I have my corporate experiences to thank for the structure, learning, and operational perspective. Having to learn from the best of the best, it has given me the privilege to strategically position proposals and get to communicate with decision makers with objectives in mind.
I’ve always wanted to become a General Manager of a Hotel, but, the entrepreneurial path has always been calling me back. Eventually, I finally accepted the fact that the traditional career path wasn’t for me, I wanted to spend more time to take good care of my health, work on what I truly believe in and within the principles and values I imbibe, control my own income and not have to answer to a boss (like a robot).
When I finally committed 100% on journeying the entrepreneurial path to ignite and spark lifelong learning for the corporates and startup ventures, every decision were on the fly, I had to learn the ins and outs of running my own business while doing the nitty-gritty of the marketing side (graphics, website, business development, and executions). Thank heavens for my fiance for being supportive, he helped me through the rest of the executions and also committed learning with me while juggling his photography business, too.
Throughout the months, I’ve been juggling long-term clients and at the same time working side-by-side with a team of collaborators, working on accomplishing their life goals at the same time offering our efforts with the society in mind. I spend a lot of time talking to aspirants, dreamers, and goal-getters.
Whenever I host events or am invited to be a guest speaker on different platforms, I always think about the audience and the value they need. The thing people always resonate with me the most is my personal story – an ambitious hotelier who responds to her life goals and never gives up on hope with courage. They want to know how they’ll be able to get started, map out their dreams and make it happen. This is where launching their own successful service-based business in the process through outsourcing, LinkedIn and social media.
Let me walk you through my experiences, may it be able to help you start with yours. Hopefully, when you get to the end of the post, you’ll be able to transform your mindset to be more open to opportunities, have a collaborative attitude and give importance on outsourcing as your ally than a competitor.
What is Digital Professional?
The freelancing industry is growing exponentially and yet there are still a lot of people who don’t understand how ‘Remote work is the new corporate’ works or how these professionals can play a vital role in the growth of business regardless if you’re an online tech company or a traditional brick and mortar (or even if you’re a multi-national).
These digital professionals, however, are hard to find. Many think that digital professionals are not for sustainability and may lack skill sets, these online workers may now do more than the traditional tasks written on the JD or administrative work.
As diverse as it may sound, these digital professionals have more than to offer. And, just like any corporate employees who log in and out from 9 to 5, they also offer services to other business owners for an agreed upon fee (best part is, they’ll even be more efficient as they don’t have to waste time commuting).
What services can a Digital Professional Provide?
There are hundreds of services one can offer, just like how a JD is not precisely what exactly is written. There is not a cut and dry list of activities one can do as a person, every digital professional has their own distinct skill sets that may match your needs.
Depending upon your skills and interests, you’re almost guaranteed to find something that will appeal to potential clients. Do you think any of those above is something you can manage and handle? No doubt!
What skills do you need to become a Digital Professional?
From the word ‘Digital’, it’s becoming a professional working remotely online. A general understanding of all-things-internet is an edge. Learning, understanding an having the skill sets and experience will make the processes faster and easier, however, if you’re starting, you can offer what you think is workable now and work your way on learning the rest as you manage and serve businesses and clients.
There are also some digital professionals who also execute offline. At the end of the day, we are still a people-centric world where people still opt to meet you face-to-face or in flesh. Digital professionals have a high degree of motivation and desire to learn.
How do you transition and become a Digital Professional?
There’s no secret but to GET STARTED.
You’ll need to work on the confidence to just get going, get started and take the leap. Trust the process and manage within your skill sets and what your client needs. The best top secret? Always over deliver.
Negotiate and communicate, have a proposal and come up with a structure and a plan of attack on how you’ll manage the business for their comfort, convenience, and benefit.
Here are a few steps you’ll have to assess and come up:
- What type of services and business you’d want to champion on?
- Have a business structure and list of services with its corresponding inclusion.
- pricing structure
- Come up with a business website and build your online presence
- Work on your Linkedin Profile to build your personal brand
- Start pitching and networking
- Build relationships and,
- Add value for the community you’d want to serve
Of course, building a brand takes time but you’ll need to start acquiring clients and generating revenue as soon as possible. How will you do this? Let’s get into the steps in detail.
What types of services and business you’d want to champion on?
And, what else would you want to learn in the process? Read on the above-mentioned services and narrow down which amongst can you serve and offer. Making a decision on which amongst the services may be a little confusing but you don’t have to stress much, just as long as you stick with a specific offering, build around it and you’ll on for a good start.
