Jun 27, 2018

My Coding Journey: How to Navigate the Web To Find Clients

Copyright 2018 The Original BritishPandaChick

Today’s post is continues the search for your first client in the next lesson of Skillcrush 300. This lesson is about finding clients online. Many freelancers often rely on the internet to maintain a regular flow of clients. This is often done through social media, online communities, freelancing sites, and more. Although freelancers might mix-match different resources online, everything they use helps them get closer to finding their ideal clients by expanding the branding they use or online presence.

Skillcrush instructors, teaching assistants, webinar guests, and even Skillcrush alumni all use online communities and freelancing sites to help them find their first clients. The internet has made it possible for people to connect from all over the world, making it much easier to find potential clients in the everyone else circle I talked about in the last post. If you'd like to learn more about this circle or the other circles in Skillcrush's fast track formula, click the link below to learn more.

==> Click here to learn more about Skillcrush’s fast track formula!

During this review, I will be reviewing some of the important information Skillcrush advises studnets on regarding freelance websites and online communities. This post is going to cover creating a profile on these sites, what criteria you can use to evaluate which communities you can join, and even some online communities you can start using to look for clients. I'll be sharing ones Skillcrush recommends as well as ones I use regularly to network and meet potential clients.

Why do freelancers love online networks?

We'll be talking more about networking later, but online networks are favorites with many freelancers. Many freelancers from different webinars and podcasts often talk about how valuable a online network is to helping them find clients. This is due to the fact the internet has made it possible to keep expanding their circles with people all over the world.

Building an online network is similar to building any network. It takes time, lots of work, and serious amount of discipline. As long as you keep at it, each little bit you do will help you pay off in the end. Skillcrush likes to think of this as planting a tree. With a little help, a seed can grow into a tree. Online networks will help grow your circles over time and allow you to be active in your ideal client's favorite places from the comfort of your own home. This is especially beneficial for those that can't attend many in-person events or don't have a lot of time.

Why does building an online network take lots of time, hard work, and discipline? 

Building an online network isn't just about joining the sites and communities your ideal clients might like to spend time on. Although it may sound easy, it actually takes more work than people realize. Freelancers have to find the right groups to join, create good profiles that will get an client's attention, and interacting with clients. This means reading posts, writing thoughtful responses, and waiting to hear back from a potential lead.

If this process might sound familiar, it is the same process people do when they are doing online dating. It doesn't matter if it is an online dating site or a dating app. People using these tools do the same freelancers do by looking at profiles/posts, creating a good profile, writing responses, and even thinking about the right sites to best meet the type of people they are interested in. It takes a lot of work, but for several people this pays off with them getting dates.

Online communities and freelancing sites aren't just a tool you use only once. Freelancers heavily rely on these tools because this helps them ensure they are always making money. They are human and they are going to be concerned about work gaps as well as where their next job is coming from. This is a constant worry on any freelancer's mind from newbies to those with over years of experience. Therefore they constantly balance working on projects with building their online network in order to prepare for any work gaps that might happen.

As you build your online network, you want to use the same approach about building your online presence. This means being visible, proactive, and transparent. You want to be  seen as helpful, not obnoxious. In the 1947 holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street, Macy's and Gimbels demonstrate how the helpful approach won over customers and increased their business profits vs. an obnoxious one that pressured customers.

You can apply this in real life by sharing what you learned or providing value to a potential lead. This might be an answer to the question, solving a technical issue they are having, or giving feedback on a design. You can even share what you learned from writing a blog post or just sharing on social media your thoughts on a book you read. Many developers have taken this a step further by creating coding challenges, online courses, and tutorials which all provide value to others learning how to code.

Finding the Right Online Communities

The internet is a huge place with tons of online communities for everything you might think of. Joining the right online communities will help you maintain consistent stream of clients. Since there are lots of places online to find clients, freelancers have to put themselves in their clients' shoes. Where would their ideal clients go to solve a problem or get advice? Thinking like your clients is key to helping you finding them quicker.

It might be tempting to just join every online community you come across. However I don't recommend doing this since it is very hard to keep track of over time. It can also make things overwhelming for you. I'm very guilty of this since I often join communities I think are interesting then forget to participate in them. If you are just starting, I recommend joining a couple of online communities to start with then add more communities gradually over time.

As you look for different online communities, feel free to reach out to others in your network to see what they use. I recommend attending webinars and listening to podcasts since many of these speakers will shout out different communities, tools, and resources they use. Many of the communities I join and participate in are ones I heard about in webinars or on podcasts.

Before you begin joining any communities . . .

First, read any of the group rules before you start posting. Many of these groups often have rules all members need to follow before they post any content as well as describing what the group is all about. As you start searching for communities to join, read the about descriptions you find on these groups. This will help you evaluate if this group is a place your ideal client might use and one you'll be able to use regularly.

Once you join your communities, remember you need to be helpful vs. spammy. No one likes seeing members spam the group regularly posting their services every chance they get. Chances are you've been annoyed when you've seen these posts so you don't want to do that either. Instead focus on answering people's questions, giving feedback, or even figuring out a solution a member might be having.

The ultimate goal of these online communities is to build your credibility with your ideal clients and show them you are the right one for the position. This will show you are an expert and begin building trust with potential leads. Many of these groups will feature opportunities to do small jobs.

In order to get these jobs, Skillcrush recommends students use this approach. First, you offer to help someone for free from advice, feedback, to finding a solution to an issue they are having. Next, you follow up with your potential lead and do an upsell if you like. An upsell is a freelancer's way of offering a special low-cost project to interested in clients. Be careful with this approach since it won't be appropriate for all clients.

In this lesson, Skillcrush shares three types of groups their students can use to start building their virtual network in the tech community. They include a brief description of each, how to find communities to join in each of these groups, how they work, and much more. Below I've summarized the important information about these specific types of groups. I've even included some communities I regularly use to give you some ideas if you need them.

Slack

Slack is a popular communication tool in the tech community. This tool allows for remote communication. This tool isn’t just used to create online communities. Slack is a tool many companies are using and expect candidates to use. Think of Slack as a professional form of instant messenger.

There are ton of Slack groups on different skills and niches so you’ll need to take some time to see what groups you should join. I recommend talking to other freelancers to see what Slack groups they use and send an invite request to join the group. There are some groups that do charge a fee to join, but there are other ones that are for free. Skillcrush recommends joining the free Slack groups first so you can become more familiar with how the tool works. Once you feel ready, join some of the paid membership groups that interest you.

Slack is one of the tools I check as regularly as my e-mail. I’ve signed up for several Slack groups, but I found that the larger the group, the more noise you’ll have on all the channels. This will make it harder to keep up or even ask questions since one question can easily get lost in the crowd if everyone is writing messages at the same time. Once you enter in a Slack workspace, join the channels that you are interested in then mute some of the larger channels like #general or #random. This way you can focus on smaller communities you’re interested in and don’t get overwhelmed with the Slack conversations.

Some of the Slack groups I’m a member of are Skillcrush Alumni, Grow with Google Nanodegree, KeepCo, and CodeNewbie. I just joined a Slack group which is meant for other techies around where I live. I am also active on my mastermind’s group new Slack. We originally started as a channel on Skillcrush Alumni Slack, but we made the decision recently to start our own Slack so we can customize everything with our own plugins as well as grow our mastermind group with more members.

