Working From Home: Episode 6 – How to form positive habits and become a successful freelancer – with Ziev Beresh
In this episode of the Working From Home podcast, Nelson is joined by freelance copywriter and marketing consultant Ziev Beresh.
Topics of conversation include: battles we face as freelancers, learning how to be your own boss, different productivity strategies for various temperaments, taking responsibility and practicing discipline, working with overwhelm, professional development, and other topics.
[2:30] – Ziev shares his background as a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant.
[7:10] – Internal and external struggles that come with the freelancer territory. Learning to be your own manager.
[10:12] – Key habits and disciplines to keep yourself motivated when working from home.
[15:30] – Checking in with an “accountabuddy” on a weekly basis. Alternatives to online groups.
[18:27] – Getting work done in environments that are less than ideal. Keystone habits to ensure the important things get done.
[23:47] – Nelson contrasts his productivity strategies with those of Ziev.
[28:44] – Don’t be afraid to experiment with different productivity strategies. Find what’s right for you!
[32:46] – You are going to have good days and bad days. Take control and take responsibility for creating more good days for yourself.
[34:48] – Getting overwhelmed as a freelancer. Asking yourself, “why do I do this!”. Keep your eye on the prize, keep building your knowledge base and skillset.
[41:41] – Ziev shares his strategy for finding the right resources for professional development in any given field as a freelancer.
How to form positive habits and become a successful freelancer…
Nelson: Hi there, and welcome to another ‘Working From Home’ podcast with your host me, Nelson Jordan. Today, I’m thrilled to be joined with our guest Ziev Beresh. He is a copywriter and marketing consultant. How you doing, Ziev?
Ziev: Good. And you, Nelson.
Nelson: Fantastic. Thank you very much. Where are you speaking from today?
Ziev: So I’m speaking to you from Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is a mid-size American city in the state of Michigan, in the Midwest. And we’re known for our farmland and are no-longer functioning industry, as well as our great friendly spirit out here.
Nelson: Nice. So when you say kind of industry that isn’t there anymore, you’re referring to the automotive industry in Detroit, right?
Ziev: Yeah, you may have heard the American Rust Belt. I’m not trying to paint a bleak picture right off the bat. I’m just giving you the nature of the place. We have a lot going on in terms of cultural things. There’s a lot with breweries happening, and things like that. But historically, we were known as one of America’s industrial centers.
Nelson: Sure, no, I totally understand. We’ve all got these stereotypes that we associate with places and sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re not. But rarely do they tell the whole picture. I’m currently living in, well, near a place called Stoke, which is known kind of in the UK for probably just having a rough football club. But when you get out of the get out of the city and move to the countryside, we’re near the Wedgwood estate, which is known for pottery, and it’s just a stunning, stunning place within England, actually. So you’ve all got these kind of stereotypes and associations.
Ziev: And it’s fun to be self-deprecating toward your where you’re from as well.
Nelson: Oh, yeah. And I think, like the British are particularly good at self-deprecation, and all forms. But uh, thanks for thanks for joining us today. Would you mind telling, telling our audience what it is that you do?
Ziev: Yeah, so I am a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant. I currently work from home of course, and I have been freelancing for the past eight years, with a couple of job-roles sprinkled in between. My story, if you’d like me to get into it, is I am originally from the state of Michigan. My name again is Ziev and people tend to want to know where that’s from. So my mother’s from Israel; that’s where my name’s origin is. I graduated with a degree in English and a desire to write. That’s kind of where I started this whole ‘work from home’ journey. And I at that point, when I was first getting started, I didn’t necessarily know that I would be freelancing, I was kind of exploring whether I would pursue a path like that, whether I pursue more traditional job. So you know, that decision eventually became more clear, the more I lived. For example, I worked a retail part time job pretty soon after graduating to earn some money at first, and well, that didn’t last long. I knew I could do something I enjoyed more and even growing up, I’ve always been a bit of a homebody. And I know some of us are working home from necessity. But for me, it’s definitely been a preference. So that led to me realising that I should now begin pursuing a career as a writer and editor. So at this point, I still didn’t know I’d always be freelancing. Maybe I’d work at a publication, maybe I’d work at a local newspaper or business. I wasn’t necessarily set on the freelancing path, it’s just what seemed like a logical next step. So through my network, I got a project helping a local author self-publish her book on Amazon. And learning what I needed to learn through that process started to open my eyes toward the concept of writing online. And around that time, I also started taking odd jobs that I found posted on, at the time people actually, were first looking at Craigslist. I think some people actually still look at Craigslist, but you know, I would look on Craigslist and in Google and see who was hiring for jobs, writing blog posts or other content for their websites. So, in taking on this work, it led to learning more about, obviously working from home and starting to build that as a lifestyle, but also learning more about how to create and distribute content online. And I entered this quite deep rabbit hole, that I’m still underground in, of digital marketing and marketing strategies that could allow me to take my love for writing, but help my online writing be more effective in a number of ways. So, you know, in pursuing this, I took on other forms of writing, other projects. And this led to learning more about how to make my writing, not only digested, but also seen as widely as possible to the people I wanted to see it. And, in pursuit of this knowledge, I found a couple of agency roles where I was trained further in those skills. And that was a huge accelerator for me. I’m now I freelance as an online marketing copywriter, as I mentioned, and marketing consultant, I specialise in website copy, content marketing, and email marketing.
