Meet Ivan, an online marketing consultant and content creator, as well as one of our TOP CERT sellers on PPH.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into freelancing?
I’m Ivan, a 24 year old content creator with over 7 and a half years of experience in the industry. I’ve started my journey as a freelancer at the age of 16. Back then I didn’t think much of it. Freelance writing was like a summer job and a thing to do until I “got a real job” in the field of my choice. This all changed 2 years into my college education when I realised that I could earn far more as a freelance writer for international clients than what I could earn as a top-level programmer in my country. Thus, in November 2013, I dropped out of college to pursue a full-time career as a freelancer. After that, I’ve had my ups and downs due to the struggles that come with being your own boss, but I’ve learned far more business and marketing skills than I could have via University education. This is thanks in part to real-life experiences and the multitude of open-source education platforms and educational material that can be found online. Today, I can proudly call myself a TOP Cert content creator on PeoplePerHour and an expert writer and online marketer working freelance.
What was your previous job before deciding to go freelance?
I didn’t have one. My first job was as a freelancer. Between 2010 and 2014, I did have a few interesting jobs, but they were primarily due to the freedom that came with being a freelancer. To explain further, I worked as a bartender on beachside resorts one summer and a few months as a bartender, only to be promoted to bar manager two months in, in the biggest snooker and pool club in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. I’ve also had stand-up comedy gigs and was a presenter and even a leaflet (flyer) distributor during election time.
Now what I mean by “the freedom that comes with being a freelancer,” is just that. Freedom. Working on a flexible schedule, made entirely by me, I realised that I could try out any career I want, just for the entertainment value. I thought, “I wouldn’t be willing to become a bartender when I’m 30, but I would love to try out what working as a bartender on a beachside resort truly feels like.” I wanted to see how flyer distributors feel and so I did that for a couple of days. I worked for the sheer purpose of curiosity. This was only possible due to the fact that I was already building a career in freelancing. And only possible due to the fact that you don’t have to be working 24/7 on internships to get a good job. Instead, in freelancing, people choose you because of the true value that you bring to the project. And not, because of a made-up CV, from internships, that for the most part teach you nothing, but how to make coffee.
How did you come across PPH?
It is my job to know what’s happening in the freelance world. If there’s a gig-economy based platform out there, I probably know about it. If I don’t, tell me! PeoplePerHour is one of the biggest such platforms but I can’t remember when exactly I learned about it, or how. Now, the reason I joined PeoplePerHour so late into my freelance career was due to my vision and idea of what PeoplePerHour is, i.e. I always knew that I would join PPH, once I felt confident in my skills, value and professionalism. And I’m here now!
What was your first job like on PPH?
My first project was with an existing client of mine, we just transitioned to PPH. My second project was a small writing gig, nothing out of the ordinary. Now, my THIRD gig was the moment I knew that joining PPH was definitely the right call. (In a sense, that I can expand on my freelance career and build upon my professional endeavours.) It was with a client from the UK, who needed business advice in the food and beverage industry. I’ve never been involved with business consultancy before that, outside of Bulgaria, but I thought “Hey, I’m great with research, I love legal stuff and I know a thing or two about business. I should send a proposal.” I sent a proposal explaining my passion and my lack of experience and he decided to give me a shot. The experience was extremely rewarding for both of us. He was so surprised that he said that I exceeded his expectations by a huge margin and I was extremely happy to expand the range of services I offer with my newly acquired knowledge and skills.
What is a typical day like for you?
It’s an adventurous experience. I never know what I’m going to do on any given day, so the moment I wake up, I do so with a level of joy and curiosity that can’t be described. Now, that isn’t to say that I don’t plan. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I plan in a manner that fits my character. Something that definitely isn’t possible outside of the realm of freelancing.
I am a creative person with an analytical and mathematical mind. I’m quirky and different. I’ve tried a tonne of different schedules, but they didn’t work. Having a strictly defined timeline messes up my motivation, ambition and work process.
