January 12, 2020No Comments

Personal Branding Workshop for Project Alpaca

Today, I hosted my first-ever workshop for Project Alpaca to help the Alpacees (college mentees) be more self-aware of their “brand” i.e. how people feel about them, and help them map out how they should build their personal brand to achieve their career goal.

One of the exercises involves having each person write 3 adjectives for each person on sticky notes. Here are the sticky notes I received:

  • Creative, risk-driven, activism
  • Sharp, focused, hard-working
  • Artsy, creative, bubbly
  • Hard-working, "Ms. No days off", practical
  • Funny, well-spoken, positive attitude
  • Supportive, techy, cool
  • Cool, calm, knowledgeable

I guess "cool" would be one of my brand attributes *laugh*

December 21, 2019No Comments

Essential services for running a freelance business

Freelancing is tough because you're basically a one-man operation. I've been running my freelance business full time this year, and here are some services that have helped me along the way. In this post, I'll share my experience in using them with you, and hopefully, they'll help you in deciding which services to use.

For getting clients, meeting spaces, and your own office: WeWork

For proposals, contracts, and invoices: Bonsai

For payroll: Gusto


Getting clients, meeting spaces, and your own office

I've been a WeWork member for a few years already and I absolutely love it. It is a bit expensive, but having my own office and being able to host meetings with my clients, my team members, and my groups anywhere in the city using the WeWork app has been a tremendous help. I also think clients look at us differently if we have a dedicated office space instead of working out of our home or a coffee shop.

Most of my clients are also WeWork members because WeWork has a messaging board for people to post about their projects and a directory to look up people by skill set and location.

If you want to just access the message board and directory to find potential clients, there's the We Membership which is $45/month as of 2019.

If you are interested in finding an office space, I recommend WeWork because their staff is always friendly, helpful, and they host community events to help WeWork members to network with one another. This year, for example, they hosted a pop-up art gallery, Christmas market, and Christmas ornaments-making event, and I had the opportunity to participate. I've also used the WeWork space to host Meetup events and I've found it very helpful and much better than doing events at a coffee shop. 🙂

Despite the recent bad news, I honestly haven't noticed any negative changes. I'm very happy with WeWork and planning to stay for a while. If you want to get in touch with WeWork and look at the space, here's a referral link.


Drafting proposals, contracts, and sending invoices

Bonsai is a great tool that allows freelancers to streamline the process from getting a contract to getting paid.

Proposals: You can choose from pre-existing templates such as design, development, or writing proposal template, and Bonsai would have suggested format and text prefilled. Then the proposal can be sent to the client for them to sign.

Contracts: Bonsai has drafted a few contracts that have been reviewed by lawyers already, so you can use the templates at ease. What I love the most is that Bonsai has many dropdown options (such as payment options by milestone, by the hour, etc) that make it easy for you to customize the contract specifically for the project and client.

Invoices: You can create invoices based on flat-rate or based on the hours you logged in the Time Tracking section. Bonsai has multiple payment options, with its credit card payment system through Stripe. The late fees are calculated automatically by Bonsai so it makes it easier to follow up with non-paying clients. 🙂

I've tried out other similar software and found Bonsai to be the best. If you want to try it out, here's the affiliate link for you to try Bonsai for free.


Payroll for yourself and your employees

As a designer, what I love about Gusto is their design and fun illustrations! Below is the screenshot of the cute loading screen!

On the practical side, I love their dashboard so I can see what needs to be done. Their have a very easy step-by-step process that helps you set up your payroll, benefits (such as health insurance), etc. They also help you stay compliant by letting you know what forms to fill out to submit to the government.

Here's a link for you to try Gusto for free and receive a gift card from Gusto after you run your first payroll. (a disclaimer: I haven't tried other options such as JustWorks or ADP, but I really enjoy my experience with Gusto so far)

August 12, 2019No Comments

Pop-up art exhibit @WeWork

I had the privilege to showcase some of my paintings and drawings at WeWork's pop-up art exhibit at 85 Broad alongside with Athena, who is a ceramics artist based in LIC.

Typically, my artwork is stored at a corner in my apartment, almost forgotten. It was the first time to take them out and put them on display for people to see. I was so unprepared that Athena helped me prepare and put the pieces into frames. 🙂

Overall, it was a surreal feeling. Thank you Tess, who was the community manager at WeWork 85 Broad, and WeWork for this opportunity!

If you're curious about WeWork, I wrote a blog post about my experience of being a WeWork member.

August 4, 2019No Comments

For my beloved home, Hong Kong

In June 2019, Hong Kong became entangled by the proposed extradition bill that would allow China to retrieve any Hong Kongers and foreign citizens living in Hong Kong back into mainland China for trials — a place that’s infamously known for a lack of fair trials. 1 million people, and then 2 million people, took to the street. The government didn’t listen.

On July 21, a group of white shirt gangsters attacked civilians in the train station in a neighborhood called Yuen Long, under broad daylight, while cops just walked away, refusing to calls for help by civilians. It was shocking to everyone that this level of lawlessness happened in Hong Kong.

I grew up in Yuen Long. Back in my parent’s generation, Yuen Long was the backwater farmland in the northwestern part of Hong Kong. My mother’s side of the family is considered “indigenous” because they already settled in Hong Kong prior to the Chinese Civil War when China was still a dynasty. She grew up in one of the Yuen Long’s “walled villages” as a farmer. My father, on the other hand, was part of the wave that swam across for 8 hours at night from China to Hong Kong to escape poverty and communism back in the 70s.

Hong Kong’s population is almost made up entirely of refugees (like my father) or the children of refugees (like myself) from China, back then when Hong Kong was a British colony. It's painful to watch the Hong Kong and Chinese governments trying to turn Hong Kong into China, a place where all of us escaped from.

After July 21 happened, I was tired of liking and sharing angry protest-related posts on Facebook. So, I decided to make a Meetup group to organize an event. At that point, I literally could count the number of Hong Kongers I knew with my one hand, so I had no idea who would show up. Amazingly, more than 20 people appeared in Starbucks in the basement of the Empire State Building — a British couple who had lived in Hong Kong for the past 10 years just landed from Hong Kong to NYC the day before, and a few people had previous experience organizing events. We decided to do something that Sunday. With 20 yellow umbrellas, stickie notes for Lennon Walls, a painting I made the night before, and a lot of help from everyone involved, the event happened in Washington Square Park on August 4th.


Nobody knows what will happen to Hong Kong, but we Hong Kongers will keep on fighting.


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