Last week our web developing and designing readers had their Firefoxes pimped with 12 essential extensions. This week we’ll be unlocking Firefox’s web writer capabilities with a set of 9 crucial extensions for freelance writers.
From gaining complete control of your text to keeping your work safe and sound, all the essentials are here. No filler. Just really good tools.
- Copy Plain Text
This extension gives you complete control over rich text by stripping it plain. Perfect for research or quoting other sources without links and formatting you don’t want or need.
- Split Browser
Pasting from one tab to another can be cumbersome. This extension makes the process a breeze by splitting your browser window into two (or three, or four) panels, allowing for instant copying and pasting between pages.
- Resizable Text Area
This extension makes text input areas flexible by allowing you to resize them as you like. Give your writing the room it needs to breathe.
Clever little time-saver which automatically adds text to the clip-board as soon as you select it.
When gathering research for an article you’ll often find yourself cutting and saving snippets of text from various websites. ScrapBook is a simple, bookmarks-style interface designed to make this process quick and painless.
Every web writer finds themselves re-using certain snippets of text again and again — whether it’s your byline or the HTML code you use for that image in every article. Signature allows you to save these snippets and access them at any time via the right-click menu. Lovely.
- Dictionary Search
Search Dictionary.com from the Firefox search bar. Great for answering that perennial question: does the word I’m using mean what I think it means, or am I about to embarrass myself?
For more in-depth research work this extension is a slick and powerful way to track sources, references and citations. Also includes refined note-taking capabilities.
- Text Area Word Counter
An extension for freelance web writers by, arguably, one of the best: Gina Trapani. Instantly retrieve the word count of text in any web form. Perfect for paid bloggers with a word quota to meet.
What would you add to the list?
Seldom do you meet a veteran graphic designer that’s done more than create stunning visuals. But Jeff Fisher has managed to maintain a highly successful career while positioning himself as an industry expert—and author.
Hailing from Oregon, this savvy designer has a knack for business development, promotion—and Friday’s off. Read on to find out the secrets to Jeff’s continuing achievements.
The new year is always a good time to set goals for the next 12 months. As a freelance developer, at least some of them should focus on how to stay on top of your game.
Today I’ve written out my ten resolutions for 2008. Some of these apply not just to developers, some are especially important for them. Some of them are inspired by one of my favorite books The Pragmatic Programmer. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you do it first thing in the new year. The following are things I usually go through over the course of a new year, not one of them, all of them, if it’s possible.
1. Learn a new programming language
For me, this is one of the most important things to do. Learning a new programming language not only gives you more things to put on your portfolio, it also broadens your knowledge and makes you look differently at things and how you’re doing them right now or have done in the past. Continue Reading
This post is a guest post from Allan Branch, a web designer/entrepreneur who started as a freelancer. After just 4 years Allan’s company has grown to 10 full-time employees and is responsible for the indispensable LessAccounting as well has several other apps still in beta.
Over the past years, my business has grown from a freelancer fresh out of college to a business with employees, constant expenses and payroll. When you’re in the early stages of freelancing accounting is simple. You always know what you have in the bank, you have few expenses and few accounts receivable. As you become more established your accounting needs grow. Things can be easier later if you setup a simple accounting protocol early before these problems arise and take over your life.
Here are some basic accounting steps for a freelancer: Continue Reading
A few months ago, I was assigned to interview Joel Falconer, a freelance musician in Australia. My first question about that was, “what’s a freelance musician?”
Well, Falconer explained it to me: His band Midnight.Haulkerton, along with developing its own repertoire, also writes and licenses songs for marketing campaigns (Though Falconer stresses that they’re very stringent about choosing which companies and organizations to work with.)
Sounded simple enough, a few e-mails back and forth, we discussed client relations and productivity. But before the interview concluded, contact suddenly ceased.
It turned out Falconer had been involved in a rather nasty intellectual property dispute with a client and eventually resolved it, giving our discussion and entirely new angle on a subject freelancers don’t think about often enough – intellectual property rights.