Facebook

Many freelancers swear to finding clients in Facebook groups. Facebook groups serve as a way for clients and freelancers to find each other. These groups are very niche based so they are easy to target people specifically in these groups. You can find general freelance groups as well, but you will want to look for niche specific groups to join.

Skillcrush recommends searching Facebook using keywords your ideal client might use to find a group to join. Once the search results pop up, select groups from the top navigation bar to see what communities are available. I rarely do this. Instead I follow Skillcrush’s other suggestion which is getting recommendations from others in the tech community. I also learn about different Facebook groups through e-mail newsletters and what others post on social media.

There are tons of Facebook groups depending on what your skills and niche are, but I recommend joining ones that you are interested in. This means you should just join ones that are just professional related. I have a mix of different Facebook groups I’m a member of. Some of the groups I’m a member of are:
  • CodeNewbie
  • Tech Ladies
  • Newbie Coder Warehouse
  • Moms Can: CODE
  • Ambitionista
  • WP BFFs
This year I also help start a Facebook group with the members of my mastermind group. Our group isn’t very active right now, but we are planning on adding more content and making the group active over time.

Building a virtual network isn't just about joining professional groups. You can meet your ideal clients in surprising places. Don't be afraid to join groups that might be interesting to you. I joined a online tutoring Facebook group and have been offering feedback occasionally on other tutors' websites. This led to me scheduling a free consultation one of my first potential leads on ways she can best improve her website.

Niche Communities

Skillcrush thinks these are the best communities to join since they will give you a greater chance of finding your ideal client since they are niche specific. When it comes to searching for communities that will maintain your stream of clients, Skillcrush encourages students to look for a few things so you really need to think like your ideal client with niche communities. It is very likely your ideal client is a member of these communities so you will want to join ones that will give you the best chance of finding them.

Freelancers don't join niche communities because of their clients. Freelancers like these groups since it lets them be active in groups that focus on specific skills you offer. If you like to design branding, there are niche specific groups which concentrate on offering only branding to interested clients. In addition, there are general relevant groups that fit under these niche communities such as freelancers or small business owners. Online niche communities aren't always about skills. These groups are great way to connect with local businesses and niche communities in your area.

Freelancing Marketplaces

Online communities aren’t the only way to find clients. Freelancers use freelance marketplaces and job boards to help find work online. A freelance marketplace is similar to how a marketplace looks like in real life. This is a platform businesses can post jobs on. Freelancers create profiles then bid on those projects as well as showing off their portfolios to attract clients.

Freelance marketplaces take time and work than job boards since you must be a member to apply for jobs. This means creating a profile as well as building a reputation so clients will consider you for jobs. Although these platforms require members to do lots of set up, this will pay off later by making it easier to connect and find potential clients.

A lot of freelancers have mixed feelings about freelance marketplaces. Many encourage freelancers to avoid these like a plague since there is a lot of competition while others recommend using these sites. There have been many reasons why some freelancers tend to stay away from these platforms, but for many the pay is often the biggest reason. Sites like Upwork and Fiverr are very competitive over available jobs and many freelancers often try bidding the lowest price to get picked for jobs. This means freelancers often compromise their rates to find work.

My advice is to just try these websites and see if you like them. If you like them and regularly get clients from them, keep using these sites. If you don’t, that is ok and try something else. Freelancing is similar to trying on clothes. If one platform doesn’t work, just move onto the next one to see which one is the right fit for you.

Freelance Job Boards

Did you know that there are specific job boards just for freelancers? Freelance job boards are similar to other job boards such as Indeed and Monster. While the freelance marketplaces can be seen as job boards, the ones that fit this category are much more niche specific. For example, there are several job boards just dedicated for freelancers in the tech industry. Check out the link to a Skillcrush blog post below which lists 25 sites to find freelance jobs.

==> Click here to see the 25 top sites for finding freelance jobs!

Freelancers can use different filters to find specific jobs and positions. You don't need to be a member to use these sites so don't worry about needing a profile to apply for these jobs. All you need is just time and an idea of what you are looking for.

The problem with job board websites is that these are often easy to apply to. This means you can bet on lots of people applying for the job. In order to have an edge over the competition, many freelancers recommend finding a connection to the company and asking them to be a referral. A fellow developer once told me that referrals will boost your chances of being offered an interview since companies will often interview the ones with referrals from people in the company.

Finding the Right Clients

It is a universal truth that every client is going to be different. There are good clients you'll want to work with and ones that you should avoid. Therefore, freelancers have to make quick decisions to decide which ones are the good ones and which ones you should avoid. This might sound tougher than it looks, but Skillcrush has a few tips to help you decide which clients are the best for you to work with.

1. Does this client fit with your niche?

If high paying clients had to chose, many would chose specialists over a freelancer that can do everything. So if you aren't quite sure if this is the right client for you, ask yourself if this client fits with your niche. Your niche is always going to be a guide in these situations. As you gain more experience, it will get easier to find clients you can trust.

2. Read ads very closely!

You can tell a lot about a potential freelance job just by the ad posted on job boards or ones sent via e-mail. As you freelance, you'll begin learning how to read these ads closely to see which ones are real or scams. To help you get started, Skillcrush offers students a few clues to help them spot an warning signs.
  • Ads with lots of grammar and spelling mistakes
  • Promises of “exposure” in exchange for your hard work. This is just a fancy way of saying they aren’t going to pay you.
  • Payment structure that is not a guarantee. You might see this payment as companies happening to make money off your work.
If you want even more warning signs, I recommend talking to other freelancers to their their tips. You can also learn more tips by checking out different freelancing resources such as blogs, podcasts, or even attending webinars. Most importantly, listen and act on your gut. If your gut gets a bad feeling from this post, don't be afraid to turn down a job.

3. Follow the directions.

Job postings will often have lots of people applying or bidding. This means clients are going to be always pick the ones that follow their directions completely. You also want to read the directions in order to help guide you with tailoring your pitch and getting a sense if you can do this job in the timeline the posting requires.

Conclusion

That’s a wrap for this week’s topic. Now you know some of Skillcrush's secrets to finding clients online. I reviewed over some of the best places online to look for clients as well as ones I use myself. Finally, I talked about how you can use freelance job boards and marketplaces to find clients.

The Original BritishPandaChick is taking a brief hiatus so there won't be any blog posts for awhile. Instead of new content, I'll be focused on getting a lot of my previous posts updated and updating the resource page. New posts for the blog will resume on August 22. This post will be all about Skillcrush's lesson on networking. You'll learn about how to network, finding the right events, and creating a good elevator pitch.

Jun 20, 2018

Dimensions Bumble Felt Applique Kit

Today's post is featuring another blog post from Needlework Kits. This post reviews one of the needlecraft kits I've been working on. This is one of the three craft kits I got for Christmas last year. It also marks the first Dimensions craft kit. I managed to complete this needlecraft kit in February. You can see a few pictures on my Instagram.

This blog post shares my experience making this kit and some of the struggles I encountered putting Bumble together. Just click the link below to read my full review. If there are any needlecraft kits you would like to see me review, let me know in the comments. I'll do my best to make it happen.

