Ep 295: Create and Prosper as a Writer with Gee Nonterah

Create and Prosper as a Writer with Gee Nonterah

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My guest today is Gertrude Nonterah, also known as Gee – a former medical scientist turned health content writer, podcaster and YouTuber who loves to help bloggers and writers create stellar content and build profitable businesses.

So just to give you some perspective, I had this conversation with Gee on February 26, 2020. I’m writing up the show notes on June 15th, recording this intro on June 16, and you’re listening to this on July 15. And I don’t think that I need to tell you that between February 26 and July 15th, the world changed in many, many ways and is continuing to transform.

And the advice Gee shares in this episode is not only powerful, but timeless. Like, if you ever needed a pep talk to keep going when you things feel hard, you gotta listen all the way to the end of this episode.

Gee and I talk about:

  • Her journey from a medical scientist with a side-hustle to full-time freelancer.
  • How to create an “unemployment insurance policy” for yourself.
  • Ways Gee found her first clients that you might not have considered.
  • The one thing your LinkedIn profile must have.
  • Why you don’t have to have a portfolio to get clients (and what to do instead).
  • How to predict your results (even if you’ve never done the thing before).
  • How to start making money now while you work on scaling.
  • Gee’s strategy for building an audience.
  • Her best advice for you if you’re struggling to grow your side hustle.
  • The one belief Gee had to change about herself to get where she is today.

My favorite quotes from Gee:

  • “Even if you think you're never going to get laid off, even if you think your industry is waterproof that nothing can ever touch it. There's nothing wrong with experimenting with things that you're interested in and turning that into something that pays. You just never know.”
  • “Don’t discount your local businesses who want to pay you money for the services that you offer as a freelancer.”
  • “The most powerful thing is you need to tell people what to do.”
  • “I leveraged my blog and my social presence as proof of what I could do for my clients.”
  • “Taking action really brings clarity.”
  • “I'm going to be the person that I am just a few steps ahead of the people that want to do what I'm doing and I'm going to tell them how I got there.”
  • “You have to rise up and tell yourself that you are worth it and you can do this and you're smart. And there's nothing that if you put your mind to do that, you cannot do.”

Shannon: Gee, thank you so much for being here on pep talks for side hustlers. Can you share a little bit more with our listeners about you and what you do? Yes. Well first of all, thank you Shannon for having on pep talks,

Gee: a side hustle as I listened to your podcast. So being on here really is kind of like a dream come true. I'm a little suspect. So thank you so much for having me on here. Um, so yes, my name is Jean entre Gertrude entre, but most people call meG and I am a medical scientist by training. Um, and then, you know, a, I was a professional side. I slept for a long time and more recently turned that into something that I do full time, even though I still have some part time work in the corporate world. Um, and so my story basically starts, I want to say in 2011 so it says in 2011 when I got married and then quickly realized that, you know, we did not have my, cause right after we got married, my husband lost his job and realized that we needed income to continue to support ourselves and pay the bills were beginning to fall behind on bills.

Gee: And I was in grad school at the time, so there was no, there was no way I was gonna be able to go get a second job. And so I just began to look online to see what else I could do to earn extra money. I didn't even know there was anything like freelancing or the way that people, podcasts it or that people sold courses. I knew nothing of this world. I was just looking to get kind of like a weekend cleaning job so that I would like make some extra $200. But I went on Craigslist to look for something like that and I saw somebody advertising for, um, they, they, it was affiliate marketing. Um, I don't know the words they use them, but they were like, make money online. I'm like, what is this? And so I clicked through that and really that's what started my journey with online business.

Gee: Um, after that day I began to go deep into, you know, people's YouTube videos. That's when I discovered podcasting. So I started listening to podcasts. Um, some of the podcasts I found in the very beginning were um, smart passive income with Pat Quinn and intrepreneur on fire. I think he came a little, came along a little later, but like the, I used to listen to these people and then later was side hustle nation and it was like, wow, there are people out there building side businesses in addition to their regular jobs or they are building these businesses to the level where they can eventually quit their jobs. And this is amazing. So I just began to learn and try everything that I could, but it, it didn't really all come together for me until I would say 2015 I dabbled in blogging. I even created a course.

Gee: I put it up when you, to me, I was beginning to make some money, but because I was in grad school, I wasn't fully focused on it. So once I was done, we moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, all the way to San Diego, California. And you know, for those listening who would not live in the U S those are on two completely opposite ends of the U S and they have completely different cultures and they have completely different standards of living, you know, economically. And so we moved and we just got the culture shock of how expensive everything was in California. So it was at this point that it was like, okay, now I've had the fun of listening to other people's podcasts and reading other people's blogs. And I even came up at that time, I think you had the WordPress, um, your, your WordPress, you did that, you had that.

Gee: So I, I, I took that to learn how to, you know, get on WordPress and stop my blog. And so it was like, OK, I've, I've, I've, I blogged, I, I've done all of these things, but I haven't really made a whole lot of money. So 2015 was the year when I jumped in and started my first freelance business and I started out as a social media manager. Um, the lady that paid me $300, 400 has social media per month, but that was eye opening to me because I was like, what? I can do this. And within, I think once I started working with her, within about three months, I had two more clients. I was making over a thousand dollars a month extra, um, in addition to my job. And for me that was just eye opening. And so I just continued. And, uh, 2017 I kind of moved on from social media management and began to do freelance rating.

