Online Courses & Creative Community

Article and Design

How A Freelancer/Entrepreneur Makes A Difference To The Freelancers Community One Video At A Time

Online Courses & Creative Community
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July 19, 2022

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

I am Margaret Sulapas, a freelance digital marketing strategist based in Australia. I was born and raised in the Philippines but moved to Australia after my mother died.

I am basically doing two things in simple terms: 

  1. I am a digital marketing strategist and a solo-entrepreneur 
  2. I also teach other people what I do so they can earn a living from it 

To explain what I do….

I am a freelancer and solopreneur and I created the Article and Design (A&D) communityIn the A&D community, I share everything I learned from freelancing, making money online, and building digital businesses for myself and my clients. I see all my projects as full-time "play", not jobs since I always choose to do the work I love. And yes you can say the content creation I am doing for Article and Design community is a full-time job. 

Coming up with my brand name, Article and Design, was simple. Here's the quick story. I have partnered with a client from Ireland, where I provided white-labeled services. Thus, I coined the name Article and Design simply because those are the top two services I offer. I thought it was easy to remember and clear. In 2012, Article and Design started as a writing and design company. 

(beer not included lol)

In 2015, I had to lie low with my professional responsibilities since I want to be there for my mum during her heart surgery. In 2016, I transferred the agency clients of Article and Design to my personal brand Margaret Sulapas Digital Consulting

In 2020, Article and Design evolved into a creative community focused on teaching freelancers how to get paid often doing work they love. I did it myself and made a living out of it and I am showing you how to do it through our value-driven content on Article and Design YouTube, the Article and Design community, Article and Design podcast and Article and Design online courses.

Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory! 

I have been in the digital marketing industry since 2011. But my journey as a content creator for the Article and Design community wasn’t always the plan.

I am a BS Biology graduate who went to law school. My parents wanted me to become a doctor, thus the major. But that's only a part of my story and struggle. People are close-minded and very conservative back in the 2000s. You have to follow the SCRIPTED way of life. I was trying to please my parents and relatives, so I finished my college degree of BS in Biology from the University of the Philippines. One year had passed after graduation, I didn’t proceed to medical school. 

Instead, I worked in a medical corporate as an Application Specialist. I was trained in Shanghai, China on how to use laboratory equipment and demo it in hospitals. With this experience of going to the hospital every day, I realized I didn't want to be a doctor. No offense to doctors, they are our heroes, but it's not for me.

I don’t know what to tell my parents so I came up with a “brilliant” idea of what to do with my life. If not a doctor, then I should be a lawyer… So I went to law school! Buuuuuttt... Something wasn’t right…. I felt so stuck. I was unhappy, and it felt like dragging myself to law school every day. And I was there because of all the wrong reasons. But being in law school was the door that lead me to the creative world. My friend introduced me to SEO writing and article spinning. I wrote articles during the day and went to law school at night. 

Finally, after a long and difficult conversation with my parents about my future of being a doctor or a lawyer, I quit law school to work as a client service executive/junior editor for a publishing company in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. It was at this time that I wanted independence from my parents' influence so I can work on finding my craft. I returned to the Philippines in 2011 and picked up where I left off after my job stint in Malaysia. I started getting clients on Elance (now Upwork) and moved out of Elance since I have booked clients by referral. The writing gig blew up, so I decided to outsource some tasks. I accepted writing articles and website design services and helping businesses grow. I said to myself, I believe I am doing something great here. It was the first time I felt that I found something that I really love to do. 

Now I know what I want to do! I want to create, innovate and be global. But I want to focus on ONE thing. That is helping people through what I do best. 

The pandemic of 2020 did not spare Filipinos. It was a time when many were laid off from their jobs and needed help making money in the comfort of home. As an answer to this global crisis, Article and Design evolved into an online community for freelancers, specifically Filipinos (as of this writing). 

My former business partner and I decided to create a podcast and an online course called SUPERFREELANCERS COURSE, where we shared how to make money online through service-based businesses. As a Filipino, I know how getting lost in the way feels. Though I no longer reside in the Philippines, my heart still beats for every Filipino talent in the world or every south-east Asian creative.

Fast forward to today, here I am. And I never looked back. I am happy creating content and helping fellow freelancers through the Article and Design community and all our published resources. I made it my mission to serve other people. To be the mentor I wish I had.

In 2020, we started creating content through the Article and Design podcast (formerly Superfreelancers PH podcast) using as our podcasting host. We started really small. I only have a cheap condenser microphone and a free Zoom account to record the episodes. Later on, people were asking to see the faces behind the podcast. So we opened our Facebook group and soon published a video version of the podcast and hosted it on YouTube. These four online tools are all free so you can start today if you have something to tell the world! 

