Posts in Freelance Life
5th ANNIVERSARY: The people who've helped me get where I am today.

Today is my fifth anniversary working as a freelancer.

When I first went freelance, it was because the company I worked for – and loved working for – imploded and because my partner at the time moved back to New York.

I was suddenly unemployed and in a long-distance relationship.

It felt unrealistic to apply for jobs where I'd have to promise to show up every day from 9 a.m to 6 p.m. And so, I decided to go freelance instead.

Before I had a client, I built a website listing the services I could offer. I then emailed 65 people, telling them I was available for freelance work.

Four of these people emailed me back and hired me for projects within the first three months. (THANK YOU, Michael Schmitz, Bruno Noble, Taylor McKnight, and Max Kickinger!)

I recently had a conversation about the people who boosted our confidence so we would actually dare to go freelance or start our own businesses. The conversation is what inspired this essay.

I'd love to tell you more about the sentences that are burned into my mind and the moments that helped me get where I am today.

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"Welcome to the game."

Max Kickinger, Raven & Finch

At 9 a.m. on November 6, I had an appointment at the business registration office.

At 11 a.m., I had my very first official client meeting with Raven & Finch, an Austrian sound branding agency.

Max was one of the people who’d emailed me back, hiring me for some content marketing. Upon my arrival at his studio, Max said: "Welcome to the game."

To this day, I remember him saying that to me. It's one of the sentences I like to remind myself of regularly.

That sentence takes the pressure off whenever things get hard.

Freelancing is a game, one in which you know that you sometimes win, but – sometimes – you lose.

When you see freelancing this way, it’s fun to look back at the accomplishments and failures as if it was just a game that you get to play every single day.

But something else happened with Max and Raven & Finch.

I'm very grateful to Max for hiring me back then. I recorded his thoughts and later wrote a few articles for his blog. He paid upfront, too.

The assignment wouldn't have been memorable if I didn't ask the one question that changed how I now approach client work.

"What is it that you really, really want? What's the ideal scenario, where if it happened, you'd feel hiring me was the right choice?"

Max replied that he wanted to see Raven & Finch featured in the Monocle magazine.

At that time, I didn't know anyone at Monocle.

But, as life is, within just a few months, I started meeting more and more reporters who worked there.

A year later, Raven & Finch was featured in the Monocle Podcast, a Vienna special, and also the main magazine.

Now I know it doesn't matter what people hire me for. What matters is that I deliver on their big goals.

So thank you again, Max, for your trust and your support five years ago.



"Thank you for your offer, Monika, I'll pay you more."

Taylor McKnight, Emamo

When you start as a freelancer, you don't know how the financial side of things works.

Working at a Berlin-based startup in 2014, I was earning less than € 28K a year before taxes. As a freelancer, that's nowhere close to enough. You have to pay for health insurance, pension, sick days, vacation time, and still put money aside for those times when no projects are coming in.

Taylor taught me about value evaluation. Since then, there have been many times I was able to follow his lead and do the same for others, mostly women.

What Taylor said to me changed the way I communicate about budgets. I don't like this game of asking someone how much they want if I already have a set budget for it. I say that upfront.

Of course, there have been times when I had to ask for a lower price. Yet, I prefer to keep that conversation clean and avoid exploiting others for my own benefit. A lesson learned from the incredible Taylor McKnight.




"You know, I've got a maximum of how much I want to earn every year."

Michele Pauty, Freelance Photographer

When Michele went freelance, she bought herself a car and a dog, consciously opting in for a lifestyle that suited her needs.

Sometimes she didn't earn any money; sometimes she made a lot in just a couple of days. She'd make time every day to take her dog for a walk and actually "feel" alive. It was Michele who said to me that she has a maximum figure she wants to earn per year. Because of the Austrian tax system, she made conscious decisions on how much money made sense to her.

Michele is someone with hobbies. (!) She's someone who's signed up for university and is studying in her "free time." She inspired me to think about my time the way I do.