Gee: And that was the year I hit my first five figures in, in one year. It was almost as much as I was making as a postdoctoral researcher in, you know, at a medical institution. Um, so I was just like, this is something that, you know, once you take it seriously, it can, it can blow up into something big for you and could become a full time situation for you. So 2018 I got laid off from my job because of budget cuts and I was able to jump into freelance writing full time because I had spent the prior two and a half to three years just building up that side hustle to the point where even being told that I was going to lose my job wasn't as terrifying for me anymore because I knew that when I lost my job, it was not a completely hopeless situation. So that, that's my story in a nutshell, Shannon, and that's what I've been doing until now. And um, yeah. And I'm excited to share the rest of it with, with, with your audience today.

Shannon: That is such a powerful story. I mean, it really is that, you know, you, you really were just like interested in dabbling in the early years and then, you know, just consuming information, getting ideas, you know, and then you said, you know, when I, it all started coming together and you got your first client. But I think the most powerful thing that I heard from that is like when I got laid off, I wasn't terrified because I knew I had this thing over here that I could, that I could fall back. And you know, I think a lot of people listening, you know, don't necessarily want or can't quit their day job, right? Like the health insurance, they get reasons, maybe they love it. Maybe they don't want to quit their job, but they also have these other passions that they like to make some money from. You know, they spend their time on it and you know, you, you unknowingly created your own little like unemployment insurance policy for years. Yes, yes.

Gee: Literally. That's why. And really that's how I thought about it. I never, because I never thought in a million years that I would be laid off for the kind of job that I had. Right. But you know, things happen and, and happened, you know, so, you know, I always tell people to have a side hustle. Even if you think you're never going to get laid off, even if you think your industry is so, you know, waterproof that nothing can ever touch it. You know, that there's nothing wrong with, you know, experimenting with things that you're interested in and turning that into something that pays. You just never know.

Shannon: Absolutely. And, and you know, I just, I see so many, this is a problem now that I have, now that I'm an entrepreneur and I've started my own business, I'm just like, well why wouldn't everybody have their own business and your friends and your family and how smart they are and how amazing they are and how they have these talents and skills that like seem wasted on one employer, right? Yeah. Everybody to like start their own business and get paid more for the things that they're great at. And I have to like reel myself back in to be like however he wants that Shannon, it's spine. But yeah.

Gee: You know, and you know, to that point, right, I realize I always also acknowledged the fact that not everybody wants to be an entrepreneur. I've even had, um, one of my relatives tell me I never want to be an entrepreneur. Um, and you know, I had to come to the place where it's like, you know, I, I'm not one of the people that bashes nine to fives. I'm not, I'm not in that club. Right, right. I have a very healthy respect for nine to five because I think everybody's path is different. And I think for some people in nine to five is going to suit them really, really well. And for some people in nine to five is not for them. And so whichever path that you find is most authentic to you and is most true to whatever goals or dreams you have, I think you should pursue that without feeling the pressure of, of having to choose one or the other.

Gee: Right. And also for those of us that may not necessarily be all against nine to fives but still have the entrepreneurial spirit, this is where I think side houses are a brilliant idea. You can still build that side business and never leave your nine to five. Right. Um, if that's what you never want to do. But I always say that, but if it just so happens that the nine five for some reason doesn't work, then you at least have this other path that you created for yourself. But yeah, I think it's not, I think sometimes I had to, yeah, just like you had to read myself in and be like, okay, I guess this is not for everybody.

Shannon: Well, and you know, I was the kind of person in my day job, like I'm not, I wasn't, when I wanted to start my business, I was not happy with my nine to five, but I changed my attitude halfway through that to be like, Oh wait, I see how this is a huge benefit to me. But I was also the kind of person at my day job before I discovered entrepreneurship or even thought that I could possibly pursue it. That like I would get bored of the same old thing, you know, year after a year where I was like, this is like Groundhog day and, and I can't do the same job over and over again for the rest of my life. Some people are very well suited for that and they love that security and that predictability. Um, but having a side hustle allows you to explore all that other creative things that maybe you can't do in your day job, um, where you can like be creative and take risks and do other things without, um, without constraint, you know? So I just, I think that that's really, really interesting.

Gee: [inaudible] yeah, absolutely. I, I'm, I'm, I'm with you on that.

Shannon: So you started, um, you, you stopped working with social media clients and you started taking on freelance writing clients. How did you find those clients? I love asking people like, what exactly did you do today?

Gee: Get your first clients. Asking that question to myself. I love to ask that question. Yeah,

Shannon: yeah. Our side hustlers are like, yeah, that's all great. But like how do I get that first social media client? Or how do I get that first freelance writing client? So how did you get your first client?

