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Tag Archives: freelancing

Can Freelance Professionals Benefit From The Affordable Care Act?

In light of the major healthcare reforms that have been under way since 2010, many Americans are wondering how their occupation will affect their future access to healthcare.

Freelance professionals are among the most unique of these groups, since freelancing and consulting work spans nearly all disciplines and income levels. In this regard, a freelance designer who makes next to nothing is in the same boat as a well-paid, freelance architect.

And it’s not just because neither of these individuals has a salaried job.

5 Reasons Your Business Is Begging You For a Freelancer

“Welcome to the world of small business owners! We’re so happy you’re here! Come, let us show you the ropes.”

Not quite the reception you got when you dropped anchor and officially launched your small business? No one laid out the red carpet for you? The truth is, the beginning can be quite rocky for a small business owner, with a lot of twists, turns and unexpected bumps on the road.

One of the most notable and notorious bumps is the seemingly never-ending costs and financial surprises that will keep hitting your wallet in a most unpleasant way. It takes a lot of cold, hard cash to launch your business and in some cases, there’s nothing you can do about it, such as product quality, quantity, research or education costs, etc., etc. In other cases, however, there is something you can do and that is where…The Great and Awesome Freelancer comes in.

Freelancers come in many shapes and sizes, with many different specialties, but they all have one thing in common: amazing potential to downsize the “expenditures” column on your budgeting spreadsheet.

Here are 5 reasons you should consider the freelancer market today:

1)      The Cost.

Like any established writing firm, graphic design corporation or other service provider, freelancers run the gamut of what they charge, but in general, they are much, much cheaper than their big box counterparts. Freelancers often work from home, which translates into little to no overhead costs, and work for themselves, which means the money goes straight into their pockets. Without all those nasty little detours your money must take in a big corporation, you will probably find that you need only part with much less.

Why You Should Stop Working at Noon Everyday

When it comes to wasting time in front of a computer, I’m a triple black belt.
Over the last 4 years of working for myself, I’ve wasted not just hours or even days in front of a computer, but weeks, if not months.
I’ve got entrepreneurs ADD in the worst way possible. Focus has always been a challenge for me, so I’m actually pretty amazed I’ve been able to get as much done with my business as I have.
I’ve thought many times about getting medication for this, and many people I know, and even good friends of mine have had major positive changes going this route.
But I’ve always felt there should be a better way.
I’ve tried accountability groups, productivity apps, and all sorts of other gimmicks for getting more stuff done, but on their own, nothing seemed to work.
Recently I spent some time reviewing and considering what’s important to me in life. I’m a lifestyle entrepreneur, my whole goal with my businesses is to give me more time to do the things I want to do – yet I often find that all I’m doing is spending more time at my computer in a desperate attempt at being productive.
You see our whole lives we’ve had the idea of a 9 to 5 workday ingrained in us. 4 years of entrepreneurship later, and that still hasn’t completely gone away. In fact, it’s gotten worse in someways. Now instead of 9 to 5, it’s more like 6 am to midnight.
There’s always something you could be doing, so there are times I feel that work never really shuts off for me. A big part of this problem is that when I’m actively working, I’m not getting as much done as I should.
It’s kind of like how in a day job where you’re underworked, you drag things out to fill out the day. I do a similar thing, except because I have so much to do, I often get paralyzed into inaction and do nothing instead.
It was this recent re-evaluation that led me to try an experiment.
I told myself, what if I were to only allowed to work until noon everyday?
The hypothesis was I could get twice as much done as an average work day, in half the time.
The results have surprised even me.

The pros and the cons of living and working abroad for extended periods of time

This post is the first of a two part post about living and working abroad for extended periods of time.

When I got my online business to the point where it was bringing in consistent money in 2008, one of the first things I did was plan a three month trip outside of the US, to Costa Rica.  At that point I had lived in the Chicago area for about 12 years and I was ready for a change.  I had always wanted to travel, but up until that point really didn’t have the free time or money to do any sort of extensive traveling.  So when my business got to the point that I was making enough money to live off of, I booked a one way flight to Costa Rica and embarked on a life changing journey.

After about three months of traveling around Costa Rica, staying in hostels and experiencing more freedom and adventure than I ever had in my life prior to this point, I met a girl.  We hit it off well enough that I decided to extend my trip indefinitely.  Three months turned into a year.  A year turned into two years and before I knew it, I was a full blown expat.  I ended up spending nearly a year in the colonial city of Granada, Nicaragua.  Six months in Costa Rica.  Another six months in Panama.  I experienced a lot and grew a lot during this period.  This period was simultaneously one of the most exhilarating and challenging periods of my life.

In this post I want to explore both the pros and cons of living abroad.  Because although I don’t regret a minute of the time I spent abroad, it wasn’t always easy.  There are many advantages to living abroad, but there are many drawbacks as well.   This post will explore the good, the bad and the ugly, when it comes to working online as an expat.

First, for this post, let’s start with the good news….