Of course, having published three books on the topic of freelancing for which I've interviewed more than 35 women, every single one of them have had a significant impact on me. So thank you:

Oren Lasry

Maxie Matthiessen

Frances M. Thompson

Diana Ovezea

Lauren Randolph

Akilah Hughes

Gwen Boon

Saba Tark

Cristiana Ventura

Lea Hajner

Anne Riechert

Olga Skipper (Steidl)

Carola Pojer

Luna Vega

Christine Neder

Rafaela Lemos

Lisa Andersson

Breanna Musgrove

Vicky Heiler

Tanja Roos

Carina Rabeian (Schichl)

Aisha Franz

Victoria Jin

Tina Toplak

Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Julieta Ulanovsky

Lisa Glanz

Helen Johannessen

Joanna Penn

Jaymay // Jamie Seerman

Sarah Eichhorn

Susan Schmitz

Patty Golsteijn

Shayna Oliveira

Elise Blaha

Sara Combs

Maaike Boot

Sophie C Ryba

Dani Bradford

Vanessa Bruckner

Theresa Lachner

Lauren Hom

Becky Burton

Michele Pauty (again)

Yana Gilbuena

Kayleigh Owen

Jule Müller

Laura Karasinski

Yasmine Ackermark

Natalie Howard

... for being such a great source of inspiration.

Despite having read Tuesdays with Morrie a couple of years ago, it's surprising to me I'm only sharing these stories now.

Also, here are some highlights from the past five years:

Dec, 2014 One of the first projects I worked on was a real struggle, but it was this struggle that inspired me to publish This Year Will Be Different.

Dec, 2014 One of the first projects I worked on was a real struggle, but it was this struggle that inspired me to publish This Year Will Be Different.

Jan, 2015 I met Diana Joiner, my first editor, for the first time in New York after having worked with her what must have been around the clock all of the month of December.

Jan, 2015 I met Diana Joiner, my first editor, for the first time in New York after having worked with her what must have been around the clock all of the month of December.

Dec, 2016 I met Liz Wellington online and then later interviewed her for my third book. Writing these three books has given me access to the most incredible people and for that I’m incredibly grateful.

Dec, 2016 I met Liz Wellington online and then later interviewed her for my third book. Writing these three books has given me access to the most incredible people and for that I’m incredibly grateful.

Oct, 2016 I FREAKING MANAGED TO PAY BACK MY STUDENT LOANS! OMG! <3

Oct, 2016 I FREAKING MANAGED TO PAY BACK MY STUDENT LOANS! OMG! <3

Nov, 2016 The happiest of times, working with Diana Joiner.

Nov, 2016 The happiest of times, working with Diana Joiner.

Jun, 2017 This little munchkin, Orion, my office manager moved in.

Jun, 2017 This little munchkin, Orion, my office manager moved in.

Jul, 2017 I got to work with a team in Iceland on a project. We had to shoot a video at a horse farm which definitely was a highlight of my work as a freelancer.

Jul, 2017 I got to work with a team in Iceland on a project. We had to shoot a video at a horse farm which definitely was a highlight of my work as a freelancer.

Jul, 2018 I got to work on a great project with Hanzo and Virgin Money for which we organised workshops in Wales and the Midlands.

Jul, 2018 I got to work on a great project with Hanzo and Virgin Money for which we organised workshops in Wales and the Midlands.

Jun 2018 While I was at Veganz, I decided to move back to Berlin full time. After five months of apartment hunting, I finally managed to convince a landlord to let me move in. It also happened to be the nicest of all apartments.

Jun 2018 While I was at Veganz, I decided to move back to Berlin full time. After five months of apartment hunting, I finally managed to convince a landlord to let me move in. It also happened to be the nicest of all apartments.

Nov, 2018 As part of my research about food gatherings I flew to Paris to meet Jim Haynes, the father of the Fringe Festival.

Nov, 2018 As part of my research about food gatherings I flew to Paris to meet Jim Haynes, the father of the Fringe Festival.

Feb, 2019 I was invited to speak at TEDx at TEDxLend.

Feb, 2019 I was invited to speak at TEDx at TEDxLend.

Jan, 2015 Getting the first book published was a lot of hustle and a time filled with insecurities. I know this picture just shows a bunch of boxes but it’s one of the pictures I’m most proud of.

