Your idea is worthless and yes, you can and should talk about it with everyone

Have you ever met someone who told you they have an idea for a project or a business but couldn’t talk about it?

I always wonder why that is; could it be they’re scared I’ll hear their idea, immediately drop everything I have been working on myself, and steal it? Are they scared that if they tell someone, they’ll have to finally do something about it? Or is it because they have an idea they think is good, but don’t actually want to commit themselves just yet and think no one else will start working on it because their idea is so unique and brilliant it hasn’t crossed anyone’s mind?

In the knowledge economy, I’d say ideas are worthless.

There are millions of ideas being shared online every second. It’s unlikely I haven’t heard or come across the idea this very person doesn’t want to share with me.

It’s very unlikely I’ll drop whatever I’m passionate about to start executing on something that doesn’t feel like a calling to me already.

If you share an idea with someone who works on their own projects, why should they suddenly make time to pursue someone else’s idea? Especially when the idea is no more no less than an idea; a worthless cloud of thoughts and imaginations.

Ideas aren’t special. It’s the execution that turns decent ideas into exceptional ones. It’s the networks one builds, and groups of fans and followers who prove an idea is worth pursuing.

The team at EyeEm started working on something very similar to Instagram around the same time Instagram was launched. Now everyone knows what Instagram is, but how many know of EyeEm? And how many knew EyeEm when it was just the German alternative to Instagram and not what it is today; a community-sourced stock photo platform.

Before Spotify there was Napster, and while we all know Napster, it was the execution the team at Spotify delivered that made it a successful company worth talking about; they most likely all knew Napster after it was launched. I doubt anyone at Spotify would’ve tried building Spotify if it wasn’t for Napster; a company that was up and running, yet very differently.

How many times have we all heard, “I also had the idea for Facebook, Sims, period panties...whatever?!” Would we know any of those brilliant ideas if they hadn’t been executed with such dedication and excellence by the people who went through the pain of turning an idea into reality?

If someone shares an idea with me, my immediate reaction is I want to help them succeed at turning their ideas into reality, So the next time someone wants to know more about your idea, share it with them. They will much more likely become your fans than your competitors.  

It's a wrap! July 2018

It feels like it’s been two days since I last posted an update here. But then it also somehow feels like it’s been two years since I signed a rental contract in Berlin and turned my entire life upside down. I’ve been wishing to write more. But then had to assemble a bed. I wanted to finally shoot the Skillshare video I started working on in January, yet there I was, trying to unbox and sort through my things.

It would be a lie if I said I was fully focused on work this month. It’s actually surprising how much has happened in the past four weeks.

First of all, I was fortunate to join the Hanzo team for a series of workshops in Wales. It was a user research workshop to learn more about the challenges of academia.

I have also signed a contract with the Upskill Digital team to become one of their associated trainers. And then, the biggest highlight was that I was contacted by the TedXLend team asking if I’d be up for speaking at the upcoming event in October.

For LifeStart, we have organized a series of mentorship events in London to connect students with professionals over dinner or an afternoon tea. We use these events to connect with students offline. To us, it’s a great way to induce small offline highlights and give students a real reason to connect with the initiative online. We also use the conversations the students and mentors are having at the table as a base for our content strategy online. In August, we’ll be rolling out a Youtube channel and a blog. I’m very much looking forward to what’s ahead of us regarding this wonderful initiative facilitated by Virgin Money.

I will be updating my imprint soon, given I had to found a company in Germany and close my Austrian one. It’s been a lot of bureaucracy, but it feels good to finally feel a little more settled. What I think is the most wonderful thing is how much I feel I am in the right place right now.

Last but not least, I’d love to recommend you the following reads:

Some thoughts on what might drive space exploration

How to share your user research

What to do when nobody notices your art

Enjoy your summer!

It’s a wrap! June 2018

I often ask myself whether it’s possible to build a community that’s purely online and without any kind of offline interactions. Is it still a community or is it just an audience? Is it then marketing or is it still community building? 

I’ve always believed there is a distinct difference between someone who works as a marketing consultant and a community strategist. In my job, I always look for ways to bring people together. In my opinion, what makes the internet so magical is that it’s much easier to gather people who have the same passions and interests, and that if you can gather people, you should. 

