Scared of Upgrading to WordPress 3.0? Well…

Posted: June 23rd, 2010
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Photo by Blogweis (Flickr)

Chances are, if you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, you’ve dealt with issues when upgrading to latest versions. In my experience (and likely yours), most upgrades are completed without issue but there are always those few that make you spend half the day trying to get the WordPress back to normal, much less, up to date.

Now this time, WordPress has reached a new milestone. Three point zero. A new era for WordPress.

Or in the case of your own blog, just the thought of upgrading to it creates a panic with flashbacks of the Y2K millennium bug thrown in. OK, maybe not that bad but you get the picture.

Usually I like to wait for the x.1 release in any kind of software to which irons out the bugs in x.0 versions. Yet, I went against my own logic, made a backup of my WordPress files and database and pulled the trigger.

Whew! Everything ok. Upon first glance, other than a slight makeover in the appearance of the admin, it’s pretty much the same.

Now, of course, just because my upgrade went ok doesn’t guarantee your own WordPress blog will be easily upgraded, especially with the multitude of plugin choices and server configurations per blog. It’s probably safe for me to say, though, that if an upgrade went smoothly for you in the past, then there likely won’t be an issue moving to 3.0.

But just in case, here are a few resources to let you know what’s new in 3.0 and make sure that 3.0 upgrade gets done correctly (and in case the auto-upgrade ends up a manual one).

8 New and Exciting WordPress 3.0 Features

Aside from the overhaul in the guts of the software, there are these cool new features. For some of them, you can say “It’s about time!”

Resource Guide to a Smooth WordPress 3.0 Upgrade

Here is a great, informative article to check out before upgrading. Includes resources on backing up your WordPress (very important) and troubleshooting problems during an upgrade.

Updating WordPress (From all versions)

From the WordPress Codex, these are the steps you should follow when upgrading. I know it’s tempting just to click the auto-update button and let it take care of itself (with fingers crossed). These steps should be followed though.

Manually Upgrading Your WordPress (From all versions)

Hopefully you won’t have to use this but these are the steps to take when the auto-update fails or you are upgrading from much older versions. This page saved my own blog several times.

WordPress Installation Problems

Alright, if things get real bad, this is a good place to start.

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Have you had any issues or some advice we can use when upgrading your WordPress to 3.0?

Leave a comment and share!

The Week In Freelance: June 11th

Posted: June 11th, 2010
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  • Smashing Magazine: Unfortunately in freelancing, there are many potential clients that try to take advantage of you or are just plain dodgy. Worse, freelancers don’t often consider this when accepting projects since, hey, it’s new work. So learn to spot these sketchy clients (includes a sample contract).
  • Freelance Folder: A potential client finds your name, politely asks for an estimate and you spend the better part of a day giving a detailed quote expecting the project. Then you never hear from them again. Better to know how to weed out these tire-kickers.
  • Freelance Switch: Something to think about… branch out your skills to create your own niche and higher income.
  • Freelance Switch: Cold calling with emails to get new clients may just work if done the right way.
  • Web Worker Daily: Try a little reverse psychology to make yourself more productive.
  • Zen Habits: Some nice concise and must-know tips if you want to start your own online business.
  • The Wealthy Freelancer: Do you have all five habits of highly effective freelancers? Damn, I just have 4 and a half.
  • Freelance Writing Jobs: Some things you should know before starting out in freelance writing. Doesn’t hurt to have a refresher either if you’ve been in the biz a while.
  • Inspired Mag: Freelancers aren’t just workers with no boss. They are entrepreneurs, so listen to some wise tips on how to make solopreneurship a success for you.
  • Say Educate: Sure, we’re all looking at other ways to earn an income in addition to our freelancing duties. Here are few ideas to get you started.
  • Ufunk: Read on in case you were wondering how the net’s biggest websites had a drug connection.

Ten Things A Freelancer Hasn’t Gotten Around To Doing, But Probably Should

Posted: June 9th, 2010
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As I said in my last post, taking a day off from your freelancing activities is necessary every once in a while. When you return, though, work piles up, you do this and that but there is still some unfinished business that you’ve been putting off that needs attention. The list can go on forever, but these are likely some of the most urgent.