Jan, 2015 Getting the first book published was a lot of hustle and a time filled with insecurities. I know this picture just shows a bunch of boxes but it’s one of the pictures I’m most proud of.

Apr, 2015 Getting Kickstarter as one of my first big clients was the perfect proof of being in the right place, at the right time, (with the right references). I got to travel with (and for them) all across Europe to spread the word about their launch. Exhausting but also amazing!

Apr, 2015 Getting Kickstarter as one of my first big clients was the perfect proof of being in the right place, at the right time, (with the right references). I got to travel with (and for them) all across Europe to spread the word about their launch. Exhausting but also amazing!

Jun, 2016 After not having much to do, I decided to write another book on what to do as a freelancer when you have nothing to do (and how to build up scalable income streams for such a case)

Jun, 2016 After not having much to do, I decided to write another book on what to do as a freelancer when you have nothing to do (and how to build up scalable income streams for such a case)

Apr, 2017 After almost two years with Kickstarter, I decided it was time for something new. In my job with them I was on the road more or less constantly and my relationships with people have become extremely superficial. I felt like I needed a change and also wanted to slow down life. I went to Bali for a month and there I made quite a big decision.

Apr, 2017 After almost two years with Kickstarter, I decided it was time for something new. In my job with them I was on the road more or less constantly and my relationships with people have become extremely superficial. I felt like I needed a change and also wanted to slow down life. I went to Bali for a month and there I made quite a big decision.

Jul, 2017 I published another book. One about purpose, mindfulness, money.. the sort of thing one thinks about as a freelancer A LOT.

Jul, 2017 I published another book. One about purpose, mindfulness, money.. the sort of thing one thinks about as a freelancer A LOT.

Sept, 2017 I accidentally bumped into Helen Johannessen who I’ve interviewed for My Creative Side Business. Such a coincidence and so lovely!

Sept, 2017 I accidentally bumped into Helen Johannessen who I’ve interviewed for My Creative Side Business. Such a coincidence and so lovely!

Jan, 2018 Orion and I moved back to Berlin to work at Veganz as an interim head of marketing.

Jan, 2018 Orion and I moved back to Berlin to work at Veganz as an interim head of marketing.

May, 2018 I flew to Australia and New Zealand for a month without telling any one my clients; no one noticed for three weeks.

May, 2018 I flew to Australia and New Zealand for a month without telling any one my clients; no one noticed for three weeks.

Sept, 2018 I got to work together with this amazing lady: Cleo Anderson.

Sept, 2018 I got to work together with this amazing lady: Cleo Anderson.

May, 2019 For Swing Kitchen, I got to go to a lot of the #FridaysForFuture demonstrations.

May, 2019 For Swing Kitchen, I got to go to a lot of the #FridaysForFuture demonstrations.

Cheers and thank you to everyone who’s been a part of this journey.

I’m grateful for the projects I got involved with and the people I got to meet during the past years. What I value the most about this work status is the trust people have in me as a person and the fact that every project is something special, and there is no 9 to 5 mindset even though the work mostly happens at that time anyway.

Not every (freelance) project goes right. And one should own even the bad experiences.

When I first received a call whether I could help launch a Startnext campaign that was nominated for the German Integration Prize, I was really excited about the opportunity. I’d get to work with a publishing house I admire deeply. I really liked the team and the project.

When we ended the collaboration a whole month before originally planned, and also just a few days after the public launch of the project, I was straight-down relieved.

This isn’t the usual success story, yet one that I believe deserves some thoughts, so here is my personal narrative of a project that didn’t go as expected.

With a four-week runway and the internally set goal, the task was challenging. Yet, knowing the background of the project, it was also doable.

They often say if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

There’s something very true about that sentiment, as it’s got to do with how tasks are being executed. If you want to go fast, then have someone set the direction, trust them, and execute on those tasks immediately and without questioning. If you want to go far, as a leader, your job is to include the team in the ideation of solutions to create shared ownership. With a team of intelligent people, those results are mostly better. They also require time for ideas to properly flourish.

This wasn’t a project to “go far.” This was a project that needed quick execution and for everyone to move fast.

Given the short preparation period, I understood the team that usually works together brings in an external lead to go fast instead.