==> Click here to read the full post on Bumble Felt Applique Kit on Needlework Kits!

Jun 13, 2018

My Coding Journey: How to Use The Fast Track Formula to Find Your First Client

Copyright 2018 The Original BritishPandaChick

This week means a brand new lesson from Skillcrush 300. This lesson is a turning point in the course. For now, the course has been about getting set up for freelancing. Now you are ready to start reaching out to clients. Today's lesson is going to teach Skillcrush's fast track formula to help you land your first client. This is the formula all the Skillcrush instructors and teaching assistants have used to find clients when they were freelancing. By the end of this post, you'll be ready to start finding the right clients for your business.

If you are still trying to catch up on any of the Skillcrush 300 lessons, I recommend revisiting some of the previous posts to help you get any last minute items ready. Especially your portfolio. You can find the last post in the series below which talks about why portfolios are important for freelancers and how you should approach your own.

==> Click here to review my tips about portfolios!

 

What is the fast track formula?

This formula isn't necessarily a mathematical formula, but it is a method Skillcrush encourages students to use to land their first clients. Skillcrush instructors and teaching assistants have used this formula to land their first clients. This method is meant to help you focus and organized so you know which approach is going to work for which client.

The fast track formula separates clients into three circles. These circles are inner, outer, and everyone else. Freelancers begin with the inner circle then expand their reach to other circles. Although this lesson only concentrates on the first two circles, eventually all the freelancers start making connections in the third circle. This method makes things easy for freelancers that they can repeat to find clients. It also helps keep the process of finding clients less overwhelming and keeps your eyes on the prize.

When I think of this formula, I think of the training sequence from the movie The Mask of Zorro. This scene reminds me how similar the fast track formula is to the training circle Don Diego de la Vega tells Alejandro about when he begins to train as Zorro. In the clip below, Diego explains how the training circle works and how Alejandro will progress from circle to circle as he gets better. This is the same way the fast track formula will feel. Although you won't be training to be the next Zorro, you will be expanding your circles at a similar pace and adjusting your focus when it feels necessary.



As you expand your circles, these circles will build upon each other. This can be helpful in expanding your online presence and get more clients, but it can make things very confusing really quickly. Every circle is going to have a different approach and as you expand to different circles, it can be hard to keep track of what circle you gets which approach. Although it sounds like a broken record in these posts about how to stay organized and having a specific focus, this approach works! Being organized and narrowing your focus is going to help you stay on track, helping you give the best service for each lead you talk to.

Inner Circle

The first circle is where many freelancers often find their first clients. This where I found my first client and the one I'm using frequently right now to try to land clients. The inner circle is your close friends and family. These can also be your first connections on LinkedIn. Possible clients in this circle are your best friend and any family members. Potential clients also include people closest to your family and friends such as close family friends, any of your children's teachers, and more.

Inner circle is a great place to start when you are freelancing because these are people who will most likely support you anyway possible. They already know you and can establish trust, one of the most important qualities that potential clients use to make a decision on who to work with. Some of your inner circle might not need a website or can use any of the services you are offering. However many people from your inner circle can spread the word to people in their own networks to help you find someone who might need your services.

Since this circle is made of people closest to you, you don't have to have a sales approach. The best approach for this group is just being straightforward and honest. The people in your inner circle already trust you so you don't need to worry about using any tricks or hacks to get them to chose you.

Outer circle

The outer circle is where freelancers start venturing outside their comfort zones. Skillcrush defines the outer circle as your extended network. People in this circle can any acquaintances you might have. These are friends of members of your inner circle or members of your community spaces.

Members of your outer circle can be a little uneasy to deal with at first since you don't know them as well as members of your inner circle. In order to make things easier, Skillcrush recommends getting an introduction or using a simple version of an elevator pitch to help you connect with them. You can use people in your inner circle to help introduce you and meet potential clients in this circle.

Remember trust is a powerful factor in helping ideal clients decide who to work with. Many freelancers stress the value of trust when finding clients since clients are going to trust someone they know over a stranger with the same services and skills. Therefore having a connection to these clients is going to make the conversations with them much easier.

Everyone Else

The last circle is everyone else. You can think of people in this circle as ones you have no connection with. Skillcrush consider this group as contacts you haven't made yet. Freelancers like to approach this circle by using the connections they've made in your inner and outer circles. As you make more contacts, they will be important in helping you meet more people in your niche audience and keeping a constant stream of clients.

Now the internet is a crazy place, so it is still important to be careful when you start reaching out to people in this circle. Therefore you should proceed with caution as you move through this circle. Luckily, you can rely on your inner and outer circles to help when you get to this step. These circles will help you meet the right people.

Time to organize your circles!

It is time to brainstorm your inner and outer circles. For this step, your goal is to think about who will be in your inner and outer circles. You don't want to just identify potential clients. These lists are a way to identifying people who might support you and help you meet people in your niche. Skillcrush reminds students that they will never know where their clients will come from.

Take a piece of paper or open up a new Google Document. Then start writing down everyone you can think of. You can make lists or create a venn diagram to organize all the people in your lists as you go. The goal is to start looking into your network and grouping them into different circles. Feel free to use your social media accounts to help you during this step. The goal of this step is to think about which group each person is. The group you put each person in will help you see what kind of approach you can use when you reach out to them.

Figure out your leads

Once you've figured out your inner and outer circles, it is time to narrow down these circles to figure who you should reach out to first. You want to identify a few people to reach out to first. Many freelancers tackle their circles a few people at time to keep them from getting overwhelmed as well as staying organized. It can also help you manage your time and investing your time wisely.

Take a look at your lists or venn diagram you are using. Go through your lists and put a mark or symbol beside each lead you want to tackle first. Narrowing down your list can be tough, but Skillcrush identifies a couple of criteria to help you figure out who would be a good lead to start with first. The criteria Skillcrush recommends evaluating your lists with are:
  • Is this person in your niche or very close to your niche? These are people you understand the businesses they have. These leads are more likely to understand the value you bring.
  • Does this person need your services? Pick the person who is most in need of your services.
  • Will this person be invested in your success? Freelancers pick people who know them and care about them. They will want to support you and vouch for you so you can get more clients even if they can't be one themselves.
Now that you've narrowed down your circles to your leads, it is time to start reaching out to them. Call them on the phone or send them an e-mail. Regardless of how you do this, this approach might differ depending on what circles your leads are in. Skillcrush encourages students to be professional yet authentic with any potential client.

As you start reaching out to clients, it can get confusing very quickly. Therefore Skillcrush encourages students to use a spreadsheet to track what clients they are talking to. Create a spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Excel file so you can start tracking active leads, clients, former clients, and people who don't want your services. You can customize your spreadsheet any way you like. I recommend putting sections on your spreadsheet that make information you need easy to find such as contact information to dates you sent the last message to specific clients.

Conclusion

Now it is time for you to start reaching out to clients using the fast track formula. The fast track formula is all about building trust by organization and how you should focus. In order to do this, freelancers start looking for clients in their inner circles then expand as they go with help from their inner circle circle.

