Our Vision

To give customers the most compelling IT Support experience possible.

Our Mission

Our mission is simple: make technology an asset for your business not a problem.

Our Values

We strive to make technology integrate seamlessly with your business so your business can grow. As your technology partner, when your business grows ours will grow with you, therefore, we will work hand in hand with you to support your growth.

Our Values

We develop relationship that makes a positive difference in our customers Business.

Our Values

We exibit a strong will to win in the marketplace and in every aspect of our Business

Showing posts with label Freelancing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Freelancing. Show all posts

Friday, April 27, 2012

Make YouTube Videos for Business

Online video is now one of the best ways to communicate with your audience and build relationships. In terms of both the number of videos uploaded and the number of overall video views, YouTube is by far the most popular online video publishing and sharing site.
You can create a free YouTube channel for your business, and within minutes publish your original video content to the world. Even if you don’t have a budget for video creation, you can become a YouTube video publisher. Check out the following free or affordable services and apps that can help you get started making YouTube videos for your business.

Creating Videos

There are a variety of tools to help you make YouTube videos that are unique, professional, and interesting. Rather than simply recording your own video using your video camera, you can use one of the following tools to create a more customized video.

1. Animoto: Just upload your images, and Animoto creates video slideshows with music.
2. Xtranormal: With Xtranormal, you can choose an animated actor or character and a background for your video. When you enter your video text, the actor lip-syncs the text in an animated video.
3. Stupeflix: Use Stupeflix to upload images, text, maps, video clips, and audio. Once everything is uploaded, you can create a video that you can share on YouTube without leaving your Stupeflix account.
4. GoAnimate: With GoAnimate, you can create animated videos by choosing a theme, dragging and dropping characters, and recording lines for the characters to say.
5. Website Talking Heads: Need a video with a professional spokesperson to deliver the lines? It’s easy and affordable with Website Talking Heads.
6. Camtasia: To create screencast video content to publish on YouTube, try Camtasia Studios (available for Mac or Windows). For a free open source version, try CamStudio.
7. Call Recorder for Skype: Want to conduct video interviews and upload them to your YouTube channel? It’s easy with Call Recorder for Skype. You can download a free demo and upgrade to a paid version when you’re ready.

Editing Videos

Once you’ve recorded a video on an external device such as your smartphone or video camera, you need a tool to edit it. An unedited video looks cheap, and that’s probably not how you want people to view your brand and business. Check out the video editors below to cut and move content within your videos, and to add sound, transitions, images, text, and more.

8. iMovie: Unless you’re a video editing expert, you’ll probably be quite happy with the features offered in iMovie, which is the free video editing program that comes pre-installed on all Macs.
9. Windows Movie Maker: For Windows users, the free Windows Movie Maker software that comes on new PCs is a great video editing choice.

Enhancing Videos

You can easily enhance your videos by adding music, images, and even video content published by other people. For example, to create a highly professional business video, you should have an introduction and closing clip with music, text, and an image that provides your business name, website URL, and other important brand identity information. The following services provide royalty-free music, images, and video that you can legally use in your video content.

10. RoyaltyFreeMusic.com: You can find affordable music tracks and clips on RoyaltyFreeMusic.com. Individual tracks can be licensed for under 10 dollars.
11. Freeplay Music: Another great option for finding affordable music for your videos is Freeplay Music. This service offers a wide variety of music at various price points and licensing options.
12. Audacity: If you need to record and edit sounds for your videos, then the free open source Audacity audio editor and recorder is an excellent option.
13. iStockPhoto: You can find affordable and professional images, photos, animated clips, illustrations, and video clips on iStockPhoto.

Converting Videos

What if your video is saved in a format that your video editing program or YouTube doesn’t accept? Fortunately, there are a variety of free and affordable video conversion tools that enable you to convert your video to the format you need in seconds.
14. iSkySoft: iSkySoft offers affordable video conversion and video download software for Mac and Windows users.
15. HandBrake: For a free open source video conversion tool, try HandBrake for Mac or Windows.

What tools do you use to make YouTube videos for your business? Let us know in the comments below.

Monday, January 16, 2012

How to use Google Analytics to Drive more Traffic to Your Website

There are probably thousands of articles on the web talking about Google Analytics, such as how to use the free reporting tool, how to set up Google Analytics for your website, and what Google Analytics reports you can take advantage of. This is all great information, especially for novice website designers. What I think is missing is the most critical piece of information, which is “How do I analyze these Google Analytics reports in order to actually make impactful changes to my website?” In this article we are going to answer that question, as well as, provide you with some examples of taking certain data from Google Analytics, analyzing it, and then using it to make changes to your website and/or website marketing.