However, going fast requires trust. We didn’t know each other. And I failed to build the trust necessary to work fast.

When taking on the role, and knowing we only had four weeks, I wasn’t prepared to have my plans up for negotiations. I assumed (one should never assume) we all had a shared understanding of our goal and would do anything to just push through until we succeeded with what we set out to do. I never thought that once I became part of the team, I’d have to negotiate my suggestions and things would only become considered relevant once someone from outside the team gave the same advice.

Even before I got on board, the team already started planning things; they had already booked a film team to shoot their video. There was no time left to discuss the big vision of the project, why it was important for this project to happen, and how - with their plan to crowdsource the contents of the book – they were planning to involve their community.

Time for a short discourse into the theory of community strategy...

In an advertising campaign, you generally talk about yourself.

If you want to create a movement, you talk about your advocates.

A movement starts with a small group of passionate people. Your challenge is to build a framework that allows people to participate and come up with their own ideas.

To create a movement, you should focus all your comms around two ingredients: change and participation.

Change = how will your vision change the status quo?

Participation = how will your community shine when getting involved? How does your project add to their social status?

Having a big vision – especially when crowdfunding – is crucial.

Essentially, you’re asking people to monetarily contribute to an idea.

When asking people for money, they must immediately understand the benefit, mostly their own benefit.

The question is: why should people want to be part of whatever you’re planning to do, when it means they also need to pay a fee to become a part of your “community”?

And so, we shot the video. With a script that mostly focused on the past. Not the future.

In a community, you want people to know your plans before you ask them for money. With a four-week runway, that means you’ll most likely have to start communicating to your community immediately. However, we weren’t communicating with the community. We were discussing the mechanics of the campaign and millions of other logistical questions. We were running a grassroots democratic movement within our team. Everyone had a say. Everyone was involved in everything.

Already after one week, I started growing impatient.

I felt the ticking clock.

The team didn’t.

The team wasn’t used to working with such a high time pressure. They were used to working together. And the discrepancies in our work styles, as you can imagine, led to several discussions with the founder of the publishing house.

“I want you to see the two authors as queens and serve them the options on a silver tableau for them to choose what they think is right,” was most likely the one sentence I’ll never forget about this project. With a four-week runway, I didn’t look for options to present to anyone. We had no time to look around and consider all the possibilities we could have if there was enough time. My plan was to assign responsibilities and have everyone get to work fast. I’m used to working with people who speak up whenever they hit a wall – mental or logistical – to speed up even more. My plan was simply to execute on proven strategies.

With this project, I didn’t see my role as a servant; I saw the urgency to become a captain.

However (and as people who’ve worked with me know) while I might have strong opinions, I don’t push them onto people. I say my opinion and what I consider to be a good strategy. If someone pushes back or in another direction, I’ll let them have their way.

By the end of the second week, I felt rising frustration.

We were nowhere close to where we should have been. Every small step was being extensively discussed and questioned. And the founder of the company decided to step up and take over the lead and thus, my role.

Meanwhile I retreated to working on support tasks. Given no one asked for what I believed we should focus on (it wasn’t considered important even when I was leading the project), I kept my thoughts to myself and instead focused on checking off the list of tasks for the launch event. Those things just had to get done. It was easy and at least no one had to deal with me not being at ease about the whole project, which was even complimented at some point.

When running a crowdfunding campaign, it’s about standing at the forefront of a movement.

It’s about explaining why and how you’re the right person to lead such a movement. Crowdfunding is about storytelling. It’s about knowing the first follower theory. Crowdfunding is also about showing who else believes and stands behind your movement.

The (surprising) thing about press coverage when crowdfunding

The one thing that’s been exceptional about this project was the press coverage. I spent the first couple of days pulling together resources for a solid press kit and wrote a press release. The founder of the publishing house hired an exceptional PR manager, who after a short briefing session, immediately got to work and managed to secure coverage in various major German news outlets and blogs.

The difficult thing with crowdfunding is that while press is important to boost one’s credibility, it hardly ever attracts backers. The reason is something that I picked up on many years ago; it takes at least seven touch points for people to convert. Given a crowdfunding campaign usually runs for only 30 days, one must generate several touch points within that period of time. While press might be the first touch point for a potential customer and might put a project on people’s radar, it will take a few other touch points to spark people’s interest. They might need to also see it mentioned on Instagram or hear about it from a friend.