Take advantage of this break to start brainstorming your circles and reaching out to potential leads. When the series returns, the next post I'll review the next lesson about finding clients. This lesson will be looking at how to find clients online. I'll be going into more detail about online networks and groups which can help you connect with more potential clients.

Notes

All images belong to The Original BritishPandaChick. The Mask of Zorro clip belongs to Movieclips

Jun 6, 2018

Princesses Assemble: Should Disney Make a Disney Princess Movie?

Last week, Disney released the first promotional images for the upcoming animated movie Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-it Ralph 2. The sequel to the 2012 animated movie is set to be in theaters November 21, but many film studios are using the summer to start building anticipation for movies coming out later in the year. Studios can get audiences excited about these upcoming movies in a variety of ways from first looks at the characters to brand new trailers.

Disney is already using these tactics with Wreck-it Ralph 2. The movie has already gotten lots of attention from fans thanks to the announcements during last year's D23 Expo. During the presentations, Disney teased fans that all the Disney Princesses would be appearing together in the movie. All the living voice actresses for the Disney Princesses were returning to voice their characters for this movie. Even unofficial princesses Elsa, Anna and Moana would be appearing with the official line up in Wreck-it Ralph 2.

Disney didn't release very many images, but they did offer fans a first look at the first gathering of all the Disney Princesses. Below is the image Disney released which shows several of the princesses together as they meet Vanellope for the first time. This image has stirred up many reactions from fans from excitement to confusion why a couple of princesses are missing in this scene.

Copyright 2018 Disney and Entertainment Weekly
This image isn't the only preview Disney has offered of this scene. The first trailer for Wreck-it Ralph 2 was released on Monday. The trailer didn't just give fans a sneak preview of how Disney plans depicting the internet in animation. The princesses were featured often throughout the trailer and Disney even offered a sneak peek at Vanellope's meeting with the princesses. You can watch the trailer below to see how Disney plans on depicting the princesses for the movie.


It is hard to tell how much screen time the princesses will get during the movie. However this movie marks an important moment in the franchise's history since it will be the first time all the princesses will be together on the big screen. The princesses often appear together as a group for marketing, but Disney has never put the princesses together on the big screen. Even though there have been DVD movies, the princesses are still kept separate from each other and rarely interact with each other.

Now that the princesses are together on the big screen, the possibilities are endless for more princess collaborations. Depending on Wreck-it Ralph 2's box office numbers, will there be another movie that allows all the Disney Princesses together on the big screen. In short, the answer is yes! Disney Princess is one of Disney's popular and successful franchises. I believe Disney is actually using this movie as a test to see how audiences and fans feel about the princesses being together on the big screen. If the reaction is positive, I won't be surprised if Disney announces a Disney Princess movie soon after.

It hasn't been easy journey getting the princesses together on the big screen.

Yes Disney has a history of having their characters make fun guest appearances in movies. We have seen Disney throw in little Easter eggs for fans which have a Beast figurine appear in Aladdin or Scar's fur being worn by Hercules as he's being painted. Those surprises have gotten many fans excited about different theories for different movies and characters, but overall these Easter eggs do their best to not avoid in the overall story and mythology for each Disney movie.

This is intentional on Disney's part. Mixing stories and anthologies is something the company has been very careful about. Walt Disney's nephew Roy E. Disney particularly was concerned about mixing stories and characters from different movies. He felt mixing different mythologies together could weaken the individual stories. So when Mooney began planning the Disney Princess franchise, Roy E. Disney was the biggest critic on the franchise.

Luckily Mooney found a compromise which pleased everyone. This compromise allows the princesses to be together without changing each other's mythology. If you take a look at a group image of the princesses, pay attention to the eyes. None of the princesses make eye contact with each other. This move is intentional in order to make the princesses appear unaware with each other and put most eye contact on the audience.

Now that the princesses are gathered together in Wreck-it Ralph 2, this is the start of something new in the Disney Princess franchise.

Right now, Disney has been hard at work reinventing the Disney Princess franchise. When I wrote my blog post about how franchises are trying to reach girls today, Disney Princess is still a very popular franchise. However Disney is thinking ahead of the game and working on ways to keep the franchise fresh and relevant. You'll probably seen the ads and lately the new theme song which focus on depicting the princesses as active, strong heroines. This means empowering girls while fixing the criticisms often targeted towards the princesses.

==> Click here to read the Inspiring Girls of Today blog post!

So far Disney is still keeping the princesses separate. While things might change for the franchise, Disney will always keep the tradition of celebrating each princess's individual story. This is especially important when new princesses are added to the franchise. They might not be trying to make a Disney Princess movie, but I bet the thought has crossed Disney's mind and there is a team somewhere trying to figure out how to make a Disney Princess movie work.

Right now, this idea could be on the back burner for Disney. Disney is juggling several projects and working on many movies. I think the biggest reason Disney is waiting is to see how fans truly react to Wreck-it Ralph 2. Disney often waits to see how audiences react to specific projects before then greenlight specific ideas. This is seen particularly with the Disney live action remakes. Following the success of movies such as Maleficent and Cinderella, Disney wasted no time combining through their vault to see which movies could be remade into live action.

Disney is very protective about their franchises. While they are willing to change the rules they even set for themselves, it is clear they still are careful in any decisions they make about their most popular franchises. This is very true with the Disney Princess franchise. Disney is very careful with everything they do for the princess franchise. Although Disney won't turn down an opportunity to make money, they know how popular the princesses are and the influence they have on our culture. This is why they are so busy changing the princesses.

If a Disney Princess movie does happen, Disney won't have to look too far for examples. 

Marvel's The Avengers has done well at the box office and has been well received by fans. The Avengers are similar to the princesses since its line up is a mix of characters from different stories. It doesn't matter which Avengers movie you've seen. These movies show how to let characters from different stories come together to work without negatively impacting any of the other character's stories.

Although the princesses won't be battling villains the way The Avengers do, they could be seen coming together over a specific cause and working together to find a solution. This is a format often used on the show Once Upon a Time when the princesses work together. Once often has Disney Princesses pairing up to find a rare object or find a way to save their kingdoms. The show has featured memorable collaborations from Merida and Mulan to most recently Cinderella and Tiana. These princesses have gone on quests together to help save each other's kingdoms or seeking help from each other to defeat a common enemy.

Once wasn't about accomplishing a specific mission. Every team offered both characters a chance to learn from each other. You can see this in season two episode "The Outsiders" where Belle and Mulan work together during the flashbacks to save Mulan's village. As they work together, they both teach each other valuable lessons that stick with them to the present day. This is something that can be used in a Disney Princess movie and could help Disney empower these princesses even more. This especially would benefit princesses like the classic princesses where most of the criticism for the franchise is targeted.

Conclusion

There might not be a Disney Princess movie in the works, but I think a Disney Princess movie will happen some day down the road. Disney does have a large amount of things happening so they aren't able to make a movie which gets all the princesses together for a movie. It is clear they aren't quite ready to have the princesses together on the big screen. Their focus seems to be on this first gathering of all the Disney Princesses and waiting to see how audiences respond in November before making any decisions.

Do you want to see a Disney Princess movie? Share your thoughts in the comments about the latest Disney Princess news, what you'd like to see in a Disney Princess style movie, and more.

