Editor’s Note: This post is a sponsored review. You can purchase an impartial review through Sponsored Reviews. We only take on reviews which we think the FreelanceSwitch audience will enjoy and benefit from.
It’s easy to think that branding is something reserved solely for big companies, but the reality is it’s just as important for freelancers. And if you think branding just means having a logo and cards, think again. For freelancers, just as for large companies, branding should extend out to your reputation and people’s knowledge and perception of you. This post is a review of a blog about personal branding called QuickSprout. It’s written by Neil Patel but before I get to that, let me just give you an example worth thinking about.
Hollywood and what branding can do for you?
Consider for a moment the world of acting. Think about the highest paid actors and actresses (you can see a list here at Forbes). These people make millions of dollars where their fellow actors earn a tiny fraction of that amount. Is it because the highest paid actors and actresses are the best actors? No doubt there are equally talented actors around who haven’t ‘made it’. Are they the best looking? Probably not. Is it just luck and coincidence that gets them to the top? Nope.
Thanks to everyone who entered the Moo postcard competition. We had many brilliant entries, and it made it very hard for us to pick two winners! In fact it was so hard that we could only narrow it down to four
So we’re pitching in to get postcards for two entries as well.
If you weren’t lucky enough to win, now is the time to get your Moo Postcards, with free shipping (in the US) for a limited time. So that means that you can get 20 individually designed postcards for US$20 – which is darn cheap considering I for one used to pay hundreds of dollars when printing postcards (and that’s with only one design).
So here are the ideas that won, but check out the comments on the original post for more – there were lots of great ones…
Suzanne had a very innovative idea to source new local clients:
What would I do with some free postcards? Why, I’d put my contact details on them along with teaser images of my web design work.
Next up, I’d pay a visit to the nearby libraries and head to the sections containing info on business start-up/management. I’d identify the books that are checked out regularly & pop a postcard inside. Everyone needs a bookmark… hopefully the next wannabe entrepreneur to open a book that I’ve stuffed is looking for a website too.
Ozan Caglargil had a fantastic idea for an office mural:
Maybe I can create a wall decoration from postcards just like this… (he originally provided a link but I’ve posted it to the right)
Russ shared a fabulous promotion idea:
I’m wanting to send out postcards to various large company marketing managers, to get them interested in my company’s new motto of being their best friend (in an agency sense). It would feature shots of everything a best friend does, from holding back your hair after a long night, helping you move, loaning you a few bucks, and more.
This would be combined with a scant bit of clever copy, and the tag, “come meet your best friend on November 6th”, the date our website relaunches (and hopefully get lots more clients!)
And Luyza had the nicest idea ever – your mum is one lucky lady (and as an aside, it’s nice to have some backup on the Cornetto issue ):
I would write small reasons why I love my mom on each postcard, and send her one every week. We haven’t seen each other for a year and a half and it’s difficult for both of us, and since I’m usually pretty busy, we don’t get to phone often.
So thanks to all that entered, and thanks to Moo for the great prizes!
If you are confused about Adobe’s new offerings, you aren’t alone. Currently, one can not only purchase Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web and Design Premium, but also both variants in a Standard edition, plus Production Premium and the all-inclusive Master Collection. The Premium differences? Well between Web and Design Premium, the dollar difference is $200 USD. On the application side, Web Premium nets you Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Fireworks, Acrobat 8 Professional, Contribute, and Bridge. Design Premium has InDesign, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver, Acrobat 8 Professional and Bridge. So what you need to decide is: do you want Fireworks and Contribute, or InDesign?
Of course, there’s more to the decision than that. The real question at hand is should you upgrade (if you already have CS/CS2) or purchase Creative Suite 3. We’ll be taking a closer look at the individual products and the enhancements they’ve received in this newest version to help you figure it out.
Let’s start off with one of the most recognizable members of the Adobe family, Photoshop. Right away, you are greeted with a new color scheme and the replacement of CS2′s Palettes with Panels. Each of the various panels can be grouped together, collapsed (individually or all together), docked, or even hidden. What this equates to is more available canvas area without losing easy access to your toolkit.
One of newest features that I’ve been using quite a bit is the new Quick Selection tool. Somewhat akin to the Magic Wand, but rather than clicking on areas that fit into the tolerance you set, one simply paints over the area, selecting as you go. You can then refine the edge transforming what was once a tedious process (for complex shapes) into something much simpler.
Been wishing for better control over your filters? Creative Suite 3 introduces Smart Filters, a new way to interact with your layers in a non-destructive way. And then, to make things even more interesting, once you’ve got a Smart Object (what a layer is converted into so that Smart Filters can work with it), you can stack multiple layers and produce even more astonishing results.
