Got Business Cards?


KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA Just dropping in for a quick hello. Well actually, I just wanted to toot my horn. My first post (ever!) for another blog got published a few days ago.

Major cool moment I tell you!

Check out '12 Places to Get Business Cards Online' over at SmartLifeBlog. I even got my own bio! Cool huh?

In related news, Chris Cairns is great to work with!

Out of curiosity, how many of you budding freelancers have business cards? And where'd you get them designed from?

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The Predictable Case of a Hopeless Housekeeper

I should have done it before. At the very least, I should have mentioned it. Unfortunately, housekeeping is not my strongest point.

I'm moving the base to it's own .com. I had hoped to do the transition without stopping writing here but it seems I don't have enough super powers to do both things together.

I'm also in the process of sorting out my 2 week trip to India next month. Aside from the fact that it takes me four tries and one week to pack everything, I want to move to the new .com before I leave, set up a blog-content calender for the entire month, then write that content, put a call out for guests posts on both my blogs (I haven't told you about my other blog have I? I will soon, I promise.) and figure out work details.

Now the kicker is that getting a visa to India is difficult considering which country I'm from and since the political relations are tense between the two countries (to put it mildly), there's going to be a lot of wheedling, talking to the right people and general waiting around to be done. Sometimes I wonder if anything in South Asia gets done without "talking to the right people". It also means that there's a chance I may not be going at all if I don't get the visa.

This will be my first trip to India so I'm super excited and can't wait to get there! Of course the drawback is that I won't have an Internet connection. At least not a reliable one through which I could reply to comments and emails. I was looking into buying a local cell phone connection there to check email through GPRS. For two weeks only though, it doesn't seem feasible especially since I probably won't be going back for a number of years. I'll also be busy attending two weddings, taking care of the long 'from India' wish list my sisters have emailed me - not to mention my own(!) and sight seeing, so I doubt if I'll want to. Plus, I'm not taking my laptop with me.

A two week cut off from the internet and work- eek! But oh-my-god, India!
(You see my dilemma?)

I'll be back on April 1st with the happy news that the new place is set up. Till then, I really really hope you'll stick around.

I will of course be keeping an eye here, so don't hesitate to contact me or leave a comment!

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Setting Your Rates & Getting Paid


Every freelance is the new fish in the pond at some point. We all go through the first few rocky months and confusions of setting our rates, how to deal with clients, and the worst - getting paid.

This week I'm posting a few excellent resources for the two. In the coming weeks I'll be doing a post on freelancers who are pure gold in terms of helping other freelancers out.

Freelance Switch has done an overview of How To Set Your Freelance Rates.

My favourite trio who fell in love with a girl and broke their pact to each other, posted The Last Ditch Letter That Might Help You Get Paid. The men have used it twice themselves and according to them, they got paid both times!

They also discuss The Big Secret No One Talks About. Yeah, you guessed it. Freelancer rates.

Chris Bibey of Freelance Writing talks about  Managing Invoices and Payments as a Freelance Writer.

Before you accept a Freelance Writing Job, its important to do these four things to save you future problems.

Got any posts you came across related to setting your rates and getting paid? Do share!

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What's Your Work Environment Like?


working from home

Freelancing is a lonely business. You work alone, probably eat alone, and on a typical day, you clear your throat before answering your phone. If you've just started out, it's possible that you're working in your kitchen perched on stool or chair. No matter where you work, in your home office, in your bed or your kitchen, we all get accustomed and dependant to a few factors that make up our work environment.


Sounds - or Lack Thereof

There are those of us who enjoy working in silence, then there are those who can't work without some music playing. A lot of web worker play music while working. It's our companion of choice and head phones are as important to us as our printer. For the silent workers - the headphones are for VOIP.