Notes

Trailer belongs to Walt Disney Animation Studios.

May 30, 2018

My Coding Journey: Everything You Need to Know About Portfolios

Copyright 2018 The Original BritishPandaChick

This week's post is all about portfolios. Portfolios aren't just a way to show who you are online. It is the most important thing any freelancer can have in order to show your ideal clients you are the right person for the job. In Skillcrush 300, they dedicate an entire lesson to portfolios and outline steps students need to take to start building their own portfolios. Today's post will expand on what I mentioned during part two of the online presence guide and review this Skillcrush lesson so you can start putting your own portfolio together.

Need a review on part two of online branding guide? Make sure you revisit part two of the online presence and personal branding guide. Although this post was all about using social media to create your online presence, I did talk a bit about personal websites and why they are important for your personal branding. Personal websites often serve as portfolio sites for web developers and web designers as well as ways of connecting with their ideal clients or potential employers. You can learn more as well by clicking the link below.

==> Click here to read part two of my guide on using social media to create your online presence and personal branding!

Do you need a portfolio?

In short, the answer is yes. It doesn't matter what services you plan to offer or what your ideal clients look like. A portfolio is often a must for any freelancer. Portfolios are the center of everything freelancers do because this is the greatest way to demonstrate you and your work online. Skillcrush thinks of them as a one stop shop your clients go to find out more about you in one place.

Skillcrush likes to think of this as an online piece of paradise since it is much more powerful than an resume. While resumes focus on your employment history, portfolios are all about what you can do with the skills you put on your resume. This means your projects serve as examples of how you use these skills and services on your website.

Portfolios aren't just about showing what you can do. The projects you put in your portfolio act as movie trailers to your ideal clients. They allow clients to learn more about the value you bring to your projects and what your process looks like to create these projects. For many freelancers, giving clients a sneak peek at their processes has been the one thing that helps their ideal clients decide if they are the right person for the job.

In tech, portfolios are necessary not only for freelancing but for looking for jobs. Many employers expect candidates to submit portfolios to see they can use specific skills required for positions. Although many want a portfolio site link, online tools such as Github, Dribbble, and Behance are becoming powerful extensions of your portfolio since you can show more of your work online. I've talked to many developers and they have all recommended including a link to these tools on your resume since many employers will be looking to see what else you have been building.

There is no right or wrong way to create a portfolio website. Every freelancer is going to have a different version using different code or even content management systems (CMS) to make their portfolios. If you don’t have a portfolio site, there are a couple of tutorials throughout this series that show you how to make a website. One is from Codeacademy with a simple webpage while several blog posts demonstrated how to get a portfolio site on web with Jubilee Austen.

==> Click here to read my post on building a simple web page with Codeacademy!
==> Click here to read my first blog post on building a simple website in Skillcrush 101!

 

Important Things to Remember

Before you start building a portfolio or updating an existing portfolio, Skillcrush has identified a few points for students to remember about portfolios.

You don't need the most impressive website ever!

Portfolios don't have to the best website you've ever built or be super fancy. As a matter of fact, it is often better to keep portfolios simple and practical because it keeps your ideal clients focused on the goal you want them to achieve. Too much effects and animations can actually backfire so make sure you think about user experience and how to get your ideal clients to a specific goal.

My portfolio site is not the best site I've ever made. It has actually gone through many changes throughout my coding journey. However, it does reflect where I am on my coding journey and the progress I've made. I've kept mine simple by having specific sections for the about me, portfolio, and contact area. Although it isn't fancy, it is set up so a potential client can easily find what they are looking for.

Think highlight reel, not catalog!

One of the mistakes freelancers (including myself) have made is getting wrapped up into all the details and trying to show off everything I can do. This is a mistake since it didn't give my portfolio a clear focus. Instead of showing every project, Skillcrush encourages students to focus on the best projects and writing awesome summaries for those projects.

Schedule times to work on your portfolio!

Portfolios are an ongoing project so they will never be 100% up to date. That is fine, but it is still important to make things current. Don't worry about checking your portfolio every single day. Skillcrush recommends creating a routine to do a check up on your portfolio site and update it. They even suggest finding a routine that works best for you.

Ease up on yourself!

When it comes to portfolios, freelancers are the harshest critics of themselves and always nitpick things about their portfolios. I am guilty of this myself and could easily write another blog post of all the things that could be better on my portfolio site. Don't do this. Instead take a deep breath and remember portfolios are always a work in progress. Skillcrush even reminds their students that clients aren't web developers or web designers. That is why they are hiring you! So the clients won't catch on all the details you might notice about your portfolio.

Don't compare or compete with other freelancers!

Remembering comparing yourself to others is the quickest way to impostor syndrome, but it is pointless to compare and compete with other freelancers because every freelancer is different. Freelancers are going to offer different services and prices which fit the clients they are looking for. Skillcrush even says 95% of the time, you are only competing with freelancers in your own head.

Most importantly, a live portfolio is the best portfolio.

Any portfolio live on the web is the best since its a start of where ideal clients can find you. The goal is just to get something on the web since something is better than nothing at all. Many freelancers focus on launching a portfolio first then make changes once it was live on the web.

Portfolio = Confidence!

There are many perks to portfolios, but the biggest perk is the confidence it gives freelancers. Just having a portfolio shows the progress you've made. So whenever impostor syndrome rears its head, take a look at your own portfolio. Your portfolio will show what you can do and how far you've come. As you get more freelance projects, these projects will even show the value you've given to others.

For many developers and web designers, the portfolio site is an automatic confidence booster since this is often the first project many developers tackle when they begin learning how to code. Building our own portfolios makes every developer confident since it is the first project we made by ourselves. My portfolio site was the first project I made when I started learning how to code and is still one of my favorite projects because of how confident the entire experience made me.

Let’s talk about case studies!

In order to show your clients you are the best person for the job, freelancers often use case studies both show their work and thought process. Skillcrush defines case studies as a description freelancers use to describe how they complete projects. Think of case studies as the behind the scenes features on DVDs/Blu-Rays. Freelancers use case studies to demonstrate the process they take to create a specific project in their own fun, easy ways.

Freelancing is similar to working through a math problem. Remember when your teachers use to tell you to show your work? Well that is true. Case studies aren't actually about the solution. It shows how you solve any problems that happened. It can also serve as documentation you can revisit later when you need them. Developers often revisit old projects when they get stuck on problems in other projects in order to figure out the right solutions.

During this lesson, Skillcrush shares a few other benefits for adding case studies to your portfolio. These benefits include:
  • justifying the decisions you made. Case studies are all about communication and they are great way of showing clients how you communicate as well as how you made specific decisions throughout a project.
  • Shows client exactly what they are paying for. Good case studies are thoughtful and show how things are refined along the way to get to the final version. They are great for presenting different options and showing sketches that translate how you are translating what they want.
  • Explain your pricing. A lot of clients don’t know why the price tag is set the way it is, but a case study can help them understand why you are charging a specific rate. Once clients understand the things that are required to make a task, it can help clients be careful deciding what services they want and timing.
  • Illustrates your social skills. Case studies show that you think of the big picture, problem solve, and clear in how you talk to them. It can also show other skills you’ve highlighted.

