My first foray into freelancing immediately took me Stateside… well, virtually, anyway. I landed a job as a copywriter for an internet marketing company that was based in Los Angeles. I found it through an application link on Craigslist, which I researched and found to be legit, so I applied. Maybe a day later, the startup founder called me saying he had read my blog and liked my writing, then clicked on my “Contact Me” link and sent me an email.
Ten minutes into our Skype call, I was hired.
No resume requested. No application process required.
I basically said the things the client wanted to hear and know, and unlocked the skills he needed me to achieve so that I could get hired.
I was able to get the job with no prior experience to working online.
I was able to negotiate a monthly retainer fee that was double what I was making in my previous day job. This while keeping a flexible work schedule that was output based, not clocking in, clocking out.
I stayed at this job for three years before venturing out with the skills I’d built up in that company and eventually setting up my own freelance consulting boutique, which I now run through Make it Blissful / Martine J De Luna Events (my company).
The art of hustling. How to work with clients you’ll never see or probably ever meet physically. The skills and frame of mind you need to go beyond “available for hire” to “indispensable to this organization.”
I learned all these and other lifelong freelance “surTHRIVING” skills, working with international clients.
Because it’s not enough just to survive. We have to be valuable on a global standard if we want to work with clients overseas, from wherever we are on our computers and laptops.
This July 2nd, I’m partnering with Manila Workshops and Raket PH on a workshop, “How to Get International Clients.” I’ll be sharing with you the actual strategies I used to get noticed by overseas clients, get hired and get paid what you deserve. The workshop will have a talk and an activity component that’ll need you to step out of your comfort zone and work.
Seriously, guys. There is no moolah with the hustle. And in addition to sharing with you how I got hired to work for a company and other one-on-one client projects while I held a full-time retainer client, I’ll also share with you my mistakes and boo-boos, so that you’ll know to avoid them when you begin working with overseas or international clients.
Interested still? I hope so! We’re ready for you, so join us! Sign up in the link below:
Raket Remedies: How to Get International Clients
I’ve been working with makeup artist Acie Fores for some time now, so it was also time for us to work together on a collaboration! As a makeup artist, Acie also conducts makeup gatherings and Personal Makeup Workshops for her clients and friends. So one day, we met up and thought, “Why not fuse our workshops into one useful and informative collaboration?” That finally happened last May 3, when we held our first Makeup & Mobile Photography Workshop, a two-in-one workshop event. Acie would teach the main portion on personal makeup techniques, and I would do a short, 45-minute talk and demo on how to do mobile photography.
We held our collab in the sunny and pretty nail spa of Nailandia Alaband Hills. It turned out to be an ideal venue, because the streams of natural light pouring in through the windows made it ideal for us to do our makeup optimally AND take well-lit photos with our mobile phones.
Our first session was on the mobile photography. I thought it would be good to have this component early on during the day, so that the ladies could enjoy taking photos of the event while the workshop was going on. We talked about two types of photos that are popular with mobile photographers: the “flat lay” and the “vignette.” I gave the ladies tips on how to optimize their use of natural light, while capturing photos that worked well with their particular brand of camera phones.
Here are some of the shots from the tutorial:
Flat lay of our sponsor goodies
The vignette, which shows some more products within a setting or environment.
Another vignette, also of sponsor goodies from Zoya Philippines
The mobile photography demo allowed me to show the ladies how to take these shots and apply the principles to how they take photos for their Instagram feeds, using their phones. We also talked about what makes for a good, consistent visual brand on Instagram, and how this would help them in creating content for their social media channels, particularly if they had a business.
The makeup tutorial was more in-depth and hands on, with Acie taking the lead. She had a makeup table set up with mirrors, palettes and tools, so that the ladies could follow her lead during the makeup demonstration.
Acie beginning with a short lecture on her expertise and style as a makeup artist. She shared with us her background and education in the makeup arts, and also some of her work in magazines, fashion shows, and bridal.
Each participant received products from Inglot and Biore, which they could use during the demo and tutorial. Zoya, of course, provided each lady with a bit of nail color, yay! Acie also gave an in-depth tutorial on facial style, contours and lines, and provided a helpful face chart that allowed each participant to take notes regarding a particular facial feature (and what style and type of makeup to use for each). It was a very thorough tutorial, I have to say!
After her demo and lecture, Acie was able to sit with each participant and give us personal tips on application and product use.
What a fun, relaxing, and informative workshop! Everything I like in a workshop, actually. Aside from being knowledgable in the makeup arts, Acie was also very generous with her suggestions for each lady, so we all felt personally advised by her. Thanks for the wonderful day, Acie!
We’d also like to thank our sponsors: Inglot Philippines for the makeup goodies, Biore Philippines for the facial care products, and Zoya Philippines for the nail polishes.
