For a lot of you this man needs little introduction. Brent is a Freelancer who shares tips and tricks on how to become a Freelancer. Arriving on the blogging scene in 2014. Knocking on doors, creating his brand and becoming known as an expert in his field.
His journey is remarkable. Brent walks the talk. Sharing practical advice. Interviewing others who give us insight into their Freelance journey. His professionalism is second to none. Throughout his work there are traces of his quirky side. Leaving a joke, a picture or video that gives us a giggle. One of my favourites is in his post ‘How to Deal with Trolls, Bullies & Jerks’.
The first time Brent came to my attention was when I saw a post he wrote called ’39 Top Bloggers Reveal How They Get More Traffic’. I was curious as he had mentioned a few people I was connected with. Checking out the content I was immediately taken in my how this one post spoke to me. I had discovered him just in time. I linked his work to my next post called ‘New Bloggers; The Statistics are Against Us’. What he did not know at the time was I printed that post. Dissected and highlighted it, wrote my own notes around it and have been referring to it ever since.
So without any further ado, I would like introduce Brent Jones from Brent Jones Online.
Brent you decided to leave your place of employment and a secure income on 6th September 2014. Your boss was shocked, he did not see it coming. It’s a lot to go out and move from a well-paying job to working on your own. In your post ‘Should You Quit Your Job?’ you sound prepared and ready to move into the new phase of Freelancer. What truths did you face? How did you calculate risk into the factor? What key skills were you relying on?
A lot of successful freelancers start out building their online, service-based businesses as a side project. A sort of side hustle around their day job… for me, I knew that wasn’t a possibility. I don’t do well when I split my focus between multiple objectives.
That said, I also wanted to mitigate risk as much as possible.
In the post you are referencing, wherein I described quitting my job the same day I got the keys to my new house, I failed to mention that it was actually a calculated risk. My wife and I bought our first house in the small town of Fort Erie, a couple of hours away from Toronto. Our monthly mortgage payment was actually a fraction of what we used to spend on rent in Toronto.
Yes, we wanted to buy a house with a yard and plenty of space — but it was also a move to financially mitigate risk, as well, as we both intended to freelance full-time from home.
My wife (Andréa Jones from http://onlinedrea.com) had already been successfully freelancing for several months. I wasn’t sure if I had skills that could be marketed online, but it was worth a try. If things went awry, our monthly expenses were low enough that even a low-paying job would keep the bills paid.
It wasn’t an outcome I wanted to have to explore, but it was good to know that — in a worst case scenario — we wouldn’t end up destitute.
Fortunately, it never came down to that.I wasn't sure if I had skills that could be marketed online, but it was worth a try. Click To Tweet
You can’t outwit fate by standing on the sidelines placing little side bets about the outcome of life. Either you wade in and risk everything you have to play the game or you don’t play at all. And if you don’t play you can’t win. – Judith McNaught
This is an example of planning and execution. There was no rash decisions here. Deciding to go it on his own was a massive project. He worked out the sums, quit his job, moved house and got to work. He did not go into this unprepared.
Brent calculated risk. He had a strategy in place for the worst case scenario. This was not a preferred option yet he was able to live with it if his dreams weren’t reachable. See my post on ‘Risk Analysis – A Practiced Part of Project Management’.
He worked with what he knew about himself. He did not want to split his focus on multiple objectives. Knowing ourselves is a strength and gives us a better window of opportunity for success.
This message is reiterated in the interview ‘Position Yourself for Success with Brent Galloway’. Brent Galloway worked in Web design for a year to find it was not for him. He remained in design although he… You will have to watch the interview to find out the answer.
You buzz around the internet. A real go-getter. It’s evident you exercise a huge amount of discipline. In your post, ‘We Are Made to be Awesome‘ you talk about making decision, going the extra mile. Choosing between exercise or a sleep in. What do you do on low vibe days? What perks you up?
I try to remind newer freelancers that the early days are meant for hard work. Whether you are a freelance writer, web designer, or illustrator, you will almost always have to take some jobs below your pay grade when first starting out. It isn’t that you lack the talent or the skills to do the bigger jobs… you simply lack the evidence. It takes time to build up contacts, experience, portfolio pieces, and endorsements.
A lot of people start freelancing because they like the idea of being their own boss… you know, freedom and flexibility and all that jazz.
But flexibility doesn’t mean you can take a day off whenever you want. At least not at first. Flexibility simply means you get to choose when you work. And for me, I chose to work around the clock when I was new. A lot of my days when I started out were 15 and even 18 hours long. Minimal sleep. Poor eating habits. Very little exercise.
It might not have been the smartest choice on my part, but I was determined not to let “lack of effort” be my reason for failure.
It paid off, as it only took me 3-4 months to ramp up my earnings close to what they were prior to freelancing.