You see, my journey was so CHAOTIC and HEARTBREAKING. And this is just half of the battle, but that's for another time. 

“You cannot dream yourself into a character, you must hammer and forge yourself into one.”

– James Anthony Froude, English Historian

It's crazy to look back at everything that's happened to me. So what keeps me motivated is just the thought that I am fortunate to do work that I love while earning a living out of it. Content creation is already a paradise on Earth. One thing that helped me go from Point A to Point B is to FIND MY FOCUS. FIND MY ONE THING and streamline everything I do there.

So to my fellow weirdos, rebels, creators, and entrepreneurs, if you are CONFUSED, you are not alone. And I know you can find your home like how I found mine. Never give up. 

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and what is your advice in getting the creative juices flowing?

I try to practice minimalism both in my work and personal life. My brainstorming for ideas is simple. My tech stack for brainstorming:

  1. Google docs
  2. Workflowy
  3. Long hot showers (optional)

When I am at my desk, I only use Google Docs for the scripts and Workflowy for my ideas and the next podcast episodes or zoom sessions. I usually get my ideas from the Article and Design community members. Our Facebook groups, Discord, and private chats are great channels for me to ask what content they would love to learn, and what problems they currently have. From there, I write it down to Workflowy. 

The most important thing when you are in a creator economy is that you need to deliver content that has value to your audience. I don’t want to talk about things that my audience doesn't care about. So I ask questions and put up polls and surveys on our channels. 

Outside of work, I usually get my creative juices flowing when I take a shower. Thus I tend to take longer showers since every time I get out of the shower, I have an idea that I’d like to implement. I believe most of my ideas came about while I was taking a shower, like the A&D Zoom connections. An idea straight-outta-shower: a  monthly online gathering of superfreelancers who are super learners. Then I named it A&D Zoom connections since we use Zoom. 

What are the tools and platforms you use to help with your brand?

Audio/Video editing: 

I personally use Final Cut Pro X for video editing and Kapwing for short videos. My outsource team uses Adobe Premiere Pro, Headliner App, and Descript. I am not a video editor but out of necessity as a business owner, you will learn different tech skills. I learned it by doing it.

Video hosting: 

Our main content is podcasts both audio and video versions. We produce the audio version on Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pocketcasts etc. The video version is on YouTube. We have recently started using YouTube and the growth has been consistent. We plan to focus on this in the next 6 months. 

CX building: 

For our community, we have a Facebook Page and Facebook group (although we might close this very soon) and currently, we are active on Discord. We also have a private paid community we call A&D Pros and it is hosted in Podia. I am currently testing other community platforms as of the moment so we might move it soon. 

Team Management: 

Our team uses Metricool as a scheduler for social media posts or the native scheduler of Facebook and YouTube itself. For taking down notes, I use Google docs and Workflowy. To communicate with my outsource team, we use Plutio and Droplr. 

What were your fears when you were starting? How did you handle it? 

As of this writing, I never received any negative comments (not that I am aware of) yet. One of the remarks was that I am intimidating. Which I don’t think so! I have been working in the online industry since 2011, however, as a content creator and a podcast host, I only started last 2020. As an introvert (INFJ), the whole idea of putting myself out there can be difficult sometimes.

The reason why I started the Article and Design community is apparent, the vision is beyond myself thus I am focused on the mission. However, my introverted self gets in the way. The first year was very uncomfortable for me. I am not used to the camera, let alone, talking to the void while delivering webinars. 

Res Gaid's advice always helps when I'm anxious about filming videos. She is one of my podcast guests. Res Gaid, a communication trainer and owner of Rez Language Institute, suggests that if you have a camera in front of your face or are speaking to an audience, think about how actors do it - they "act" and transform themselves into different personas! Whenever I start rolling on video chat sessions for my clients or the community members, I think like one of those characters from TV shows who can instantly change their personalities: witty and charismatic. It is now like a key system that I follow. 

Whenever I need to do something outside of my comfort zones, I turn on my persona: Margaret the podcast host, Margaret the webinar instructor, and Margaret the online mentor. Or whatever persona the situation calls for it. It took me at least one year to become comfortable, I still struggle today but it's manageable. 

How did you build your brand to where it is now? Take us through your process.

You need to develop systems and processes. 

When we started the Article and Design podcast, it was hard to post consistently since we do have our full-time work as the priority. Only after one year that we gained momentum since I developed a system of blocking my time. As of this writing, we are releasing new content every week. If you do not have the extra money to spare, plan accordingly. Because time is also money. You will spend a lot of time on your content creation journey. And you will need to hire people along the way to help you. 