The secret to attracting backers when crowdfunding

I remember one time when I was sitting on the tram listening to a guy telling his girlfriend about a Kickstarter project he supported. He was so excited to be a backer and the whole team could hear that. When talking about storytelling, having people tell others about your crowdfunding project over dinner, coffee, or when sitting on public transport is what you eventually want. The question is, what stories are you going to tell that will make people want to engage with your project?

Usually, it’s backstage stories. It’s the stories that inspire others. It’s stories that expose people to new ideas and experiences. When running a crowdfunding campaign, one needs to turn into a storytelling machine for 30 days.

One of the main mistakes during crowdfunding is to boil down the messaging to how much money one needs. While it’s natural for people to talk about what THEY want and need, the most successful campaigners manage to look outside their own bubble. They make people click through catchy headlines and engaging storytelling. It’s implied that a project already has a community and isn’t starting from scratch when the project goes live.

The other strategy is to create shared experiences; attend and speak at meetups where one’s target group gathers, and if there aren’t any or enough of them, one can create their own event series and invite people to come together.

At that point, and instead of trying to get things my way, I focused on pulling everything together to make sure the launch event was a success.

A launch event is important for several reasons. The positive energy boosts the spirit of the team and also has the potential to engage a large number of ambassadors who will back simultaneously.

If done right, people are going to tell others about their experiences and every attendee might make a few other people more aware of the project.

In this specific case, we had raised €3,500 within the first 24 hours from the people we gathered at our event. While this was a great success, it wasn’t quite where we needed to be in order to stick to our timeline.

If you’re a freelancer, you might be curious about the financial side of things.

As an independent worker, I’m dependent on projects working out. Each and every project is a potential reference for the future and thus it’s important to know what projects to take on or not.

Before we started our collaboration, we set up a contract and included a payment plan. In this specific case, I agreed to a success-based fee applicable if we reached or exceeded our internal goal. Obviously, seeing what we were at a few days after the launch, I knew it was unlikely for the bonus to materialize. Given how things were going within the team, I faced many internal battles.

Am I really getting things that wrong?

Is my approach really the wrong approach or the right approach?

Why am I having such a hard time with this project?

And why are the others having such a hard time working with me?

Much of our struggles within the team were due to interpersonal communication.

What I said and apparently how I said things didn’t make the specific tasks feel urgent.

I failed at explaining why I believed certain measures mattered to the level of detail people might have needed to follow through.

Maybe I never introduced my background extensively enough for people to understand the level of my experience.

Maybe it would have helped.

Maybe it’s too late to think about maybes.

Right after the launch day, I had scheduled four days off. When I came back, the founder and I needed to catch up and discuss where we were and where we were heading. On this call, we mutually agreed for me to leave the team and make the mid-project payment the last.

With the bonus on the horizon, I agreed to a reduced fee, which, given the extensive number of hours I worked on the day we launched the project publicly (which was also the first day of the new payment period according to our contract), my project fee turned into my regular fee.

Obviously, based on my experience, I could already predict the project wouldn’t meet its internal goal, which was also the goal used to calculate expenses.

My dilemma was whether I should just keep my fee at the reduced fee, or cash up the fee by the hours I worked post launch as stated in our contract.

I decided on the latter. I figured it was the more professional thing to do. It was also the more feminist thing to do.

The client paid the bill without any pushbacks.

Financially, it was just another project and having gotten my regular fee makes it easier to just close the chapter and move on.

On a personal level and having hoped we’d get to work together more often, it’s a bad reference in my portfolio that if someone asks them how it is to work with me, it won’t lead to additional projects. More likely, it will lead to a damaged reputation.

And that’s a shame. Yet, I must move on.

I guess not every project goes right. And one should own even the bad experiences.