Background Noises

Background noise doesn't register until it goes missing. The chirping of the birds nesting in the tree outside your window. A fan whirring. The radio playing on low volume. Your neighbour's lawn being mowed at 10 am. All these sounds are registered but not recognized. Until the birds fly away or you close the window and can't figure out why it doesn't sound right anymore or the lawn mower is turned off abruptly



When you're starting your work day, you only have eyes for your work space. There are all kinds of freelancers. The neat freaks, the unorganised and those who call their mess organized chaos. Whichever category you fall into, things around the place you work have to be the way you're used to before you can focus on your work.

If you're a neat freak, cluttered stationary would distract you. Messy? The table which you, in a moment of madness cleared out, would irritate you. Believer of organized chaos? God help you if you actually put something in its rightful place!



We boast of having the ability to work from anywhere as long as we have a laptop and Internet. The truth however is that we're happier working in our own space and place. One that we call our own even if it's just our bed, sofa or kitchen table. It is 'ours'. We know ever nook and cranny of it. We're comfortable in it. We can conquer the world from it.

So I'm curious. What is your workplace like and how would describe them in terms of sounds, background noises, visuals and space?

Me? I don't have a formal workplace. It's coming in next week - I finally placed an order today [pumps fist up in the air].

Photo Credit: ishane

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Tweet Tweet!


Since I've just completed a series on Twitter, it is only logical to do a round up of twitter related blog posts I found useful. Or not.

  • The Best Article Everyday is a site that updates everyday with an article it deems best of the day. They chose PC Mag's post "Top 10 Twitter Tips For Beginners" a few days ago. On a side note, Best Article Every Day is using the new WordPress theme released by Smashing Magazine a few days ago. Looks neat!
  • There are manners to be minded and etiquettes to be followed in any social setting. Twitter is no different. Beyond the Rhetoric lists the "Top 10 Rules of Twitter Etiquette". How many of these do you follow? BTR only lists 5 rules. Find the rest of rules at Design is Philosophy.

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10 Twitter Tools For Fun


twitter-plane We've covered all the serious topics about twitter. Now it's time for the most important aspect of twitter. Having fun. These tools are for fun and mostly just feel good stuff!

If you're twittering and not having fun, then dude? What are you doing on twitter in the first place?!


1. Twitemperature

Want to know how 'hot' you are on twitter? Check your twitter profile temperature at Twitemperature. When I checked mine a couple of weeks ago I was a hot 85 degrees and Twitemperature had the following to say to me:

"Let's put it this way: if Twitter were Middle Earth, you'd be Aragorn, always in the fray."

Did one just now and I'm a cold 49 degrees. This is what Twitemperature had to say to me:

Remember how Alf ate cats? Yeah, well you're the only one who cares. Stop boring the rest of us!



2. Twitterholic

Twitterholic is a stats tool. In their words "We're in your twitter pages, reading your stats". They list the top 100 twitter users based on the followers. Barack Obama still leads the way.

Moi? Since December 3rd, I've gone from 36 followers to 429 and from 69 updates to 1,186. That's approximately 14 tweets a day. I need to get more active on twitter! No wonder I'm a cold 49 degrees!


3. Twitscoop

Twitscoop tracks buzzwords on twitter in real time. Well almost real time. It updates every 20 seconds. You can put in your username, keyword etc and track conversations or topics. You can also tweet about the most popular buzzword to attract more followers.

This tool mostly serves to satisfy my curiosity. Yes, I did a scoop on myself to find out what people were saying. What? You've never stalked yourself?


4. Twitzer

Twitzer is a sneaky little FireFox add on that lets you use more than 140 characters. Install the add-on, ignore the negative word count when typing your tweet and once finished with the update, right click and select 'Twitzer Text'.



5. Twitblocker

Ah yes, the very cool, very hand and so very very sneaky tool that comes in the form of a greasemonkey script.

To quote Twitblocker:

Are you being overwhelmed by twitter friends who can't stop talking, but they're like... still your friends?

Install this greasemonkey script, then double clicking the chattering peeps will temporarily remove their tweets from your timeline. Restart your browser to get them back. Simple eh?


