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How to Keep Up Your Morale as a Freelance Writer

This is a Guest Post by  Anne John, a software engineer who switched careers to follow her passion for the written word. Currently she works as a web content manager with an online women’s magazine and moonlights as a freelance writer and editor. 

Anne John

Freelancing comes with many perks such as the ability to choose your work assignments and work flexibility. However, it has its downside as well. A common problem that most newbie freelancer writers face is keeping up your morale as you kick-start your freelance writing career. Trust me, I’ve been there. As a beginner, you haven’t built up a strong portfolio yet and with every pitch you send out, your hopes go soaring, only to fizzle out a week later. Rejection is hard to face and we freelance writers voluntarily expose ourselves to rejection over and over again. One of the hardest things to do when starting out as a freelance writer is keeping up your morale in the face of continuous disappointments. Here are 3 tips that helped me keep my chin up – and will hopefully help you too:

 

1. Learn to feel good about yourself: Although it is very difficult to believe in yourself when you keep getting rejection letters from editors, it is also exactly the time to give yourself some love. I save every good comment or appreciative feedback that I ever got for my writing. It could be from family, friends or total strangers. It could be on one of your published articles or even on your blog. Build a database of all the positive comments that your writing has ever garnered – you could print out the comments and save them in a folder or simply bookmark them on your computer. When you are feeling particularly uncharitable towards yourself, revisit them. Surely, all those people would not be wrong about you? This will help nip negativity in the bud, cheer you up, build your confidence and restore your faith in your work.

Keep Up Your Morale
Photo credit: Jennifer (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)

 

2. Don’t take it personally: Don’t take every rejection as a personal attack on your writing skills. Perhaps, the pitch was not suited to that particular publication at that point in time or perhaps they carried a similar piece quite recently or maybe the editor simply missed seeing your mail. You have no clue and there is no need to be offended. Train yourself to let it go. If the editor gives you any explanation for turning down your pitch, view it as constructive criticism and see what you can learn from it.

 

3. Keep writing for yourself: Most freelance writers start out because of their love and passion for writing. However, we often have to alter our writing to suit the editors’ or readers’ tastes and requirements. Soon, many writers get disillusioned with the whole process and writing begins to lose its charm. To prevent this, keep writing for yourself too. Maintain a blog or a journal where you can give free reign to your pen without worrying about word limits and house style. Simply savor expressing yourself and keep the magic of writing alive. I hope these pointers will help keep your morale up on your freelance journey! All the best!

 

Don’t forget to connect with Anne via her profile on Nabbesh and follow @annejwrites on twitter.

Freelance Film Making – Hind Shoufani

Hind Shoufani

Hind Shoufani is a freelance filmmaker and published poet.  Her first freelance job was at the Daily Star in Lebanon at the age of 18 when she walked into the office and demanded a writing gig.  Her freelance career has been in part determined by her nationality (a Jordanian in Lebanon would have found it difficult to get the right paperwork for a full time job) and her dislike for office based corporate work.  Whilst in New York studying for her MFA she used Craigslist to find freelance jobs ranging from voiceovers to translation to directing.

When she came to the UAE at the beginning of 2009 she used her old university contacts to land her first two assignments and soon got introduced to another producer that continued working with her for a while.  She has produced and directed videos for Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Arts, Zayed Book Award, Saadiyat island and more.  She also directed 8 webisodes for the award winning Hiroshi and Osama campaign by Chevrolet.

Having freelanced for so long,  Hind states that freelancers often have more than one skill and shouldn’t pigeonhole themselves,  its also important to make sure you have examples of work ready to show potential clients.  Choosing this style of work might be off putting for many people but Hind encourages more people to try it.  She finds this is the best way to support herself as an artist.  She is currently in post production for her latest film, and is working on another book of poetry along with a novel.

Like most people, she says network effects are vital here when finding work.  The industry is small, most people in the audiovisual world know each other, and this can often be useful to reduce the search for jobs.  However, from the company side, the SME sector, companies who generate the most volume of work, don’t have visibility into freelance talent.  Additionally these companies don’t have the budget to hire agencies, who themselves hire freelancers.  Using a middle man can solve some problems but adds unnecessary cost to the project.. Hind thinks a platform like Nabbesh is a useful way to democratize access to freelancers so clients can meet producers and video editors directly.

Freelance Photography – Lafi Abood

Lafi Abood

Lafi Abood has been doing freelance photography and filmmaking all his life, with assignments all over the world. Currently Lafi is working on a personal project called “Ibni” which is a documentary highlighting the struggles faced by mothers tending to their autistic adult sons in the Middle East.  The trailer can be seen on Vimeo here http://vimeo.com/56807395 .  He also owns his own business in Dubai called Analog Productions, after being based here for the last 4 years.

The journey from new freelancer in town to business owner has been quite interesting.  The first thing Lafi mentions for any freelancer going to a new territory is to focus on establishing a name for yourself and networking. Whilst building up his client base here, he had work from US based clients to provide cashflow.  In the meantime he did knock on agency doors in the early days but he found most success by networking and talking to clients directly.  A useful insight; most people were interested in his personal portfolio as an indicator of his skills rather than the commercial work, which in the region all tends to have a similar look and feel.

