The Week In Freelance: July 20th

Posted: July 24th, 2009

  • Freelance Folder has 5 simple tricks that make you more attractive to your clients.
  • oDesk on putting a price on your services: “One of the hottest new trends in negotiation theory is “mutual problem solving” which has – to some extent – replaced the more basic bargaining-based approach. The key to mutual problem solving is looking for hidden benefits or creative possibilities for both parties when working together.” In other words, get to know your client’s needs beyond the project scope and sell your specialized skills to maximize your earnings. Part 2 of this post is worth a read too.
  • We all want to find ways to spend less time at work. Zen Habits has five ways to help you get started.
  • Bizzia on using give-aways to promote your business: “Three reasons why you should be giving stuff away to people: (1) People respond to gifts by feeling a sense of obligation.  It’s the principle of Reciprocity I talked about several months ago.  If you give them something, they will feel they should do something for you. (2) People can put the gift somewhere to remember your business. (3) They can share the gift with friends as they refer your business to them.”
  • Do you know the formula for success and happiness? You probably can already guess optimism, but grounded optimism is something we should really be applying. [from Goodlife Zen]
  • A lack of funds can be a reason your vacation might not be in Hawaii this year. The “staycation”, however, can really make you see the true point of a vacation. [from Goodlife Zen]
  • Instead of taking time off only to return to a mountain of stressful work, try taking mini mental breaks. [from Web Worker Daily]
  • Still procrastinating? Give yourself a procrastination innculation. [from Zen Habits]

The Week In Freelance: June 22nd

Posted: June 26th, 2009

  • Deb from Freelance Writing Jobs Network has some simple ways to work smarter, not harder. This should hit home for you: “If I wanted a job that I didn’t look forward to doing every day, I’d go back to an office job. I want to get out of bed each morning, and so should you. A couple of years ago, I noticed that I procrastinated more when I was working gigs I didn’t enjoy. By taking on only projects I like, I’m not wasting a bunch of time putting off what I didn’t want to do anyway.”
  • Georgina from Web Worker Daily has the recipe for making a great remote worker. The most important ingredient has to be the passion: “You have to care about something to work remotely. You probably need to be passionate about what you do, or the temptation to slack off my soon prove too great. But if you don’t harbor a wild enthusiasm for your job, you’ll have to have a vivid appreciation of what remote working gives you: perhaps it’s more time in your day to do other things, perhaps it’s simply a life without partitions.”
  • Hopefully you use contracts whenever taking on new projects. Have you ever thought about what you will do if you have to enforce it, though? [Freelance Switch]
  • Freelance Switch also has some questions to ask yourself to find your perfect client.
  • Glen from Freelance Folder on narrowing your focus to increase your income: “If you’re an agency, this is probably a good strategy. But, if you’re working solo or you’re in a small team, sometimes it’s better to narrow your offerings. The idea behind this is to become a clear expert at one thing, rather than good at a lot of things.” Being an expert increases the perceived value of your services, and thus, your income grows too.
  • Guerrilla Freelancing: In an interview with freelancer Andy Sowers, I found a nice excerpt which nicely sums up how freelancers find their niche: “[…] Freelancing started as a pet project. When I first started, my first role was just a web designer, I did not know much html, knew no css/javascript or any programming languages at all. Over the years, I first conquered Photoshop as I started to learn HTML. Once I had HTML down I then started to practice with CSS and Javascript. Once I had mastered all of those, I began working with PHP as my first programming language, shortly after, integrated that knowledge with MySQL for database interactivity. Over the course of 3 years(just about) I had mastered all of them. The reason I started freelancing was because I was looking for a new challenge, a new skill to add to my skillset.” Learn something you want to learn and dive in… what a concept!
  • Picture your interests as ingredients sitting around your refrigerator and cupboards. What kind of recipe could you make yourself? [Escape From Cubicle Nation]
  • Its fairly normal to get into a summer slump with all the holidays, bbqs, beer and vacations. Here are some good ways to get out of them if this applies to you. [A Boundless World]
  • Celine from Web Worker Daily can show you how to stop goofing off on the internet.
  • If you blog for a side project are are new to the scene it wouldn’t hurt for you to check out this post with info on getting more traffic. Some good easy tips that I’ll be employing soon too. [Copyblogger]