Nelson: In any particular type of industries?
Ziev: I’ve always been quite averse to pigeon-holing myself in one particular industry. And I found that I am a person who enjoys trying different things. So I found that I specialise in a few industries, I would say that my specialty surrounds ecommerce, marketing industry itself, the digital marketing industry, and tech as well. So those are where I tend to concentrate on in terms of my client work. Hmm,
Nelson: Great. So it seems like you’ve had a few different things there. You’ve worked for yourself fully, you’ve worked through agency roles, and had that training there. What’s some of the things that you’ve struggled with going into freelancing.
Ziev: Well, nothing actually. No, actually, I have to tell you, there’s many struggles when you’re first, starting with freelancing. And I think you can divide those struggles as external and internal. So I have to tell you that there is a learning curve to freelancing. It’s whether you are at the beginning of your career or making the switch. Either way, there’s a collection of challenges associated with freelancing that you have to overcome. And chief among them, in my mind, is yourself. It’s really staying motivated and disciplined and focused. And this is the chief challenge that freelancers face, and anybody working from home faces, but it’s also what unlocks your ability to achieve everything else.
Nelson: So managing yourself, basically?
Ziev: Yes, you have to manage yourself. And to speak to that I think that, in our society we’re often really conditioned to not manage ourselves, from school, to our first job experiences toward the traditional job market, we’re always conditioned to look for the cues from others of what we should be doing. And when that person is you now, it’s definitely a part of your brain that needs to be developed and optimised. And it’s a continual thing. It’s not something that happens overnight.
Nelson: Yeah, just to jump in there, I like that concept in terms of, you can kind of see it with the way most of us grew up. So as you said, rightly, in school were supposed to be at a certain place at a certain time, and the learning that we’re going to be doing that day is already mapped out. The teacher has already said, this is the curriculum, this is what they’re expected to teach that term. This is the topic, this is how it breaks down, week by week. And this is what you’re going to be learning on the lesson today. So it’s already made, you know, you rock up, you put your bag down, get your pencil case out, probably mess around for a little bit, and then you’re expected to kind of sit there, digest it. And then you get maybe to high school, it’s a similar thing. And then you pass to go to university where it’s a little bit different. And you’re expected to kind of be this self-motivator. You can turn up to lectures, you know, sometimes they don’t miss you if you’re not there, you’re kind of expected to just turn things in. But if you don’t go to university, then you get straight into it. And you’re you may find yourself working and having to manage your own time, being accountable to yourself, having to motivate yourself. I mean, this is a super wide question. So I think we’ll have to dig down. But how do you do it? How’s the best way for me to say something like, habits and discipline?
Ziev: So that is the question, but the preface, because, you know, I find myself listening to other audio programmes where this topic comes up, and you hear the voice talking. And it sounds like they have it all figured out. And I want to preface and let everybody know people are probably listening to me, and thinking, I have a wonderful home office to do all this work in. Well, I used to, but right now, I live in a one bedroom apartment with my fiancé, who also works from home. Our kitchen, our living room, and our workstation are all in the same main living area. And on top of all that, that workstation that I just mentioned, is actually a desk that my fiancé and I share. So when one of us has a call, the other goes in the bedroom. You can imagine, it’s difficult to have just yourself working from home, let alone two people sharing one room, one desk, one workspace. So I just wanted to say that, when talking about motivation and discipline; keeping your environments top of mind and being aware of where you are, is very important. First of all, because it’s easy to compare your motivation and discipline abilities to someone else, but you don’t have to take account the context in which you’re in and the and the challenges and distractions that you have to overcome. But some of us have a great work environment, some of us do not. So right now, we’re searching for a house where we can finally have our own offices. But right now, the housing market in our state is a little bit wonky, and we’re kind of waiting it out. So to answer your actual question, you know, motivation, like we already touched on, we’re conditioned to have others motivate us. So it’s really important to develop a self-awareness of what does motivate you, and what is your character, because some of us are more self-motivated, where some of us actually thrive on having people provide us some structure incentive. And that’s okay, you just have to know what actually is going to motivate you, whether it’s something that comes internally, or whether you do better, having that direction, externally. And regardless of where you fall, you can control those stimuluses that help you get motivated. So while you work at home, you know, it’s, it’s tempting to think, you know, I’m stuck at home. But I really, you know, try to resist that thought. Because while you work at home, you do have control over your motivation, you do have control over your work output, your growth in your career progression, and working from home is difficult. And all of us are in a path toward improving our ability to progress in our working careers. And just taking all that into account, for me makes it easier to be motivated, because it’s just being realistic about what things are, and allowing myself the grace to really pursue the things I’m excited about without having doubt cloud the way and get in the way of that motivation and excitement. It’s really about generating those emotions in yourself and finding what is in the way. So whether you work on that yourself or you find the structures and incentives that you need. You know, if you need help from other people to get motivated, you can find those people online. I know that there’s many people who haven’t been working from home their entire careers, they’re probably used to meeting people through work or through groups or networks. And I just want to say that, that was me too. I never really connected to online groups until this year. And actually you and I Nelson met and one of them, ‘Online Mastermind for Copywriters’, and I found that to be incredibly helpful, just to know that there’s other people in the same situation as you, there’s people in the same job role you’re trying to perform from home, and they’re also attempting to be better at it. That alone is very motivating for me because I can see that, that I am going through this with other people. This isn’t just, you know, some futile thing that I’m attempting.
