VTubers are becoming wildly popular in the online world.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As VTubers rise in popularity, so too do the number of VTubers looking to make a name for themselves. A VTuber is defined as someone who has created their own online channel and uses it to upload videos that people worldwide can watch. They often use a virtual avatar as their identity, hence the name VTubers. Many VTubers have become successful without ever revealing their true identity or location. These faceless creators make millions of dollars each year, with no one knowing anything about them except what they choose to reveal on live-streaming sites like Twitch and YouTube.

What gear do you need to become a VTuber?

VTubers need to invest in a high-end computer with lots of storage space and a powerful graphics card. You need a webcam that tracks motion and attaches to your computer.

The most popular VTubers use a blue screen and green room setup, which essentially consists of walls with one color on them in the background of their vlogs, so that when they move around it appears as though everything is happening inside an empty virtual space.

Related: 6 More Ways You Can Use YouTube to Reach Your Intended Audience

How much does it cost to become a VTuber?

The range of how much it costs to become a VTuber is from about $500-2000 depending on the camera, lighting and computer equipment. Getting started with VTubing is fairly easy because there are plenty of tutorials available online to follow along or get a general idea about what vloggers need to produce quality content. You can minimize the cost by using your phone to VTube instead of an external motion-tracking camera.

Facerig, Luppet and VTube studio are software programs VTubers use to edit their vlogs. They allow you to create a virtual mask of your face that VTubers can use for videos.

What are the pros and cons of being faceless?

Many VTubers will say there is a lot less pressure in becoming an online personality because you do not have to worry about what people think or react to. If they don’t like it, then they stop watching or unfollowing. But the downfall could also be that VTubers need to make their content interesting not to bore viewers, which can lead them to feel stressed out when trying to keep up with daily vlogging schedules.

The VTuber, vlogger, and vblogger communities are very welcoming to new virtual personalities because they represent a mix of people from all over the world who live in different cultures. The global community is open-minded about their perspectives on life which can then be shared with other faceless creators around the globe.

Related: Here Are Some Quick and Easy Tips on Growing Your YouTube Channel

How do I earn money as a Vtuber?

Brands have started partnering with VTubers because they offer a cost-effective way for companies to reach their target audience by giving them relevant content that will impact their wants and needs.

One of the key things that virtual creators can do when they start blogging or VTubing is to create an editorial calendar for themselves which will help them stay focused on their goals and objectives. The secret sauce needed by every successful faceless creator is consistency with quality content mixed in with creative flair, something different than what was done before.

VTuber success stories often focus more on the number of subscribers they have rather than their monetary earnings. For a younger VTuber, marketing oneself or having a sponsor creates many opportunities, such as getting invites to parties and paying social media bills. Naturally, the more popular you are, the more sponsorship requests you will receive.

Ways to be successful as a faceless creator

Share the things that matter because VTubers are constantly seeking authenticity. Watch VTubers with a lot of subscribers and see what they do. Seek out feedback to improve your skills, or ask for help if you need it. Create content that will interest others, but keep yourself interested too.

Fans can relate to the vlogs from a first-person perspective and commonplace daily routines that are shared. VTubers represents what we all want to be: young, creative and successful in a way that is not possible offline.

If you’re looking for a way to make money and have fun doing it, I recommend trying out VTubing. You can create your own avatar, dress them up and then start streaming content relevant to your interests. This allows you to monetize in new ways and lets people see you as something more than just their everyday selves or what they are currently wearing.

Related: 9 Ways Brands Can Explode Their Sales With YouTube

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5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ok, I admit it. I’m a control freak.

Not only am I a control freak, but this trait has served me royally in my career as it helped to rapidly propel me up the management ladder, which made me become even more of a control freak. A control super freak, if truth be told. I was a sought-after program manager, brought in to turn around failing projects and underperforming departments. I was considered an expert and was highly paid for that skill and expertise.

But then my career growth stopped. I had topped out.

Don’t become a victim of the Peter Principle

What had helped me grow quickly was now a limitation. There is a limit to what we can control, and as soon as a job exceeds that limit, it makes it hard for us to have that same level of impact. I found this out the hard way, like most people that struggle with the transition. I kept getting bigger and bigger projects with a wider span of control until it got to the point where I was leading teams to where I had no expertise in what they were doing. I now had to trust them, give up control and have faith in their abilities.