Tools like Google Analytics allow you to check your website traffic data as frequently as you’d like. I definitely recommend keeping an eye on your Google Analytics reports daily or weekly. With that said, we all know that checking your reports and actually taking time to analyze them are two different tasks. This is why I recommend that every website owner take a full day each quarter to analyze their reports and implement any needed changes to their website based on what the data is showing.

It’s easy to get lost in Google Analytics. There is SO much data that you can analyze. Not only is there a ton of data, but the ways in which you can slice it up seem almost endless. Every website owner is going to have different reports to focus on, but there are a few main data points that all website owners should be aware of during their quarterly reviews:

Traffic Sources – Keywords: Knowing which keywords are driving the most quality visitors to your website is crucial. You can begin optimizing more of your website around these keywords in order to capitalize on those searches.Traffic Sources – Referring Sites: Understanding which websites are sending the most quality traffic to your website will allow you to focus more effort and time on those sites, and less of your time on under performing websites, moving forward.Visitors

Overview: How much of your website traffic is new visitors versus returning visitors? Knowing this might help you phrase content different or run certain marketing programs geared towards one type of visitor versus the other.Content Overview – Top Pages: Having an idea of what pages are performing best will tell you what content your visitors are interested in. Produce more of that!

Visits: What days do you have the most traffic to your website? Knowing what days visitors are coming to your website allows you to publish new content or launch promotions on those days in order to capture the most attention.

Now that we have an understanding of some of the most important reports to analyze for your website, let’s dig into each of them to provide examples on how you can use the data to make real impactful changes to your website and website marketing.

Knowing which keywords to optimize your website with is crucial in attracting the right visitors. Here’s how you can utilize the Keyword reports in Google Analytics:

Go into the Traffic Sources Overview section of Google AnalyticsFind your Top ten performing keywords and make a list of those keywordsGo back through your website and begin infusing them into your website contentUse them as anchor text for your URLsName your images with your top ten keywordsAdd title tags and Alt tags to your images using your top ten keywordsCreate a list of new blog topics that you want to write about and be sure to infuse your top ten keywords into those articles

By analyzing your Traffic Sources – Keywords report and following the steps above you will significantly increase your website traffic for those specific keywords.

Once you have completed this first main Keyword optimization during your Quarterly review, go BACK through your Keyword report and sort the results by Average Time on Site. Find five keywords that might not be driving a lot of traffic to your website right now, but the traffic that is coming to your site from those keywords tends to spend a lot of time on your site. These are your “growth keywords”. Repeat the steps above using these keywords to see if with a little more use throughout your website they can produce more traffic.

Knowing which websites (or social media channels) around the web that are referring the most traffic to your website is critical. As a website owner you only have so much time in the day to market your site. It’s best to use that time wisely. Follow these steps in order to analyze your traffic sources and make impactful changes to your website marketing:

Go into your Traffic Sources report within Google Analytics and review the Top Referring Sites dataAsk yourself, are these the websites that I assumed would be near the top? Are these the websites I’m spending the most time using in order to drive traffic to my website?Start trying to figure out why some sites are near the top of this list, while others are near the bottom. Perhaps one of the websites near the top is a site that you recently wrote a guest blog article for. Contact the owner of that site and see if you can write another article for them.Is LinkedIn outperforming Facebook? If so, you may want to tweak the amount of time you spend on both social media sites, with more time being devoted to LinkedIn next quarter instead of Facebook. This strategy can be repeated for all social media sites that you use.Is Banner Ad ‘A’ outperforming Banner Ad ‘B’? If so, perhaps you want to cancel Banner Ad ‘B’ and ask for more space on the website that’s hosting Banner Ad ‘A’.Is there a website that you don’t recognize that’s currently sending a lot of traffic to your website? Reach out to the owner of that website and see if you can partner with them in some way in order to capitalize even more on all of the traffic they are sending your way.

Using the Referral Sources report in Google Analytics will help you become more efficient with your marketing time and more effective at driving traffic to your website.