When we were thinking of what sort of social media content we wanted to produce for LifeStart this summer, we wanted to experiment with career mentorships and actually bring students together to chat with someone who works in the career they might be interested in. 

Luckily, we had a bunch of Virgin Experience Vouchers lying around, so Cleo and I set up group meetings, invited mentors, and asked students to join. We got very lucky with the locations too: from Fortnum & Mason to Grill Plateau, we turned an empty excel sheet into social media content that’s a treat for everyone. 

At the moment, we’re preparing the outreach to launch the next round of LifeStart Challenges that will begin in early fall. As always, we’re looking for UK-based university staff and students to help us. 

Another project that’s been keeping me busy is my upcoming Skillshare class on how to use Kickstarter to build a career as a freelancer. For this, I’ve been carrying around a microphone for most of the month trying to finally record it. 

You might notice my VAT number is no longer active, as I’m currently in the process of setting up a German company. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen I found an apartment and am moving back to Berlin. While it all went through just a week ago, it had been long time coming given that I’ve lived between Vienna and Berlin for five years, and as previously said, just got really tired of traveling around so much. Nevertheless, I’m currently popping in and out of Britain, so should you be in London, we could also a have a coffee one day. I’m mostly hanging out at the Shoreditch Grind when I’m there these days. I like to watch people as they rush through the streets. It’s so different when thinking of Vienna, or even Berlin.

Until next month! 

Things just got official: I’m moving back to Berlin

Last week, and after a three day work session with one my clients, I left London. Months ago, I had booked flights to see one of my best friends who lives in Holland. I had been contemplating from where I should book the flights before I settled on Vienna. I figured it would be the most likely place I’d be at the end of June. That was in January.

I flew to Vienna on the last flight, only to take off for Amsterdam on the first flight again. I spent the day in Amsterdam and headed to Utrecht to have dinner with my former flat mates. Just half an hour before the dinner, I had to spontaneously book an overnight bus to Berlin to then come back to the Netherlands. For months, we had planned to go to Vlieland. I wasn’t going to skip this.

The reason I needed to go to Berlin was to meet the landlord of a place I looked at a couple of weeks ago. The couple who lived there hosted the viewings and luckily, they shortlisted me for the place. The landlord then wanted to meet me in person before he’d commit to signing the contract. 

Yesterday, I flew back to Berlin to pick up the keys and sign the contract. I can't even believe I’ll be living in the most incredible apartment I never thought I had a chance of getting. It feels like the universe is very much approving of this decision at last. 

Nevertheless, it wasn’t an easy decision. Many things happened that made me to commit to coming back to Berlin. 

You might ask why Berlin? Vienna is so clean and beautiful and life there is so good. And you're right. It is. However, and the short story is: I love my friends in Berlin and the people who choose the place to be their home. Somehow, I feel much more alive when I’m in Berlin. It’s just what the city does to you I guess.  

The long story on the other side is slightly more complicated. You’ll see none of this was easy and none of this was planned...

In March 2017, and after two years traveling around Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, I gave up Kickstarter as my main client. I was no longer excited about waking up in a new city every day. What once was fun now became work. I felt like someone new would do a better job. I knew it was time for me to hand it over. It was time to look for something different.

After so much travel, I craved being rooted in one place and having a community again. I remember many times while sitting at the plane and looking out of the window all I wished for was going to the cinema with friends. I was tired. I knew I needed some time off.

Somehow, it was clear to me I needed to go to a place where I wouldn’t take on a new project immediately. I had to go somewhere I’d actually take off.

I had never taken a proper break for longer than two weeks. Having moved out of my parents' house at the age of 17, it’s become normal to hustle. Very often during my studies, I had up to three jobs simultaneously. It never was easy and there never was any money for me to just not do anything. I knew I deserved a break, which is why I eventually booked a trip to Bali. My plan was to be away from everything and without my computer for a month. 

While sitting in Bali, I picked up Tim Ferriss’ book The Four-Hour Work Week. I was very much wondering where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. And somehow I also realized I missed having a dog by my side. Given I was planning to have a more stable life, it seemed like a good idea to get one.