Gee: Right. So one of the things that I have a, I have a YouTube channel and this, how do you get clients is one of my top ask questions. Like it doesn't matter. Like for the last two years I've had this channel almost every time I put up a question like, what do you guys want me to create a video about like clients? I'm like, okay, so I love to talk about this so much now with clients, right? So I'll, I'll talk about how I got my clients and I, I'll probably share some of the ways that our listeners can get clients as well. So my first time I first was showing me the client was through Craigslist. All right. So yes, that Craigslist is, you know, people are kind of wary of presence sometimes because you do hear stories about Craigslist. But I went on Craigslist, um, and there were people, when you go on Craigslist, it, depending on the city you are in, when you go to a section called gigs, this is where a lot of people post like freelance or contract.

Gee: So I went on the gigs and usually they'll have writing, they will have creative. And so I would go under writing or creative and I, this is where I went and found my first client. And this first client was actually a local person here in San Diego. She had her own web design business and she needed somebody to handle her social media for her. So I just reached out to her and said, Hey, I'm also local. And, um, I built my own social media following using YouTube and Twitter at the time. And, um, and I'd love to do the same for you if you would allow me. And you know, when she got back to me and she was really excited that I lived in an, you know, I lived locally to her. So that's one of the first tip I would, I would mention is don't discount your local businesses that people in your, in your city, in your town who want to pay you money for the services that you offer as a freelancer.

Gee: Once you determine what your freelance skill is, um, and if you're willing to put yourself out there, you know, I did that through Craigslist, then you're going to find people in your local area who will hire you and pay you money. And so that's how I found my first client. Another way, I use Craigslist to find my client is supposed an ad. So for the most part, posting on Craigslist is free. Um, but at this time when I posted on Craigslist just to advertise my Lance writing business, um, I had to pay $5. And I'm like, well, it's low enough that if nobody ever sees this ad, I won't miss that $5. So, so, so I just went ahead and posted an ad on Craigslist, just advertising my services. I just mentioned that I'm local to San Diego. I have a background in health care and that I can write for this type of company.

Gee: And I put it up and I think about a week later, I had somebody reach out and I've been working with that client for almost two years now, um, and you know, two years, and that's thousands of dollars in paid projects, right? From one ad that cost me $5. So I'd say that, don't, you know, Craigslist always kind of gets a bad rap, but don't completely cancel it out of your mind and do not discount the part of the local businesses in your area that want to hire you. Another one that has been really another way of getting clients that has been really useful to me recently has been LinkedIn. Um, and so, um, I'm very active on LinkedIn and I made sure I, you know, there's a lot to LinkedIn and I don't want to go in, I don't want to go into too many details on here. Um, uh, on, on, on this podcast.

Gee: But, um, one of the most powerful things is you need to tell people what to do. So I see a lot of people with very generic LinkedIn profiles. They'll just have their name and maybe they'll just have a list of places they've worked before and there's nothing that is calling people to work with them, right? They don't even have a picture on LinkedIn profile. You want to change that. If that's you, right? You should have a picture, you should have a description of what you do. And so if you go to my LinkedIn profile right now, you'll find, um, Gertrude mantra and it has my credentials. And then I say I am a health and bio-science writer. And just that allows me to be found in LinkedIn search. LinkedIn search is a really powerful tool that people on LinkedIn use to search for people they want to work with or want to hire, whether that's a contractor, as a freelancer or whether that is for employment.

Gee: And so having the right keywords in your description, in your title on LinkedIn can really start bringing people to you organically with you having not to do much. Um, and I'm beginning to see that happen for me personally. And so that's another place I have found clients. So, um, you know, those are just a few tips on finding clients is really at the end of the day, just put yourself out there. But these two things don't, don't discount your, your, the local businesses, right? Use Craigslist and if you have LinkedIn, you know, jump on it. All of these things are for the most part for free. I accept unless you're paying $5 like me to put up an ad, but they're free. And, um, if you want to start building a freelancing business and I really think that you should look to these

Shannon: platforms, I love that you brought up, you know, to places where you can really take instant, immediate action and not have to wait to build an audience and all the things. And there's definitely value in building an audience and building an email list and all of those things that we teach about building an online business, um, with a one-to-many model. But when you're starting out and you're working one to one with people like cut to the chase, you don't have to build a whole huge, um, online presence in order to, to, um, to get your first client. So I love that. And I love that you said Craigslist. I know it gets such a bad rap, but I think that, you know, you really can't, there are real people on there who have legit, you know, ads and offers and things and, you know, I think it's, we need to be careful everywhere in any interaction that we have, regardless of what platform we're on. And that's no different, you know?

Gee: Exactly. And, and you know, you just took the words out of my mouth. I was just about to see there's spammers on every platform actually, whether that's Instagram or Facebook or LinkedIn or Craigslist, right. It just happens. So, you know, to be that Craigslist gets, you know,

Shannon: it's got that seedier side. Then probably doesn't have the CD side that maybe it does, who knows? I'm just not out there looking for that.