After numerous unsuccessful attempts, I’ve found that for me, the lack of planning works best. So what I do, is I write down the tasks I have to do for the upcoming week. Then each and every day, I pick and choose tasks and projects I want to work on in that exact moment.
This results in passion-driven work, on-time project delivery and complete lack of a time schedule for me. Every day, I’m completely free to do whatever I want, but most of the time I choose to work. It’s that simple. Especially when you love what you do! Things just fall into place.
How does freelancing compare to a 9-5?
It is more demanding than people think, but also more liberating than most expect it to be. It’s more demanding in a sense that you have to get to know who you are, what you love to do, what makes you motivated and what demotivates you, how your character responds to pressure, how to avoid distractions and focus on doing what you love at the right time.
These are all questions you have to answer yourself to become a professional freelancer. It might sound silly, but it’s true. And it might sound easy, but it’s not. But finding out what time schedule works best for you, how to communicate with clients, how to be your own boss and do the work you are supposed to, even when you don’t want to. These are all part of the trade.
Nevertheless, the benefits outway the negatives. In fact, I don’t consider all this a negative as well, because I believe that coming to grips with who you are and what you love to do professionally is the best thing you can possibly do in your life career-wise. It’s not a ‘negative’ as much as it is a ‘struggle’ you have to overcome. But a ‘struggle’ that has benefits of its own.
And the benefits? Did I mention that my favourite workspace is lying on my bed? Did I mention that my second favourite place to work is at the bar while drinking a cold one with the boys? It’s true! Just imagine your office, meetings room, conference hall, client’s office and workspace ALL completely and solely in your laptop. That’s it. No time limits. No space limits. Whenever, wherever you feel the inspiration, just put the lid up and you are good to go.
What benefits have you found by using PPH?
PeoplePerHour is a humane platform that offers true career-advancing opportunities to freelancers. It also provides clients with access to professional talent that knows what their value is. Having used almost every freelance platform there is, I can safely state that PeoplePerHour is the only place I felt like a human, a professional, working towards the advancement of his freelancer career, instead of just a worker bee, that is there to fill up a quota of statistical numbers advertised to clients that often treat freelancers with the same lack of respect the platform does. PPH is the only platform I’ve used that respects both its clients and freelancers. And this can easily be seen from the front page, through the support team to the blog.
What does your future hold? Where would you like to take this?
My future is as open to new possibilities as my days are as planned out as my weeks. Locally, I know that I would like to familiarise as MANY people and young individuals as possible with the opportunities a freelance career presents.
Currently, my country has a bit of a workforce crisis. More Bulgarians live and work outside of Bulgaria, than in Bulgaria. We have a problem with immigration and this is primarily due to the low monthly salaries that barely cover one’s monthly expenses. Almost every young and up-and-coming professional goes to work abroad, scared that they won’t be valued here and for the most part, they aren’t. Yet, everyone LOVES their home. Nine out of ten Bulgarians living abroad would return, if only there was a great economic opportunity for them. And I’m not talking about GREED. I’m talking about your work being VALUED.
That’s why, my mission is to send out a message to every young and old person in Bulgaria, that the Internet is not a place of Ponzi schemes, but a place that offers an endless sea of career building opportunities. That you can live wherever and work for whomever in the world, wherever they are located.
As for my international message, so to speak, I would like to help people who’ve had or have the same struggles as I did, when they are on their way towards becoming professional freelancers. And whether nationally or internationally, I want to spread the message and my vision that the gig economy is the future of work.
In the meantime, of course, I would love to continue doing what I love.
What are your top 5 tips for freelancers who are new to PPH?
- KNOW YOUR VALUE – Most up-and-coming freelancers, either set their price too high or too low. In the first case, you may end up losing clients because of bad performance. In the second case, you may end up losing your motivation. Know your value!
