If you are a typical freelancer, your office may range from your home to your car to the local coffee shop. While I used to inhabit my local coffee shop—to the tune of having my drink waiting for me at the counter before I even got there—I am now a convert of working at my local library.
- Free high-speed WiFi. Yes, my local coffee shop had free WiFi, but it also seemed to have every online movie watcher and gamer there too hogging up the bandwidth. Their “free high-speed WiFi” was usually quite slow and frustrating. This hasn’t been the case at the library.
- A quiet place to work. Coffee shops are usually so loud I can barely think, let alone create. With people talking, orders being shouted, blaring music, and coffee grinding in the background, the cacophony could drive you mad. The library has enforced quietness, which I like.
No matter how well you plan, there will be times when you’ll need more clients. During the “famine” periods of your feast and famine cycle, the best thing you can do is cut this time as short as possible.
To do this, you need a system for contacting leads, qualifying them, and converting them into paying clients as fast as possible. Communication templates can help you do this.
Google has recently launched Chrome Web Store – a dedicated marketplace with various applications for the browser. The marketplace idea is simple: install an app once and you will always have it at your fingertips on Chrome’s start screen. So you can save time and use your favorite tool immediately.
As Chrome is in vogue among freelancers, the new Web Store collection is worth checking out. There are many entertainments tools, online games, utilities and productivity solutions. The last category of getting things done apps deserves freelancers’ attention. Chrome has free web applications like to-do lists, calendars, note takers to help you work faster, easier and more efficient. Let’s browse the top 10 productivity leaders in Chrome’s Web Store. Continue Reading
Want to make your tax preparer the happiest person on the planet? By spending a few minutes on your financial paperwork now, you can make your life easier, as well as theirs.
As a freelancer, it’s easy to tell yourself that your financial paperwork really isn’t that complicated and that you can put it off indefinitely. If you do so, sometime in early March — assuming that you’re based in the U.S. — you will frantically go through all your old receipts and invoices, trying to run some numbers that you can hand off to your tax preparer, so that she can finish your tax return in time for that April 15th deadline. I’ve taken that approach more than once myself.
But there is a perfectly valid alternative to spending most of March freaking out, provided you’re willing to put in a little time now. You can get your paperwork in order early.
Start a Folder and a Shoebox
I realize that we’re all living in the digital age and hard copy is just one more thing to lose, but the fact of the matter is that a large portion of the paperwork you’ll need for your taxes is not going to come electronically.
So, write ‘Taxes’ and the year on a file folder and put it in your filing cabinet. Every time you have something that you know that you’re going to have to give to your tax preparer, put it in that folder. It’s harder than it sounds, but it’s necessary.
The ideal result is a shoebox with neatly organized receipts inside and a report totaling up your business expenses in different categories.
You also need some sort of storage device for your receipts. I use shoeboxes because they’re free, although I don’t ascribe to the paperwork philosophy of ‘throw it all in and let the tax preparer sort it out.’ Personally, I use two shoeboxes — one for personal receipts and one for business receipts.
I really ought to have a third, for medical expenses and other receipts that can be tax-deductible in the right situation, but since those are fewer and farther between, I generally just put them straight into my folder. Continue Reading
Every freelancer out there has a bag of tricks they wouldn’t want to do work without—whether it’s their computer, useful software, or their favorite radio station. Find out what sorts of things help FreelanceSwitch.com contributors during their workday.
Perhaps their advice will inspire you to try something new, or reaffirm that what you currently use is the best in the biz.
I can enjoy a huge screen at home for digging into some in-depth work, and take the super lightweight MacBook Air on the road. My iPhone never leaves my side, and I’m constantly amazed at how much work I can get done on such a tiny device. –David Appleyard
While the end of the year is likely not in the minds of many, it’s closer than you may think.
So before the ball drops and that tax deadline gets even closer, it’s a good time to think about the many things you can do to prepare for the end of the year–and the promising year ahead.
Here are 4 tips to get you started.
1. Create a New Filing System
If you’ve been meaning to find a better way to get organized, now may just be the time to do it. Put new systems in place for organizing your files. I work out of my home office, which is also a hub for my personal paperwork–so having a work file cabinet and a personal one was key to helping me stay together. Continue Reading
Freelancers wear many hats. In fact, you might find yourself acting more like a janitor than a CEO most of the time.
In some ways, this variety can be fun … but it can also be draining and impact our freelance health. The result is that many freelancers drown in their many duties and burn the candle at both ends. In the struggle to make business work, we run ourselves down and our physical health often suffers.
The great paradox of all of this is that when your energy and physical health suffer, your work does as well. In other words: the more you work, the worse you work.