Gee: Exactly. But, um, I think with every tool that out there, like these two tools that I mentioned, if you're, if you're using it for the right purposes, you will get the good out of it, you know? And, and so with Craigslist, like I mentioned, my first client came from Bay and that first client referred me to two other clients. You know, that ended up, you know, almost $10,000 into my first $10,000 as a, as a freelancer, right. Was, was from Craigslist. So I would not, you know, discom it at all. It is a powerful place to go. If you, if you want to get started at least one of the two, it should be one of the tools in your toolbox. I,

Shannon: so you mentioned that when you got this first client that you had already built up, um, built a presence on YouTube and built a presence on Twitter, um, what compelled you to create those, um, those audiences? Why, why, why YouTube and why Twitter?

Gee: Right. So, so that's a great question. So, and, and this probably would take me back. So I remember when I talked about, I started blogging, right? So I started a blog as a way because once I started reading all these articles and watching all these YouTube videos and listening to all these podcasts, one of the biggest themes in all of them was start a blog, right? And that starting a blog could be a way for you to make money. And at that time I did not understand the whole thing, but I was like, okay, I'm going to go start a blog. So I, I started a blog, which I still have today. Um, and aye as a way of building traffic to the blog, I started to build my Twitter, I started to build my Pinterest. I started dabbling on YouTube a little bit as a way to like, um, to find more people to read my blog, right?

Gee: So I built those really as ways for people to find my blog. And then when I pitched myself or I S I decided that freelancing, so a few years in, I realized that freelancing, if I really wanted to start making money, right? Because as you know, Shannon building an email list, building an audience, it takes time. Um, and you know, getting them to the point where they know, like, and trust you to buy your course and mass so that you, you make so much money. It does take time, right? It definitely is a great business model, but it is a slow burn, I would say, unless you're using ads and all that. And at that time I did not have the money to do that. So I was building it the slow way of just tweeting and retweeting other people's sweeten and so on. So when I decided that, okay, I needed to make money and that freelancing looked like the path I was gonna make me money without even necessarily the need for an audience, what I did was I leveraged my blog and my social presence as proof of what I could do for my clients.

Gee: Right? So for the social media following, I had built for my first client that was a social media client, I was able to show her, Hey, I built a following of a thousand. It wasn't even that many. By the way, you know, for those that may be intimidated, sometimes people really do feel like they need to have 10,000 people following them on any platform to make money. No, I think at that time I had about a thousand followers on Twitter and I reached out to her to build her social media for her, so I was able to use that as proof, right, that I've done it for myself and I can do it for you. So I was actually using that to build my blog, but it ended up benefiting me because I was able to use that as proof. When I switched to freelance writing from social media management.

Gee: I still do some social media by the way, but not as much anymore. But with my blog, I was also able to present that as proof of my work. Because when you're starting out as a freelance writer, you may not have paid written articles out there, but if you have a blog that you have written consistently for the last one year, then you can show people, this is my blog, this is the kind of content I write, and I could produce similar content for you. And even if your topic is different, at least you get to see how I put sentences and words and and structure my whole blog post so I can do the same thing for you. So really the audience building was at first to build up my blog, but later became a way of showing my clients that I've done this before for myself and now I could do it for you.

Shannon: I love everything that you just said because it's like even if you don't know where you're going to end up, just start doing something right. It's like just start doing something that you know that speaks to you. If you love to write, start blogging about something that you know, that you find interesting. If you love to be on video, start you know, making videos. If you love, you know, audio like start creating a podcast. Even if you don't necessarily, if you have passion about a topic and you're not entirely sure where it's going to go, it can always benefit you in some way in the future to have to have that going. And I think that that's, I think that's a place where I see people get tripped up is they're like, well, I don't know how I'm going to make money with this yet, so I'm really stuck on even what I'm going to do. And it's just like, just do it. Taking the action is going to help you figure out what the result is going to be.

Gee: Right. And taking action really brings clarity. I, I just want to put that, to put that out there. Taking action really brings clarity. And the reason I say that is because when I started a blog, right? My thought process was, I remember one of my friends asking the day I was starting the bloat, I think the day after I bought my domain, um, he came over to the house and he was like, um, so what are you doing again? And I'm like, I'm going to start a blog and I'm going to sell digital products to women. And then he was like, um, okay. You know, I think it was completely confused by that.

Gee: And, and the truth was that I didn't even know what I was saying at the time, but starting that blog did build me an audience starting that blog did allow me to sell digital products. But before that all happened, I was still able to leverage the blog as, as, as poof, as some kind of thing to show somebody that I could do freelance work for them. So I completely agree with you that when you take action, eventually things become clearer. And for me, I realized down along the way that well, you know, having 50 people on your email or maybe even just having 20 people on your email, it wasn't enough to to have a, you know, a whole launch. But if I could get one client to pay me $500 or $1,000, then that would make more sense. So now I have these assets that I had built.

Gee: I thought I was going to use them for one thing, but they still ended up working for another thing. So I agree with that. That just gets started as you go along. I think even the people listening to us now, if you're listening to us and maybe you are just beginning on your journey, you have an advantage over me because you know, you don't have to kind of like try to figure it all out. You have the path be laid out for you right now, right. That freelancing is a powerful way and I think Shannon has freelanced quite a bit, but you know, freelance is a powerful way for you to start making money now and then you can work on the other part of the business that allows you to make money later, which is the more passive side of things. And you know, I feel like that's a whole other conversation.