Analyzing your Visitor Profile through the Visitors Overview report in Google Analytics will let you know how much of your traffic is composed of ‘New Visitors’ and how much of your traffic is composed of ‘Repeat Visitors’. You want to encourage new visitors to become return visitors, as well as, continue to attract even more new visitors. Here are a few ways that you can take your data from the Visitors Overview report and actually use it to improve your website:

Post some sort of a ’Thank You’ message somewhere prominent on your website for returning visitors OR send out the periodic ‘Thank You’ email to your email list just letting your supporters know you appreciate them.Do you have an e-Commerce website? Give repeat customers a discount on their next purchase.Create a ‘FAQ’ page to help new visitors quickly understand your website and how to use itMake the ‘Contact Us’ page as prevalent as possible in case new visitors have questions and need to contact youCreate a survey for returning customers to capture information that you think will help you provide more value to them in the futureRun a contest to encourage new customers to get engaged with your website/brand

Understanding what content is resonating with your visitors will help you come up with new content topics for the next quarter.

Go into the Content Overview section of Google Analytics and navigate to the Top Pages reportFind the top 5-6 pages visited over the past 3-6 monthsThink about what information is displayed on each of those pages and determine what information the majority of your visitors are looking forDevelop a Content Plan for the next quarter, comprised of topics that you think are most relevant based on your findings above. A few ideas might be:Write blog articles around popular topicsFocus social media efforts in promoting those top pages or discussing those top topicsWrite an eBook expanding on some of those topics that your visitors are finding valuableShoot YouTube videos around those topics and embed them into your Top Pages

Producing more of the content that your visitors are finding valuable will keep them coming back, get them to share your website with their friends, and attract new visitors.

Are the weekends a popular time for your website or do most people visit your website during the week? Knowing what days are high traffic days for your website and what days are low traffic days for your website allows you to be much more strategic in regards to publishing new updates to your website. By analyzing the Visits report in Google Analytics you can see which days seem to generate the most traffic. Make a list of your high traffic days and then start taking advantage of those high traffic days in the following ways:

Publish blog articles on those daysBegin and end contests on high traffic daysSpend time on social media during those daysPublish events to your websiteMake architecture or functionality updates on low traffic days

Knowing when, and when not to, publish new information to your website can drastically alter the number of views your new updates receive. Be smart about when you publish new content, news, events, etc. Use the Visits report in Google Analytics as your guide.

Google Analytics is great. The website data provided by Google Analytics can help website owners learn a ton about their website. With that said, unless website owners take time to review and analyze their reports on a regular basis, and then take time to use that data to make changes to their website, they are missing out on the biggest advantage that Google Analytics provides. Google Analytics provides you with a blueprint for giving your visitors what they want, when they want it. Be sure to take advantage of that.
View the original article here

Saturday, January 14, 2012

8 Strategies to Get Your Business in a Distraction Free Zone

Physical and mental distractions are stunting the growth of your freelance business. In line with getting focused on my writing career for 2012, I’ve vowed to cut out as many distractions as possible, at the computer and beyond.

Here are eight strategies to get your business in a distraction-free zone!

I know, I know. What? No Facebook? Yeah, exactly, just like it was 2003. If you’re serious about getting focused on your business and you’re not using Facebook for business, deactivate and switch to building your network on LinkedIn. You’ll no longer be tempted to wander off into Facebook Land the next time you’re at your computer. Best of all, you won’t have that constant nagging feeling of checking your messages or updating your status. Restore your focus (and maybe your privacy).

If you are using Facebook for business, only you can decide what is ‘enough’ time spent on this social media site for marketing, promoting your product or service. However, you should be cautious that your mind is not constantly wandering off to Facebook when you should be concentrating on something else – it’s the social media trap, if you’re not careful, you’ll get sucked in.
In the pursuit of learning all you can about building a business, being successful and making money you’ve probably subscribed to a ton of newsletters and blogs.

Here’s the deal, if you haven’t benefited from these inbox fillers, unsubscribe. Sean Platt of Ghostwriter Dad puts it in perspective:
Look for those voices that have accomplished things similar to what you would like to accomplish, then get rid of anything you could categorize as online clutter.
How often do you open your inbox to find a plethora of emails? It’s overwhelming and time consuming.

Keep your subscriptions to a bare, essential minimum. Let’s not hoard information, especially information that is just cluttering our minds and focus.
If you haven’t benefited from it in the past 6 months of subscription, it’s time to toss it out, only keep the voices that really matter and as Sean Platt advises, “Narrow the number of voices you listen to. It is really, really easy to get lost. There is an abundance of information and so much of it is appealing because it is free.”

This is a free, downloadable timer you can use to set yourself a block of time for concentration. You’re committed to 25 minutes of work based on the Pomodoro Technique. Once the timer rings, and your 25 minutes are up, you can step away from the computer and take a break.
This is a mental practice and you have to build your discipline to stay focused for those 25 minutes devoted to work. The app doesn’t close browsers or documents, and will give you a buzz once the 25 minutes are complete. It’s available as a free download.