But I didn’t want to do that. It went against everything I believed in about myself and what made me successful. So I tried to focus on becoming an expert in these new areas so I could have the same level of control and the same level of success as before.

The result was failure, disastrous failure.

Project overruns, budget overruns, disappointed clients, all of which tarnished the reputation that I had built. I had become a victim of the Peter Principle, promoted to a level beyond my competence, and set up to fail. While it wasn’t that much comfort to me, I realized it wasn’t just me who struggled with this transition; according to Gallup, companies promote people with the wrong talents 82 percent of the time, which can have a devastating effect on your projects and business success.

Related: 5 Habits of Leaders at the Top of the Ladder

The five levels of leadership 

the challenge is that there are five levels of leadership. Level one is the informal leader, someone who, although not having the position, looks to step up and take control of the situation, providing direction and some guidance. Level two is the hands-on leader, a leader that directly contributes to the success and is heavily involved and hands-on in producing the results, often carrying the team on their backs. Level three is the expert leader. This leader is still hands-on to some extent, helping to shape the project, leading from the front, and guiding the team with their subject manager expertise and knowledge. Level four is the engaging and enabling leader. At this stage, leadership changes. It’s not about your contribution to the results; it’s about your ability to engage teams, build teams, and set them up for success even if they work in a field outside your expertise. Level five is the aspirational leader. This is the highest level of leadership. The focus here is on creating the culture and building an environment and organization for sustainable success.

Each level has its own challenges and difficulties, but the biggest and most difficult transition is from expert leader to engaging leader. In all the other transitions, it’s just about doing more of the same but on a bigger scale, but the jump from level three to level four requires a change of skillset. In fact, you almost need to forget the skill that got you level three and now trade It for a new set of skills. You also need to realize that control is an illusion and that you need to focus on building influence.

Develop the people skills that you will need to engage, empower and motivate people working in an area where you have limited knowledge and expertise. You have to hand the control to your teams and have faith in them and faith in your ability to lead them. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where you need to let go of your ego, forget your IQ and focus on your EQ to get the most out of your teams.

It’s no longer about your contribution. It’s about engaging your teams, setting them up for success, and giving them the space to achieve it. The sad reality is that too many either don’t have the skills or the confidence in their skills, and they double down on trying to have control. This is where we see the emergence of micro-managers. They want to know everything about every aspect. It’s their way of trying to keep control and shape the outcome.

Related: How to Leverage Emotional Intelligence and Empathy for Maximum Success

Don’t be the hero. Make the heroes. 

Even if it worked, which it doesn’t, it’s not a scalable approach. There is a limit to how many people you can micro-manage, and your career is now directly restricted to your span of control. You have set your career ceiling at the level three expert leader level.

There is a solution, and that is you need to understand what your new role is. It’s no longer about being the hero. It’s about creating more heroes, teams of heroes. It’s about sharing control and allowing others to thrive. If you can do that, you can transition from the role of expert leader to become an engaging, inspiring leader and continue the climb up the leadership ladder.

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6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It’s probably not news to anyone reading this, but it bears repeating: CTV (internet-connected TV) apps are poised for a boom, similar to the take-off in mobile apps after the release of the first iPhone. And where there are apps, there are ads  you’ve already seen how ad-based programmatic has been incorporated into nearly every free smartphone app out there, and CTV is seeing similar growth. According to Pixalate, over-the-top (OTT) and CTV apps that support programmatic advertising have grown by 232%  impressive numbers for a sector whose user base and viewer counts are still in their infancy.

Entertainment-video content leads installs 

Let’s start with the obvious: Looking at Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Tizen, entertainment-video content is the absolute leader in app installs. (Entertainment video content here refers to channels made by the streaming platforms, such as Netflix, YouTube, etc.). According to 42matters, Amazon Fire TV has a 20.04% share, Apple TV has 19.86%, and Tizen has 40.7%.

However, Roku, one of the most popular OTT device makers, is a leader in faith-based channels  18.91%, representing nearly 5,000 apps, the biggest vertical, followed by entertainment. The surprising popularity of faith-based channels can be explained by one core factor   local churches and faith organizations are finding streaming to be an effective way to get their message across to their members. At VlogBox, we often receive the requests for development of this specific sector; however, without considering monetization opportunities, which is quite obvious.