10. Prying ass out of seat in front of computer.

9. Trading in those post-it notes for real business cards.

8. Do I need to say it? Stop procrast… ah, I’ll tell you later.

7. Just about anything that involves clients, violent screams and last week.

6. Just about anything that doesn’t involve booze, drugs, unlocking badges, hashtags and friending.

5. Maybe something about that cloud of polluting body odor above your desk.

4. Attack that coffee cup with some dish soap.

3. Go back to the job boards. Make sure there are projects available in case you decide to apply for any.

2. Sending out those 15 or so tweets on how awesome it is that you see the face of Elvis in your cereal. Oh wait, I mean work.

1. Whatever productive thing you were doing five minutes ago before reading this.

That Damn Excuse We Call Summer

Posted: June 7th, 2010
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Photo by Philipyk (Flickr)

Happens every year. I’ve been freelancing for eight years so you would think I could see this coming but every time it’s the same.

Beautiful day out, people walking around. Ice cream cones in hand.

Friends calling from nowhere. “Hey, let’s get a quick beer” at 2:00 in the afternoon (No that wasn’t today).

I practically know every trick in the book to motivate myself to getting back to work. Yet it gets me every time around.

Summertime. You can just hear that Fresh Prince song in your head now, can’t you?

There’s plenty of work to be done, a blog post to be written, emails to answer, tweets to send. Yet all I can think about is heading down to the beach and taking in that comfy 73º F (23 C) heat outside.

You know what? I’ll take the day off and I don’t even need an excuse.

Freelancing doesn’t equal job. Sure, there will always be work to be done and a good freelancer is a hard worker. Don’t take for granted, however, the advantages of time it offers you. Those moments you have to escape off and call a ditch-day are never regretted (in my experience anyway).

If you have to pull a Sunday/Monday all-nighter to get in that project on time (like I will), well, small price to pay. Fun summertime memories last a while though.

Take my lead but just don’t make it a frequent habit. THAT is bad.

The Week In Freelance: June 4th

Posted: June 4th, 2010
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  • The Freelance Rant: In case you haven’t caught the debate between whether you should charge by the hour or charge a fixed price per project, here’s why fixed pricing is more of an advantage to freelancers.
  • Freelance Writing Jobs: You hear it all the time, when submitting bids or cold calling potential clients with emails, the canned response gets canned upon first look. It doesn’t mean you can’t create a “canned” personalized email to save you time though.
  • Freelance Switch: I know you’re looking for an excuse to take a day off. C’mon, just do it!
  • Smashing Share: We all develop bad habits in freelancing but there are some bad habits that really need to go.
  • A Smart Bear: A nice anecdote to just be yourself in business. Just like in real life.
  • Savvy Freelance Writers: If you ever get those bouts of self-doubt about being a freelancer in your field, have a read here.
  • Copyblogger: If you’re a relatively new blogger and are still spinning your wheels, then overcoming your greatest blogging challenges just may help you get over the hump.
  • Mental Floss: Some nice inspiration on how others exploited the web to get hired.
  • LucyPhone: Tired of being on hold for support or your bank or… anyone? You’ll be thankful for this.
  • Startup Quote: Might want to change your morning routine to grabbing a cup of coffee and reading an inspirational quote from the big names in startups.

Hopefully Solved: Freelancing Hourly Vs. Fixed Pricing Debate

Posted: June 1st, 2010
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Photo by Dave Morris (Flickr)

Last week, I read an interesting post on why you shouldn’t charge an hourly rate as a freelancer. I thought it was spot on and gave great insight on how freelancers can make a comfortable income.

What was really of interest to me were the comments though. While some appeared to understand the concept that an hourly rate can hold you back, it still didn’t grasp many. It even became hotly debated in parts with the author, Amber, having to justify her (rather enviable) pricing to clients.

So, in case you’re not convinced fixed pricing is for you or you don’t understand its real advantage, here is a little explanation.

The Hourly Rate Pricing Concept

If you charge by the hour, then consider that there are 2,080 billable hours available in the year to work (40 hours/week X 52 weeks). What you are doing, though, is essentially trying to sell each one of those 2,080 blocks of time to your clients. There are several disadvantages with this:

  • There is no way you will spend those 2,080 hours on projects. You are running a business, so there are those non-billable tasks such as searching for clients, promotions, invoicing and emailing that have to be done. Plus there will always be some downtime.
  • There is a cap to what is accepted as an hourly rate. Therefore, as your experience grows you’re rate will not necessarily increase.
  • You become vulnerable to fluctuations in your work. Since hourly rate pricing depends on you filling in your billable time slots available, periods of little or no work take a hit on your income.
  • The only way to grow as a business is to increase your hourly rate. Increasing your rate can turn away potential or current clients, though.