For one reason or another, a lot of freelancers use Macs. It may be the raw power, the stability or they may just look rather – cool? Well, both of us know why that really is. It’s the apps! The software that makes the hardware bling, and it’s not necessarily thanks to Apple. Aperture and iCal may be nice, but often we rely on the smaller, even more useful applications. Here’s a list of great little applications that the Mac-powered freelancer should consider.
is a great little application for all those little snippets of text you need all the time. Writer? Typos can trigger Text Expande. Developers? No more code library needed. Designers? Well, we can always add signatures to email, right?
is a world of its own. Unlike most launchers, the best thing about Quicksilver is that it’s not only a launcher. As probably the best productivity application on the Mac, it’s something you need to learn how to use in order to master it.
is very simple. Just fill in a color or image and hide the desktop clutter. Need minimalistic? Now you have it…
4. Shoo Apps
does what the long forgotten (or so it seems) Spirited Away did. it hides inactive applications.
is a maid for your Mac. Have a lot of files just sitting waiting to be organized? Well, Hazel can move those files based on the criteria you set up. Be it name, date, location or what site or e-mail the file came from, this little application takes care of it.
is an application I personally can’t live without anymore. Say hello to tabs. Drag a window to the top, left or right edge of the screen and a tab will appear. To remove a tab, you just drag it away. It’s that simple.
is quite neat. It creates custom nap and sleep melodies for you to help you relax. Need a power nap – take one. It really may help, or it may just work as placebo. But hey, why not try it?
is a great tool for writers. From brainstorming, to outlining to writing in fullscreen mode, this application supports all the creative phases that a writer encounters. Say goodbye to Word and just… Write!
is a simple, yet very powerful application and full screen writing is the name of the game. Not more, but less. If the complexity of modern word processors isn’t inspiring, work it all out with Writeroom.
is a writing application specialized for fiction. Characters, locations, scenes. If you’re a fiction writer, Avenir will give you even more flexibility in writing your next bestseller.
How little you know about the age you live in if you think that honey is sweeter than cash in hand.
Yes, we’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating for a review such as this: in the realm of freelancing, one of the most important tasks you have is tracking your time accurately and efficiently. But even if you can track the time, if you forget to ask to be paid, or have no way of tracking what you want to be paid for, your goals of becoming a successful freelancer will never come to fruition. Seeing that our goal here is to provide you with the resources you need to be successful, we are reviewing Cashboard, a web-based time tracking, estimating, and invoicing application.
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.
I hate software.
Seriously. I’m a tech enthusiast, I live off the drug-like feeling I get when I unwrap (or better yet, unbox) a new gadget, but I still hate software. Why?
Because it’s so darned expensive.
If you’ve ever needed to make an Access database, for example, you know this story all too well: a new full copy of Access 2007 (the most recent version) will set you back $200 from Amazon.com, as you likely don’t already own it (it’s not a part of the bestselling “Home and Student” version of Microsoft Office 2007). If you’d rather get it as part of a package, don’t worry, it’s also a great deal: $415. That’s right – I didn’t leave out a decimal point or anything. Four hundred and fifteen smackers. That’s roughly equivalent to more than a month’s worth of food for one person. Access isn’t the only culprit: Autodesk (creator of Maya and AutoCAD), Apple, and a billion other software providers charge massive amounts for their software, which is a big investment for anyone – but particularly freelancers. If we’re not lucky enough to have access to an educational or other discount, we’re looking at full price retail for these programs that we need to do our job, which can be a big problem, especially if we’re just starting out. What choice do we have?
According to Wikipedia, the term “Bible” may be used as a generic term to describe a book or text that any devotee to an idea should read, or a book that lays out a way to do things in a particularly well-accepted way. David Trottier, author of “The Screenwriter’s Bible”, apparently intends his new book, “The Freelance Writer’s Bible (Your Guide to a Profitible Writing Career Within One Year)” to be just that, an authoritative source for Freelance Writers. Can it live up to his and our expectations? Read on to see if we agree.
Are You The Touchy-Feely Type?
Alright, I’ll come right out and admit it, I’m the type of guy who enjoys a well-done chick flick as much as I enjoy a good action movie. But after the first two pages (essentially the introduction), things get a little, uhm, odd. Perhaps I should explain better. When I first started this review, I thought it would be another interesting title on freelance writing, covering the same topics I’ve read before, but perhaps giving a new twist here and there. What I didn’t expect was a lot of idioms and philosophical discussions about my inner Warrior or my Safe Harbour.
I understand that this will appeal to some. But to others, sentences like “Invariably, the first three pages will be crap…”, and “in the voice of Morpheus from The Matrix…” wear on the reader (at least this one) very quickly.
Six Figure Freelancing (The Writer’s Guide to Making More Money) by Kelly James-Enger
The title, when combined with a cover that looks like it came from the US Treasury, and using a dollar sign in place of the “S”, practically screams: “You too can make big, big money writing freelance!” Sure, we freelancers are interested in how to make more money in our particular fields. And self-help books can both help or hinder your goals. Could Kelly James-Enger’s version of bringing home the big paycheck be the definitive answer? We’ve read it from cover to cover and bring you the results.
But I’m Not A Freelancer Writer…
Let us get this first bump out of the way: just because you don’t write freelance for a living doesn’t mean that this book can’t help you. Kelly does focus mainly on the paper medium, as it is where she most successfully placed herself, writing for so many sources that you are bound to recognize a few. That said, her concepts could be easily adapted to any freelancer today, with a little translation to your specific world.
By Dickie Adams
“The time which we have at our disposal every day is elastic; the passions we feel expand it, those that we inspire contract it, and habit fills up what remains.”
- Marcel Proust
In the realm of freelancing, one of the most important tasks you have is tracking your time accurately and efficiently. It is your product (or creates it), and therefore, you need to simultaneously protect and distribute this valuable commodity. Unless you consistently bill and quote flat rates, you’ve likely experienced the extreme pain that timecards and time tracking can create. Seeing that our goal here is to provide you with the resources you need to be successful, we are reviewing Tick, a web-based time tracking solution from Molehill.