No, really, Concentrate is an app for Mac users to switch between one task and another – offering complete focus on a single task. For instance, you create the category ‘writing’. You then customize particular actions you want to happen when you are concentrating, such as blocking social media sites, chat, and quit apps.

You’ll also customize what you want to happen when concentrating, such as a ‘growl’ sound to remind you not to daydream, open apps and docs associated with the task. As soon as you press the ‘concentrate’ button, everything goes into effect and you’re ready to unleash your freelance genius. Create as many categories as you want.

This app will allow you to switch between tasks without manually having to open and close apps/browsers. There is a download fee of $29.

There’s a lot going on during the day in my household. The phone rings, children need to get picked up and dropped off, and the same children need to be fed (or they’ll get cranky). As I am the CEO of My Household, getting an office space outside of home is not feasible at the moment. Instead, I wait for the world to fall asleep (or at least that’s what it feels like) and try to work my creative juices.
We’re smart people and we know that being a freelancer is really, extraordinarily hard work. This is especially true when you’re trying to launch your business and gain momentum. This is the time to get through the tough spots and keep going.

When I’m tempted to hit the snooze button during the insane morning hours, I remind myself that someone else’s alarm went off and they’ll be getting up. This usually helps me fight the cozy bed syndrome. Find the motivating thought that gets you out of bed each morning, or keeps you up at night and hold on to it as if your business depended on it – because it does.

You’ve spent all this time learning and soaking up what the ‘gurus’ are saying in your industry. Once you have the basics down, you have to believe you know enough. Now is the time to implement.
What you haven’t learned through reading, you’ll learn through trial and error. After all, experts usually get their expertise through the field. They learn from their mistakes, they track their mistakes and they start seeing what works. Repeat often until you’ve created your own recipe for success.
Your strategy is different than mine, and my strategy is different from the next person and that’s ok.
If you’ve doubted your freelance business, I encourage you to visit a local job fair in your area. Watch as the disappoint grows on the faces of the job seekers who came hopeful only to find most positions were 100% sales commission. It’s a reality check any freelancer can benefit from.
In the 2012 Writer’s Market, they provide a writing calendar. Each month has a goal to meet, or a reminder. December’s tidbit is: Evaluate your 2011 accomplishments and make 2012 goals. January: Make 2012 your best year freelancing yet! February: Use the extra day in February to submit your writing.

You get the drift. Set monthly goals (supplemented by weekly goals) for your freelance business. Before you know it, you’ll be evaluating your 2012 accomplishments, make sure you’re able to face yourself knowing you’ve done all you can to make your freelance business a success.
Let us know how you plan to make 2012 the year your freelance business takes flight.

View the original article here

Be Ready When Someone Asks, “What Do You Do?”

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.

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.
If you don’t solve a problem…then why do you exist? Maybe you are a wedding photographer and work with couples to capture their big day. Maybe you have an MBA and share small business advice for newspapers and websites. Maybe you create logos to help companies better brand themselves. Whatever you do—put it in the context of how your services solve a problem. Example:
I help small businesses create and implement a social media marketing plan.
Competition is everywhere, and you need to know what makes you better than the next guy that does the same thing you do. Why do you prefer to shop at Home Depot rather than Lowes? Target rather than Walmart? Pat’s Pizza rather than Jason’s Pizza?

Is their customer service better? Prices better? Does their pizza delivery guy show up faster? Use your talents and experience to tout yourself. Example:
I have an MFA in graphic design and stay up to date with the latest trends and technology by attending professional development workshops twice a year.
Tell people how you are going to make their life easier. Maybe you are a whiz at creating compelling websites and will take the time to teach your clients how to manage them on their own. Maybe you have contacts in the media and can help promote your clients news and events effectively through press releases and social media marketing. Maybe you know of a way to help your client’s business run more efficiently, saving them money in the long run. Example:
I have a database of media contacts throughout the state and can help you promote your annual fundraiser by creating press releases and writing stories for the local newspapers.
Once you get these sentences down, practice them in front of a mirror. Then head out to a networking event and try them out. Someone might not ask you all four questions at the same time, but it’s still good to have a response ready and waiting.

By keeping your answers to one sentence, you keep from rambling on about yourself. Being succinct shows that you really know your business and are comfortable and confident talking about whatever it is that you have built your freelancing career on doing. Don’t be afraid to ask other people the same four questions—see if their responses are as good as yours!