At the same time, if you’re looking for the fastest growing vertical on Roku, that’d be Kids & Family, which saw the number of apps rise by 4.5% from 2020 to 2021, nearly double the growth in screensavers, at 2.6%. A few things have caused this: the myriad of talented kids’ content creators looking to both establish themselves and gain experience with platforms other than YouTube, and the ease of creating a channel. While that category has the lowest app share currently, at 8.2% of total apps, its current growth trends will have it moving up soon enough. 

Related: The Crazy Numbers Behind Netflix’s 20 Years of Success

On Apple and Amazon Fire TV, the numbers are similar: Games and lifestyle apps make up the next largest share vertical following entertainment. Cooking shows, exercise programs and home decor are as popular as the rapidly growing field of CTV games  across Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, these two categories range between 14% to 16% of all apps. According to Samsung, 2.8 million out of the 34 million active Samsung TVs users have their games consoles connected. Thus, Xbox or PlayStation will see the sense in utilizing native ads in Samsung’s UI and AVOD on Samsung TV Plus.

The pandemic’s impact on CTV-app growth

One of the core reasons that may cause the growth of CTV apps as a whole is  you guessed it — the pandemic. Nielsen pointed out last year that viewing time on CTV devices had reached over a cumulative 3.5 billion hours a week. And those numbers are continuing to rise, even as pandemic restrictions wear off, vaccinations kick in and the world slowly reopens to a post-Covid future  with many offices adopting a “half-week” schedule, time spent at home will still stay above pre-pandemic levels.

But viewing time isn’t the only impact. The economic backlash from the Covid-19 pandemic has been harsh for many people, with the International Labour Organization noting that a staggering 114 million jobs have been lost worldwide. This has created a higher demand for different types of CTV content both for viewers staying at home, experienced publishers and newcomers, as well as advertisers targeting specific audiences. With the variety of monetization models available on CTV platforms, including SVOD, AVOD, product placement or merch, it’s getting easier to start generating additional income  or even to take on video creation and streaming full-time while advertisers are seeing a growing number of inventory.

Related: The Future of Work Is Hybrid

Technological development shouldn’t be discounted either; as those local religious organizations on Roku have learned, making a CTV channel and launching it on a platform has become a breeze. In large part, that is due to the plethora of CTV-app-development companies, and to the refinement of the already existing OTT-channel development and analytics dashboards. 

The future of CTV-channel development looks bright 

With these factors in mind, it’s easy to see why CTV-channel development and advertising are seeing speedy growth. Add to that the constantly growing market share of CTV in households as a whole (80% of U.S. households have at least one OTT device), and suddenly CTV-app development is looking just as promising as mobile-app development, and shares much of the same processes. 

As for the future, games, kids’ content and lifestyle are all exciting and rapidly expanding verticals across CTV platforms. Best of all, these verticals are poised for what I like to call an “Angry Birds” moment, with current growth trends making that moment more likely sooner, rather than later.

Related: China Is the Next Boom Market for Connected TV Advertising and Over the Top Marketing

That means that enterprising game studios, video-content creators and app developers can take a chance on pulling off the same success as earlier trailblazers did on mobile and YouTube. And of course, for advertisers, that means there might be quite a number of unicorns to choose from in terms of sponsorships, partnerships, ad buy negotiations  even product placements, all of which are cheaper compared to linear TV and even large YouTube channels. Considering that CTV ad spend is forecasted to more than triple by 2024, it’s just the right time for marketers to really consider the verticals that may be defining their strategies going forward.

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6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I’m often asked by other entrepreneurs how I grew my public-relations business and how I gain new clients. There are several examples I can share, but I usually start with one answer they don’t expect. I talk about the importance of attending networking events. 

What’s great about networking events is that they work for you no matter if you’re a new business or one with a long history. You can be a novice or an expert, yet you potentially have the same opportunity to meet meaningful contacts as every other person in the room.

Before I walk into a networking event, I pump myself up with a simple thought: There’s one person in the room that I’m supposed to meet. That person may someday in the future refer me to someone who becomes a client, or he or she may directly become a client themselves. The hard part is figuring out who in the room it is that I need to meet. Further complicating the task is that I’m only going to stay an hour or two at the event. Meaning, I need to be efficient to meet as many people as I can before I leave.

To meet your goals and get the most out of networking events, here are eight networking tips that have worked for me and can work for you, regardless of if you’re new to networking or consider yourself an expert. 

