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Once upon a time, people decided what they wanted to do, and then they’d go ahead and get a job doing that. Unfortunately, in this day and age, jobs in certain industries are more difficult to come by. However, if your full time job isn’t what you want to do forever, there’s no need to feel downhearted. With a little work in your free time it’s possible to complete amazing projects. That could be producing theatre, making films, or starting a new business. It’s a lot to take on, but there are things you can do to make sure you’re prepared.

Make a list of steps

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you think about what you’re embarking upon. Yes, taking on extra projects is a big undertaking. But humour us, and make a list of all of the steps you’ll need to complete to get there. We’re talking about really breaking it down. That way, when you get home at the end of the day you don’t have ‘plan a huge event’ as your one task for the evening. Instead you’ll just have ‘find five possible venues in East London’. By following a list of small steps you can make any projects seem much less overwhelming. You’ll also be able to keep track of everything you’ve already accomplished.

Do one productive thing every day

In the spirit of not being overwhelmed, think about doing one productive thing every day. It could be sending an email on your lunch break or designing a logo but, however tiny, at least you’re actively working towards your goal in your spare time. So many people fall at that first (and very obvious) hurdle, and this way, you won’t be one of those people. You’ll probably find that once you’ve done one thing you’ll have the momentum you need to do a bit more too, because you’re brilliant and an overachiever.

Think about everything you need and how you’re going to pay for it

It might be that you don’t need much in order to complete your projects. But if, for example, you need equipment, or a set, or a space, do your research about what that’s going to cost you and think early about how you’re going to pay for it. You might have the savings, or you might need to pursue funding, but forewarned is forearmed. There’s no shame in putting things on hold for as long as it takes to acquire what you need – better that than losing out later on.

Make the most of networking opportunities

Yes, it’s a pain to leave work after a long day and then have to go to a networking evening or some other similar event and pretend like you’re not knackered and desperately in need of some dinner to soak up the free wine you didn’t really fancy. And it’s not  ideal to have to spend your weekends travelling far and wide to hear advice from people in the know. But if the alternative is not making connections or missing out on some valuable information, then it’s definitely worth the minor inconvenience. Plus, it totally counts as your one productive thing per day.

Go easy on yourself

Just because you’re basically working two jobs doesn’t mean that you never have time for a social life. What it does mean is that you might feel a pang of guilt if you spend an evening in the pub when you had a budget spreadsheet to fill in. But at the end of the day you’re not a machine. It’s essential to take a bit of time out occasionally to avoid burnout so don’t beat yourself up.

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So, what kind of extra-curricular projects are you working on in your free time? Don’t forget, if you need advice on anything, it’s very likely you’ll find an Expert who can help on HowNow.

So. You have an amazing idea for a business and you’ve decided you want to make it happen. That’s awesome, but what’s the next step? It’s likely that you’ll need to find funding to get the wheels in motion. Here are a few of the options you might want to look into:

Use your own money

Sure, it’s a risk, but it can’t be that much of a risk if you have an amazing idea and you’re really confident that it’ll work. It’ll mean you stay completely in control of your business and there’s nobody who’s going to kneecap you because you owe them money (although if you’re borrowing money through legit means we’re sure there’s only minimal kneecapping anyway). It’s the kind of funding that provides the most freedom from other peoples’ opinions.

Ask your friends/family/connections

If you know somebody who has money and who’d be willing to chip in to support you on your way to living the dream, then let them help you. It can be awkward, but it’s worth it if it gets you where you want to be. If you have connections with people who are open to investing, exploit those. Starting a business is no time to start feeling shame, and lots of people would be very excited about funding a loved-one’s dream.

Grants

It can take a while to research all of the business grants available and whether your project fits their criteria. The application process can also be equally long and dull. However, if you can find a suitable grant and end up getting it you’ll be glad you took the time. After all, free money is the best kind of money.