View the original article here

10 Firefox Add-ons to Level Up Your Freelance Efficiency

Mozilla Firefox is a real treasure for freelancers worldwide. Why? It’s an advanced, fast and secure web browser.
In the last 7 years the open source browser has proved – it’s more than a web surfer. Mozilla Firefox is translated into over 70 languages, enriched with dozens of extensions, and beautified by many persona designs.

Firefox may be modified according to your needs on the fly. With a couple of useful add-ons the browser turns into your developer, designer, or SEO fellow-worker. Today, we continue our top Firefox extensions topic with a roundup of excellent free Firefox addons. These extensions will improve your productivity and level up your freelancing performance.

ReminderFox: ReminderFox is all you need to keep your freelance project time frame on target. The add-on helps to create to-do lists, set alerts, make notifications. You can specify time and date of your reminders. Thus, you will stay organized and goal-oriented with this tiny Firefox add-on.

Xmarks Sync:Xmarks Sync is a free back-up add-on. The tool saves tabs, browsing history, bookmarks and passwords before closing Firefox. Moreover, it lets you create an account and sync all your Firefox information so you may use it on another computer or restore it if your PC crashes. Xmarks Sync emphasizes that your freelance performance will not suffer due to sudden tech issues.

WebMail Notifier:WebMail Notifier is a Firefox reminder for freelancers who have multiple email accounts. WebMail Notifier handles Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and other email systems. It checks your email accounts and shows you alerts when you get new messages. Thus, you can promptly reply to your business and personal emails without missing important information.

WOT:Web of trust created by WOT Firefox add-on strives to make web surfing more reliable and secure. It’s not another antivirus link scanner. WOT website ratings are built on a human approach to web safety. Install the add-on and rate websites that you use. Leave your comments when a website is tricky or your customer experience is bad. Or vice versa: vote for good websites and write testimonials. All websites are rated by people and you can read reviews before downloading, making purchases or registrations.

FireShot: FireShot is a free screen capturing add-on. It easily replaces the “Print Screen” button or any other software you use for screenshots. Just click the button and make a screenshot. Edit the screenshot, add notes, highlight objects, print, save or email the screenshot. You can export FireShot screenshots to Flick or Picasa accounts and show your draft to your freelance boss.

Rainbow Color Tools: Rainbow Color Tools is a handy add-on for freelance designers and webmasters. Click the add-on button and pick up the precise object color. Rainbow Color Tools shows you color info and copies it to the clipboard. Plus, you can save your favorite colors to the library for further access. Next time when a client asks you to make a banner with their authentic website logo color, just go to Rainbow add-on and select a perfect match.

View Source Chart:The goal of this add-on is well described in its name. View Source Chart shows code and helps you examine bugs and alerts. Along with Firebug, View Source Chart is a helpful Firefox extension for freelance developers.

SeoQuake SEO extension: SeoQuake SEO extension is a useful all-in-one toolbar for SEO freelancers. The toolbar shows Google rank, Bing index, Alexa rank and other metrics. You can analyze keyword density for a page, count external and internal links. The add-on is suitable for a quick website performance check-up.

Show My Password: Show My Password is a great app to save your time. Almost each registration has “repeat password” field. It’s easy to err when the original password is hidden by dots. So you have to retype it again and again. Show My Password makes your work more efficient and less stressful. The add-on enables you to create accounts quickly with proper password spelling.

Text to Voice: Text to Voice is an ideal add-on for freelancers who manage several tasks simultaneously. You can listen to a specification and code a web page form. You can enjoy my FreelanceSwitch posts and design a wonderful Android app interface. The voice is a bit artificial. However, it will do if you are tired of reading.

View the original article here

Specialist or Generalist: What’s Your Route to Success?

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to take stock of your business, and plan your direction for the coming year.  Some freelancers work toward building up a name for themselves within a niche; others intentionally avoid focusing too much in one area.

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of each approach.

You might have been a financial guru in the past, and naturally kept that route when you opened your freelance business. Or maybe you started out covering many markets, but your best client was in real estate, and you found yourself getting established in that area. However it happens, building a name for yourself as a specialist has its benefits, including:

You’ll build knowledge of the vocabulary, trends, and who’s who in the market, enabling you to jump in faster, and potentially complete jobs quicker and easier.Customers in similar markets will get wind of your work and contact you.With a specific target audience in mind, you can slant your marketing efforts and materials appropriately.You can establish yourself as an expert through speaking engagements, teaching, writing articles, or hosting a blog.Your proven track record can help you negotiate higher compensation.