Anatomy of a Case Study

There is no right or wrong way to do a case study, but good case studies have a few things in common. Most case studies will include the following pieces.
  • Project details-This is the client's name (usually the first name or the business name), the date the project was completed/launched, and the role the freelancer had on the project. Web developers and web designers will often include programming languages or tools they use to create the project.
  • Project overview-Overviews outline the project objectives/goals. Once these are identified, freelancers explain the process they used to complete the project. If any problems occurred during the process, freelancers will mention them and how they overcame these obstacles.
  • Project results-This is where freelancers talk about the results of the project and the accomplishments made during the project. This means using lots of success metrics, testimonials, and even screenshots to show clients these results.
Every case study is going to vary depending on different freelancers and what your niche is. Therefore it is important to use your best judgement on how you approach case studies. Some clients have rules on displaying their projects so make sure you check first with a client before writing a case study.

I don't have any case studies on my portfolio now, but I do have descriptions for each of these projects which have bits and pieces of what Skillcrush recommends. Clients will make quick decisions on who they want to work with and if you are the right person to help them. In order to win over your ideal clients, you will want to present your work in a way that shows them you understand them and are the right person for the job.

Awesome! What should I do next? 

First, you want to write your case study. Use the pieces from The Anatomy of Case Studies as a guide to help you write yours. Don't worry if things don't make sense right now. The goal is to get everything down on paper or in a Google Doc.
 
Once you've written a case study, gather any visuals that might help you illustrate the results. Skillcrush recommends checking the layout of your copy for any spelling, grammar and consistency. They even recommend double checking to see if the case study matches the personal branding for your website and will speak with your niche audience.

After you double checked everything, it is time to add your case study to your live portfolio website. Every freelancer displays this differently on their portfolio site. Some just add a new section on the portfolio page for the case study while others create a separate page. Pick something that works the the best for you and will be easy for your clients to find when they are on your website.

Conclusion

That is a wrap for this lesson from Skillcrush 300! This post went over why you need a portfolio and things you need to remember as you work on your own portfolio. Finally, I shared the value a case study brings to a project and what the ingredients are for a good case study.

I’m giving you a week off to work on your portfolios. When the series returns, the next lesson of Skillcrush 300 is where you can start finding clients. I'll be revealing some of Skillcrush's tips for finding clients quickly and how you can approach potential clients so they will hire you. I highly recommend making sure you revisit any of the other lessons during this break to revisit any of the previous lessons in Skillcrush 300 review since we'll be using all that information in the upcoming lessons from now on.

Notes

Blog graphic belongs to The Original BritishPandaChick.

May 16, 2018

My Coding Journey: How to Maintain Your Online Presence with Social Media

Copyright 2018 The Original BritishPandaChick

It is time for part two of the online presence and personal branding guide in the My Coding Journey series. Part two is all about maintaining your online presence. Today's post will help you set up your personal brand on social media and begin building your online presence. You'll be updating your profiles on all your social media platforms and online tools.

This post will wrap up Skillcrush 300's lesson on online presence. I'll also be including information that wasn't included in my talk from Moms Can Code last month as well as what I've done with my own online presence. Feel free to look at any of the BritishPandaChick social media profiles throughout this post to see how I use different platforms as you begin updating your own social media profiles.

Missed part one? Click the link below to review part one of the Newbie's Guide to Online Presence and Personal Branding. This guide goes over the important things you need to know about personal branding, online presence, and writing good copy. I also shared some tips for writing a good bio for your social media profiles as well as checkpoints you can use to see what your online presence looks like right now. If you haven't done your first check up on your online presence, start here first before you dive into the content for today's post.

==> Click here to read part one of online presence and personal branding guide!

The freelancer's secret to maintaining online presence is consistency.

Consistency might sound like an impossible thing to accomplish. The thought of keeping your social media profiles on a variety of platforms consistent can make you feel overwhelming. However, this is the secret all freelancers know and use on social media. A consistent online presence doesn't just allow freelancers manage and control their online presence. Consistency allows freelancers to be much more confident because they are always aware of what their online presences looks like.

Remember your online presence is going to grow as you get more experience, add new social media platforms, or just regularly use social media. As you do more on social media, it can become harder to keep track of. If you aren't careful, you could be sending mixed messages to your ideal clients. The wrong signals can make or break a potential client's decision to work with you.

Now you don't have to go crazy checking your online presence every day. However doing the checks regularly like the ones mention in part one will help you see if everything consistent with the voice and feel for your personal brand. When you do these checks, put yourself in the shoes of a potential client. If they visited one of your profiles, what would their first impressions be? Always thinking like your ideal client is going to help your online presence stay consistent and cohesive over time.

What Do I Need?

Before you can start updating your profiles, it is important to get all your bios you wrote during part one and notes you might have taken on the online presence you have now. This includes all the platforms you are using from your personal website to your Facebook profile. If you are starting to build your online presence, below are some of the suggestions Skillcrush and I both recommend students use for building your online presence.

If you still need some help, I recommend googling and looking at other social media influencers in your niche. These influencers can be other freelancers or just people you admire in tech. Pay attention to their branding to see what you can replicate for your own platforms as well as how each person shows of his/her personality on the web. I also recommend using Skillcrush's checkpoints mentioned in part one to help you with this portion of this blog post.

Personal Website

The first piece of your online presence is your personal website. This is the most important part of your personal brand and the place where your ideal clients are going to go to first. If you don't have a personal website, you can make a simple web page using one of the tutorials from Codeacademy. Click the link below to use this tutorial to build a simple web page with HTML & CSS.

==> Click here to build a web page with Codeacademy!

Although there are website builders available (i.e. Wix, Squarespace), keep in mind these website builders have limited customization. If you want a fancy website, you'll have to build your own.

What I use: My personal website is my portfolio site. My personal website is a constant work in progress, but reflects how much progress I've made as a front-end web developer. I've used a personal domain and hosting as well as using professional tools like CodePen for my personal website. Right now, I have been using Github Pages for my personal website. I made the website using HTML & CSS. My plan is to make my portfolio website mobile responsive using the strategies from the Grow with Google coursework I'm doing right now.

Social media

Most people think of social media as a way to stay connected with family and friends or look at cat pictures. However social media is an important tool for freelancers since this is where they drive traffic to your website. There are so many social media platforms that it can be tempting to just sign up for all the social media accounts just to show you are being current. This is actually a terrible idea since certain platforms can be irrelevant for your brand. It can also be be harder for you to maintain if you are trying to juggle all the social media platforms on the web.

Before you start signing up or deactivating social media profiles, here are some of the Skillcrush's tips for how you should approach these social media platforms.

  • Where does your niche like to hang out? Where are they most likely going to engage you and be looking for someone with a specific service?
  • Start small. Skillcrush recommends starting with one or two social media platforms then expanding as you get more experience.
  • Separate business and professional accounts. Keep these accounts separate by making different profiles or making certain content you don't want clients to see private.
What I use: LinkedIn is a must for anyone regardless of what kind of freelance work you are interested in. Despite the controversy Facebook has been receiving lately, it is still a popular way for freelancers to connect with ideal clients, network, and market themselves. I have my personal Facebook profile and a Facebook page specifically for content for both of my blogs.