Incubators

If you think you could benefit from more than just an injection of cash, an incubator could be the way to go. Depending on the company involved they could offer to provide office space, advice, help with marketing, and networking opportunities along with their financial offering. It does require giving up a degree of control, though, so it might not be the dream option for everybody.

Loans

Loans are a classic option and, while there’s some suggestion that they’re more difficult to get in today’s financial climate, if you have a well-thought-out business plan and a clear idea of what your revenue will look like, you still might be able to convince a bank to sit down with you and talk it over. The crucial thing to remember is that you’ll have to pay it back eventually, whether or not the business works out.

Nothing

If you’ve got a simple idea, you might not need to be put off by complicated methods of finding funding. Say you were launching a consultancy business: You could work from home, set up a simple website, and get networking. There doesn’t always need to be a big financial outlay, and as you being to bring money in you can reinvest it to help your business grow at a sustainable rate.

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It’s not necessarily hard to launch and grow a successful business, but it does take a lot of work to keep it running. If you’ve managed it, you’re already kind of our idol. Do you fancy guiding other people through the process? Sign up today to become an Expert with HowNow. And if you’re just at the beginning of your journey, keep an eye out for some advice from our experts.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: It’s awesome that you want to join HowNow as an Expert. We can’t get enough of the variety of awesome things to learn on the platform and we’re thrilled you want to add your expertise to the platform. Once you’ve signed up you’ll be ready to list your first class and, since we want you to be as successful as possible, we’ve put together a list of things to remember as you do that:

Basic Information

The title, tagline, categories, and image are the first things that users see when they browse – make sure that they are appealing and informative.

Title

Avoid using the words ‘class’ or ‘lesson’ in your title as all the activities available on HowNow are classes. It’s better to give a specific indication of the class, for example ‘Guitar for Beginners’.

Tagline

You don’t need to use hashtags or keywords here. This is just a short line to further explain your class, like the strapline on a film poster. Try and write something that’s different to the title and indicate what they would be aiming in the lesson. For example: Learn to strum your favourite tune.

Overview

Don’t just copy and paste! It’s fine to use material from your own website. Just make sure that it’s relevant. Bear in mind that new people will be seeing your listing, not just your followers and fans who know what you offer already. Write an overview as if you’re describing your class to someone who’s never tried your activity before. Will they understand or have you used lingo which will need explaining? Don’t try to be salesy, be specific. Members are more impressed finding out exactly what they will learn rather than vague ‘this is the best guitar class’ comments.

What do you need?

This is the section to list what your students will need to have in time for your class (for example, if you’re teaching cookery, what ingredients will they have to have?). Make sure you list this clearly so that you don’t end up with a group of confused and un-prepared students.

What to expect

You’ve given a general overview about yourself and your subject, but this is where you can get into the nitty-gritty of exactly what a student can expect to learn. It’s good to be detailed here so that your students will know that this is the class they want to take.

Categories

Only select categories that are relevant. It may be tempting to select all the categories in the hopes that this will increase your chances of people finding your class, But for people who are interested in your activity, the irrelevant categories will look weird on your listing page. It’s also very unlikely to convert members who were looking for something totally different but just happen to stumble upon your class in the wrong place.

Keywords

This is where you should list relevant words. The more specific you can be, the better. It will help people who are searching for your activity to find your class.

Pricing

As there are no costs for running your classes (venue, materials for users), users will expect sessions to be cheaper than if you were running the class in a physical location. As you start out, we recommend that you make your classes affordable to help get reviews and build your reputation within the HowNow community.

Images

The first thing that our members see when they browse for activities are the photos. If they see good quality photos of people doing the activity and having fun, they’ll be more likely to book. It’s better to not include your logo, text or a marketing material, as your business name will already show in the thumbnail. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunity for users to find out about you on your listing page.

Reviews

As you’re getting started, it’s really important to startgetting reviews. The best way to do this is to share the news that you’re offering online classes to your mailing list and friends. Nicely ask them to try it out and leave reviews for you!

