How to prepare for a Freelance Project

 not what but how

Freelancers need to remember that they are active members of a marketplace.  Unlike full time work where they are shielded from supply and demand effects, you need to constantly promote yourself, seek good reviews and price accordingly.

Before embarking on any project, it’s worth spending time to ascertain exactly what the client’s needs are.  It might turn out that what the client really needs is a different skillset altogether.  If you don’t clarify this at the early stages, you’ll suffer from frustration, lower pay and bad reviews.

Be upfront and honest about what you can provide.  That includes not just skills but also price.  You may have an hourly rate in which case you should make that known straight away.  You might be able to provide a rate based on the description of the project.

Employers use freelancers because it’s a quick and efficient way of getting work done, they don’t want to spend a lot of time finding out information that should be immediately obvious, so try to think about the decision making process in the employers mind.  What would they need to know to pick you?

A few top tips:

  • Clearly state your expertise, and provide examples of past work, outlining what you did.
  • Identify an hourly rate or any other unit of measurement.  EG Copywriting $10 / hour.  Translation $0.05 / word.
  • If the client isn’t sure what they want, ask them what problem they’re trying to solve
  • Commit to a delivery date of work and don’t be late.
  • If you are unable to meet a deadline, tell the client as far in advance as possible to keep the communication lines open
  • Don’t use generic selling points such as “I believe I will be an asset”  or “I enjoy doing this work”, if 100 other freelancers are saying the same thing you won’t differentiate yourself
  • Browse the latest jobs and start applying at www.nabbesh.com

 

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Freelance PR and Marketing – Kellie Whitehead

Kellie Whitehead

Kellie Whitehead has been freelancing since 2005 across the UK and UAE, and is the engine behind www.mamaknowsdubai.com.  With 14 years of marketing and PR experience, she has rich industry experience coupled with a strong insight into the female, family and ‘mum’ demographic that is particularly hard to find within the region and much sought after by brands. It was this specialist expertise that was the catalyst for forming her UAE registered company Mama Media FZ.

Kellie works on a retainer basis with many agency clients, and directly with brands. As a working mother, freelancing was the only employment option when balancing her love of the industry with her family commitments.  Her knowledge of the social media space has contributed greatly to finding work through the various platforms but recently she is finding Nabbesh very useful for leads.

Through Mama Media she works with some of the biggest global names such as Samsung, Unilever and Philips helping them reach out through social media, events and content creation to their target demographic. A highlight of Kellie’s career was pitching against larger network agencies last year to win her biggest client to date, testament to her deep knowledge in the sector. Kellie thinks agencies can benefit from using freelancers more as they bring unique skillsets and specialisms that a full time employee may not have. This trend is apparent on Nabbesh with many people asking for content creators specializing in automotive, cooking, fashion and beauty products.

She identifies an interesting angle on networking and generating repeat business; which is that account managers do change agencies quite often but they tend to take their contacts with them.  Having a readily available and organized pool of freelancers to tap into can make an account manager’s work much easier, and she thinks Nabbesh is a useful platform to keep these connections alive. It also helps freelancers build a reputation as being able to show examples of work and get feedback from people is important in generating tomorrow’s business.

Get in touch with Kellie on her Nabbesh profile here http://www.nabbesh.com/DubaiWriter

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.

Freelance Copywriting – Nigel Holt

nigel holt

Nigel Holt has been in the UAE for 16 years, freelancing part time for 4 years, and now a full time freelancer since 1 year with his company Stylus Copywriting.  His clients have been global automotive brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover and Range Rover, and well known local companies such as Al Gurg and Al Masa.  In addition several media agencies have used his services.

Nigel is an English copywriter, a published poet and an ex headteacher.  Nigel finds work through advertising in the local media, but most of his work comes through referrals from BNI International, a referral network, or from previous clients, and these days through Nabbesh.  Nigel’s motivation for freelancing came from confidence in his own abilities, the observation that there was a gap in the market with agencies not producing enough quality work and a desire to be his own boss.  He thinks that agencies should use more freelancers although the law is not completely transparent in that area.

Nigel says freelancers bring a unique set of skills to the table often having different specialisations and perspectives, especially if they have lived here for some time. On the move to full time freelancing Nigel says that the initial six months were tight, but through BNI and sites like Nabbesh, his exposure has been radically expanded. Growth has been exponential, and is continuing apace. When billing clients, Nigel like many others, asks for 50% of the fee as a down payment.  He hasn’t experienced trouble with commercial clients thus far.  He is confident that the market in Dubai is only likely to become stronger, and that his reputation will continue to grow. His advice is to focus on quality and to be able to demonstrate your work.