Some, all that they need is someone who can manage their calendar, check their emails and make sure transactions are met. You can start from that and work your way as the business grows and trust is formed.
You’ll be bound to pivot along the way, don’t stress. But, you’ll have to start somewhere. Consider asking yourself the following:
- What type of clients would you want to work with?
- What type of work are you willing to service and do?
- How many hours can you allocate for servicing and self-development?
- Your personal situation (family and liabilities)
- Your risk tolerance
- What is in demand around your area and network?
You may also start with tapping some friends, former colleagues and friends to perhaps refer you to what you do and what you can offer. Open yourself up with valuable feedback, and have a growth mindset. Once you charge higher, and if you can, it’s best to have your business registered to give yourself more opportunities locally – register your business as sole-proprietorship, corporation or a partnership. Be compliant with your taxes, you’ll gain more than you think.
Everyone wants to know “how much does a digital professional make per hour?” What’s the right amount to charge and how much is enough (but not too much)? Good news is, the answer varies and you may also go for a retainer (honestly, this is so much better.)
Preferably, I always go for a retainer as it will give me the flexibility and focus on the output rather than the hours and speed. However, the role itself can vary, you’ll have to align with your client and always keep the objective in mind. Focus on the end goal.
One of the biggest learning is to check closely on your finances and align with a financial account if you’ll be issuing receipts, just to make sure you’ve got all the taxes covered and you won’t end losing money because of the compliance.
When you’re setting your rates, figure out what would make it worth your time. If you’re planning to charge hourly (at least initially), you’re trading time for money so it’s important to consider several important factors:
- You’re not an employee. If they’ll be covering your taxes, better. If and when this happens, ask for the tax withholding form for your documentation.
- You also aren’t entitled to any benefits – no sick days, paid vacation, health insurance or retirement contributions are coming your way (with some rare exceptions). Give yourself the provision to allow a part of your compensation for your health care.
- calculate your overhead spending — things like website hosting, office expenses, some software subscriptions etc.
But, don’t overcharge. You’ll have to be smart on the price psychology and fair.
Launch your website and brand presence
You need an online home where they can check on your services, know more about you and establish trust with your potential clients.
Don’t stress much about the logo and color palettes, work on the framework and essentials. If you’re going to be working online and providing digital professional services, you’ll need to specifically communicate this and establish your online presence.
You need to market yourself and your business.
- WordPress or Wix
- Brand name
- Brand elements (colors, fonts, logo)
- Your value proposition
- Have your services laid out in front (landing page)
And, commit on improving your site with an ongoing update to further progress and communicate your expertise.
When it comes to social media, choose which social media platform you’d want to champion and. think you’ll have direct access to clients. Keep it as simple as possible, and be where your clients are.
Acquire clients by pitching and networking
Couldn’t reiterate even more on how important this strategy is.
You need to always be closing by presenting yourself (on a not tacky way) and by always sharing value to your clients (and potential clients) but sharing your knowledge as a thought-leader than just a brand agency.
Getting (your first) a client makes take a lot more work than getting the succeeding one as it’ll build you rapport and you need to build confidence. You’ll have to commit to building your exposure, share your experience and give them the confidence that you’ll deliver. Once you have testimonies (have them shared), the growth process becomes easier and amiable. You’ll also get to know which ones are inclined towards your way and pivot as it happens.
- Identify who your clients are
- Be consistent and build a self-sustaining system
- Make yourself irreplaceable and valuable
- Find ideal clients within your locale
- Build relationships (and ask for referrals)
- Pitch new prospects daily
- Offer a trial period (to build trust)
As a digital professional, it’s normal to juggle multiple tasks at once. There are those who work long hours and sacrifice time for what needs to be done but always consider that you’ll still have to take good care of yourself and care for your well-being. At first, this may not be realized but eventually, you’ll have to weigh in your priorities.
Find a way to take specific tasks that’ll make you also create a self- sustaining system that will always help your clients, not have productivity bottlenecks and help your clients (and yourself) the break they need (because this is why they’re delegating it to you).
Learn to automate and you’ll be able to have a win-win result for you and your clients.
As a digital professional, the goal is to manage your clients’ needs and grow their businesses as you grow yours. Don’t be afraid to seek help, collaborate and outsource but make sure deliverables are met according to timelines.
Always provide as much value as possible (plus more). Learn your boundaries, what are the non-negotiables and work on what works for you.