Thank God It’s Friday, But We Shall Not Letteth Forget We Work

Posted: November 5th, 2010

No Wonder I’m Dumber By The Day

Posted: November 3rd, 2010

Image by Jypsygen (Flickr)

Image by Jypsygen (Flickr)

The Joy of Being An Information Broker

There is not a day that goes by where I marvel at the whole Twitter hootenanny. Check the ticker, come across an article or some clever humor, read it, retweet it . Repeat.

Of course, I make my own contributions by choking down my own RSS feedbag and adding on to everyone else’s endless ticker. It’s somewhat comforting knowing that I’m doing my little part to provide something useful to others while simultaneously enhancing their eye strain.

I haven’t given it much thought until recently, though, about the whole process of the read and retweet. Sharing information is done in quite a volume no matter whether good, bad, so-so or funny but how is all this information getting used?

Well, if it has entertainment value, you get your kicks for five seconds and move on. But an article or blog post? Maybe you’ll spend a minute and think “wow, this might be useful” then bookmark it only never to return to it again.

Over time, doesn’t it end up to scanning even good reads and leave it at that? They pretty much pass through one eye, juggle around the brain then fly out the other as fast as you read the post. I’d say this effect is multiplied by the factor of the thousands of tweets racked up under your username.

Unfortunate Unlearning of One of Our Most Basic Skills

What I’ve really noticed, though, is an interesting phenomenon resulting from this cycle. My attention span has dwindled to somewhere between that of an infant and my neighbor’s cat. I end up scanning everything, even the important emails and articles that I want to read and understand.

I’ve always attributed this to simple information overload and lack of attention=brain is full, go for a walk. Oddly, this effect did happen to continue even if  Twitter was skipped for a few days to get that “RT” tattoo removed from my head.

Slightly worried, I naturally visited the usual doctor,  Google, to see what the big brother had to say. Lo and behold, he came up with an answer. Are you ready for this? Attention deficit… trait or its common name ADT.

Here’s a definition of ADT from Dr. Edward Hallowell (from CNET):

It’s sort of like the normal version of attention deficit disorder. But it’s a condition induced by modern life, in which you’ve become so busy attending to so many inputs and outputs that you become increasingly distracted, irritable, impulsive, restless and, over the long term, underachieving. In other words, it costs you efficiency because you’re doing so much or trying to do so much, it’s as if you’re juggling one more ball than you possibly can.

Then there is this lovely tidbit from Time:

WHAT DISTINGUISHES ADT FROM EVERYDAY STRESS?
If it’s not getting in your way, forget about it. But if you find that you’re having an awful lot of conflicts and not liking life very much, and you’re making quick decisions without giving them the thought they need, then you need to do something about it.

Do I Finally Have An Out From Social Media?

Somehow, I find it a little troubling that I might be on the way to a doom of long-term underachievement from a disorder yet-to-be-made-official. Luckily, the hating life symptom hasn’t appeared yet but Dr. Google is on call in case it does.

Now, however, comes the moment of truth. Give up Twitter, checking the RSS feed, reading blogs and go back to whatever I did before (eat, drink and be merry). Maybe take a long (permanent) walk?

Nah, I think I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. I enjoy my Twitter friends and they need me too (I think).

Plus an ADT pill should be out on the market soon anyway.

Top Ten Failed Freelance Ventures

Posted: October 21st, 2010

Nearly very freelancer has tried to expand their income through some idea that runs through his mind. Unfortunately, not every one of those is a success. Here’s a list of those that didn’t make the grade so you aren’t doomed to repeat history:

10. “Teaching Photoshop to Grandpa” ebook.

9. Viagra email marketing.

8. That new alternative to Napster just got around to finishing.

7. Blackmailing friends in those Mexico photos.

6. Selling those Mexico photos.

5. Upselling a dime bag on each design template.

4. CanYouSpareSomeChangeToANeedyFreelancer.com

3. Hitting up clients for affiliate marketing campaign.

2. Trying out that “6 Figure Yearly Income Working From Home!”

1. Blogging for a 2 figure yearly income.

Death By Pixels, PHP and 13 point Georgia

Posted: October 19th, 2010

Photo by Tim Barton (Flickr)

Photo by Tim Barton (Flickr)

RSS readers watch out. The Freelance Rant is back from a raging vacation. Alright, I mean I have time to write now.

I had an interesting conversation with a colleague and good friend of mine after a while of not seeing each other due to our busy schedules. Typically, our conversations are about the usual… work. I vomit up leftovers of programming drivel and he burps up the latest of the 24 column 960 pixel standard layout standard.

Not that we mean to bore each other or that we are sick of each other. We work a lot. We work hard.

We just may be a little too drunk in our work for our own good though.

It therefore surprised me that my friend didn’t as much mention CSS, pixels or anything related to the digitized world for that matter.

He couldn’t stop talking about his new hobby, Legos.

I was actually quite fascinated by this. I remember having a huge Lego collection as a kid and pondered why I didn’t have any today. They are obviously still around and there is no shame in mature adults toying around with them.

Or in more appropriate words, as my friend put it, “I needed to escape from the pixels.”

After picturing these giant, scary pixel monsters chasing my friend around and having a laugh, reality set in. They chase me around, too, along with the PHP and CSS ghosts. Those bastards! No wonder how some of my precious sleep has been lost to dreaming about work at night.

Hell, I’m not going to cave in to them like Scrooge. I’m making a beeline to the other side, also known as getting my ass up from my desk and doing something else that doesn’t involve rearranging zeros and ones.

Checked the Wikipedia and looks like the word hobby isn’t extinct yet. Strike one against those monsters.

Backtracking a bit, in my own work, I usually find myself enduring periods of what I like to refer as “manic depressive.” In one month, everything clicks, a lot of works get done and I manage to grow my business some. Then in another month, I go through the motions and get the work done caring less about what I do.