Back in my apartment in May, I finally managed to fix my kitchen after getting rid of the water damage I had been dealing with since December of 2017. I got another remote project and was spending time with Orion trying to make her a well-behaved city dog. 

After that a new project request reached me. This time for a project in Iceland. I had to go to Iceland for a bit and then to Holland. Nevertheless, most of the work I could do remotely. But then, I knew that if I wanted to travel less, I needed to make my business more Austria-centric or find something I’d be excited about in Austria. 

I applied to become an associate at Teach4Austria and went through the assessment center. Yet in the last round, they turned me down. 

I then started doing what I was doing when I first went freelance; I reached out to my entire network and told them what I was looking for and what people could hire me for. I was trying to find my first proper Austrian client knowing that once I succeeded at finding two or three local clients I’d be good. Simultaneously, I started looking for jobs. One of the main things I missed when representing Kickstarter was working in a team. I figured now might be the time. 

In October, I then started talking to Die Presse about a role of a digital product manager. In a small country such as Austria, newspapers need a very different approach if they want to be financially viable. In my opinion, here a newspaper can't just copy what has worked for The New York Times, The Guardian, die Zeit, and others who have a much bigger market potential. Having a community strategy background seemed like the best background for such a role considering the constrains. 

To sum up how these conversations went; we talked for six months and in April, after much time investment from my side, they changed their mind. They no longer planned to hire a digital product manager (I still can't believe they’ve had an online presence since January 1999, yet only the editorial team decides what gets displayed on the main page and how). Instead, they requested a quote for a communication strategy. After they’ve received my quote, they simply sent a note they were no longer able to work with me. I might have asked for too much money. 

Given I actually really wanted that job, I spent a lot of time between October and December on acquiring new skills. I learned all sorts of things that the job of a digital product manager requires. I also spent much time researching the media industry. I thought the role would have been exciting. And for once, no new project requests arrived in my mailbox. There were definitely no project requests from Austria.

At the beginning of December, I called a friend in Germany. I told them I needed new projects and that Berlin would be okay again. It took two days and thanks to him, I was fully booked again. On the 15th of January at 11am, I had my last in-person conversation with Die Presse. The same day at 3pm, I was flying out to Berlin to then join the Veganz marketing team for three months. 

In the same week, my friend Eva asked whether I was able to support her as she was working on a project together with Hanzo. Given I always wanted to work on a project with Eva, I said yes. Now I wasn’t just fully booked. I was overbooked. And once I started teaching at the New Design University in St. Pölten, I was literally swimming in work. 

But swimming in work feels more like me and while I was in Vienna last year, there was no work and very often I felt lonely. I had a hard time reconnecting with people in Vienna. It’s understandable as I hadn’t really been there much since I have finished my BA. Despite the fact I’ve always paid taxes and also rent for my apartment in Vienna, I wasn’t really a local.

In a way, it would have been a no-brainer for me to move back to Berlin. Yet with the political situation in Austria and my moral desire to get involved instead of packing up my bags again and leave, I wasn’t ready to give up on calling Vienna my home just yet. 

Another thing popped up I thought could work. After being rejected by Teach4Austria and Die Presse, I then found a job as a digital campaigner for a political party in Austria. I only found out about the role two hours before the application deadline, so I applied thinking I could think about whether I could commit to working for a political party later. 

I’ve always had my issues getting involved with a political party. Nevertheless, the party seemed like the one alternative that could have a chance to challenge the current government. When they then rejected me after two interview rounds as well, I felt like I did everything I could to stay in Austria. I didn’t quite see myself there anymore. That was a new feeling. 

Personally, I’ve always felt like Berlin was too unstable for me to move back to. I remember talking to Sarah, one of my soul friends, and telling her how I didn’t like how people came to Berlin, got what they wanted, and once they met someone and things got serious for them, they’d move back to where they came from. She laughed and replied: “Oh well, you might meet someone and move back too and then your apartment in Vienna wouldn’t be suitable anymore anyway. Think about it.” 

She was right. And for the first time in ten years, I felt like it was time for me to close the door to Vienna. At least temporarily. 