Related: 5 Tips for Stress-Free Networking

1. Network like you’re snorkeling

If you’re snorkeling and you swim out in a group, you might scare away the fish instead of attracting them. In comparison, if you go off on your own and remain still, the fish will come to you. If you’re uncomfortable walking up to strangers, plant yourself at a waist-high bar table in a traffic-heavy area of the room and people will start introducing themselves to you.

2. Look for people standing by themselves at a table or along the wall

Everyone attending a networking event is there to meet people. If you don’t know where to go or whom to talk to, look for people waiting for someone to walk up to them. They’ll appreciate that you took the first step.

3. Follow the KISS Method

Not that kind of kiss! KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. You’re not trying to get a date or impress anyone, so don’t worry about having a smart pick-up line. “Hi my name is…” is a fine opener. Have a simple back-up question like “Have you been to this event before?” or “Are you excited for the big sports game this week?” to try and get a conversation started. Don’t talk about work; that’ll come soon enough on its own. Just try to make a personal connection when first meeting someone.

Related: 5 Tips for Authentic Networking in a Co-Working Space

4. The shorter the better

The point of a networking event is to talk to as many people as possible, so don’t stay with anyone too long. Five to ten minutes should be the max. If you’re only talking to one person, invite him or her to join you in walking over to a bigger group. If you’re already in a bigger group, it’s often easy to pivot your body to welcome others in or get someone else in your line of sight and quickly take a few steps towards him or her to move into the next closest group. No one will be offended that you didn’t say goodbye, especially if he or she is in the middle of a conversation with someone else when you slip away.

5. Focus on the connection, not the sale

No one is going to buy what you’re selling during the networking event. Your goal is to make a connection so that you can follow up with the person after the event. Let him or her talk as much as possible. The more you learn about the person, the stronger the connection and, likely, the more he or she will like you.

6. Collect business cards selectively

It’s not a contest to get or give out the most business cards. You’re only looking for cards from people you think you might want to talk to again. The reason may simply be that you liked talking to them, or you hope to do business with them, or that they might be a good referral source for you. After you take someone’s card, write down something from the conversation on the back so that you can email the person about it later. It can be a favorite sports team or something the person said about his or her kids. 

7. Give out business cards thoughtfully

Every card you give out might get you added to another email list or result in you getting calls where they try to sell you on their product. If you someone asks for your card, you likely need to give it out of courtesy. That doesn’t mean you need to offer your card to someone if you have no interest in talking to the person again.

Related: How Networking Can Increase Your Business’ Net Worth

8. Shake hands with the important people

 You don’t need to know the person or even have a conversation with them. If you see an elected official, the event host or an important business leader in the room, be sure to shake his or her hand. Just walk up when he or she is talking to someone else, put your hand out and say it’s nice seeing him or her at the event and walk away. He or she will assume you’ve met in the past and that he or she simply forgot your name. After a few events of doing this, that person will start to recognize your face, and before you know it, will be walking up to you and striking up a conversation.

Networking is a long game, not about closing a sale immediately. The best networkers are consistent and repetitive, but not pushy. Going to the same event month after month, saying hello to the same people and ultimately getting remembered should be the goal when attending networking events. It’s only once you’re truly remembered that the people you build relationships with are more likely to really pay attention to what it is you do, and only then will they work to figure out a way to work with you because they finally feel like they know (and trust) you.

And most importantly, smile! You’re supposed to be having fun at these events! So get out there, relax, shake hands and enjoy the experience.

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6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In-person networking events are returning as more and more people feel comfortable gathering indoors with larger groups of strangers. To some, networking is easy and fun, but to others, it’s an uncomfortable chore. As someone who has utilized networking to grow my successful public-relations consultancy, here’s a primer on networking and how you can get the most out of these events.

When identifying the kinds of networking events you’ll want to attend, the first place to start is understanding what type of people you’re trying meet. If you’re a residential-insurance professional, you may find potential leads at any event, but if you’re only focused on medical professionals, you’ll want to be more selective about which events you attend. 

Once you know the kind of people you are trying to connect with, you’ll need to identify the kinds of events that will provide opportunities to meet these people. One way to do this is by looking at your local industry associations. Sometimes, members get to attend these kinds of events for free or at a discount, but many groups have non-member attendee rates or even offer free attendance your first time so that you can try it out and see how you like it. Another great source to find events are local Chamber of Commerce websites. Some cities also have citywide networking-event calendar websites, which provide details on several events occurring each month. 

