How to Keep Fake Clients from Stealing Your Time and Sapping Your Energy


This is the post I promised I would share with you. Take a look at what Laura Spencer writes about this…


Lessons learned on how the ‘bartering system’ didn’t work for me


Barter is a system of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money. Barter usually replaces money as the method of exchange in times of monetary crisis, such as when the currency may be either unstable or simply unavailable for conducting commerce. (Wikipedia)

It’s clear that money doesn’t make you rich. There may be more value in using the exchange of a service for a service (barter), than paying cash for a service.

I was caught in this web of barter earlier this year, and although not all bad, it certainly had its disadvantages. Take a look and decide for yourself whether you would give something like this a try. If you do, be wise, and consider the following.


  • Does not require payment in money for a service.
  • When wealth in money cannot be stored, especially in bad economic times, then the goods you receive are of higher value.


Value cannot be measured fairly in a barter situation:  On the other hand, in a monetary economy, money plays the role measuring  value of all goods, so their values can be measured against each other; this role may be absent in a barter economy.

Timing and the long-term benefit: What if the service you receive in exchange is not what you need right now? Does it have a time limit? And if so, how relevant would that service be in 6 months from now?

In my case, I exchanged designing a book cover for getting access to a marketing course.  This is great as I can build my online presence through stronger marketing strategies. The only problem with this was Time and Focus.

Time: as you know, courses take time to do on your own, and between juggling the daily business needs, this got lost amongst all the other important jobs to do.

Focus: Focus in business is a big thing for me. Your business approach changes over time.

So in the end, what I thought I received as a valuable deal, ended up being a very dead end street. The only reason it’s a ‘dead end street’ is simply my own doing. If I worked at it then I’d reap the benefits of the good I exchanged – right?

Well no, not really. I’m sitting with a course I have to WORK AT. Only once I’ve completed the course – which can take up to 1 year – only then, might I reap the benefits of the exchange.
The other person received a cover design. Something I also worked hard at. So who’s sitting back and reaping all the benefits?


Other things to consider when bartering

The written agreement

This is the what, who, when and how this service will work between the two parties. Includes things like the process of the job, deadlines, when the agreement ends, etc. Everything you would normally do for any other paying job – WRITE IT DOWN and AGREE IN WRITING.


Promises of fame and fortune

If someone cannot pay you – that’s one thing. But, if someone says, ‘I’m well-known in the industry, and after this job you do for me, I could mention your name to a few people etc. etc.”  Piece of advice – find out exactly what the ‘etc. etc.’ means, as well as these 3 tips below.

  1. The proof is in the pudding: You can’t rely on the promises of fame and fortune by someone you don’t know. This is where ‘knowing and trusting’ the person comes in.
  2. Proven influence in the industry: If your part of the deal is getting exposure/marketing from a respectable and reliable source in your industry, then that’s just plain priceless. But KNOW the person you dealing with, or investigate him/her if you don’t know them.
  3. Unless you doing work for the pure love of it in exchange for nothing, then by all means go ahead. We all do that now and again. Sometimes it’s not about the money, or what I can get in return, sometimes it’s just about the love for the work. Just know your love limit 😉


Undervaluing your business

Giving away anything for free tends to undermine the value of your business. Unless you giving it to charity. So be professional about the way you handle freebies or Bartering. Often people think if you offering a service cheap or free then you can’t be THAT good. Don’t feel intimidated or get crooked into feeling that you have to offer free services. Look at this scenario: Someone walking into a grocery store. Would they be allowed to take something off the shelf, and walk out without paying? Hell no! The same goes for any other business – pay or go to jail.


How does one sort through the fakes from the real clients?
Stay tuned…I’ll be posting a few tips about fake clients I found through another blog post by Laura Spencer at Freelance Mag. The ones who really mean business, the ones who respect and negotiate fair deals – deals where both parties reap the benefits – now and 6 months down the line.

Bottom line is, when you knock your head in business, it doesn’t mean you don’t ever have to go down that road again. Sometimes, it just means you need to approach it differently.  So don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It’s the mistakes that make you wiser, and shows that you’re out there doing something, and learning! Most of all, LEARN from your mistakes.

10 Things on painting book covers


Gregory Manchess


I’d like to share some tips with you about book cover art. Everyone likes tips, so I hope you find this as useful as I have 🙂

It’s a post written by Greg Manchess, an award-winning American illustrator, who works on movie posters, mural paintings, and book covers. That’s just to name a few of the things he’s done! He’s been featured in Communication Arts magazine, and he lectures frequently at universities and colleges nationwide. Clearly a man of many talents! So if you’d like to learn more about him, go check out his website

10 things on painting book covers by Greg Manchess:

Very good advice. Hope it inspires you to DO something with it 😉

The importance of knowing why you didn’t get the job, ‘gut’ feel, crappy jobs, freelancers and overtime


This post might look and sound grumpy like the famous Grumpy Cat, and its been stewing for a while, so I promise it has some happy thoughts in it for you too 🙂


Freelancing is not a science, nor is it based on luck or who-you-know.

It’s about knowing yourself, and having a plan. Many plans!


Too many freelancers and some businesses don’t know why they didn’t get the job. Why a potential client said no to the quote you carefully thought out. Below are a few thoughts I had on this topic, as well as the importance of not accepting some jobs.