The Week In Freelance: June 15th

Posted: June 19th, 2009

  • Mike Smith from Freelance Folder: How do you build your portfolio without doing spec work and with no clients? Its simple: create it for yourself. “The benefit to creating work you like and enjoy is that your work will be great. The quality will be awesome because it’s what you like. Not only that, but you’ll attract the type of clients where you can create even more work like that. What’s not to love about being able to do what you want, when you want? Thats one of the biggest benefits to being a freelancer, right?”
  • Laura Spencer from Freelance Folder explains how to make potential clients choose you over others: “Don’t forget a final method for discovering what makes your freelancing business unique — ask your customers. That’s right; ask your customers why they chose your freelancing business over your competition. The answer might surprise you and could point directly to what makes your freelancing business better. […] Once you determine the unique points about your freelancing business, don’t keep it to yourself. Make it part of your central business message.”
  • Karl Staib from Zen Habits with 6 techniques to staying happy during a stessful project. One in particular: “During my break I do something a little weird like take a short walk and hang from a tree branch. I find that it’s tough to worry while hanging from a beautiful tree. Plus, my creativity almost always starts flowing again. […] There are so many ways we can pull ourselves out of a stressful state if we just take a moment to be creative.”
  • One little teeny tiny word that can change your motivation. [from Goodlife Zen]
  • And if the above doesn’t work, there is always nuero-linguistic programming you can try to improve motivation.
  • Celine Rogue from Web Worker Daily: Do email newsletters have a place in freelancing? The answer is an emphatic yes. One useful purpose is to provide useful information to our clients. “Educating our clients is always a good thing. It’s not enough to just give them our work output — I have to teach them how to use it well. But this often burdens me with hours of repetitive tech support. With the use of email marketing services, I can keep clients updated with the latest industry trends, as well as what they can do to adapt.”
  • Should you sign a non-disclosure agreement? Its probably ok, but  read and understand it before signing. [from Bizzia]
  • Johnny Truent from Copyblogger has the real secret to being a better blogger: “To be popular, you need to be likable. For the most part, you’ll need to rely on your writing (whether as text, in a podcast, or on video) to do that. But luckily, learning to write personably is actually more about unlearning how to write like a stiff. “
  • Some nice charts and graphs showing that your earnings tend to increase with longer tenure and more training. [from oDesk]
  • Georgina Laidlaw from Web Worker Daily: Its generally difficult to build a rapport with clients  when you work remotely over the internet. It doesn’t mean it is not important though. “So you need to see that each point of contact is an opportunity to build rapport. I promise: This is what makes the difference between remote workers who are fun to work with and really part of the team, and remote workers you’d happily never work with again.”

The Week In Freelance: June 1st

Posted: June 5th, 2009

  • Martha Retallick from Freelance Switch has arguably the best advice I have ever heard on marketing yourself: Quit trying to perfect your portfolio, website, sales pitch, whatever and just get going. “The trouble with perfectionism and creative types is that it sucks up a lot of time that we could use for building our businesses. It’s all too easy to delve into endless tweaking of our websites, designing an award-winning direct mail piece, or creating a knock-their-socks-off HTML newsletter. […] Meanwhile, business opportunities are flying by. And our competitors are jumping on them. So, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Just. Get. Going.”
  • Cindy Krischer Goodman from TampaBay.com on freelancing as an option in a tough economy: “For some, the stigma of working at home as a free agent has them mumbling apologies. ‘They tell people,”I’m just doing this until I get a real job,”‘ says Kate Lister, co-author of Undress for Success, a soon to be released book on working from home. But more and more, people who are willing — or are forced — to give up the benefits of a 401(k) or corporate-sponsored health insurance are getting comfortable shunning the pointless meetings and annoying office politics: ‘They are sick of the rat race and they discover this as a way to take control of their lives.'”
  • Some more evidence that freelance work is booming in the bad economy (Wall Street Journal): “Between January and March, employers posted 70,500 of these work-for-hire positions on Elance.com and 43,000 on Odesk.com, which represents increases of 35% and 105%, respectively, from the same period in 2008. Sologig.com, which lists remote and on-site freelance jobs, says its average monthly postings have more than doubled to around 13,500 per month in the past year. In March, there were 750 jobs listed on VirtualAssistants.com, versus 400 in March 2008.”
  • Bookmark this page from Sparkplug CEO: Online legal resources for the home business.
  • Darell Etherington from Web Worker Daily: Achieve your goals publishing them online. “The web is a great place to publicize your professional goals, especially if that’s where you do the bulk of your work. But just tweeting your aim doesn’t mean it’ll come through. As with most things, a plan will help increase your chances of success.” Smart idea!
  • States of Mind has an interesting interview with freelance journalist Dan Baum on what it takes to succeed in this field.
  • For those who may try to sell anything online, whether it be your services or an ebook or anything else, do you know the golden rule of online marketing? [from Copyblogger]
  • Mason Hipp from Freelance Folder on using Twitter to get clients: “The first, and perhaps most obvious way to get clients from twitter is to respond to people who are asking for help. If one of your followers posts a tweet saying that they’re looking for a web designer, then all you have to do is Direct Message them saying you’re interested and offering a link to your portfolio or website. You would be surprised at how effective this can be.” The best part is that he mentions two other ways too.
  • Looks like some freelancing websites are getting noticed more and more to find programmers [from Inc.].
  • Some of the top web designers give the pros and cons of going freelance. [from Noupe]

