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How to Protect Your Intellectual Property as an Online Freelancer

How to Protect Your Intellectual Property as an Online Freelancer

One of my favorite quotes about financial freedom states that you are only as rich as your will power (Wayne Chirisa). Online freelancing is built on the same premise. It isn’t enough to have access to the best resources and tools to hack your freelancing success. You need inner motivation, a trigger that allows you take on the challenge of getting yourself out there among millions of other experts. Freelancing is just the beginning to how far you can go: financial freedom, full control over your own life and availability, the chance to build an international personal brand, constant growth, opportunities and more can be available to you.

However, take note that with great power (and freedom is power) comes great responsibility. This means risks will be waiting just around the corner and it’s never too early to learn how to protect yourself and your work. Your rights as freelancer include protecting your intellectual property. This article will show you how to do it without endangering your online success and the relationship with your clients.

Step 1: Know Your Own Worth and What Work Falls Under Intellectual Property

While there are laws in place that protect the content you create or develop as a freelancer, not everything is considered “intellectual property”. For example, anything under ghostwriting or “ghost” performed tasks implies you are not to assume any intellectual rights. Be aware and stay away from “intermediate” clients who request your services and assume full ownership over it.

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Ideally, do business directly with clients, agencies and agency representatives whose identity you can verify. One way to do it is to connect on LinkedIn. Not only it will help you learn more about their backgrounds, but it is also a great opportunity to ask for a recommendation once the project ends.  A recommendation means the client recognizes your efforts and intellectual property in public, apart from the fat check you receive.

Don’t Be Afraid to Leave Your (Water)Mark

Being an online freelancer means tapping into every possible way to showcase your services and expertise. However, take note on online platforms, portfolio websites and any online forums/communities where you can build a profile and upload files. It is easy to get your hard work stolen on these platforms unless you opt for watermarks and creative ways to prevent intellectual property theft.

Developers can protect themselves by creating a “code riddle” or reversing lines of their code. This way, nobody can actually steal and use the work for their own benefit. Designers and visual artists can upload an updated version of their work, and add a watermark or signature to protect their work against thieves. Writers and authors can protect their work by uploading only excerpts and drafted versions as opposed to the full original work. Another option is to upload PDF excerpts which are password protected. Don’t be afraid to protect yourself in any possible way!

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Encourage Your Clients to Sign an NDA

Non-disclosure agreements are a great way to protect your intellectual property. While clients are more inclined to suggest an NDA agreement, there is no issue with freelancers doing the same. It is never too early to have a signed legal document at hand. Non disclosure agreements prevent both parties to disclose any information about the project before it is completed or even after. Moreover, an NDA can be extremely valuable and useful in cases of theft.

Ideally, the NDA should be not only in English, but in your own and your client’s native languages as well if these differ. Ask a local lawyer’s advice and understand how the document can be used. If you are worried about logistics, a lawyer can help you to understand the ways these contracts can be sent without losing value or authenticity.

Traditional Snail Mail

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One way is to write in hand or type the NDA, sign it and send it through traditional mail, retaining one physical copy. Then wait for the client to return the document signed by them as well. This takes time and honestly speaking, can seem a bit old-fashioned.

Scan and Print via Email

The NDA is typed in Word and emailed to the client for signing. Ideally, the NDA should be in PDF format. Once both parties sign the NDA, the document can be converted into a PDF using a desktop or online app. While most online PDF apps are in limited or paid versions, there are free options out there such as this PDF converter from Icecream Apps.

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Browser and Mobile Apps

A multifaceted signature app that allows you not only to integrate your official signature into Gmail but also obtain digital signatures on your phone or tablet is Hello Sign. The app makes sure your documents are safe by using an encrypting service. RightSignature is a browser app and works great if you need to obtain a signature online. The service used to be free and now offers a trial version.

Freelancers can opt for a cloud storage system to facilitate the document signing exchange and prevent email loses. This not only makes it faster but provides the necessary insurance that the intellectual property is protected and the freelancer can focus on project deliverables.

In The End, Mind Your Head…

It’s best to protect your work beforehand than to have to go through all the stress of feeling double-crossed. Remember: never showcase the original work on websites or online portfolio services and always encourage new or reoccurring clients to sign NDAs.

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

How to Quit Your Job That You Hate and Start Doing What You Love

How to Quit Your Job That You Hate and Start Doing What You Love

Everyone of us has a plan in our head that was taken over by family responsibilities, social pressure or sheep mentality. This made us a slave to instant gratification and started killing our plan and dreams.

There is a way to revive your plans and dreams and live a happier life. No amount of salary can exceed your desire to do something that you are really passionate about.

If you hate your job and have thought about leaving your job, here’s how to quit your job and start doing what you love:

1. Identify if you really want to quit to follow your passion

There could be many possible reasons to figure out why you are discouraged to go to work and start thinking about how to quitting your job. Figure out the reasons or signs that make you feel that you should really quit your job.

If these reasons are not related to your office environment or your ultimate goal is to pay your bills from your job, you should consider getting a new job in the same field. It’s better to be an experienced receptionist than to live a dream that is not yours.

2. Start with the side hustle and keep it going

Work after you get back home and build up your product or service enough to gain confidence to quit your job.

Build the website, write down the business plan, design your product, make marketing collaterals or do whatever it takes for you to start working full time on your new venture before quitting your current job.

You could also consider part-time working opportunities if your current job sucks a lot of your energy. This way you could save your energy and dedicate more time to your side hustle.

Ensure that you don’t quit until your new venture really demands your full time dedication. You might lose interest in your new venture if you fall short of survival money.

3. Save enough to pay your bills

If you need to pursue your passion, you need your monthly bills to be taken care of, without any worries. You must cut down on unnecessary expenses and squeeze in those extra bucks on your savings while you are at your current job. You should forget those weekend parties and social outings unless they’re meant for networking.