Nelson: Yeah, I’d like to point out as well that there are alternatives to this because being part of some sort of membership, or group or something like that, personally, it involves you experimenting with a few groups. I’ve been part of a few groups. I’m part of three at the moment, one of which is I’ve only been in there for two or three weeks, and it’s not going to be for me. I’m not going to say which one because that wouldn’t be fair, because it’s doing a good job for other people, but it just doesn’t suit me. So I’m going to be out of that group. So it does just require being open to experimentation a little bit, trying a few on for size, seeing whether they suit personality, seeing whether they’re actually going to bring the value that you expect and going from there. I have what I call an ‘accountabuddy’, which is an accountability person that we meet up once a week for half an hour, 45 minutes on the same day, same time, and talk about the three goals that we’re going to have before the next time that we meet each other. And lots of times we don’t accomplish those goals. And that’s fine. But it gives us something to aim for, for the week. Other times, you know, life happens, as they say, things come up. And actually you realise that stuff is more important, an objective that you didn’t think of on the day that you had your call, comes up to two days later. And it’s actually yeah, that’s really important to do – absolutely fine. Now, my accountabuddy, she really, really, really does not enjoy membership groups. And that’s fine. She’s joined a few, she’s been freelancing for many years and she realises it’s not for her. Absolutely fine. So what she’s done is found a workaround where she doesn’t have to be part of a group, she can still ask somebody like myself for advice, once a week, she can talk about her problems, the issues that she’s found, her ideas, she can bounce opinions off. And that gives her a lot of the benefits without the downsides that she was experiencing in the group. So I just wanted to jump in and just say that there are other ways around it, if you think ‘Yeah, but I’m just not a great person’.
Ziev: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s great advice. You really have to find, you know, if you need something, you need connection, you need some kind of motivation, you know, finding that workaround, what works for you. And that’s a great solution that I wouldn’t have thought up initially.
Nelson: So what about in terms of discipline, getting a certain amount of work done. I think working from home, I think a lot more people are understanding during COVID/Coronavirus, how tough working from home can be if you don’t have the right systems in place. So for example, just from necessity, because my wife and I moved back from Spain four months ago. So until we moved into this house, which we’ve only been in for the last three weeks, I was working from my parent in-law’s sofa. So for like, four months, that’s all I was doing, just working from a sofa. Fortunately, we had like multiple rooms so it wasn’t like I was really under their feet as much as it could have been. But it still wasn’t the ideal working environment. It’s not good for your back, you’re in a room with a TV in, and it’s right next to the kitchen, so there’s lots of noise and things like that. How do you go about working from home in an environment that’s less than ideal?