- BE COMPLETELY HONEST – Honesty is the way forward. Don’t go over-sharing that you’ve binge-watched the entire four seasons of Silicon Valley on HBO Go, and that you feel sorry for doing so. But do share that you’ve messed up, apologise and move forward.
- COMMUNICATE PROFESSIONALLY – No matter how personal things get with your client, always be professional with your communication. Yet, in doing so, be careful not to oversell yourself. To communicate professionally means to tell and ask the client the needed information for the successful completion of the project.
- PROMISE AND DELIVER – Everyone will tell you “underpromise and overdeliver.” I’m here to tell you they are wrong. Promise exactly what you can deliver and deliver it. If you underpromise, you’ll set the bar too low, will lower your chances of being picked and will not be as invested in delivering the needed results. And of course, overpromising is not an option if you want to succeed.
- WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK – Rihanna puts it best. You have to work, work, work, work, work. It is a job. It has great freedom and benefits. You do what you love. But it is a job. If you don’t feel like it’s a job now, you’ll soon do. And that’s okay. A job is not something scary or negative. A job is something that you are good at doing and getting paid to do. Know the value in that.
What are your top 5 writing tips
- START WRITING – Just stop thinking. Don’t look at your vision board. Don’t go checking your Facebook or LinkedIn. And don’t check your schedule. Stop thinking about the client, the project, the money involved, the audience, the idea, the outline or any of it. Simply start writing and go from there.
- DO PROPER RESEARCH – No matter how low your price is, finding a similar article and re-writing it, doesn’t cut it. Have an idea beforehand, do research of the industry and learn a few stuff about what’s going on. Find information about items you are not familiar with. And in the process of writing itself, check anything that might help you out and continue your research up until the article is done.
- STOP THINKING ABOUT THE TIME – I can’t stress this enough. Stop thinking about the time it takes you to write an article. Stop thinking and planning. As you start writing, the words will start flowing through you and everything will fit into place. You’ll be in the zone. And if you’re not, better change your gig right now. Writing is not for you. But hey, as a freelancer you can do or try pretty much anything, so go for it!
- DON’T FOLLOW MY TIPS – A paradoxical statement, yet, true. Do what best works for you. For me, what I’ve mentioned so far are things I’ve learned the hard way. But I know and am positively envious of those that are strict, 100% persistent with a planned out schedule filled with calendar apps, binders and whatnot. Be in control. Just do what’s best for you professionally. You have the freedom!
- ENTERTAIN YOURSELF – Have fun is too simplistic of a statement. Be ecstatic. Be spontaneous. Be entertained from what you do. Be your own clown coworker and your own silly boss. Be yourself. And don’t forget that a smile and a few jokes always help the work process. Did that sound right, or did I just tell people to embrace their craziness and talk to themselves? Silly me.
What web browser do you use?
Chrome. I’m a Google guy. I don’t just love the brand just for the amazing free services they offer and the information they collect on everything I do online. I put a tick every time they ask me to give them permission to know everything about me. Why? Because I love AI and I love having a machine complete my sentences, recommend me videos and music that I would love to watch and listen to and that knows what I want to research, even before I start typing in the search bar. I can only imagine what the future holds, but having such curated and customised services is something I gladly give my privacy over for.
If you were an animal, which one would you be and why?
An owl. Old, wise and stubborn. Now, I know I’m not that old. I’m also probably not that wise. To be frank I’m not that stubborn either. But, I think owls are badass and that’s what I am.
Thanks for the Interview and I’m sending a personal digital thank you to everyone who’ve actually read that far down the journey of a feature. I hope you’ve had fun. Success to all freelancers, gratitude towards the clients of this platform for showing respect and for valuing the work we do. And a huge THANK YOU to the amazing PeoplePerHour team for making this extraordinary platform of freedom in the freelance gig-economy world. Ivan out! Ivan drops his mic, walks off stage, forgets this is an article and not a motivational/stand-up stage performance.
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