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A lot of your class’ success will depend on it being listed well on the site. After all, that’s where you’ll be able to give enough information to convince somebody to try it out. By following these steps you’ll be giving yourself the best possible chance of succeeding on HowNow. And if you need more tips all you have to do is ask.

There’s loads of brand new ways of marketing your business using the internet. Email marketing is a classic, though. While some companies have moved away from it in favour of advertising through social networks, we think it’s definitely still worth doing. But why should you care what we think? We put together a list of reasons you should probably consider email marketing if you don’t already do it.

Pretty much everyone has an email

When considering online marketing, Facebook is always a sound choice. They have 1.7 billion monthly active users worldwide. However, email greatly surpasses that with 2.5 billion users around the world. There’s a chance that some people in your demographic might not be on Facebook, but they’re very likely to have an email.

You can engage customers

Sending emails can open up a dialogue with your customer base. If you send messages from an email address they can reply to they’re likely to do so. It probably won’t happen so much that you feel inundated, but it’ll happen on occasion. Whether your email list have questions, comments, or complaints, it’s a great way to get feedback. You’re also contacting people who have at one point or other willingly (we hope) given you their email. That implies that they’re probably already interested in what you’re doing, which is a great place to start.

People expect promotions

Email has been commonplace for a lot longer than social networking. As such, the idea of receiving promotional messages is something we all expect and largely accept. At this point it basically feels the same as getting pizza leaflets through the door. Paid marketing through social networks like Facebook and Twitter has been around for a lot less time and is still seen by some as an annoyance, which means email can be the better option if you want to find a receptive audience.

You can personalise it

If you create a Facebook ad, for example, there are very prescriptive rules about what you have to have to include. The same can also be said of Twitter and Instagram. When you’re sending promotions directly to inboxes you have the freedom to present your company however you would like – the only restriction is the limit of your imagination. Although do avoid sending unsolicited giant files to people. Nobody likes that company.

There’s more chance of being seen

According to ReturnPath, 18% of emails were either blocked or undelivered last year. Similarly, 4% went straight to junk folders. That means 22% of emails don’t reach their destination. On the flip side, organic reach for a post on a Facebook page is likely to be less than 7%. That means that without spending money to promote your posts you run the risk of 93% of your fans missing your content. Basically, email can prove to be a much more cost-effective way of reaching more interested people.

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If you’re still on the lookout for a way to make great email newsletters, we recommend Mailchimp, which is versatile enough to do pretty much anything and also has a free subscription below a certain number of subscribers. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Leaving the world of full-time employment is exciting. After years of being told what to do and when to do it, you suddenly don’t have to answer to anyone. It’s a great step if you’re looking for more independence. However, along with losing the boss who constantly orders you around, you also lose the convenience of having somebody sort out most of your money for you. It’s not the end of the world, but it does mean you have to step up and take responsibility for your finances. Here are a few things you might need to think about.

Remember you need to pay taxes

When you’re on somebody else’s payroll your taxes are basically sorted. You’re sent a tax code and your employer makes sure you pay your taxes. It’s done before you even get your hands on your own money, and everything’s legit. When you’re working for yourself you need to keep track of your own expenses. You also need to make sure you fill out a tax return when Moira Stewart tells you to. And, take it from us, compared to the other bills you have to pay, your tax bill is a big one.

Keep your money separate

As a freelancer you invoice your clients, and they send you all of your money in one go. It’s very exciting. But it does mean that you might be tempted to spend it all at once. Think again. You remember that big tax bill we talked about? It’s a sensible strategy to put a bit of money aside every month. This will cover your tax bill and any other expenses you know you’re going to incur.

Keep your receipts

Part of doing your tax return is knowing how much you spent on business expenses during the year. This information is a key part of your tax return. The Inland Revenue could decide to audit you so it’s important to be able to prove you spent this money. If you go hire an accountant  it’s also helpful for them to see the details of your expenditure in front of them.