ZIev: Yeah, and I’ve definitely had those in-law sofa work sessions as well. I think that, you know, just as with motivation, the key to discipline is self-awareness and identifying what are those distractions in your environment, so that you can eliminate them as much as you can. I think that you mentioned systems and I think that to stay disciplined, there are three fundamental practices on terms of systems that work for me. And I think that a lot of people could adopt these too because they’re pretty basic, but they work. Schedule the week. I know some people are great at keeping a calendar. But there’s other people who don’t have calendar habit. The habit that I added during my professional development. I think that scheduling everything you know you have coming up ahead of time is crucial, and start with just the week. So on Sunday night, get aware of what your week is going to entail, what you’d like to accomplish, because one of the chief distractions in your environment is actually deciding on what you need to work on. It’s an internal distraction. You want to minimise the number of decisions you need to make before you start you day so that you can just start working. And that applies to your workstation too. Prepare the space you’re going to work in, whether it’s a sofa or a desk. Make that sofa, to your liking and get some noise cancelling headphones, if you have to, the investment is going to be worth it compared to not getting the work done. So number one, just schedule your week and schedule the day, the night before. It’s really important to prioritise what you’re going to do the following day, and know exactly the key tasks you have outlined. So find that realistic set of hard tasks you can complete in a day. Don’t set expectations for yourself that are unrealistic, but to challenge your ability to be productive. So for me, that means you know, anywhere from one to three lengthy creative tasks like writing, and then for tasks requiring less focus, administrative things that take less thought, like replying to emails, you know, that’s what I do, when I when I can’t focus enough to get in the creative zone. So schedule the week, schedule the night before, schedule according to your most important tasks that you must complete. And then when you’re actually scheduling to do those tasks, I really recommend power hours. And this is kind of blurs the line with a habit you can develop, but when I compare times where I’ve worked according to my wins, or worked according to wanting to have a quote unquote, eight-hour workday, or quote unquote, wanting to work five hours today, or whatever it might be. I have found that I can get more done in three very intentional power hours, on most days, when I do them. Compared to the days where I’m sitting at my desk for eight hours. So I really, really, really recommend you schedule those hard tasks you have in front of you into power hours where you’ll complete them. So if you have one lengthy task, then break it up. I know that I tend to be more focused in the first part of the day and less focus towards the latter half. So I’ll schedule three power hours typically, where I work with a timer. And you know, this is kind of similar, maybe some of your listeners or you have heard of the Pomodoro Technique, and that particular work time technique, I think you break into 25 minute intervals with a five minute break in between, I tend to have more luck with 50 or 60 minutes and a 10 minute break. So bottom line, set some rules while you work. I think that knowing you have an hour where you’re not going to allow yourself a single distraction, that alone is a habit of discipline that can actually allow you to make progress in the work you have in front of you. So keep in mind those rules: phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’, browser closed. When you find yourself drifting towards something that isn’t outlined in your power hour you must know that you did that. And be aware that you did that when you end that power hour. No, no, are you focus? Are you distracted? And then on your next Power Hour, you can do a little better?
Nelson: Nice. So it’s kind of writing down and noting how you felt? What you did? What you didn’t do, I think I think that’s great. What I found most interesting through that is there are some of those things that I do, or some of the things that I’ve tried, and just do not work for me whatsoever. And I think that’s fine. Again, it’s just about trying what works for you. So for example, the Pomodoro Technique and the Power Hour, no, not for me. I mean, I think they can obviously work well. And they’re working really well for you. I hope other people listening to this will try it out, if they haven’t already, to see if it will work for them. Personally, for me, what I found once I started doing a creative task, and I felt like I was in a really good flow, I felt like I was making really good progress. I just would not stop that under any circumstances. So a lot of the times I might start writing at like nine, nine, half-nine in the morning, and if I really hit my stride with something, say for example, I’m writing a landing page, I won’t stop for anything. I might not stop until two or 3pm and I’ve finished it. And I won’t eat, I’ll just have drinks and stuff, just as I go and then I’ll finally like really hear my stomach growling and think, ‘Okay, right, we need to go’. But typically I’ll like to get a big block, say for example, I’m writing a long form sales page, I might be able to get a large block done. And if I’m really feeling it, I just don’t want to stop for anything. But I’ve tried all the stuff that you’re talking about. You know, that could have easily worked for me, like the power hour or the Pomodoro Technique. The other thing that to add my tips, I suppose as well, I don’t have my phone in the same room as me. Obviously, if you’re just working from one room, and that’s not ideal, but if you’re working from like a studio apartment or something like that you just have like the bedroom, you can’t do much about it, sure. But we’re lucky enough now to have a home office, so what I’ll do is I’ll leave my phone downstairs. It’s not even in the same room. I’m not tempted, I know how I am, if I have it on the desk, I’ll check on WhatsApp or Facebook or something, just to see if anybody’s messaged. Oh, nobody’s messaged. Oh, now I’m going to scroll down the newsfeed for a little bit, like I know what I’m likes so it’s that kind of self-awareness. That means, actually, it’s much easier for me to just to just leave that. One of the things that that I do as well is, as you said, like managing your calendar for me is absolutely key. I’m obviously trying to do multiple projects at the same time, I’m trying to get the work done for my clients, I’m trying to win new business and find people to pitch and I’m trying to run a podcast. So along with podcasts, these actual recording calls, I have to do research, I have to do discovery calls to make sure that person is right for the podcast. And those things kind of mount up. So what I do with those is only allow people to book in certain days and times in my calendar. Other times, under no circumstances are they allowed to book those times in my calendar, they’re just for me. One of the other things that, I’m not sure how this is going to work long term to be quite frank with you, because I’ve only implemented it last week, but I’ve been managing to do it every day so far. I don’t have any children at the moment, so I can hear some people who were just ready to scream, ‘I can’t do that because of my kids’. That’s fine. You’ll find other ways to kind of work around this, you just do when that’s your situation. But the first thing in the morning, the first two hours for me (and I’m probably going to come off super annoying to those people with kids), the first two hours are mine. I’m in that situation where I can get up, I go downstairs, I sit on the sofa, I read on my Kindle for half an hour, 45 minutes, then I do yoga for 20 to 30 minutes. And then when I’m ready, I come upstairs to the office, I pick up my journal. And then I just write down a few things like how I’m feeling what I’m grateful for, and the three things that need to be accomplished today. And I try and make those the big tasks. I do similar to you, I try and leave all of the admin, bitty jobs that take 10-15 minutes here, another 20 minutes. I leave them to the afternoon and the evenings when I’m already quite tired. I’ve done the hard work, the work that I actually get paid to do. Have you heard that phrase ‘Eat the frog, or eat the broccoli’, you’ve got your big tasks for the day that are the hard ones. Don’t wait till the afternoon in the evening to get them done. Do them first thing. Take the hardest things and the phrases, ‘Eat the frog first, if you’ve got two frogs to eat, eat the biggest one first’.