But along with the good comes the bad.  Reasons not to get too comfy might include:
A slump in your chosen market can send you into a dry spell.Known as a specialist in one area, you may find it difficult seeking a job out of that circle.You may become bored or experience burn out.
Remaining a generalist is a chosen path for many freelancers, and with good reason: wider options bring more opportunity.

Advantages of keeping abreast of a handful of differing markets include:
No need to panic if one of your markets goes dry; you can compensate by pursuing another area.You’ll learn new things routinely and work with a variety of people.Varying audiences will have different personalities, enabling you to use different styles and remain creative.You can avoid markets that you don’t want to work with.

And the cons:
Just like the Chinese restaurant that also serves pizza, customers might question where you excel.You may face overhead issues maintaining various versions of a resume or web site.You may become frustrated dealing with the ramp-up time of a new project, particularly if facing a tight deadline.
You learned in kindergarten that no two snowflakes are alike, and the same holds true with freelancers. While my friend was worried that she’d unintentionally settled into a niche in 2011, another freelancer might consider that an accomplishment. It’s all what makes you comfortable, what keeps things interesting for you, and ultimately, what pays the bills.

Which approach has brought you success as a freelancer? And which do you plan to pursue in 2012?
Illustration credit: Some rights reserved by patrimonio.
View the original article here

Friday, January 13, 2012

What Freelancers Can Learn from Mark Cuban

As freelancers, we don’t have anyone but ourselves to be accountable for. If I don’t roll out of bed until 10 am, I have no one to blame but myself. If I don’t make time to really look into what Google+ can do (or can’t do) for me, it’s my own fault.

When you work in an office environment, you have coworkers, bosses, and assistants to help you with your job. When you are a freelancer, you have to do everything from getting insurance to buying computer equipment, to calling clients who are late on their payments. It can be overwhelming at times, but when you worry about only pleasing yourself at the end of the day, it can be pretty great.
Below are some quotes from Mark Cuban’s new book, How to Win at the Sport of Business, that I found in an article on businessinsider.com and what I took away from them:
In sports, the only thing a player can truly control is effort. The same applies to business. The only thing any entrepreneur, salesperson or anyone in any position can control is their effort.
If you’ve ever played a sport, you know that even when you lose a game, knowing you played the hardest you could play, makes the losing result a bit easier to swallow. There will always be someone out there better than you. Someone who is wittier, a better writer, better photographer, and a more creative designer.
When you pitch a story or design to a client for a project, and you put 100% of your talent and effort into it, then still get turned down, you know you did the best you can do. Ask for constructive criticism on why your idea didn’t get chosen and learn from it. You may pick up some new tricks to use in your next proposal.
I had to kick myself in the ass and recommit to getting up early, staying up late and consuming everything I possibly could to get an edge. I had to commit to making the effort to be as productive as I possibly could. It meant making sure that every hour of the day that I could contact a customer was selling time, and when customers were sleeping, I was doing things that prepared me to make more sales and to make my company better.
Being efficient and productive as a freelancer is crucial. There’s only one of you and you can only do so much work in a day. If taking on a new client means you have to work overtime to get the job done, do it!

Use business hours for business related things, like calling your clients when they’re at work, too. If you’re waiting on payment for a job or to hear about a proposal you’ve submitted, you aren’t going to get much attention if you keep leaving messages on their voicemail after hours.
Effort is measured by setting goals and getting results. What did I need to do to close this account? What did I need to do to win this segment of business? What did I need to do to understand this technology or that business better than anyone?
Making goals is a great way to gauge your effort and success. It’s also a great way to organize your day, week, month, and year. Sit down and really think about what you want to accomplish over the next 6 months and what it is going to take to get you there. Perhaps there is a certain client you’re dying to work for or a new program you have been wanting to learn. Write down a strategic plan and stick to it.
When you are a freelancer you only have to answer to yourself. Take advantage of having no boss and be the best freelancer you can be.

View the original article here

Why Customer Service is So Important for Freelancers

 The term customer service reminds me of wasted time spent on the telephone with some huge conglomerate that somehow messed up something I purchased. Right now I’m dealing with customer service for both my cable/TV company and my home/auto insurance. It’s infuriating.
But customer service isn’t just for big box stores and insurance agencies. It’s important to freelancers, too.
As consumers, we’ve become disenchanted with advertising and marketing of all sorts, having being duped, tricked or made to feel foolish on more than one occasion. The last true medium that holds sway is referrals from friends, colleagues, or online reviews from the likes of Yelp, AngiesList or TripAdvisor. —Matt Mickiewicz for Forbes.com
According to an American Marketing Association survey, 90% of consumers trust peer reviews and 70% trust online reviews. The author of this post is Matt Mickiewicz, the co-founder of 99designs. He offers three rules that small businesses (and freelancers) should follow to offer their clients great customer service.

