Posts tagged this year will be different
It’s a wrap! January 2019
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When I published This Year Will Be Different four years ago, I never would have thought it would become the mantra for every year’s beginning.

I kicked off the year with a trip to Israel, Palestine, and Spain trying to soak up some sun. I’ve been trying to write about my experience crossing the border between Palestine and Israel and my feelings, especially because I get to cross where the wall in Berlin once stood each and every day, yet haven’t managed to depict my feelings. I’m still pondering about the essay and what it should be...travel writing is hard.

I’m excited about having launched another Kickstarter campaign to capture the history of Berlin’s architecture. I chose 50 buildings, trying to get to the essence of what Berlin as a city is about. The campaign will be live until the 14th of February, 2019.

Meanwhile, I’m also still working on Beyond Small Talk, the book about meaningful gatherings and how to host them. Transcribing is a lot of work, yet it’s a good feeling to be able to say that I only have one interview left until I’ve transcribed them all and can finally start editing.

This month, I was invited to join the Recharge Serviced Apartment Summit where I finally met Marc Jongerius, one of Zoku’s founders, in person. If you haven’t heard of Zoku, do check it out. It’s one of the most incredible hospitality projects I’ve personally come across.

I’ve also been invited to join the Community Summit hosted by Co-Matter, where I facilitated two sessions to explore what makes communities sustainable and what will make them sustainable in the future. It’s truly fascinating to see how the nature of communities is changing, which is also something I’m talking about with the different companies and potential clients I’m currently talking to about future work. (I’m still available for projects, so please reach out should you need help with something. Here is the list of my services.)

I was also really pleased to see another feature of my work. Inc.com recommended My Creative (Side) Business as a great book for people thinking about changing their career. I’ll be speaking more about that subject in February at TEDx in Graz. For now, I’m still practicing my speech.

It's a wrap! October
working Orion
working Orion

At the beginning of the year, I said that by the end of the year I’d love to have some time to learn new skills and deepen my knowledge. I wanted to know what works on social media and what’s no longer a thing. Because, frankly, the social web is constantly evolving and it’s hard to keep up.

Often we get so overwhelmed by our daily rut that we just keep doing what we’ve been doing because we know it's worked before. But now, maybe it doesn’t anymore. 

To give you an example, when I published This Year Will Be Different and My Creative (Side) Business, many posted pictures of the books on Instagram. Now, with Work Trips and Road Trips people posted stories, so the news about the book release vanished rather quickly and the sales remained, compared to the other titles, mediocre. It’s become hard to reach people. It’s become even harder to sell on the internet. Especially if you don’t have dedicated budget to finance ads. 

This past month, I haven't done much client work besides working on a website that will hopefully launch very soon. Instead of working on client projects, I focused on reading books I’ve had on my bucket list for a while. Here are the titles: 

Perennial Seller - Will help you understand why people still buy classics instead of going for the latest releases.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - A must-read for everyone who works in communications, marketing, or sales. 

Service Design Business - A wonderful guide to help you understand all the details you should consider when planning a customer experience, both online and offline.

Captivate - One of the most valuable books I’ve ever had in my hands recently. It’s one of those books you’ll finish and want to start re-reading immediately. Just get it now. Don’t even read what it’s about. 

Killing Marketing - Explains the principles of good content marketing and why it makes sense for brands to invest in long-term relationship building through creating valuable content.

Sprint - If you’ve worked in a startup, you’re most likely already familiar with the sprint methodology. I really enjoyed learning more about the theory behind the practice and was able to reflect on where the company I had previously worked for had gone wrong. 

UX Strategy - Talks about the process of building human-centered products. I found it to be very controversial to what Sprint preaches, yet interesting. 

Branded Interactions - Is most likely to be called the bible of UX, UI, and overall digital design. Everyone who works in digital product management or design should read it. 

I still have some capacities in November and December. Please get in touch if you need help with your online strategy. 

Would you like me to write another book for freelancers?
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(Here is the link to answer the survey.)

It’s the end of October. Which means it’s been almost three years since I found myself in a mouldy room in London. With a leaking ceiling. Without functioning heat. Wondering whether “this” was what freelancing was about: insecurity, shitty projects, lots of struggles. Just the memory of it gives me goosebumps.

Those who know me personally know how much I loved the job at Somewhere I had before. Going freelance was something that while it made sense at the time, wasn’t anything I was planning on doing. I needed to be location independent and had no other option. I had to learn to deal with the situation and do so quickly.

Over time, I have learned that sometimes, we need to fall deep to pick ourselves up in a whole new glory.