Gee: But um, having that asset of a blog was really helpful to me. And having that asset of a podcast, a YouTube channel, a blog can do. Even an Instagram audience can do a lot for you in so many ways than one. Sometimes it will not be the way that you thought you were going to monetize. It's just going to end up somewhere else and it's still going to be great. And so I just wanted to put that out there. If it doesn't end up the way you thought it was going to end up, don't worry, it's, it's going to be fine. Well, yeah.

Shannon: I want to touch back on what you said about, you know, about freelancing in, in your side hustle, right? Because I think that, you know, when I first started, um, I did, I start, I had my full time job and I started designing websites for clients. That was my, that was my side hustle and then it really kind of morphed into my side hustle, morphed into like two separate kind of businesses. It was like I do this one on one client work so that I can get money now. And then I also have this longer term vision of, you know, courses and content and, and scalable, not passive. I, I the term passive income is, I mean I love Pat Flynn and smart passive income and I know he talks about this too. It's like it's not passive. Like you do have to work for it, but I try to think, I try to correct myself and say scalable like one too many.

Shannon: Um, you know, I can bring in more amounts of money in the same amount of time. So I kind of had like three things going on really. I had my day job, I had my freelance and I had my, um, my scalable income. And so I was like working on all three of those things concurrently. Um, and I think what kept me, uh, what kept me motivated on working on the courses and the, the scalable income was the income coming in from the freelance and what helped me, um, understand what people needed in my courses and trainings were talking to my freelance clients and understanding their needs and how they talked about it. So, you know, I think there's, like you said, there's just so much value in, um, and doing some freelance work, even if it's not your ultimate goal because you're bringing in the cash for one. So if you have like a partner who's like, Oh, you have a business but you're not bringing in any money, you can be like, ah, yeah, I am. And then on the other hand, it's like, you learn so much that's going to help you be a better content creator on, on the other hand. So I just, I do, I love that you brought that up. That's, that probably is like a whole nother, um, podcast.

Gee: It is. It is. It really is. I feel like it's, yeah, we can't go into depth on that, on that, but I do, I do love the value of, of building a content asset though. Um, you know, I really do believe in that and you know, so I'm always encouraging people, even if you know, it's not going to bring you people that will buy a course or buy, you know, some digital product you've created. I do think it can get, it could get you speaking opportunities, it could get you book deals. You just never know where it goes. And so, you know, building that content asset, um, every, I think everybody should have a content asset, whether it's a podcast or YouTube channel or blog.

Shannon: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. So you work, you, you do some freelance writing, but then at what point did you start teaching other people how to, how to grow their own businesses?

Gee: Yeah, so I'm a chatterbox. I'm a Telebox so I always like to tell people exactly what I'm doing. So I'll just kind of like, and one of the reasons I'm, one of the people I really enjoy, I've mentioned his name already, is Pat Flynn. And when I first um, started listening to him and reading his blog, the smart passive income blog, one of the things I enjoyed about him was he positioned himself as somebody that was not the expert, but really like somebody that was bringing you along for the journey. Right? Yeah. I'm doing all these experiments just, just like, just come with me. Right. And that's how we get the authenticity or the authentic brand that PatFlynn has built. Right? Yup. Um, and so when I started I was like, I, you know, I vibed with that a lot and I said I wanted to, I wanted to have that in my business also where or with my content assets where I'm not always going to be the master, the Sensi teaching or the P the little people could uncool.

Gee: But I'm going to be the person that I am just a few steps ahead of the people that want to do what I'm doing and I'm going to tell them how I got there. Right? So I just began to share everything that I did with my freelancing. So with like I just shared with you youth, Craigslist and LinkedIn, I just did a live video on my YouTube channel last week where I was sharing, you know, five tips on how to succeed as a freelancer. And all I was doing was just sharing things I've done before with the people that want to do what I'm doing. So I've always wanted to bring people along my journey and I find that people find a lot of value in that. People love the fact that you've done this before. Somebody, yeah, somebody that has done this before and now you're telling me, but you also don't feel like this, you know, you don't also feel like a million years ahead.

Gee: There are people I listened to that I admire a lot, for instance, in the podcasting world, but when I listen to them, sometimes it feels like you're way ahead of me and I can't relate with them, but then I want it to be a little bit more relatable. So I started to teach people that and I started that at the beginning when I started blogging. So if I learned how to use one thing in WordPress, I'd write about it. If I, if I, if I learned how to do one thing on social media and it worked, I would write about it. And so that's how I really built my blog and my audience is just buy everything. I would try, I would experiment, I'd try things, I'd get results, and then I'd write about it. And it just morphed over time. It's just morphed into me, you know, creating eBooks and I have a chorus and you know, people buying that from me and at me helping other people build their own freelancing business. So the people that, people that have been following me for about the five years that I've really been active with blogging and social media and all that. And it's really interesting because when those people talk to me, they'll say something like, great shoot, we've watched you go from like just somebody that was just telling us what you were doing with your blog to like becoming this person that's an expert in freelance writing. And it's really a nice to hear that feedback from them because I then achieved

Shannon: the thing I set out to do, which was bring people along for the journey and let them see how it was building a business. And now that I'm at a place that is a little higher than I was five years ago, but people that are finding me now, I've seen me as the expert or the people that have called me all these years have come along on the journey with me. So really it all started right around the time I started blogging. And when I would go on Craigslist and do something, I'd write about it. When I'd go on LinkedIn, I talk about it, you know, so it's just a matter of, for me, it was all about bringing people along the journey with me. And now that has turned into, well, it's been five years now and this is, this is what I know and this is how I can help you also build a freelance business.