If one of your clients has a complaint, handle it immediately and yourself. What I hate most about dealing with large customer service departments is that I have to be on the phone for long periods of time being shuffled from one person to another. It’s annoying! That’s why I like to buy services and products from local companies as much as possible—a face to face conversation or simple email or phone call to the owner usually clears up any situation.

Make your clients realize that by working with you, a freelancer, instead of a large agency or other business, that they are getting the best customer service possible. It’s one of the best ways for you to promote yourself over your competition. By dealing with issues swiftly, and not sweeping them under the rug, you are keeping your clients happy—and their happiness is money in your pocket.

If you have a client who has given you a ton of work, reward them! Send them a small thank you gift (like a gift card) or give them a discount on future services.

A happy client will most likely be easier to deal with if there is ever a dispute. Plus, your genuine gratitude towards their business will work wonders when someone asks them for a referral. Your client is more likely to refer you when they are happy and content with your services.
I had my personal cell phone number on sitepoint.com for 10-years (a site visited by more than 2.5 million people every month and ranked Top 1000 in the world), and was happy to answer more than 30 calls on Christmas Day, when a special deal we were running on the website went wonky. — Matt Mickiewicz
Sure, answering telephone calls on Christmas probably isn’t what you really want to do, but the mere fact that you are answering them is sending an important message to your clients—when there is an emergency, you are there for them—no matter what.

Put your email and telephone number out in the open. Have you ever visited a website where the contact information is hard to find? How trustworthy is that? And while I understand the purpose and ease of an online form to fill out, I hate doing them. It’s so much easier to just pick up a phone and call or send an email from my own mailbox.

Help yourself by offering amazing customer service and try some things above and beyond what you currently offer. Be sincere, available, and grateful and your clients will be more likely to tout your services to others.

View the original article here

Thursday, December 29, 2011

10 Ways to be a More Efficient Freelancer that may Affect Your WOW Career

Article was created by :Dan is an online marketing nomad. Specializing in social media and content creation. He consults remotely while travelling the world and living out of a backpack. Article posted on: http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/design/ways-efficient-freelancer/

Working as a freelancer has many benefits, you work your own hours, you don’t have to worry about a nagging boss, you can work in your underwear.. the list goes on. One area of freelancing that’s tough though is maintaining efficiency.

As a freelancer, you become your own task master. This means you’re not only responsible for making sure you complete tasks, but just as importantly you need to determine which tasks are to be performed in the first place. For people who lack motivation and/or self-discipline, this can present a big problem. Combined with the numerous distractions a freelancer faces e.g. family/friends, favorite TV shows, temptation to sleep til lunch; you have a formula for incredible inefficiency. In this article we’ll look at the benefits of being more efficient and then some road tested ways of dramatically improving your efficiency.

10 Ways to be a More Efficient Freelancer that may Affect Your WOW Career

Good reasons for being more efficient

Image source: somewhere
Establishing motivation is an important first step for any process. So before we delve into ‘how’ to become more efficient as a freelancer, lets look at ‘why’ you should become more efficient.
Take the fear out of deadlines: No doubt you’ve gained a few gray hairs and pulled numerous all-nighter’s in the process of meeting deadlines. Building efficiency will help better utilize time, meaning you can maintain your healthy head of hair and significantly reduce your red bull/coffee intake.
More profitable client base: Improving your efficiency will help make your client base more profitable in two ways. Firstly, you’ll learn to focus more time and energy into the clients that provide most value to you. Secondly, by shifting your attention to higher value clients you’ll create more time to take on more of the work that delivers higher value, and stop wasting it on clients who demand a lot and return little.
Stress reduction: As you become more efficient at what you do, you’ll feel more empowered with what you’re doing, and consequently your stress levels will drop considerably.
More time for the good stuff: You started out freelancing with dreams of being able to spend more time with your family/friends and enjoying your favourite activities right? Then your days got crammed with a million and one tasks and you don’t even know what you’re doing. Building efficiency will help get you back on track to finding your original dream.
Happier you, happier clients: As you take control of your days and start feeling a genuine sense of progress your overall happiness and satisfaction will lift immeasurably. A spin-off effect of this is that your creativity and work quality will also improve, which will lead to much happier clients.
Sound good? Of course it does. So the big question, how to do it?