You can call it cycles of motivation with burnout here but there seems to be one common element in all this: the computer and the fact I rarely leave it to do anything else.

Hey, I’m passionate about my work but, if ghosts are chasing me around in my sleep, then that can’t be healthy for me. I’m pretty sure, though, that I’m not the only one being chased by the ghosts of web dev hell (or writing hell, graphic design hell… you get the picture).

So see you later. Off to the store now for my own set of Legos.

Where In The World Is The Freelance Rant

Posted: September 29th, 2010

Photo by Bitzcelt (Flickr)

Photo by Bitzcelt (Flickr)

If you’re a regular visitor to The Freelance Rant, you may have noticed I’ve been absent here for the past month of September.

No, I haven’t thrown in the cards and given up on blogging. Nope, I’m not back working for the man either.

The truth is actually the whole freelancing thing is going REALLY good for me right now, proving that maybe taking my own advice would do some wonders for me. Also proving that reading my own typed words has a shorter reach to my conscious then, say, the knowledge center of my brain does.

Anyway, the rush of work means blogging has to take a back seat for a little while longer while I stressfully attend to equally stressful clients and tiptoe on a few deadlines. Also, I need a bit of time to rest the fingers and come up with more post you can enjoy wasting your time reading.

As for how long… well, it may be a couple weeks longer or, as we say here in Spain, mañana.

I’ll still appear around the social media circuit so catch up with me on Twitter if you can.

And get back to work!

Yours truly,

Johnny

Dem Der Marketers And Why You Should Get To Know Them

Posted: September 15th, 2010

Photo by Kevin Labiano (Flickr)

Photo by Kevin Labiano (Flickr)

If you haven’t figured out Twitter by now, then you wouldn’t notice there is a tendency to follow anyone out there who sends a random tweet your way. Hell, I’m even guilty here.

Over time, though, when you really think about who you interact with, isn’t it safe to say that you remain within your “clique” of users who do exactly what you do, say web design or writing?

Not that there is anything wrong with this. I mean, we’ve been in cliques since the days when we were three feet tall. Besides, we naturally converse better with those with similar interests, not to mention, share some ideas that help us in our work.

Sticking within your cliques in social media, however, defeats its sole purpose which is being social rather than hanging around the proverbial water cooler.

Why should we get to know other marketers, more specifically social media marketers?

It’s a great way to learn to interact and build a network

It’s a social media marketer’s purpose to harness the social web to generate brand awareness for their clients. In order to do so, however, they need to do this for themselves or else they would be out of business in a hurry.

These marketers, though, are socially savvy folks who value building relationships from all walks of life, not to mention, they attract other social-friendly people. The by-product of getting to know them is, of course, meeting all those other friendly people. Some may happen to do what you do but real networks are built by mingling with others who don’t.

They aren’t “those” types of marketers

Usually when I get a follow from anyone with “marketer” in their bio, bells go off in my head telling me not to follow back. While this does hold true for many, no real social media marketer will bombard you with a DM to purchase their latest ebook at a special price for you ending at midnight.

For that matter, you won’t see any talk of getting rich or, really, any word of money with these folks. Just straight up getting to know one another and sharing ideas. Exactly what it should be.

They are highly accessible

One of my pet peeves in the social sphere is attempting to interact with others on Twitter or visiting the blogs of followers, leaving a comment and not nary a reply is left in return. In the end, it makes you feel like a groupie of someone who couldn’t give a crap about you.

What impresses me most about these marketers is that, despite their numerous followings, they go out of their way to keep up with those who interact with them, even new people. Again, isn’t this what being social is all about?

Where to get started

If you aren’t following them yet, here are three awesome marketers you should get to know right now. Pay a visit to their blogs and keep up with them on Twitter and you’ll begin to notice their consistent efforts to keep up with their own communities. Stuff to learn from.

Mark Schaefer Mark Schaefer

One of my favorite places to hang out is in the comments section of Mark’s blog. I’ve met many great people here, from other marketers to engineers, who are worth following themselves.

Blog: {Grow}
Twitter: @markwschaefer

Jon Buscall Jon Buscall

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Jon through Mark’s blog and he’s become a great friend, not to mention, knows his stuff in social media. It’s hard to find more friendly and chatty people in social media than this guy.

Blog: Jontus Media
Twitter: @jonbuscall

Danny Brown Danny Brown

Arguably the undisputed king of social media, Danny works tirelessly to keep up with his huge community of followers. Keep up with him, though, and you never get lost in the shuffle.

Blog: Danny Brown
Twitter: @dannybrown

Murphy’s Laws of Freelancing

Posted: August 30th, 2010

Murphy’s Laws apply to all aspects of life and work. When you think about though, weren’t they made especially for freelancing? For example…

If anything can go wrong in freelancing, it will. You’ll survive though. Maybe.

Work always comes at you when you are busiest. When you are not busy at all, lots of luck to you.

As a freelancer, you are doomed to repeat history no matter how much of it you learn in advance.

Just wing it. No one will notice.

Your client told you X but he really meant Y.

You told your client X, but he really heard Y.

You really hope to earn X dollars. You really earn X – Y dollars where Y is the time in hours you spend on Twitter.

You will develop a debilitating addiction to coffee and/or cigarettes. Luckily no one will notice the tremors since you never leave the house.

Your client is willing to pay up to 110% more than what you actually charging him.

The amount of time you spend writing an estimate is inversely proportional to the likelihood that you will actually get the project.

Vacation is solely defined as the time you spend NOT working (i.e. eating, sleeping). Commonly mistaken for “trip” which must be some word in German or something.

Freelancing Links You Can Shake a Stick At

Posted: August 27th, 2010

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