Tips for taking control of your finances, squeezing in a vacation, and which tech tools can help organize it all.
Be Your Own Boss Credit: Nicolle Clemetson
„ Page 26 | “From Fantasy to Fruition Sean Jordan of the “All Fantasy Everything„ Podcast
Issue 2 | July 2022
on working a full-time job while pursuing a passion project.
Alison Rochford, Co-Founder, Editor
No Cilantro, Please
Editors’ Desk Thank you to everyone who helped make our first issue such a success. It is a complete honor to be able to say that No Cilantro, PleaseTM has been read in 20 countries, and it’s only the beginning. Throughout this journey, Aya and I have connected with self-employed people from all around the world. We’ve spoken with business owners carrying on family legacies, entrepreneurs starting with a completely blank slate, and everything in between. Regardless of background, one thing we hear consistently is how empowering it is to be your own boss. As freelancers-turned-magazine-editors, we know that there is enormous freedom that comes with self-employment. You can set your own hours, work in whatever style suits you, etc. This comes with a cost, of course. It can feel impossible to switch off when you are solely responsible for running a business, and it can be difficult to find the same stability as in a salaried role. In this issue, we had the chance to talk with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, and hear what it means to them to be their own boss. For some, self-employment is a way to make a living doing whatever it is they’re passionate about. For others, it means job flexibility during difficult times.
For me, it is a great privilege to be my own boss, and one that I do not take lightly. I get to set my own priorities, and decide what I want my life to look like. One of our goals in starting No Cilantro, Please, was to break down barriers across industries, and extend this privilege to everyone. So many people who want to start their own business or launch a freelance career have to reinvent the wheel and figure out where to start on their own. There is so much information out there, but it can be hard to sift through. When I started freelance writing and designing, I felt lost all the time. After years of working as a journalist for various print newspapers, I had no idea how to transition to being a writer in the digital age. I desperately wanted a mentor in my industry. In time, I found online communities where writers and designers shared resources and tips about upcoming jobs, learned from each other, and delighted in one another’s success.
With every issue of No Cilantro, PleaseTM, I hope to pay this forward.
Aya Lanzoni, Co-Founder, Editor
I had no idea how to file my taxes as a freelancer when I first started, how to market myself, or how I could possibly save enough money to take unpaid time off one day. I am eternally grateful to the writers and designers who came before me and taught me the tricks of the trade; not only how to be better at my craft, but all of those things I would have really struggled with otherwise.
Co-Founder | Editor | Designer Photos Credit: Morgan Kropa
30 Tech tools series
34: T That
12: The War-Life Balance:
Freelancing While Adapting to a Wartime Reality
16: Hard to H@ndle: Tips to Keep Your Mental Health in Check
When Your Job Revolves Around Social Media
20: Out of Office: The NCP Guide to Taking a Vacation
(And Actually Enjoying It!)
From Fantasy to Fruition: How One Comedian
ched a Successful Career While Working a Full-Time Job
Accessibility in the World of Freelance
‚ There s Something about Kim: An Examination of the Qualities Define Success in Any Industry
38: Managing Finances as a Freelancer or Small Business Owner
42: A Deep Dive into Microsoft OneNote
44: The Importance of PR and Marketing for Small Businesses 46: Will AI Replace Human Copywriters?
Aya Lanzoni & Alison Rochford
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Illustrators My name is Yulia Vus. I’m 25. I’m from Ukraine and live in a beautiful city called Lviv. For a long time, I have worked as a freelance illustrator. I have created many book illustrations and covers, illustrations for advertising, magazines, sites, and videos over the years. I like to show the real moments of my life in my works. There are always more than enough ideas! Unfortunately, now the central theme of my art is the war in my country.
Writers Veronica Morozova is Kyiv-born, London-based single parent, freelance copywriter and content manager. In her spare time, she writes about mental health, motherhood and politics, and helps out with the #UkrainianSpaces podcast. Find her on Instagram @veronica.morozova. Ces Heredia (she/her) is a Mexican Jewish writer based in a small beach town in northern Mexico. When she’s not writing you’ll probably find her treating herself to yet another pair of shoes, trying to get through her endless pile of books to read, or hanging our with her Rottweilers.
Chloe is a disabled freelance writer, journalist and editor. She’s currently working on her first novel.
Eddie Velazquez is an award-winning journalist based out of upstate New York. When he is not writing about local news, labor, or fair housing, he is probably writing about arts and culture. You can follow his work on Twitter (@ezvelazquez) or on his website (www.edvelmedia.squarespace.com). Riley Fortier, M.Ed. is an educator, urban farmer, and plant enthusiast in the greater Philadelphia area. When not writing for No Cilantro Please, Riley can be found drinking the freshest coffee or rollerblading in an empty parking lot (although not at the same time). Micah Brown is a writer and photographer who lives in Brunswick, Maine with his family and myriad of animals. While he may love all things dark and creepy, he is passionate about small business success.
Liana DeMasi is a fiction writer and freelance journalist living in Brooklyn, NY, with bylines in The Boston Globe, i-D Magazine, Poynter, Atmos and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram @lianademasi.
Staff Directory Web Master Kyle Peter Alexander has over 20 years of experience in the field of Web Design and Information and Communications Technology. An experienced website designer, Kyle has branched out into the field of Entrepreneurship, completing his MBA in 2016 specializing in Entrepreneurial Management.
Above Credit: Marvin Meyer, Unsplash Below Credit: Matheus Frade, Unsplash
The War-Life Balance: Freelancing While Adapting to a Wartime Reality Veronica Morozova | Contributing Writer
“Hey, are you there? Russia has started bombing Ukraine. I spoke to our family and they’re all alive, thank God. I cannot believe this.”
I’ll never forget the first text I read on the morning of February 24. By the time I woke up, it had already been four hours since Russia attacked Ukraine. My sister was frantically trying to call me at night, but I had been blissfully asleep. I haven’t had a night of undisturbed sleep since.
