Do you loathe the query letter? I sure did when I started out. And it wasn’t just because I didn’t know how to write them, but also because when I did it was so damned hard to figure out what to make of the feedback I got back.
I mean, there are so many reasons somebody might not get back to you or turn you down when they do. Yes, obviously they might not be impressed by your letter. But it’s as likely they’re overworked, got distracted or don’t need any freelancers. The problem is, you don’t know which it is. And so, often you end up trying to fix something that isn’t broken.
To help you avoid that fate, today I’ll explore what I’ve learned over the years about writing query letters. In that way, you might have a guiding light and won’t have to learn by trial and error like I did.
Continue reading 6+ Simple Insights To Make Your Query Letter More Effective
Have you also noticed the teeth gnashing in intellectual circles? Just check out serious magazines like The New Yorker, Scientific American and The Economist. They’re all talking about how we’re not half as logical as we think we are. And with good reason. The pile of research about the subject is getting bigger by the day.
- There is cognitive dissonance. This says that if we hold two beliefs that are contradictory, we’ll distort one of them until they once more get along. Often – like I discussed in my article 3 Big Mental Mistakes – we prefer distorting the evidence rather than our dearly held beliefs.
Then you’ve got the confirmation bias. It makes us disregard evidence that contradicts our position while paying extra attention to the stuff that confirms it. Heck, we even forget events that contradict our held beliefs!
As if that wasn’t enough, there is the backfire effect. Here when you show people evidence that their core beliefs hold no water, they don’t change their minds. Instead, they come to believe more strongly in their original positions.
Continue reading Why We Resist Change, How to Convince People and Cultural Antibodies
When I started freelancing I didn’t have a clue how to actually get clients. So I did what I always do in those situations. I read a lot. A bunch of the articles I read said I should start on the big freelance sites like Upwork. I guess whoever wrote those didn’t know how to get freelancing clients either. That isn’t too strange, as getting those initial clients is probably the hardest part.
So I followed their advice, created a profile, wrote query letters and spent the next six months trying to break through there. In the process, I learned that it is true what they say. The worse the client pays the more demanding they are.
By that standard, Upwork’s clients are among the most demanding out there. The site is infamous for having clients that pay ludicrously low rates. I charged a cent per word there, which is too little to support my girlfriend and myself. And yet still I was regularly undercut by people willing to do it for less.
Those were some pretty miserable months, I can tell you!
Of course, hardship is a phenomenal teacher. I recount some of the lessons I learned there in the article my life as a warning to a friend and a whole generation. The one that matters most here can be summed up pretty simply.
Continue reading How I Find Clients – Tackling The Most Tenacious Freelancing Problem
All pictures by Bianka Ibarrra
The forest through the trees
The regular road was blocked. Every time we had to drive to the hospital where my father was recuperating we had to take a detour over the Feldberg. What a majestic mountain.
There is this valley near Oberursel which has been taken straight from an artist’s mind. Higher up, between the evergreens, the clouds did battle with the view; swirling, obscuring and sometimes revealing. In those moments, when we saw the landscape below, it didn’t feel like we were looking across the landscape. It felt like you were looking across worlds.
And then there are the sunsets from the top.
Isn’t it funny that at the very moments when we most need to stop and appreciate, are the times it’s the most difficult to do so? We only took this one picture. The rest of the time we barreled on through, barely looking up from internal little worlds.
Continue reading 9 Of The Best Photos From Our Travels And Their Stories
Live on the road and want to get news of what you’re doing out there? Then content marketing is a no-brainer. It’s markedly cheaper than traditional marketing and gives you about three times as many leads. What’s more, you’ve already got the one thing most people struggle with – content. What else would you call do you call a life filled with beautiful places and interesting adventures? That gives you a massive leg up on your more sedentary competition.
Of course, you already knew that. It’s why you’re reading this article, right? You don’t need to be told that it’s a good idea. Instead, you’re here for guidance on the execution. How do you make sure that your attempt at content marketing does not disappoint?
To help you in that regard, here is what I’ve learned from a year of content marketing on this site and elsewhere. None of that regurgitated crap from other websites, where I have no idea of the effectiveness but I rehash it because it sounds good. No. Only tried and tested ideas here!
Sound good? Then let’s stop dipping our toes into the water and jump on in.
Continue reading A Content Marketing Guide for Digital Nomads and Travelancers
We all know about those horrible ‘isms’. You’ve got racism, sexism, ageism, and antisemitism. There is ableism, ethnocentrism, and heterosexism. They all reduce a complex person down to one trait and then use it to box that person in or even oppress them.
We should fight them wherever they rear their heads.
