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What I’ve learned in 9 years of freelancing

Coffee Marketing
What I’ve learned in 9 years of freelancing
By Jenn Chen • Issue #128 • View online
Today marks nine years of freelancing for me. In the Thoughts section, I reflect on what I’ve learned. Some random bullet points:
  • I hate small talk but apparently going a year without it is not good for our brains.
  • I hosted my first indoor friends gathering AND went to someone’s place in the same week. Both for the first time in 15 months & everyone fully vaxxed. We tried out this NA botanical spirit & I really enjoyed it.
  • Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder and a good time as any to check in on all those anti-racism declarations that were made last summer by companies.
  • I’ve been using the app Ground News* (also a site) to keep track of news. It’s been especially helpful on tracking coverage because each news item shows how different sources with possible biases cover it. (If you want to use a referral code, this is mine: 7766098.)

Featuring my own work & press
Featuring my own work & press
What I’ve learned in 9 years of freelancing
If I had told my younger self that I would be where I’m at today, I would have laughed. I never thought I could make money off of writing. Or photography. Or marketing. I have zero professional education in these fields. When I first started out, there weren’t a lot of people doing what I’m doing in coffee. It was difficult to find people to look up to, career-wise. Now, there are loads of people in these areas who specialize in coffee.
Of course, none of this happened overnight. I had originally set a life goal to eat, drink, travel, and write for a living – and COVID aside – I have hit that goal for several years. It’s been a wild ride so far and despite all the planning I do, no year has turned out the way I plan it.
You know how I love my bullet points, so here’s what I’ve learned so far:
  • Don’t sacrifice your values
  • Saying no is empowering and say it often
  • Say yes to the exciting and scary 
  • Say no to projects that don’t excite you 
  • Boundaries are so important. You do not have to have email notifications on if you do not work in emergency situations. 
  • It’s ok to not be a generalist. I want to stay working in coffee so I say no to any consulting work outside of this industry.
  • Celebrate all of the wins, no matter how small
  • Mental health is not as scary a topic to discuss with clients
  • Never stop learning. I hate the term “expert.” Maybe I’ll expand on this in a different post but in general, expert implies you know basically everything about that topic! Which, I got into these fields because I want to keep learning.
  • If you charge too low, you get taken advantage of. Not just with a difficult client but the perceived work value is low. Set a base rate that you will not go below.
  • When you can, outsource what you don’t want to do so you can free up more time to do what you enjoy.
  • Creativity is hard to come by and sometimes the creative process just means that you push through for the deadline. You can’t always wait around for it to hit.
  • Your process is yours. No one can dictate it. You may not write quickly and that’s ok.
  • You are still valid even if you haven’t done that thing in a while. You are still a writer even if you haven’t written or published anything lately.
This isn’t an exhaustive list and you might note that they aren’t specifically about the business part of freelancing. I’m a freelancer by choice not by circumstance. I’m very humbled to be traveling through this winding path that is freelancing. Thanks for being part of my journey. 
The Big World Of Tiny Cafe Miniatures
Quick text updates & links on what's new on the networks
Quick text updates & links on what's new on the networks
All the networks are going full-speed on enticing creators with new insights, features, and monetizing options.
Instagram added the ability to hide like counts on your own and others’ posts, a new section for product drops, and insights for reels & live. It’s testing a new Audio tab to explore music, a Bonus payment in reels, and a new upload option for the desktop,
Facebook also added the ability to hide like counts.
Twitter relaunched its profile verification application and it’s now open to everyone. It’s testing showing the Super Follower count on profiles (paid followers), a paid subscription service, a Ticketed Space feature, an About tab, and folders to organize your bookmarked tweets.
In other network news, Snapchat added public profiles for businesses and Pinterest added live-streaming.
Helpful links on how to improve your digital marketing
Helpful links on how to improve your digital marketing
With Great Content Power Comes (Yep) Great Responsibility – What Will You Do With It
How to Structure Marketing Videos for Success
A Non-Designer's Guide to Visual Hierarchy [Best Practices + Examples]
Anything I've enjoyed reading recently
Anything I've enjoyed reading recently
Inflation Rate 2021 and Shortages: Companies Panic Buying as Supplies Run Short
Afterpay, Klarna, Affirm: Buy now, pay later is growing beyond retail
The Silence of My White Friends After Atlanta
An update from my container garden!
An update from my container garden!
The 9th anniversary material is ceramic so I headed to my local nursery to pick up this calathea vittata and its ceramic pot.
The 9th anniversary material is ceramic so I headed to my local nursery to pick up this calathea vittata and its ceramic pot.
What'd you think?
Feedback, questions, or fist bumps 👊 – send them my way by hitting the reply button. Also happy with the 👍 at the end. Or find me on the social networks @thejennchen.
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Jenn Chen

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