As I shot out of bed and rushed to turn on the news, my phone went haywire with text after text. Seventy five unread messages and 22 missed calls. And there it was, highlighted in red, on BBC News — confirming what I had hoped was a mistake: ‘Russia attacks Ukraine.’ Since that day, life for Ukrainians split into two: life before the war, and life after the war. I sat on my sofa crying and watching the news in the safety of London — I moved here in 2008 for University and have lived here since — and felt an overwhelming sense of guilt for not being with my family in Kyiv. Although I’d built my life in the UK, Ukraine was always home. My beautiful home was now under attack.
I finally managed to get a hold of my relatives that afternoon to find out a little bit more about what was going on— no one had been harmed, but my parents were trapped in the worst possible location. The town where they lived was almost immediately occupied by the Russian forces, and there was virtually no chance for them to escape. I felt completely shell-shocked and lost. On top of it all, I had a big deadline looming, and since I could hardly get my thoughts straight, let alone work, I picked up my phone and texted my client: “I’m so sorry, but I’m going to have to take time off.”
Yulia Vus | Contributing Illustrator
Managing the initial shockwave
The power of online communities
I’m a self-employed copywriter. Under normal circumstances, I have a regular, weekly schedule of work lined up with various startups. Incidentally, just a few days before the war, I agreed to take on more hours with one of my favorite clients — we mapped out a content plan and I was genuinely excited about the opportunity. When news of the war broke out, she was incredibly understanding and kind.
A couple of days into the war, I kept seeing calls for Ukraine to cede to Russia. These comments made me incredibly angry — how dare they tell us to surrender to an invader? In the heat of my frustration, I took to my laptop and created a very simple graphic that said: “If Russia stops fighting, there will be no more war. If Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no more Ukraine.” I posted it on my Instagram, without giving it much further thought, and went to sleep.
“I’m so sorry, but I’m going to have to take time off.”
Within 24 hours, the post went viral and was shared over 15,000 times. I had over a thousand new followers overnight, and dozens of messages of support. I was taken aback at how well my post was I asked for ‘two, or maybe three’ weeks off because received, so I tried something else to see if it would I’d hoped everything would end soon. But with each garner a similar response: I began sharing updates passing day, the news coming out of my homeland on my family in my stories and talking about my only seemed to get worse. Phone connection with anxiety, insomnia, and the injustices of the war. my parents was sparse, as they were caught in the Writing these updates and posts was cathartic, but it was the people that reached out to me that made middle of heavy battles. the experience truly special. The kindness and love I couldn’t sleep, because most attacks on Kyiv I received every day gave me the strength I needed happened at night, so I spent my nights waiting for to pull through and be there for my family. It became updates. Meanwhile, my family was running low my way of surviving the war: writing, sharing, on food, had no heating, and no safe way to escape venting, and connecting with my community online. their besieged town. I had never felt more powerless or depleted, and I honestly didn’t know what to do Three weeks later, my parents managed to escape with myself besides cry, doom scroll on my phone, Russian-held territory and returned to central Kyiv. and pray. While they were by no means ‘safe’, they were at least no longer in immediate danger. There were rumors of Russian troops withdrawing from around Kyiv, and this gave us hope that things would be a little bit calmer. It also felt like a signal that I needed to try and get back to my clients and my copywriting work.
But the moment I started trying to write about anything that wasn’t related to Ukraine, I felt a complete mental block. I just couldn’t put myself in the headspace to focus on anything but the war. I realized that asking my clients for extended time off meant I could lose them — they had businesses to run, after all — but I also knew I couldn’t push through and deliver sub-par work while struggling with unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety.
Opposite page: Veronica and her partner, Filip Rambousek, in front of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine. Taken before the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. Right: Veronica and her son, Lucian Watson (7) in the UK. Photos courtesy Veronica Morozova
Learning to prioritize and to say no
out war lasting years and that we don’t know when we will be able to reunite with our loved ones. This I knew that I couldn’t avoid work forever — I had means that we need to try to live life with some sort savings, but because I’m self-employed, I don’t get of semblance of normality while grappling with holiday or sick pay, and my savings would run out trauma, a sense of complete powerlessness, and eventually. Plus, as a single parent, it’s solely my heartache. I look back on the pre-war times and responsibility to take care of my son, so in the eighth yearn for simple, manageable worries because right week of the war, I had to start easing myself back now, I live with a cloud of uncertainty that weighs so into work. I decided to approach this phase with heavy on me that at times I feel like I can’t breathe. honesty: I turned down several one-off projects, told my clients that I had to take things slow, and that if In all this tragedy, however, it is imperative that I I felt my mental health declining, I’d need to take a remember to remain grateful. I am endlessly grateful couple of days off again. for so many things: that my son is in safety, that my partner and friends have proven to be incredible This worked surprisingly well, and I’m forever sources of support, and that my family are all alive grateful for the kindness and understanding that and okay. The online strangers that remind me to the people I work with showed me during this time. smile, look after myself and keep going. My clients, Alongside the paid work, I continued to post content who have treated me with compassion and warmth. on my social media about Ukraine, which kept me I am also grateful that I can now focus on the things connected to my home and honestly, kept me sane. that really matter to me — there’s nothing like experiencing war to make you understand what is truly important. What doesn’t kill us… As we head into the fourth month of Russia’s unprovoked attack on our country, Ukrainians have had to accept something that no one should ever have to accept — that this could be a highly drawn-
As I grapple with this painful new reality, I wake up every day and tell myself: you owe it to your country to do your best today. After all, I’m Ukrainian — perseverance and bravery are in my DNA.
Credit: Yana Nikulina, Unsplash
Hard to H@ndle Tips to Keep Your Mental Health in Check When Your Job Revolves Around Social Media
Ces Heredia | Contributing Writer Social media has gone from a cool way to share photos and music with friends, to a critical aspect of society and productivity within a relatively short timespan. While there are countless positives to these platforms - community building, connectivity, expansion of education, innovation in business, etc. - social media can also be incredibly exhausting and toxic. So how do you find balance when your job revolves around social media?
