By 2016, there will be three billion Internet users across the globe, according to a new study by The Boston Consulting Group. That’s half the world’s population!
The study focused on Internet use by consumers and businesses in the G20 countries, which includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the EU, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S. In 2010 alone, the Internet accounted for $2.3 trillion (4.1% of the GDP) and surpassed the economies of Italy and Brazil. In the U.K., the Internet’s contribution to the 2010 GDP is more than that of construction and education.
The Internet powers growth and creates jobs, and most freelancers use the Internet constantly. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to write for FreelanceSwitch!
I clearly remember in 1995 when my best friend’s family got the Internet on their home computer. We were enthralled with it, despite it’s limitations. What the heck was AOL? We thought the Internet was a place where you could talk to complete strangers on the other side of the country—which you could do then and can do now—and had no idea it would become so much more. Continue Reading
Have you ever been asked to give a speech somewhere on short notice? Sure, we’d all love to have months to prepare a well rounded and informative speech for an audience, but sometimes we aren’t given the time. You have two options: decline the opportunity or seize it.
If you are apprehensive about speaking in public, force yourself to do it.
I take the opportunity to speak in public as often as possible. Public speaking is easy for me—I don’t normally get nervous and I don’t have stage fright. This is not the case for everyone.
I have to say, practice makes perfect. My years of teaching in front of 10 to 50 undergraduate students has helped. I’m lucky that I have had the chance to practice speaking in public, so that when the opportunity arises for my professional life, I’m not so afraid.
If you are apprehensive about speaking in public, force yourself to do it. Attend networking events where you are asked to get up and introduce yourself. The more you do it the more comfortable you will be.
Does your town or region have any professional groups you can join? Whether it’s a breakfast or lunch event held once a month, or a quarterly business event, put yourself out there. Practice sharing your expertise when someone asks you “So what do you do?”
All of this prep will not only get you used to speaking to strangers, it will help you network. You can make some valuable connections that can lead you to even more public speaking engagements. 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
Valentine’s Day is probably not a holiday that brings your fellow freelancers to mind.
You may have made a point to recognize your clients during the December holiday season, so why not make February the time to applaud your fellow independents?
Spreading good karma always pays off in some manner, whether it be a new contact, lead, or networking opportunity. Here are some ways to get started. Continue Reading
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 is only so much you can learn from a textbook. And with technology changing at break neck speeds—there is only so much you can learn in school before, inevetibally, technology changes again.
Internships are a great way for students to get hands on experience working in their chosen field—but there aren’t many internships available for freelancers who are looking to learn without receiving college credit. This is where mentorships come in.
A mentor can help a newbie learn acquired skills, which sometimes take years to develop. The mentor/mentee relationship provides the newbie exposure to skills beyond the textbook teaching to help that person fast track his or her career with advanced skills that will separate them from the piles of résumé for a job. —PRDaily
I’m fairly new to the whole LinkedIn thing. I’m on it, but I haven’t really been using it to my advantage. I get updates from my Alma Mater’s LinkedIn page each week, but I usually throw that email right in the trash. Is LinkedIn just another social network I have to pay attention to? I decided to take a closer look.
Recently I have been logging in more to my LinkedIn page. Some of the most interesting articles I write about for this blog I have found through LinkedIn. And this article, about connecting on LinkedIn, I found…wait for it…on Linkedin.com! Here are some tips from that article to consider before connecting on LinkedIn…
Like any new thing I try, I like to follow the rules—or at least try to figure out what they are. Seems the rules for connecting on LinkedIn are a lot like the rules for connecting on Facebook—only connect with people you actually know. Many people who use LinkedIn to broaden their professional network are connecting to people they have never talked to. Why? 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
Now that the holidays are over it’s back to the grindstone. However, many businesses and freelancers struggle in January to get rolling. This blog post by Carol Tice on Entrepreneur.com gives some good info on how to beat the January doldrums. I’ve taken the tips that pertain to freelancers and put in my own two cents:
Poll Your Clients
You are probably not the only one dealing with a slow January—your clients might be in the same boat. Why not involve them by sending them a poll? If you’re trying to figure out what direction you want to go in in 2012, have your clients help shape your path! Thinking about blogging more? Find out how it would be accepted by your readers.
Entice responses with a prize, such as an Amazon gift card or ad space on your website for a certain amount of time. If there is incentive to fill out your poll, people will be more likely to take the time to do it. Continue Reading
Dave and Carrie Kerpen started their marketing company, Likeable Media, after they created a buzz selling sponsorships to their New York wedding. They raised $100,000 for their wedding and $20,000 for a charity.
The couple, who both had marketing backgrounds, were asked by so many people “what’s next” after their wedding promotional stunt that they started their own company, which today has offices in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Mexico City.
Dave appears in this video on Inc.com talking about how he got started as well as sharing some tips on what makes someone good at social media marketing. While I wish there was less “wedding” and more “tips for 2012”—as the title suggests—I did like what he had to say about the kind of person who excels at social media marketing.
The most successful person in social media is the same person who is the most successful person at a cocktail party. —Dave Kerpen
Dave has a few fantastic tips that are worth considering in your freelance business…
Looking to give your karma a boost in 2012? Why not consider working for free? Let me clarify: not working for free everyday, but donating your time and experience to help others and to learn from others as well.
Designer Roy Barber has embarked on a project whereby he spends every Friday freelancing for free at a different agency, which, he says, gives him the chance to work with some of the smartest people in the industry. In return, the agency gets an extra pair of hands for the day and he writes up the experience and his learnings on his blog. —Net Magazine
I really loved this idea—it’s sort of like freelance interning. Remember how psyched you were to land an internship in college? You get to be around all sorts of really smart people doing exactly what you wanted to do when you “grew up.”
Roy Barber came up with the idea after hiring his own intern. He got to teach this student things about freelancing that he would not have learned working as an intern at a larger company. Barber figured there were things he could still learn from larger agencies that he wouldn’t experience working for himself as a freelancer.
Some of the agencies he has been working for for free have even offered Barber jobs. He’s increased his clientele and is booked up through the new year. All for volunteering his time.
Not all businesses will be open to this idea—but you’ll never know if you don’t ask. There are other ways to offer your services and learn from others, too, that don’t include giving up each of your Fridays.
According to a recent study by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 47.7% of women believe they are capable of starting a business compared to 62.1% of men. This lack of confidence persisted throughout all economies and cultures that were included in the study.
So what gives? Let’s delve into the issue a little more…