My favorite social media platform is Twitter. Twitter is a favorite for developers and designers since it is a way to connect with each other, share content, and more. You might often seen me participating in Twitter chats on my Twitter account or participating in coding challenges.

Finally, I use Pinterest and Instagram. I prefer Instagram over Pinterest since Instagram is where I share my crafts I make for Needlework Kits. My Pinterest account has evolved over the years. For now, my Pinterest profile is where I pin moodboards I like, stock photos I get from different e-mail newsletters, and tech posts from blogs I like to read.

Professional Tools

Social media isn't the only way to drive clients to website and spread the word about your brand. There are several tools that freelancers (especially web developers and web designers) use to share and talk about the work they have made. These tools are also great for networking and getting support on projects you are working on. You can even link these tools to your social media and portfolio. These tools are different from social media since they are public and give ideal clients the expectation that you use these tools.

Some of the popular professional tools for developers and designers are Github, Dribbble, Behance, and CodePen. Before you start signing up for a bunch of professional tools, I recommend thinking about your niche as well as the kind of services you want to offer. The professional tools you use need to be consistent with the services you plan on offering. Don't have your services just yet? Revisit these blog posts to learn everything you need to know for setting up your services.

==> Click here to review The Secret of Finding Your Ideal Clients and Niche!
==> Click here to review the need to know information for setting and pricing your services!

What I use: Github is quickly becoming a requirement for anyone web development to have. It is seen by many developers as an extension to your portfolio. Anything you don't have in your portfolio site needs to be on Github and you need to be actively seen using it. Therefore, most of my time is spent on Github.

I do have a Dribbble and Behance accounts, but I rarely use these accounts. I have dabbled in some visual and web design, but I tend to spend to focus more on the web development. If you are interested in design, Dribbble and Behance are two great resources you can use regularly.

It is time to update!

Once you have done your check up on your online presence and made a list of all your social media profiles, it is time to make decisions on where you should focus. As you move through this list, take a few minutes to think about how you use these social media platforms. If there are any that you don't use, delete them! For those that want to make separate personal and professional accounts, make these accounts now or change the privacy settings.

Now it is time to update your profiles! The goal is to make each profile match your personal brand. Personal brand is going to be different for every freelancer so Skillcrush provides students with some questions to help them see if their profiles match their personal brands. Some of these questions are:

  • Do the profile pictures match your brand? Would a professional picture best fit these tools or can you make do with a selfie?
  • What imagery are you using on these profiles? Skillcrush recommends having 3-5 photos to represent your brand throughout different social media platforms and tools. Think of ways to add imagery to your profiles.
  • Think about the username you are using. Does it fit your brand and niche? Are you using the same brand name across all platforms?
  • Take a look at the colors and fonts you are using. Are they consistent on every platform? Although specific platforms are limiting when it comes to customization, a little bit is going to make you stand out more than you think.
  • Is your bio and positioning statement current and consistent? Add your bio and positioning statement you have been working on to these profiles and make revisions if needed.
  • Add a link to your website! Make sure you test to see if your link works because potential clients will be clicking on links published on your profile.

So what do I do with all these platforms?

The main goal of a good personal brand is to be noticed and found by your ideal clients. Ideal clients aren't looking for the best expert, but they are searching for someone who is an authority on the thing they need the most and visible. Developing a personal brand is similar to telling a story and developing characters. Therefore you have to be very strategic in order to show your personality in a consistent, cohesive, and quick manner.

Remember the internet is full of lot of digital noise so you need to make your copy easy to absorb for your ideal clients so they can pay attention to what you have to say. One of the best ways freelancers use social media is by simply starting conversations and providing value to others. A successful brand isn't just about creating the best work possible. A lot of popular brands have three important values: trust, credibility, and positive. These values are shown through the conversations they have with their clients and how they help them solve their problems.

Starting a conversation on social media can sound tricky, but there are many ways you can start. One of the easiest ways is to ask a question. This can be asking for help on a specific problem you might be having or getting recommendations from other people in your industry on a service/product you might want to offer. Another way to start a conversation is just simply asking for feedback on a project you are working. Sharing your work is an important part of being in tech since it shows how you are applying the skills you are learning.

One of my favorite ways to use social media is through Twitter chats. There are lots of Twitter chats you can participate in depending on your interest. Tech has many Twitter chats. One of my favorites is Code Newbie's weekly chat on Wednesday nights. Just visit #CodeNewbie to see what others are talking about in tech and even join in the conversation. Hash tags such as #CodeNewbie are a powerful way to reach out to others in your industry and increase your visibility online.

You don't have to be active every single day on different social media platforms, but it is important that you are active every so often on these profiles so you can stay top of mind and show your passion. Everything you do online is going to help paint a picture for your ideal clients and connect with them so they get the solutions they are looking for.

Conclusion

That's the end of part two! This post was all about maintaining your online presence and putting the work you did in part one to use. Social media was the subject of today's post with lots of tips on deciding what social media platforms to use and what you need to think about as you update your profiles. Finally, I shared some ways on how you can use different platforms to begin growing your online presence and establish yourself as an authority in your niche.

Interested in learning more about portfolio sites? Portfolios are the next topic on the My Coding Journey series. We are on lesson five of Skillcrush 300 which is all about portfolios. A portfolio is a must not just for freelancers, but anyone in tech. This post will go over everything you need to know for updating your portfolio and why you need to add a case study to your website.

Notes

Blog graphic belongs to The Original BritishPandaChick.

May 2, 2018

My Coding Journey: The Newbie's Guide to Online Presence and Personal Branding

Copyright 2018 The Original BritishPandaChick

The series continues the Skillcrush 300 review with the next lesson on building a strong online presence. Although this is a short lesson in Skillcrush 300, I am splitting the content into two posts. Today's post will go over part one. Both parts will be a combination of content from lesson in Skillcrush 300, points I didn't get to mention from my Moms Can Code talk, and my own experiences building my own presence within the tech community.

Part one is is going to explain why an online presence and personal brand are important. I'll be reviewing copy and share tips on how to improve copy you present online. This post will have a couple of activities for you to do as you move through this post. Today's activities include checking to see the online presence you have now and start writing bios you'll be using for part two.

Last time, the My Coding Journey series was all about setting and pricing services. This post reviewed the business development cycle and why that matters with freelancing. Most importantly, I shared some of the tips Skillcrush offers students for setting the right prices for your services and what an ideal service page should have. You can learn more by clicking the link below.

==> Click here to read about setting and pricing your services!

What is the difference between personal brand and online presence? 

Personal brand are everything associated with you. This includes your logo, images, and even your copy. Anything your ideal clients will interact it is going to be a piece of your personal brand. You can think of your personal brand as your online reputation or the answer to the "Tell me about yourself." question you get in job interviews because it paints a picture of who you are.

Don't think of your personal brand as a job title! Brands are much more than a specific job title but rather what you are able to do. One of the ways you can do this is by taking some advice from the What Color is Your Parachute guide. In the guide, Bolles encourages readers to focus less on the job titles and more what you do. Instead of saying "I am a [job title]", you should try responding as "I am a person who does [skill], [skill], [skill]." Your skills and experiences are going to be valuable for your clients since it is your way of understanding them and what they need.