The Dollar Goes Further –  One of the books that really inspired me early on was Tim Ferris’ “The Four Hour Workweek”.  In the book, Tim explains a concept he calls “Geo Arbitrage”.  The idea is simple, make money in one currency (the dollar in my case) and spend it in another, weaker currency.  Depending on where you go, if you’re making money in dollars, there are many places where the dollar will go much, much further , relative to the US.  At one point when I was living in Granada, Nicaragua I rented a one bedroom condo with a pool inside my condo for 500 dollars a month.  The pool was inside my unit!  Later I rented a two bedroom, fully refurnished colonial house, complete with courtyard and garden for 550 dollars a month.

Most of the places I have lived during my time abroad have had a lower cost of living compared to the US.  I’m currently in the Dominican Republic where a 10 mile taxi ride costs about 80 cents.  In Chicago that would cost me about 20 dollars.  Movies here are 3 dollars, compared to about ten dollars in Chicago.  Rent is cheaper.  Beer is cheaper. Entertainment is cheaper.  In general,  life is cheaper.

Everything Is Different –  The first place I spent an extended amount of time in was Granada, Nicaragua.  This city couldn’t be more different than what I was used to living in the US.  There is a novelty to living in a place that is radically different than where you grew up that, at least in the beginning, is intoxicating.  In Granada, horse drawn carriages still line the streets, the buildings are all colonial and most were constructed several hundred years ago.  Spanish is the native language and most locals don’t speak English.  Of course this novelty wears off after awhile and the reality of where you’re living sets in.  But in the beginning, this change of perspective is expansive and enlightening and I think one of the most positive aspects of traveling and experiencing other cultures.

Beautiful Women (And Men) Who Want To Date You – This one of course only applies to the single readers of my site and I don’t want to focus too much on this aspect of international travel in this post.  But the reality is that many countries that I have traveled to in Latin America and the Carribean are filled with attractive singles, many of whom are intrigued with the idea of dating a foreigner.  I have dated several latin women during my time abroad and could probably write an entire book about the pros and cons of dating latin women, but since we’re still focusing on the positive side of traveling abroad, I’ll focus on the positives.

I have no doubt dated better looking women abroad than I have in the states.  As a foreigner you’ll by default be perceived as having higher status when you travel to many countries.  This of course doesn’t mean that everyone will want to date you and sleep with you.  I have been rejected just as harshly and painfully while traveling and living abroad as I have in the states.  But if you are relatively decent looking man or women, who isn’t past their prime, you should have no problem finding a wide range of potential singles to have relationships with, if you’re open to that.   Of course to really connect with someone from another culture you’ll need to have a basic grasp of their language, get to know their culture and make an effort to assimilate into their way of life.  But if you’re open to it, dating someone from another culture can be one of the most eye opening and exhilarating experiences of your life.  And it can help immensely with the next item on my list, which is….

The Chance To Learn A Foreign Language – There’s no better way to learn a foreign language than to immerse yourself in a foreign culture.  I took a year of Spanish when I was in high school and within about a year had forgotten pretty much everything I learned except “come se llama”.  When you travel and spend extensive amounts of time abroad you’ll be forced to interact in whatever language is native to the country you’re traveling in.  In my case, I’ve spent the most amount of time traveling in Latin America and would consider myself fluent, at least in conversational Spanish, at this point.

Learn another language is like being give the keys to a whole different lens and will allow you access to learning about people and cultures in a way that simply isn’t possible if you don’t speak the local language.  It’s also one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.  There’s just something so exciting about sitting down and connecting with someone in a new language.  In my case, I feel like I have access to an almost different personality.  There’s the old American me and the new latin Aaron that I become when I’m intereacting in Spanish.  It’s hard to explain, but you’ll know it when you experience it.

You Will Grow As A Person – There is something about immersing yourself into a new and strange place that will force you to grow as a person.  This category really fits into both the pro and con part of living abroad at the same time.  If you never move out of your comfort zone, it’s nearly impossible to grow as a person.  Of course there are plenty of ways to do this without ever leaving your native country.  But when you travel abroad to many places you can’t escape moving out of your comfort zone.  My first several months living in Granada were some of the most scary and exciting months of my life.  Other than my new girlfriend, I knew very few people at the time.  My Spanish was horrible at this point and I was literally afraid to leave my house for awhile.  Just going to the local supermarket was a challenge.  I experienced major culture shock!  Of course, I got over this.  I made new friends, my Spanish improved greatly and over time I became very comfortable in my new environment.   But it took a while, and I attribute this period to one of the biggest periods of growth I’ve been through in my life.

 

I’m sure I could go on and on about other positive aspects to traveling, but I have a date with a hot latin women in about twenty minutes, so I’m going to sign off for now.  Although in my next post I’ll explore some of the downsides of traveling and living abroad, I want to stress that I think the positives by far outweigh the negatives.  But, in an effort to be as sincere and straightforward as possible, in my next post I’ll explore some of the downsides of living and working abroad.  Believe me, there are plenty!