Keeping up appearances and constantly trying to put our best face forward can be exhausting and lead to burnout. Yes, social media burnout is a real thing. It is a form of occupational burnout recognized by the World Health Organization. WHO defines Social Media Burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” While burnout can (and will) occur in every line of work if we don’t take the appropriate steps to avoid it, it occurs at a higher rate for those who have made social media their full-time jobs, since unplugging and finding time for offline self-care can be a bit more difficult. Social media management can be downright exhausting. It feels like you have to be everywhere at once and available 24/7 — creating content, responding to and interacting with others, getting new followers, and planning for next week’s posts. The work is quite literally never done, but finding balance is possible.
Marnely Murray and Angela Prout are the co-founders of Shored Up Digital, a small digital agency in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. They have been working in the social media industry for eight years, and now manage around 30 client accounts. They both say that the pros of social media far outweigh the cons, but they also agree that setting boundaries is fundamental.
Courtesy Jessica Starks
Prout was very clear on her stance about social media management and boundaries. She says that social media management “is a job, and no job should get in the way of your mental health, your friends, your family, and the things that are genuinely important in life. It is important to set boundaries from the beginning: with yourself and with your superiors, if applicable.” Murray agrees, and says, “it can be overwhelming to be consuming so much content at all times and always trying to catch up to trends and features.” She even shared her personal time-management strategy for dealing with social media burnout and the boundaries she has set for herself:
Jessica Starks is the founder of J.D. Scribes, a content marketing agency that provides clients with digital marketing, social media and writing services, and more. Courtesy Jeremy Driese
“I try my hardest to set boundaries, and my favorite is to work really hard two to four days out of the week, so I have three days that I am not doing any work at all.”
Jessica Starks is another social media manager, and the founder of J.D. Scribes. She’s been working in this industry for about seven years now. She manages accounts for clients in different industries: insurance, restaurants, nonprofit organizations, and retail stores. She says, “I genuinely enjoy what I do, but social media as a whole can be a lot. It can be overwhelming when you‘re constantly working and soaking in information.” She agrees with Murray and Prout that it’s important to have off-line days, when she allows herself to completely step away from social media. Another thing Starks recommends is using social media scheduling tools, or relying on other people in your team, “so you won‘t have to worry about missing work while you care for yourself.”
Marnely Murray and Angela Prout are the co-founders of Shored Up Digital, a small digital agency in Martha’s Vineyard. They specialize in digital marketing and social media management.
Murray, Prout, and Starks are not alone in their feelings about social media. According to a study by West Virginia University, the need to be always “on,” as well as the fact that so many social media managers are underpaid, are two of main stressors that contribute to social media burnout. If you’re starting to feel like your workload is unmanageable, you have little to no support from your leadership, feel you have no work-life balance, have unclear job expectations, or feel that the stigma associated with “spending too much time on social media” is getting to you, it might be time to take a step back and ask for help. See page 22 for tips on delegating your workload when you need a break.
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Out of Office The NCP Guide to Taking a Vacation (And Actually Enjoying It!) Aya Lanzoni | Editor
Photos credit Alison Rochford and Aya Lanzoni
One of the upsides of owning your own business or being a freelancer is that you are your own boss. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want.
But being “The Big Cheese” of your own business also means being everything from the CEO to the janitor, especially when you are a one-person show. This can make it tough to find a good work-life balance for taking a vacation, or even a staycation. But yes! It is possible to take a vacation as a small business owner. Not only is it possible, it is incredibly important for your mental and physical well-being and the ability to maintain and grow your business.
As the leader - of yourself, your clients, your projects…however you want to describe it - your team looks to you and sees how important it is to rest and recharge the working batteries. If they see that you are always hustling, they may also receive the message that it is not okay for them to recharge their batteries and allow for some rest. You know the saying from The Shining: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The work will always be there, you can take a break. (I promise.) Here are a few tips and tricks to be able to take a break as a small business owner.
Plan Your Vacation in Advance
Prepare to Delegate
According to David Finkel of Inc.com, “as a business owner, you should take at minimum four weeks vacation time. With at least a week each quarter to recoup and regroup.” Being able to take a week of may seem impossible, but utilizing this time to rest and restore would allow for you to recharge your mind, rest your body, and explore something new.
Picture this: you are lounging on the beach sipping a piña colada, without a care in the world. Suddenly, your phone rings. It’s work, calling with a crisis sure to ruin your day. Do you: A) brush off the sand and open your laptop? B) delegate and return to sunbathing?
If possible, it is best to plan vacations around slow periods of your business. Depending on the type of business, you may experience slow periods of time where there just is not much work to do (do not worry - that is a good thing.) See this as an opportunity to take advantage of planning or taking your vacation. If you have children, the slow periods might not coincide with their school vacation schedule, so if you have a team, you may need to delegate your work and establish a second-in-command.
Is there someone that can handle all of your responsibilities while you are away? Or do you split up your tasks and give them to a handful of your team? Or if you are a solopreneur, do you completely shut down the business?
If you do have a team you work with, as a business owner, prepare a list of contacts and instructions for them to reference while they are running your business and you are enjoying yourself.
Being able to delegate your tasks and responsibilities not only shows that you trust your team to help keep the business running while you are gone, but also allows you to rest assured knowing that clients are getting what they need.
Give Others the Same Respect These tips can go a long way in helping you enjoy your well-deserved time off, but it’s important to remember them when other people go on vacation as well. Is this email to your co-worker away with their family really urgent, or does it just require a little more problem solving on your end? If you know that a work associate is taking some time off, respect that as much as possible. This is one way we can all contribute to a healthier culture of work/life balance.
What Are Your Vacation Boundaries?
Let Clients Know You Will Be Away
Are you one of those people who completely turns off the work brain while on a vacation? Or do you intermittently check emails or work phone calls while on the beach?
Each business is different, and does things differently, but while planning your vacation, it is vital to let clients know that you will be away. This could affect their project that they have with you, especially if on an urgent deadline.
If you do need to check in on the business, set a limit as to when you do so. First thing in the morning? Before dinner plans? Whatever your limit is, do not allow yourself to get sucked into work, especially if there is an issue. If you have a second-in-command running the show, trust that they can handle it until you can address it when you are back in the office.
If it is just you and you are the entire team, you can still check in on the business, but it is unlikely that anything will be on fire, especially if you gave your clients advance notice. If there are new emails in your inbox, or voicemails on your business phone, make a note for yourself to address it when you are back at home and in work mode.
