Prague & Freelancing

Hi?

Ok, I know, it has been a long time without any news from me right? I know, I know, you missed me so much you were at the verge of committing suicide, but you need not worry, I’m back, more stupid and currently on the other side of the world (Vietnam). So what’s not to celebrate?

I had promised a new post about Berlin and freelancing online. Forget about Berlin, I mean, I can’t recall most of it at all – let’s say – about things that could interest you vaguely. About freelancing online though, I have a bit to say, since in Prague that was mostly what I did.

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With walking and public transportations and all that I’m pretty sure the count had already exceeded the 5.000km’s

I won’t speak much about Prague sincerely. It’s a beautiful city packed with tourists in the centre, due to the beautiful old buildings and neighbourhoods. It’s also an important country in the overall politics of Europe/Western world due to its geographic position. They have great beer and are known for many things, including Czech Streets. I personally did not feel it to be warm in any sense, I’m definitively more at peace with latin countries.

While there I rented a room in a shared house, with two czech girls, Klara and Iveta. I lived mostly in my room for the first 2 months. I had a delicate situation due to the previous travelling and not taking care of my activity as I should, besides that, the costs of doing constant travelling had been building up. I had also decided prior to going there that I was going to stay a couple months in a place to get new clients, organise some of my stuff and think what to do with my life after that. Returning to Portugal was on the table. As well as continuing the trip further north as I had intended in the beginning. In the end nothing of that happened, but we’ll get to it soon.

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In a sense I guess some of my friends and people I knew there thought I was depressed or something wasn’t ok. I can understand why people would think that, because they’re used to associate an outgoing style of living with good health, while when someone embraces solitude it must be due to some problem, usually in the fields of depression. I’m really not in agreement with that idea (besides thinking that depression – not chronic depression of course – is a healthy and necessary part of life, just as moments of extreme happiness are). Actually I think many people are depressed and are outgoing and seem to be happy on the outside, but the way they live their lives tend to show something else. Most people, by what (I think) I came to understand in these last months, can’t really live with themselves for long periods of time. They need continuous sharing of their time with others in order to feel sane. On the other hand I wasn’t passing through any depression, but I had a lot of things to take care of and focus on, I had to look inside as well, and that’s what I did.

I was experimenting, and still am, with a lot of ideas. I can’t stress enough the power of meditation and I’m each day further convinced that it’s not a placebo. I just have to say this, it centres you. Definitively. It puts you in contact with a source of energy so powerful that you won’t black out, no matter what. The illusion of the Self becomes quite laughable at some point – even though it does not disrupt your separation, it makes you totally aware of it. Of your separation and the illusion of such separation. It’s paradoxical. It both empowers yourSelf and disrupts the sense of a disconnected independent Self. It shows you how separate you are and at the same time how you aren’t really separate.

It also puts things into perspective and the empowerment that comes from it also allows you to decide more clearly and consciously about what you want and not worrying a bit about what others might think of you or your decisions. It kinda also frees you from the constant worrying about the future. What I feel is that  even though I have no safety net of my own (I have family though and I know they would help me no matter what) I’m less worried about the future and spontaneously believe it will unfold itself in a positive way (and positive doesn’t mean without effort, drawbacks or tough situations – it just means that it will go just fine – as it should)

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I had said I was going to quit smoking in the Czech Republic. Of course in a country where a pack of cigarettes goes for 3€ or less and where you can smoke virtually anywhere it becomes difficult. And lets be sincere, if you don’t really want to quit you won’t, it’s plain simple as that. In my last week I did quit it. And it has now been more than a month without a single cigarette. Not even a smoke from someone’s cigarette. And I got drunk in the meanwhile, which is like the test of fire. But it may be better not to throw the fireworks just yet…

So let’s talk a bit more about working as a freelancer on-line.

Like I have said before there are several freelancing platforms you can use.

I’ll recap them:

http://www.elance.com – my favourite one
http://www.peopleperhour.com & http://www.oDesk.com & http://www.freelancer.com

They’re easy to use, to setup and start earning money, although, like everything else in life, it does require a degree of effort to land the first job and keep having new ones popping out.

Working in a coffee/restaurant in Prague. Their beers are amazing and start at 1€ for 0,5L. Now tell me how you're supposed to work on coffees

Working in a coffee/restaurant in Prague. Their beers are amazing and start at 1€ for 0,5L. Now tell me how you’re supposed to work on coffees

What is it that you’ll need?