Shannon: I was also so inspired by Pat Flynn, uh, in, in my business and really, um, everything you said about, um, you know, kind of learning as you go, learning out loud. And I remember he had a saying on his site that's like, I'm the crash test dummy of online business. Right? Yeah. And so, you know, the reason that I even do my income reports is because I valued that from Pat Flynn so much back in the day, even though by the time I found him and whatever, 2015, he's publishing these income reports of probably multiple six figures at the time. But still, they were still so relatable to me. It was like, even though he's, you know, showing all this affiliate income and he's showing his expenses, it's not like the way he presented, it wasn't that it's unattainable for me. It was like, here's exactly what I did.

Shannon: And it's, and you know, here's just exactly what you said and how you, how you take your audience along for the ride. Like, here's what I did and it actually worked in here. I did this and then it worked and I did this and it didn't work. So, you know, all of those kinds of things. And I think what I love about that approach and, and your approach is that it takes the pressure off of us to have to be experts. And you know, that is one of the biggest, um, things I see in, in my audience that are building websites, building businesses, the listeners to this podcast, that they think that they have to present themselves as like the expert in the thing. And that's not always the case. You know, you can be the, the learn out loud. I figured this stuff out. I'm still figuring a lot of stuff out, like hang out with me. I'll share with you everything I know. And as I learn more, I'll share with you even more. And I think that that's, you know, it's so much easier. Doesn't it make business more fun

Gee: to be honest, something it does because I don't [inaudible] you see, I love what you said about people. They need to be experts to share anything with people. People love. You know, there are thousands, if not millions of people out there who, who love to hear about the journey. They love to hear about the journey. Because you know, when you, today when you see people that own companies like Amazon, right? And you see the CEO of Amazon, the founder of Amazon, it's hard. It may be hard to relate to that, right? But perhaps you could have related to him 25 years ago, um, or 20 years ago when he was just starting and, and if, if he had, if he, I don't, I don't think he did, but if he had vlogged his draining through starting Amazon, I would totally watch that. I would totally go at, go back and watch him from 20 years ago because I am where he was 20 years ago.

Gee: So I think it's the power of, um, the power of telling the story and the power of journey and, and not, you know, uh, I like to use the slang fronting as you know, as the expert is so important because it allows you to be you, it allows you to be you. You don't have to be anybody else to succeed in business. It allows you to be you and, and to tell your story consistently and at your pace and, and honestly and, and you are going to attract those people that truly love you, that become super fans of your brand by doing that, you know? So for me, you know, it had, I didn't even know I was trying to build super fund back then, but now I realize that, you know, that was a powerful thing. That was a powerful thing to do. So no, you don't have to be an expert where you are and what you have is enough.

Gee: Just get started, like we said earlier and keep it moving. But you know, you also want to, um, keep learning and innovating because you don't want the story to end like, okay, well, you know, ends in the middle, but you want to keep going so that we over, we get to see that trajectory of your growth as well. But yeah, I think that's a powerful way to position yourself as an expert. So really me helping people think back to the original question, me helping people build their own freelance businesses just started as taking people on the journey with me and um, and reigning them in to build their own businesses. Because now that I've done that, I came from zero and I've done what I've done. I tell people it's possible. You just have to put in the work. [inaudible]

Shannon: I could not agree more. And so, so that being said, you know, and you said, you said reigning them in. So I wanted to ask you a little bit more about, you know, what do you, what did you mean by raining? Raining them in to build their own business? Is it like they're unfocused and all over the place and you're helping them get focused or,

Gee: yeah, so helping people, just helping people. Well, first of all, encouraging people because sometimes people feel like they cannot, they're their failures and that this is never gonna work and they don't have the money and I don't have the popularity and I hate, I hate being in front of a camera, I hit my own voice. I don't know how to write like all this negative self talk, right? There's a lot of that when it comes to entrepreneurship, right? There's a lot of that. I don't, I don't have, I don't have her bubbly personality. I don't have, you know, there are people that I listened to and they read so many books on like, but I don't read that many books, you know, so, so, so, so even comparing ourselves to one. So, so allowing people to realize that, okay, you don't have to compare yourself to anybody.

Gee: You can and you don't have to talk to yourself negatively. It is possible for you to build this business. So that's one part of it. And then the other part is, okay, now let's focus. These are the steps, right? This is what you should do. So I always tell people with feelings, and I'm like, pick a skill, right? If you're building, if you want to build a freelance business, pick a skill. There's so many skills out there. You can, you can do WordPress design, you can do freelance writing, you can do social media, you could, you could be doing photography. Just choose one, right? And then the next thing, let's find clients. And then the next thing, let's now let me turn our first paying client. Let, let's, let's, while the clients, you know, and then the next thing, let's find the next client. You know?