Lafi had to stop freelancing as an individual partly because a lot of agencies don’t like to deal with individuals, they prefer to deal with other businesses, and partly because of the increase in workload. Analog Productions is set up as DED registered business with a local sponsor, which gives him the freedom to work anywhere and is a lot cheaper in comparison to many of the Freezone areas in Dubai.  Lafi’s advice for anyone thinking of doing freelance film or photography is to align yourself with an agency that’s willing to take you on as a freelancer so you can build up your network and portfolio.  Ensure you take a deposit up front to cover costs.  One of his earliest problems was flying in a whole crew from the US, only to find out the client had changed his mind at the last minute.  He had to absorb the costs from his own pocket.

Lafi currently uses Nabbesh to find freelancers to complete the projects he’s working on, and last month he had around 15 freelancers in total working for Analog Productions.

Key takeaways from the Nabbesh Freelance Summit Dubai

We just held our first Freelance Summit in Dubai and were thrilled to engage with a full house at Shelter. The reasoning behind this gathering was fairly simple.  We know from our data that there is a big demand for different ways of working, our 14,000 registered users and over 250 job postings a month are testament to that, but we know there’s a big untapped market out there that can be addressed by starting an offline dialogue between the various stakeholders.

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That’s why we built an agenda bringing together freelancers to talk about their insights and advice, employers to talk about what they look for and common pitfalls to avoid, a law firm to tell us exactly what is legal regarding freelance and part time work and a business setup consultancy that told us how to incorporate freelancing activities into a proper registered business.  We even had a session talking about how freelancing can help achieve the UAE’s 2021 vision of a knowledge based economy!

Trevor gulf stat

The event was really successful, and there was definitely an appetite to hear more.  Nabbesh is hard at work building some great product features on the platform to make the experience even easier, but we also want to help people get the information they need.  We’ll be doing more events in the future based on the conversations we started last night, and of course your feedback.

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Let’s give you some highlights from the night:

We talked about the enhanced profile builder called Canvas which allows people to demonstrate their skills by linking to all their best work around the web.  Have a look at the profile below to see how much more engaging they are.

If you’ve already got a profile on Nabbesh, now is the time to use this tool to stand out from the crowd.

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(www.nabbesh.com/molham.bakir)

We also had some sneak peeks of upcoming product features. Want to be the first to test them out? Get on our mailing list!

The question on everybody’s mind was, is freelancing really legal?  How can I do it properly? Sara Khoja, Partner at Clyde & Co gave a helpful and succinct talk on what is now possible.  Some key takeaways:

  • You can hold a full time job and do work on the side with a “part time work permit” so long as you hold the necessary No Objection Certificates from your existing employer
  • Expats are able to act as official work sponsors for their dependents meaning that housewives and students can now take up part time work (with permissions from husbands / fathers)

There was a general consensus that freelancing was a good way to transition from being employed full time to becoming your own boss.  Thanks to the laws in the UAE allowing part time work, we should see more people take up freelancing in their spare time to build up their reputation in the market.

Another surprising piece of news from Creative Zone was that it is possible to incorporate your freelance activities into a proper business in the UAE, allowing you to have a corporate bank account and the ability to invoice in a company name as opposed to your personal name. Offering various license options, Creative Zone are happy to provide you with a free consultation to help you understand these options and advise on the best possible solution as per your requirements. If you want more on this, ping us in the form below with your Nabbesh profile URL and the subject “Freelance Business Licence”

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Many people think that freelancing as a work pattern is nothing but a pipe dream, available for only a few people, or those lucky enough to have a skill which is so rare that they can command extremely high prices for it.  Fortunately we had freelancers on the panel to dispel this myth. A few tips from them:

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  • It’s a competitive marketplace, you need to be proactive and show why you’re better than others
  • Talk to peers and network with others in the industry to ascertain benchmark rates
  • Start small and build your reputation through delivering quality work

The employer panel was equally fascinating as we heard exactly what it is that employers look for and we got a glimpse into the skills that are highly in demand right now:

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  • Have a sense of accountability, prove that you take the job as seriously as a full time employee
  • Demonstrating your work with an up to date portfolio means you have a better chance of standing out (top tip: use the Canvas profile builder to get employers to notice you quicker!)
  • Deliver good consistent work and aim to build reputation with your employer no matter what the project is

Some industry insights as to what’s missing in the market:

  • Arabic Content Development
  • Analytics
  • English writers who follow Arabic culture
  • Good Arabic screenplay writers, producers and directors

So you heard it here first! If you’re reading this and you’ve got these skills, or you know someone who does, get signed up on Nabbesh.com as soon as possible.

We’d like to thank The Shelter, Clyde & Co, Creative Zone and all our panelists for making the event a success.

We’ll continue doing these sessions to make sure everyone is empowered with the knowledge they need to freelance successfully.  All you have to do is bring your skills to the platform.  Whether you’re an individual or a business, hit us up in the form below to tell us more about what you want to know.

www.nabbesh.com – where talent meets opportunity.