My way out of that mess and how I was feeling then was the first book. A book I conceptualized, produced, and financed within three months. I had the idea because I needed to learn how to freelance myself, and the insights of the women were so cool, I thought I should share them, so I did.

It actually still baffles me how many people wrote me after they read the book about how much it made their year different. How it encouraged them to make a leap and go freelance.

Given for the past three years around this time, I was mostly at home interviewing people, transcribing their interviews, editing, or writing, I’m now wondering if I should do it again. Or if I should do something different. I’m also thinking about ways to make it something more.

When looking at the numbers, none of the books were financially feasible. At least not directly. Each one helped me produce the next one, and with each, I still took a personal loss. It’s not even what I would have paid everyone who worked on the books what I believe they deserved for their excellent work. Most certainly, without the three Kickstarter campaigns I ran, none of the books would have been realized. To this day, the biggest benefit I got from writing these books was the feedback I received from the ones amongst you who felt encouraged to create and do so in self-initiative.

I’ve conducted a little questionnaire. It’s for me to learn about your needs and wants. Given it’s Christmas soon and you have probably already heard “Last Christmas” at least once, I’ve decided to raffle five books amongst those who fill out the questionnaire: 

Click here to view survey

Thank you for your help,
Monika

The moment you feel it’s time to get a new job
oriontheofficemanager

When I discontinued Kickstarter as a client, I didn’t really know what I’d do afterwards. I had ideas, but nothing was set in stone. I knew I didn’t want to wake up in different beds or on couches as much as I used to. I wanted to spend more time at home and in my own bed. Even though it felt crazy giving up a dream client without having something better lined up, I needed it. It had become hard for me to remember and distinguish people because I dealt with so many, and I often felt overwhelmed and not as friendly as I wanted to be. However, after leaving, (and something I’ve mentioned in my last private newsletter.. if you'd like to receive these, sign up here: http://eepurl.com/bs0iKv), I felt a lot of emptiness. It felt like I had given up what gave me purpose for two years. 

When writing Work Trips and Road Trips, I thought a lot about one's purpose and how as a freelancer, it’s your job to think ahead and make decisions. How it’s important to rethink your status quo every single day. And so there were multiple things I did: 

One of the things was to apply for Teach For Austria. I knew it was something I should do to give back. However, I didn’t pass the assessment center, so this most certainly wasn’t the way ahead. Then, I had a coffee with someone. My friend told me of an available position that truly would've been a dream job and combine all my skills and interests in architecture, media, and technology. It would've been a position as a product and innovation manager at a hotel chain. I built a website to apply, but got a phone call from the recruiter saying they were only open to applicants from within the hospitality sector. Right. I needed to think further about what I’d want to do, so I sat down with a glass of wine and post-its. I wrote down what mattered to me and what skills I’d like to use in my day-to-day. How I’d like my day-to-day be. I once recorded a Skillshare class on this subject. After this exercise, I realized it was time for me to rebrand. I then split the keywords in three different piles and decided to restructure my online presence, which led me to creating another Skillshare class on how to structure your website when you’re a freelancer. 

Now, when I said being a product and innovation manager in the hospitality sector would be a dream job, I had some clues what to do next. I’m currently working on an innovation white paper about hotels and restaurants and building a web presence for a boutique agency with that target group. I’ve also just relaunched this, my personal, website to summarize where I’m coming from. I’d love your feedback and I’d love to hear your story on how you’ve restructured your life and how you changed the direction of where you were headed.

It’s a Wrap! January

New year, new adventures! 

I spent most of January preparing the Kickstarter campaign for Work Trips and Road Trips. It’s already live and you can see it here!

Ewelina, the illustrator I hired to create the collages for #WTART has, once again, done an amazing job! I knew she’s incredible, given she illustrated This Year Will Be Different, but the collages she made of the women I interviewed blew my mind. We’ve also found a designer, so be ready to help us choose a cover for Work Trips and Road Trips! I’ll post about it on this blog and also write a Kickstarter update once we’re ready to share the designs with you!

Before the end of the year, I’ve agreed with Sean, who I work with at Kickstarter, that I’d focus on the fashion category the next three months. As part of this sprint, I’ve attended the Fashion Fairs in Berlin and also Modefabriek in Amsterdam. I’ve hosted an event for fashion designers, which was part of the Embrace Your Hustle series, and I was also fortunate to be able to organize a lunch for fashion journalists.

I wanted to make the lunch really special, so I hired Sophia Hoffmann to host it. She then, being a perfectionist herself, asked the Rag'N'Bone Man team to create the flower arrangements. The event looked beautiful and the food was so tasty! I can only recommend Sophia’s cookbooks. She truly is the vegan queen!

