Streamline your workflow with these tools

Raise your hand if you made a New Year's resolution that involved starting a side hustle? Whether it be starting a catering business, closet organizing, selling real estate, freelancing or driving an Uber? Making resolutions sounds great when the clock strikes twelve, and you are toasting with champagne. However, waking up the next morning in a bit of a fog, your resolution goal seems like a distant dream as opposed a reality. New tools from Microsoft 365 will help you stay on track and successfully achieve your goals.

Starting a side gig is a great chance for professionals to not only earn extra cash (which comes in handy to pay off looming holiday bills) but it is a great way to practice a new skillset and follow your passion. Juggling a full-time job and a side hustle is stressful and hard to maintain all on your own. Being able to complete your side gig might end up causing you to work longer hours for much less money then you are pulling in from these gigs. Don't go it alone. There are plenty of tools that can help. I decided to test drive the Microsoft 365 tools for my two side gigs; freelancing writing and career coaching.

Know Your Rate: Before I started side hustling, I needed to determine what my fee would be and also the time projection I had for each project. Newbies to side hustling are so hungry to step into the field that they tend to accept any fee that is tossed their way. Do not sell yourself short. Understand that you are adding value and your skills should get paid a fair rate. For starters, determine how long it takes you to complete a project from inception until you hit send. If you sell cupcakes, you need to factor in the time it takes you to source your ingredients, organize your setup, bake, decorate, package and deliver. For my coaching business, I spend an hour with my client one on one. However, before that, I study their LinkedIn profile, resume, professional survey and make notes to present on your call. I also spend time creating a recap and homework assignments. My one hour often turns into three. As a freelancer, you need to realize that this is not your main gig. You need to edit your process to be profitable and professional.

Making the Sale: As a freelancer, you need to learn how to be a salesperson. I tested out Microsoft's QuickStarter presentation creation tool to help sell my career coaching expertise to potential colleges. Once you enter a topic, QuickStarter inserts related content, recommendations and also suggests images. I was able to create my slides in half the time and also draw upon clients in a brand new and exciting format. I was also able to insert audio and video files, literally letting my work speak for itself.

Take a Shortcut: As a freelance writer, I often find myself spending more time than anticipated creating an article. Why? Research. I often get buried trying to learn and educate myself as much as possible before I write one word. Writers cannot afford to spend a full day of research when they have a fixed rate. I decided to pull up the Researcher tool from Word. Similar to QuickStarter, I entered in the topic I was writing about, and credible sources and content popped up adjacent to my document. It easily helped me create a quick outline for my article. After my article was complete, I used the Word Editor tool. Everyone is familiar with spellcheck. However, Editor not only flagged misspellings but also grammar, 'wordiness and redundancy' and writing style.

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