Contact Nigel on his Nabbesh profile here http://www.nabbesh.com/nigel.holt 

6 reasons why you haven’t got the job on Nabbesh

no_responses

A few of you have been getting in touch to ask why you haven’t heard back from freelance jobs you applied for on Nabbesh. Similarly some employers are finding it difficult to get exactly the right skill set and find the freelancer they need.  This doesn’t mean you should give up trying! Here are a few tips:

  1. What would an employer want to see?

    First, put yourself in the shoes of a potential hirer.  What would you want to see on a persons profile that would make you say yes, i want to work with that person?  Have you given enough description to your skill sets? If you’re only putting a title and an indication of years of experience, this isn’t going to differentiate you from other freelancers trying to get the job.

  2. Attention to detail

    Second, read the job post very carefully.  Many employers try to filter out applicants by putting in a secret code in there to ensure the applicant has really understood the requirements.  These can range from instructions such as “please reply to the job post with the subject xxxxx”  or “if you can find the hidden mistake in this text, mail us the answer”.

  3. Be specific

    Third, try to avoid generic sentences in your reply such as “i will provide value to your organization”  and “I am confident I will be an asset to any firm…”  People posting jobs are looking for a very specific skill and type of person, so be specific.  Try to indicate why you are the right person for the job.  For example: if a job is requesting a video animator, and they have indicated they are a startup, you should let them know you understand what they want to achieve.

    You might want to try: “Whilst my skills as a video editor are unsurpassed as you can see from my showreel on my Nabbesh profile, I have worked with startups before and I understand time and cost is important to you.  I’ll be able to ascertain your requirements very quickly and deliver on time and within budget”

  4. Keep an eye on the competition

    Fourth, do you have a very popular skill?  You can check this by typing in your skill in the search box and seeing from the drop down how many people have the same skill.  Open those profiles, see which ones you think are better than others and take some tips.  See what other skills they list in parallel.  Decide what sets you apart from these competitors.

  5. First impressions count

    Fifth, presentation is everything.  Do you have a nice clear profile picture? Is the spelling correct? Have you used the Canvas profile builder to add in extras such as certificates, hobbies, education?  You can also link to work that is held elsewhere around the web for example any videos on youtube or vimeo, pictures on pinterest or flickr, posts on tumblr or wordpress and more.  The richer the profile, the more professional you appear

  6. Be proactive!

    Finally be proactive! Its a competitive marketplace, don’t just leave your profile up there and wait for responses.  Look at the top searched for skills, compare yourself to others, visit the site regularly and keep up with the latest news on the Nabbesh social profiles and other content channels.  We post lots of information that will help you in finely tuning your profile to current requirements.  By being aware of the larger picture, you can prepare yourself for a sudden demand in your skill set, and learn what the latest developments in your industry are.

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Happy Nabbeshing!

I’ve built a profile on Nabbesh to start Freelancing, now what?

So, you’ve registered on Nabbesh and input your skills and you’re ready to start freelancing, now what?

The first tip is to input a description for each skill you enter.  Think about if you were looking for a freelancer, you’d want some more details about their background.

Here’s an example of a very basic profile:

skill no description

If you input a description however, you end up with this:

skill with description

As you can see, this description gives more detail about the particular skill and lets employers know exactly what areas the person has expertise in.

But that’s not all.  The most successful freelancers are able to give examples of their skills in action, and this makes it even easier for employers to choose them.   Seeing is believing! We’ve enabled you to link to your work anywhere around the web, whether it be on Behance, DeviantArt, Vimeo, Youtube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Github, SoundCloud and many many more formats.

All you need to do is open your profile  and select “Add” this will bring up the toolbox:

toolbox

The last 5 tabs will allow you to link to work elsewhere.  Simply put in the relevant URL, the description will populate automatically, if you want to change that you can, and most importantly, whatever you choose can be linked to your skills.

So if you’ve put in Graphic Design as a skill when building your profile, and you link to a piece of work on DeviantArt, you will be able to select “graphic design” from the Link Skills box.

After you’ve done that, your profile might look something like this:

Canvas profile

The more you put into Nabbesh, the more you get out. Nearly all employers ask for evidence of previous work.  Spending some time on your profile at the beginning will shorten the decision making process for employers and reduce the time spent going back and forward, meaning you can start earning quicker.  Additionally you can generate ratings and feedback from our Owlsome buttons and the social sharing.

We built this to enable even quicker connections and transactions.  We want to reduce the time it takes to find and discover talent, and let you focus on doing what you do best.  When you freelance, your online profile is your calling card, so make sure its the best it can be!

 

What are you waiting for? Go to http://www.nabbesh.com and start building your enhanced profile now!

5 Steps to be a Freelancer

(by Andy Bailey, CreativeZone.ae)

When you say the word freelancer out loud it has very powerful connotations. It speaks of freedom but responsibility, flexibility but with purpose. Moreover it says to the world that you are in charge of your own future.