6. Twitter Grader

Twitter Grader is fun and a great way to discover people in your area of interest. Based on its calculations, it gives you a grade out of 100 (I'm a 97.7), display your tweet cloud and list other twitter users based on your bio.

They also have the ultimate feel good ---  called the 'Twitter Elite'. They calculate the twitter elites according to users, locations, cities, US states and countries. So if you're in the US and can't find yourself in twitter elite for your state, type in your neighbourhood and you're sure to be there.

Of course to be in the twitter elite in the first place, you've got to be twittering regularly!


7. Tweetworks

You love twitter but wish there was more of a community feel to it? Tweetworks lets you do that. Sign in using your twitter information and join in conversations and group. I jumped right into 'All things WordPress'. It's nice to know other people are new to it too!


8. Tweetparty

You know how all the cool kids in high school had their own little soirees and parties that made you feel so left out? No? Well then, you're obviously one those 'cool' kids. Phooey on you!

Tweetparty lets you sort your twitter users into groups and even lets you send direct messages to those groups. Yep, make your followers feel special (or left out) by sending direct messages to only the group members.

Planning that party already?


9. Portwiture

This has got to be my favourite! Twitter status in Flickr images. Portwiture scans your latest tweets and finds pictures from Flickr related to it. Cool, simple and a very easy way to discover great pictures.

I fell in love with 'Gravity is only a theory'. The picture screams of fun and laughter. And since I live in the UAE, I know places where I can defy gravity too!


10. What Is Your Tweet Worth?

You're spending all that time twittering, talking to people, linking to great blogs and sites, engaging in conversations, endorsing brands and people. In short, you're spending precious time doing PR stuff that no one is paying you for. Of course you're having fun and increasing your social network but it still a lot of fun to know how much you're worth on twitter right? Even if no one's gonna pay you that amount it's a nice feeling to know that you twitter effort is worth cash!

Find out how much you're worth on twitter through What's your tweet worth?

I'm worth $44.93/month.

Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside!

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Top 5 Twitter Desktop Applications


Once you start twittering, there's really no stopping. Before you know it, you're fighting to keep abreast of all the updates, @ replies, DMs and RTs. It's a crazy world out there! Luckily for us, there are crazier apps that make our twittering lives easy.


1. TweetDeck

TweetDeck_128 First up is my favourite adobe air application. I've used TweetDeck for a couple of months now and I couldn't be happier! Its best and award winning (well it should be!) feature is the option to sort your twitter users you're following into groups. TweetDeck lets you group users into separate group that you can follow simultaneously.

Their latest version has a new channel for stocks called 'Stocktwits' and another one for Hashtags. It also lets you follow/un-follow, email, translate/un-translate, favourite, add to a group, view profile etc from within the tweet itself.


2. Twhirl

twhirl-logo The next best thing to TweetDeck is Twhirl, also an adobe air application. All it's lacking is the group option - which is where it loses big! Twhirl isn't only for twitter though.

Twhirl released it latest beta version recently and has been getting rave reviews! While it still doesn't have the one option that has made TweetDeck such a hit, it's come up with an excellent search system. The search option in Twhirl is powered by and opens them up in tabs. Not only that, it gives you the option to 'activate' the search after which it will keep updating it (after the initial search) as more tweets are posted regarding the search topic.

You can also record video in the new Twhirl from within the app. What's more? Their website says they're working on getting the grouping option up and running! Now if only they had a maximize button...


3. Twitterrific

BlogPictureTwitterificBirdThis one's for Mac only and comes with a free version as well as a paid one. The free version has most of the same features as the paid one but comes with ads. If you want an ad-free experience, you can buy Twitterrific for $14.95.

Since I don't use a mac, reviewing the application wouldn't be fair. Twitip however has a detailed review of it.

Check out the Twitterrific Review.

4. Twitterified

twitterified_copy1 This application holds a lot of surprises. It has a unique interface and offer a few options that other applications do not. The biggest surprise was being able to preview Twitpic pictures in the tweet. 