Speaking of, do not plan deadlines or launches near your vacation. You and your team should not have to worry about any bugs, fixes, or urgent issues that may arise, especially when you are about to get out of town or enjoy a staycation. It is up to you how much you want to let clients know about your vacation, but one pro tip may be to put your vacation reminder in the signature of your email at least a few weeks prior to your time off. Additionally, if you have meetings, you can add it to the meeting agenda and remind them a few times before you leave. Finally, set up an automatic reply for when you are actually on your vacation. This can also keep clients informed for when you are coming back into the office or back to work. If you use Calendly or other tools where clients can book time with you directly, be sure to block off the time you will be away.
Last but Not Least, Enjoy your Vacation! You deserve it, Big Cheese!
Credit: Joel Muniz, Unsplash
From Fantasy to Fruition How One Comedian Launched a Successful Career While Working a Full-Time Job
s soon as Sean Jordan and I sit down for our Zoom interview, he shows off the brightly colored gallery wall behind him. He sits in his office in Portland, Oregon in the home he shares with his wife, Laura, and their infant daughter, Maxine. Jordan cannot contain his pride; he has worked so hard for so many years to build this home and this life for his family. Jordan is a standup comedian and co-host of the podcast “All Fantasy Everything.” Every week, he and fellow standup comedians/hosts, Ian Karmel and David Gborie, fantasy draft random concepts from the world of pop culture and beyond. It is, ultimately, just a jumping off point for them to be funny for an hour (or much, much longer - as they always say on the podcast, we do go on). The podcast is so much more than a job for Jordan, though.
“It’s changed my whole life,” he beams. “Being a part of this has made it so I could buy a house, try to pull my weight as far as finances go with a kid. It’s given me the flexibility to live in Portland, which is where I wanted to be. It’s absolutely changed my whole life. It’s amazing every day. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota native has been working in standup for well over a decade, but it is only in the last few years that he’s been able to make a living for himself as a comedian. Like so many people trying to build a career out of a passion project, Jordan had to work full time in another field to support himself while juggling his side hustle.
Above: Jordan has been a standup comedian for more than a decade. Opposite page: Sean Jordan enjoys skateboarding when he is not performing comedy.
Back in Sioux Falls, Jordan worked at a call center full time. He tried standup one night during a local comedy contest at his friend’s recommendation.
“You’re funny in your group of friends,” he says. “It’s funny, but joking aside, I did really bad.” Jordan ended up winning the contest anyway, though, because he had brought “like 100 people” and the audience voted on the winner. He went home, wrote some jokes, and very quickly improved his routine. Soon, when he was not working at the call center, he was hosting a regular comedy show at the same club where he did his first set.
When the club closed after a few years, a fellow comedian and friend of Jordan’s named Doug Benson recommended he get out of Sioux Falls if he really wanted to pursue comedy. Jordan and some friends moved to Portland, where he was able to transfer to another branch of the same call center. Although Jordan knew this was the only way to advance his career as a comedian, the move was incredibly challenging for him. “I had never lived anywhere other than South Dakota,” Jordan confesses. “I’d just lived in this tiny area of South Dakota my whole life. I was really scared when I moved. I was crying when I pulled out of town, I was bawling.”
It is only with years of hindsight that he can say, delivery driver for Postmates, a bartender, and a “turns out it was the best decision I ever made.” medical transportation dispatcher. “I even ghost wrote a couple wedding speeches,” he laughed. When he first moved to Portland, Jordan was Ultimately, he chose jobs flexible enough to doing as much standup comedy as he could when continue to write and tour as a comedian part he wasn’t working at the call center. Soon, he felt time. like he was doing enough standup to pursue it full time, but quickly realized he was wrong. While working every odd job imaginable, it was sometimes difficult for Jordan muster the energy “You have a vision of what you think is supposed to do standup. At the call center, he says, “It’s to happen or what’s going to happen, and so I so, so much of a bummer sometimes, when you quit my job thinking, ‘Now I have all this time to just have people screaming at you all day long… pursue what I want to do.’” Jordan thought if he then you have to sit in traffic, and then you go do could focus on standup full time, he could take it standup, and sometimes it’s not a show that you more seriously and pursue it as a career rather even want to do. You’re 1,500 miles away from than a hobby. the person you’re in love with.” Jordan even had shows early on where nobody showed up at all. “I just wasn’t making enough money to live,” he says. “And I didn’t want to go back to the job Through all of the highs and lows of his career, that I’d just quit.” He assures me it wasn’t out of Jordan tried to keep himself motivated by embarrassment, but says he felt like that would celebrating not only his own achievements, but be saying alright, I couldn’t do it. the success of those around him. “Don’t want what other people have in a bad way,” he says. To pay the bills, Jordan says he worked “just “You can want it, but don’t be spiteful or anything about every job you could have.” During his like that. Be happy for people. Let it motivate first stint in Portland, and later while living in you, like if a friend of yours gets something that Los Angeles, Jordan worked as a production you want in your career, let it motivate you, but assistant, a delivery driver for a dry cleaner, a don’t ever get jealous. There’s no room for hate.” Opposite page: Sean Jordan performs at NitWits Comedy Club in Sioux Falls, South Dakota early in his career. Below: Hosts of the “All Fantasy Everything” podcast: David Gborie, Ian Karmel, and Sean Jordan.
All photos courtesy Sean Jordan.
More than a decade after Jordan first took to the stage, he now supports himself as a fulltime comedian and podcast host. Working with Karmel and Gborie, as well as the weekly guests they host on “All Fantasy Everything,” has improved Jordan’s comedy “tremendously,” he says, just by being around them. It has also done wonders to build his fanbase, and people from all around the country know about his routine and travel to see him perform.
For anyone looking to make a shift in their career, Jordan says the most important thing is to have a plan. He says it is annoying when people suggest, “just quit if you don’t like your job.”