Find some good invoicing software

Part of being the super-organised freelancer you are now is being able to quickly and easily generate an invoice. If you have a regular client and nothing much changes you can automate these to go out every month. If you have slight-less-regular-but-still-frequent clients you can store their information to make invoicing even quicker. Team HowNow bloody love Wave, if you’re looking for a great invoicing tool.

Plan for the future

If your freelancing is a long-term thing, you need to think about the future. You might be used to having a nice employer provide you with a pension, but that is not something that happens for those out of the realm of employed work (because any current pensioner will tell you that the state pension on it’s own will barely cover a thing). There are loads of pensions you could set up so that you can keep saving for the future, but do remember to pay into it.

Don’t forget you can take other jobs

If you’re working with one main client, it’s easy to forget that you’re a badass freelance type now, and can therefore take on as much work as you please. Of course, you shouldn’t take on more than you can cope with, but your clients can’t complain about you doing extra work for other companies like your old boss might have done.

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Freelancing is a changing beast but, like we already mentioned, it’s an awesome way to gain some independence. Keep an eye on your money, and be a little bit sensible from time to time (Boring, we know) and it could be lifechanging.

So you’ve decided to become an Expert and start teaching classes through HowNow. We can’t say we blame you. It’s a great idea to earn some extra income and to build a brand for yourself. But how do you get started? The great news is that we’ve kept it simple. You just fill in a form and you’re good to go. However, there are a few super-easy tips you should know about to make sure you maximise your success on HowNow.

Success Tip 1:

Make sure the contact details on your profile are complete and keep them up-to-date. Hosts with a fully-completed profile (photo, contact number, email address) look much more organised and reliable than those with empty spaces.

Success Tip 2:

Be punctual! If you know that you are hosting a class, make sure that you are online at least 10 minutes before to ensure that you have the correct equipment, that you’re happy with your set up, and that your camera and mic are working.

Success Tip 3:

Practice makes perfect. If this is the first time that you are running an online class it’s worth practising the structure of your class with friends and family to find what best works for your activity. Run a practise session, gather their feedback and act on it.

Success Tip 4:

Pick an appropriate profile image. If you are an individual without a brand (yet) and are just hosting under your name, it’s best to use a clear, professional-looking photo of you so that our members can get an idea of who they’ll be seeing on their screen on the day of their class.

Success Tip 5:

Having positive reviews is a great way to increase your bookings. When you get started, it could be a good idea to get in touch with your existing followers and announce that this is a new service that you are offering. Give them a discount and then you can get their reviews. If you don’t have existing followers, don’t be put off. You might just have to do a bit more marketing to bring people in in the first instance.

Success Tip 6:

Make sure to fill in your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter handles on your profile so that we and our members can follow you on social media. We will also be able to tag you in any marketing features that you are in.

Success Tip 7:

Make sure that you feel comfortable using the How Now platform. It’s important to know how to manage your bookings to avoid any issues on the day of your session. We will offer demos for using the platform but it’s always good to practice before your first session.

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We can’t wait to see all of the awesome stuff you have to share on HowNow!

So. You’ve decided you want to make a bit of extra money, and you’ve realised that HowNow is the way to do that. You love the idea of e-meeting people from all over the world online. You want to teach, and you can’t wait to start inspiring people. However, you’re not quite sure where to start.

So what should you teach?

For some people, the answer to that question will come straight away. We’re all very happy for you and your confidence in your skills and expertise. But if you’re not sure what you should be calling yourself an ‘expert’ in, that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved.

The first thing to mention is the fact that, as long as you’re open in your class description, you don’t have to have an actual qualification in the subject you want to teach. If we’re honest, we’re way more interested in real-life experience than certificates. So what are skills or specialist subjects? Maybe you can make a cake worthy of any Bake Off. Perhaps you live in a tourist hotspots, and can teach people from other countries what life is like in your city. You might be brilliant at Photoshop. All of those are valid. Try making a list of everything you know a lot about, and everything you like to do in your spare time. You’ll probably find there’s something there.