Ask – Don’t assume

You’d be surprised how many people are quite happy to give you feedback. Afterall, its business and one shouldnt take these things personally. Unless they outright told you ‘ I dont like you so thats why I said no’. Then you have to  take a deeper look inward and rework some things. Most of the time, its because the other person is cheaper; had less terms and conditions; or because the other person had better qualifications. The point is, whatever the reason, its always good to know. That way, you learn.


Don’t take it personal

I know its hard when you’ve created something from your heart and soul and someone comes along and says ‘ No, thanks!’. But its unavoidable. Its part of the process. Its just business. Businesses find cheaper, quicker, and best ways to do business. So don’t feel bad. Get back up and keep going. And find a different approach if the first one didn’t work. Don’t keep reworking the same approach hoping for different results… that’s just madness… according to Einstein 🙂


‘Gut’ feel

NOT accepting some jobs are hard to explain because it runs with ‘gut’ feel and how does one explain ‘gut’ feel?

Did you know that most of us ignore our ‘gut’ feel – our instincts? And that most of the time we do things we know we shouldn’t or didn’t want to in the first place. We do things because our head said so, or our bank account said so, or our husband/wife or cat said so. Why don’t we trust our ‘gut’ as much as our other parts? We should you know. There might be better human beings on earth for it, and better choices/decisions made. Not accepting the job is just as important as accepting the job. Trust your instincts.



The crappy jobs

On another note, not accepting the crappy jobs isn’t always a bad thing. Accepting crappy jobs doesn’t always ensure you better jobs with that client, or a ‘foot in the door’. I’m not saying refuse to do any crappy jobs coz some of those are training and proof to be a reliable and trustworthy. All I am saying is dont ONLY do crappy jobs in your capacity as a freelancer. Why else quit a stable, crappy permanent job for living on your own terms – as a slave all over again? Be brave, trust yourself, and decide what you’d like to do as a freelancer other than just chase the next sale.



Kill the ‘freelancer’

The word ‘freelancer’ should be removed off the planet! because as soon as its heard, then a different mentality kicks in the minds of some. Not all. Just some.

I’m a business woman doing what I love on my own terms. I design books,  page layouts, have conversations with people across the globe, and lots of other fun ‘stuff’. I’m not a freelancer, I’m a business person providing a service, and building relationships just like any other business.



“I have to work overtime”

Sometimes these words become so natural to say. It becomes part of the job. It becomes the job.

I had a potential client frown at paying for overtime. He wasn’t willing to pay for it because he never had to. And this, my friends, I don’t only blame the client, I also blame every freelancer who never requested payment for overtime. We teach businesses how to treat us. Fee structures are different for each person so be clear about it. But incorporate overtime work into your fee and that client will not accept your quote. Yes, you heard right. The question is: wouldn’t we all be better off not working for people like that ? Everyone deserves to be compensated for work done – especially in their own time. We all complain about it, but never take the courage to say ‘NO’ or approach it in a different way. Improve your hiring strategy – look for people who not only provide a service, but also those who add value to your business for hiring them. Better yet, improve your work environment enough to take money off the table. Improve, improve, improve!



So next time you get a job offer remember two things: One – if you don’t get the job, ask if they could possibly give you some feedback as to why you didn’t get it. And two – its okay not to accept the jobs you don’t want. Keep aiming for the one’s you want, and at the same time keep reworking your approaches 😉


Tell me what you think in the comments below or share this post with those you think would cringe, curse or say ‘Amen!’ to it.


This post was inspired by rejections I had from clients. It was also inspired by good advice I received from Mark McGuinness at Lateral Action (



The video of my talk @ SPIN

As promised, this is the homemade video of the talk I gave at SPIN last week.The audio is a bit out in relation to the slides, but I think you’ll get the gist of it.

I’ve also attached the pdf slides again.

Perhaps my next talk will be recorded a bit more professionally 😉

Do enjoy!

My video:

My pdf slide (just in case):

Sharing Happiness


A blog post I’d like to share from Growing Agile is about measuring happiness in the workplace. And one of the topics I spoke about at my SPIN talk.

The importance of happiness at work is just as important as the numbers in business.

Growing Agile goes into a much deeper look on how happiness can and should be part of business. They suggest some tools to use too.

Check it out… it makes me so happy to read this…

A talk I gave @ SPIN

sharna SPIN talk_low res-46

Two days ago I gave a talk on how I adapted a tool called, Scrum, to work within the publishing design studio I used to work at.

What is SPIN? Spin stands for Software Process Improvement Network. They are a network of people who come together once a month to share ideas on software or anything else which links to the agile tools so commonly known in the software industry. And they find and share ways of improving it.

What is Scrum? In short, Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing software projects and product or application development.

It was an awesome talk. I prepared hard for the talk. I had fun! We all ate popcorn :), and this was part of the presentation theme. The main reason it was great was because of the support I received from the people who took the time out to listen, and support me. I know now what it takes to do something like this, and I have the utmost respect for all those speakers out there who prepares and shares ideas with the world.

So now I would like to share this idea with the world through my presentation I created. I promise you won’t fall asleep.

And for all the Tweets and Retweets I received… thank you all very much.

As Megamind said… ‘PRESENTATION is what makes the SUPER in HERO!’

So here’s my presentation, and I hope to upload the homemade video soon too 😉