Also, I’d like to thank my friends, Denise and Diane Sese-Hernandez, for stopping by the workshop to share a little bit about their new business, Esther 2:12, a line of apothecary-inspired, organic beauty and body care products.
If you would like Acie to conduct a Makeup & Mobile Photography Workshop in your salon, spa or space, visit her website at AcieFores.com and leave her an inquiry. Workshops can be conducted for 8 ladies. max. Stay tuned also for another event just like this, which Acie and I will be conducting again soon!
It’s been a while since I conducted a writing class. If I recall, the last time was 2010, when I was still teaching English to high school homeschoolers at the homeschool support center. Back then, I taught Composition and Grammar to 11th and 12th graders who were preparing for college entrance. I recall always feeling a sense of purpose when teaching them paragraph construction, or how to prepare a mini thesis. Working individually with teens was also fulfilling, especially since most of them were in that critical stage between childhood and young adulthood.
Fast forward to 2016, and I find myself again the teacher of a writing class. Except that this one would be for bloggers and online writers. I held the first “Write Blissfully” writing intensive for bloggers.
Write Blissfully is a whole-day intensive writing workshop meant for bloggers and content creators. With a focus on the writing process, the participants learned the key elements to crafting a meaningful blog post, whether for pleasure or for business or brand-building. (The output of the participants has been or will be posted on their blogs, which I’ll share at the end of the post.)
We were 12 that day, though I had originally meant for the class to be for 8 ladies only. We divided the day into three parts: A short lecture and introduction for the first hour, another 45 minutes to an hour for snacks and a Q & A, and then the whole afternoon for writing.
Our venue was the Savannah Room of the Discovery Suites in Ortigas. Why a business venue instead of the usual cafe or restaurant venue? Well, I meant for the day to be a day of writing. Restos and cafes are great for 3-hour gatherings and talks, but this was an intensive session wherein everyone had to create a blog post fit for publishing.
The group that day was a mix of lifestyle bloggers, and those who owned wellness blogs, business & travel blogs, and parenting blogs. Common issues when it came to blogging were time, finding a writing process or system for crafting blog posts, and editing. We focused on all these aspects during the session, and I crafted a 4-step writing process for each blogger so that they would always be able to craft blog posts on a regular basis.
The question, “How do I figure out what to write?” is the most popular question asked in all my workshops. During this intensive, we didn’t just figure out what to write but also why we should write about certain things, aspects and thoughts. Our intention was to really come up with a process of writing towards our individual strengths, so that anyone — no matter their writing ability — could produce a piece that they could be proud of publishing on their blogs.
During the afternoon, each lady also had time for a one-on-one with me as they completed their writing assignments. While each one submitted their completed blog pieces by the end of the session (their first drafts), we also continued the writing process offline so that each one could benefit from more one-on-one coaching from me.
The result? 11 completed blog posts, some of which the ladies were already able to publish on their blogs, while the others have been reserved for when they decide to launch their blogs. Allow me to share some of the submissions here, which is a sampling of the variety of posts we produced that day:
Jassy’s post: “How I Found Out I Had a Special Needs Child” (Blog type: Parenting, journal/diary) — Jassy is a new blogger, whose goal is to create a space for sharing her story as a special needs mom. Her long term goals for the blog are to grow a community for special needs parents, and to become a reference hub for Filipino special needs resources.
Angeli’s post: “The Crafter’s Guide to Multiple Income Streams” (Blog type: Lead generator, business) — Angeli is known in Manila as “The Bead Lady” and has been teaching crafting workshops both online and offline. Her blog post output from the workshop is meant to inform fellow creatives, and inspire them to create practical income streams so that they can fund their passions and projects.
Karen’s Post: “5 Life Lessons Learned from K-Pop Idols” (Blog type: Lifestyle, youth) — Karen was our youngest participant, and her blog post topic was likewise youthful in its theme! We used a basic “list post” format so that she could create a blog post easily, in spite of her challenges as a writer. Well done, Karen!
I’m so proud of each one you, ladies! I look forward to the blog posts of the others (which I helped them complete from start to finish, copy and editing included). It’s great to be back in the teaching role again, after a long, long time! Maybe I should do another Write Blissful intensive? What do you think?
This is going to be our last Blissmakerie for the first half of 2016, and I’m glad to be collaborating on it with my good friends, Maricel and Beng of The Parenting Emporium. I’m lucky to be neighbors with this warm and nurturing hub for new and active parents. I’ve seen it grow from its humble beginnings as the service center for Medela breast pumps (of which I’m a proud unit owner, yay Medela Freestyle!), to the vibrant community center, event & retail space that it is now. It’s really the first of it’s kind in the city, and I’m grateful to be collaborating with them on this next Blissmakerie.
