I recently wrote about content theft, how my FreelanceSwitch blog posts ended up on another person’s blog without proper credit. Scratch that—there was no credit! My blog post was published and another author was taking credit for it. He claims it was unintentional, but it was against the law — frustrating.
I learned some valuable lessons when this happened, and I thought I would share them with you and how you can handle plagiarism if it happens to you (and I hope it doesn’t).
Lesson 1: The power of social media
A friend of mine alerted me to the fact that someone was publishing my FreelanceSwitch blog posts on his business blog. When I checked it out, I sent the link to the editor of FreelanceSwitch, Sean Hodge, to handle. I wasn’t sure what was appropriate, and I didn’t want to get in the middle of it.
Instead of emailing this man, named Kevin, myself I posted a link to two of my blog posts on my Facebook page, calling him out on it. I figured my friends would be on my side, but some of them actually went on to Kevin’s site and left messages that what he was doing was wrong.
Three hours after my Facebook status update, all of my FreelanceSwitch blog posts (and other blog posts from various FreelanceSwitch authors and other blogs) were taken off his site. He even wrote a post trying to apologize. How’s that for service? Continue Reading
I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been hearing about some pretty serious social media snafus that have been so bad that people have lost their jobs over them.
Whether your Facebook page is set to private or not, nothing is ever really private on the Internet. It’s not just high school and college kids who have a hard time understanding that—it’s grown ups, too.
If you are like me, you have a personal Facebook page as well as one for your business. I have a LinkedIn page and I tweet using my business handle. Keeping your personal and business lives separate on social media sites can be hard, so here are some ways to make sure you are putting your best foot forward, instead of in your mouth. Continue Reading
I am a lucky freelancer—I have my own home office and no kids (well, at least not yet) to worry about. And my job means I don’t have to sit in my office, day after day, until I can’t stand it anymore. I get to go out and meet interesting people to interview and take photos. However, not everyone can work this way.
Some of you don’t have a home office, or any office, to work in. You have to work wherever you can, be it the couch, the kitchen table, or in the basement. Finding a quiet space can be difficult if you have a family. And not having anyone to bounce ideas off of can be maddening, too.
That’s why I liked this article posted on Men With Pens about the best—and worst—places to write.
If you have to get out of the house due to cabin fever, loud teenagers, or you just need a new environment to spark creativity, there are places where you should and should not go. Continue Reading
Pomegranate is a mentoring emagazine for creative entrepreneurs—that’s you! Their March 2012 issue is all about creating value for your customers.
Creating value is the easiest way to differentiate you from your competitors. To be honest, when I choose vendors to work with, the lowest price doesn’t always win out. I look for what they can offer me beyond the sale—and often it’s the little “extra” things that make paying a little more completely worth it.
“There are two kinds of clients out there—clients who are looking for the lowest price and clients who are looking for the greatest value. Who would you rather work with?” —Peleg Top, Pomegranate
I truly admire the sales director for the magazine I work for. Her consultative selling method and willingness to partner with clients makes her a great success. She doesn’t just sell advertising, she listens to what her clients need and comes up with solutions on how to help. Very often her solutions help us make money, too, but there is always a mutual benefit. When your clients realize you are working with them, and not simply for them, you are creating value.
We make the most money out of working with clients who believe in value. So we work extra hard to find ways to offer added value to these clients. In the end, it pays off, and you can do the same thing with your clients.
I really liked the creating value suggestions Pomegranate editor, Peleg Top, included in the March issue, so I thought I’d share them… Continue Reading
Freelancers and small business owners can learn a lot from how bigger businesses use their social media. You’re not going to be able to capitalize on everything these larger companies can, because your business model is different. However, there are some things big companies do to leverage their Twitter followers that freelancers can put into practice.
Some of these ideas were found in this FastCompany article. I weeded through all 21 of their tips to find the ones FreelanceSwitch readers can put into practice.
Offering coupons on coffee would work great for Starbucks, but clearly not for freelancers. But giving out your own special offer can help entice someone to try your services for the very first time, or attract a repeat customer.
Most of the freelancers that I know who utilize this are photographers. They’ll offer a special deal during certain times of the year (holidays, for example) for a special rate. Customers use a promo code to sign up for a photo shoot. Sometimes photographers will create a contest where someone gets a photo shoot for free.
It’s all about enticing new customers to your small company. Whether you offer photography services, graphic design, or marketing solutions—offering a discount makes it less risky for new clients to use your services. Continue Reading
Have you heard about the trend of standing room only meetings? Instead of having a team sit around a conference table, they’re made to stand up for short meetings instead.
The trend is becoming prevalent in tech companies, and is meant to eliminate long, boring meetings where no one pays attention. Some companies have even instituted a penalty for being late to a meeting—either through sheer humiliation or a small fee.
If someone is rambling on for too long, an employee may hold up a rubber rat indicating it is time to move on. Companies make exceptions to their no-sitting rules if a worker is sick, injured or pregnant—but usually not for workers outside the office telecommuting on Skype. —wsj.com
The trend is fueled by an approach to software development called “Agile”, which calls for compressing development projects into short pieces. It also includes daily stand-up meetings where everyone can update everyone else with what they are currently working on and any obstacles that stand in their way.
I think it’s brilliant! I immediately started wondering how I could incorporate this way of thinking into my freelance life. I took a look at the Agile Manifesto and sought to translate it into something freelancers could use. Here’s my attempt: 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
Engagement with your clients doesn’t happen overnight or all at once. It is something that needs to be worked on consistently over time. Engaging your clients is a great way to keep them involved during the down time as well as offer them reasons to remember your great work.
Following are ideas to help you engage with you clients, which will improve that professional relationship and strengthen your freelance business. Continue Reading
I really like the 60-Second Solutions videos on Entrepreneur.com. I thought that the recent video by communications coach Carmine Gallo on creating a 60 second strategy to tell your story was especially useful.
Sometimes it’s hard to explain to people what it is you really do. Many people hear the word ‘freelancer’ and don’t quite understand what it means, other than you probably work from home in your pajamas.
Gallo suggests you come up with one sentence answers to the following four questions to keep your “What I Do” story to 60 seconds.
What do you do?
Are you a graphic designer? A freelancer writer or photographer? Do you have a niche or topic (like small business, agriculture, health) that you concentrate on? Turn this into one sentence. Example: I am a freelance blogger and I write about small business financing for several online magazines. Continue Reading
In a recent story in Toronto’s The Globe and Mail, small business owners are putting work before their health.
Forty percent of small business owners who responded to a survey conducted by Manta, an online community for small business, say that this year’s business climate took a toll on their personal health.
One in three — 33 per cent — said they are working out less, 22 per cent said they’ve gained weight or eat less healthy, and 14 per cent said they are more short-tempered and argue with family and co-workers, according to the latest Manta SMB Wellness Index, which surveyed 1,000 small-business owners. As well, 28 per cent said their stress had increased or their health had been negatively affected since starting their business. –The Globe and Mail
It’s no secret that starting and running your own business is tough—especially as a freelancer. You are your own…everything! Sixty-three percent of respondents to this poll say they averaged more than 40 hours per week. When you have to be your company’s sales person, marketing guru, administrator, and lead creative—putting in more than 40 hours (especially when you’re first getting started) seems to be the norm.
There are some ways that freelancers can work to lead a healthier life. Here are some ideas…
The end of the year is when predictions on trends for the next year surface, from small business to the most popular wedding colors. People love predictions, and I like some of Carol’s predictions in her article. Here are some of my favorites and why…
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