One of the biggest challenges for freelancers is managing our time — if we don’t do it well, we won’t survive as freelancers.
Time management is about developing good work habits, and using time management tools that work without getting in the way.
As freelancers, we also want tools that can be used and accessed from anywhere — multiple locations, while traveling, and on the go with our mobile devices if necessary. So today we’ll look at a few online tools that are simple, easy to use, and effective — helping you manage your time and tasks without too much hassle.
This list actually contains alternatives for each type of time-management tool, so you have options to check out.
I have the memory of a fish, things go in one ear and straight out the other. So it’s comforting to me that my filing cabinet remembers all the things that I forget. Continue Reading
THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO ALL THOSE THAT ENTERED!
Disclosure: Light is a paying sponsor of FreelanceSwitch. My opinion however is not (nor can be) paid for
If you’ve ever built a website for a client you’ll know all about those tedious and annoying updates clients love. Sure they can be an OK money earner for not that much work, but if you’re anything like me half the time you don’t charge for them and the other half you put it off until your client gets annoyed and you finally get around to doing something that takes you a few seconds and then you don’t charge for it anyway.
The alternative is to give your client some way to manage the content themselves. This can mean building a custom system, giving them a copy of Contribute and hoping they don’t hurt themselves, or using an off the shelf product. I’ve tried the first two options, but today we’re going to take a look at the last, specifically a product called the Light Content Management System or just Light for the keyboard challenged.
It’s been about four days and I just logged into the survey admin tool to see we’ve passed 1300 respondents already! This is really fantastic news because with three and a half weeks to go before we close the polling booth, it shows we’re going to get a great sample which of course makes the information that much more useful!
Of course we still have a long way to go particularly to make the survey results truly global, so if you haven’t already, please do go and fill out the survey. It won’t take you long at all – about ten minutes – and you’ll not only be eligible to see the full results when they go up, but also be in the running for a neat prize pack! Click Here to Take the Survey
And if you run a site or blog and want to help out, don’t forget you can put up a link or banner and send more people over. We’ve actually had a lot of great sites pitch in already, here are a few of them:
Thanks guys! If anyone else wants a linkback, just send me an email and i’ll put one up in the next survey update!
By Leo Babauta
I don’t know about you, but I always assumed that working as a freelancer would be the dream job — no boss, no lazy co-workers, no headaches.
Well, I still love being a freelancer, but the no headaches part was certainly wrong.
At least, it was until I learned a few essential steps that don’t take long to complete but that can save you tons of time and some pretty major headaches as you go about your work — and without the headaches, being a freelancer really is a dream job.
1. Find great clients. Every freelancer has had clients that are a major pain in the … neck. They are negative and critical, they are never happy, they are rude, they want things right away and to specific yet unknown specifications … they are major headaches. The problem comes when you continue to work with them. Ditch them, and find better clients. Your life will be so much better. Look for positive people who are genuinely fun to work with — and be sure that they’re professionals. Cyan and Collis from FreelanceSwitch.com are excellent examples of great clients — they’re fun, extremely competent, professional, and enthusiastic. Find people like them to work with.
2. Be clear about terms. When you’re entering into a freelance relationship with someone, it’s best to spell out, right away, what the terms are. Email them with a list of questions — rate, scope, payment terms, any specifications, format for submission, deadlines, etc. If you get this stuff clear up front, you won’t have headaches about it later. It’s good to come up with a list of this stuff so you can ask each new client the same questions.
3. Set deadlines. Work with deadlines, or things could sprawl out much longer than necessary. It’s best to overestimate how long it’ll take you to complete the entire project by at least half, but to set a sub-deadline for the next step in the project that you’ll need to complete. Submit each step along the way, setting deadlines as you go for each step.
N.C. has some shows coming up in San Diego!!
Second Saturdays at Distinction Gallery
JULY 14, 8pm
317 East Grand Avenue
Escondido, CA 92025
Open Artists‚ studios and Second Reception for Justin Bua Show.
LOVE / HATE show at Subtext Store and Gallery
July 26 – 28
680 West Beech Street, No.1
San Diego, CA 92101
custom vinyl show & silent auction.
If you’d like to see more of N.C.s work but aren’t in California, you can check out more of his work here.
In just about every team meeting, along with the creatives, the developers and the client, there is usually someone with the title: project manager. For the uninitiated this could range from the multiple-pierced, student office temp to a Prada-clad scare-meister who is rumoured to sleep upside down in a coffin. For those of us who are in the know (ie: have been making tea and booking cabs for a while), project managers are generally the ones who get it all delivered in the end.
But what do Project Managers do?
Have you ever surfed those job ad listings for freelance project managers wondering if you qualify or what those ‘key requirements’ actually mean? Below are some expansions on those must-have items:
Before you start: PM = Project Manager. In some circles, it also stands for Prime Minister or Pre-menstrual tension – go figure.
Organisational skills: A PM is supposed to essentially be more organised than the people you work with. The range can extend from: uses the trash can as a filing system to having every email/phone message ever received from anyone including their mother, printed, time-stamped and filed accordingly. First impressions count so getting to the interview on the correct date is a good start. Knowing why you are there is also a bonus.
Technical skills: Usually a requirement for the digital arena. However, it should be noted that in some organisations, being able to tie your own shoelaces to get to work is considered a technical skill.
Time for a roundup of useful links from across this beast we call the world wide web:
JDs Blog has a great article about how to improve your Time Management Skills.
