Reporters at The Washington Post are now actively engaging their readers by posting comments in streams on the paper’s news stories online, something they’ve never done in the past. The paper switched to a new website platform called Echo, which has helped them grow their online community. Reader comments at the paper have shot up 142% since March, 2011.
This is new territory for many journalists. Never before have they been urged to take part in the conversations the public is having online about their stories. This type of involvement helps reporters fend off rumors, speculation, and flame wars, according to this article published on the Nieman Journalism Lab website. It also allows reporters to share more information, as well as prove that they, too, are real people.
For freelancers, this new trend at one of America’s largest newspapers just goes to show how important it is to engage with your community.
Show You Care
I try to comment on the blog posts I write for FreelanceSwitch—especially the posts that have gotten a lot of action from the readers. I really do appreciate the time people take to share their thoughts and opinions on my blog posts. Comments help me gauge a posts’ success and help me decide what to write about in the future. The best way for me to show the readers that I am paying attention, is to tell them so. Continue Reading
There are a lot of stories written about home-based businesses—trust me, I just did a Google search. Working from home has changed drastically over the years, thanks to technology.
If you think back not even 20 years about home-based businesses, you might envision a low-tech service business such as a daycare or landscaping company. To run a professional business, you needed to be located in commercial office space. Not only did commercial space provide the technical services you needed, but it also provided a professional atmosphere appropriate for meeting with clients. —seacoastonline.com
Luckily, for us freelancers, that is no longer the case.
I have a computer, high speed internet, printer, and cell phone that allow me to do my work at home. And I have a nice office/laundry room to do it in. I know a bunch of people who work from home and I have some tips on how to run it right. See if you agree. Continue Reading
A recent story in The Australian caught my eye. The title of the piece is “Online magazine offers less than 2c a word to freelancers”. The name of the online magazine is Breathe Magazine Australia (BreatheMagazine.com) and it is scheduled to launch in April 2012.
The Australian journalists’ union, called Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) has a recommended word rate of 93c a word (which is comparable to U.S. currency). The MEAA criticized Breathe Magazine’s owner, Flujo, stating that “Employers must realize that journalists must be paid properly for their work.”
Flujo is looking for three full-time writers, and is asking journalists to agree to write a minimum of six 400-word articles throughout the course of a month in the hopes they are hired for the full time gig. A 400-word article, by Breathe Magazine’s pay rate, is $7.
Many established freelancers would scoff at that rate—and it’s unclear by this article if the full-time writer would be paid more than that once hired. Continue Reading
I love sleeping. Always have, always will. I was the kid whose parents had to wake up on Christmas morning. If I don’t get enough sleep—watch out.
Admittedly, sometimes I feel ashamed at getting nine hours of sleep at night. But when I read this article in Inc.com about how important sleep really is, I decided to never feel ashamed again.
The overall arching theme of this article? Working overtime doesn’t increase your output. It makes you stupid. AMEN!
This, however, is hard for some people to understand—especially if they are working on deadline.
Early productivity studies show that up to 40 hours, us humans are pretty productive. After that, when we get tired, we’re less able to produce reliable work.
“Although we might all like to imagine that we can work happily through the night, once again the data’s all against us. Lose just one night’s sleep and your cognitive capacity is roughly the same as being over the alcohol limit. Yet we regularly hail as heroes the executives who take the red eye, jump into a rental car, and zoom down the highway to the next meeting.” —Inc.com
Ever heard of quality over quantity? I would rather work a solid six-hour day without fatigue and call it quits—even if there is more stuff to do—than push myself to work 10 hours. Trust me, I’ve done both (and worked longer than 10 hours a day) and guess what? I was miserable. And one day like that affects the rest of your week. Here’s some science on what I’m talking about…
This research looks at how people are using social media to look for and find work. Facebook leads the pack, with 44% of job seeking activity followed by LinkedIn at 26%. Are you a ‘super social’—someone who is highly active in social media circles with more than the average number of contacts? Twenty-eight percent of you found their last job through social networking, and 85% of you did so on Facebook.
And my mother thinks you can still find good jobs in the daily newspaper…
This infographic doesn’t just look at the millions of unemployed workers, it also takes into consideration the 61% of Americans (sorry, foreign readers) who are currently employed but are open to a new job. Continue Reading
Chris Brogan is the author of the new book, Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything.
As a Google+ skeptic (heck, I’m skeptical of all new social media) I was interested to learn more, so I sat down and watched this video where Michael Stelzner of Socialmediaexaminer.com interviewed Brogan about how Google+ can help small businesses.
As a freelancer, you are running a small business—a very small business that probably includes just you. And you should think of yourself as a small business when it comes to representing yourself both online and in the real world. If you are thinking about creating a page on Google+, you might want to watch the video for yourself (or check out Chris Brogan’s book)—here are some snippets and take-aways from Brogan’s interview:
“Most small businesses are approaching [Google+] thinking, ‘I just figured out Facebook, why are you doing this to me?’ First off, no one is doing this to you. Sorry, technology is always adapting, you have to adapt with it. We all don’t still have car phones, we have mobile phones, it’s the same thing.” —Chris Brogan
I have yet to adopt the new Facebook Timeline interface. I don’t want to. I’m comfortable with using Facebook the way it is, thank-you-very-much. When I found this post on mashable about how to revert back to Facebook classic, I knew I wasn’t alone in wishing some things would just stay the same.