Some skills are less tangible. Maybe you work in an office all day and are fantastic at dealing with people from all walks of life. Guess what? That’s something lots of people would like to learn. Maybe you have a lot of self-confidence. Therefore, you might be confident enough to believe you could teach other people to feel the same way. Go for it. You could be a productivity ninja with wisdom to impart. We’ll be first in line. Ultimately, as long as you can plan a lesson around your skill, we’d love to have you on board.

In conclusion…

What we’re trying to say is that, with HowNow, the world is kind of your oyster. You don’t need a fancy teaching qualification to call yourself an Expert, and you don’t even have to be practicing what you preach full time. All you need is a plan, a spare hour of an evening or weekend, and something to share.

We’ll do the rest.

The internet is great. It’s opened up marketing like nothing else and means that small companies actually have a chance of competing with the big guys. After all, you can create Google Adwords campaigns, and so can they. You can make sure your content is seen in the right facebook newsfeeds, and so can they. You can make viral video content just as well as much larger companies.

The increase in internet use for pretty much everything these days does mean, however, that certain marketing ideas that were commonplace are starting to fall by the wayside. But just because they’re seen as outdated, it definitely doesn’t mean that it’s useless to give them a try. After all, your target demographic might not even be big internet users, and what will you do then?

PR Stunts

They say all publicity is good publicity, but free publicity is even better. To bring your brand to everybody’s attention it’s worth thinking about what you can do in the real world to make them take notice. This could be by holding a big event. It could involve going to a public place and doing something stupid (but something legal, please). You could also try anything else which is a bit out of the ordinary. Not only will you hopefully be able to get people talking in person and online, but if you’re doing something weird enough, you might just be able to catch the attention of the press as well.

Giving out freebies

If you have a physical product, take it to the streets and hand it out. You’ll get feedback, and you might also get a little bit of online love from your happy recipients. This isn’t necessarily something we’d recommend if you’re selling, high-end watches, but could work a treat for something small. If giving your stuff out to all and sundry in a public place isn’t a possibility, you could also try sending products to a few well-chosen bloggers or other influencers. However, it’s worth remembering that if they haven’t asked for it, they don’t owe you any coverage. But your product’s so good it’ll totally win them over, right?

Sell in person

We’re not talking hard-selling here, but if you’ve got an online craft store, get yourself down to a few actual craft fairs. If you sell fitness wear, see about setting up a stall at a local gym or a trade show. If you’re running your own online marketing company, get out and network. Potential customers like to know about the person behind the brand, so never underestimate the human touch.

Create something viral

That’s not to say that you should go completely off-topic from the kind of content that you usually share. Your regular followers know you, and if you completely change your style overnight it’s going to be obvious, and might be unwelcome. However, if there’s a news story relevant to your industry that you can create content (or even design a product) around, then grab the opportunity and do it. If you manage to get something shared a lot people will be interested in seeing what else you have to offer, which might just pay off.

Physical posters

Physical marketing materials can be an almost-subliminal way of marketing your brand. The average person needs to see an image almost 100 times before they decide that it’s something they can trust. Posters, flyers, or even billboards can help to get your message out to more people and to slyly signal to them that what you’ve got to offer is worth exploring.

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These are just a few ideas for ways to up the ante with your marketing as opposed to relying purely on your online presence. Some ideas will work for some brands, and others won’t. For more guidance on how to use marketing to enhance your brand, check out the Expert advice available on HowNow.

The awesome thing about freelance jobs is that there’s no application process. You don’t need to wait for permission to start calling yourself a writer, or a designer, or even that vaguest of titles – a consultant. It’s a perfect way to make some extra income, or to take the first step towards a new career. Of course, freelancing is a lot easier if you’ve actually got some money coming in. So where should you begin looking to find your first job?

Freelancer-specific websites

Sites like Freelancer and People Per Hour provide a place for freelancers to connect with potential customers. Generally, you create a listing that details the services you offer and the prices you expect, and clients will list what they’re looking for. It’s a great place to gather information about what’s out there, who your competition is, and what the going rate is. The downside is that if you’re newly self-employed you might find people with more experience competing for the same jobs.