The Future of Employment in the UAE

An article in the Atlantic titled, The Terrifying Reality of Employment talked about results of a study that suggested if you have been out of work for longer than 6 months employers won’t hire you.

Currently in the Middle East, unemployment rates are still extremely high.  The amount of jobseekers far outnumbers the amount of jobs being created.  In addition 3 out of every 4 women in the Arab world are out of work.

Whilst the public sectors of each country have traditionally shouldered this burden, most governments are at capacity with the amount of jobs they can provide for citizens.  The private sector must change its employment practices in order to reduce the number of unemployed and it may need to start with fixing the gender gap first.

For the UAE the situation may get worse.  With neighboring countries suffering an economic slowdown after the Arab Spring, the UAE is operating as the main beneficiary through increased tourism (over 10 million visitors in 2012) and consumer spending, and ultimately acting as the business hub for the Middle East.

Typically students in UAE universities have been guided into engineering, medicine, business and finance but these skills are not the most in demand skills in the world of work.  Not having the right qualifications, as well as increased pressure from competition exacerbates the problem.

Once graduated they like millions of others compete for limited job openings, often not hearing back from employers for months if at all, and some not sure if their CV has even been looked at.

It seems to be an employers market right now.  With hundreds of potential candidates to choose from for every 1 job posted, most employers aren’t that concerned with fighting to retain existing staff.  Many of those go further and identify the fact that there aren’t that many jobs out there so they aren’t worried about their staff leaving.

Its not all roses for employers though.  Many still struggle with the deluge of candidates, whilst the volume is high, there is no way of knowing what the quality is.  Firms just don’t have the resources to go through all the candidates properly and many firms aren’t even sure about the exact legalities with it comes to hiring someone – shall I use a part time worker / shall I use a freelancer / is it legal to use a student etc.

What would help then?

Job seekers must stay up to date with the evolving technologies in their skillset and a prove they are putting these skills into practice, perhaps by taking on projects and part time work.  Validation for this concept can be seen in the rise of “ The Appliject”  model. “Resumes are dead. Interviews are largely ineffectual.. Portfolios are useful,” writes Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MITSloanSchool’s Center for Digital Business. “But projects are the real future of hiring”

At Nabbesh we’re trying to solve some of these problems.

Women have traditionally been excluded from the workforce because of cultural and other socio economic reasons.  Nabbesh is a platform that can match women who have surplus skills and hours to connect with those that need them.

We want to make sure more people have the right skills that are in demand by employers.  By showing people what skills are most searched for in real time we can influence how people upskill through university or other learning courses.

By opening up the market for “always on” employment though freelance and part time work, we’re helping people stay relevant and ultimately always employable, so that they never have to be out of work.

We want to give every person the ability to make the best impression and stand out from an increasingly crowded marketplace, that’s why we built Canvas, the best profile builder to demonstrate your skill set.

By focusing on skills, we’re giving people options to pursue and monetize their real passion instead of being stuck in a job they don’t love.

Follow us as we disrupt the future of work.

nabbesh.com

References:

The terrifying reality of long term unemployment (the atlantic.com)

75% of Arab Women out of work (emirates 24.7)

Want to quit your job, don’t expect a counter offer  (zawya.com)

After university, arab women struggle to find work (al fanar.org)

Projects are the new job interviews (inc.com)

Can you really freelance in the UAE?

Yes you can! There are a few ways.

For companies registered in some Free Zones for example they can hire a freelancer for as long as they need using a “non sponsored employee ID card” which costs 720 AED (TECOM), 800 AED (Dubai Silicon Oasis) and 860 AED (Trakhees Zone)

This is suitable when the freelancer is already on their relative or spouse’s visa.  The paperwork required is fairly straightforward, and involves the usual application forms, the company’s trade licence and passport copy of the sponsor showing residence visa along with a No Objection Letter from the sponsor.

What if you don’t have a spouse or relative to sponsor your visa?

Dubai Media City  is an example of a zone which offers a Freelance Permit which identifies an individual as a sole practitioner and enables him/her to carry out business in his/her own birth name as opposed to a company or brand name.  However, because you cannot open a company account at a bank without a registered company licence, it can be quite tricky to invoice as an individual freelancer.

More useful is the freelance license offered through Fujairah Free Zone.  With this type of licence you can choose a company name, can have one or more shareholders on the license, appoint someone as person in charge, the license has up to 3 visa allocations (available at an additional cost) and most importantly, you can upgrade this license to a ‘Baby Business’ license if you need to expand your business in the future.

The Ajman Free Zone Professional Licence comes with a 2 visa allocation without the need to take an office in the free zone (unless you have more than 2 employees).  For a faster processing of licence and visa, and for freelancers who trade in goods, a licence from Ajman is what you need

Starting at AED 17, 500 with the option of monthly payments, you can be running your own business in no time!

To learn more about special licensing options and discounts available to Nabbesh users through our partners, e-mail us at license@Nabbesh.com