Next, you need to decide which type of event you’ll enjoy the most. Do you like a formal agenda, or do you prefer to wander around a room on your own starting conversations with strangers?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be able to select the best kind of networking events that will meet your personal preferences and business goals. Here are some of the most common types of networking events.

Related: 5 Tips for Stress-Free Networking

Structured networking

If you like a formal structure, a great organization to consider is LeTip International, the world’s largest privately owned business-leads organization. They have more than 250 chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada and are credited with hundreds of thousands of business referrals per year. Basically, it’s a weekly meeting where a chapter of 20 to 40 people follow a structured meeting format, which is proven to generate business leads as the other members of the group essentially become your sales team or referral source.

Lunch events

Luncheons also tend to force more structure as well. While you’ll still meet new people, the networking portion tends to be more compressed, giving you less time to talk to people before you sit at a table and eat while often listening to a presentation. If you’re sitting with the right people on either side, you may be able to make a great and relevant contact to grow your network. If you get stuck sitting next to people who don’t interest you, it’s essentially lost time. Once the presentation or lunch is over, people tend to leave very quickly, with little networking, as people need to return to work, so it’s important you arrive early to meet new people at these types of events.

Breakfast events

If you prefer more schmooze time, breakfast events or happy hours might be best suited to your style. Breakfast events tend to have people wandering the room carrying small plates of breakfast foods or sitting briefly to eat and then getting back to the networking. Some morning events also have some formal component to the event as well. For example, sometimes everyone goes around the room giving their 30-second elevator pitch before resuming the mix and mingle part of the event. While every group is different, there seems to be more salespeople attending breakfast events, rather than the actual business owners.

Related: How Networking Can Increase Your Business’ Net Worth

Happy hours

Happy Hours tend to have almost no structure. While some may have the host speak to the group for a few minutes welcoming everyone or thanking sponsors, most often it’s a full event of mixing and mingling. A lot of people will carry an adult beverage around with them, and sometimes a small plate of appetizers as well. The people who attend these types of events will depend on the host organization putting on the event, but attendees will tend to be more decision makers or small-business owners.

Ticketed events

Another networking opportunity would be larger events like an awards event or training presentation where your company buys a full table. In this scenario, the networking usually occurs before the presentation or people are seated. Before you sit down with people you already know, work the room. Look at nametags (if people are wearing them) and walk up to people that you want to meet.

Which events are a match for you?

In the end, it’s pretty simple. Pick the type of networking event that you will enjoy and return to events where you liked the people as people  not as sales leads. I built up my own successful business this way, attending on average two happy-hour events a week for several years. The repetition and being viewed as a trusted regular led to several referrals that grew my firm into what it’s become today.

My only warning is that networking is about the long game, not the short sale. The strategy took at least a year, during which I went to the same events month after month, talking to the same people again and again, before I started getting some client referrals. Networking successfully is a strategy that takes an investment of time, but has the opportunity to pay off in dividends when done right.

Related: 11 Networking Tips When You’re Crunched for Time

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Using your company’s home page to collect data from current customers helps increase the percentage of prospective visitors who end up purchasing.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Most companies have a website because their ultimate goal is for customers to make a purchase. Yet a teeny fraction of the people who visit your site, (as little as 3%, from what we’ve seen through our business) will open their wallets. Rather than pouring all your resources into making everything perfect for that 3%, the smarter approach is to convert the other 97% into regular buyers. 
Related: 5 New Consumer Buying Habits That Can Transform Your Business

Discovering customer intent

Business leaders often turn to task completion numbers as a key performance indicator to get a sense of what’s happening with customers. But metrics can sometimes make you feel like you know what’s going on even when you don’t. 

Let’s say someone wants to see what it would cost them to have an item shipped to their location. They might put an item in their cart to see the final price. You then assume the visitor to your site is going to buy the product, but all they wanted was a sense of the total cost.

Based on our company’s experience there’s about a 70% chance that, if somebody can finish the primary task they came to your site to do, they’ll move on down the funnel to the next step. If you can figure out what they actually came to do, and help them do it in an omnichannel way, then the odds of them buying are far higher.