The thing is, while these isms receive a lot of attention, one of the most prevalent ways we discriminate doesn’t get any. It affects billions and yet is barely discussed. It doesn’t even have a name.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about discriminating against people based on where they were born, or – as I call it – locationism. (I’d have preferred ‘birthism’ but unfortunately the very similar ‘birtherism’ has already been taken).
Continue reading The Unmentioned ‘Ism’ That Limits Billions Of Lives
Machines beep. Green and yellow lines wiggle up and down on monitors. My father’s glazy gaze meets us from where he’s nestled in a web of tubes filled with bodily fluids that run the same red, green and yellow. When we ask him how he’s feeling he gives a waxen grin. “No more pain. But the colors keep changing.” The painkillers seem to be working, then.
Even though it’s weird to hear my 70-year-old father giggle like a schoolgirl, it’s better than last night. Then he’d told us it hurt so much he wished he could kill himself. That’s not something you want to hear anybody say; let alone your father.
It was good we came. Even if you do feel absolutely powerless as you sit there, your presence does make a difference. I know. He told me so. That’s quite something for my dad, who showed affection in my younger years with a leg pat or a hair tussle and a smile. To have him take your hand and voice his appreciation means something.
Yes, even if he’s high as a kite.
Continue reading Coming Home And How To Survive Reverse Culture Shock
We don’t find our path. It finds us. Chris Haulmark learned this lesson the hard way. By most standards he had it made. He had a good job, children and a marriage. And sure, he dreamed of seeing the world, but that plan was on the backburner. “I thought I’d get to all that when I retired.”
Then his father died far too young at the age of 54. The resulting shockwaves reverberated through Chris’ life and knocked down his foundation. As he dealt with the sorrow of the sudden loss he started questioning everything.
“My father had worked all his life for his retirement, never to get there. I started to wonder how I would feel if that happened to me. From there I started wondering if this was the life for me. Was I living life to its full potential? Was I all I could be? If I ended up where my father was, would it fill me with regrets?”
For a time he wrestled with dark thoughts like these. He kept going back and forth between his commitments and his desire to see what was out there and – equally important – what was inside him. He couldn’t decide which way to jump.
So his children finally pushed him.
Continue reading Road Interview Chris Haulmark, Former Wanderer And Current Candidate for Congress
“It’s been incredibly hard to teach them conservation,” The caregiver tells me. “The local people don’t get it. ‘Why should we conserve?’ They ask me. ‘Our ancestors have been living like this for centuries and the jungle always provided.’” And on one level that argument makes sense. The Amazon did provide.
Of course, on another level, the argument doesn’t. Their ancestors didn’t kill half as many animals and so the jungle had the opportungropuity to replenish itself.
That changed. The reason? A mixture of innovation and traditions.
- Technologies like guns and motor boats allow the people of the Amazon to travel farther and kill more effectively.
- Medicine allows more people to survive, even while their ideas about how many children they should have hasn’t changed.
- Tourism and technology offer new ways for people to earn a living. But of course, those people (and the tourists) still need to eat. So hunters – many of who still believe the jungle is infinite – go out more often and kill more animals.
All this is causing an unprecedented strain on the environment. Animals that were common only a little while ago have disappeared. Plenty of guides told us how alligators, sloths, and monkeys used to live on the edge of town only a few years before. The only animals we saw while there were insects and monkeys. And we only saw the latter because we visited a sanctuary (where I met the caregiver who explained all this to me).
Continue reading The Myths Of The Noble Savage And The Inevitable March Of Progress (And How They May Destroy Life As We Know It)
Colombia has become the Digital Nomad Mecca of Latin America. So it was obvious we had to go spend some time there. But, as I’m always skeptical of very popular places (okay, I wanted to stay at the beach), we didn’t go to the actual epicenter. That’s in Medellin for those who haven’t kept their fingers on the Digital Nomad pulse. Instead, we chose to spend two months in Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast.
So what did we think? Here’s the short version:
In comparison to Granada in Nicaragua I’d say the city is worse but the surroundings are better. Don’t get me wrong, the city itself is alright. Still, it’s places like Palomino Beach, Tayrona and Minca, which tip the scales. So why not go stay at one of those awesome places? Convenience. Santa Marta and the nearby Rodadero have fast internet, as well as plenty of supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants. Services are stable, with power outages being few (for a developing country). All that is less true in those awesome places. And since Santa Marta is only at most a few hours away from them, it’s a great place to set up shop.
So there you go. If you were planning to skim the article, that’s about the gist of it. Thank you for tuning in. For those that wanted a more elaborate answer, follow me.
Continue reading Freelance Abroad from Santa Marta, Colombia