Our favourite productivity writer, Leo Babauta, gives us his Top 10 Ways To Reduce Your Work Week. Considering most of the freelancers I know (including me) work upwards of 60 hours a week, we should all probably read this one!
For those of us who need to make the occasional speech or pitch, Lifehack has 10 Tips from Lincoln on Writing a Kick-ass Speech.
We all have our bad days – we may have lost a pitch, had a row with a client, or have just realized we’re getting really fat from being at a desk all day eating Doritos (how good are Doritos?) When this day comes, you should go read Wisebread’s 10 Killers Ways to Feel Like a Million Bucks (Even If Your Bank Account Says Otherwise). My bank account does say otherwise, but that’s okay because I’m silently stretching my hamstrings (note: that will only make sense if you read the article.)
If you have decided to start a blog but don’t know how, there is a very easy to follow guide at How To Split An Atom. The only tip I’d add to that is to ensure you have some kind of USP. Simply recreating your favourite existing blog will not make much of an impact, unless you’re a literary genius.
If you have a useful link or article that you think FreelanceSwitch readers would be interested in, Send It In!
By Leo Babauta. This article has been translated into Spanish by Juan Manuel Lemus from DotPress.
Freelancers are excellent at producing great work if an assignment takes less than a day to complete. But many freelancers (not all) are also notoriously bad at completing projects that take several days or more to complete.
We’re not always great at project management — and part of the problem might be that we don’t have a boss breathing down our necks, pressuring us at every turn and holding us accountable.
Another problem, of course, is that big projects are overwhelming and intimidating, and it’s easier to do a quick one-off job than to plod along at a project that could take a couple of weeks. Yet a third problem: we don’t always have a clear picture of how the project should look when it’s finished — a clearly defined desired outcome.
We’re going to address those problems in this guide to simple project management by modifying some project concepts from David Allen’s Getting Things Done — modified for freelancers. Actually, this method would work for regular employees too, but it’s especially designed for freelancers.
Freelancers by nature usually work on their own, as such we often don’t really know what others are doing, charging and thinking. This survey aims to compile our collective knowledge for the benefit of freelancers everywhere! By taking part in the Global Freelancer Survey you will be rewarded in three ways:
1. Detailed Statistics. After the survey is complete we will be posting an abridged version of some results on FreelanceSwitch.com, however respondents who complete the survey will be emailed a COMPLETE set of information and data from the survey. I.e. you’ll get exclusive data that non-respondents don’t get!
2. Random Prize Draw. We have prizes. That’s right, fabulous prizes! We’ve put together the ultimate freelancer kit from Amazon for one lucky winner who will be drawn at random from the pool of respondents. The prize pack includes:
- A Balance Ball Chair from Gaiam. Balance ball chairs give you stability while encouraging proper posture. Plus they’re bouncy so you can burn calories while you work!
- A Microsoft Natural Ergo Keyboard 4000. This keyboard will help you fend off the evil RSI.
- Studio Monitor/dj Headphone. This headphone is a gem for anyone who needs to block out distractions, as it delivers superior sound while blocking outside noise. If you have kids, noisy neighbors, or an overexcited schnauzer in the house, you will love it.
- Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 Exercises to Wake Up Your Brain. We all need a little creative wake up call once in a while, and this book is just the ticket.
- Western Digital 60 GB USB External Hard Drive. It’s sleek, black and sexy, and it also holds all your bits and pieces. Every freelancer needs some heavy duty back-up, and this baby will do the business.
- And finally, what I want for my birthday, a Nintendo Wii!!! These will provide not only a great break after a hard day’s freelancing, but will also get you off your butt after sitting on your balance ball chair all day long.
3. Satisfaction. By completing the survey, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping compile information to help freelancers everywhere, it only takes 10 minutes of your time and the sum of our collective knowledge will be huge!
The survey only takes a few minutes and will be a great resource for all of us – so take it now!
Less than 24 hours after putting them up, I’m bringing the TemplateMonster stuff back down. After a bit of dismay after the announcement, it seems templates are not going to be how we make this site profitable. Actually you’ll be amused to know I copped a bit of flak here at the office too, so evidently it was a doomed plan anyway.
I’m glad everyone put their viewpoint forward, we will no doubt be trying a variety of other things in the coming months but if they get in the way of our main aims here on the site, then of course they won’t stick around!
In case anyone is interested this site is actually funded in part by some of the ads on the site, but mostly by our sister site FlashDen.net, so templates or not, there’s no danger of us running aground which is nice to know. Anyhow, I have plenty more tricks up my sleeve to try, please feel free to continue voicing your thoughts on them when they happen.
It costs a lot to provide so much free freelance goodness, so in our never ending quest to put FreelanceSwitch into the black, we’ve added a TemplateMonster subsite to our menu for anyone in the market for some templated goodies. You can browse through a gigantic set of templates on the site and if you do decide to purchase something, you’ll be happy to know that 20% of everything goes back into FreelanceSwitch!
For those of you who may not have heard of TemplateMonster, they’ve been around for years and years and put out a few new templates every day. The quality is pretty high, though sometimes they can feel a bit template-y so you have to choose judiciously and give them a bit of tweaking before delivery. I probably shouldn’t admit this but I used to use their site for inspiration when doing my own web designs In fairness though I have purchased a couple of templates and once a flash movie too. The quality of the files is good, the prices are very cheap, the service is quick and efficient and the company is based in New York, New York.
Anyhow so enjoy the templates, and don’t tell my old clients that I was getting inspiration from a template website of all places!