Harmony, Social Media Manager

Harmony Guavabean

Hi! I'm Harmony and I'm from California.

I grew up in a coastal town just outside of Los Angeles. When I was twenty, I moved across the world to Australia on my own in search of travel, work and adventure! 

Being truly spontaneous, I ended up falling in love while I was living in Melbourne! Now, almost two years later, he and I are currently based in Cairns and travel together as often as possible.

What do you say when people ask "What do you do?"    

I am a freelance Content Writer and Social Media Manager. This basically means I write blog posts, website copy and articles for businesses. I also offer social media management for ongoing clients. 

How many years have you been freelancing? 

I actually only started freelancing about a year ago! I've learned a LOT so far and still have a lot to learn.

Why did you get started with online/freelance work?

It actually wasn't something I had set out to do, but more like an opportunity that fell into my lap. Once I started, I realized that online work was the best job to have for my travel-addicted self. If I could take my work with me, travel became so much more possible.

Where did you find your first paid freelancing job?
My boyfriend is a Videographer and started making a video course for a health & wellness coaches here in Australia. After meeting him, he mentioned that he needed someone to manage his social media and asked if I would be willing to help. 

I had never had a client before, and knew nothing about freelancing, but I couldn't say "no" to such a great opportunity. Once I started, I realized I could do it for other people and began growing from there.

How did you price your services when you were just starting out? 

It was tricky at first, but I realized that it all comes down to timing. How long a project takes me to complete, from start to finish, based on an hourly rate. I also consider the cost of the computer programs I use for freelance work and how much I need to make to cover my basic expenses.

Most freelancers try several jobs before settling down. What jobs did you try before choosing your current occupation?
So many! I've done everything from bartending to working in an office and even being a travel agent. I still take on new projects and part-time jobs to keep things interesting. That's one of the best thing about freelancing: it gives you the freedom to try new things and discover new interests. 

What are your favorite things about freelancing/working from home? 

I love the independence! Without having a boss looking over my shoulder, I'm able to get my work done at my own pace. It makes me feel more in charge of my success and more productive.

What's your LEAST favorite thing about freelancing/working from home?    

It's easy to get cabin fever working from home. Joining local co-working spaces and working from different environments helps to keep home feeling like a relaxing place rather than a work environment.

How long did it take for you to feel like a "successful" freelancer. Until you were able to pay your bills regularly without worrying? 

To be honest, I think I'm still figuring this one out. I've realized that it can often be feast or famine, especially with one-off projects. 

I have had months where I was able to sustain myself on freelance work alone and others when I needed a part-time job to feel more secure. 

I think freelancing, much like building a business, needs time before it becomes self-sustainable.

Looking back to when you were just getting started... what tool, tip, or resource do you wish was available to you back then? What would've made your journey into freelancing MUCH easier?    

I wish I would have known not to put so much pressure on myself. I always struggled with figuring out what I wanted to do in life, and I still change my mind daily! 

Now I know that being a confused 20-something is totally normal and it just means that you get to try new things and discover new passions.

What's your favorite way to find new clients and job opportunities? What worked the best for you?    

Funny enough, Facebook has actually been an amazing resource! 

I have found work by contacting potential clients in Facebook groups and interacting in those groups as much as I can. One of my best clients came from a comment I made on someone else's Facebook page, you just never know!

What are the top 5 tools you use most often in your daily work?    

Right now I use CanvaTrelloSlackGoogle Drive, and Hootsuite

In your opinion, what's the most important quality or trait for a freelancer to have?    

You need to be able to manage yourself and set boundaries. With no boss looking over your shoulder, you need to make sure that you can stay disciplined and focused on getting tasks done. It takes a bit of practice to get into a rhythm but the independence and flexibility make it worthwhile!

What does your average Monday look like?

I am actually super busy at the moment, more than usual. These days I tend to work 8 + hours, but I always try to take weekends off. 

A typical Monday at the moment involves me glued to my computer getting stuff done, which I am grateful for! I enjoy hustling and have chosen to keep myself busy right now to save money for future travel plans.
On average, how many hours do you work on a regular weekday?

This has always changed with freelancing but right now I work a "normal" 40 hour work week. Ideally I would like to be working a bit less but that is something to work towards.
How do you stay motivated and focused when you don't feel like working? 
For long-term motivation, travel motivates me more than anything. I love being able to travel the world with my partner. If working like crazy and dealing with difficult clients means I can make my travel dreams a reality, then it is worth it to keep going. 

For short-term motivation, I know my mind will be able to rest easier and my clients will be happier when the work is done.

If I really don't feel like working, I'll give myself a break instead of trying to force creativity and motivation.

What was one of the biggest challenges or roadblocks that you had to overcome in your journey to be a successful freelancer?    

Difficult clients. When I had a job with a big company, I could always guarantee that I would get paid and get paid on time without a fuss. 

With solo business owners and clients, that’s not always guaranteed. Having a client who refused to pay me and who was inconsistent and unprofessional taught me a lot about freelancing.

What would you say to someone who asks "How can I find freelance jobs if I don't have much experience yet?"    

You just need to start! 

I had no experience as a social media manager when I first started, but working hard, asking questions and listening to what your clients want is key. Start small, and eventually you will build a portfolio. 

Now that you've experienced all the ups and downs of being a freelancer, would you go back to a regular 9-5 job?    

I would have a hard time doing a 9-5 job that kept me in an office all day doing the same thing! If it was an amazing job offer that let me do what I love, I would probably think about it.

If you could work from anywhere, what would be your dream work location?

Though I LOVE Australia, I really want to live in a Spanish speaking country next. I am fluent in Spanish and I actually have a client based in Ecuador at the moment who I write blogs in Spanish for. It really makes me want to experience Latin culture, which has always been familiar to me since my family is Colombian.

Do you have any work routines or habits that boost your productivity?
I try to take breaks often. I learned right away that sitting down staring a computer screen for hours at a time left me feeling exhausted.

I set myself an alarm and make sure to get up every 30 minutes to walk around, get some fresh air, or even just a glass of water. Breaking up the day with breaks helps prevent that burnt out feeling at the end of the day.

Your best interview tip?    

Confidence! If you don't have a lot of experience in something, make it clear why you are the best for the job. 

What do you wish other people knew about freelancing?

It is a lot more possible than you may think. 

With a bit of hard work and the right level of determination, you'll start to see those opportunities come to you. You don't have to be an expert programmer or marketing genius. I'm just a 22-year old travel-obsessed girl who doesn't even own a college degree yet! 

What advice would you give other people who are just getting started, but are still unsure about freelancing? 

Start out small. Don't succumb to the pressure of wanting to fully support yourself with freelancing right away. 

It takes time to build up a steady flow of work and clients. Start with smaller projects to get the ball rolling and gain experience. I started off by freelancing as a side hustle outside of my 9-5 job.

If you could go back to your early days as a freelancer and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Probably my advice from above, don't put so much pressure on yourself. I was unemployed when I first started freelancing and thought I could fully support myself right away. 

It ended up giving me anxiety trying to make ends meet every week with just small projects. I wish I hadn't put so much pressure on myself in the beginning.

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