Ziev: Yeah absolutely.
Nelson: Yeah, no, that’s fantastic. I think you’ve given a lot of great tips. And yeah, sorry to jump in there. I just wanted people to know that the key, as you said, is having the self-awareness and the confidence to experiment with things and chuck stuff aside, that doesn’t work for you. You know, if you try some of the tips that Ziev said or I’ve told you about today, and they don’t work for you, cast them aside.
Ziev: I totally agree. And I actually think it’s really great that you did conscious contrast, you know, those areas we overlapped like three main tasks and, you know, places we differ such as, like your work, pacing, you know, you’ll go along. And I certainly have days like that too, but like you said, it is about self-awareness and finding out what works given your temperament, given your character and your environment and the actual work you’re actually doing. So I actually think it’s good that you contrasted that. You know, many people find a routine that works for them too. And you mentioned you had a routine before you started working and I actually think that’s absolutely great. You know, I remember, some something I read related to writing advice where they recommend for writers to find a routine that you do the same sequence of events before you sit down to write, or you sit down to work. For you, that’s clearly your reading and then breakfast, coffee, journaling. So, you know, I find that helpful too, when you, when you do the same sequence of events before you sit down to work. It primes something in your subconscious to know, this is the time where I began work, because I did my routine.
Nelson: Giving your brain time to switch on.
Ziev: Yes, actually think you hit on another great tip, which is make a routine before working, one of your habits, because that can work. And, and I know that when something doesn’t work, when you try something, you try and tip, and then it doesn’t work, it’s very tempting to be really hard on yourself and say, ‘Well, heck, another day went by didn’t, that didn’t work I tried’. And it’s very frustrating. But you can’t get into that trap, that’s a trap. You really just have to be objective and detached as possible about your own ability to be productive. This is something I learned soon after beginning this freelancing journey, and I’m glad it didn’t take too long. But if you attach your emotions to your work, it becomes suddenly a lot more difficult to get that work done. Now, when the work is done, it might feel great. But in the meantime, by connecting your emotions to your output, and creating that dependency, it’s actually like shooting yourself in the foot. Because that pressure in itself is a distraction. So I’d really recommend being very…self-awareness keeps coming back to that.
Nelson: So are there any times where you just can’t work?
Ziev: Yeah, and I think that’s really something that isn’t said enough. But it’s really important to acknowledge. We all have days where we’re going to feel more motivated than other days. The point is not to create a habit out of having those bad days, and to create a habit or habits, that create more of those good days. And that’s why again, it comes back to self-awareness. You have to take a moment when you start and your day to say, like, ‘When you start, what is my baseline level of motivation right now? Am I motivated? Or am I not?’ Like, that’s not a question we always ask ourselves when you sit down to work? And then is there some distraction affecting my motivation? And when you’re done, what was my motivation? Did that change? And was there a distraction affecting that motivation? And if you ask yourself those questions before, and when you end your work, you can really develop that self-awareness. Realise, take note, this worked, this didn’t. It’s a process, and I really think it’s important to acknowledge you’re going to have good days and bad days, but you have to also take control and take responsibility for creating those good days for yourself.
