The Blog

Our goal is to provide you with a steady supply of great articles that are relevant to freelancers and entrepreneurs. Besides our own writing, you can always check out our social media profiles for the best content making its way around the web.

Book Review: “The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebau

“The $100 Startup. Fire your boss, do what you love and work better to love more. In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead of life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living.” You may be a freelancer and not a startup, but doesn’t the above describe pretty much exactly what you’re looking for in life? And I’m pretty sure you’ve already done the first part of that sentence so you might as well give this book a shot. It’s one of the most famous get-your-ass-in-gear books out there and it really does deliver. It’s divided in handy chapters so you can skip to the parts you’re interested in. If you’re still in the “dream/idea” phase, you can just start reading at the first page. If you’re a bit further along the way and are looking for marketing advice for example, you can skip a bunch of chapters. What it does best in my opinion is that it takes away most arguments and doubts you could have had to not start working on your idea. Everyone’s been there, you tell yourself you don’t have enough time, money, knowledge or any other excuse that will prevent you from trying and thus removing the risk of failure. He gives you real-life examples of people who did make it, even though they had all the excuses in the world. People who went bankrupt and started over, others with a severe lack of knowledge, full-time employees who could have just watched TV all night instead of trying to get that one extra sale or looking for that perfect...

We’ve added 2 new decal designs! Showing some love to editors and social media experts.

 I’m a professional editor. Talk to me! A humorous approach to editing in one of our newest designs. When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all. Destined to a life in the background, a good editor is a writers best friend. If you’re reading this in a coffee shop, chances are there’s a writer sitting next to you right now. Don’t lose this chance at a new client and start marketing yourself right away. A big thank you to Kelsey Mitchener for suggesting the red pen design and April Hundza for making sure we didn’t forget about all the editors out there. Get your decal now   Social media for your business? Talk to me! Most entrepreneurs have no idea how to get the most out of their social media presence, let alone how to run a successful campaign! You can help them increase customer interaction, drive sales and create a loyal fan base. You’re the social media expert every business needs! Another big thank you to April Hundza for being a creative jack off all trades! Get your decal...

A quick and dirty guide to (WordPress) hosting, domain names and even a hint of SSL. Part 1.

We’ve noticed a lot of questions in freelancer communities concerning web hosting and domain name management. It makes perfect sense, since there’s such an overload of companies offering the services which also leads to a whole variety of ways to actually execute what you’re trying to do. Our focus will be centered on WordPress here, since this seems to be one of the most recurring questions: ‘How the hell do I get started with a WordPress website?’ In this post we’ll show you some of our favorite providers and in our second part we’ll give you a non-technical explanation on getting everything set-up. Hosting We’re not going to get into too many technical details about shared hosting, vps and the like. Let’s just agree that while starting out, you’ll probably be okay with the cheapest subscription a provider offers and you can scale up when you notice an uptick in traffic and requirements. Now there’s some things to keep in mind. If this isn’t a completely new website (f.e. a redesign or a migration) or if you already have an existing mailing list that will guarantee you traffic, it may be better for you to skip the cheapest program or certain hosts from the start. Your best bet here is to ask any necessary questions through a hosts live chat function (they all have it nowadays) as this will give you a pretty good idea of the quality of their customer service and noob friendly-ness. Tell them your (expected) traffic and whether you’ll be doing anything particularly bandwidth-heavy (full screen photographic background portfolios come to mind). Who to choose? There’s been...

How to create your own photographers portfolio

Whether you’re just starting out or as experienced as they come, you’re going to need a visually stunning way to showcase your work. There’s a couple of choices you’ll have to make right from the start. Hosted or self-hosted? First off, you’re going to have to decide if you want to go for a hosted solution or do everything yourself. In terms of pricing, it’s not going to matter all that much. Your standard webhost will charge you at least as much as most of the specialized portfolio services and you probably won’t even get close to the performance you’d want for a website that’s going to be VERY image-heavy. In addition to that, these portfolio websites tend to provide a selection of well-coded templates that are perfectly mobile responsive and are very intuitive to adjust without any coding knowledge. So why would you go through the trouble of doing everything on your own? Flexibility would be the primary reason. Portfolio templates can get repetitive quick. They may not be optimized for conversions or SEO and lack focus on certain aspects that you’d like to highlight. It’s generally a good idea to start out with a hosted solution (unless you have some web design skills, then definitely consider doing it yourself). As soon as you’ve built up a bit of a portfolio and a reputation, invest in a customized website that does everything you want it to do. Freebies Several hosted solutions offer a free pack with limited options but it’s a great way to start out and get your first few clients without any investment but your own...

