What should do first when starting out as a freelancer? Why do most freelancers fail to succeed? Can you build a business while freelancing?
I reached out to an experienced expert in the freelancing industry to get answers to these questions.
Michael Brooks is the founder of the brand new freelancing platform goLance. He’s also well-known as a successful entrepreneur, published author of two books, a college professor, and an investor.
Michael started his career as a freelancer, just like you and me. And now, he’s on a mission to help other freelancers around the world find better jobs and connect with reputable clients.
In this interview, he shares some great advice on freelancing, his own personal experiences, and his vision for goLance.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from and what you’re doing these days?
Michael: I love traveling all over the world and meeting with freelancers and clients from every type of business and service.
I have lived in California my whole life until my recent move to Washington state. I am married with two beautiful children. Our son is seven years old and our daughter is six.
You’ve founded several startups. But, did you work at a day job before you became an entrepreneur and what was your tipping point that lead you to make the decision to leave your job?
Michael: I’ve worked in one capacity or another for as long as I can remember. I’ve had several day jobs and night jobs for that matter.
I formed My first real company shortly after college when I was 22 after working 8 1/2 months and traveling to 36 states for a marketing company.
I was either going to get a full-time job or build an event marketing company. I chose the latter. No one ever told me how to have a start up and manage cost. I just got in and put everything I had into building a business.
Young and aggressive, I lost all my money and went into massive debt. I ended up living in my car for six months until I earned enough money from doing odd jobs and consulting.
In my spare time, I learned how to provide sales and marketing services on an as needed basis for companies. I was able to pull myself out of debt and find a decent place to live.
I linked up with a partner who was much older than me, for about 4 1/2 years and we Built two solid businesses from scratch. Eventually, I sold my interest in those businesses and went out on my own.
Building businesses is great. I love doing it. But having the ability to earn an income through freelancing while building my business kept me out of living in my car again.
Let’s talk about goLance. Tell us about the latest freelance platform on the internet.
Michael: goLance is designed as a holistic freelancing platform. We believe that a quality freelancer, client relationship is worth more than gold.
We do not take sides. When we set out to build goLance, we wanted to make a platform where the user base earned half the company, based upon their contribution to the business and the brand.
We wrote a key performance indicator schedule that allowed us to issue shares of stock to freelancers, content contributors and clients based upon their contribution. After several meetings with several attorneys, we were convinced that in order to perform this objective, we would be in the business of issuing stock. So we took a different approach. We developed a crypto currency that is backed by the value of the brand. That one really shook up the lawyers.
We haven’t launched our crypto currency yet, because we’re not ready. But our core value is still the same, in any working relationship, the employer is just as valuable as the freelancer.
Our mission is to build an environment that incentivizes loyalty and aligns everyone’s interests to create the best results.
There are already dozens of freelance platforms out there, why did you decide to start another one and what makes goLance different from the others?
Michael: We chose to build a freelancer platform because we love the space. I love meeting freelancers around the world and helping employers get projects done.
This is an industry that I intend to spend the next 40 years, or more in. It really depends on how late in life my wife will tolerate me working this much.
I love every day that I get to work. The people I meet and get to help accomplish their objectives, make every day more rewarding than the last.
We believe that there’s an immense amount of value that can be provided to freelancers and employers that currently are not being delivered elsewhere. We started goLance to bring out that value and make the only freelancer platform in existence worth working on.
Do you expect the Freelancing industry to change in the next few years?
Michael: Yes I expect the freelancer industry to change in the next few years and we are changing it.
If you look at a freelancer relationship as strictly, bill an employer and pay a freelancer, then I think you have a very old and dated idea of what brings value to the industry.
As an author, I have been asked and have agreed to speak at several banking conferences around the world.
When you’re dealing with billing employers on a massive scale and paying freelancers globally, you run into a great deal of obstacles and opportunities.
It’s my opinion that many of these opportunities have been left on the table and many of these obstacles have only been addressed in the best interest of the platforms themselves. We intend to change that.
We believe the costs are going to go down and revenue will be derived from purely ancillary value propositions. I also firmly believe that there has been an ugly sickness in the industry. I have heard so many employers speak about hiring a freelancer for minuscule jobs in almost a pejorative way.
The more people work together globally, the more respect they have for each other as human beings. That will elevate the industry and mankind in turn.
Many people start freelancing but only a few survive. What is the biggest problem you see with those freelancers and how do you suggest fixing it?
Michael: I think the problem with people that fail at freelancing is the same problem that people fail at anything else: They quit.
It’s not easy. Just because someone applies for a job clicks on a link doesn’t mean someone is going to trust and hire them. It takes hard work, determination and digital reputation to really grow a solid book of business.
If someone’s looking to get started in freelancing, what would you recommend doing first?
Michael: I would recommend someone that wants to get started freelancing, build credibility factors around their skills.
If it’s a software developer, develop a useful tool and give it away for free.If it’s a writer, publish an article and link back to that article in your profile. If it’s a social media marketer, market yourself first.
There are plenty of freelancing platforms and lots of job recommendations, but at the end of the day, you are marketing you. And that statement rings true throughout the entire process and ultimately relationship.
What kind of tips can you give to freelancers on marketing their skills and finding new clients?
Michael: I would definitely go out and look at other highly active freelancers. You’d be surprised how many of these people will share their thoughts with you and their tips, videos and articles.
Freelancing provides a great deal of freedom. But the price of that freedom is eternal vigilance. A freelancer must always be sharpening their skills, Learning new advantages and sharing their viewpoints.
What are your plans for the future? Can we expect new startups or new things from goLance?
Michael: Our focus right now is on banking tools for the global freelance workforce and tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit of freelancers around the world.
On many occasions, there’s an opportunity for freelancers to use subcontractors and various types of partnership relationships. goLance is working diligently to allow people to connect in these partnerships to create greater results, at a lower cost and turn solo-preneurs into entrepreneurs.
In conclusion, is there anything else you would like to add?
Michael: I’d like to thank you for reaching out to me. I consider it a real honor and a pleasure to be a part your article. I believe your outreach efforts are a shining example to freelancers everywhere on how to be a leader in this magical space.
I’d like to thank Michael for taking the time off of his busy schedule to answer my questions and also for sharing his inspiring story with us.
You can learn more about Michael and the books he wrote via his personal website. Be sure to follow him on Google+ and Facebook as well.
Did you find this article useful? Then you should check out my book Freelance Like A Pro. It includes 21 lessons and 5 secrets from my freelance career to help you supercharge your journey as a freelancer. Click here to learn more.
FreelancingHacks.com. His main goal is to help others get started in freelancing and guide them toward a successful career and financial freedom.