Nelson: So when you when you talk, I can gradually feel these themes and characteristics that good or strong freelancers have in terms of the motivation, self-discipline, self-awareness, reflectiveness, and things like that, as well as ambition. Because to be honest, the life of a freelancer isn’t that easy. I know a lot of people kind of think, ‘Yeah, working from home, you just do the same thing. Um, it’s fine. Really, you just watch Netflix a lot?’ Not if you want to earn any money; that’s not what you do. You don’t have a pension, you don’t have a salary that’s coming in each month, whether you’re ill or not. If you’re able to work or not, you’ve got to be earning enough on the good months that, so the bad months, don’t bother you so much. If you don’t have any projects coming in, you don’t get paid. There’s so much these days, a freelancer has to deal with, and you’re responsible for winning your own business, you’re responsible for managing your time, you’re responsible for communicating with clients, your responsible for pitching new business and ensuring your pipeline of future work is going to be strong. You’ve got handle the invoices, the accounting, the chasing up, and interacting with your clients, team members and all of the pains that those can cause as well. So this, this isn’t easy. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Are there any times that you’ve kind of found yourself in that position when you’re just like ‘Why do I do this?’
Ziev: Absolutely. You know, it’s it’s all part of the process of being a freelancer. It’s the one thing that unites freelancing, and becoming good at it, is it is a process of self-development. And that’s why we’ve been talking about these broad themes, like motivation and discipline. So there’s definitely been those times where freelancing, when you are first getting into it, for most freelancers, there’s going to be a feast and famine phase, until you really get your business to consistent level, and you have a pipeline of people. Most freelancers, myself included, when they’re in the first phase of their career, there will be times where you have work, there’ll be times when you don’t, or you have work that doesn’t pay well enough but you just feel like you need to do it. And you’re like, ‘what’s the point?’ So absolutely, that does happen. But you have to always think of where you’re going. If you don’t know where you’re going, then you’re going to feel frustrated and stuck. That’s why I found it very helpful to continue building my knowledge in my field, specifically, what is the track of success in the field? What are the people who are levels above me? What are they doing? You know, do I want to do that? number one, and number two, if I do want to do that, what did they do to get there? And then all of a sudden, feeling stuck, and like you’re not going anywhere, can turn into excitement, that there’s a path, there’s rungs in the ladder, and you’re going to have to climb them. But that is a lot more exciting than feeling like you are earning whatever you’re earning, but you don’t know what comes next, or what to do to get better improve your station.
Nelson: So not focusing on the financial aspects so much, providing that you’re making enough to get by, but understanding that as you improve your skills, as you level up, you get more confidence, you gain more experience, you are going to be able to charge more, but that is not necessarily the end goal, it’s kind of pursuit of perfecting your craft, and I guess constructing the life that you envision for yourself, the life that you have in mind. I think that’s really key, like the self-directed learning. Almost improving, and beating on your craft can be the goal. And it doesn’t have to be for everyone. There are lots of people that just do things like copywriting because it is lucrative once you’re established, and once you kind of find your path. And this is why I love to interview people at every different stage, I feel like there’s a tonne of different podcasts that only have people that are incredibly “successful”, and air quotes, they’re in the Austin Powers, air quote fashion, Dr. Evil. So it’s really useful to hear from people like yourself and like me that you know, are quite open about the fact that we’re just figuring stuff out, we do a lot of things that just don’t work. I think a lot of people try and brush them under the carpet and you get into this insane situation where newbie freelancers or people that are eyeing up a role that they perhaps work in house at the moment, and looking for some more freedom, flexibility, higher earnings and that sort of thing, they kind of just compare their best start to somebody else’s end or middle, right? They look at somebody who’s putting out these blog posts about how they’re doing 10, 15, 20K a month, and they don’t understand that it’s taking that person, (if they are telling the truth firstly), it’s taken that person many years, and a lot of things that didn’t work to get to that.
Ziev: I couldn’t agree more Nelson. That’s exactly it. Everybody loves a success story and our attention goes there, but, you know, like you said, a lot of those big success stories, you don’t know what happened along the way, what challenges had to be overcome. And for most people, there is going to be a learning curve, especially with something like freelancing where there’s a variety of paths, there’s a variety of industries.
Nelson: There’s just so many tasks within freelancing as well. So like, you can be really, really good at the work. But if you’re not good at the other things, you’re actually going to really struggle, which sounds bizarre. Like how can you be good at your job? So really good at writing sales pages or emails or something like that, or blog content, whatever that happens to be. You can be really, really good at that stuff and still not make a great living because so much of freelancing is about everything surrounding the work. It’s about pitching, it’s about research, it’s about time-management, it’s about discipline, it’s about chasing up invoices and client management and stuff like that. I mean, it’s really quite tricky. And you’ll find successful people that don’t have all of those completely nailed down, but they do a good enough job at each of those bits. Again, we’ll go back to self-awareness, they’re aware enough that they suck at certain bits of that. Like I’ll hold my hands up here and say, I’m not the most organised person in the world. I mean, I’m enough to get by and enough to manage my clients, I’m enough to manage the podcast and things, but I have to make an actual concerted effort to do it. It’s not something that comes naturally to me. And so we’ve all got those weak spots, there’s nobody that’s 10 out of 10, on all of them, you just have to think what’s important, and then try and set up processes to counter your weaknesses, I think.