1. Have goals

Photo by LarryLens
Goals are essential for staying motivated. They’ll give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning (and not the afternoon), and they’ll help guide you in setting tasks for yourself. So what goals should you set? There are two main kinds, financial and lifestyle. A lot of people put financial first, however if happiness and satisfaction are important to you, I’d recommend starting with lifestyle. Think about what you want your lifestyle to include: how much free time you’ll have, the material items you’ll have, when you want to retire etc. Once you’ve got that figured out, figure out what you’ll need to achieve on the financial side to meet your lifestyle goals.

2. Scheduling

Effective scheduling is critical for freelancers to maintain efficiency. Even if you entered the freelancing field to getaway from the day-to-day grind and routine of employed work, don’t feel like scheduling is the enemy. By allotting specific amounts of time to certain tasks each day, you’ll find that you complete them much more efficiently than if you were to cruise through the day completing tasks ad hoc.

3. To-do list

Photo by Mattox
A technique which I find works particularly well and know has worked well for many others is creating a list of to-do list the night before. Before you go to bed, list down the six most important things you need to do the next day and order them by importance. This will get your mind working sub-consciously the night before and you’ll be focused as soon as you wake up. Get to work on the first item on your list and stick with it until it’s completed or until you can’t work on it anymore, only then move on to the next item. Don’t stress if you don’t get all six done, because if you can’t complete them following this method you wouldn’t have been able to in any other way. Completing tasks this way will allow you to focus on one thing at a time which is much more powerful than trying to multi-task.

4. Take yourself seriously

Just because you have the opportunity to work in your pj’s with a bowl of fruit loops in front of you doesn’t mean your job is any less important than one which requires you to suit up and eat sushi at lunch. By taking the mindset that your role is somehow less important than others you’ll only sabotage your own productivity and be more inclined to procrastinate, hence reducing efficiency.

5. Refresh

Take some timeout, both long and short:
  • Short breaks – Utilizing short breaks hourly will not only help you stay fresh and motivated, it can have considerable health benefits.
  • Long breaks – While you might feel like you need to be on the ball every day of the week, most people find they get more out of a 5 or 6 day working week with a rest day to help rejuvenate in between.
  • Vacations – Organizing a getaway for a week or so every few months is not only a great way to recharge your batteries, it will help inspire new ideas.

6. How have other people done it?

There’s a strong chance that someone has already blazed the trail you’re following. Look at how people in a similar role to yours have done things and learn from them. It’s not copying and it’s not being unoriginal – it’s being smart. If you can learn from the mistakes that other people have made then it saves you the time and cost of making them yourself.

7. Pareto’s law – 80% of success from 20% of effort

A trap many freelancers fall into is spending a bunch of time on tasks that deliver no value to them. These time drainers can come in many forms: marketing efforts, crappy clients who pay little and demand too much, doing things yourself that would be better outsourced. The key is identifying the tasks that deliver most value to you and focusing on these. The time wasters can be hard to let go of (it’s a bit like throwing away junk from the cupboard) but you’ll be much happier once you do, and have more time to focus on the things that deliver value, monetarily and in satisfaction.

8. Analyze how you spend a day

Dedicate a day where every 15 minutes you write down what you’re doing. It might sound like a real pain in the butt, but it can be quite amazing (and disturbing) to see how much time you waste on trivial tasks and procrastination. Performing an honest evaluation of how you spend your time will allow you to cut out a lot of the things that are wasting your time.

9. Consider power naps

Many people associate napping during the day with laziness – however a short power nap during the day can have amazing positive effects on your productivity. By using the correct power napping techniques you’ll gain a lot more than you would from pounding coffees and red bulls all day.

10. Quit WOW

If World of Warcraft or some other time killer like Farmville is taking precedence over servicing your valuable clients, then maybe it’s time to make a clean-cut. Put it in perspective and make the decision.


These tips aren’t hard and fast. Everyone is different and will require a different system to achieve maximum efficiency. The best thing you can do is to commit to testing out these techniques consistently over the next few weeks and seeing how they work for you. The key is to take note of results and be honest with yourself about what is and isn’t working. If you can do this you’ll be able to come up with a customized system that will have you delivering maniac levels of productivity in no time.
How have you increased your efficiency as a freelancer?


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Make Use of online teamwork and collaboration


Conceptboard is another great web app for online teamwork and collaboration.Among many features, you can draw directly on a board for your team to see, drag files directly on to your concept boards, write over your documents, leave comments easily for others to see, invite colleagues and clients to participate and even work on it using your iPad. The free account gives you a lot of options and is worth a look.

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