Gee: So just giving them the encouragement that he, listen, all of us, all of us don't know what we're doing. We're just just putting your all, figure it out as we go. And then there is also structure to this. And if you follow these steps, nine, nine times out of 10 it's going to work, you know? So, um, that's what I meant by, you know, just bringing the people in. And, and encouraging them and you know, motivating them and getting them to actually do the work so that they can build that freelance business. Because I've had people reach out to me and say, I wanna build a freelance business cause I want to stay at home with my kids. I'm a homeschool mom or you know, I have a chronic illness and I want to build this business because going to a job everyday is, is winging down on me and it's difficult on me because I have this illness but you know, I need something that allows me to stay at home. So being able to share that with people that it's possible, whatever your situation really is, what I meant.

Shannon: I love that because I feel like one, all the things that you said about like all the negative self talk that we have going on, I experienced a lot of that in, in the early, in the early years where I'm like, Oh I need to, I need to be more professional on camera. I say like too much. I have to edit this part of myself out. I have to be more professional. And all of those, you know, um, poisonous thoughts I had about what it really took really. Um, it helped me back to an extent, um, to the point where I was like spending hours editing my very first free five day website challenge. I edit it out every um, okay. So like I edited out and it was ours of editing a one hour video. Um, but I did that and I got them up and, you know, people were coming through and then it's just, you know, over time it just gets easier and easier and easier, um, to, to put yourself out there.

Shannon: But you do need someone to encourage you through all of that to say, Hey, look, you don't have to not be yourself to, um, to grow this business. And it's like we were saying earlier, it's just, it's so much more fun when you can be yourself. So much more fun when you're coming at it from a mindset of like, how can I just like be of service to someone and a, enable them to get something that they want and just like wow them in the process. And when you were explaining like, here are the steps to um, you know, to really going out there and doing this. It's like you've, you've really boiled it down to the basic basics, but that's all you need. That's really all you need. And I think that key piece of, of, you know, just wowing that client is going to take you so much farther than like having a fancy website or whatever it is.

Gee: Yeah, absolutely. And one does this, uh, there's this saying that I love it says keep the main thing. The main thing, you know, like if you're going to, if you're going to, you know, choose, you know, you're going to do client work, do you know, like just focus on the steps. Okay, how do I get a client? What's the process? Right? Where do I need to go and then move on to the next thing. I got the client now, now what do I do? I do the work, right? So I scheduled time to do this, Rick, and then I deliver the work and then I get their feedback and improve on it if possible. And then I do, I just rinse and repeat. Right. But a lot of the time, like you said, you know, you can get caught up in little things like, Oh, do I need business cards?

Gee: Do I need a flashy website? Oh, I need to figure out, do I need to be, somebody was telling me that they needed to post 10 times on Instagram. I'm like, I have to have 10 blog posts. I can get a client, you know, you have like, just keeping it to the bare bones will, will get you so far. And you know, I'm not saying this because I don't get, I get caught up in this myself, which is why I'm saying this, you know, so then I have to get back to like, I'm like, get back to basics, get back to the main thing and do that. And when you do that, you will just consistently produce the income that you want to produce. So yeah,

Shannon: I love it. I love it. And it's like, yeah, when I'm, when I, so the same way I'm like, Oh, I'm telling you this, but I really need to make sure I'm doing that too. Because I like, I deviate away from the basics a lot. I find myself down, um, down these rabbit holes and then I have be like, no, bring yourself back. You know, that these are the core five things that you do, that every time you do them you get results, you know? And, and so it's, um, it's like put shit and I be over here doing this shit and I shouldn't I be doing Instagram stories? Everybody says I should be doing Instagram stories, but I, you know, I'm just not. And so that's kinda like also, I feel like giving yourself permission to focus on, you know, those core basics and let those other things come in when it's time for them to come in, if it's ever time for them to come in.

Gee: Exactly. And, and, and giving yourself permission to miss out, right. Give yourself permission to miss out because you really like for a lot of us that are solo, you know, side hustlers or solopreneurs, it's just you in your business and it's just, it's just unreasonable to be focused on so many other things if you want to build something successful. Um, and you know, I had an acronym for focus a long time ago. It said follow one course until success. That's so good. Follow one course until success. So just keep doing the main things once you find the main thing that works. And for freelancing it's because skill, get a client while the clients rinse and repeat, you know, get paid and then you repeat the same process. So if you're able to stick to that simple framework, you get where you need to get.

Shannon: Okay. So I could talk to you for another two hours. Unfortunately, we are coming up on our time. I have a couple more questions for you that I ask everybody on the podcast. You said you're a listener, so I'm sure you've heard me ask everybody, both of these. Um, the first one is what advice would you give to a new side hustler who's struggling to get traction?

Gee: I would say that most of the time we struggled to get traction because we are bombarded by so many ideas. So, um, pick one idea and make up your mind to work on that one. I give it your all for the next three months, three to six months, right? Give it your all. Don't pick 10 ideas. Don't pick 20, pick one or sometimes two if you're, if you're, you know, going to be ambitious and then just work on that until you see success. Um, and if you're able to do that, you number one, you'll be able to tell if you like that thing or not. You want to continue doing that thing number two, if you like that thing, then you would have figured out what works for you. You know, there are a lot of resources out there that I think you should, you should.