Twitter

It might not be the first place you think of looking, but there are definitely job opportunities on Twitter. Learn any hashtags used in your specific industry and join the conversation. Even if you don’t get direct offers of work it’s still a great place to prove yourself to be the expect we know you are about your chosen industry.

Linkedin

Keep an eye out on Linkedin. You might have mutual connections who you could get in touch with if you know they might be looking for something or have worked with freelancers in the past. There’s also lots of people sharing lots of content. If you catch someone sharing an article about change and you could help them to make it a reality, speak up! You never know where it could lead.

Your local area

Sometimes it’s good to put the screens down for a while and take a trip around your local area. You might find local businesses who are in need of your help. They might not know that yet, but you’re a kick-ass freelancer who can promote yourself, so you’ll soon make them realise. Maybe there’s a local shop who need a website, or a restaurant having a PR crisis. Take advantage of your own local knowledge and use that to sell your services.

Advertising

If you’ve got a facebook page or the knowhow to launch a Google adwords campaign you could always bring people to you instead of approaching them. Make sure to keep it snappy, and try to target the kind of companies you’d really aspire to work with, so that if they do approach you you’re prepared to pitch them with passion.

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Of course, finding work is only one of the challenges to being a freelancer. For more in-depth help don’t forget to check out what’s on offer on HowNow.

SEO is a complicated beast. Google is constantly changing their parameters in order to weed out people who take shortcuts to rank higher. This means that the requirements for good SEO are always changing. However, there are a few basic things you can do to give you the best possible chance of ranking.

Have a high-quality site

Google’s definition of exactly what defines a ‘high quality site’ changes a lot. However at the very least they want to know that the people visiting your site will be satisfied with what they find. That might involve lots of additional content, or just straightforward information displayed simply. It depends on each individual business. You’ll be penalised for not making sure everything is mobile friendly. You should definitely avoid naughty things like hidden backlinks and too many forced third-party ads.

Use keywords

So you want your post to stand a chance of ranking when a user searches for a certain topic. You need to be using keywords associated with that topic (shock, horror). For example, if you were writing about baking, you need to make sure you actually use the word a lo. It’s not something that should cause much panic, since you’ll mention what you’re writing about when you write about it. Google’s bots tend to scrape the first few lines of each piece of content, so make sure you make a few references to your subject matter in the first few lines. However, you also remember to keep it sounding natural.

 Have your keyword in your URL

In much the same vein as the previous point, make sure that your keyword appears in the URL of the page. Whichever CMS you’re using, you should be able to edit your URL to make it say what you want it to. It also helps to bear in mind that once you’ve settled on a URL, it’s best not to change it, because it goes without saying that you’ll be sharing it across your thriving social media channels. Don’t have those yet? No biggie. Check out how to get started here.

Use Plugins to help you

If you’re using WordPress there are plugins that can help guide you through the process of implementing great SEO. For each post you write, plugins like Jetpack will keep track of how many times you’ve mentioned your keyword. They’ll also remind you to add in anything you’ve forgotten, like those pesky pictures. You’ll be able to update your meta description so that you can make it something attractive to your demographic, rather than simply the 160 characters that just happen to get picked up by Google’s bots.

Keep your site active

We’ve mentioned that you could benefit from having a good level of extra content on your site, and that’s one way to keep it active. If that’s not something you’re going for, you at least need to be keeping all of your information up-to-date. This allows the the powers-that-be (Google) to see that you’re still maintaining the site. If they don’t see any signs of activity they’ll question the quality of the UX, and if you’re not careful you might see your account slipping down the rankings.

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Like we mentioned at the beginning of this, the rules for SEO are constantly changing, which makes it difficult to stay on top of everything. The thing to bear in mind, though, is that Google are ultimately looking for high-quality sites with good information. As long as you have one of those, you’ve got off to a great start with SEO. If you’re looking for a more in-depth insight, check out HowNow to find experts who can teach you.