Why moms? Well, my blog began as Dainty Mom, for those who’ve been following it since its beginnings six years ago. I thought it would be a nice idea to dedicate one Blissmakerie to the community of women who supported all the mommy blogs and still continue to do so. It was only fitting to invite Beng and Maricel to be collaborators in mounting this edition, because they are some of the most admirable moms and parenting champions I’ve ever met. Thank you, ladies!
What makes this edition different, too, is that it’ll be for “mom bosses.” I don’t just mean entrepreneurs, but basically any mom who feels and believes she in the validity of her dreams, for herself and her family. Every Blissmakerie involves conversations and storytelling among the participants, to encourage community. In the same way, the Blissmakerie: Mom’s Edition will bring together moms who want to commune with other moms who have (in their own way) followed their dreams towards the business, mompreneuriship route.
Details for joining are on the poster below. We only have limited slots for this event, and registrations will be handled by The Parenting Emporium. Tickets are at P1,600 and include a meal and a Blissful Box, too. We’d like to thank Bizu, The School of Styling Philippines, and The Parenting Emporium for being the event partners. Also, to The Green Company, So Young Philippines, Indigo Baby, DoTerra Philippines, Mustela and Seve’s Mom, for sponsoring the Blissful Box. (We also have some raffle sponsors who will be giving away prizes to our mom guests, too!) Call 0917-811-0821 to purchase your tickets today.
By Denise Rayala of ROYAL DOMESTICITY
Keep it real. That’s what a lot of bloggers, digital influencers, and celebrities say is the key to having a successful career in cyberlandia. Sure, I personally believe in that, too. Who doesn’t, anyway? However, there have been articles, memes and tweets that kind of say that being real means taking a selfie with a big zit, or posting a photo of your sink full of greasy plates or just you know, have it all unstyled. Because, according to them, a styled photo on your social media accounts is fake.
That’s their opinion and I respect that. You see, I also have days when I just take a bowl, scoop some rice in it, pour the sauce on top of it and plop myself in the couch. Yup, dinner in front of the TV with my favorite telenovela is my thing. But isn’t it nice to sometimes take an extra effort and dine in pretty plates, complete with fresh flowers in a vase? OK, maybe a bunch of baby’s breath in a mason jar to achieve that shabby chic vibe you’ve seen in Pinterest! Please correct me if I’m wrong – no matter how you claim that you are simple or is living the Zen life, a styled table still woos you and puts you in a good mood. Yes? Well, I’m speaking for the females here who love stylish things. *raise hand if you are*
So I was glad and grateful when I represented Make It Blissful in the School of Styling Philippines’ first workshop for the year some weeks ago. Em Sulit and Indy Ycasiano worked together to put up a styling school, currently all situated every weekend in Glorietta 5 Atrium, which holds series of workshops that can help people and creative individuals develop their knack for style. The first workshop was all about Tablescapes and Table Setting. Indy discussed with us the basics of styling the table that fit the occasion. She also shared with us the tried and tested tips on working with whatever resources you have at home so you won’t have to spend a lot. I like that part as a frugal mama, heehee. But my most favorite was when we were given time and a *table* to style! The buffet of beautiful tableware from Dimensione and L’Indochine was like borrowing Channing Tatum from his wife for a day. The comparison has to be that grave, you know.
I cannot forget how my tablemates and I started from nothing. We all have different personalities and I guess, all of us do not want to be leaders for that day. But as it turned out, real graceful women just get the work done as one. Shen, Irina, Lucien, RJ and I produced a table we called Rekindle. I was trying to be funny and chatty that day that I spoke for the group. I said the table reminds us of the song Maybe This Time. If you know the lyrics, you’ll get what we mean. It was not easy to come up with a theme but with the materials the generous sponsors have provided for the attendees, everything was a breeze. And of course, we got schooled! *wink*
Thank you, School of Styling Philippines for having me! I really learned a lot and it was so fun to unleash my inner Martha Stewart for a day. *cue the hearts*
For updates and workshop schedules, like their official Facebook page HERE.
For more photos, you may see it on my own Facebook page at Royal Domesticity.
They say “Necessity is the mother of invention,” right? Well, in my case, it’s also the cause of new beginnings. That’s because in our family, necessity has pushed us into a whole new world: entrepreneurship.
I suppose you’ve been seeing post about my husband’s new business, Shophouse Coffee Co., especially on Instagram. I mentioned it on my post about the L’Indochine x Make it Blissful gathering last November, where Ton launched his cold brew during my Journal Workshop.
Shophouse Coffee is a homebased business that handcrafts cold brew specialty coffee in small batches. It’s always been a dream of my husband to start a coffee business, and he finally did it. Yay! Please support it on Instagram, @shophousecoffee? We are taking orders again for the New Year. Thank you!
