Behind the scenes of the anti 9-to-5

Some of you only know me as a blogger, and that's because I haven't had the time to really open up about what else I do.

Almost a year ago, I was thrusted into a sudden crossroad of whether I should continue advancing my career as a digital media marketer or opt for the less certain route of freelancing and maintaining my blog full-time. It was a scary time to tell you the truth - I’ve had no experience running my own business and lack the talent to be a fledging, operations person. I knew I wanted to produce creative, relevant and cutting-edge content through style, photography and experiences - but I also had to sustain a livelihood (read: a more eloquent way of saying “I need money to survive”).

As some of you may have guessed by now, I’ve fully transitioned into a full-time freelancer and consultant - on top of producing creative and personal content for the blog. But I definitely got some help along the way. Although I am still learning more about the freelance life, I want to pay it forward and open up about the essential scenarios of my day-to-day routine:

1. Staying Organized

- One of the perks of the freelance life is the ability to transform any setting into your office space. While I work mostly from my home office, I’m also out and about for meetings that require me to be in a more transitory space. I try to keep all the technology necessary for me to perform my work duties all in one place. Lately, I’ve been carrying

the FaceOff bag


Keep Pursuing

to help me stay organized and have everything I need within my finger tips. Not only is it a multi-functional bag, it’s also quite a stylish one with interchangeable faces.

2. Keeping Track of Finances

- Perhaps one of the biggest realities you'll be dealing with is navigating your finances and expenses. It's important that you're constantly budgeting, because every penny spent should be accounted for. I use apps like


to help me keep track of how much I am spending and earning. When it's tax season, having an accountant/bookkeeper you could go to is ultra helpful. Keep receipts of everything especially if you plan on doing some big write-offs (this could be mileage, gas, equipment purchases, etc). There's also




if you prefer the more DIY approach.

3. Networking and Following Up

- One of the most important things I've learned is that nothing falls onto your lap. You have to show up, be present and always have your business cards at the ready. Despite the digital age we live in, I think a business card is more of a formal exchange and a great way to close a conversation. Be punctual, be brave and always follow up.

4. The Art of Negotiating

- Negotiations, as they say, is an art. It's really meeting each other half way. There's really an ebb and flow to the process. Be honest and upfront about your expectations, while keeping the other party’s needs in consideration. Never leave a negotiation on uncertain terms. If you need to, try to reschedule another meeting to let things mull over a bit. If all else fails, it’s okay to walk away gracefully and keep the doors open for future opportunities. It’s hard to rebuild a burnt bridge.

5. Contracts and Invoices

- These documents are your bread and butter. Not only are they a clear documentation of your services and what terms and conditions are involved, they also legally protect both parties upon signage. I will never commit to a project unless every detail is thoroughly discussed and signed off - it only hurts you in the end if there is no contract involved. He said or she said incidents should be avoided at all costs - otherwise, it’ll end up costing you big time financially.

6. Finding Balance

- This is by far the most difficult scenario I encounter on a daily basis. It’s so easy to fall into a habitual pattern of working around the clock with very little break in between. I naively thought that freelancing meant more free time for myself, but it’s important to establish time for work and leisure. Separately. I have to admit this is easier said than done, since most of my work revolves around what happens in my personal life - so I have to mix business with pleasure occasionally.

I understand that most of these tips are barely scratching the surface of the freelance life, but I hope it’s a helpful start for those who aspire to freelance - even if it’s a part-time gig for you. If you enjoy posts like this - please let me know in the comments below. I love to share the love of wisdom with all of you!

To get you off on a great start, I’ve partnered up with

Keep Pursuing

to give you the gift of organization. The brand is in the process of launching a Kickstarter campaign for the SUB -

here’s a sneak preview of it

- the latest bag in their collection of innovative products. We’re giving away 5 of these and all you have to do is enter using the Gleam widget below.

Deadline for entry is next Wednesday at 11:59pm PST - good luck everyone!

Win a SUB Duffel/Backpack from Keep Pursuing!

*Must be 18 or older to enter, open to both US and International residents

*Prize is generously sponsored by Keep Pursuing - please keep in mind that reward will not be fulfilled until June 2015

*One entry per household

Photography by Randy Tran