The Week In Freelance: May 18th

Posted: May 22nd, 2009

  • Jonathan from Zen Habits on the seven traits of the free man: “You may think that you should be grateful for your job, and you should. But when it comes down to it, you’re not going to hit a ceiling of happiness and purpose if you’re not working for yourself. (I know there may be a few exceptions, but let’s be honest, they are exceptions.)”
  • Laura from Freelance Folder asks can anybody be a freelancer?: “My conclusion is that it takes a special breed to become a freelancer. You need the right knowledge, the skills, and character traits to be successful. […] Not everyone can or should freelance, but that’s okay.” I tend to agree, but anyone can be a freelancer if they dedicate themselves to it and are willing to grow and learn and roll with the punches. It can be easy for some and way more difficult for others. Its probably more of a choice to succeed than traits that make you successful.
  • Joel from Freelance Switch: Good communication is important to any business. When you have an online business, though, communication is just as important although it usually isn’t done face to face or by phone. Joel has some good tips to approach effective communication over the internet.
  • A little insight into how to spark a new idea.
  • Got plans for the 6th of June? Head on down to Miami for the FreelanceCamp / LaidOff Camp. Great opportunity to network and look for work and, if you are serious about becoming a freelancer, a great way to butt heads with some greats in the business. Should be big too. It even gets a mention on CNN.
  • Here is a list of the 100 top freelancing blogs you may want to get to know (besides this one).
  • Elvis Montero on the paradoxes of the freelance world: Yes you do run into a lot of bullshit when looking for projects and it’s best not to roll around in it. “These are the contradictions that would make you utter profanities at a rate you never thought possible. They defy all logic and reasoning. Yet, one can find stuff like this daily at Elance.”
  • Do you use Twitter as a marketing tool for your freelance business? You probably would want to know how to successfully build your personal brand in it too.
  • And while you are creating your personal brand, you may want to keep in mind 15 sites that can make or break your personal brand.
  • Your computer can arguably be the biggest source of stress in your life. If you takes steps to making computing a minimalist experience, though, you leave more room to concentrate on more important tasks.
  • All you web developers rejoice… you can officially say goodbye to supporting Internet Explorer 6. Bad news: IE8 is a new problem we have to figure out now.

The Week In Freelance: May 11th

Posted: May 15th, 2009

  • Skellie from Skelliewag has a great post on how to be a freelancer in 30 days: “The program is designed to be completed while you are working full-time, either by dedicating a couple of hours in the evening or mornings, or working on the program over the weekend. It should be combined with daily hands-on practice in the skill you want to freelance in, particularly if you are a novice in that skill. If you are a novice, don’t delay the program until you feel you are ‘good’ enough. The emphasis is on selling a very specific skill that you can become good at in a short period of time. 30 days practicing one hour a day is more than enough time to develop a specific service that you are good enough at to sell. ” Even if you already are a freelancer, it’s worth a peek. Some steps could actually improve your career.
  • A huge obstacle designers and writers face is keeping the creativity going when you are just too damn tired to do anything. Here are ten ways to stay creative while exhausted. Some are funny and obvious but they really do work.
  • Leo from Zen Habits: Has six small things you can do when you lack discipline. “One of the biggest problems people face is the lack of discipline — they have goals or habits they want to achieve, but lack that discipline needed to stick with it. […] Then we beat ourselves up about it. We feel crappy because we can’t stick with it. […] And that leads to more failure, because we’re forming a mindset that we don’t have the necessary discipline.” Leo makes it easy to beat.
  • If discipline really just isn’t your thing, then here are ten ways to establish new habits WITHOUT discipline. You can’t go wrong now.
  • Naomi Dunford from IttyBiz on how to become rich and famous on the internet in five steps: Many of you out there have a blog with the intent of having a huge following and becoming popular in your own niche (me included). Then eventually rake in all that dough that follows. It’s not easy, of course, but her humorous post can shed a little light on what makes the real bloggers rich and popular out there.
  • Want to win a client for life? Then try one of these original ways you can inpress your clients. Basically, it’s showing a highly treasured significant other you are a lunatic.
  • One important question every freelancer should ask themselves is should you specialize or diversify your services? Specializing in a narrow set of services can be more profitable in the short term while diversifying can be profitable later on in your career, although it may take some time to achieve this. Freelance Folder has interesting take on how this can be handled.
  • Here’s another important question freelancers should ask themselves; do you backup your data. A wise friend once told me that it’s not a question of IF but WHEN your computer will eventually take a shit on you. Time to get a backup solution in place.
  • Social media can work wonders for networking as a freelancer. A big drawback is that you can get caught up and waste too much time tweeting away. Luckily there are ways to simplify the routine to free up more of your time.
  • If you are like me and sometimes take your WordPress blog security for granted, then follow a few steps to secure it.
  • Uh oh! Graduating college seniors are pretty much screwed this year, huh?