If you’re a fashion designer and are reading this, please get in touch, as I’m currently working closely with designers on launching their Kickstarter campaign!

We’re 68% there. This is what happened this past week.

The average book sells 250 times a year in the US. I am incredibly proud that after less than two weeks since launching this campaign we have already surpassed that number! Thank you to everyone who's pre-ordered their copy of #MCFSB

I’ve sent the manuscript to some incredible people to ask them for feedback and here is what they said about the book:

Paul Jarvis, the creator of the Creative Class said:

"I truly believe side-projects are necessary for all freelancers. Monika does a brilliant job of summing up why as well as how to tackle them in this book!”

Katy Cowan, the Founding Editor of Creative Boom and MD at Boomerang PR described #MCFSB as:

"Packed full of inspiring interviews with women all across the world who have successfully gone freelance or turned their side projects into multiple revenue streams, it’s something even the most established business owner should add to their reading list.”

Sean Blanda, the Editor-in-Chief and Director at 99U said:

“With so much blustery, useless career advice out there #MCFSB is a revelation: actionable practical advice that you can use the moment you put down the book. A must read for those looking to develop their side hustle." 

.. and John Lee Dumas, our favourite Entrepreneur on Fire described #MCFSB as an:

"Excellent read for entrepreneurs who are ready to be challenged to think outside of the box about their businesses and IGNITE." 

All looking good and I am incredibly excited! Yay!

Also, I wanted to thank you. I don’t know who of you is responsible for this but there has been some incredible coverage in various outlets in the past couple of days. If you want to read some more about the process, what I usually do or just want to see who had something nice to say, here are some articles:

#MCFSB has been featured on:

Design Taxi (High Five to whoever is responsible for this)

Creative Boom (The lovely Mark interviewed me for the newly re-designed CB)

AdWeek’s GalleyCat (I shouldn’t check my phone at 6am. I saw this and couldn’t go back to sleep anymore)

The Austrian Gap Magazine (If you prefer to read something in German)

Frau, frei und (The German go-to-page for freelancers)

There has even been a snapshot of the campaign on The Next Web (Woohoo)

I’d love it if we could reach 100% of the funding goal in the next couple of days. Please spread the word. Tell anyone who you believe might benefit from reading #MCFSB or get a second book to give it to them. I have been reaching out to companies to get some vouchers for you to make your everyday life as a freelancer a more pleasant one. I cannot wait to share the goodies that I have collected for all the supporters of the Kickstarter pre-order round. 

#MCFSB: Meet the team and see what we are currently working on

As you can imagine, I could never write a book all by myself. I deeply believe that part of being a professional means you have to find people who have the skills you lack to help you make a product that you’re incredibly proud of.

Last year, when working on This Year Will Be Different: An Insightful Guide to Becoming a Freelancer, I published an ad on Elance and found Diana J. Joiner. The message she sent to me was definitely not one you would send when applying for freelance gigs; it was a message you would send to someone you want to be friends with. We scheduled a Skype call and clicked immediately! 

At the moment, Diana and I have finished editing the book to a stage where we were able to send it to Diana Ovezea to implement the text in the layout. (I’d prefer to call the girls by their first name, but it gets too confusing. Note: Diana’s are amazing to work with.) We prefer to do the last couple of editing rounds in the finished layout to make sure there aren’t any mistakes in the final version. 

Diana Ovezea and I used to study together, however, she was in the graphic design department and we only met once a week during the joined cultural studies classes. Diana is an incredibly hard-working and deep-thinking individual who I’ve always admired for her dedication and wit. I reached out to her to interview her for #TYWBD and during our conversation, she offered to help me with the layout. She didn’t just do a smashing job with the layout, but she also designed the most incredible cover! 

I can’t even tell you how curious and excited I am about her designs for #MCFSB and the cover she’ll create. We’ll ask you soon what cover we should use for the book out of a few options, so please keep an eye out for that update. 

Working with Diana O. is great because she understands what one wants very quickly. (If you ever need a designer, you want to work with her. Trust me!) We’ve chosen the layout and she’s now testing how it works with the fonts she’s chosen and the illustrations that were created by the wonderful Sara Combs.

If you’ve read the contents, then you might have noticed that I interviewed Sara for #MCFSB. So, here’s the story: when I first discussed what kind of illustrations we wanted, Diana O. said we needed a really smart illustrator who would just get it! I couldn’t stop thinking about my conversation with Sara, so I decided to ask her.

Originally, we were thinking about hiring a letterer, which is why I didn’t hire Ewelina a second time (you need to see this girl’s portfolio). However, working with Sara, who specializes in pattern design, felt like a better choice because we wanted to work with someone with an iconic style. If you’ve worked with an illustrator such as Ewelina, it’s hard to find someone else who’s as talented as her, but now, we have Sara!