Freelancing has long been the domain of journalists and photographers, artists and consultants.  Today it’s an option for everyone.  Anyone can be their own boss, decide their own working hours and pick and choose whom they want to work with.

It sounds perfect!  Where do I sign?

Actually, it’s not quite as simple as that.

Here in the UAE there is the small matter of a trade license.  UAE law dictates that in order to do business here you must be licensed to do so.  Furthermore your license states what activities you’re able to perform.

Thankfully there are companies out there who can assist you with obtaining the right license for what you want to do and where you want to do it.  The right license for one company may not be the right license for yours.  Which is why there are some important things to consider.

Here to help you on your way are Creative Zone’s 5 steps to establishing yourself as a freelancer.

  • STEP 1

    research

    Do some research and choose your industry carefully. If things go well this could be what you do for the rest of your working life!  It’s not enough to just want to do something.  Choose an activity or skill that you enjoy and that you can talk about to others with passion and pride.  Remember, most people set up their own business because they want to be their own boss, have financial freedom and have flexibility.  If you don’t enjoy what you do you may find it hard to motivate yourself later down the line – especially when the only person you have to answer to is yourself!

    It’s important to know what market you will be competing in, and make no mistake it is competitive in all markets these days.  Find out what other companies are doing.  Can you do it better?  If so, how?  Can you do it cheaper?  Money is a huge motivator and business is often won or lost based on the cost.  Entering into a new market blindly is as good as not entering it at all.  You have to know where your clients will come from, and more importantly how you will keep them as clients.  Think long-term if you want to succeed.

  • STEP 2

    business-plan

    Create a business plan. Although it is not always a requirement to do a business plan in order to get your license, it’s still one of the most vital planning tools for a new company.  A business plan is more than just a forecast on where you’ll be in a year, 3 years or 5 years.  It also allows you to see things in black and white, and be able to compare your performance later against your predictions.  Successful business owners will revise their business plan every year to factor in changes in costs, legislations and budgets.  Remember the age old saying; “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”  It’s also worth remembering that most banks will insist on a business plan should you ever need to apply for certain facilities such as business loans, credit cards or card-reading machines.

  • STEP 3

    company name

    Choose your company name. So you know your market and you know how you’re going to do business.  You can already picture yourself sipping cocktails on the beach after a hard days work right?  Well, almost!  It’s time to get creative.  Your company name speaks volumes about who you are and what you do.  A company name should be catchy but not trivial, memorable and relatively short.  Some experts recommend not having more than 10 letters to the name.  Don’t be tempted to use words like ‘Elite’ as it gives the impression that your services will be expensive, likewise words like ‘budget’ or ‘discount’ should be avoided for the opposite reasons.

  • STEP 4

    trade licence

    Get a license.  This is often the most daunting aspect of setting up your own business.  It is not uncommon for people to delay setting up their company because they don’t want to tackle this problem.  Thankfully help is at hand!  Creative Zone is able to offer many different set up solutions based entirely on your circumstances, requirements and budget.  Whether you are a Consultancy or a General Trading company, there are packages to suit everyone.  One of the biggest advantages of setting up your business with Creative Zone is that we already have a panel of experts in place who would be more than happy to help.  Whether it’s accounting or law, immigration or labor laws you can get the help and advice you need to assist you in moving your business forward.  The best part about it is that once you’ve discussed what you want and what you need, you can sit back and let the experts do all the hard work for you.   For Nabbesh users, we are offering a discount on business setup. Have a look here for further details

  • STEP 5

    experts

    Surround yourself with experts.  No matter how much you know you can always learn more.  It’s always useful to be able to ask an expert when you come up against a tough question or decision.  You can use Nabbesh.com to find people with the skills that you need who are experts in their field.   Our business development and networking events will put you in touch not only with business owners who are happy to share their past experiences, but also professionals in a range of industries ready to provide ongoing support.  You should never be afraid or too proud to ask for help.   One day you could be the one giving out the advice!

Establishing yourself as a freelancer has never been so easy.  All you need is desire, determination and the 5 steps above.

4 Essential Business Tips for freelancers

Freelancing is fabulous! You’re your own boss, you can take as many coffee breaks as you like and you never get dirty looks from co-workers for being late. But being-self employed is not all fun and games. You have to be self-driven, keep to deadlines and make sure you find enough work to keep you afloat. Whether you’re only thinking about taking the leap or have already set out, here are a few business tips to get you going on the right foot.

  1. Be understood

    It’s not always easy for full-timers such as managers, accountants and engineers to understand what it’s like to be self-employed. They can sometimes have harsh deadlines, unrealistic expectations, or difficulty understanding your working style. Take your time before you decide on who to work with, you want to make sure they will get you!

  2. Remember what it’s all about

    Before you start a job, it’s always a good idea to present the client with a summary of the project as you understand it, a brief on what you will be doing, an estimate of the time it will take you and an explanation of exactly how you are charging. This document will be hugely helpful to both of you if there are any disagreements or changes later on.

