#001: Smarter Freelancing Is a Choice

Summary: Smarter freelancing is all about how to earn more in less time ... doing work you love ... for better clients. That way you have the time and financial freedom to live your purpose.

Welcome to the Smarter Freelancing podcast!

In this first episode, I discuss why I've decided to take International Freelancers Academy in a new direction. I explain our new purpose and how I think we can serve you best this year and beyond.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Why I've Decided to Launch This Podcast

International Freelancers Academy started as a community membership site dedicated to helping freelancers get higher-paying clients. Most of the free educational content we provided in the first few months was either video or text.

Over the past three years, however, the number of blogs in the freelance and self-employment arena has skyrocketed. There is WAY too much information out there, and readers are feeling overwhelmed. There's simply not enough time to consume even a small fraction of the good stuff. And feedback from our subscribers indicates that the solution is not necessarily to publish shorter articles.

Yet when you looked at the typical week of many freelancers, there's still a good amount of idle time available to consume new information—it's just not "office time." Activities such as driving around town, working out, going on a walk, folding laundry, cooking—these are all great opportunities to consume valuable audio content.

That's how I think I can serve you best: by providing you with quality audio content that teaches, inspires and motivates you into action. And that's where this podcast comes in.

Don't worry, I'll provide you with show notes to summarize the key points covered in each episode. These notes will also contain any items, websites or resources mentioned in the show. And you'll be able to easily download episodes that interest you — either directly through:

  • Our website
  • iTunes
  • or by using the "Podcast" app on your smart phone (available for iOS, Android and Windows).

I'll still publish the occasional blog post. And when I do, it will meaty, detailed and highly practical. But most of the free content you'll see in 2014 will be in the way of audio podcasts.

What in the World Is "Smarter Freelancing"?

In the The Wealthy Freelancer, the book I co-wrote with Pete Savage and Steve Slaunwhite, we defined "wealthy freelancing" as getting the projects, clients, income and lifestyle you want.

Our challenge was that the word "wealthy" was throwing a lot of people off. Our definition was much more holistic than material wealth. But people weren’t taking a closer look. Many dismissed the book based on the cover image alone (a red, convertible Corvette — an image the publisher forced on us). And ... who can blame them??

But even once we got past that obstacle, the description of "wealthy freelancing" still didn't feel right to me. I loved the concept, but our description was missing something. It had no real soul.

I've been wrestling with this concept ever since — looking for the real essence of the idea. Looking for what I really stand for ... what my purpose is ... what I really believe in. And here's what I discovered...

It's not just about those other things I mentioned. It's a deeper purpose that also involves time and how you manage yourself and your resources. And it involves how you use your business profits to create not just a better living (materially), but also how to make a difference at home, in your community and in the world.

So here's how I define Smarter Freelancing, the core concept of this show and of International Freelancers Academy:

Smarter freelancing is all about how to earn more in less time ... doing work you love ... for better clients. That way you have the time and financial freedom to live your purpose.

It's about working smarter NOT harder!

You Need a Big WHY to Achieve Sustained Success

Whatever the case may be for your decision to go solo, there will come a point in your business where the "newness" and the excitement is going to wear off. It's going to start become routine. And you're going to start noticing the "ugly" side of self-employment.

At that point (and going forward), if you don't have a really big WHY for doing what you do — a really big, important and meaningful purpose (meaningful to you) — you're in trouble. Because you've just turned your business into the worst full-time job in the world.

  • Your Big WHY can be at home, in your community or in the world. Whatever it is, the important thing is that it means something to YOU.
  • My Big WHY is the ability to be with my wife and kids every day, and the ability to do that while fully expressing my true genius at work.
  • Other Big WHYs: Grandkids, see the world, go on mission trips, slow down and improve physical health
  • Can also be about funding or having extra time to volunteer for a side project. Examples: entrepreneurial education for kids, faith-based project like www.315project.com or www.athentikos.com (initiatives that was started by friends of mine)

A Big WHY gives you the kind of strong foundation that keeps you going, that gives you strength, energy and creative mojo when times get tough. Smarter Freelancing starts with purpose. Because only through a strong purpose can you create a sustainably successful freelance business.

The Core Enablers to Living Your Big WHY

After purpose, there are three core elements of smarter freelancing. And they are really the core enablers for running a business filled with purpose:

  1. Earning more in less time
  2. Doing work you love
  3. Working with great clients

We're going to be addressing each of these three key elements in more detail over the next few months. In fact, everything in this podcast will revolve around these elements and around the idea of having and defining your purpose.

But I want to give you some general thoughts and ideas today. Let's take these one at a time. And in the audio version, you'll get some questions to start asking yourself today — questions that will help you uncover hidden opportunities and key areas for improvement.

#1: Earning More

This is all about going after higher-paying work, with higher-paying clients, getting more repeat business, and becoming a trusted and invaluable partner/advisor/resource.

Earning more is not reserved for the elite. Most freelancers with a good set of skills can start earning more in a relatively short period of time. In fact, most of us undercharge for our services! And I've seen too many freelancers with "latent" value they're not leveraging at all.

We're going to be discussing this issue at length in future episodes.

#2: Doing It in Less Time

Freedom is the biggest gift ... AND the biggest curse. Because it leads many of us to waste time.

We don't need more time. Instead, we need to learn how to use the time we have more wisely. And we need to do that by managing ourselves better — not by trying to manage time. In fact, most freelancers could easily boost their productivity by 30% or more by simply making a few simple changes to their work habits and rituals.

How can we do that?

1) Better planning

2) Greater focus periods throughout the day

What if you could complete your current workload in 30% less time? What would that mean? The ability to work 4 days a week only? Start work later in the day? Knock off earlier? Both?

Here again, we're going to be discussing this issue at length in future episodes.

#3: Doing Work You Love to Do

Many of us run on autopilot for years. Until we realize that we hate most of the work we do! But we can't just let it go because it pays the bills.

A key component of smarter freelancing is doing more the work you love to do. Because real joy as a self-employed pro comes from doing work that's aligned with your gifts, talents and preferences — what I call your "true genius."

When most of your work requires you to leverage your true genius, you'll be happier, produce better work, earn more and get better clients. Oh, and you'll be insanely more productive!

This is not about luck or chance. You really can start getting more of the work you want. But it starts by getting absolutely clear about what it is you want to do. Start paying attention to the projects and tasks that seem to get you (and keep you!) in a state of "flow." What types of projects or tasks engage you to the point where you seem to lose track of time?

We'll dedicate a few shows in the very near future talking about this issue.

#4: Working With Great Clients

There's a strong tendency to fall into what I call the "retail store" mentality. By that I mean taking on whatever clients come your way. That's a big mistake. You're running a boutique business, not a high-volume shop.

In fact, think of yourself that way: as, say, a boutique transportation service. You have a very limited number of seats in your custom van. Do you really want to fill them with ungrateful and miserable people?

Making the shift to this kind of thinking starts with self-respect. It's starts by looking at yourself and your value differently. For instance, when talking with a prospect for the first time, rather than approaching that conversation hoping and praying that they'll hire you, it's about approaching it with a mindset of, "I'd be fortunate to have this as a client. But they'd be just as fortunate to have me as their designer/writer/developer..."

Here again, we're going to be discussing this issue at length in future episodes.


So that's a high-level explanation of Smarter Freelancing. It's what this show is all about ... what International Freelancers Academy is now all about ... and what I hope you devote yourself to studying and applying this year and beyond.

I'd love to hear your feedback on this new format, direction and message. Please leave me a comment below.