Ziev: I totally agree. Yeah, I think that this is what advancement really comes down to, it’s optimising yourself and putting yourself in a position to leverage the work you want to be doing as best you can.
Nelson: So when you were first starting out, and actually in the years in between that as well, what sort of resources did you turn to, to improve in all of those aspects?
Ziev: So when I, you know, when I first got started, the resources that I needed, were the resources that I needed to complete the work. So when I was first writing content online and developing that skill, suddenly, I had to learn about SEO, and I had to learn how to write my content, and put it online in a way that search engines could be able to discover it. And that uncovered more things that I didn’t know. But it also uncovered a new skill: search engine optimization. And soon I began a path toward learning more about this. And seeing that it itself was another skill and another track, another thing I could add in my career. So the resources you find will vary, but the bottom line here is, what skills and knowledge are you lacking? For where you want to be for the jobs or for the companies that you want to be working for, hat are the skills and knowledge that they require from you? And you can find that really easily simply by going on LinkedIn, or a company website and looking at job posting, they list exactly the skills they’re looking for right there. And you can look at that list. And that job 1) are you interested? 2) what skills do you have? And 3), what skills would you be excited to improve? And that’s a process of discovery that might lead to you thinking about jobs that you’ve never even considered before. Really, you know, what resources? What specific resources? Like it’s not? It’s not the best answer, but it depends. The answer is: the resource that you need to do, what you want to do, is out there. There’s more knowledge and lessons on the internet than any of us know what to do with. And the actual thing you have to do is not become addicted to learning, it’s to find the one thing that you need to learn and then act on it. And that’s definitely been something that has been a double-edged sword for me, where I’ve had periods where I discovered that there’s a group of skills that I really want to want to improve. And I’ll work on improving those skills but that self-directed learning process wasn’t then paired with acting to find opportunities to take advantage of those skills. But eventually got to a point where I realised ‘Okay, you have to stop learning need to put this into practice’. And those are the moments of career growth. Those were the moments where I realised ‘Oh, I did this action called learning, to increase my value. Now I can put it into practice and create proof’, that is what increases your value as a worker, whether you’re a freelancer at a company, so really, really, really never stop learning. The more skilled and knowledgeable you are in your field, the more leverage you have, to advance whatever skill you need to learn. Make sure you find a credible source, that’s recommended by your peers. So for me with marketing, in the marketing industry, there’s a set top 10 Have marketing brands and companies that have very highly regarded lessons for specific skill-sets within the marketing industry, and that’s always where I’ve done a lot. I also think that I’m finding opportunities for growth. When I worked at the agencies that I worked at, I learned new skills that I’m using today. So the resources that you find, you have to start with, what do you want to do? Where do you want to, what do you want to achieve, and what resource is going to fill that gap for you? Whether it’s an online course, or whether it’s an actual position that’s going to train you in something, you need to figure that out. And if you’re not a knowledge worker, you know, you and I are talking in the context of creatives, as knowledge workers, there may be some more specific tracks you’ll take that are different. But I think in general, arming yourself with the knowledge of what will get you to that next level in your career, and putting your intention and actions behind what you know, is a bit like creating the wind that you need in your sails. To extend the metaphor, if your career is a boat, your knowledge of the track your career needs to take, including the accomplishments, skills and people you need to connect with, to get to that next level, are the wind in the sails of your boat; career boat.