  • First of all: you’ll need to speak and understand english, at a decent level. If you don’t, make sure you invest some time learning it. There are nowadays many free options to learn english through the internet, some on your own, others through interactions with people. Just make sure you learn it. It’s an effort that will help you in all your life, not only to land a few jobs in the immediate future;
  • Second: an internet connection and computer/device that enables you to browse the platform websites in search of jobs and to interact with possible clients;
  • Third: An e-mail account, a profile created in at least one of the platforms, a portfolio and/or resumé – make it a story and not simply a statement of facts – make it interesting and engaging;
  • Fourth: Willingness to research and learn by yourself – use google, search forums, make questions, enter in contact, read the guidelines, read the how-to’s, what to’s and what not’s these outsourcing companies provide themselves – there’s a lot of good information packed there – from how to build a successful profile to how to write your first proposals, to how to price your work in the beginning;
  • Fifth: Be willing to learn by yourself and research – with internet you can develop new skills and become an expert in almost anything, you just have to be willing to;
  • Sixth: A skill to sell – are you a graphic designer? Cool, there’s plenty of work you can nail. Are you a programmer? Fine, there’s also a lot of options. Do you know very well your language and english? You can start translating stuff. You’re good managing social media, writing content for blogs or articles? Nice. There are options. Do you edit video? Do you give counsel to people? Can you speak english over the telephone with people who want to have a tutor? Are you ok researching topics? Filling excel spread-sheets? Are you a musician? Have you got a nice voice for doing voice-overs? Everything that is passible of being done remotely will soon be done that way, unless there’s quite an advantage of doing it locally.

 

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Of course if you really have no way of spending 3 months learning how to use these websites, honeying your proposal writing, creating a decent to start profile and portfolio – it’s difficult. I mean if you have a children that you have to feed everyday and no way of going through this learning curve then it can be very difficult to receive a pay check right away, in time for your needs.

But if you have a partner, family, or access to commercial/private/micro credit options, there’s really no reason why you can’t make it work. If you have money put aside, you can also.

Why did I put two points of as the same – willingness to learn and research.

It’s never too much stressing this: if you have this, you can learn how to build a decent resumé, how to make it a story, how to setup an e-mail account, how to setup a profile on those websites, how to create a paypal account and link it to your bank account (even though not really necessary, paypal is a great help in changing currencies, passing money from digital wallets to bank accounts, and using credit cards online in case you need it – although elance for instance offers all this already with one free wire transfer to your bank per month).

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If you have this willingness it’s also worth noting that you can get better at your current skills, or the skills you wish to sell. It also means you can learn new ones. If you have this willingness you’ll research competition, see profiles of people who are getting jobs, see portfolios, see what’s being done in your field, etceteras etceteras. It’s really the most important thing you can have and it’s really up to you to have it. It’s not only useful for freelancing online and through the world, it’s useful for doing whatever you want to do.

Stop making excuses, stop seeing prohibitions or difficulties in your way, stop.

Nurture this. How to do it? Decide to spend each day, but really each day, 15 minutes at least seeing resumés or articles on your field. Another 15 min reading how to use social media and freelancing platforms. 30 min practicing english if it’s not your native language. Set up this kind of mini objectives. It will help build routines and when you have jobs already you’ll change some of them to “30 min in the morning to read and answer e-mails”. 15 min to check linkedin articles. 1h to reach out and make proposals for new works.

in a co-work space in Saigon, Vietnam. It's called WORK SAIGON, you get free sitting and internet access upon a drink or food buying.

in a co-work space in Saigon, Vietnam. It’s called WORK SAIGON, you get free sitting and internet access upon a drink or food buying.

Besides these mini routines, I would also include walking (at least 30min a day) or even better, exercising – no excuses really, you can exercise at home in your room if you don’t have the money to go to a gym or pay a swimming pool subscription – you can do it barefoot without sportive clothing as well. I would say, learn to meditate, if not, just give 20min a day for sitting with your eyes closed, without  falling asleep.

Always work a bit everyday. If you don’t have current work, or you don’t need to deliver it right away, spend time making your portfolio look better, create some base introductions for your proposals, create lists of things you need to get done, do something in your field (if you’re a programmer program a few lines of code or a simple thing, if you’re a designer create a simple logo, if you’re a translator translate the lyrics of a song).

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I think this trip is still in the beginning and great things will come along.

Did I tell you I really enjoy Asia, specially Vietnam? And I’ve only been in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) yet, for 2 weeks, so imagine. People are very friendly! I love it, makes me feel more at home than many european countries where I have passed.

Any questions or ideas please feel free to comment and contact me!

Always a pleasure! Next post will be about Barcelona again, and then quickly to Saigon!!!

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