“That’s not how anything ever works,” he says. “That’s how movies work.” Reality looks a lot more like finding a job that allows you to pursue your passion project at the same time, and appreciating every step along the way, according To maintain a healthy work/life balance, Jordan to Jordan. says it is critical to have a hobby that has nothing to do with work. “You got to have something “Everybody’s got to work,” he says. “Don’t be where it’s not your thing, it’s not your job, it’s ashamed of what you do, enjoy it as much as you just something you do strictly for you.” can. If you want to try to pursue something, then try. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but you For Jordan, that thing is skateboarding. “I’m have to try and just be happy.” never going to be a professional skateboarder,” he laughs. “I don’t want to be. It’s just something To see Sean Jordan perform, find his tour dates I go do and I have fun and clear my head. For at www.seanjordancomedian.com or check out some people it’s running, for some people it’s art. “All Fantasy Everything,” available on all podcast Whatever it is, I think it’s extremely important applications. to have that… otherwise it’ll wreck you.” 29
Accessibility in the World of Freelance Chloe Johnson | Contributing Writer
Credit: Clark Van Der Beken, Unsplash
Credit: Monarch Collaborative
Two years after the start of a global pandemic, and freelancing is a hotter topic than ever. As the world continues to change around us, work/life balance has become increasingly important for many - and as a result, freelancing is on the rise. According to a survey conducted by Upwork and Edelman, the majority of the American workforce will be freelancing in the future. In fact, in the last decade the number of freelancers deemed highly skilled has grown by half. Disabled people are playing a huge part in this movement, especially in recent years, as the amount of disabled people increase due to issues such as Long Covid. Disability can happen to anybody at any time, and whilst making sure things are accessible is primarily to help disabled people, access can help everyone experiencing situational issues which may prevent them from accessing things like technology or buildings. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability. That’s one in five adults who are disabled in some way or another.
Disabled people are freelancing for a majority of reasons. Some people enjoy the ability to be their own boss, set their own schedule, and work on projects they enjoy. On the other hand, many disabled people also need to take more time off than normal jobs can offer, can’t access a workplace or interview, or have found themselves discriminated against in the workplace.
Previous Page: Working from home allows for flexibility in productivity habits, such as working from the floor. Left: Jamie D’Amato of Maybe So Creative says that freelancing from home allows her to create a schedule and workspace catered to her individual needs. Photo courtesy Jamie D’Amato.
Jamie D’Amato of Maybe So Creative - a creative “It’s never ever boring, because there’s always studio that builds accessible brands, websites and something new and different on the horizon.” experiences - is one such disabled person who One of the benefits of freelancing is being able to benefits from freelancing. optimize your work area - a positive which can “I love the ability to work from home, in my own make all the difference when a disabled person space, monitoring my own schedule,” says D’Amato. needs a particular chair, to work in an “unusual” “Since I’m autistic, being in an office environment format without being judged (many people with can be really exhausting. When I was a kid and ADHD, such as myself, like to work on the floor!), had to go to school for eight hours a day, I used to or to take medicine during work hours. D’Amato have terrible migraines multiple times per week has designed her work setup in the perfect way from the overstimulation. It can be hard for me for her, and describes a typical day of freelancing: to all-the-way focus when I’m also preoccupied with masking and seeming ‘normal’ to the outside “I work from home and I have a nice desk setup, view. So just having my own space, having privacy, so I will start my day by checking messages and and working at my own pace is a game changer. I making a to-do list before going on a coffee run can stim and fidget and spin in my chair and sing to a local coffee shop. I love that freelancing is all out loud and hang out with my emotional support over the place; you get to work on all different projects, which helps me not get bored with my dog, Luna.” ADHD. But that also needs a little extra layer of D’Amato also appreciates that freelancing allows organization, so that’s where my daily to-do list her to wear many hats. She puts this down to her comes in to prioritize my tasks for the day. Once ADHD, saying she loves to “try lots of things” and I’ve prioritized my tasks and am armed with coffee, doesn’t want to get bored doing similar projects I dive into work, whatever that may be. I generally do two to three work sessions throughout the all the time. day with breaks between for social media and “Freelancing lets me choose what projects I want personal projects, and end the day between 4 p.m. to work on and manage my own time,” she says. and 6 p.m., depending on my workload.”
However, for disabled individuals, accessibility does not cease to be a problem just because you’re working for yourself, or in your own home. Many full-time disabled freelancers will struggle with the lack of sick pay and lack of other benefits that come with a full-time job. Getting a nice desk setup that works for you is all well and good, but having to finance it yourself can be an issue, as can taking time off for doctor’s appointments or sick days. For those with chronic illness, this can be even trickier. When every day is some degree of a sick day, how do you know when to stop?
“There’s such a culture around hustling and grinding, or around being a brand, and it’s a really toxic mindset for people who are just trying to get through the day and pay bills,” says D’Amato. Whilst giving up sick-pay and benefits may sound like choices freelancers have made, the truth is that many disabled people find themselves freelancing due to a lack of accessible options in full-time or part-time work. The lack of sick-pay and benefits is the trade-off to finding a modicum of comfort or accessibility with their work or working at all. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, disabled people are almost twice as likely to be self-employed than nondisabled people, and whether its due to lack of physically accessibility, discrimination in the hiring process or workplace, or an inability for their disability to work with the rigid routine of an office - freelancing is the only viable option for many disabled individuals.
So, how do we make it a more accessible option? Better communication and discussion of everything to do with freelancing - from pay grades, to job postings, to transparency about the work environment and disability itself - can all help disabled individuals, and their non-disabled freelance counterparts, put their energy to freelancing work which will pay them well, honor their access needs, and actually communicate. So much of freelancing is a mystery as it can change from job to job. This is its biggest draw to people who like to bounce around different creative projects, but without pulling back the curtain and helping new freelancers on their journey, we are stalling who is allowed in.
with neurodivergent or disabled folks, and just communicating with freelancers,” says D’Amato. “Accessibility is so often an afterthought, if anything, so asking for accommodations becomes the disabled person’s problem which can really make you feel like a burden.
I would also add that I hate that a lot of freelancing is about networking. You get jobs from word of mouth, and you have to start with low-paid jobs and work your way up to things. I feel like networking is set up to make a lot of disabled folks fail and I wish there was a better way for people to find lucrative work and build up business, because I think that’s a huge obstacle for people who would maybe want to freelance but don’t know how to get started building a client list.”