Sara is currently finishing off all 30 illustrations that you’ll see throughout the book and on the postcards that we’ll send your way too. 

As for me, I’ve been answering messages and requests and reaching out to journalists and bloggers to let them know about this project. If you know a blogger or a journalist you could introduce me to, I’d really appreciate your help. Here is my email address (hello@mkanokova.com) if you decide to make a direct intro.

"Get help for your business" a guest post by Breanna Musgrove

You might remember Breanna, the founder of Scout & Catalogue, who I featured in #TYWBD. Breanna recently started a series of articles on creative entrepreneurship on her blog. To me, Breanna is one of the most admirable and savvy creative entrepreneurs with the most incredible style. 

Luckily, Bre allowed to repost one of the posts of her series here. If you want to learn more about her learnings, definitely check out her wonderful blog and if you love fashion then also her Instagram

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There is no doubt that ‘entrepreneur’ has become one of the most covetable job titles in popular culture these days. Shaking off the difficult boss, running a self directed project, the potential of making more money than any 9-5 position could offer – all of these things sound amazing. What is seldom talked about is how often and how much running a small business can suck. The insane hours, the poverty level income (at least at the start), the consistent and terrifying leaps of faith you take as your business finds it’s place in the market, the isolation of working on your own to accomplish your goals. Starting a business is no small endeavor and, not only that, running a business often has nothing to do with the product or service that called you into action in the first place.

One of my favourite questions I have been asked (although by that time I was 3 years deep into S&C so my ship had already sailed) was, ‘Where are you happiest in your business – the creative work or the business work?’ The implication being that if you are deeply passionate about the ‘it’ of your business – you get lost in the craft of cooking, brewing a perfect cup of coffee, designing the most ergonomic chair, or any other product or service that rocks your world and you are currently thinking about developing a business around – you may want to think twice about forging out into the lonely world of entrepreneurship alone. Contrary to popular belief, creative genius alone does not a successful business make. In order to have success in business you need to have passion about BUSINESS. You need to get jazzed about writing business plans, pitching ideas to potential investors/partners, delving into market research, developing systems that allow your company to grow and flourish, promoting the work, closing deals – all those business buzz words – you need to LOVE them. This is a huge generalization, but most creative types are not also skilled with excel spreadsheets or firm handshakes.

Before you dive headfirst into your own venture I would recommend looking deep inside of yourself and honestly asking where your passion lies. I still do this on a regular basis. I am someone that is decently interested in business but my true love is, and always has been, the creative. Almost all of my disappointments with S&C over the past 6 years have come from only having one eye on the business road while the rest of my attention was spent watching the gorgeous ‘creative vision’ sunset out the side window. As someone that took FIVE YEARS to start looking at the balance of skills it takes to run a successful business more closely I would highly recommend setting yourself up properly from the very beginning. Luckily, for everyone out there with talent and drive I have a very simple recommendation for you:

Get help.

Simple but effective.

Broken down into steps it would look something like this:

1) Dream what your business will become. Think as big as you can. Think 1 year out, 5 years out, 10 years out. Really get into this. What are you selling? How much money do you want in your life? What size of company do you want your business to grow into? Where do you want to live? How many hours a week do you want to work?

2) Look at what you have to offer this company. Where is your passion? What are you better at than anyone else? Be honest. Look at what your weaknesses are. What work do you avoid and put off until tomorrow? Be honest.

3) Find someone who is strong where you are weak to partner with. While you’re at it find a few people to partner with. If you have a great product but no idea how to set up your business framework – there are tons of people out there with business degrees and a passion for start-ups. If business is your thing but you’re stuck without a ‘big idea’ – there are tons of people out there with great vision but no idea how to translate it into reality. If crunching numbers is your passion but the corporate world seems staid and predictable there are tons of people out there with dicey books that need keeping and vastly varying year ends to be organized (seriously though – good small business focused accountants and bookkeepers – where are you? There is a hole in this market that is crying out to be filled). You get the point.

If partnership doesn’t feel like the right avenue for you (I don’t have one) then I highly recommend bringing on consultants. One of my biggest regrets is not building an effective community of people to help me run S&C from the very beginning. I thought I could do it all. Guys – I could not. Not only will your partners or consultants balance out your skill set and give your business a much better chance of success but your process will be all the more enjoyable along the way.

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On a side note; it's been a bit quiet here lately but I have finally finished writing My Creative (Side) Business over the weekend and sent it to Diana to start editing. I will be in touch about this very soon!