While this application has a lot of options that others don't, it's still in it's beta version which means that it reserves the right to act up at times and naturally has a few bug issues.

Other options include,

  • Minimizing tweets.
  • Hovering over the picture of a twitter user displays their profile information.
  • Clicking on the user picture slides open a tab on the left with more options.
  • You can ignore and/or block a user through Twitterified.
  • Post links to picture or snap one right there from within the app through your webcam.
  • Displays friends and followers in separate tabs.
  • Has an option for viewing the public timeline.
  • It tracks your @ replies as well as your own tweets in a separate tab.

Did I mention that it gives you a preview of Twitpic pictures linked to within the tweet?


5. TwitterFox

This isn't exactly a desktop application but a Firefox add on. If you feel applications like TweetDeck and Twhirl distract too much or you're too busy to open a new program and tweet, TwitterFox is for you.

Update your status from within Firefox (you do use Firefox right?) and read new updates of your friends. You can also retweet, open a tweet in a new tab, mark all as read etc from it. Updates are shown in a pop up balloon at the bottom right of the screen.

It can handle multiple accounts and can be used through keyboard shortcuts as well.

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Hired to Blog


I maintained a personal blog for almost 4 years. In those years I had no clue that you could actually make money from it. Without realizing it, I had a skill that now pays me for it. Blogging jobs make up for a substantial part of my work and they're also the most fun.

The realization that blogs generate great buzz and do well in search engines have led to the formation of companies that offer blogging services.

The good thing about these companies is that blogging pays (relatively) well and is a great way for beginners to get experience.

Hired to Blog is one such company that offers website marketing services through blogging. They hire bloggers who complete given assignments and are paid for it.

If you're new to paid blogging, companies such as Hired to Blog are an option worth considering.

[This is a paid review]

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Realizing My Limitations

Every now and then I get ideas - big, lofty, ambitious ideas. Unfortunately, my mama instilled in me an inherent (and apparently false) belief that if I put my mind to it, I can learn and do anything.

After a week of pure torture, in which I pretty much gave up on everything except twitter, I've come to the conclusion that I have no head for web designing. I do not have the stomach for the hair pulling frustration that comes after trying something for four hours and continuously screwing it up with no idea as to what I'm doing wrong.

I have also swallowed the bitter pill and accepted that as far as designing goes - I have no imagination. Give me words and I can spin a tale that have put my youngest sibling to sleep many a nights but hand me a designing software and I can't even design myself a blog header.

The urge to list all the things I've tried to master (and failed at) over the years is strong. But there's only so much butchering I can do of my own esteem. Hence, I'm going off to mope in a corner for a while.

Ever gone through a time when you want to learn something so much (!) yet you have no talent for it? Please tell me you have and share it with me and help make me feel a little less dumb.

Update: You didn't think I'd give up so easily did you? A good night's sleep restored my faith in my abilities. I may lack imagination but it's not something that I can't overcome. I'll learn enough to satisfactorily design a little for my own projects. I've set aside 5 hours every Tuesday to work on it. It will take me time, but I will learn and make that blog header I've been meaning to.

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It's All About the Numbers


If you've read even a single article on how to increase blog traffic or make a post search engine friendly, then you must know how every one says blog posts with lists are one great way to do it.

Every one does them. Me too, only I'm obviously doing something wrong. Because even though my search engine results have spiked, blog participation is a bit fat zero. This week, it's time to share the love with list posts.

  1. 49 Tips to Become a Better Blogger
  2. Zen Blogging - 5 Benefits to Getting Started
  3. Top 100 Books for Freelance Writers
  4. The Top 30 Blogs on Writing
  5. 3 Easy Ways to Write With Style
  6. 100 Freelancer Writers You Can Outsource Your Blog Content To - I'm at number 26! (muhaha! =P)

And keeping tune with this week's theme, I've numbered the links too!

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