With that in mind, here are 5 easy ways to stay on top of your game, keep your energy levels high, and remain productive and healthy as a freelancer. Continue Reading
Every freelancer works with tons of documents daily. We receive detailed business proposals, technical requirements, data sheets, specifications, portfolios, etc. The majority of these documents are PDF files. The popularity of the PDF format is easy to understand: it is readable on various devices, has pure content structure, and has limited editing options.
It’s clear why the PDF format has become a standard document type. But at the same time PDF file type advantages turn into its disadvantages – PDF files are hard to customize and annotate. However, there are several helpful PDF tools that edit, convert and create new PDF files easily.
Let’s t look at 10 affordable PDF Makers of four sorts: converters, printers, readers and creators.
HelloPDF or Free PDF to Word Doc Converter is perfect freeware for PDF to Word format conversion. Select a PDF file, click the Convert button and you get a completely editable Word file. The resulting Word file quality of this little free software is close to pricey document converters. Free PDF to Word Doc Converter is definitely helpful freeware that should be installed on a freelancer’s PC. Continue Reading
A typical freelancer is an idea generating engine. New ideas spring up all the time. Suddenly, you may realize you have a perfect solution to a problem or get inspiration on the go.
To record your precious ideas there are handy note taking apps. These tools usually contain features like notes and web clippings. They instantly save content with small text overview. Thus, note making software helps to organize thoughts and boost freelancing productivity.
Let’s look at the top 10 notebook apps that can help bring order to your creative world. Many of these are open source, multi-platform, or cloud based apps.
A.nnotate is a web service that allows making text notes, adding sticky notes to documents like PDFs or images. It enables you to create snapshots of favorite websites. Besides, you can share your notes with your fellow workers. Thanks to A.nnotate web nature, you have freedom to make notes from PC or your mobile device. Initially, you set a free account; later on you may switch to a paid version.
A few times a month we revisit some of our reader’s favorite posts from throughout the history of FreelanceSwitch. This article by Skellie was first published July 9th, 2008, yet is just as relevant and full of interesting information today.
Freelancers are more likely than most people to love Moleskine notebooks. We need to keep and manage our own schedules and to-dos. We’re creative, so we need a place to store and expand ideas. We need to take notes at meetings with clients–or at least look like we are. We need to appear productive and busy in coffee-shops–even when we aren’t.
Moleskine notebooks rank alongside the MacBook Pro, money and caffiene on our fictional list of ‘Most Beloved Freelancing Tools’. It’s a shame, then, that many Moleskine owners don’t realize the full potential of their little black book… much like many brain-owners don’t realize the full potential of their squishy salmon-colored companion.
Don’t be one of those people!
Inside this post you’ll find a goldmine of mini-hacks, recommendations, visual modifications, organizational systems, uncommon uses and creative tomfoolery, all for your Moleskine(s)! Continue Reading
Good communication means a lot for freelancers. When you work on a project with several team members, you need good collaboration apps. Nowadays there are plenty of online document processing apps that make group work on documents much easier.
Let’s explore the top 5 online document editors: Google Docs, Microsoft Office 365, Central Desktop, TeamLab, Zoho. Since all apps are unique and have significant distinctions, I will take into consideration some popular characteristics such as: sign-up process simplicity, document sharing, and free account availability.
1. Google Docs
Known as a web docs app initiator, Google Docs brings innovations each year. There are various types of documents that you create and edit online: text files, spreadsheets, and presentations. You can upload and export documents.
The document editing process is similar to a familiar desktop, supporting hot keys, drag-and-drop, cell merging, and image insertion. What I like about Google Docs most of all, is its auto-save feature. There’s no need to click the “Save” button, all changes are saved automatically.
- Sign-up: The sign-up process is smooth and simple. No extra software installation or account setting configuration needed.
- Docs Sharing: You share a doc with anyone and work together on it. Besides, Google Docs have public access, so you can provide a link to a doc for external users and they can view the file.
- Prices: Google Docs are free for personal use. As a part of Google Apps for Business, the annual plan for 1 account is $50 with an unlimited number of users.
Freelancing, by definition, is a solitary existence. You probably sit at a computer most of the day, writing, designing, drawing, networking, and have little face to face interaction with peers who work in your industry.
I don’t know how you write, but I need it to be quiet to be productive. Deathly quiet. I have never been able to listen to music—even the classical stuff—while doing homework, working on a paper, or writing a magazine feature or blog post. If it’s rowdy outside my office, I shut the door, and people know not to bother me. When the phone rings, I groan unhappily. A ringing phone is my nemesis.