How to use social media in a non-toxic way

Recently I’ve moved the Instagram app to a folder on the second screen of my iPhone. Just like many of you, I feel growing social media fatigue. Then again, I’ve never felt envious, sad or any of the other emotions so many news sites report to be the everyday reality for many. Personally, I do believe social media has been a great enabler for all of us creatives. My TEDx talk on how to use social media in a non-toxic way is finally live. If you have 15 minutes to spare, I’d love to invite you to listen to my thoughts.

The upsides, the downsides, and the vulnerability of creating publicly
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Whenever I’ve launched a project on Kickstarter, it’s always been a turmoil of feelings. Every time, starting about three days after I’ve publicly announced what I’m interested in and hope to discuss by launching a project, my doubts arise. Has it really been necessary to ask people for money to work on something I care about? Has it been necessary to look for people the way I do?

If a project succeeds, then, of course, it’s all great! It will be celebrated as a success, and I’ll get what I wanted and what motivated me to launch a project in the first place; people will talk to me about what I’ve declared as a subject of my personal interest.

But then, of course, what if a project doesn’t succeed?

I’ve finally stopped procrastinating on learning my TEDx talk. (Writing it was hard. I had someone I consider an exceptionally thoughtful writer edit it and help me shape my thoughts into words.) Now, every single day, I get to listen to my voice repeating out loud what’s become a mantra.

In short, and in the words of Dan Harmon, “If you find your voice, shout with it from the rooftops – and keep doing so – the people who are looking for you will eventually find you.”

That’s what always remains on my mind whenever a project is public; are people interested in what I’m interested in? Do I know such people? Where will I find them? How will they see me and will they find me in time?

Many doubts arise doing what I do and have repeatedly been doing for years. However, I also know I’ve met many incredible people because I’ve been “creating out loud” for years. Having projects live has always given people a reason to talk to me (about something I’m interested in). It’s also given me a reason to approach strangers without it seeming all too awkward. Over the years, I’ve met people who I now call friends because I did something I shared online. I’ve been referred to clients because of something I’ve created and people thought it was interesting. It’s been great and rewarding. Yet, I also question, will it work again? Or not?

It takes a lot of courage to share unfinished work publicly and even though I know the benefits of doing so, I also know I’ve always felt the way I feel right now every time I’ve gathered the courage and shared work in progress. To me, however, it’s not just about working on something I care about and trying to find my people through the work I put into the world. It’s also got to do with my personal philosophy;

“If I had told people I aspired to become a writer before I published my very first book, it would have made publishing that book much harder for me. I would’ve probably needed someone else also to declare me a writer and give me the self-confidence to do something more than practicing writing online and on social media. I might have waited until an agent picked me up and a publishing house approved of me, rather than to go down the path of self-publishing.

If I called myself a writer, it would’ve made me vulnerable. It would’ve allowed the world to criticize me, and possibly hurt me if it did. Yet with social media, I felt it’s all work in progress. And having others watch and notice my progress without claiming perfection has always felt encouraging.

When I started working on my first book, I knew that if someone were to say the book wasn’t any good, it would’ve been relatively easy for me to swallow that criticism. Given I had no official training or any sort of references, I didn’t have to justify mistakes or failure. It was easier for me to start because I had nothing, not even my image—or as it’s now called, ‘my personal brand’—to lose.

I wanted to write a book, and I knew I needed help to make it good, yet I didn’t aspire to become a writer. I just wanted to write, so I did. On social media, I shared my progress, and I was open about the journey of improvement.”

And I can now see where it all led.

You might question why not finish something, find a way to monetize it through a bigger company, and then present things as a success after?

It’s because I believe in transparency. I believe in sharing the process of unfinished work and have others see how something is being done. I believe in it because I believe it gives others the necessary courage also to try and start from scratch and create something. I want others to see the struggle. I wish for people to see the slow curve to “success.” I wish for people to understand they too can try. Because that to me is the power of the internet.

I keep reading about mental health. I keep reading about how people struggle with social media, however, I also believe it’s an incredible tool to create and find “your” people.

In a way I still want to prove that; I merely believe that if someone connects with me because of something I’ve created or at least tried to develop, it will be the most meaningful connection for both of us. And that’s the advantage. The power. The tool we all have at our fingertips. I’ll talk about it more in Graz, yet just really wanted to share this with you. To keep things transparent.