Between February and July, I applied to about 40 apartments. I was invited to about 20 viewings. Right before I left Berlin on the 10th of June, I saw 9 apartments within 48 hours. Somehow, the very last apartment I went to see, and literally the one where I felt a big Y.E.S. but also had zero chances to actually getting it, is the one I’m sitting in right now. 

It’s crazy how the universe is always giving us what we need. Somehow I needed to go through a lot of rejection, loneliness, disappointment, and 20 apartment viewings only to be holding the keys of a place I’ll tell my grandkids about. That’s how good it is. I’m still in awe. 

When we act the way we think we’re expected to act

A while ago, I stumbled upon an article that discussed how many enjoy planning their vacation more than they enjoy the actual vacation. People love to imagine how it will be, how they will look, what they will feel like. They build up an idea about who they want to be and hope their vacation will allow them to be just that. 

I remembered this article when talking to one of the ladies who booked a consulting session with me.

When I first read her story, I didn’t quite understand why she wanted to talk to me. She seemed brave and like someone who just made things happen. However, she was only able to reach all these successes as long as she was living in Mumbai. Once she moved back to Germany, she looked for a normal job and did what she thought was the right thing to do. She lived up to her idea of what it meant to be a proper German. And she felt trapped. 

It made me realize how moving places might be the easiest way to break out of our mental grid. How being in a place where we don’t know anyone and that has a certain reputation makes it easier to become a part of that tribe.

Take Berlin; people come here to party. It makes them feel like they're more fun. People who go to Paris might feel more in love because their mental model of Paris asks them to feel that way. 

It seems hard to change who we are in a place where we have fixed beliefs and set rituals. A place where we act the way we think we are supposed to. 

Liz Wellington, a dear online friend, recommended The Artist’s Way to me some time ago. In the book, the author recommends a few techniques to live a more creative life. Things such as writing three handwritten morning pages and taking oneself on an artist date each and every week. I wonder if one can manage to break out of one’s self-imposed beliefs if one commits to these techniques as recommended. 

Do you have any experiences with Cameron’s teachings? Does your home time make you feel like you need to conform in any way? I’d love to hear from you! 

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Monika Kanokova
It’s a wrap! May 2018 

When life gives you lemons...

Life gave me three weeks without in-person meetings and a project I’m currently truly excited about (Hello, Hanzo! I like you!). Seizing the opportunity, I immediately booked a flight to Australia and New Zealand to see my wonderful friend Greta.

Ever since I met Greta in Bali last year, I knew I wanted to visit her, so once I had an opportunity to do so, I didn’t hesitate.  The 25th of April was my last day of teaching my students, on the 26th of April I was on a plane down under. 

All of this booked and decided on the 21st of April. I do love the internet. 

Being remote and somewhere new, it makes it much easier to focus. I didn’t really tell anyone I was down under, so I made an extra effort for no one to notice and for no one to mind. 

Having done this trip inspired me to conduct a Skillshare class on remote working, so that’s what I’m currently working on. Diana is also reviewing a script about using Kickstarter as a freelancer, so that I can start recording the Skillshare class on that subject very soon. 

However, life hasn’t just given us lemons this past month. Life has also given us a great portion of GDPR. As a community strategist and someone who connects people for a living, I probably had more to do than most freelancers. I’ve written an extensive blog post about all I’ve done, which you can read here. (I’m still not 100% done but I hope I’ll get there eventually.) 

One thing I'm extremely excited about is the Google Digital Garage that I found out about just a couple of days ago. If you'd like to get up to speed with online marketing, they've created the most valuable webinar to teach you all the necessary basics. You'll also get a certificate once you successfully do the final exam. 

On the project front, I’m currently preparing content for a student outreach initiative for which I’m looking for people who’d like to contribute a fun story from their student lives that’s related to some of their odd jobs. I’m also looking for HR managers who’d like to share what they look for when hiring junior staff. If you think that’s you, please don’t hesitate and get in touch or pass on this post to someone you think should definitely contribute a story. 

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m updating my website with my planned trips, so if I ever happen to be somewhere close to you, please don’t hesitate and get in touch. I’m pretty much playing it by the ear at the moment. 