What follows is a slightly out-of-order e-mail conversation about marketing music and protecting intellectual property. Continue Reading
Process schmocess. Who needs them eh? Well actually every business needs them, no matter how big or small you are; but if you’re a one-man freelancing business you might still be wondering why you need to bother with them?
Having effective processes in place can help you…
- Spend less time on the boring, time-consuming aspects of your business
- Build a client-generating machine
- Let go of some of the reins and work out what tasks you can hand over to someone else (also known as outsourcing)
- Set your business up to grow beyond the confines and limitations of a small, one-man band business without the additional hassle and growing pains
If you’re just starting out or you have no idea how to implement smarter processes in your business, then here’s a brief guide to implement some of the basics…
I know there’s not a single FSw reader who’s going to call up their friends after this and say, “Dude, I just read a fantastic post on paperwork!” It’s also December, twelve months too late for this tax/paperwork tip to actually do you any good.
But luckily there’s another year where this one came from, and hopefully this will make things easier next time around.
Throughout the year I do my bills, invoicing and other paperwork every week. Sometimes I forget and sometimes I have a lousy week where there’s no paperwork to do. But about 90% of the time I do my paperwork every single Friday.
When you keep your paperwork fresh and current like this it takes about two minutes a week. All your current receipts and invoices are right there on the top of the pile, fresh in your purse or wallet, or near the top of your email inbox. Enter their numbers into a spreadsheet, file them behind last week’s papers and you’re done. Continue Reading
I first heard about Virtual Assistants from the Timothy Ferris bestseller – The Four Hour Work Week. Although I haven’t been lucky enough to actually have one, I often think it would be pretty neat. Today I found out that Elance – the huge job portal – is giving away $5,000 to be spent on hiring a Virtual Assistant in 2008.
The competition is pretty simple to enter and you have just over three weeks to send in an entry. So if you feel like making 2008 the year you became a high flying executive freelancer with their own personal assistant, head over to Elance’s Competition Page and enter.
And if you do win, make sure to write an article about how Virtual Assistants can help freelancers and email it to us!
When you take on a job to build a client’s website, a natural question that comes up is ‘do you have hosting?’ More often than not the answer is no, leaving freelancers and web agencies with the choice of whether to refer the customer to a third party webhost OR setup and sell their own hosting.
For many, myself included, selling hosting seems like easy money right? You rent a server from one of the myriad hosting companies and then become a reseller. With many web hosts you can brand their control panels and with some even automate billing. Hosting can then become a source of passive income. That’s the theory anyhow… Continue Reading
It’s the end of the year, a time for top “whatever” of “insert year” lists, overcrowded malls and of course, personal reflection.
One year ago, I was working full-time in a call centre, in debt, broke and worst of all, I hadn’t written an article in months as I was struggling to get a 9-5 reporting job.
Needless to say, I was miserable.
Today I’ve got steady clients, find some decent pick-up gigs and mostly make my own hours freelancing. There’s only one problem left: I still work a few shifts a week chained to a desk by a headset.
Hence, my New Years resolution for 2008 is this: Stop working jobs that suck.
And I’ve already got a plan that I’d like to share, first off in hopes that it might inspire readers who are also trapped in dead end and degrading jobs to take the jump. Second, making a plan public is one of the best encouragements to actually carry it out.
As nice as it seems to make a big scene and storm out, never to return, it’s not very realistic. Personally, I don’t think the idea of saving up six months of living expenses terribly realistic either, not at my salary anyway.
But there are other options. Saving up three weeks worth of living expenses, for example, then taking a leave of absence. Sure, it’s not exactly quitting, but there’s the security of being able to return to a steady pay cheque should things not work out.
I see three weeks as enough time to at least secure a few more clients and at worst, have to return to the grind on casual status. Besides, the break would be nice.
Plus, the beginning of the year happens to be a great time to work these things out. The plan can be combined with other resolutions, like cutting back on vices (which should save more money) getting better at time management, etc.
Oh, and I don’t know how many others are in the same position, but still qualifying as low-income, I’m expecting a pretty generous tax return, which should also help fund this break.
Cheers to all and happy freelancing in 2008.