Category Archives: On the Side

Productivity Hacks to Help You Find More Time for Your Side Hustle

Having a side hustle is a great way to start building your business while you still have the security of a job – or, if you love your job and plan on sticking around, it is a great way to simply make a few extra bucks. The challenge with working a full time job, plus having a side hustle, and having a life though is how you manage your time. For your side hustle to be profitable, you’re going to have to put it the time.

Two facts about time

  1. Each of us gets 24 hours in a day – how we spend those hours is up to us.
  2. When we say that we don’t have time to do something, what we really mean is that something else is more important to us.

For the next 30 days, try taking the words, “I don’t have time” out of your vocabulary. Instead say something like, “I have another priority” or “I have chosen to do such and such an activity instead.” This subtle shift in language will help you gain ownership over your allotted 24 hours each day.

Each day we make choices about how to spend our time, whether it’s being with friends and family, working on our side hustle, checking Facebook or binge watching the latest hit on Netflix. None of these choices are necessarily bad, but whenever you make a choice to do one thing, you are prioritizing it over another.

So how can we stop time from simply slipping away from us and take more control? Here are three productivity hacks that will help you find more time for your side hustle.

Hack #1: Track your time

The first step to controlling where you time goes, is to know where it is going. By tracking your time, you will begin to see where you are spending disproportionate amounts of time on any given task. After all, how can you improve if you don’t know where you need improvement?

Tracking your time can be as easy as setting up an Excel spreadsheet but there are also lots of handy apps you can use such as Everhour or RescueTime. Doing this will make you more aware of how you are spending your time – therefore making you more productive, and it will also give you a record of your regular tasks.

Once you’ve got a pretty detailed outline of your daily tasks (this should take about two weeks), review them to see what you can eliminate, what you can do in a smarter, more efficient way and what you can delegate to someone else.

Hack #2: Write tomorrow’s to-do list today

Sit down each night and write down your priorities for the next day. This should not be a list containing every minute detail (because that would be a time waster!) but rather focus only on your top two or three priorities. Ask yourself, if I only got three things done tomorrow, what would I want those things to be?

Then, when you wake up the next morning you will know exactly where to focus your time and will be less likely to be distracted by other things that might pop up.

Hack #3: Do ONE productive task fist

Instead of checking Facebook; instead of opening your inbox do one productive task for your side hustle before you do anything else. More often than not, this should be one of your three items you wrote down the night before.

Doing so, will help you set the pace for the day and be more productive.

Remember, you have the same 24 hours as everyone else. Start using these hacks today to get the most out of them.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Start a Side Business in 2016

Every day, more and more people step out into the world of entrepreneurship – and many of these folks do so while still working full time. Some call this a side hustle and others call it chicken entrepreneurship but there does seem to be some evidence that business owners who start their venture while still having the security of a paycheck tend to do better than those who don’t.

Of course there are pros and cons to doing it each way, but if you need some encouragement on why you should get your side business started in 2016, here are a few compelling reasons:

  1. Security – Take a quick poll of your co-workers and most of them will probably tell you that working full-time in a salaried job is more secure than striking out on your own. And yet, chances are they all know of someone who was blindsided by an unexpected layoff. If the financial crisis of 2008 has taught us anything, it is that jobs are not as secure as we had been led to believe. Of course, there is no guarantee in business either, but if you are building a side business while still working full-time, you’ve got an added layer of security.
  2. Money – If you are like most employees, chances are that annual raises have not even kept pace with inflation. Operating your own side business can give you that extra bit of breathing room and even allow for some luxuries. Who knows, you may even find your side gig paying out more than your regular employer!
  3. Sharpen your skills – Should you decide to start your own business, chances are you will be doing something in which you already have some level of skill. In some ways, starting a business is a bit like taking a course – skills will be developed as you go along. At the start, you could find yourself undercharging for your services, but as your confidence grows, you’ll target specific types of customers and start charging what you’re really worth.
  4. Develop new skills – Starting a business will also inevitably involve developing some new skills. Negotiating contracts, keeping track of payments and invoices, or creating a simple website may not be your core business but they may all be necessary to get your business off the ground. Eventually, you may want to hire these tasks out, but if you’re low on capital at the onset of your business, you might just learn to do them yourself.
  5. Make new contacts – Most business owners really can’t have a successful business unless they get out there and promote themselves. Networking either in person or via the Internet can help you build valuable connections that can benefit you not only in business but in other areas of your life as well.