The Fixed Project Pricing Concept

Now, for example, let’s say you charge $600 to install a custom theme design for a WordPress blog. It’s safe to assume that the next time you perform the same project, it will take you less time. The next time, even less.

Putting this project to (sample) numbers, it may take you 15 hours for the initial project, 10 the next and, ultimately, 4 hours as you become a pro at this. Your hourly rates are then broken down as follows:

Initial: $600/15 hours = $40/hour
Second: $600/10 hours = $60/hour
As a Pro: $600/4 hours = $150/hour

This is all while charging the same price for the same exact service. The only difference is the time involved but, as your expertise increases, so does your “hourly rate” as it takes you less time per project.

A huge plus is that the resulting hourly rate never even has to be revealed to a client.

Not All Projects Can be Fixed Price

The whole idea behind fixed pricing is that you understand the entire project scope. In other words, you know exactly what to do and how long it will take. With experience and repetition of similar projects, this is done without a problem.

In some projects, however, the scope is so large or the scope can’t even be determined so giving a fixed price becomes risky. Extra time(and a lot of it) is often the result.

This is where pricing can get tricky but, again, this is where experience comes into play. A large project can always be broken down into milestones and charged per each one. The more experience you gain, the more it will guide you in determining the scope of more predictable milestones.

Sometimes there is no choice but to charge an hourly rate. If a new client has a broken website, there is no way to determine a price without taking time to diagnose then fix the issue.

Top Ten Reasons Your Client Dropped You Like a Ton of Bricks

Posted: May 24th, 2010
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There’s nothing like true client relationships. Yet one second you’re riding high from the hefty paychecks and the next second, poof. Gone. Nothing left but a polite email wishing you well but your services are no longer needed. The only thing we ask is why have you done so on thee? Here are the real reasons:

10. Convinced you were cheating with other clients.

9. Knows you’re a gold digger looking out for another with more money.

8. Seems to think you have some sort of time commitment issues.

7. Couldn’t afford you any longer.

6. Saw misspelling in portfolio. Instant deal-breaker.

5. Felt you weren’t giving enough (white) space.

4. Couldn’t get over finding out about those bad porno websites you made some years back.

3. “Sorry, you’re just not working out for me.”

2. Long lost freelancer suddenly came back into the picture.

1. You never called. EVER!

The Week In Freelance: May 21st

Posted: May 21st, 2010
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  • The Sacramento Bee: Some proof that freelancers are surviving hard economies.
  • Noupe: Part of the benefits of freelancing is working whenever you feel like it, working in your pajamas… the list goes on and on. To get anything done, though, you might want to actually treat freelancing like a job.
  • Web Worker Daily: Are you the nice type and get the occasional client that tries to walk all over you? Time to even the playing field.
  • Mashable: Let’s be honest, most freelancers don’t have a serious budget when it comes to marketing. Zero budget marketing is possible though.
  • Small Business CEO: It’s a common assumption that the bid with the best price wins which isn’t always the case. “The company that gets the contract won’t be the one who offers the best price or service. It will be the one who convinces the prospect to cross the “commitment line” and take action.”
  • Freelance Folder: While on the subject of bids, it’s the slight differences in your wording that can get a bid accepted or rejected.
  • Freelance Switch: Some client lingo that you’d want to get to know.
  • Onextrapixel: Still debating whether to take up freelancing full-time or part-time?
  • Men With Pens: Freelance burnout happens to us all and can be prevented. But the root cause: “Most often, bad habits are the culprit. Sloppy work habits are far more detrimental than many freelancers realize, and they’re keeping you from rocking out everything you should be able to get done in a day.”
  • Life Without Pants: If you haven’t heard of Tony Robbins, he is probably one of the greatest motivational speakers out there. Forget him, though, we have Yoda to show us what real success is.
  • The Oatmeal: Remember those Pee Chee folders you use to doodle on in class?
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