How to be more approachable when working in public

And making the most of it when it finally does happen! As a freelancer or professional busy person, it’s generally a good idea to go out once in a while and work amongst actual other human beings. Sure, maybe you do talk to your cactus and spend way too much time on Facebook chat, but it’s just not the same as real human interaction. You know, the kind where you have to move your face muscles to show a degree of animation. Remember the time you did this ‘;-S’ in real life? Yeah, neither do I. Let’s say you do go out to a public place and try to get some work done. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could actually do the one thing you can’t do while sitting at home? Interact! No, ordering your latte mocha Frappuccino doesn’t count as a conversation. Let’s look at some ways to be more approachable and connect to new people. If you’re wondering why you’d want to be bothered while working, there’s multiple reasons. First of all, networking is honestly never a bad thing. Not every person that approaches you is going to turn into a paying customer, but they could turn into someone that refers you to a paying customer. Or even better, you make a new friend over a mutual professional interest. Second, let’s say you get nothing out of it. Someone comes to you to ask for free professional advice. Ugh, don’t we all hate giving away freebies? Well, the glass is half full. In a public environment, others will actually see you being a nice person. Online or...

Freelancer Quick Fix: Death to the to-do list

This article was written by the wonderful Web Fixer Upper (consultant, designer, developer) Tiffany Breyne. Her blog over at Tiffdotcom helps small business owners grow. A to-do list is helpful for busy minds, but only if you’re working on the tasks that will actually help you accomplish your goals. Let’s talk about the process of focusing on the things that will really propel your business. Let’s talk about killing the to-do list.   I used to be great at prioritizing my daily and weekly to-do list. Recently, though, I realized that my to-do list had become more an art of filling my day with small tasks that were easy to do, but didn’t really have an impact on my business. And the goals I have for my business weren’t being reached because of it. In theory, a to-do list is great because it reminds us of what we need to do, and gives us satisfaction when we cross things off the list. But really, it acts as a list of distractions from focusing on what needs to be done. So now I take a different approach, and it’s working. I killed my to-do list. How can you do the same thing? Take a look at your current to-do list, and ask yourself this question: what one item will take my business a step further? If you have to choose between scheduling social media posts, cleaning your inbox, or setting up a sales page for your new product, you need to cross off the social media and inbox and focus on that sales page. Sure, it may take more brain power and more...

Book Review: “Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class” by Scott Timberg

This review was provided by the amazing Dave McNamara. Dave has a BA in Literature and MFA’s in both Acting and Creative Writing/Poetry. Find him on LinkedIn and Facebook. He’s there … lurking.   Scott Timberg makes a compelling case in this book that the so-called “Creative Class,” as made popular by the sociologist Richard Florida, is, if not a dying breed, currently suffering terribly. At first I thought the book would have a bit of the “preaching-to-the-choir” vibe after his well-written, yet clearly one-sided Introduction, but as the book gained momentum, the statistics he garnered to back his claim were compelling. Work for performing artists, creative writers, journalists, and others, is scarce, and continues to be so. Unless you’re a “trust fund baby” in America, it does seem the “creative class” is still reeling. And dying. Timberg gives various reasons why this is so. I won’t go into them in-depth, here. However, the thrust of his thesis seems to be this: the fall is a conglomeration of events: the 2008 recession, the ever-endless ubiquitous-ness of the Internet, the consequent exponential amount of choice a consumer has with it, un-mediated, – and, I would add, un-curated – the severance of the creative class from the “bourgeoisie” that happened in France in the middle 19th century with the rise of the “avant-garde” and its disdain for the middle-class, that in fact were the ones BUYING the stuff. Though Timberg is clearly coming from the left, he intelligently does not let the left off the hook. For example, he argues that the rise of theory – structuralism, post-structuralism, and other movements branching from the...

Kanye and Star Trek increased my Twitter interactions by 600%

To get some traffic for our launch event I decided to experiment with ads on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit. AdWords didn’t seem like a good fit at the moment because push marketing feels a bit counterintuitive for the product in question. Google Keyword Planner shows that “freelancer marketing decals” or “marketing for freelancers” just doesn’t get searched all that often. I might experiment with it later on though. For these ads I wasn’t focusing too much on incredible optimization and segmentation, this kind of stuff could be improved later on. I just wanted to get things underway and see if people enjoyed seeing these things pop up in their news feeds. Targeting always focused on freelancers in specific countries. This means that on Facebook I’d aim for people that ‘liked’ the bigger online freelancing websites. On Twitter I’d target people that followed the big freelancing accounts and on LinkedIn I’d focus on people that have the word ‘freelance’ in their job title. Facebook Nothing special happened on Facebook. Low interaction rates (compared to other campaigns I’ve ran) and not really worth the CPC in my opinion. They could definitely be improved but I think it’s probably not worth the time investment at this point. LinkedIn LinkedIn was expensive as hell! I had read that their prices were very inflated since they have such specific targeting options and are of course a B2B platform but still, €5 CPC was a bit over the top in my opinion. I assume it can work for companies selling $20k ERP solutions but it’s definitely not a good fit for my $35 stickers!    ...