If you’ve been contemplating the idea of starting your own side business while still working full-time, then 2016 may just be your year. Why not commit to taking one step today to making your side business a reality. Whether that step involves placing an ad, creating a business card or simply doing a bit of research – get out there and get started !

My Top Ten List of Websites for Freelancing Productivity and Inspiration

Over the past several years as I’ve built up my writing business I’ve found a number of helpful online resources and have served either to help grow my business, give me inspiration or both. The following is a list of the top ten websites that have proven useful to me in my freelance writing career:

Getting new clients:

Kijiji.ca – I once had a business coach ask me how I went about getting new clients to write for. He seemed a bit surprised, when I told him that by far the most useful website has been Kijiji. I use the site both to post my own ads and well as to respond to job postings of those who are looking for writers. Since I can write for anyone anywhere in the world, I don’t limit myself to searching within my own city, but rather conduct searches on whole provinces at a time. At the moment, I don’t have any clients based in London, but have quite a few in the GTA.

Elance.com/Upwork.com – When I first started offering my services as a freelancer, I found several clients through Elance.com which is now becoming Upwork.com. This is a great resource, especially for a new freelancer to find work. While I still have one regular client that I work with through this format, I now primarily use it to hire other freelancers.

Freelancewritingjobs.ca – A job board for writers on which I occasionally find new clients.

Promotional:

WordPress.com – While I find that I don’t greatly NEED a website for the work that I do, I really like having one and understand that owning www.kristenduever.com may prove useful someday as I build my freelancing empire! WordPress.com is a fairly easy to use, free website building tool on which I can advertise my services and write blogs which will hopefully prove useful to at least some of my readers. One day however, I may have to convert it over to a wordpress.org site or even have it more professionally designed.

Unsplash.com – This is a really cool site that I discovered recently. Its purpose to provide free high quality photos to pair with my blogs.

Linkedin.com – While I’ve never received any business directly as a result of Linkedin (yet!), I’ve frequently referred prospects to view my Linkedin Profile along with the several positive recommendations from past and current clients.

Administrative

PayPal.com – Most of my clients, I have never met in person. I even have a few clients who I haven’t even spoken with over the telephone. PayPal is a convenient method both for sending invoices and receiving payments.

Inspirational

Sidehustlenation.com – I stumbled across this site within the last year or so while I was searching for resources about running a business while working full time. The site has many useful blog postings and tips but I especially love listening to the podcasts.

Liz Ryan on Forbes.com – while Ms. Ryan tends to write mainly about employment related issues and not self-employment related issues, I find her posts fun and engaging. On a deeper level, they are about enjoying your work – whether it is in the form of a job or your own business.

Sir Richard Branson on Linkedin.com – While I don’t always agree with his politics, I really admire Sir Richard’s approach to the business world – can we say “No Dress Code” and “Unlimited Vacation” anyone!? I always find his blogs and posts very inspirational.

Do you have your own side business (freelance or otherwise)?

I’d love to hear about some of the sites that you’ve found most useful!

The Joys of Writing a Personal Bio

As a freelance writer who specializes in web content for business,  I often write about topics which I initially know little to nothing about. Sometimes these topics are even quite technical – like a series of web pages that I recently wrote for a company that designs and build data centres. I’m actually pretty comfortable writing about topics that I’m not totally comfortable with.

