We’re excited to share the latest Tea Talk with freelance community and content strategist, Monika Kanokova who’s currently crowdfunding her second book, My Creative (Side) Business: A Guide for Freelancers on Kickstarter. The book is a series of interviews with inspiring female freelancers who’ve built successful careers, in which they share their own lessons, tips, and tactics. We sat down with Monika to learn more about her path to freelance, what she’s learned, the future of freelance and more! Check out the full interview below.
Location: Vienna, Austria
Job: Freelance Community & Content Strategist
Hobby / passion project: My Creative Side Business: For creative freelancers who think outside of the box
Life motto: Forward motion. If you want something to happen, just start!
What inspired you to become a freelancer?
I was working for a Berlin-based startup and we often had money struggles. It was exhausting in addition to other things happening in my private life. I couldn’t commit to being in one location anymore. I quit my job and decided to just somehow figure it out.
Shortly after I went freelance, I wrote This Year Will Be Different: an insightful guide to becoming a freelancer, which is an interview book filled with inspirational stories, tips, and tricks for everyone who wants to get into freelancing. I didn’t have any savings and I knew I had to make freelancing work from day one. Thanks to what I learned from writing that book, it’s all worked out.
What did your journey look like and what type of work are you doing today?
I mostly work with U.S. companies on their internationalization strategy. However, I also help smaller businesses with their communication and I write for various outlets. And then, as a side project, I write books for freelancers and sell stock images through EyeEm and Getty Images.
Tell us about My Creative (Side) Business: A Guide for Freelancers.
When you’re a freelancer, you’re very dependent on other people’s time and budget. It makes your life a little exhausting. So I started looking for solutions for diversifying your business and creating multiple, scalable income streams.
I believe that everyone who’s self-employed should split their time between offering services and creating products to create a stable business. However, the title is also a reference to the fact that every woman I interviewed turned their side hustle, their hobby, into their main source of income.
Why did you focus on women only for the book and how did you identify who to interview?
I used to work for a professional social network and I was in charge of featuring our community members. It was always much harder to find women who talked about their work than men. Nevertheless, every time I talked to a woman, the way they talked about taking risks and moving their business forward felt far more risk averse. I believe that if people look for books such as mine, they’ll appreciate reading about strategies that don’t feel too risky, but describe the small steps one can take.
When looking for people to interview, I have always just reached out to the people who I admired for how they run their businesses. In #TYWBD, I know most of the women featured, but for #MCFSB, I asked for referrals. I knew exactly what I was looking for: smart, lateral thinkers who scale their income through their creativity.
What’s your favorite quote or tip from the upcoming book?
There are so many! One of my favorite stories is the interview with Maaike Boot who explains that whenever she works with a client, she creates three options for final products that her client can choose from. But to get to those three options, she probably made ten different variations.
When her client then decides what options they want, she uploads the others to a microstock database, which has become her monetized online portfolio. If this isn’t a time and lifehack, I don’t know what is!
What’s one thing you wish you knew before going freelance?
I didn’t feel unprepared because of what I learned from writing #TYWBD. But one of the most valuable learnings was shared by Oren Lasry who said that we should only work 20 billable hours because we can’t just work “in” our business. We must also work “on” our business. That put everything into perspective, so I don’t think I stepped into any typical freelance traps.
As soon as I noticed there were things I still didn’t understand about freelancing, I wrote the next book. I wanted to investigate how one can invest time whenever there are moments without interesting assignments.
As a freelance community and content strategist, what challenges and opportunities do you and your peers face?
Building communities is about creating lasting relationships. You can’t promise overnight successes. It takes continuous work and effort, which takes time, and thus, is an investment in the future of a company. Try to pitch that to a client!
I have a very different approach to social media. I believe that you should give people reasons to talk about your company instead of just talking about your company. Many people are scared they’ll lose control, so they tempt to ignore many chances. My challenge is finding clients who are excited about trying new things and don’t ask, “For what other company has that strategy worked before?”
What do you see for the future of freelance as a profession?
There are more and more people going freelance, and in my opinion, it’s because they’re sick of bad leadership skills. As long as people are paid based on how much time they spend at the office and are being given assignments like school kids, then the most intelligent people will become self-employed.
I no longer have conversations about how much time I spend on something. I ask for my client’s goals and then I do whatever it takes to reach those goals. I can’t say I wouldn’t ever go back into working full-time because there are people that make work incredibly exciting. But I definitely won’t tolerate bad management.
Finally, what’s your favorite cup of tea?
Fresh mint or fresh ginger tea with lemon.
If you want to know more about what you can learn from #MCFSB, check out this sneak peek chapter.
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