There are collectives which are now beginning to focus on the talent that disabled people can bring to freelance roles. With Not For is an initiative designed to put disabled candidates in both freelance and full-time roles, dedicated to connecting employers and recruiters with disabled talent. It is initiatives like these, as well as open and honest communication between disabled and non-disabled freelancers, which will help open up the industry to fixing its issues and flaws. Whilst a lack of sick pay is inherent in freelancing, if we are to focus on getting disabled individuals wellpaying roles that respect the skills they bring to the table, this will become less of a problem as an impromptu sick day won’t risk a good proportion of income. Discussion of things such as expenses in freelance roles is another way to make it more accessible to disabled people; assuming everyone can drive, or can take public transport with little notice, is another way we are excluding disabled people. Similarly with rights and insurance making sure all people, but especially vulnerable people, have access to information around this is vital.
It all boils down to talking. If disabled people aren’t part of the conversation, how can we be part of the outcome? Raising awareness, avoiding stigma, and communicating is the best way to allow disabled people to access freelancing in the healthiest and best way for them. This should be on every company’s agenda list, especially those who are hiring freelancers. Disabled freelancers “I wish people in general knew better deserve the chance to enjoy our role just as much communication skills, both in communicating as anyone.
There’s Something About Kim An Examination of the Qualities That Define Success in Any Industry
Eddie Velazquez Contributing Writer
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h her podcast “Bold Like Her,” where Douglas t Boston-area businesswomen to the world. Douglas highlights women’s stories about repreneurship, as well what led them to viders, sellers of goods, job creators, and ommunity.
everyone has got a story to tell,” Douglas said w. “It doesn’t matter where you came from, ow old you are. There is a lot of blood, sweat, very single one of those business stories.”
mall business started in her native she opened a mobile DJ business, playing while also working as a prolific radio host by
nce] can be really challenging with radio ormats are changing all the time,” Douglas s done it all, from shows with country music, n talk radio. “I was able to kind of keep a adelphia for about 20 years. I am very proud
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ad already made the decision to become a ell Banker Real Estate. Douglas’ willingness ate class, mixed with her perseverance, led sion. This new career path also brought an lesson for Douglas.
d to learn how to just market myself, prospect st keep doing that over and over,” Douglas o a good job because your reputation is on ver going to get repeat business if you don’t and do a good job for your clients.”
ce as a Realtor and helping people make lifepurchases, Douglas also found herself.
“When I was in radio, I felt as if I was young and I didn’t know much about finances or small business or anything like that,” she says. “I really feel that once I switched careers, I started to understand entrepreneurship more as I started helping people make one of the biggest purchases they will ever make.”
Her connections made throughout the years in radio eventually translated into clients in her career as a Realtor.
“Some of my first clients were people who listened to me on the radio because they already knew, liked, and trusted me,” Douglas says. “It is important that in any small business you understand who your audience is and why they feel the way they do about your business and about working with you.”
Eventually, in building her audience, Douglas came across podcasting, a medium that takes full advantage of her experience and ability as a radio host. “The moment I sat in that studio with headphones on, in front of a microphone, it was like magic,” says Douglas, whose podcast has more than 100 episodes. “To have this part of me come alive again has helped me love everything else that I do even more.” For entrepreneurs looking to build up their network, Douglas offers sturdy advice.
“You are never too old to try anything new. You really are not. Networking is amazing,” according to Douglas. “I love the fact that networking has become a little cooler these days and a little less about going to events wearing your name tag and giving your elevator pitch.” Douglas added she has seen the networking game change.
“People are just coming up with great events and activities in order to get to know people,” she said, noting that networking is now more focused on getting to know other members of the business community by doing activities or participating in challenges. “I think we’re in a different world now.”
Another important piece of advice for Douglas is perseverance. From her time in radio, to now a successful career in real estate and the podcasting world, Douglas has been through it all.
“Keep going,” she says, noting that empowerment has been very important in her life. “I have been punched in the gut a few times in life, but I just keep going.”
Credit: Yoann Siloine, Unsplash
Credit: StellrWeb, Unsplash
Managing Finances As a Freelancer or Small Business Owner
Riley Fortier | Contributing Writer Starting a new career as a small business owner or freelancer can be exciting, but confusing to navigate financially. Saving money can feel daunting, taxes seem more complex, and you don’t have an employer contributing to your retirement fund. This is why financial literacy is a critical skill for anyone who is self-employed. River Nice, owner of a small financial planning firm, and Kaitlyn Arford, an experienced freelance writer, share their tips for successfully managing money when you are self-employed. This information may vary by country, and it is important to note that a few specific tips in this article may apply to American audiences more so than others. Continued on following page.
With tips from:
River Nice, Financial Planner
Kaitlyn Arford, Freelance writer
www.beintentionalfinancial.com Instagram: @rivernice.financialplanner
www.kaitlynarford.com Twitter: @kaitarford
Saving money as a freelancer or small business owner is different from saving money as an employee at a company. Kaitlyn Arford puts it simply: there isn’t a set amount of money a freelancer can rely on like someone could at a typical salaried or hourly job. Arford calls this the “feast or famine” cycle, in which there will be points of the year where you get a lot of income and have “extra” money. Then there are months where it will be slow and those “feast” months will help finance you for these parts of the year. Unfortunately, there’s not a fool-proof way to plan for this. Some months are slower than others, but there are some tips to help make that easier.
Courtesy: Kaitlyn Arford
As a freelancer, Arford puts away 30% of the income from every article she writes into its own savings account that she has dedicated for taxes. This also helps her set her prices per article, because she’s thinking about how much she will actually make with that 30% taken out.
River Nice says you should have a separate bank account for your small business and for your personal finances. First, you should pay your business expenses, then you should pay yourself, and then you can pay/save for what Nice calls “joy expenses,” things like personal goals, vacations, etc.. After a while, you can estimate how much you make on a month-to-month basis to try and stabilize how much you’re paying yourself (but this does take some time).
