All Posts By

Tom Walker

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10 Lifestyle Management Tips for Freelancers

Working in the freelance lifestyle is one of the most exhilarating experiences in the world. You are your own boss and can set your own hours, but you have found that there are obstacles that you must overcome. Here are ten tips to help you navigate the freelancer’s world.

  1. Expect change: Change is inevitable. Even though you worked on the project and did the best that you could, your clients will probably want changes to suit their vision. Changes will also occur in your personal life as you become more acclimated to being a freelancer.
  2. Use a contract: Clients want to get the most out of their transaction and they generally do not understand the depth of services that you perform. With a contract, you are establishing the parameters of your business dealing so that everybody knows and understands the other party’s motivations. It is a practical business practice which will protect both you and your client.
  3. Stay motivated: Motivation is the key to your survival. That internal motivation will gather more clients as well as keep you working on a project which has lost your interest. If you have briefly lost your motivation, take a break from your work. Take a nap. Exercise. Allow your brain to recharge. That boost of energy will carry you to the project’s completion.
  4. Get the free tools: There are free tools available for almost every aspect of the freelancer’s business. There are tools for time management, design and motivation. By taking advantage of the tools at your disposal, you will be able to spend more time working.
  5. Work hard: Working hard is the key to having a successful freelance career. Take that eight hours a day that you may have spent at the corporate job and devote them to your new profession. It takes more time to set up your own business than it does to work for someone else, but the rewards are grand when your name has been established.
  6. Have someone to talk with: You want to have someone around with whom you can share your research. You want someone who will delight in all of the neat things that you have discovered. Most of all, you want someone who understands the stresses that you have. If a human is not available, enlist your pet.
  7. Start early: Start your day as early as possible. If you have completed four articles before most people are awake, that’s four less articles that you need to worry about. This practice will free up your schedule so you can attend networking breakfasts and other events.
  8. Stay connected: Take time during the day to find out what is going on in your niche. Use Twitter, Facebook and other social networking tools to be a part of the continuous conversation. Every interaction is a potential learning experience. Your peers understand your daily stresses.
  9. Learn to outsource: If there are things on your agenda which will take too much time or that you do not wish to learn, outsource. There are individuals who are well suited to the tasks that you have. If having a virtual assistant will allow you to design another piece, then it is well worth having one.
  10. Enjoy yourself: Take the projects which seem enjoyable. If you are doing the job just to make the money, you are missing the entire point of getting into the freelance business. Relish those moments that you wake up and trudge to your computer wearing bunny slippers. When you enjoy the work that you are doing, it gets to be much easier.

Enjoying the job is the key to survival in the freelance world. The work will sometimes be hard and tedious, but it will often pay off with unexpected rewards. Use the right tools and make sure that you keep contracts. Roll with the punches, and you will be well rewarded.

This post was contributed by James Adams who is an in-house writer at a toner cartridges store. Much of his day is spent writing reviews of newly released hardware like the Q6000A. When he enough free time, James also writes about advertising and media design on the CreativeCloud blog.

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10 Organizational Tips for an Inbox To Be Proud Of

How much email do you receive in a day? According to a study performed by the Radacti Group, the average businessperson receives 61 legitimate emails daily. You need to have a way to organize it, else you will be buried under a virtual mountain of mail by the end of the week. Here are ten tips which will help you keep your Inbox organized.

1. Reduce

Do you need the jokes, mailing lists and reminders of meetings from three months ago? Paring the mail will help your mail server to run more efficiently and allow you to get a better handle on your in box.

2. Use rules

Filter your messages by adding rules to your inbox. Rules will let you sort your email into folders based on the sender’s address. You can do nearly anything with rules, including deleting messages and declaring them spam. You can immediately place the unessential email aside, drawing more attention to the important messages.

3. Archiving

If you hate throwing it away, ask yourself if you need to have immediate access to ALL of your email. Take the time to archive your email. This will put your email out of sight. If you are able to go without those messages for three months, erase them.