Getting ready for GDPR as a freelancer, Part 1

Before I say anything, I’ll say the following: this is no legal advice. All that follows is merely what I’ve done in order to prepare my business of one for the GDPR.

Generally speaking, freelancers are most likely not the target. However, I do believe we should work to comply as best we can. Not only because of the information you store and process in order to run your business, but also to make sure the way you process data on behalf of your clients for them to be able to work with you.

As an EU citizen myself, and having read a fair amount of what GDPR means, I am excited about it and grateful to be living under the law of the EU that puts us as consumers first and before the profits of businesses. As a solopreneur, I am grateful to get a kick in my bum to finally think about how I run my business and implement proper processes. Additionally, it gave me an incredibly good reason to get in touch with all of the people I met in the past.

From what I understood, there are different requirements to how one handles data based on whether one is a processor or a controller. As a freelancer, you’re most likely both, given you process your clients’ data and they will have to make sure you and your business are compliant with the GDPR law enforcements. In some industries, you might have less touch points with personal data you process on behalf of your clients. As a community strategist, I mostly deal with personal information of people and thus it’s important I make sure I do it in a way people feel comfortable with.

One more thing before I dive into my processes; you should note that in the following paragraphs, I talk about clients and customers and that a client or/and a customer is anyone I hold any sort of information about, regardless of whether there has been a monetary transaction between me and them or not.

This article summarizes what I have done and how I have prepared. I hope it’s helpful to you and your freelance business. The process is most likely not over just yet, given that many companies have only updated their privacy data policy and their terms and conditions in the past couple of days.


First of all, what does GDPR mean and what are you required to consider. There are several rights for EU citizens you must comply.

Right to be forgotten, which means that if someone emails you, they’d like for you to delete all information you have on them you must do so within 30 days. This most likely excludes people you had a business transaction with, given it’s mandatory to preserve tax related information for a certain number of years. (It’s seven years in Austria.)

Right to object, which means they can object companies process of any personal data concerning them, which also includes profiling based on those provisions.

Right to rectification, which means that they have the right to request changes of their data to make sure it’s correct.

Right of access, which means your customers (whether they paid you or not) must be able to access all information you hold about them.

Right of portability, which means you must give your customers all data you hold about them if they request to receive it, be it to work with someone else or store their data somewhere else.

Here is what I have done in the past seven days to prepare for GDPR. I’d appreciate if you’d send me an email if you notice something I forgot or where my process is not according to the rules. Any tips, help, and feedback are welcome:  

  • Structure your data

Before I started doing anything about any sort of services or data, I decided to go through all my documents and sort them out. Delete anything and everything I didn’t need anymore. I made a folder structure and sorted all information accordingly. Now I have a structured folder for each client sorted by year. It simply feels amazing, even though the five days I spent doing all this really didn’t.


Given I had all my documents spread across Google Sheets and my Dropbox, I decided to use Dropbox as the only storage space where I keep documents. I decided to download all the documents I had in my Google Sheets and do so with all documents once my work in them is complete. While I’ll continue using Google Sheets for Work In Progress, I’ll be storing all finished documents for seven years in my Dropbox.  

  • Excel sheets with contact details

Among the documents I stored, I found a number of excel sheets I used to collect email addresses and contact details of people. Most of the time when I worked on behalf of a client, I was responsible for the outreach and thus generated many leads and contacts. I used to save these email addresses in Excel Sheets because you never know when you might need someone’s contact again in the future. Often, people email me asking for contacts of people to help them with something and I am usually able to think of someone, which is why keeping people’s contact details has always been important to me.

From what I found out, it’s okay to keep lists with contact details of media people. It’s usually business emails and thus it’s B2B anyway. I looked through all these lists and made sure I only have their name, their email address, and the name of the publication they write for. I named these Excel Sheets based on the type of content these journalists write about and made a dedicated folder on my Dropbox to store them.

I then took all the other contact lists and wrote them one last email to inform them that I’m deleting their contact details and that I’d like to connect with them on LinkedIn where it’s more equal for us to decide whether we want to be on the platform or not. Most people of course ignored my message. I guess everyone has received more than enough emails in the past couple of days and thus my email might have slipped people’s attention. Which is fine. From time to time, it’s good to make a clean cut.