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. How to avoid client drama and bad breakups.

Business relations have a tendency to be compared to any other kind of relationship but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The parallel pretty much stops at the fact that you’ll be interacting a lot with the same person. That’s it. Everything else is different, beginning from the way you interact up to the way you start and end the relationship. Let’s go over some key points to keep in mind when dealing with clients on a day-to-day basis.  1) Make sure you’re on the same page regarding the result. We’ve all heard the phrase “I know what I like when I see it”. See, that’s probably the worst way to start a business relation. Both parties want to jump-start the project and get things underway. A client may give you a vague description and some typical buzzwords like modern, hip, techy, minimal or retro. What you should always keep in mind is that these words may hold completely different meanings to you than to the client. Even more so if you’re working online and you and your client are from different continents. There’s a very high chance that your first draft will result in a client reaction saying it isn’t really what they had in mind and whether you could try again. This in turn will result in possible frustration on your side since you thought you had a good understanding of their wants and needs. A workaround for this problem is asking for examples. Whether they’re asking for a design, written content or photography, ask them to show you things they like and what the end...

It’s a buyer’s market. How to make more money on online freelance websites

If you’re a freelancer you’ve probably considered at some point to start looking for jobs on Guru, Elance, Odesk, PeoplePerHour, Fiverr, etc. Chances are you also never visited the site again after creating a profile, applying for a few jobs and being ignored on every single one of them. It’s hard to compete with professionals from lower income countries who can do the job for a tenth of the price, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of options. Let’s have a look at some ways for you to get noticed and actually win some bids.  1) Stop competing on price It’s daunting to even apply for a job when you see a whole collection of incredibly low bids that have already been submitted. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Stop competing on that aspect of the job. If that’s all the company wants to pay, chances are they’re not your type of client anyway. Try to focus on what makes you stand out. Write a well thought-out proposal and outline very clearly what you will do to deliver the best possible result. Link to relevant assignments in your portfolio (doesn’t have to be a portfolio on the freelance site, can be a link to Behance as well) and, perhaps even most important, use perfect English. This shows the employer that you’ll be easier to communicate with than other, cheaper alternatives and that everything is set from the start to have a great professional relationship. As a general rule of thumb, look at the employers history and past awarded jobs to get an idea of the average price. Invest time in crafting a perfect...

Winners of our launch contest and FWJ give-away

Readers that subscribed to our pre-launch newsletter know we promised a reward for the biggest influencers, a.k.a. the people that got the most people to sign up through their personal referral link. First of all we want to thank everyone that mentioned us on Twitter, Facebook or just directly to their friends. We were featured on blogs all over the world and had to rely on good old Google Translate more than once to find out what blogs were saying about us and how their readers responded in the comments. A special thank you goes out to PSFK , DesignTaxi, Tjock, Holiday Matinee, Freelance Writing Jobs, ZZP Barometer (5:15), SEO Brien, Brainstorm 9, Stimulant Online, Cfarnesi, RevistaPEGN, Klonblog, Popup City, Maxi Apple and many more. Now on to the winners! Boris Baldinger from Switzerland and Kimberly Sayles from the USA used their media powers for good and were our biggest influencers! Thanks again for putting us in the spotlight and we’d like to reward you with a decal of your choice. Besides our own launch contest we also had a little raffle going on at Freelance Writing Jobs. If you’re a writer or even just write on occasion, go over and have a look! They offer great advice and should definitely be one of your bookmarked blogs. The winners of the raffle were Christa Avampato and Ronda Bowen. Thank you as well for entering the contest and sharing your love for the decals with your Twitter...

Mihai Molnar is our very first Featured Freelancer

Our first featured freelancer is Mihai Molnar, a very talented Romanian graphic designer who created some absolutely amazing designs for us, more specifically a decal for copywriters and a decal for fashion bloggers. Feel free to have a look at his portfolio on Behance and read along as we talk to him about life as a freelancer.     C: Hi Mihai, so glad to have you with us to be our very first featured freelancer. Could you tell us something about your professional background, like education or previous jobs? M: I’m 22 years old and while studying Economics in high school, I always found myself sketching names and words in a sort of graffiti graphic style. I decided I wanted to pursue this interest, which led me to enroll in the Faculty of Arts in my hometown Oradea. I would have preferred to go to college in another city, Timisoara, which had the best professional art and design department in the country but it was unaffordable for me at the time. I dedicated myself to finish first in my class with the highest grades because I was promised that this would allow me to transfer schools with a ‘no-tax’ scholarship. At the end of the year, I found out it wasn’t gonna happen. It was going to cost the school too much money (since the original school would have had to take on the tax difference). They basically made the promise at the beginning of the year in the hopes that I would be changing my mind along the way and not bother with the whole transfer process. C: Auch, I guess this...