4. Use tags

You have probably grown familiar with the use of tags for easily categorizing your blog posts and pages. You can also put tags on your email so it is easily found. If you’re using Outlook, Taglocity is an excellent program for tagging your email.

5. Download your relevant attachments

There are a couple of ways to handle relevant attachments. You can download them and immediately erase the attachment from your email before moving it to a folder. You can also ask your friends and coworkers to use more efficient methods of sending you files like Google Docs or Zoho

6. Use folders

Every email program has the option of using folders. By putting your email into folders, you can easily keep track of the categories of your email. This will save you time because you can sort through the subjects of your folders rather than each individual message.

7. It’s all in the subject line

Create subject lines which clearly identify the subject of the email. Having messages titled ‘stuff’ or ‘important’ are nearly useless when you are trying to find them again. The person who is receiving your email will be thankful because they can immediately judge the priority of your email.

8. Schedule a time

Take fifteen minutes at the end of the week to organize and erase your email. Start the next week with a free in box, clear of spam and clutter. There is a satisfaction associated with deleting spam and simplification.

9. Unsubscribe from irrelevant newsletters

You might no longer be interested in basket weaving, but you still receive two emails a day on the subject. There might have been some free brochure that you were offered for signing up to a daily newsletter. Take the time to free up some space in your inbox by unsubscribing from unused mailing lists and irrelevant newsletters.

10. Do it now

Your email is not your to-do list. If there are actionable items within your email list, put them on your calendar or your to-do list. When you are receiving a hundred emails a day, important tasks can be quickly buried. Move your messages into a folder, onto the to-do list or onto a calendar as soon as you receive them.

Your email arrives from numerous sources. You can easily organize the newsletters, the jokes and the meeting reminders. Remember to take action on your email as soon as it is received and you will be an email pro in no time.

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A Roundup of the 7 Best Invoicing Apps for Freelancers

It goes without saying that it is important to maintain a record of everything – especially money. After all, you do want to get paid. For this reason, you may wish to indulge on these invoicing tools, which do not require any downloads. Accessing your account, no matter where you are, is as simple as accessing the application, which makes it much easier to handle your invoices and receive your payments as scheduled. The majority of these applications double as task managers, making it a very “nice to have” application. Keep in mind that many of these apps come with free versions and paid versions. However, if you are looking for invoice templates to setup your own invoice system check out hloom.com for free invoice templates.

1. LessAccounting ($0 – $20 per month)


The first among the list is LessAccounting, which allows you to both send invoices and track them. additionally, it comes with the ability to track your banking data in a collaboration with a money-management app, Wesabe.

2. Freshbooks ($0 – $149 per month)


This is, of course, another way to invoice your advertisers and similar clients. Freshbooks comes with a few other features included, such as document branding, support ticketing, the ability to send invoices by way of snail mail and time sheets.

3. Blinksale ($0 – $49 per month)


One of the major distinguishable traits Blinksale has to offer is its user-friendly interface and its generally neat looking design. It comes with the ability to use CSS in order to design the look of your invoices and also collaborates with an application called Basecamp in order for you to obtain your client lists with a greater efficiency. Similar to the majority of these listed applications, you are able to send recurring invoices, which can ultimately help with instances of expenses such as for domains or hosting, which you might forget about.

4. SimplyInvoices ($0 – $25 per month)


SimplyInvoices collaborates alongside with Blinkside and is a similar program to Blinksale. There are not quite as many features, but it also comes at about half of the price per month.

5. Cashboard ($0 – $140 per month)


Compared to the other applications presented in this list, Cashboard is definitely among one of the strongest. It integrates itself with Basecamp, has plenty of customers, has been around for quite awhile and comes with numerous features; not only does it effectively handle invoicing, but it also effectively takes care of estimating expenses, time tracking and just about everything else in between – but it does, of course, come at a bit of a price.

6. SimplyBill ($5 – $25 per month)


SimplyBill is a bit of a misnomer in this situation, as it comes with features outside of “simply billing” clients for money. For example, it comes with customizable invoices, quotes, templatea and includes timetracking, which can be integrated onto your desktop. Overall, it looks like a neat and solid application.