Filing Taxes American accountants and finance specialists say you should put away 30% of your income for taxes. This is because normally that 30% would be taken out of your bi-weekly pay stub at a traditional job for state and federal taxes. When you work for yourself, this isn’t taken out; you get the full revenue, but you still will have to owe this 30% back at the end of the tax year.
owner that you might not have been able to write off while working with a traditional employer. Arford writes off things she uses while working from home, like her phone bill, part of her office space/rent, part of her internet bill, etc. Nice additionally writes off any other type of business expense like their marketing materials, software, or contractors/coaches they use for their business.
The first year of freelancing is a bit more challenging because you won’t really know how much you’ll be making or how much you’ll need to owe at the end of the year. However, after the first year, you can set up quarterly tax payments to the government (based on last year’s earnings) so that you aren’t hit with the upfront cost all together at the end of the next tax year. On the other hand, there are some things that you can write off as a freelancer and small business
There are many different ways that you can keep track of this, and it’s up to personal preference. You could keep all the receipts in envelopes or in their own folder in your inbox. You could be like Arford and use an Excel sheet. Or, you can be like Nice and pay for a bookkeeping/expenses service to keep track. There are pros and cons to each, but it’s critical to find a sustainable method that works for you.
Preparing for Retirement The third consideration is retirement. For-profit companies offer a 401(k) retirement account and non-profit organizations offer 403(b). When you’re a freelancer or small business owner, you yourself have to make it a point to save for your own retirement because there’s not an account already set up for you that you can opt into. Nice lays out a couple different ways to do this.
from any other type of retirement account. Nice notes that there are some nuances when it comes to this, so make sure you check with a professional to see which option is best for you. Another option is either a SEP IRA or a Simple IRA. This is usually for individuals who can easily put away more than the $6,000 cap on a traditional or Roth IRA. Again, check with a professional to see if this is the right choice for you.
An IRA (Individual Retirement Account) is one way to save for retirement. You can create a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. A traditional IRA gives you an income tax break during the tax year in which you put money into the account. Once you put money into an IRA, don’t forget to invest the money by buying stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or similar investment products. A Roth IRA flips that. You pay your income taxes now while you’re not in retirement, and then you don’t have to pay them when you’re actually in retirement. A benefit to a Roth IRA is that if you take out retirement money before your actual retirement, you don’t have to pay any extra withdrawing penalties like you would
The biggest takeaway with these is that yes, you should be saving for retirement. Don’t just put money into an IRA account and let it sit there because, as Nice says, “that might as well just be cash under your mattress,” because it’s not growing over time. Don’t have a retirement account yet? Don’t panic! It’s not the end of the world. But, it is something you should look into. Arford laughs when she says that she doesn’t have a retirement account set up yet, but she does realize it’s important and she is planning on talking with a professional this year to help her get started.
Tech Tools for
A Deep Dive into Microsoft OneNote Micah Brown | Contributing Writer In writing my article on tools for small business for the last issue of No Cilantro, PleaseTM, I came across OneNote by Microsoft. Although it’s come standard on every computer I’ve owned since it came out, I’ve only poked at it a couple of times myself, trying to figure out how to get it to work for me in a variety of ways. Being an Inattentive ADHD-type who also has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), trying to find tools that work best for me has always been a passion of mine. This particular app is popular for both professional and personal organization, so I wanted to dig a little deeper into it. I became so fascinated by the dedication to this small piece of software that I noticed in various online communities. The more I learned about it, the more intrigued I became about finding a way to work it into my own routines. Right off the bat, I can see why so many people are such fans of OneNote, ranging from Mac users like myself to Windows users. There are even people who use it exclusively on their phones.
What is OneNote? OneNote, is as it sounds: a piece of software that is primarily used as a way to keep notes, jot down thoughts, and collaborate with people from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The basic interface of OneNote
provides the user with a list of their open notebooks, and within each notebook are sections that can be broken down further into pages. Each page can be a collection of different inputs, from photos to text to handwriting to web-snippets. It’s a catchall that can then be used to take all this information and organize it into something cohesive.
can see and respond to, I have been informed, is incredibly useful and has helped to contain miscommunications and provide a more accurate view of the overall project status. If you have more than one project going, you could have separate notebooks shared with separate groups of people in order to better track the progress of both.
Perhaps one of the most striking things I discovered in speaking Another OneNote fan I spoke with, with users is how differently Jessica Hussiere, talked about her love of Check-Lists within a people use this tool. collaboration. Being able to see Organize Multiple Projects others checking things off their to-do list allowes her to keep up I spoke with Ian Graham, a Master’s with her part of the projects more candidate from Massachusetts easily. Instead of needing to send Institute of Technology who an email to ask if something had uses OneNote to organize his been completed, she could just professional and educational check the Notebook section for lives. While pursuing a Master’s that project and find out. degree, Graham also manages the tech department of his company. Flexibility It is critical for him to keep his work and educational projects Perhaps the one thing that attracts separate, but close at hand with me so heavily toward OneNote is one cohesive system. its flexibility. As somebody who has tried to do a Bullet Journal, attempted to use Omni-Focus, Collaboration and has dabbled in a variety of Perhaps the most frequently other Organization type software touted response when asked titles, having the ability to turn about some of the most useful any notebook into what you need features was commentary on the it to be is liberating. collaboration feature, especially within teams whose members My personal experience with are sometimes separated by OneNote during this adventure continents and oceans. Being has been a positive one. That’s able to have a localized base of not to say that it’s flawless, but operations where people can I’ve managed to put together a share their notes, mark off items variety of notebooks for both my on their task list that others professional and personal lives.
The Importance of PR and Marketing for Small Businesses Liana DeMasi | Contributing Writer
tarting a business is an unbelievable feat. You start with a dream and a mission, which then turns into a business plan, product samples, or service ideas, and extends all the way to a digital or physical storefront. From the outset, you’re bound to have the support of your inner circle, and maybe even some connections outside of it, but for true expansion and visibility, you need a PR and marketing strategy. Without one, you’re missing out on a lot.
“Without marketing, you’re missing opportunities because you’re not in front of people. You’re not in the right places,” says Jackie Zuk, Founder of NEXTonSCENE Media, a 360-public relations company. “You’re also missing out on a chance to grow.” Without proper advertisement and outreach, your sales from your initial customer base is at risk of stagnation. Your current clientele will want updates about new products and services, and any changes to your business model or mission.