Related: If You’re Only Listening to Your Buyers, You’re Doing It Wrong

Figure out what visitors came for and how to help

Discovering intent requires you to get data directly from your visitors. There are different ways to do this, but one of the easiest is to have them do an exit survey using a customer experience tool. Throw these out for a random sample, yet not to everybody/every time they visit the site. Ask who the visitor is, what their intent was and whether they were able to accomplish their task. The responses should give you a good indication of what patrons are looking to achieve.

Once you have this information, it’s time to triage and prioritize. Drill down deeper into the quantitative data to figure out what the specific pain points are and make strategic decisions about how to help. Your info isn’t going to be the same as another company’s data and there’s no cookie-cutter way to react to this information. Helping visitors could mean redesigning the site so items are easier to find, streamlining the checkout process, adding products, building an FAQ page and suggesting related options. Keep in mind that you’re not necessarily going to make shifts unless there are enough visitors who are demanding the same change. 

It’s important to remember that just collecting data is not enough. Maybe you have many people answering the survey, but they are misusing your site and aren’t actual shoppers. Perhaps some of your visits come from bots. Make sure you understand the information well enough to take these issues into account. 

Related: 5 Recommendations To Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Buyers

There’s never been a better time to hear your customers

Each patron is going to come to your site to do something specific, whether that’s to see if something is in stock, leave a review or find which of your brick-and-mortar stores is nearby. If you can gather information from your visitors, then you can analyze that data to learn what their intent is and properly encourage them to make a purchase. 

Pay attention to the regulars already spending money on your site, but it’s also important to use customer surveys so as to develop strategies and therefore convert casual visitors into buyers. Over time, this effort will translate into the huge growth you’re after.

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The way people work has changed.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The corporate world has changed more in the past two years than in the past twenty years. It took a pandemic to make people realize that you don’t need to travel for work two hours a day to sit in front of a computer that is connected to the internet anyway.

It is no longer possible to attract people to work at a full-time job in a corporate office because people have realized that the idea of a “safe and secure” job is just a dream that can collapse at any time. There is no need to work at a specific location in a specific city because we all live in the global village called the internet. 

If you have expertise on a specific skill, you can remotely work for the best companies in the world at command earnings that compete with anyone in the world with the same skill. And the best part is that you can work on a contract basis.

Related: 11 Best Websites for Freelancers to Find Jobs and Make Money

So what is preventing people from becoming freelancers and quit their day job (if they are fortunate to have one)? The lack of a personal brand.

The full-time corporate world operates on slightly different rules where you can jump from one company to another based on your personal network and influence. But in the freelance world, having a personal network is not enough, you need a personal brand.

Building a personal brand doesn’t mean becoming popular. A personal brand is built when you add value to people’s lives through your content, sometimes without charging anything for it.

If you want to build a strong personal brand as an influencer, you need to start with blogging. Write a few articles a month about what you learn, what you know and what you have experienced. Writing is the best way to let the world know that you exist.

Related: Here are the Advantages of Working as a Freelancer

Once you start writing, you will see that opportunities will come your way. Start helping out people with your content and then with free consultations. There are a ton of freelancing opportunities in the world, and you can become a specialist in one category. Let’s say, for example, you are an SEO expert. Start writing about SEO on your blog, share them on social media and post videos about what you know. 

Research companies that you want to help and maybe create an SEO audit report for them and cold-email it to them. If you add value first instead of asking for an opportunity, an opportunity will come your way. 

You cannot demand heat before you throw in the piece of wood. Set up a calendar that shows your available times and let people book a free 15-20 minute consultation call with you. This is how you add value and then get a sale, without asking explicitly for the sale.

Freelancing makes you an entrepreneur where the product is yourself. This is the first step in your long journey of building something for yourself, that eventually becomes greater than yourself. 

Freelancing also requires professional relationship skills, sales skills and the skill of adding more value than what you are getting paid for. This skill is vastly different from the skill of being an employee.

If you are not in a full-time corporate job right now, it is time to start freelancing instead of trying to find a job in the post-pandemic, new world order. 

If you are already in a corporate job, you need to start freelancing as a side-hustle as soon as possible. Even if you are just building your brand and doing free consultations, it is more than enough to start with because it creates the foundation for your future freelancing journey. 

You might have friction getting started in this journey if you are an employee or have been one. Because the typical mindset of an employee is to look for security and “something guaranteed” for every piece of effort that you put in. Getting started with your freelancing career is the first step in dealing with career and professional uncertainty.