  •  Newsletter lists

Mailchimp, which is the service I use for my newsletters, has introduced extended data protection features and given one needed to actively opt in to comply, I decided to have everyone who still wanted to hear from me sign up to a new list. I knew I’d lose many of my past contacts and people who wanted to hear from me, however, I also knew those who would choose to opt in once more would actually really want to hear from me.

This is how Mailchimp suggests one deals with the changes of data protection:

However, I felt like a new beginning would kind of make sense, so I created two new mailing lists. One for other freelancers where I’d share learnings about freelancing, and another one more client and work related for me to share case studies and work processes that I thought others could benefit from knowing. In recent years, I haven’t published that many case studies as I used to and I wanted to have a dedicated outlet for me to position not just my books for freelancers, but also my work as a community strategist. From what I’ve realized, most people don’t really understand what I do and it’s about time for me to change that. :)

  • Give away in exchange for data

Just like everyone who works in marketing or wants to sell their products, I used to have newsletter pop-ups on my website and also collect email addresses in exchange for the digital files of my books. According to GDPR, that’s not legal and thus I decided to cancel my SumoMe account, which is how I collected people’s email addresses.

Additionally, I needed to go through my website and make sure that I change all the copy that suggests to sign up to receive the files in exchange. Not just on the static pages of my website, but also in all my blog posts. As you can imagine, a lot of work.

  •  Decide what information you collect via your website

My website is hosted on Squarespace and thus the moment they released their latest GDPR compliant updates, I’ve reviewed all functionalities and decided to remove the Activity Log and also disable Analytics cookies. Given my website’s purpose is to simply represent who I am and what I do, I don’t think it’s actually necessary to collect any of that information, given I don’t process them in any valuable way. Instead of helping the frightful five collect more information about people interested in my work, I decided not to do that at all. At the end of the day, the core of my business is to deliver value to my clients, not to help others use their data to sell them more.

On these terms, I’ve also decided to disable the comment function on my blog. People are still able to send me an email anytime, but the commenting culture is not as active as it used to be just seven years ago. The way we interact online has changed and thus I don’t think this is such a big deal.

  • Update your terms and conditions and your data protection policy

For decades, it’s been required for all businesses based in the EU to disclose various information about the company publicly and have easily accessible imprint. Impressum in German. Nevertheless, and given the rules for what must be included have slightly changed, it makes sense to review one’s terms and conditions.

As a solopreneur, it’s not very likely you’ll get a custom one from a lawyer and thus you might want to look for a generator that will help you create one. For Austria, I found an Impressum Generator on Firmenwebseiten. They also offer one to help you generate a data protection policy. However, and given I only found this one after I paid for this one, I’ve opted in for a paid service.

Don’t forget to make sure your imprint and your data privacy policy are accessible from anywhere on the website with just one click. The footer menu seems like the best place for that.

  • Audit what software you use

Most of all, review how and if you want to use it in the future.

So this step should probably be done right at the start of all your efforts. However, it’s so much work that I’ve done everything else before I finally started dealing with this task.

You’ll need to write down all software you use to process and manage data and make sure you have their DPA. I’ve decided to review the DPA of all the services I use, print it out, and store it in my documents with a remark of the date I’ve downloaded it.

Here is the list of the software and third party services I use:


As my website host. I’ve mentioned above what changes I have made. I use Squarespace to represent my business and collect email addresses to send promotional emails about my services and products.

Here is their DPA:


Is the software I use to send promotional emails about my services. I keep two lists. One is addressed to fellow freelancers and the other one I use to send out case studies and information relevant to my past clients and the people who one day might want to become my clients.

I only request people’s name and their email address, and the simple opt out Mailchimp offers feels like the most fair solution for people to unsubscribe with just one click. Mailchimp is also one of the two places where I keep and am planning to keep personal detail of people in the future. The other one is Freshbooks, which again, is business information.

Here is their DPA:

Google Docs

I use Google Docs for projects I work on actively and collaboratively. I share documents with people I work with on other teams. Once I finalize working on a document, I file it in the archives on my Dropbox and delete the original Google Doc. I no longer use Google Docs to process people’s contact details for projects for which I research press contacts.