Gee: So let's say you wanted to freelance, right? Go find out who is freelance writing and learn them. If you wanted to do photography, go find out who's doing photography and learn from them and then implement, right. That's the guest part. Don't just buy the course or watch the videos go out there. And even if it's free YouTube videos, go out there and shoot some photos of, of, of, you know, I don't know what flowers in the yard. Um, and, and start putting that up on Instagram for instance. And, and keep doing that for the next three to six months. You will decide if you like it or not. And if you like it, you will have come up with a system to start getting consistent work. That would be my, um, at least for freelances, that would be my tip for them. So for site has less in general, I'd just say pick one thing, focus on that for the next three to six months.

Shannon: I think that's fantastic advice because um, you know, it's just so tempting to, um, you know, try to one, try to do a lot of things. But then the other thing that you said, which is which is implement, you know, it's like we tend, especially when we feel like we have to be an expert or we can't be ourself to, to think that we're not ready yet. And what we do when we're not ready is we just stay in learning mode. We're going to take another course, we're going to read more blog posts, we're going to listen to more podcast, we're going to read more books, stop acquiring information is not going to help you get any closer to your goal. You have to start actually like doing and learn by doing instead of learning by acquiring more information. And so I could not agree with you more on, on, on focus, pick one thing and then implement like the implement is the key piece in all of this. Yeah, absolutely. So, um, this question I asked everybody who comes on the show and that is what, um, what belief about yourself did you have to change to get to where you are today?

Gee: Ah, Oh yeah. We just have a few minutes. Anyway, that's a loaded question. It's a, it's an emotional question for me, but I will answer it with this. I had to change the mindset that I could not do it. What about it was, I had to change that about myself because a lot of us have been put in boxes our whole lives. We've been totally, you can do this or you can do that or you can do this or you're not good at that. I had to change that notion about myself that I was not good at something and so I did not deserve to get paid for it or nobody would possibly pay me for that, you know? So I had to change the mindset that I could not do it.

Shannon: How did you go about changing that? Do you remember, you know, was there any specific moment or thing that happened that, that shifted that in you or was it just one of those kind of gradual over time or more proof came that that wasn't true?

Gee: Yes. I think as more and more proof came, as I got feedback from my clients on my work as, um, as my audience grew and people were telling me, um, somebody wrote to me from I think Serbia and told me she had started a, um, a social media management business because of me. Oh my gosh. I know. And, and my word is, I don't know if you can hear it right now. I just got goosebumps.

Shannon: No, I got a little Misty eyed with that. Yeah.

Gee: You know, and I was so emotional about that because I was like, like it's me and somebody watched my videos and because of my videos she became, she started a career and she told me thank you very much and that was valid. I was like, you are doing an amazing work at Gee. Don't let any body ever tell you that you can't do this. Um, so I think as time went on, as people validated what I was doing, but beyond people validating the also has to come a time where you rise up and tell yourself, and I know this sounds a little bit more like rah rah, but you have to rise up and tell yourself the you are worth it and you can do this and you're smart. And there's nothing that if you put your mind to do that, you cannot do. I had to tell myself, and even today, even in 2020, there are times I wake up in the morning and I tell myself, gee, you are smart. You are able and you can do this.

Shannon: Wow. That, that is so powerful and just the perfect place to wrap up this episode. It has been amazing talking to you. It felt like 10 minutes. It was so good. Uh, I wish we could continue the conversation, but alas is an hour. So, um, can you let everybody know where they can connect with you and learn from you and you know, become part of your journey online?

Gee: Absolutely. So I do have a YouTube channel. I would say I have a freebie. If you are listening to this and you're interested in a toll and freelance writing, I have a freebie that you can find at G non try.com/writing niches. So you can check that out. I share a PDF on 10 profitable for freelance writing niches. So that's when I ask people to check out. You can also find me on YouTube. You can just type in gene on cha, um, create and prosper. That's the name of my brand. So Gee Nonterah, and you should find me on YouTube. I'm also on LinkedIn. I'm quite active on LinkedIn. So get your PhD, you'll find me there and I love answer grandma's stories. So I G at gene entre. So it's Xenon. Try everywhere, just type in genome. So you're going to find me

Shannon: and I will link all of that up in the show notes. And you also have your own podcast right there. Create and Poe prosper show.

Gee: Yes, I do have my own podcast, the Create and Prosper Show. So yes, if you, if you subscribe the challenge show that you should just go, sorry to my answer. Yeah,

Shannon: absolutely. Link all of that up in the show notes. Gee thank you so, so much for being here and for sharing your story and I just love it when people share like actionable practical steps to help our listeners get what they want. So thank you so much for being here.

Gee: Thank you for having me.

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Bio:

Gee Nonterah is a former medical scientist turned health content writer, podcaster and YouTuber. She loves to help bloggers and writers create stellar content and build profitable businesses. When she is not creating, Gee loves to watch spy movies.

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