Why I keep a list of places I’d like to visit one day

I just launched a new Kickstarter campaign featuring interesting buildings in Berlin. Below is the story how the project came to be.

Whenever you visit or move to a place, how do you try to make it feel like it’s home? Do you feel the desire to understand what’s happening in the streets around you and why some things are the way they are?

Last year I published a guide to Viennese coffee culture, and then a couple of weeks later, made one for Berlin’s café scene. It’s actually ridiculous to think I’ve been to more than 100 cafés where I also took a picture. Why would anyone do that?

It’s got to do with something that happened 11 years ago...

When I was 21, I moved to the UK for a year. Back then I didn’t know it was just for a year, so I took a lot of things for granted; like I would do them one day. Most days, I was just doing the same things I did all the days before. Because it was the easy thing to do. I’d go to the same places, visit the same cities, do the same thing over and over again. Then after moving away, I realized I lived in the UK for a year, yet never took the time to go up to Scotland. This realization of not going to Scotland while I lived so close remains to this day a reminder that I don’t want that to happen again.

Whenever I then spent longer stretches of time in places, I’d make it “a thing” to seek out destinations to visit and try to better understand why my environment is the way it is.

It must have been what inspired me to start a list of places I’d like to see and visit one day. It’s a list where I add all places – from cafés to sightseeing spots, which I’d like to see.

Whenever I hear of a good place or read something in an article, I add the place to my list. And then, in the day to day, I make sure to open that list regularly to get out of my way and see something new.

It’s so easy to just simply do the same thing over and over again because it’s what we’ve done yesterday or last week. It’s easy to not look around and ask what this or that mean, as we’re distracted by what we deal with in our day to day.

I’ve launched another Kickstarter campaign. This time it’s a guide to Berlin’s architecture. It’s pictures of buildings you might potentially not even know exist and then bits and pieces about their history and societal context. If you’d like to get a part of “my list” of places I consider worth visiting and knowing about, this is your chance to get this set. Just like last time, it’s a limited print run only.



“What do you want to do?” might not be the right way to ask this question
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I wanted to share something with you that’s been on my mind lately.

“So, what do you want to do next?” is the question I keep hearing since I publicly announced that I’m looking for new projects. In a way, I’ve answered it in my call for new projects. In a way, I’ve also not answered it. At least, not in a way that would lead to a great outcome.  

Speaking with someone who works at an accelerator, you know they hear many good (and bad) ideas every single day. Yet what is it that distinguishes a good pitch from a bad one?

“I keep hearing a lot about solutions. I hear how people want to solve this or that. It’s almost as if the problem wasn’t even worth discussing. If someone is passionate about a problem and they managed to explain why they are the right person to solve it, I’ll listen up. Because then you know even if the first approach to solving a problem fails, they’ll go after finding another solution. And should that approach not work either, they’ll keep looking. Then it's just about them convincing you they're the right person to solve that very problem by sharing WHY they care.”

In the startup world, it’s become normal to try out different ideas, pursue different businesses, and even switch between industries if what you tried to do didn't work out as planned. Often, people don’t just go after a whole new sector. They also change the problem they want to solve.

After having spent the afternoon preparing for my TEDx talk, all my guiding sentences, my values, and ideas... everything I’ll talk about in Graz in February popped up in my mind.

I’ve always loved the internet because it’s an incredible platform to share what you’re excited about. It’s a platform to share those ideas and passions freely. And it’s a platform that enables each and every one of us to find and be found by our like minds. If we master how we tell our story, we’ll eventually find those who’ll want to listen, who’ll support us, and who’ll share our passions too.

In Work Trips and Road Trips, I wrote that one finds purpose if they decide on the community they want to serve and see benefit. And I still believe that’s one side of the coin. Yet, it’s also very much about the problem one wants to solve. I’ve always loved the internet for giving each and every one of us the possibility to become and be seen for who we want to be. It’s something I’ve been vocal about since I worked at Somewhere.com. It’s something I’ve been preaching in all my books. It’s something I’ll talk about at TEDx too. In my last post, I might have shared my thoughts and ideas on the formats in which I want to work, yet I’ve not acknowledged my guiding sentence, and what it is that’s deeply connected to my personal values.