Here is their DPA:

Google Analytics

Given I use Squarespace and they have Google Analytics integrated, I have decided to delete my Google Analytics account. As mentioned above, I don’t technically need to run all the analytics there are and am happy with what Squarespace provides me with. I did keep the Google Analytics paragraphs in my imprint and my data privacy policy given Squarespace uses it automatically.


Everyone who’s been in a monetary exchange with me has a record in my Freshbooks account. By the Austrian law, I am required to store all tax related information for seven years. Freshbooks is a Canadian company and given this is where I store the most sensitive data, it’s also important to me they process my clients’ data in a sensitive way.

I really love Freshbooks because it helps me keep organized like no other software out there. Given my usual data mess, using Freshbooks has been revolutionary.

Here is their DPA statement:


Given I am not naturally the most organized person, I use all the help I can get to help me. My accounting is done by Loydolt&Partner. Even though I sometimes send them tough emails, they’ve really been a great tax accountancy to work with.

Here is their DPA statement:


I use Mention to track news, updates, and mentions about my name and my projects. I don’t process and store any customer information on their service besides having them track my name.


While I upload classes to Skillshare, I don’t own the platform or any sort of details about the people who have subscribed to my classes. The team at Skillshare has done an amazing job promoting my classes to their community and thus I’m happy with the service as it is. I don’t store or process any sort of personal data.

Nevertheless, and given I receive money from Skillshare each and every month, I keep their data for tax reasons.


I am a very active LinkedIn user and find the platform incredibly valuable to keep in touch with my professional network. Given I have a social media widget that connects the visitors to my website, I have a paragraph about LinkedIn in my imprint and my data privacy policy.

As we all know, LinkedIn is probably the biggest data mine out there where people publicly display more private information than they do on Facebook or Instagram. Nevertheless, it’s a professional network and thus all who decide to connect with me there do so on professional terms. I don’t save any people’s information I find on LinkedIn and thus can only access what people decide to publicly display on their profiles at any given time.

Here is their DPA:


Given Slideshare is a LinkedIn service and I sometimes embed Slideshare presentations on my blog, I have a paragraph about LinkedIn in my imprint and my data privacy policy.

Here is their DPA:


I use Issuu as an archive for the preview pages of my books. Unfortunately, they have not published their GDPR compliance statement just yet. Fingers crossed they’ll do so soon.


I used to have a pinned tweet in which I asked people to sign up to my mailing list in exchange for their contact details. I needed to delete that tweet. While on it, and given I don’t really give a crap about my Klout Score, I’ve also decided to delete all my past tweets. Theoretically, I am still keeping my liked tweets. If their compilers decide to delete them, I will lose access to them as well.

There are free services that allow you to delete your latest 3,200 tweets in one go. I decided to use the app It will take a couple of days to get a clean account, but given I’ve already previously tried to get rid of my past tweets, it’s pretty good to now actually do that. I don’t know what normal people would do with my Twitter history, so the people who care about it are probably people who are not necessarily up for any good.

Last but not least, I used this opportunity to revoke access to all the various apps accessing my Twitter profile. You can do so here:

Given I link to my Twitter profile through a social widget on my website, I have a paragraph about Twitter in my terms and conditions, as I have a plug-in on my website too. I don’t save any people’s information I find on Twitter and thus can only access what people decide to publicly display on their profiles at any given time.

If you want to read Twitter DPA, it’s here:


I’ve not really been fan of having a business presence on Facebook for a long time. I remember the time I worked for an agency and we first persuaded our clients to run ads so that people become their fans on Facebook because it would be cheaper. Then, not even six months later, we had to go back to these exact clients and ask them for budget to then reach the fans on Facebook they have already paid for.

I deleted all my Facebook pages. I only have a personal profile on Facebook which I don’t use for any business related data exchanges. Additionally, I’ve also enabled two factor authentication when logging in.


Those who follow me on Instagram know it’s one of the platforms that’s significant to me online. I have been an active user since early 2011 and thus have seen the platform grow and evolve from the start. I don’t just share pictures on Instagram; I also embed them on my website through a direct feature Squarespace offers. I don’t store anyone’s information people publish on Instagram but my own.