Nelson: Very, very well put. One thing I would like to say is that, because you, you raised it, and I thought yeah, that’s a great point. When you think about freelancing, you’ve got the skills that you learn to do your job, as in the actual work. So if you’re a copywriter, how do I create good copy for whatever that might be? Because obviously have different styles for landing pages, you’ve got brand copy, direct response, everything that goes along with that. But then you’ve got everything that goes around with being a freelancer. So it’s like, how do I do that well? How do I produce a good output for my client? But how do I become a good freelancer? is almost a different question unto itself. So it’s important to kind of recognise that. The other thing that I really, really liked, that you mentioned was, Do I want to learn these skills? Are they something that I’m passionate about? Or that I would like to use in the future? Because I’ve had people say to me, ‘Ah Nelson, there’s a great opportunity here. And you just need to like pick up this skill set. And you’ll be in’. And I’ve kind of looked at it and I’ve gone, ‘Yeah, no thanks’. I mean, it, I’m sure I could learn it. It just doesn’t sound like something I want to learn. And there’s so much that we could learn, it’s important to be quite discerning and not be afraid to say, you know, no to opportunities. I’m not saying that you need to stay in one one track, and that’s the way to success because I am, I am the complete opposite of that. I started off in social media, first organic, and then everything had to have to go paid basically, as the algorithms changed. Then I moved into PPC because the, the woman that handled PPC at our agency was leaving, and I thought ‘I’ll give that a try’. And then the woman who was leading our SEO efforts left, and I was like, ‘Doing PPC, parts of search engine marketing, I was completely different, but they go, and I still I’ll learn SEO, and I’ll incorporate that’. And then I did the same with conversion rate optimization. Now, I am a copywriter, but I’m I kind of modelled myself on a just a, you know, a digital marketer in general. And copy is the tool that I use a lot of the time to grow people’s businesses. But if you asked me what I do, I, I grow people’s businesses. I happen to do that through marketing strategy and copywriting. Now, there are people that because I’m like relatively new to copywriting in comparison to the amount of time the decade that I’ve spent in digital marketing, but I am making much quicker gains than a lot of people that have just started with the copywriting because I’m able to leverage those skills. So a lot of the times you’ll learn something and you like ‘Well, I’m not totally sure that I’m going to use it now but I’m passionate about it, I find it interesting’. For me that’s a good enough reason to dig in, providing you’ve got the time and the resources to be able to do so then. Also, there’s so much as you said, online. I’d like to mention the resources that I’ve used in the past. And the two best resources I found for courses and I’m talking about like multiple areas here, Digital Marketer.com and Conversionxl.com. It’s called cxl.com. Now, they have the probably between the two had the biggest impact on my career to date, in terms of digital marketing, and, and then Copy Hackers, as well, kind of goes without saying in the coffee community, anybody that’s been involved for any period of time, kind of knows the resources that they put out. Have you got any to add to that?
Ziev: OH yeah, well, those are those top tier sort of things I mentioned. So there’s, there’s a lot. I think it depends on the skill like for for SEO, there’s some great SEO blogs, you know, like AHRefs, the SEO tool, Conversion Excel? I mean, where else do you want to go to learn conversion rate optimization? You know, I think that if you want to learn about ecommerce, you can learn that just go on Shopify, you can learn all the basics you ever need to know on their blog. So again, you know, what is that skill you want to learn? Find the top tier resource because like you, Nelson, I’ve learned an incredible amount of knowledge that’s made a direct impact in my career, just as you have. By reading those, um, you know, these are companies that actually perform these services, but they’re giving their knowledge away, because it builds their business. And we as freelancers are able to take advantage and incorporate that to our businesses. It’s an incredible opportunity. And again, you can find the equivalent resource toward what conversion Excel is to conversion rate optimization, and so on, or digital marketer toward all around all those digital marketing skills, including PPC. You can find that for whatever your industry is. I would say, asking you to skill and I’ll look up the resource I think is best. And if I can do that, you can do that. And that’s what you should do to find the resource you need. I really encourage people to find things that work for them, we all learn in a different way. But find an authoritative resource, someone who’s doing the work. So, you know, with marketing, it’s easy to point to these sites, but with other industries, you know, I don’t have as many resources on the top of my mind to list.
Nelson: Cool. Well, I think that is a fantastic place to leave it. Just to recap, we’ve had Ziev Beresh on today, and talk about kind of all things habit, discipline, motivation, how to be kind of a self-directed, self-aware learner, and how that would benefit you and some of the tips that you can implement. Ziev, where can people find you?
Ziev: You can find me on my website, and my name is a little bit difficult to spell. So my name is Ziev Beresh. And you can see it in the show, I’m sure, but it’s zievberesh.com, and that will give you information about my professional copywriting services. If you’d like to connect with me, please send a message on LinkedIn. It’s the same thing LinkedIn/zievberesh. And same thing on Twitter. So please feel free to reach out I’m always looking to connect with other people who are on this work from home journey. And Nelson again, I can’t commend you enough for starting a podcast on this topic. Because you I really don’t think you could have picked a more important topic for what today’s professionals are all universally going through. So good on you.
Nelson: Thank you very much. It was quite by accident, something that was milling around in my head, it seemed like a good time to finally stop talking about it and just do it for them. Thanks again, Ziev. And I hope you enjoyed today’s episode of ‘Working From Home’.
Ziev: Thanks it was great. Bye, Nelson.
Nelson: And that’s it for today. You’ve been listening to the ‘Working From Home’ podcast with me, Nelson Jordan. We’ve been talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly side of remote work. Thanks so much for listening, and I really hope you’ve enjoyed the time you spent with us today. If you’d like to discuss the podcast, you want to make a new friend or you interested in working with me on a copywriting or digital marketing project? Then visit nelson-jordan.com. That’s nelson-jordan.com, where you can also sign up to my newsletter to hear about this podcast and other exciting projects. Until next week, goodbye