We’d always planned to start a coffee business. In fact in 2011, we took up our first coffee appreciation course at the Philippine Barista Academy, which was before the trend of third wave coffee shops and businesses. When my younger brothers began to hang out with the coffee community, Ton and I were just at the sidelines, never fully plunging into things but always open to specialty coffee, its stories and complexities, its pleasures. In 2014, at the EDSA Beverage Design Studio where our Manila Coworking space used to be, I was exposed to specialty coffee each time I worked there or held an event there. My brother Kiddo put up El Union Coffee in San Juan, La Union, which we’d frequent during family vacations up north several times a year, and little by little Ton’s and my appreciation for specialty coffee grew. We’d talk to Kiddo about maybe starting something in Manila, but not really putting much effort into any plans. They’ll happen someday, we’d muse. All in good time.
Related: Following your “bliss” isn’t an emotional thing.
When my husband lost his job in the latter part of last year, we were in a critical phase in our family. Undoubtedly the happiest of times, of course: We had a new baby daughter who arrived gently in January of last year (yay, prayer answered!). But it also meant we had another mouth to feed, another pediatrician’s ongoing bill to consider, and another future to look out for. And, with Vito racing towards the end of his preschool years, we had a lot to consider when looking ahead towards 2016.
And so, we were rather forced to begin.
I guess you could say we were forced to “make things blissful”, too. There was no job in sight for Ton to transition into, and there was this small business which was still in its incubation period, but we had to make it work and get.to.work! and fast.
Months before we began operations, we were still in the planning and preparing phase. We called the business “Shophouse Coffee Company” because the name resonated with the kind of lifestyle we are living, one that is home-centric but at the same time allows us both to make a living for our family. Ton has been working from home longer than I have — almost nine years, actually — and the dynamic has allowed us to really be hands-on in building our family. We just couldn’t imagine having it any other way.
Also, “shophouse” has a sentimental effect on Ton and me, since we spent our growing up years in Singapore (which is where we first met). We both share a love for the shophouse culture, too, and are fascinated by it. We loved the idea of work and home being in one place, so that we could grow our family while growing our business.
We got busy during the Christmas months with deliveries of our Christmas Totes. We had the totes made in a market nearby, and we were bottling for most of December! Yes, “we” because I also help out, but Ton is really on top of things. We hope to bring the cold brew to more places this new year, but in the meantime we have been working through deliveries. Weren’t the Christmas Totes pretty? They came with a helpful insert also on how to enjoy the cold brew coffee. Since the concept is relatively new to people here in Manila, a lot of customers asked, “Why ‘cold brew’? Isn’t coffee meant to be brewed in hot water?” So the insert explains the difference.
Please also read more about Kalsada Coffee, our suppliers and the makers of honestly-sourced specialty coffee in the Philippines: Kalsada Coffee
I’m quite proud of the product we’ve created. Actually, it’s Ton’s product, I’m just trying to be the supportive wife by getting the word out through this blog and helping out any way I can at home, especially when he has to brew. It’s brought a whole new dynamic to our family, this small business that works out of our tiny house. We’ve had to deal with our demons from time to time! But I asked Ton if he would have it any other way, and I was moved by his answer: “It’s worth it.”
Related: Can your passion be your business?
When you are doing something you are passionate about, the early days of your business — the stress, the lack of sleep, the I-don’t-know-what-the-hell-I’m-doing moments, the empty pockets —: these are the “days you won’t forget”, our entrepreneur friends tell us. I’m told we’ll look back at our beginnings with warm feelings (no coffee puns intended). I remember Kiddo saying that there were days way back when El Union Coffee would sell one cup a day, and they’d be happy. I can honestly say I know the feeling, my husband knows the feeling, too! We were so happy with the first Viber we ever got for an order, haha!
Wherever this new business takes us is now all up to hard work and commitment. It’s like how this blog was built, or how anything valuable or meaningful is grown. It’s not easy, and daily we pray for provisions, bookings and orders, for our Viber line to buzz. We call people up, meet with potential partners, and are working on getting the word out there about our new “baby”. Kiddo said to me recently that there were days in El Union Coffee when he’d be joyful over selling just one cup after a whole day of operations. I know it’s these early days that are the rough edges of our dream to one day even open up our own coffee shop!
Related: Part 2 – Can you really follow your passion in business
I’m sharing our beginnings with you because you might also feel like necessity is pushing you to start something. Maybe it’s an idea for a business that you’ve been sitting on for a while. Maybe it’s something on your bucket list that you need to check off. Maybe it’s a goal you’ve been priming yourself to go for but just haven’t hard the guts to pursue to the end.
Our friend Yeng Remulla advises, “Just start something.” (It’s the title of his book, Start Something.) And often the growth, the yield, the success, the bigger responsibilities and even the fulfilment of the dream will come.
So here’s to new beginnings! (And if you want to order coffee, just visit Shophouse Coffee Co. on Instagram or Viber 0998-990-0114. We will also be selling coffee at the #MakeItBlissful InstaMeet this January 23rd.