Recently, I was asked to write a short (under 200 word) bio about myself for a martial arts club where I am an assistant instructor. Easy, right? I mean, if I can write 5000 words about data centre design, surely it should be no problem to write 170 words about myself!

But the truth is that it was way more challenging than I anticipated.

I quickly drafted up a bio that described my experience and training. It was accurate and to the point. And it was utterly boring! It gave the “what” but not the “who”. It was clinical and without any of my personality – ugg!

For the first time in some time, I was experiencing writer’s block.

So I decided to consult Professor Google. In the search bar, I typed the question “how to write a personal bio”.  One of the first things that struck me was how many people – including professional writers – struggled with this seemingly simple task.

The second thing that struck me is how much conflicting advice is out there. Some people advised not to include unrelated hobbies and others said that by all means, you should include them! Some advised being serious and professional and others recommended using some humour. .

Since there didn’t appear to be one “right” way to do this, I started pulling out the advice that felt the most right to me. Some professionals say not to include anything unrelated to your core message (ie. no hobbies etc.) My opinion is that’s ridiculous – even for a business bio. If I can’t be a real person with a prospective employer or client, they are probably not the type of person I’d like to work with anyway. But make your own call on this.

After compiling the advice that I actually agreed with along with some sample bios that I really liked, it was time to try again. I started by jotting down some notes of things I might say if I were sitting face to face with someone and telling them about my marital arts training.

I then took these points and started to work them into my old boring version of my bio. The results were so much better!

See the difference for yourself:

Old boring version:

Kristen first started practicing martial arts during her early twenties. She spent several years training at a WTF-style taekwondo club in Niagara Falls where she earned her first degree black belt in 2003 and her second degree in 2005.

After moving to London, Kristen started looking for a new place to train. Eventually she came across Ryoku Seikido and has been here ever since. Since all of the ITF-style taekwondo patterns as well as the Aikido portion of the curriculum were new to her, Kristen once again moved up through the ranks, participating in belt exams until she earned her first and second degree black belts in Seikido in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

New more interesting version:

Kristen has been practicing martial arts since her early twenties. She enjoys all aspects of her training even though she wishes doboks were a bit more flattering.

She earned her first and second degree black belts in WTF-style Taekwondo while training at a club in Niagara Falls. This period of training included a 10 month stretch in which she was the only female in her class – nevertheless, she enjoyed the challenge of sparring with stronger and heavier opponents.

After moving to London, Kristen started looking for a new place to train. Eventually she came across Ryoku Seikido where she was introduced to the ITF-style Taekwondo patterns and Aikido. Instantly attracted to both the diverse curriculum and the supportive learning environment, Kristen remained at Ryoku where she earned her first degree black belt in Seikido in 2013 and her second degree in 2014.

When she is not busy teaching, training or drilling patterns in her living room, you can find her ballroom dancing with her husband, spending time in the garden or working on her freelance writing business.

Maybe it’s just me – but I feel like the person described in the second bio is more interesting don’t you?

I’d love to hear thoughts from others. Have you ever struggled to write a personal bio? What are your best tips for writing one?

My first blog of spring

It’s been a bit too long since I’ve posted anything here on my own blog. It’s not that I haven’t been writing lately, because I have. Just not here.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve written web content for a cosmetic surgeon, a physiotherapy clinic, and a renovation company as well as lots of articles about SEO, web design and re-marketing among other things.

I’m also writing again for Weather Democracy – a new social site where weather enthusiasts can test their forecasting skills.

And then there’s my gardening articles that I’ve been doing for close to a year now … I was recently congratulated by that client because I was successfully able to come up with enough season-appropriate topics related to gardening (albeit sometimes loosely related) to make it through the winter. Now that it’s spring again, writing about gardening should be considerably easier.

And now that it’s spring (the first full day of it in fact) it’s also a good time to take a few moments and post something for myself. I for one, am very happy that we are starting to see some sun and warmer weather – and I feel sorry for the folks in the Maritimes who have snowstorms again in the forecast this weekend.