The Week In Freelance: May 4th

Posted: May 7th, 2009

  • Jean Murray from Bizzia: Customer service is an absolute must for any business no matter how small. “In many cases, smaller businesses can’t compete on price with larger ones selling approximately the same thing.  But you can compete and excel in customer service.  You can make sure you are selling at a competitive price, but even more, you can work hard to be there when customers need you, to have reliable service people working on their products, and to have quick turn-around.  And don’t forget the little things, like a loaner or cleaning up the product before you give it back. “
  • This day and age, it isn’t unusual for freelancers to never meet their clients face to face. It is therefore wise to know how to successfully work with people over long distance.
  • Freelance Switch has ten simple steps to landing more gigs. We could all use more work, right?
  • Thursday Bram from Freelance Switch: Instead of planning that first beer just before completing a project, planning the finish may just provide you more future work. One thing I haven’t thought of: “If you’re looking at a truly huge project — one that can help you get your foot in the door — it may be worth talking to your client about how they plan to launch the project in question. A brand new website launch, for instance, can be an opportunity to get your name into a trade publication or even throw a launch party. While your client probably wants to take full credit — they did pay for the project, after all — you can still get your name mentioned in the promotions.”
  • Leo Babauta from Zen Habits: If you are looking to try something new (i.e. freelancing), it is normal to research and find any piece of information available whether ebooks, websites or whatever. A lot of us forget the next step: doing it. “So reading countless self-help articles and books are great — I’ve written a few myself — but remember that it’s only the first step. […] You have to put the personal development posts away, get away from the computer or book, and start doing it. Today. […] Only in doing it will you actually learn.”
  • Change is good for any career whether you want to take a different path or even quit your job to pursue other goals. So learn to take this need for change and embrace it.
  • Ever wonder how your blog (or email and other accounts) can get hacked into? It usually results from a weak password that can be guessed through publicly available information about you. It may help to learn from a computer programmer who’s blog was hacked into.
  • Designing a logo? Here are ten tips you should read before starting.
  • A must visit for developers… 10 applications for web developers on a shoestring budget.
  • A must read on a freelancer who quit on his career only to find inspiration and renew it several months later. He touches on the fears we all have to face as freelancers.
  • Ever wonder what Twitter would be like if it were live instead of on the internet? Check it out.

The Week In Freelance: April 27th

Posted: April 30th, 2009

  • Carlo Feliciano from Freelance Switch on how he started freelancing with zero experience in his field: “My problem was that I had no idea what I wanted to do exactly. Yes, it was going to involve writing of some sorts. I discovered I had a knack for words (my boss even trusted me to write a press release about a new product we were launching — not bad for someone 6 months out of university!) but I had never been specifically hired and paid by others just to “write stuff.” The biggest question running in my head was: who the hell was I to be charging people for a bunch of words I put together? Luckily, I managed to push through that hump. Within a month or so, I went from being clueless about freelance copywriting to consulting with my first client over Skype.”
  • Freelance Switch has ten examples what the best-of-the-best freelancers do that we probably don’t.
  • Allison Boyer from Bizzia on the freelance jobs to avoid: “… sometimes, people have set out to scam you. That’s the kind of freelancing job you just don’t want – and although the scam-y ads look the same to amateurs, as you’re in the business longer and longer, you begin to see patterns. After just a few years of freelancing, you’ll start the notice the signs of a job that’s a scam (most likely).”
  • Need inspiration for a design or writing project? Zen Habits has a list of thirty inspirations to get you started. My favorite: “28. I find people who do things that seem impossible and try to figure out how they did them. Their quotes are backed by their story.”
  • It is hard for freelancers to realize that breaking out of your routines can help you in the long run. Ritu from Freelance Folder explains how you can actually eliminate some things you do and still come out more productive.
  • Copyblogger tell you how you can be a better writer in the next ten minutes.
  • If you are a graphic designer, hopefully you do not rip off images online, retouch them and use them for your own work. Let it be known, other designers are on the lookout out for this.
  • Are you still without a portfolio website? The folks at Smashing have the ultimate guide to using WordPress for your portfolio. I can tell you first hand that WordPress is definitely the route you want to go for this.
  • Once you have your shiny new WordPress site, you can learn how to use article marketing to promote it.
  • Something taken for granted more often than not is keeping client confidentiality, but in terms of securing the work you do for them. For instance, what if your laptop containing this work is stolen? Though not likely, the thief all of a sudden has access to that work which could potentially be a damaging situation. Georgina at Web Worker Daily explains how you should tackle the issue.
  • To end on a humorous note, ever wonder what the world would be like if everything was made by Microsoft? I’m in the mood for those can of peas professional edition.
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