Now that you’ve made the decision to become a fulltime, stay-at-home freelancer, it’s time to start thinking of ways to outfit your home office. There are a few things to consider when choosing home office equipment – form and function being part of it, but personality is important, too. The equipment in your home office needs to fit a set of criteria; such as: be supportive, ergonomic, useful, durable, affordable and yes downright cool. Let’s look at a few ideas to consider as you setup your home office.
I was cleaning out our spare room the other day and I found an old IBM laptop bag. It was like finding an old pair of pants – still lots of wear in them, but hopelessly out of date. This bag is six inches wide when collapsed – and expands to about three times the size. I remember having two laptops in it at one time, and still room to hold the rest of my paperwork. The good news, I don’t think I will ever need to lug around those Pentium paperweights. The bad news is, I can’t throw out the bag – it’s still in great shape. Continue Reading
You’ve got to love the old clichés. A picture’s worth 1000 words – but, in many cases, talk is cheap. There are many reasons to have an image on your blog posts. It will help catch the reader’s eye, to hook them into reading the post, but it can also provide some valuable SEO juice to help your post be found when someone is searching for content that you’ve written about.
For many bloggers, it’s not uncommon to just use Google image search and find an image that you like to represent your post. If your blog is for personal use only, this practice is fairly common and it’s unlikely someone will come after you for showing their picture to your 50 readers. But for many of us, the blog is a vehicle to help us promote our business, and if you use protected images you are violating the copyright. Stanford.edu has some great information on copyright and fair use.
Stock photography sites are a great place to find pictures, and they can usually be found for a dollar or two. The nice thing about buying stock photos is that they are usually royalty-free, which means you only have to pay once to use the image.
Another way that you can find images to use legally on your website is to explore the public domain or creative commons. Here are a few sites that you can use to find free images for your next blog post: Continue Reading
Many professional freelancers prefer to stay away from the largest job board sites–for good reason, as many sites have a reputation for low compensation or unscrupulous clients. However, there are still quite a few of us that find a good portion of our projects on these sites – or sites like them. Small jobs like those found on Elancer, Odesk, Freelancer, or others can help supplement your regular client projects.
Many job boards have responded to feedback to improve freelancer experience. Elance.com has just done a refresh on the user experience for their site. (Ed Note: FreelanceSwitch is in the process of updating its very own job board!) If you are in between projects, doing a bit of moonlighting, or looking at becoming a freelancer, here are a few tips to help you be successful in your next bid. Continue Reading
A few months ago a friend and I jumped on the ferry and took a day trip to beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada, to experience our first ever Freelance Camp. The event was touted as a chance for freelancers, entrepreneurs, business owners, and anyone interested in learning more about freelancing to discuss ways to start, expand, or improve their business. Turns out there are dozens of these events going on across the world, making for fantastic opportunities for freelancers. Continue Reading
Can you work effectively on an iPad? I’m about to find out. I recently joined the ranks of the Apple fanbois. Well, maybe not completely. I got my iPhone before it was available here in Canada (the Apple genius kept telling me “It won’t work in Canada”), but I haven’t been able to fully switch from PC to Mac. I like the system but I still find it hard to justify the price difference. I could have bought two of the systems that I currently use, or one MacBook. Sorry, but I’m cheap, and when it comes to writing I don’t require the power of the Mac.
That being said – I did get a new iPad. And while it might not be perfect for every freelancer, it is going to be very useful to many. Here are a few apps that will make your freelance life easier – or at least help you look cool in Starbucks. And really, that’s all that matters. Continue Reading
I’ve mentioned a few times that I am still a bit new to freelancing, but I have been lucky enough to have established some outstanding clients, online and offline.
I have enough clients to pay my bills and put away a bit of cash each month to help me prepare for future lean months (Amber Leigh Turner did a great post here on creating a paycheck template). I have enough clients to understand which ones are OK clients, and which ones are excellent. The OK clients might have bigger budgets occasionally, but they seem to be sporadic and hard to predict. And their payment practices may not be the most favorable within the freelance world. The excellent clients are the ones that have a regular project on a monthly basis. It might not be the biggest budget, but they aren’t grinding you for every dollar spent. The excellent clients seem to know what they want, appreciate that you are an expert, and let you do your thing. And they pay–quickly.
I’d like to send my top clients a gift, but how gifts for clients are perceived. I wonder if client gifts aren’t potentially counterproductive. If they see it as a bribe or kickback, they might question my integrity. If they see it as excessively opulent, they might question my rates. I’d like to do something more than a 15% off coupon for their next month of service, but I want to ensure that I am not damaging my future relationship with them.
Any suggestions? Continue Reading
For some reason, there are many people with multiple facebook pages. Sometimes this is for a business or community group, or a special hobby. For example, perhaps you admin a different fan page for each of the characters for Twilight. In this case, it’s imperative that you make sure that you don’t accidently post something on Edwards’s page that should have gone on Jacob’s page, or else you might risk an epic vampire/werewolf battle royale. And who wants that to happen?