I know I probably sound like a curmudgeon to you, but honestly, when things I use on a constant basis—like Facebook—go through an “upgrade” it’s all I can do to not pout. They say they are making their product more user friendly, but all change has a learning curve. I’m a busy freelancer, if I don’t have to learn new things I’m fine with it.
I know that I am going to have to use Facebook Timeline in the near future—there’s no getting around it—but I’m not sure I really like the new look. For one thing, I have to scroll down just to see my friend’s status updates. I don’t really care about having a great big photo at the top, either. I think it just takes up valuable real estate.
“We want to design a place that feels like your home. Where you tell story online is very personal. You spend a lot of time curating it. We want to make timeline a place you’re proud to call your home,” Zuckerberg said of the Timeline at the f8 conference. “It’s a completely new aesthetic for Facebook. It gives you the ability to curate all your stories so you can express who you really are.” —huffingtonpost.com
I don’t want Facebook to feel like my home! I want to have an actual life that doesn’t involve a computer or Internet. I want to be able to enjoy a family meal without someone updating their status, or watch a movie without checking wikipedia for “factual” information. I’m also not all that interested in “expressing who I really am” on Facebook. That’s not what I use it for. Continue Reading
It’s the beginning of the year and things are slow. You are hustling to get work and the work that comes your way you don’t feel you can turn down. By the time summer rolls around, you have been working your butt off and let things—like life outside of your office—go by the wayside.
Having a life outside of your job is incredibly important. Spending time with your family and friends, as well as making time for your hobbies keep you grounded, energized, and overall happy.
I really loved the ideas these entrepreneurs shared with Inc.com on how to get a life outside of your job. Here are more of my favorites:
Communicate Constantly With Your Spouse
Then you will know how to best support each other. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, says the biggest decision you’ll make in your career is who you decide to marry. I think this has really been true for me. Having a spouse that you know is in your corner is a huge source of comfort and confidence. – Anishiya Taneja, founder and CEO of TravelDNA, a travel planning site.
I would not have the confidence to do what I do if I did not have the support of my husband. He believes in me, which helps me believe in myself. We can both tell when the other has had a bad day, and we do little things for each other—like cook dinner, do laundry, shovel the snow off our deck—to help each other out.
We also make sure to tell each other when we need an extra hug or quiet time. We both have high stress jobs, so talking about them and being honest with our needs is important. Continue Reading
Many freelancers are stuck in a rut. We don’t dare pass up work because we aren’t confident it will keep coming in.
We forgo weekend plans and even vacations because we are busy. But guess what? All work and no play leads to burnout.
It’s important not to forget that you do have a life outside of your office space. You don’t have to be stuck in front of a computer forever, just because you are a freelancer.
I came across this article on Inc.com that asked busy entrepreneurs to share their best tricks for coping with the daily grind. While the advice is geared towards start-ups, I’ve added my thoughts on how the advice can be heeded for freelancers. Here are some of my favorites:
Make What Time You Spend With Your Family Count
Drive the kids to school each day and really talk to them without checking your e-mail. Turn off the cell phone entirely when you’re playing with them, or you are watching their games. Don’t think about work during that time. High quality time really counts. – Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail, a visual voice-mail smartphone app.
It’s important to MAKE time to spend with your family. I am a newly married woman without kids, with a husband who is addicted to his iPhone and MacBook. He travels a lot for work, and I have been busy with tradeshows on the weekends. The other night I put my foot down—NO TECHNOLOGY!
We made dinner, rented a movie, and turned our cell phones, iPad, and computers off. Even when Shane wanted to look something up about the movie we were watching, I told him it could wait until tomorrow. And you know what? It did! We paid attention to each other—which is something we both desperately needed to do. Continue Reading
Was your New Year’s resolution to start your own freelancing business? We’re five weeks in—how is it going? I found this article on Freelance: UK that got me thinking about financial issues to consider before taking the big freelance leap. Here are some of their suggestions as well as some of mine. Continue Reading
I had never heard of the freelance-writing online marketplace Contently until I stumbled across this piece of info from the Wall Street Journal:
Freelance-writing marketplace Contently has raised a $2 million Series A round led by Lightbank. Co-founder Shane Snow said he started the company to help resolve some of the business challenges–such as securing a string of new assignments and getting paid in a timely manner–common to many freelance writers. —wsj.com
What does this mean, exactly? Well, it means that Lightbank, a Chicago-based company that help create and fund early stage entrepreneurs, has given a sizeable chunk of venture capital money to an online community that supports freelancers. Lightbank is run by two guys who were the first two angel investors in Groupon. Guess they know a good thing when they see it.
Kinda cool, huh?
I decided to check more into this Contently company and see what it was all about. Their manifesto states, in a nutshell, that they believe in high quality content that is created by experienced journalists and writers, not blather cranked out by content farms. Continue Reading
You are a creative person and you want a new look for your business—whether it’s a website, business cards, or whatever. Sure, you could do the work yourself—but should you?
For some odd reason, there seems to be a discrepancy of sorts when it comes to doing the work for ourselves. Some designers feel like of course we should take on that Jack-of-all-trades mindset, while others just feel like it makes sense to pass the work off and let someone else do it. —webdesignerdepot.com
Before you jump in and start the project, ask yourself a couple of key questions: How creative are you? How much time do you have? What is your skill set? These might help you decided to forge ahead on your own, or hire someone else to help you. Continue Reading