While social media and having an online presence can seem daunting, it’s actually one of the best ways to set your business apart. We live in a highly digital and engaged world, one that’s bogged down and overwhelmed by an excess of content. Making your social media or website a different kind of destination helps your business rise above the homogenous material out there. But it doesn’t have to be a whole production. In fact, between 80 and 90% of online customers value authenticity and transparency from the business These marketing plans will also accounts they follow. “If it doesn’t recruit new customers, widening feel organic, don’t do it,” Zuk the scope of your sale’s base. continues. “And don’t post every Without targeted outreach, people day. It’s about engagement, not won’t know your business exists. how much you post. If you’re Word of mouth is an excellent posting for the sake of posting, marketing tool, but with the people are going to know.” advent of technology, a global pandemic, and the rise of social One perk of being a small media, it doesn’t normally serve business owner is that you’re not as the sole route for exposure. plagued by the encompassing (Unless you run, say, a speakeasy). and often disingenuous nature
Opposite page: Jackie Zuk, Founder of NEXTonSCENE Media. Right: As a PR/marketing pro and a small business owner herself, Zuk emphasizes the importance of promoting your company and yourself. Photos courtesy Jackie Zuk.
of corporate life. Within that, you’re able to engage with your clientele in a uniquely personal way. Letting your customers know what your business represents and stands for can help amplify engagement and connectivity amongst everyone involved, encouraging community-based discourse while increasing sales. There are so many routes one can take to market for their small business. Word of mouth, social media engagement, SEO-blog posts, events, getting in the press, influencer marketing -- the list goes on. In theory, it might sound feasible to handle on your own,
and for some steps, that might be true. But certain outreach tools might have you feeling burnt out and overwhelmed. “You need to test run things on your own before you know what you’re an expert in,” Zuk says. “As a start up, you don’t have money to spend on marketing. Go on Youtube and learn there. Do whatever is cost effective. Whatever you enjoy, continue to do. But whatever feels like a burden, outsource it. You need these strategies, but if it feels like a burden, it’s never going to get done.” Try to look at marketing as a healthy and valid means of
bragging. You believe in your business. It’s why you started it to begin with. Putting yourself out there via press interviews or releases, hosting virtual or inperson events and having social media giveaways, are all viable marketing tools. Zuk says, “It’s always the places you least expect that are the biggest networking opportunities.” So make a Twitter account. Make some TikTok content. Write SEOblogs. Foster press connections. There are people in the world who are seeking a business, service, or product just like yours. Let them know you’re out there.
Will AI Replace Human Copywriters? Aya Lanzoni | Editor
Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way we do, well, everything. From education and ecommerce, to administrative tasks, and even driving, you name it, there’s probably an AI for that - including copywriting! AI copywriting can be a helpful resource for those who cannot or do not want to write for one reason or another, but will it put writers (like myself) out of the job? Like many applications for AI, copywriting is best when it compliments, not replaces, humans.
46 Credit: Efe Kurnaz, Unsplash
Humans have emotions, AI does not Authenticity and empathy both play a large factor into why AI will not replace humans. Writing tools do not naturally have human empathy. Although these writing tools can have a tone chosen for a particular topic, such as Writesonic, nothing can replace the “real life” human anecdote or experience, which can drive emotions when writing a piece. This could be the difference between keeping your reader engaged, albeit a blog post, article, and more. Let us take a look at the content creation process, for example. Content curation is a unique, creative process to come up with a topic or idea that you want to write about, deciding what direction you want it to take, then being able to turn that idea into a strategy.
How can copywriters use AI writing tools to their benefit? If you are strapped for time, or procrastinated until the last minute for a writing assignment (you know, being a human, that happens), AI may help you kickstart your creative flow. Alternatively, if you are having writer’s block, AI writing tools could provide options and suggestions for you, such as CopyAI.
increase traffic and sales to their websites. Higher rankings with search engines like Bing, Google, or Yahoo! help more people consume the information they are interested in, and artificial intelligence software cannot do this without human assistance as society develops. Many copywriters in today’s world compliment their honed writing skills with SEO, which also involves keyword research. AI tools can assist in the curation of original content, but cannot develop and formulate a strategy, which is where human empathy and emotion are still needed.
Speed Up the writing process For sales and marketing companies, AI writing tools like Jasper can assist with speeding along the writing process, especially if you are on a deadline. AI does not get writer’s block, or slow down the writing process, and can quickly spit out content. This can also assist in writing tedious tasks, such as creating product descriptions for similar products, or producing templates, all with slight variations and suggestions, depending on the approach you want to take. Keep in mind that you will have to edit the content prior to submitting it.
Brainstorming topics or ideas
Have no fear, fellow copywriter
As a human copywriter, it can be difficult to come up with ideas, especially if your job or project involves content creation. Content creation is exactly what it sounds like: “Content creation is the process of identifying a new topic you want to write about, deciding which form you want the content to take, formalizing your strategy (keyword or otherwise), and then actually producing it. (content.com)
AI tools will not replace humans. While it may seem like a good idea, ultimately human copywriters have empathy and creativity, whereas AI can only output data. There are ways that you can use AI writing tools to your advantage, especially when it comes to:
Content can come in many different forms: video, text, images, infographics, gifs, and more. As a content creator, you have to know your target audience and cater your content to your audience. AI can assist with getting the process started, and help you brainstorm ideas or topics if you are having “writer’s block” or trouble starting an assignment due to lack of creativity.
Copywriting for the Web Search Engine Optimization, also widely known as SEO, is a unique instance in which copywriters can use AI writing tools to their advantage. SEO is important for businesses of all sizes who want to
• • • • • •
Copywriting for the web Brainstorming topics or content ideas Headline creation Ad copy Automating tedious writing tasks (product descriptions, email templates, etc.) SEO Writing
At the end of the work day, it’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to the different AI writing tools that are available. Artificial intelligence alone cannot produce the tear-jerking, heart-string-pulling content you see in the creative arts industries. Utilizing a great copywriter alongside AI may help push your business forward, as well as be authentic in your messaging.
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