand this key difference between a task and their Real Job, and they do everything they can to
help their clients solve their problems and reach their goals, even if it's outside their tasklist.
This keeps them relevant to the client. Which means that even if the tasks change or are eliminated, the successful freelancer
has job security because she knows what her Real Job is, and she proposes tasks that help fulfil it.
For example, a lot of freelance writers who did mostly SEO writing or article rewriting found that the value of their work
decreased - or completely lost some projects - after Google rolled out some updates to their algorithm (the Panda and Penguin
updates). This also happened when article spinning software became popular. The price of articles soon became less than $2,
because the software could rewrite them easily and generate more articles. No need to hire a human being.
These writers made the mistake of thinking that their job was to “write SEO articles” or “rewrite articles” or “write articles based
on specific keywords”.
That’s not their Real Job. Those are just tasks.
Their Real Job was to use words (articles) to bring in new visitors to the client’s website. At the end of the day, that’s what SEO
writing is for – clients hope that the articles will lead to good search engine rankings, and that those search engine rankings will
lead to new visitors, and those new visitors will eventually become sales.
The writers who realized what their Real Job was, most likely educated themselves in SEO, content marketing, and copywriting.
Now, they can find higher-level jobs beyond writing SEO keyword-stuffed articles. Some of them have turned into consultants.
The rest, the passive freelancers, just got angry with Google, found themselves lost, and are trapped in bidding wars at less than
$2 per article.
The question is, which freelancer do you want to be? Do you know what your Real Job is?
If you’re not sure what your real job is, it’s time to get strategic. Ask your clients what their most frustrating problems are. Ask
them what business goals they hope to reach within a year. Only then will you know for sure what your Real Job is.
Foundation #2 – You are very selective about who you work with.
We all have different values and principles. Therefore, you should only work with clients whose values and principles align with
yours. You should only work with clients who inspire and energize you. Clients you can respect and who will respect you in
return. This won't happen if there's a difference in values.
Image Credit: Image by JD Hancock
For example, I only work with businesses that solve very painful problems (ex. midlife crises or the lack of financial security).
This is because I am obsessed with making things easier for people or businesses in pain. You won't see me working with a client
like, say, Instagram (an online photo-sharing app), because Instagram isn't really solving a painful problem. Even if it is nice to
Are you selective about your clients, or do you just want every job that comes along?
My client list reflects my values. In the same way that YOUR client list should reflect YOUR OWN values. Make sure that you
work only with clients inspire and energize you, and that they have values which reflect your own.
Why? What happens when you work with any type of client, without caring if your values are compatible? Here are some likely
You’ll easily attract bad clients. If you work with just anybody, this means that you’ll be opening yourself up to working
with all sorts of clients indiscriminately – whether they are trustworthy or scammers, whether they give you full
autonomy or micromanage you, and whether their business is profitable or a sinking ship.
You’ll quickly get demotivated. The more you take on clients who aren’t a good fit for your values and skills, the more
your motivation gets chipped away over time. The same is true in corporate environments. When a boss doesn’t merit
an employee’s respect or loyalty, the employee will eventually dread – or even hate – going to work.
BUT, if you are very selective about who you’re working with, here’s what can happen:
You’ll attract the clients who are a great fit for you, and repel the rest. Once you pick criteria for what makes a “great
client”, you can easily craft the branding and marketing materials you need to attract them. This can only happen if
you’re very clear about who you want to work with.
Your clients will be happier. By focusing solely on the few clients who are a great fit, you can spend more time making
them happier by fulfilling their needs and giving them quick responses to their questions. No time or energy will be
wasted on bad, abusive, low-paying clients. Odds are, you’ll be happier too.
Of course I’m not saying that you dump ALL your incompatible clients right now. That’s not realistic. Just be very careful about
the types of clients you attract from now on. It’s easy to get trapped in the daily routine of work and if you’re not careful, a few
years from now you’ll start to wonder why your rates have been stagnant and why you attract bad clients. Don’t fall into the
trap of being passive. Start thinking about the types of clients you want to attract.
Foundation #3 – You are actively improving your “soft skills”.
People think that it's a "natural talent" or a "God-given skill" to be good at things like networking, negotiation, and engaging
people's attention. These are known as "soft skills".
To be 100% honest with you - it's not a natural talent. Like everything else, it’s something you can learn.
Here’s a personal example: I've been a speaker at 3 separate events in 2012, and I also had other speaking gigs in 2013. But if
you ask anyone who knew me in high school or college, and tell them "Hey, I actually saw Celine speak at so-and-so event,"
here's what you'll get:
(I explain this in detail here: http://www.celineroque.com/learning/how-i-improved-my-speaking-skills-in-just-two-weeks/ )
The thing is, I dismissed learning public speaking, small talk, and negotiation until 2010 years ago. I thought you just had to be
born with a talent for these things. So I spent 7 years of my career not knowing how to do this. And it cost me a lot.
I don't want it to cost you in the same way that it has cost me. Learn from my mistake! So if you think your speaking,
networking, and negotiation skills need improvement, let me be the first to tell you that you can learn these things. And you
should. These soft skills will help you get in your client's head in a way that your competition can't, and they can help you sell
better (even if you hate sales).
The Foundation Works, The Tactics Don't (Much)
If you have these 3 foundations, then the tactics won't matter. Really. But if you DON'T have these 3 things, having a Facebook
Page, Twitter account, blog, or doing SEO won't help you.
I left it until the end to make this confession:
My freelancing business doesn't have a published Facebook Page or an active Twitter account. I'll be making a blog for it, but
consider how I'm 9 years into my career and am only contemplating a blog for client generation JUST NOW.
All I do is one-on-one contact with my target clients. And it works. Why? Because I have my foundations straight.
To be honest, I'm glad I waited this long to start blogging for my freelancing business. Because it's proof that you don't need all
these things and tactics to level-up, work with great clients, and get paid what you deserve.
ACTION TASK (1 to 2 minutes to complete):
Now that you know the 3 foundations for a successful freelancing career, send me an email at email@example.com and
please tell me the following:
1) Which of these 3 foundations are new to you? The ones you haven't heard before, or haven't thought about before.
2) Which foundation do you need the most help with? Why do you need help with it? Let me know so that I can help
you get started learning or practicing it.
Just email me your answers at firstname.lastname@example.org . All emails are private and confidential, and I read and respond to every