Now that I am a bit more established, I have hired help. I can travel more. I can take (planned) days off. I can enjoy a bit more freedom and flexibility now that I have my financial independence in place. Some of the things I enjoy doing when I am not serving clients include cycling, traveling, reading, video games, and occasionally playing guitar.It isn't that you lack the talent or the skills to do the bigger jobs... you simply lack the evidence. It takes time… Click To Tweet
Your Instagram account highlights your bike adventures, is this what you do to unwind?
I only recently created that Instagram account (@brentjonesonline) to keep a sort of visual diary of my cycling adventures. Cycling is a bit of a new found passion for me. I’ve always loved riding a bike, but it was only this year that I thought about improving my performance. I am currently training to do a multiple day tour of Northern Ontario on my bike this fall.
If all goes well, perhaps I’ll look at doing a coast-to-coast ride in the Southern United States this winter when the weather gets too cold to ride in Canada. After all, my freelance career allows me to work from anywhere.
And yes, cycling definitely helps me to unwind. Whether it’s the start, the middle, or the end of the day, cycling is a bit of an escape for me to get some exercise, fresh air, and enjoy a bit of alone time to clear my mind. It’s a welcome change from the nonstop chiming of my phone, inbox, and various messaging services throughout the day.
Working for someone else we’re more inclined to take breaks. It’s just as important when we’re self-employed. However time gets away from us, we have a thousand things to get done, there never seems to be enough time. Do you take morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea breaks? Do you work to a set routine? How do you ensure that you maintain a steady pace yet keep yourself refreshed?
This is a tough question for me to answer, as I don’t follow an extremely structured routine each day — at least, not anymore.
I take periodic breaks throughout the day to grab a drink, a snack, or to stretch my legs and give my eyes a rest.
Generally speaking, I plan my day-to-day activities for the following week every Friday… a sort of daily to-do list. I often include things on that daily list such as cycling or reading, to ensure I get to do them almost every day.
I once heard that if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person. And that’s because busy people plan everything — otherwise, they just don’t happen.
When I get up in the morning, I put on the coffee pot, and then I get to work. This is generally around 7 am. I work steadily on my to-do list until everything is crossed off. Sometimes that takes just 3-4 hours — sometimes it takes 12-15. But the bottom line is that the day isn’t over until everything on my list is crossed off. I rarely stop for longer than 15 minutes during the day. I enjoy some downtime with my wife once everything on my list has been completed.
Freelancing gives us freedom of choice. Yet not all tasks are enjoyable. We accept these chores and get on with it. What is your method for facing part of the workload that isn’t something you want to do?
I suppose doing tasks we don’t always enjoy is just part of being an adult. I must admit that I find tedious tasks somewhat less tedious when they are a part of running my own business rather than working for someone else. I suck it up and do the things I don’t enjoy doing today so I can enjoy the lifestyle I am building for myself tomorrow.
Then again, I made a point to focus my business on doing tasks that I — for the most part — enjoy. That isn’t to say, however, that I love every single task that has to get done every day.
So as my business has grown, I have hired help and I am now able to outsource a number of my daily tasks to well qualified people. This certainly has freed up my time to work on more exciting, bigger picture projects.
You plan your day to day activities on Friday. Say Monday comes around and a potential new client wants to come on board. Your day is packed. You have a system in place that works for you. How do you deal with the unexpected?
I handle unexpected events by adding them to my schedule for a later date. When a new week begins, it’s very unusual that I will deviate from the schedule I have created for myself. Let’s be honest — and I know other solopreneurs will be able to relate — if we really wanted to, we could work 24/7, couldn’t we?
When it comes to bringing a new client on board, I set expectations with new potential clients early in terms of when I will be available to begin serving them. Monday is always a no-go. With nearly 20 social media clients to schedule for, creating their content always has to be done at least a week in advance.
The key word you used is “systems” — I’m a firm believer in having systems and processes in place to ensure everything gets done on time and properly. And one of those systems, for me, is ensuring I don’t deviate (much) from the daily tasks I set out for myself.
Organize, don’t agonize. – Nancy Pelosi
Brent is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Do you know how lucky we are? Brent has just shared his professional blue print with us. This is what he does to plan, action and move forward. A practical step by step formula that has made his brand an outstanding name.
I couldn’t wait to get this interview published. Brent’s answers highlight a self-awareness and professional integrity required to get ahead in life. Not just in the blogging world, but anywhere. He doesn’t mess about with how he represents himself, yet we’re able to enjoy humour throughout his posts and interviews. Showing a healthy balance of taking his work seriously but wanting to lighten it with his own style.
It’s been a joy to work with Brent. An inside look at the man behind Brent Jones Online. I’d like to thank him very much his time.