For me, the first full day of spring was spent with my husband and in-laws. We took them out to the Pinecroft for lunch at the Green Frog Tea Room, stopping en-route to purchase some honey from Clovermead. If you live in the London area, I highly recommend both of these places. Pinecroft is incredibly beautiful and romantic and Clovermead is the only place we get our honey.

This weekend also happens to be the last weekend of March break for schools here in Ontario. Now as far as work goes, this means nothing to me – I still have to work at my day job. What it does mean though is a week long break from Seikido (my martial arts class). And that meant free evenings – something I don’t have very often. It was a great break but I’m definitely ready to go back.

And it was the ideal time to have a break too because this coming week at work promises to be especially busy with two major events, a board meeting and a strategic planning session.

And I’ll be back to martial arts.

And I’ve got lots more freelance writing to do.

But spring has sprung, the days are getting longer – and hopefully soon, it will be warm enough to do at least some of my writing el fresco while enjoying the sights , sounds and aromas of springtime.

Marketing yourself as a writer

So yesterday, I did something that I’ve been meaning to do for awhile now. I ordered business cards for my writing business. Yes, I know – I could have done it cheaper and created them myself, but I figured that whenever I market my writing business, I should do it right. So I ordered the cards.

Do I need business cards? I honestly don’t know. I have done well gaining clients through sources like kijiji and elance and even by referrals. In fact, most of my clients have hired me before ever even meeting me in person – so I would not have had the opportunity to hand them a business card.

Still – I wanted the cards. If they turn out to be useful, that might be a topic for another blog post.

As my business has grown from a casual hobby to a respectable side gig, I have taken a number of steps to better market my writing business.

I’ve advertised on kijiji which has been very successful.

I hired a contractor from elance to create my logo.

I’ve made a point of making regular posts on Facebook, Twitter and Google +.

I’ve started this website and blog.

And now, I will soon have business cards which I can hand to people when they ask me what I do or when I am at networking events.

It’s not always easy or convenient to promote my freelance writing. There are times when I get so mired in work from clients, that I tend to focus on that to the exclusion of my personal marketing. But I know that it’s something that I do need to work on.

I’d be curious to hear from other freelancers. How to you market yourself as a writer?

3 Habits for Overcoming Motivation Block

As a content writer, I seldom get writer’s block. I have a number of clients who, in most cases give me the topics that they want blogs or other web content for. What I do struggle with from time to time is motivation block. And that usually happens with topics that I don’t find overly interesting.

For example, this past weekend was spent writing 6000 words about dent repair. I know, right! I did get it done, but boy did it take me awhile to get started.

The following are a few habits that I’ve developed to help me overcome motivation block.

1. I don’t write when I’m tired or hungry

When I’m writing about a topic that I find completely fascinating, I can sit in front of my computer all day and barely notice that I haven’t eaten. Not so, when I’m struggling with the topic! If motivation is an issue, then fatigue and hunger are big distractors. So if I’m hungry, I’ll have something to eat. If I’m tired, I’ll take a nap. I’ll do what it takes to feel refreshed before trying to tackle the subject matter at hand.

2. I think about who will be reading the content

Imagining my audience is a great motivator for me. Who wants to read about dent repair? Someone who has recently had a dent to their vehicle. I think about how they got that dent, the frustration they felt and the information that they are now looking for. I use that to start writing their story – something to engage them. Doing this actually makes me more interested in the topic as well.

3. I set a goal and get to it

When all else fails, I determine an amount of time that I’m going to write for – or a certain word count that I wish to reach before taking a break. I don’t worry too much about keywords or even if I’m writing great content for that matter (I can always edit afterwards right?). And once I get going, do you know what? I start to feel more motivated – just because I’m making process.

Do you have any tips for overcoming motivation block? Please share in the comments!