==> Click here to get more tips from What Color is Your Parachute book in this blog post!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that people will google you. Therefore you must make your personal brand consistent so your ideal clients are getting the same message. Even if different brands dabble in other areas, they still maintain a consistent  message and tone across everything they use. Online presence is an important part of your personal brand since this is where your clients will be meeting you.

A strong online presence shows your ideal clients where to find you and that you are the right person for the job. 

Everything you do online helps build your online presence. One of the ways I've boosted my online presence is through blogging, participating in Twitter chats, and sharing projects I've made on sites such as CodePen. These activities act as puzzle pieces that let people follow me, establish me as an front-end web developer, and gives my ideal clients a way to learn more about me. I like to think of my online presence as the way to make a digital first impression.

Unlike regular conversations, the things we post online can be interpreted in different ways you intended. As your online presence grows and we become more dependent on technology, an online presence becomes very important because it can be hard to track if you aren't careful. Although the internet is a big place, it is always a good idea to know what your online presence is just to make sure everything stays consistent with helping your personal brand.

Despite their differences, both online presence and personal branding have one important similarity. The biggest thing they both have in common is that these are things you can control and improve upon. This means you can chose what your ideal clients see and get to know about you. The things people find online about you can be very things that let you get hired for specific jobs. Remember the internet is the first place your ideal clients will use to see if you are the right person for the job.

Time for a check up!

Before you can start changing your online presence, you need to see what it is right now. This doesn't mean we are going to google and see if there are anything embarrassing pictures of you online.  You want to use this check up as a way to think like your ideal client and how they would look at the online presence you have now. Skillcrush likes to refer to this as a pulse check for your digital self.

For this portion, you will need to look at every where you are on the web. This includes your personal website to the social media accounts. You will be looking at everything from the content you write to even the avatar images you use. In order to do this, Skillcrush provide students with some checkpoints to help them evaluate their online presence.

Does your online presence still you?

Does your online presence stay true to you? Your goal for this point is to look at the voice and tone you present yourself on different online platforms. You want your true self to shine through. Do you have new skills to add? If this a no, you should start thinking about upgrading your skills and figuring out how to tweak your online presence that stays true to you.

Does your online presence feel like the real you?

The key to this point is to be as genuine and authentic as possible. The more genuine and humble to are, the more likely people will want to work with you. The best way to be genuine on the web is just writing the way you talk and show what excites you.

Is your online presence cohesive?

Everything needs to be as clear as possible and working towards a common goal you want to reach. The secret to making a good impression online is by being consistent. Take a look at some of your favorite brands. Chances are they are same everywhere online from the articles they post to the content they tweet on social media. Your goal with a consistent online presence it to repeat the same message and feel everywhere on the web.

The best test to see if everything is same everywhere is to ask yourself if this is a part of your established brand you made. If it isn't, you change it or leave it. Anything that doesn't fit with your brand won't make sense to your ideal clients.

Is your online presence targetting your niche?

Is your brand speaking to your niche? If not, use what you learned about your niche to start targeting towards them. If you need help finding the right niche for you, I wrote a blog post last month about finding the right niche and ideal clients in this post below.

==> Click here to learn how to find the right niche and ideal clients!

Take a look at your content. Is it quick and easy to absorb?

If you are reading this blog post, chances are you are skimming what I wrote. You’ll have to keep this in mind since technology today has made it clear freelancers have to communicate important information in the fewest words possible to connect with others. Take some time and double check your content. Is it easy to read? If not, think about ways you can make the same point with less jargon.

A quick way to make content easy to absorb is to use headlines to break up texts into sections. If you look at blog posts, many bloggers will split portions of a blog posts into chunks using headlines. One of the freelancers I know also make sure her paragraphs are easy to read, doing three to four sentences per paragraph. This makes things easier for users to read your content and skim especially on mobile devices.

Let's talk about copy!

When it comes to your writing on the web, Skillcrush encourages students to put more consideration into what they write online. This content can be overlooked by freelancers, but it is important. Copy is is what can make or break a decision a client has about you.

The secret Skillcrush has discovered about copy is the way freelancers handle their voice on the web. This means the character and tone of the written words you publish online. When it comes to writing great copy online, Skillcrush shares a few great tips to help students find the right voice for the copy they write. These tips are:

1. Write the way you talk.

Keep things authentic to you. If you don’t say it, don’t use it. What I do when I write these blog posts is just write out everything I'm thinking in a Google Doc. Then once I'm done, I put what I wrote aside for a little bit then come back to it to read what I wrote. This always helps me see if the way I write stays true to me and identify areas I can make better.

2. Avoid generic language

Try adding some detail or color to give your language a little bit of life. A voice that sounds too generic can sound cryptic. Clients will get the impression something is missing or you have something to hide.

3. Show more than one side of yourself.

We all come into tech from different backgrounds with different skills and interests. Use this as part of your voice. It helps you establish a better connection with your ideal clients. Skillcrush has found that potential clients want to get to know you showing multiple sides so feel free to have things in your copy that your potential clients might like to know about you. Just make you keep consistent with your personal brand.

4. Use SEO keywords

SEO is an important for every freelancer to know since this is how people find you. SEO keywords are what your ideal clients will be using to google you. It is important that you use the same SEO keywords as your niche uses when they are looking for something so you two can find each other. For example, an employer looking for a JavaScript developer will google "JavaScript developer" instead of "JavaScript expert".

5. Read everything out loud.

Things always sound different when you write vs. when you talk. When you read your copy aloud, you will get a better idea if your content is the way you intended it to be. I regularly do this as I write my blog posts since it always points out areas that didn't go the way I planned as I was writing.

6. Have someone proofread your copy before you publish.

Two heads are better than one and that is true for writing copy. Having another set of eyes look at your copy will point out things you miss and give you a different perspective on your copy. The tone you have in your head can be completely different to someone else and a good friend can quickly catch that.

7. Spell check and grammar check.

I'm guilty of this rule often, but this is an important step. You can catch these by reading aloud or by using tools on your computer as well as online tools such as Grammarly.

Write your bio!

The first copy you write in this lesson is your bio. The bio tells people who you are and why they should work for you. They can be tough to write and vary depending on what social media you use. Skillcrush helps students by identifying key characteristics of a good bio. A good bio has the following elements:
  • Important Keywords
  • What you do
  • How you meet your niche's needs
  • 1-2 accomplishments you are proud of
  • Fun, Funny, Personal Tidbit
Try writing out a few bios in a Google doc or Word document to see which ones you like. Once you pick a favorite, update your bio on your social media accounts. If you need any inspiration, check out what freelancers are using for their bios on different social media platforms.

Conclusion 

That's a wrap for part one! Today you have learned the key differences between online presence and personal branding. I shared tips for writing good copy online and how to check your online presence online. Finally, I reviewed some of the elements to a great bio for your social media platforms.

Part two of the online presence lesson is coming soon. Part two will wrap up Skillcrush's online presence lesson by looking at how you can maintain your online presence. I will use this post to discuss more about social media and how you should approach your social media platforms.

Notes

All images belong to The Original BritishPandaChick.

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