One easy way to do this(manage the facebook page, not the battle royale) is with HootSuite. Not only can you manage your multiple twitter accounts (just in case you’re tweeting as Bella and as Edward), but now you can manage your various Facebook pages. Continue Reading
I was in my private reading room, relaxing on my personal (porcelain) throne, when I found an article in Success magazine about the author/actor/Hollywood legend Stephen J. Cannell. The article, titled Character Development, was written by Michelle Medley, and provides a brief look into the life of the man that gave us many of the shows that we’ve seen over the years. The Rockford Files, The A Team, and 21 Jump street – just to name a few.
In the article, Canell shares a few Footnotes to Success, and I couldn’t help but notice how each of them applies directly to the life of a freelancer. Continue Reading
I’ve been considering a few different traditional marketing methods for my company and clients. One of the concepts is built around branded merchandise, and I’m curious if any other freelancers think that this is an effective way to promote your business.
I love free merchandise. If I have 50 pens, and you offer me a free one, I’m going to say “yes please!” My concern is that once I’ve put your pen in with the other 50, I am not likely to stumble across your pen anytime soon, so it might be a long time before that pen makes me think of your brand. That being said, the act of giving me the pen in the first place has given me that warm and fuzzy feeling about you and your business. Is it worth it to you?
Here are a few links for some companies that do reasonably priced branded swag:
BestpromoProducts – Lots of choices and the prices seem reasonable. Offices in USA, Canada, and Overseas
CommercialMarketing – Tonnes of choices on the home page, from apparel to writing instruments – but you have to login to see any products or prices. Horrible music on the home page video…
Jem Promotional Products – With over 10,000 products, there’s bound to be something that meets your needs here. From awards and trophies to Workwear – and they’ve got a “Green & Clean” section, if you’re thinking of an eco friendly option.
What are your thoughts? Waste of money or effective marketing? Continue Reading
The other day I realized that the relationships that I have been developing with my clients are similar to what I remember of the dating world. Of course, it’s been over 20 years since I was allowed to date anyone other than my wife, but from what I can recall, the similarities are there. Curse her and her “no dating” rule!
What kind of relationship are you in with your clients?
Flirting – You’re interested in each other, but haven’t made a commitment to do anything yet. Perhaps they are currently committed to another, but that relationship is struggling and you have an opportunity to provide this client with something fresh. You are regularly searching for a reason to call them, to get their attention, in hopes of creating that first date project.
Dating – You’ve been working with a new client and you are still trying to impress them at every opportunity. You aren’t exclusive yet, but you both like the work that has been produced and don’t see any reason to stray. You are looking forward to their calls, and they readily answer yours.
Married – You know what your client likes and dislikes, and you know how to ask in order to meet your creative or budgetary needs. You are mutually exclusive – you don’t do any work for their competitors, and they only use you for projects within your skill set. You might have had a few fights, but the relationship is strong, and you are fiercely protective of their business. You are seeing your creative projects grow over time, and the affect they are having on the business is positive.
Some relationships aren’t going to progress to the next stage unless you both take the time to develop them, and just like in the dating world, you may not want a long term commitment with each client you encounter. Mutual attraction, mutual benefit, and mutual satisfacton should result in a strong union.
Whichever stage you’re at, remember that flowers and chocolates don’t make up for big mistakes, but can be helpful to show them that you appreciate them, and never give them the chance to be bored with your performance.
What kind of relationships work best for you; the security of a long term commitment, or the excitement that comes with a new tryst? Continue Reading
One of the great things the internets gives us is the ability to track and analyze anything and everything. You can find out how many people are on your website, commented on your blog, or liked your Facebook status update, and it doesn’t take much more than a few clicks.
Whether you are looking at it from a competitive, professional, or personal point of view, you’ve probably figured out that you should start using Twitter tools to check your stats.
Here are a Twitter analytics tools to help you determine where you are in the Twitterverse:
Klout - Your Twitter presence is graded based on 25+ variables, including how well you engage with your audience, how often your posts are retweeted, and your level of twitter activity. Nice tool, measures quickly, and the results actually seem to be useful.
Tweetreach – Based on your last 50 tweets, Tweetreach will show you how many people you’ve reached. Simple, dead simple.
Twitrratr – Are you constantly worried about the opinion of others? Twitrratr checks your most recent tweets, and will let you know if they are positive, neutral, or negative. Just for fun – enter Tiger Woods
Twitalyzer – Need to know what your impact is, or what kind of influencer you are? Smoking fast results from twitalyzer on 15 day old data. Slightly longer for real time results. The most commonly used hashtags is nice as well.
Followcost – How annoying is it going to be to have this person follow you? Super simple tool to find out what you are getting into by blindly following someone. Of course, this tool doesn’t measure the quality of the prospective followers tweets, just the quantity.
Have you got a Twitter tool that you can’t live without? We’d love to know what it is, and why you think it’s the best!