  3. Use your mouth, AND your ears

    Your likelihood of success, and referrals, is much higher if you are a good communicator and your client knows where their project is at all times. Listen to what the client wants and be sure to communicate to them how their project is progressing as you move forward, even if it’s not going according to plan. Most clients prefer the “Ok here’s how it is.” than the “Um, surprise!” approach.

  4. Know when to say No!

    If a client is offering to pay you a rate that is far below the professionally accepted standards, just say no! Most professionals know exactly what market rates are and what margins of negotiation exist given your level of expertise. On the other hand, charities and start-ups sometimes really are strapped for cash but offer you free creative reign instead, which can really be a nice change on a job! Consider saying ‘yes’ in those cases!

Tips for Getting Freelancing Work

By: Kathy Shalhoub

Image

You’ve made the leap into freelancing and the jobs have started to trickle in. But you need more work, how do you go about finding it? The general structure is as follows: You need a website that shows your product, you need a product, you need traffic, and you need conversion of that traffic into earnings. I will tackle each of these topics in future posts, but for now, here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. First and foremost, you need to have a place online where people can learn about you and your work. Having an excellent website that showcases your work and your potential in a clear, simple and easy to navigate style is one way. Link to it from specialized websites such as nabbesh for maximum exposure. If you’re just starting out and still have nothing to show, then go to step 2.
  2. Keep your profiles (and your portfolios) updated on the different networking sites you use. Nothing is more of a turn off to potential clients than seeing that your last posted project was 3 years ago. Their first thought will be that you’re washed up. I’ve looked at some of your profiles on nabbesh and work needs to be done! Put a photograph (if not of you then of something you worked on, admire or like), link to websites (either yours or companies you’ve worked for, try to be specific), write an interesting bio that gives insight on who you are as a person. How can a client tell if you’re any good or not? How can they tell what you do and if you’re serious about it?
  3. Be active online. Network using social media and websites like nabbesh. Join free online competitions to get yourself noticed. Follow people and clients that you’re interested in working for on Facebook and Twitter. They will often mention when they’re looking for help or input, and this can be your chance to offer your services.
  4. Call or meet with agencies, potential clients and contacts. This takes some guts but believe me, emails can easily be ignored, accidentally deleted or completely forgotten in somebody’s inbox. Speaking to someone in person has a much greater impact and allows you to better understand what they are looking for or to offer alternatives for a project. Be prepared for this kind of approach and have a one liner that describes who you are and what you do well rehearsed and ready to go for the occasion.
  5. Promote yourself in ways that are new, interesting and unique to your style. For example:
    1. Create folded posters that show a new piece of your work with every fold.
    2. Send customized goodies as a promotional pack to clients. No matter how prevalent social media is, there’s nothing more exciting to a person than receiving a personalized envelope in the mail.
    3. Invest in branded chocolates, cupcakes, or anything funky you can think of for existing clients. Show me a stressed out client who won’t appreciate a good shot of sugar when it counts! Don’t feel like pushing sugar? Think coffee, tea, or a funky herbal mix. Or anything else that you think would be appreciated! Keeping your clients and having them spread the word about you is key.

      NOTE: Keep the value of your branded items low. This is not meant to be a bribe; it is simply a token that showcases your talent!

    4. Consider branded merchandise. Forget about postcards and paper. Can you have your illustrations or designs printed onto scarves, t-shirts or pillowcases? How about notebooks, shopping bags and towels? Even if a meeting leads to nothing today, leaving a piece of your work behind in the form of a small gift can set you apart from the rest.

If you think this advice only applies to creatives (e.g. illustrators, designers, photographers), think again. Clients are looking for motivated, hard working and dedicated people and are constantly being bombarded with potential hires. Set yourself apart!

In my case for example, when I wanted to work at an oceanography institute in the U.S., I applied for a summer program and didn’t get accepted but I didn’t let that stop me. I then contacted some of the scientists working there and offered my engineering services for free for the summer. Who could resist? I was hired immediately and offered room and board with the summer students in exchange for my efforts. What did I get out of it? Work experience in the immediate, and years later, because I had kept up my contacts, I was offered a job and a work permit in the U.S!

When I wanted to get into MIT for engineering, I printed copies of an article I had written as an undergrad, copies of my CV, copies of my senior design robotics project, and a clear concise introductory letter explaining my desire to go to MIT. I made an envelope for every single professor in the Ocean Engineering department and mailed them all. Two weeks later I followed up with phone calls and tried to arrange meetings. Most ignored my letter, I met with three professors only and I ended up getting a full scholarship with one of them who was interested in robotics. Seeing the effort I went to in differentiating myself from all other applicants, and meeting me in person made all the difference.

Showcase the skills you’re selling in whatever way you can think of! It really does matter.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.