Article and Design is one of my businesses thus it is fully funded by myself. It came to fruition also because of the massive support from friends and family and the first batch of the community. It was very difficult to grow since our main target audience as of the moment are Filipinos in the Philippines and I am based in Australia. We started in 2020 but when my business partner and I separated, I needed to rebuild the whole business and content from scratch since I am changing direction. So technically, we are a one-year-old community as of this writing. 

We reached 100 subscribers when we started to create a video version of the podcasts. And when I hosted my first solo webinar on choosing a profitable skill to offer, my most viewed video until now, the subscribers joined our community. 

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

This is not a sprint, it's a marathon. 

You'll need more than just talent and motivation to run successfully long-term as content creators - you also have to develop a strong mindset that can help push through the tough times when things don't go according to plan or your expectations aren’t met right away!

The process isn’t easy but with patience comes growth. 

So don’t over-romanticize that everything will fall into place once you put a video or content out there. With the democratization of information these days, it's hard to break the signal from the noise. 

Find these two things before you start: 

  1. Find the right offer (meaning the content you’d like to put out). In my case, I focus on how to become a freelancer and get paid often because this is what I know best. 
  1. Find the right audience. The right audience for your content is important. You need to identify who you want to serve with the information that will come out of it and then provide them in a way they can understand, or at least enjoy, and if the content is of value to them. In my case, I initially focused on Filipinos all over the globe because I can speak the language and it was a call to help Filipinos during the pandemic. 

Empires take time to build, stick with it and you will reap the rewards in the future. 

How did you finally commit to X platform rather than your regular day job?

I am proud to call myself a practitioner. I never quit my job or work while building the Article and Design community. I practice what I teach. This is what separates me from so-called coaches and content creators these days. The content I produced isn’t theoretical knowledge.

I've been a freelancer since 2011. I've worked with many clients from every corner of the globe. I have executive management experience since I co-founded businesses such as Discover Mt Apo and Digidemandz

From 99.9% of the people out there on the internet that are teaching you a course on how to be a freelancer, I am actually a freelancer by profession and not a coach.

And it is very important for me to keep my professional practice so I can share what’s happening inside the real world of freelancing. 

Tell us the biggest obstacles you have experienced in your content creation journey. And how did you bounce back?

Probably the biggest obstacle I had in creating the Article and Design community was when my friend, co-founder, and I separated. I have solely owned Article and Design since 2012 and it has evolved into a community during the pandemic through both of our combined efforts. However, my friend and I had different visions for the company. 

I had to start all over again since I am following my direction and re-creating the content. But looking at the things to do, it was quite massive! I don’t know how to find time to complete it on top of my work. 

In February of 2021, I almost decided to close and give up the Article and Design community because of this. However, when Article and Design came back to my stewardship, and when I was about to give up on my content creation journey, something happened that helped me continue. 

The messages I received from the community that my content is helping them and their support of me kept pushing me to believe in what we do. The profound support of my friends and family kept me believing that for the second time in my life, I felt I am doing something great (the first was when I built the Article and Design agency). Because of this experience, I’ve always been adherent to this practice. 

"Whenever you're thinking something nice about someone, tell them. A sincere compliment can put a lot of fuel in someone's tank. People don't hear enough compliments."

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

When I built the Article and Design community, my goal is always to change or improve the lives of Filipino freelancers through our content. So far most members have been winning with the lessons they learned from us. 

To me, the most important thing is that we are making a difference in our community. This is my biggest accomplishment and will always be the company’s mission. The members of this group have been through so much and they're still fighting their battles, but with our help, every Filipino freelancer can thrive as super freelancers or entrepreneurs in their own ways!

We are still considered new to the content creation economy so we understand we have a long way to go when it comes to profit and achievements. But we are growing and building partnerships globally. 

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

We started to release our content via an audio podcast and then, later on, evolved into releasing video podcasts on YouTube. Our growth is painfully slow since there was a hiatus because of the rebranding I did last year. 

Our growth is mainly organic but we are starting to look into paid marketing. Today, we’ve been consistent in releasing content and the main focus is building a community-led organization. When our community members share our content and talk about their experiences, it creates more traction and engagement. Our podcast guests and collaborations with other creatives also help a lot in getting exposure as well. 

Competition is very high in this industry so you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. It comes with the territory that you’ll encounter a lot of issues but if you are very clear on the goals and how to do them, I believe your focus should be on it. Above all, focus on what’s driving you more traffic and engagement. Avoid the shiny object syndrome. 

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships? 

The team has been busy building the community and we’ve had some offers land on our emails. We're still figuring out how to integrate them with Article & Design, but as long as it aligns with our mission - we are open to collaboration!

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