The platform’s changed the direction significantly in recent years and I’m currently just observing how I want to use the platform in the future. I’m grateful they must now allow me to export all my information whenever I request in case I’ll want to use a different photo sharing platform in the future. I’ve also enabled two factor authentication.

Here is their DPA statement:


A wonderful stock image seller. I regularly upload pictures and receive royalties in return. While I upload a decent amount of pictures to this platform, I don’t actively participate in its community and thus the only data I store is the data that allows me to process EyeEm’s payment to comply with the Austrian tax law.


I love Foursquare and Swarm, however, and given it’s been impossible for me to find how to best include something about their service in my data protection policy, I’ve removed all social widgets from my website. I don’t use the platform to store or process any personal information.


I have a landing page on LaunchRock which I have been trying to get deleted. I’ve gotten in touch with their customer support because it’s impossible for me to login and do anything about that page unfortunately.


I use Trello for all of my personal project management and to coordinate with teams. Given Trello’s servers are in the US, I’ve reviewed all my boards and cards to make sure they don’t contain of any personal information. Additionally, I’ve archived boards I no longer need and left the ones I no longer need to be a part of. I’ve also enabled two factor authentication.

Here is Trello’s DPA:


Another software I use in my day-to-day as a freelancer is Slack. Let’s face it, every team needs a place to share gifs. Personally, I haven’t connected Slack to any other software. It’s a work in progress kind of place where if anything, one might share drafts of copy or links to Google Docs that would still require the ownership of login details. Additionally, Slack messages are deleted after one has reached the limit of 10K.

Here is their DPA statement:


First of all, I pay for my Google Services. Google claims that their G Suite Services are fully compliant with GDPR. Email is of course tricky because we send and receive so much data and also a great amount of various files and thus I feel like one should mostly make sure how one accesses their emails is secured. I’ll talk more about it below.

You can read more about it here:

Google Calendar

For years I used the calendar of my private Google account, however, I am switching my calendar to my business email address to make sure it complies with the GDPR requirements.


Last but not least, I use Dropbox. Based on my research, Dropbox is one of the organizations certified as compliant with the new ISO27018 code of practice for protection of personally identifiable information (PII) in public clouds. I use Dropbox to store all my clients and customers data in order for me to be able to be transparent about what I store. I want to make it easy to transmit information or delete it if needed. Additionally, I have enabled two factor authentication to access my Dropbox account.

Here is Dropbox’ DPA statement:

  • Install a VPN service

If you haven’t done so already, you should install a VPN service. Whenever you log into a Wifi outside your home (and even in your home), it might be pretty easy for hackers to steal data you store and process, be it your customers’ data, your credit card details, or even the access to your online banking. No one wants that and thus, using a VPN service is inevitable. Your client will be grateful you’ve taken precocious measures and made sure all data you process is safe. If you need more reasons to finally opt in for a VPN service, you might want to read Tobias van Schneider’s article on data security. 

The next challenge of course is choosing what VPN service to go for. Tobias’ suggestion was Tunnel Bear, however, they got acquired by a US-based company just a few months ago and thus I decided it wouldn’t be such a smart choice. I’ve asked my friends and then went with Zenmate. It’s a German company and knowing how cautious the Germans are when it comes to data, it felt like a good choice.

  • Use a password manager

This is another thing on my “yes, I should probably do that” list of things I’ve been putting up for years and simply never took the time to deal with. I’ve now finally signed up for an account with 1Password. Given I run an online business, I would say I consider this a must, but you know how it goes with going out of one’s comfort zone. It simply took some time to actually follow through. And so, here you go, I’m finally a one-password customer.

  • Securing your hardware

Last but not least for this post, I’d like to nudge you to secure and encrypt all the hard drive you use. You can find a detailed report here:

You’ve reached the end of the first part of my report on all the measures I took to make sure my business is GDPR compliant. If you have any comments or see something I could do better, please don’t hesitate and send me an email. I’m currently working through the following list:

How have you been dealing with GDPR? I cannot wait to hear some encouraging stories. I feel like this should make us found an online “book” club to discuss our experiences.