7. InvoicePlace ($0 – $32 per month)


Truth be told, InvoicePlace is not technically targeted towards freelancers in need of sending out invoices to clients, but it does come with everything you might be looking for, along with much more. To illustrate, it comes with the ability to bill clients in nearly twenty varying currencies, and it also comes with much more total control over the way your invoices work.

These aren’t the top 7 invoice applications in the world, there are hundreds of applications and everyone has their own opinions. So which application are you using?

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Managing Your Finances as a Freelancer in 7 Simple Steps

At all stages in the freelancer’s career it is essential to manage finances to get the most out of self-employment. For people with creative leanings, finances and accounting may seem like daunting aspects of becoming one’s own boss. Below are simple steps, including useful applications and information resources, to help freelancers manage finances and increase profit and pleasure.

Step One: Keep Track of Your Time

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Time is money, so it’s one of the freelancer’s most valuable assets. Managing your time efficiently can make all the difference to your finances so it is essential to maintain control of work schedules. Harvest (www.getharvest.com) is a simple time-tracking and invoicing application that enables effective time management. The package allows users to quickly and intuitively track schedules, log expenses, run reports and bill clients.

Step Two: Manage Your Invoices

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It’s important to manage your invoices to make sure you get paid on time and that your finances are up to date. FreshBooks (www.freshbooks.com) is a great application for swiftly and simply sending, tracking and collecting payments. The package has features that can ease organisation of finances, make invoices look professional and enable tracking on the go with the connected iPhone app. Looking into more advanced software for financial management may be prudent if Freshbooks doesn’t serve all of your needs.

Step Three: Make the most of Online Banking

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Internet banking allows simple bank transfers, and it’s simple to check your bank accounts online to monitor income and outgoings. Anyone who has used eBay will be familiar with PayPal as a means to pay for goods, but it is also a useful tool to fall back on to receive online payments from clients. It’s also useful to have separate bank account for all your freelance finances, separate from your personal accounts, to maintain a boundary between business and leisure.

Step Four: Track Your Expenses

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It’s important to keep accurate records of all your expenditure throughout the financial year to ensure you don’t waste money unnecessarily. Wesabe (www.wesabe.com) is a great package for tracking expenditure, setting and checking targets, and graphically visualising spending. Importantly, Wesabe is a community-based application, so growing numbers of users can share financial tips and real-life experiences.

Step Five: Get Your Taxes Right

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If you are a freelancer working alone for a handful of clients the yearly tax return should be reasonably straight forward, and HMRC’s online self-assessment (www.hmrc.gov.uk) is a fairly intuitive way to file your tax return. If, however, you are outsourcing work, employing staff or renting workspace then taxes may become more complicated. The bigger your business, the more complex your tax issues are likely to be, so it might be necessary to get help of some sort. This could be in the form of software such as TurboTax (www.turbotax.intuit.com), an application for preparing tax returns ensuring you pay the correct amount. The package can be tailored to suit the nature and size of your business. It may also be necessary to employ the services of a professional accountant; if so make sure it is someone affordable within your budget and whom you can comfortably discuss your financial affairs.

Step Six: Get the Best Help

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When working as a freelancer it is important to acknowledge your capabilities and limitations, so if your finances are become difficult or you can’t unravel your accounts then it’s good to get help and advice. Aside from accountants, there are many other sources of financial information for freelancers including online advice from sites such as Freelance: UK (www.freelanceuk.com). If you run into difficulties with your finances, the Citizens Advice Bureau (www.citizensadvice.org.uk) offers free information and guidance services.

Step Seven: Enjoy the Freelancing Life

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There are many reasons to become a freelancer, but it is unlikely to be for the joys of managing your own accounts. The freedom to work independently shouldn’t get bogged down in troublesome financial difficulties. By managing your finances efficiently and seeking the right help when you need it, you can hopefully achieve the right balance and concentrate on the creative work that is at the center of the freelancing life.