I cannot tell you what opportunities you will get once you start building your personal brand. But I can say with conviction that once you start, you will start getting opportunities.

Related: 18 Freelance Sites to Find Your Next Gig

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Follow these five ways to learn new skills and stay competitive in today’s professional world.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Learning a new skill can be one of the most satisfying things you can do to grow. Learning a new skill is not just a financially smart decision, but it is also good for your mental health. When you learn new skills, you feel more powerful. New neural connections are formed in your brain when you learn something new. The best way to change your life is to change your mind. And learning new skills is the best way to change your mind, literally. 

When the normal routine of life makes your life dull, having entertainment alone is not enough to recharge yourself. Entertainment can be good for a weekend — but if you do not learn anything new for years, you will start hating your work.

The traditional system of education expects us to finish school and college and then work for the rest of our lives. That strategy might have worked 30 years back as the world was slowly moving towards the information age. It is not going to work anymore. To thrive in this day and age, learning has to become a habit and continuous up-gradation of skills is required to stay relevant and competitive. 

One of the biggest challenges in learning after school and college is that the learning journey becomes lonely. If you are trying to learn from a book or an online course with a set of video tutorials, your learning can become quite stressful. Students learn best when they are energetic and happy. And the only way to feel energetic and happy during your learning journey is to be part of a community that has the same learning goals as yours. 

1. Sign up for a cohort-based online course

Many online courses nowadays are cohort-based, and cohort-based online courses usually have a community around them. Being part of a community can impact your learning journey in very subtle ways that are not obvious. Remember, you are the average of the five people around you. 

If you are part of a learning community where you see other students have similar goals such as yours and if you see that they are making progress with their professional journey, you are highly likely to grow along with them. You will have a positive pressure to achieve results.

Related: Why Remote Learning is an Avenue That is Worth Exploring

2. Sign up for a mastermind program

After the completion of the online course, you can think about becoming part of a mastermind community where the learning journey continues beyond the course duration. A mastermind community is usually led by a mentor, and you will have the best of the best students as part of the community. 

Mastermind community memberships usually come at a premium, but it is worth the premium because the ideas that you get from the community for your career and business will be well worth the price. 

3. Start blogging about what you’ve learned

To make sure that you do not forget what you learn, take notes and write about what you have learned in your blog. Writing organizes your thought process and it is one of the best ways to remember. 

If you write in a public blog, you can also build your brand at the same time and may even start having some subscribers who want to copy your notes. A lot of digital mentors have built their following because they started taking their notes in public. 

Related: 4 Tips for Finding Your Profitable Blogging Niche

4. Implement your learning

You also have to make sure that you implement what you learn. Implementation is very important because when you implement your learnings and get results, you are going to have validated learning. Validating what you have learned will make sure that the concepts you are trying to learn will go from information to understanding. 

Once you understand something new, you will feel powerful and your perspective will expand. Once your perspective has expanded to new horizons, you will never be able to get back to your original state of thinking.

Also, implementing what you have learned gives you a project in hand. You get hired for what you can do, not what you know. Online course certificates usually prove that the student knows something, but not that they can do something. When you do a project, the project proves that you can do something. And who knows — the project can become a side hustle and may even become a business someday.

5. Become a digital mentor and teach

And finally, start teaching what you have learned to your followers. If you are already blogging and vlogging about what you know, you will have an audience. Create a smaller mastermind group where you are the mentor and help your students. This will mostly happen online. You are effectively becoming a digital mentor for your students. Teaching is one of the best ways to learn, because it forces you to simplify the concepts you already have in your mind.

Related: How VR Will Accelerate Talent Learning and Development

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Kick-start your picture perfect profession.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It is no secret that influencers can earn great money from their social networking accounts or blogs. The popularity that social media has received in the last decade has made this profession a dream job for many people. Being a well-known public figure is not just a hobby, but for some, a full-time occupation. Since pursuing this career path is becoming a more common objective, many entrepreneurs are wondering, How do I earn money from posting on social media? It is possible to make a lucrative business through being an influencer if you follow these five tips. 

1. Stick to your niche

In order to influence your fan base in a certain field, you first have to select a niche. If you do not pick one, you will have a hard time building an audience of people that are engaged and interested in your message. You do not have to limit yourself to just one category, but be sure your individual niches align with one another in some way. For example, you can combine health and fitness with lifestyle or beauty. It is also important to remember that your niche is not going to appeal to everyone, especially when you are just beginning your career as an influencer. The key to becoming successful in this profession is adding your unique voice and thoughts to everything you do. This will allow you to show off your strengths, passions and personality. 

