Toh aguo Zheng, also known as Travis Toh, is a successful e-commerce and digital marketing seller on Fiverr.
He has established a strong presence on Fiverr and prior to COVID-19, he was busier than ever. Unfortunately, Travis has had a drastic drop in work, but he is determined to stay proactive and try to persevere in these hard times. He is based in Singapore and has personal insight into the life of a freelancer who works from home.
We were able to ask him about his freelance experiences, how he manages to stay afloat, and about his future plans beyond COVID-19.
Fiverr: Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have sold on Fiverr for two years now, offering Shopify partners resources to launch their stores.
I do it all, from product descriptions to brand consultations, really anything that relates to Shopify and e-commerce in general. Two years ago, I quit my 9-5 at a hospital and selling on Fiverr became my main source of income.
Although I make a living from my freelance services, I still consider myself in the early stages of my journey as a sole proprietor and businessman.
Fiverr: When did you begin your career as an eCommerce and digital marketing seller?
I began in January 2018 but went full-time as a seller in March 2018. I actually jumped into doing Fiverr while working at the hospital at first.
I was very lucky to have a friend, who had a big following at the time, promote my services and it kickstarted the launch of my career.
Fiverr: What inspires you?
I am naturally inspired by the feeling of freedom and independence.
I am happy that Fiverr gives me the ability to manage my own time, conduct business on my own terms, and help other small business owners. I can’t lie, helping other brands begin their business journey is pretty satisfying.
I enjoy being able to create a powerful online store, provide my expertise, and guidance to my clients.
I personally live by the motto of being a better person than the one I was yesterday. This applies in business, health, and as an overarching rule of thumb in life.
Fiverr: How are you managing your clients with COVID-19 happening right now?
I’ve created a lot of content on this and the consensus is I was hit pretty hard by COVID-19.
I lost 95% of my revenue. We are living through unprecedented times and I am trying to stay productive and present, which means only focusing on the aspects of my business that I can control.
In terms of my clients, I more or less have the same process, per the nature of my profession, but with the exception of using more of the buyer request feature.
I am also more proactive about submitting proposals and selling myself—my brand. This is something I haven’t had to do in a long time, so it’s almost like going back to basics and perfecting my pitch. This is a great time to fine-tune all aspects of my brand.
Fiverr: You may be familiar with remote work, but is the increased isolation affecting your mental health? If so, what are you doing to stay corrected or balanced?
I’ve been feeling the difference in increments, and recently, with the news that the lockdown in Singapore is extended by four more weeks, more than ever.
I feel lucky to be more of an introvert, but I am empathetic to extroverts as they must be aching with cabin fever.
I feel lucky to live with a very motivational wife. I think it’s key to our sanity, to take inventory of the privileges each of us has at this moment. It helps to realize that we are all in this together and coping as best as we can.
Fiverr: What tools/resources have you found to be the most helpful– virtual events/content/articles? Please feel free to share your favorite or most helpful.
I follow Fiverr, Shopify, and other E-commerce and digital marketing blogs.
They have all been an incredible resource for useful tips on working from home, how to think positively and work on improving my brand.
As I mentioned earlier, I think this is a great time to take a step back and focus on building a solid foundation for my brand.
Fiverr: It’s only been a few weeks, but is there something you’ll take away from this and apply towards your future—allocating money from every project towards an emergency fund, updating contract terms, etc.?
Personally, I have been working on allocating money towards an emergency fund all along, as it comes with the territory in the life of a sole proprietor.
I do think that a light has been shone on my consumerist practices. And since all physical shops have been closed, I’ve noticed that I am happy not to spend money on unnecessary things.
I have more time to think of how I can improve myself and my business. I want to carry this attitude into my future business practices beyond COVID-19.
Fiverr: If work has been slow in the past few weeks, how have you been spending your downtime?
I am a busy bee and I do not particularly enjoy downtime.
I’ve begun to create a website for the launch of my new agency and this takes up a good chunk of my day.
I am currently experimenting with my own Facebook ads in order to drive traffic to my Fiverr seller page and learn something new.
I’ve also begun my own e-commerce website as I have a natural knack for it through my line of work. I am hopeful to find a product that is useful and sells.
Lastly, I have become more involved in the Fiverr leadership team here in Singapore.
Fiverr: What advice would you share with other freelancers at this time?
My humble advice is to remember that you cannot force orders or results.
Although this is frustrating, it’s best to stay focused on the aspects of your business that you can control. This can include updates to your resume, fine-tuning your brand message, and even preparing canned messages for the future. I’ve created over 30-40 scripts in advance for the standard questions I generally receive.
I advise you to pick up a new skill or hone in on your existing skills. Stay healthy and go outside even if just out on your balcony for sunlight.
All in all, it is important that you are not stagnant, the whole world is affected by this pandemic and we must continue to live.
Stay Productive with Fiverr
Get the latest tips on how to cope with working from home and stay proactive through the Fiverr blog.
You can also take your freelance skills and put them to use through Fiverr as a buyer or seller. As Travis said, it is the time to be resourceful, even if that means going back to the basics to reinvent your brand.
Stay healthy, be well, and work together!