It makes no sense to quit your job without having any savings. Your new venture will not start paying you immediately. Starting a recurring deposit account is a good idea to start off with. Put aside a considerable amount every month as soon as you get your paycheque and forget about that money until you quit your job.

4. Write down your goals

It is important to have visual proof and a daily reminder of why you quit your job and started a new hustle.

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Write down your goals and read them at least once a week. If you are a forgetful person, create cell phone or desktop wallpapers of your goals and set them until you achieve them. Visual proof keeps you on track.

These goals are the bigger picture of what you wish to achieve in your pursuit to doing what you love.

For example, if you are wish to design the best dresses in the whole state, write it down. If you wish to fly to Mars, write it down. If you really wish to give up your career for something, it better be worth remembering everyday. Show it to yourself daily.

5. Make a plan

Write down a plan of action for the next 12 months. It’s like writing down an elaborate execution plan in your calendar. This could be a daily, weekly or monthly to-do list of your tasks to achieve your goals.

Learn how to make a plan if that’s not your area of expertise. Ensure that you know what you’re going to do next and not run like a headless chicken after two months of working for yourself.

Review the plan time and again to track your progress. This will give you a clear picture of your performance and your shortcomings.

Also, have a backup plan. Even great planners and strategists fail before achieving success. Ensure that you have a second plan if your first one does not work out as you predicted.

6. Get professional advice

Talk to experienced people in the field you want to venture out. Go to networking events and connect with people in your industry. Most people will help you out with good advice and good contacts.

Get professional courses in part time colleges. It could be great to network and the teachers can be of great help to understand more about the industry. They will help you analyse your plan and connect you to influential people.

7. Prepare yourself to put a resignation

Prepare yourself mentally to quit your job after you’ve realized the potential and prepared yourself to take a deep dive into your new profession.

Leave on a friendly note. Don’t make enemies with your bosses. These connections could help you further in your profession.

Don’t burn the bridges. It’s better to have a face-to-face conversation with your boss or reporting manager than sending a surprise mail.

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Tell them sincerely about your new venture and why it is important for you. Serve the notice period completely and work till the last day. Complete all your tasks as you would on a regular day. This will maintain your respect and keep your relationships intact.

8. Be prepared to get your hands dirty

As an entrepreneur, you have to do everything that’s needed to keep your work going.

You have to perform all the tasks needed to keep your new venture going. You have to be a janitor, an administrator, an accountant, a designer or a salesperson all at once.

There would be a point of time where you will have to perform tasks that aren’t your favourite. Be ready to perform such tasks without cringing.

9. Have no baggage

Don’t have a debt! Clear all your loans, debts and pending commitments before starting off. You want to fully concentrate on your new activity and not be bent down by loading your shoulders with any burden.

You would want to enjoy your freedom to work incessantly. No distractions whatsoever are allowed to come close to you when you are fully involved in the rhythm of development. Shun away materialism!

10. Don’t be in two minds

It’s good to analyze the best and the worst possibilities in your head, but it’s not at all good to doubt yourself.

Move ahead with confidence. It’s your life, your plan and your rules. Nothing and nobody can stop you from doing what you wish to do.

The more you start getting noticed, the more people will point fingers at you. Don’t let them affect you and create doubts in your head. As William Shakespeare said,

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

11. Learn to handle failure

You are going to be a loser and it’s a good thing! If you fail and lose, you will learn to not repeat your mistakes and make yourself stronger with every punch you throw out.

It takes time till you start losing. The key is to not be demotivated by failure. The more the failure, the more closer you are to success.

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12. Try your hands at investing in stock market or cryptocurrency

It’s a good way to keep your side income rolling in. While you are busy building your dream project, you could invest your money in the stock market or cryptocurrency and let it grow while you sleep.

As Warren Buffet famously quoted,

“If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”

Find a good stock broker who has enough experience to not lose your money. Stop immediately if you are losing a lot of money. Don’t burn away your money.

13. Keep a healthy routine

It’s easy to forget about your health when you are working on something that you’re really passionate about. Set reminders about your health routine.

Exercise! Most successful people start their day early and take time out to exercise at least thrice a week. It helps you give more energy and time to your work.

Always remember that you started your new venture to be happier. Bad health will not let you enjoy your success.

Join yoga classes or learn meditation from youtube. Avoid sitting too long at one place for more than 15 minutes at a stretch, take breaks. take a walk, especially up-down the staircase as much as you can to skip age related joint pains and muscle atrophies.[1]

14. Enjoy your days off

Taking a break helps your creativity and clears your mind from clutter. You need your days off to come back afresh and take on your tasks. You can’t be working 24/7.

Remember that being able to take your days off is one of the beneficial quirks of an entrepreneurial journey. You can have a routine designed by yourself, for yourself.

Take your days off when you are too stressed and can’t think straight. Self-discipline might sound simple but practice takes ages. Schedule down time for yourself.

15. Take these steps to quit your job without burning bridges

Resume.io has this infographic about the steps you should take after you’ve decided to quit your job:[2]

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    16. Remember why you quit your job

    Lastly, remember why you quit your job and started doing what you love. There would be bad days that will make you regret your decision, but don’t let them dominate the reason why you took the plunge.

    Your soul wasn’t happy with what you were doing. Your new venture is what you always wanted to do.

    Never forget that.

    If nothing works out, you could still go back to any job you want, but at least, you’d be spared from regrets and constantly arriving “What if?” question in your head.

    So, start now and live without any regrets.

    Execution matters more than thought. Turn your dream into a reality starting today. Start small and grow big.

    Besides, it’s never too late to do what you want to do. Here’s the proof:

    How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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