Which brings me to..

Next time you have to decide what you want to do next, you might want to ask yourself:

  • Who are the people I want to serve with my work?

  • What is the problem I’m genuinely passionate about solving?

  • What’s the mission I see be the red thread in my work and how can I continue solving the problem I deeply care about?

Answering those questions might make it easier to tell your story. It will definitely be more comfortable to explain mine.

The practical matters of personal finance for freelancers

Here are parts of my weekly newsletter I write for fellow freelancers: you can subscribe to my newsletter to get the full articles to your mailbox.

First of all, I have two separate bank accounts. I have a business account with a traditional German bank, which is where I receive all incoming payments and use for all business expenses. Then, I also have a private account. My personal account is with N26, which I absolutely love and would recommend any day! (If you consider signing up, please use my referral code – monikak3108 – which will give us both a €15 bonus.)

Recently, N26 introduced an incredible new feature and I couldn’t be happier! Customers can now create sub-accounts called spaces that enable them to assign a purpose to each. (mint.com does this in the US). One can also set a saving goal and see one’s progress. In the past couple of months, I’ve gamified how I use spaces, which is something I thought I’d share.

Next to my main account, I have the following sub-accounts:

A freelancer fund I’m aiming to save up the equivalent of how much I need for three months. My plan is to get to that goal and once I do, I’ll start paying towards my investment fund.

An investment fund where I plan to save up €2.000 and once I have that, get back to the book on investing my friend Clemens Bomsdorf wrote.

A holiday fund. I’ve set a goal of €3.000, which I know is enough money to cover flights, accommodation, and all my expenses to leave on a vacation for one month.

A relationship fund where I put money aside whenever someone pays for something I could have also paid for myself.

And a monthly savings account. I mentioned in Work Trips and Road Trips that I keep track of how much I spend every day. Whenever I spend less than €30 in a day, I move the difference into this space for me to see at the end of the month how much I put aside. On the first of each month, I move all the money from this space and also what’s left on my main account to one of the saving spaces. (Which at this point is my FreelancerFund or as my friend Theresa Lachner would call it, My Fuck You Fund). Btw. And if I haven’t mentioned it anywhere else, it’s a saving space you create to build up a safe blanket so that when you face a dry month, you don’t panic about it.

The advantage of me freelancing is that I earn money from different sources. I find this quite handy because it makes allocating money to my sub-accounts much more fun. I do that as follows:

I transfer 45% of everything I’ve earned from my business account to my private account. I’m keeping 55% on my business account to cover all my business expenses, taxes, and health insurance. On my private account, I split the money as follows:

I transfer…

40% of what I earn from my main client I keep as spending money.

5% of what I earn from my main client I immediately transfer to the FreelancerFund. In case I have another somewhat larger project going on, I move all of the 45% I earn with them to the FreelancerFund as well.

45% of all earnings I make from my books, my webinars on Skillshare, my photos I sell on EyeEm, and from small one-off projects I move to the HolidayFund.

If you feel like you too might want to consider creating multiple income streams, I’ve recently published three Skillshare classes to help with that:

Watch editing and monetizing your smartphone photos to learn more about how I monetise the pictures I take on the go.

If you’d like to set up a project but don’t know quite know how, I’ve put together a step by step class to help you come up with side projects to eventually monetize them.

And given we’re talking about monetization, you might also want to check out my class on Kickstarter and how to use the platform to finance creative projects.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out.

New Skillshare class: Brand yourself on social media through side projects

Have you ever asked yourself how to use social media effectively?

This class is for you..

  • if you’d like to learn how to make the most out of social media

  • if you’d like to know how to brand your business as a freelancer

  • if you’d like to know how to create a side income

  • ... or if you want to build your reputation to eventually find a more suitable job.

In this class, I’ll deconstruct what it means to create. I’ll explain

  • how to frame creative projects

  • gain the self-confidence to create and publish

  • ... and will also talk about how to use social media in a meaningful way.

I’ve decided to create this class to help you utilize social media and unlock its full potential. You don’t need to be a creative to benefit from this class. 

It’s now live on Skillshare: https://skl.sh/2zraT5R