2. Get a great publicist

For an influencer that is just starting out it is important for the public to know, and understand, who you are, what you do, and what separates you from other people in your field. Choosing the right publicist could be the difference between having a thriving career or failing in this profession. Publicists generate news stories to get their clients in front of the press and always be top of mind, making them invaluable when it comes to launching your influencing career.

Social media has opened new doors of publicity and fame for young people. Having a publicist on your team can put you a step closer to stardom because they have a clear understanding of media trends and the importance of building a strong foundation with your audience.

Related: 10 Ways to Get Global PR Exposure

3. Create shareable content

As an influencer, you have to consistently create content that your audience will love. The information must be high quality and packed full of value in order keep your fans engaged and following you for more. Plan your marketing strategy for social media by deciding on your goals and the type of content that will help you reach them. Determine how often you will post on each platform, and also what time, so you can receive the most engagement from your audience. The crucial thing here, as mentioned before, is adding your unique voice to all your content and establishing your image as an influencer. 

4. Engage your audience

Your success as an influencer depends a great deal on finding the right audience and community to support you. Without followers and fans, your brand does not hold much value on social media. Your target audience is the people that will power your brand, so they should be your main focus when you think about what to post. 

Your ideal fan base will depend on the market you are trying to tap into and your content quality should match their interests. Also pay attention to the comments on your posts or create posts that will engage your viewers so you can have more insight on what your fans want to see more or less of from your posts. This will make your followers feel closer to you and strengthen their loyalty. Knowing and engaging with your audience is important because it shows that you value them as much as they value you. 

Related: 7 Strategies Entrepreneurs Can Learn From The Kardashians

5. Collaborate with other influencers

Collaborating with other established influencers in your niche can be a great way to increase your followers. Some public figures on social media have a huge reach and working with them can help expose your content to different audiences and bring more traffic to your profiles. To increase your chances of success, you can feature influencers in your content by doing interviews or covering their stories. Then tag them when you share the post and they will more than likely share it on their own profiles for their audience as well. 

When it comes to making money as a social media creator, the sky’s the limit. Taking the necessary steps to avoid mistakes that are frequently made by beginners is an important part of the process. In this profession you are encouraged to be creative and unique in order to stand out and attract a solid fan base. By following these five tips you will increase your chances of building a lucrative career from being an influencer in no time at all.

Related: Being an Influencer is a Job

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You might think that enjoying your last cup of joe in the late afternoon is enough to avoid adverse sleep effects, but science says otherwise.

3 min read

If you’re like most Americans, you start your morning by reaching for the hot cup of coffee — or several — that gives you the energy boost necessary to get through the day; 62% of people in the U.S. drink some form of the beverage every day, with consumption increasing in the younger demographic, according to Reuters

You’ve probably heard that caffeine can disrupt your sleep, but many people think that downing their last cup in the late afternoon, or even in the early evening, is early enough to avoid any adverse effects come bedtime. Unfortunately, the science says otherwise: Independent cites research suggesting that you should hold off on the magical bean brew once 2 p.m. rolls around, or at least seven hours before you plan to go to bed. 

Related: 5 Ways That Coffee Affects Productivity

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, consuming caffeine in the six hours before bed won’t necessarily keep you awake, but it will reduce your quality of sleep. It also wreaks havoc on your body’s internal clock, mimicking the effect of jet lag. According to another study published in Science Translational Medicine, enjoying a double espresso three hours before bed (or its equivalent, approximately 60-100mg of caffeine) can wind your body’s clock back by nearly an hour. 

When it comes to how many cups you should be drinking per day, the Mayo Clinic recommends about four, which should approximate 400mg of caffeine.

Soda- and energy drink-lovers should take note of these findings too — caffeine is caffeine, which means that the suggested 2 p.m. cutoff also applies. 

What’s the big deal? Disrupting the body’s clock does more than leave you feeling groggy the next day; it’s also been linked to heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s. 

It’s not all bad news though: As long as you get your java fill between 10 a.m and noon — the window of time when that rush of caffeine is most needed and most effective — you can reap the rewards of your daily habit without worrying about the costs. 

Related: Do You Drink More Coffee Than Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Other Creative Leaders?

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