👀 Probing TikTok’s algorithm

Happy Wednesday! This is The Gig — the morning memo for freelancers going beyond the 9 to 5 and building profitable client businesses.

Mentioned in today’s issue: Apple, Oracle, TikTok, the Chinese Communist Party, and Meta. Plus the one competitive advantage that doesn’t require skill or experience, a tip for maintaining work-life balance while working remotely, and a 3-part storytelling formula responsible for $21.4 billion in sales last year.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes and 9 seconds

Making the Rounds

  • Apple expands its advertising business. Spoiler alert: the iPhone maker didn’t implement its App Tracking Transparency update last year because they’re against ads. They’re just against anyone else serving ads to their customers. So it should come as no surprise they’re set to start serving a lot more ads across all apps and devices.
  • Oracle probes TikTok algorithms to find out if they’re being manipulated. Now that TikTok is routing all its U.S. user data to stateside Oracle servers, the cloud storage company has begun to audit their algorithms to make sure the CCP isn’t manipulating them.
  • Meta sunsets Special Ad Audiences for housing, credit, and employment ads. These expanded audiences were meant to be a workaround after the company agreed to disable lookalikes for housing, credit, and employment ads in response to scrutiny from the feds. But they’ll disappear as of August 25.

Working With Clients

The One Competitive Advantage That Doesn’t Require Skill or Experience

Struggling to set yourself apart as a freelancer?

Here’s an easy way to do it even if you don’t have a portfolio full of big wins or a laundry list of testimonials…

Learn to work fast.

And then don’t be afraid to advertise it.

You see, one of the biggest concerns clients have when hiring freelancers is speed.

This is typically because of bad experiences in the past…

(with freelancers missing deadlines, ghosting them, or both)

Or simply because they need it turned around ASAP.

And if you can speak directly to that fear, you’ll have no trouble closing deals.

Now, you can’t just snap your fingers and make yourself work three times faster…

So here’s a few tips to help you put the pedal to the metal:

  • Close all open tabs
  • Put your phone on Do Not Disturb
  • Create an outline or wireframe first
  • Use a timer
  • Listen to non-lyrical music (binaural beats, lo-fi, etc)

And don’t forget: the faster you work, the more you can jack up your effective hourly rate.

Working For Yourself

When Leaving the “Office” Isn’t an Option

One of the hardest parts about working remotely is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Because we don’t come with an off switch. 

So, what’s the solution? 

Creating a “shut down” ritual. 

Whether it’s turning off your computer, closing the office door (if you have one), putting Slack on snooze, or going for a walk — developing a routine that signals the end of the day can do wonders for your mental health. 

For example, author and digital minimalism advocate Cal Newport actually says the phrase “schedule shut down, complete” out loud at the end of his workday.

We’re not quite ready to go that far…

Instead, we prefer checking in to see how much our crypto portfolio is down 🙃📉

From The Copywriting Gig

Try This 5-Part Storytelling Formula On Your Next Promo

P-A-S and A-I-D-A aren’t the only copywriting frameworks that convert.

The movie industry generated $21.4 billion dollars in 2021.

Here’s the 5-part storytelling structure behind Star Wars, LOTR, and all your favorite Hollywood movies (and how it applies to selling stuff):

PART 1: Inciting Incident

Think of this as the hook.

It’s the ONE event that sets the rest of the story in motion.

Let’s use the Matrix as an example…

The inciting incident is when Trinity contacts Neo through his computer in The Matrix

Now in the case of a product or service…

It’s usually a high-stakes “trigger moment” that brings the problem to the forefront.

– getting dumped

– losing your job

– having your card declined

– ripping your pants in public

– etc

PART 2: Progressive Complications

The inciting incident creates an imbalance in the hero’s life…

So they try to restore balance.

But this only takes them further from their goal.

Like when the Oracle tells Neo he’s not The One.

For marketers…

This is where the prospect explores other solutions, but continues to fail.

– tries keto, atkins, IF and whole30 but doesn’t lose weight

– tries trading stocks, crypto, and FX but doesn’t make money

– tries paid ads but doesn’t get clients

PART 3: Crisis

This is the hero’s “do or die” decision point.

After Morpheus is captured, Neo is forced to decide:

Should he let him die or go back into the Matrix and save him?

In an ad or promotion, the decision point is: 

Should the prospect continue? Or are they finally ready to give up and abandon themselves to their fate?

– being overweight

– being broke

– being single

– working a 9 to 5

– etc

PART 4: Climax

The climax is the OUTCOME of the crisis decision.

Neo decides to go back into the Matrix and save Morpheus.

For products and services…

This is typically the “moment of discovery” where they stumble across the new solution.

– new diet / training program / special nutrient

– new trading / investment strategy

– new approach to landing clients

– etc

PART 5: Resolution

The climax brings the story’s conflict to an end.

The resolution is what follows.

Neo realizes he is the One & sets out to free more minds.

If you’re writing a sales letter or VSL…

The resolution is what leads your hero hero to share their solution with others, which creates a “reason why” and helps position the offer/solution.

Put this storytelling formula to work next time you’re writing a long-form piece of copy and let us know how it goes.

Gig Alerts

Looking for clients? These freelance jobs were posted on Upwork in the last 24 hours:

Quote of the Day

“Sleep is the interest we have to pay on the capital which is called in at death. The higher the interest rate and the more regularly it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed.”

— Arthur Schopenhauer