Guest Post: Elancer Kicks-Off Inaugural “Let Go” Day.e_darrellj | Jun 17, 2013
Occasionally we invite professionals to wax poetic about issues of importance to Elancers. Here are some thoughts from Pat Flynn, a big Elance fan who also happens to be a successful entrepreneur, thought leader and author of the book Let Go.
Today marks the 5-year anniversary of my being laid off in 2008, a day that (at the time) was the lowest point of my life. But after discovering online business, being let go turned out to be a blessing in disguise, and the luckiest thing that has ever happened to me. I have so many people to thank for all that's happened since then, including amazing freelancers. Without them, all of this may have never come true.
It all started when I lost my dream job as an architect. Architecture was my passion and area of study in school. In many ways, I'm still in the architecture business, only this time I'm not creating physical experiences but digital ones. Thanks to social media, podcasts, blogs, and other forms of online engagement, I've been able to build an environment where we can learn from each other about online marketing, small business entrepreneurship, and audience building, all with great transparency, honesty, and humility. I'm so grateful for this opportunity to teach and give back so that others may achieve the same levels of happiness and financial freedom as I have.
My LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) AP exam blog was my saving grace when I was let go. I created the blog to keep my study notes organized as I prepared to test for the certification exam, one of the toughest in the industry. My blog became wildly popular, which still blows my mind because I wasn't even trying to build an audience at the time. My blog simply had really great content that other architects found valuable.
In the weeks leading up to my last day, I took a risk on myself by creating my first digital product, an advanced guide to the LEED AP exam. I published it on my blog where it instantly sold like wildfire. In the days that followed, two truths became self-evident:
Wow, I just became an entrepreneur!
Whoa, I'm going to need help!
I needed help first with creating the audio version of my study guide. Here's the thing: At first, I was reluctant to hire any freelancers. I knew I needed the help, but I enjoy being hands on and have high standards. So I was anxious. But you have to step into the unknown to experience personal growth. So I posted an opportunity on Elance for someone to do the voice over reading of my guide. This was in December 2008.
Bids started coming in between $800-$1500. I was shocked. I'd never paid that much money for anything besides rent in my life, especially for something that I could possibly do on my own. So I tried, but it was a massive failure. My voice was terrible, the audio quality sucked, and I got frustrated trying to edit it all together.
With that lesson learned, I turned back to Elance candidates. After filtering through many, I hired an experienced freelancer who impressed me by reading a sample passage beautifully. I paid over $1200 for three hours of her time to read and record my audio guide. It was scary, but the job was done incredibly well, and I made up the costs of the job in less than three days in sales. It was an awesome experience that proved to me the value freelancers play in profitable businesses. I've been addicted to hiring help when I need to ever since.
Now, I admit that I do occasionally wrestle with myself about how much stuff I can give up doing on my own. I enjoy doing good, honest, hard work. But I know I shouldn't be doing everything myself because there are bigger things to work on and think about as a business owner with an important brand message to share. Recently, one of those things was writing and publishing a book.
I wrote Let Go to share the lessons I've learned through my first five years of working for myself. Mindset and attitude are big pieces of my story as they are for most successful entrepreneurs. The faith to let go. The will to succeed. The humility to care and be transparent. The curiosity to learn new things and meet new people. All of that is key to the mindset of an entrepreneur. Let Go is as much a journey through those characteristics as it is my journey. And that's the point; we're all on this journey together. So let's learn and support one another.
The Let Go narrative was my own and therefore relatively easy to write. But the production side was completely new to me. Thankfully, I didn't try to do it all myself and instead recruited a talented team of creative freelancers to help me build Let Go into an amazing experience. Together, we built Let Go into something much more than a book: We created a rallying point of everyone who has ever let go, bet on themselves, and pursued their own path. That's a result I definitely couldn't have achieved on my own.
Thanks in large part to my amazing freelance team, Let Go became an Amazon #1 bestseller within 24 hours. I couldn't be happier or more thankful to them and to everyone who read and supported the book. Their kindness means the world to me.
My team and I are celebrating this 5-year anniversary in grand style with Let Go Day. If you want to meet other likeminded entrepreneurs committed to big ideas that make a difference, I hope you'll consider joining us. Our Ustream broadcast begins at 12:00 p.m. Pacific. If you miss it and still want to discover my story, there's always the book on Amazon.
However you choose to move forward with your own small business, I hope you'll embrace the opportunities that come along with letting go. That's the first step of an exciting journey. Your journey need not be lonely. You don't (and shouldn't) do it all yourself. Learn from my failures and successes; hire talented freelancers when you need them. They can make all the difference. Good luck!