Am I a Community Manager?


The answer is a resounding 'No!' A recent job ad for a Community Manager had me smiling. Their requirements for a community manager had me ticking off things I qualified for and I was surprised to see that I was qualifying for quite a few.

You have a blog. You post several times/week. You receive 20+ comments per post. You respond to a number of those comments.

You have a blog - Yes, two.

You post several times a week - Between the two blogs, I do.

You receive 20+ comments per post - Not on this one and sometimes on the other one.

You respond to those comments - Always!

You love Twitter. You have >200 followers. You know the difference between @ and #.

Yes I do! If the job were about twittering I'd be SO qualified!

You know what the Cluetrain Manifesto is without having to Google it.

Umm... you lost me there. [Psst, do you guys know? If so check out the job here]

You can explain the strengths and weaknesses of Facebook and can name your favourite apps.

The strength is its privacy options. It's weakness is that it was promoted as a 'for friends and family' networking site and now it's turned into a launch pad for products, businesses and blogs and there's no way to effectively separate family and friends from business and work associates in a single profile.

You’ve met some of your best friends online, some of whom you’ve never actually met in person.

Yeah, that's me. However I've made it a point to meet best friends from online if they're in the same geographical locations or if the friend is passing through the city.

You can rattle off names of popular bloggers and Internet rock stars.

Darren Rowse of Problogger, Brian Clark of Copyblogger, Chris Brogan, Chris G, James Chartrand of Men with Pens, The Berry-Brewer duo of Freelance Parents, Mason Hipp of Freelance Folder, Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz, Freelance Switch, Michael Martine of Remarkablogger - to name just a few.

You’re a brilliant writer, conversational and authentic by nature.

Uhh... I'd like to be a little modest here.

You’ve worked at a startup before.

Does my own freelancing count?

You believe the Internet is a series of tubes.

My maze is your tubes.

You spend WAY too much time online.

I'd have qualified if that was the only criterion! The amount of time I spend online is insane.

So I missed out on just a few of those. Not bad. Now I need to find out what exactly it is that a community Manager does.

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Just a little bit of (link) love...


This week's links are all about writing - without the writing part in it.

  • WordCount has a great post on writing rooms. Now if only there were some in the UAE...
  • Freelance Switch has a outlined FAQ's for freelancer to have on their blog or website. It's in a ready to use format and all you need to do is make a few changes.
  • Linda Formichelli of The Renegade Writer's blog, has calculated the numbers for freelancers working for cheap. Give it a read and decide if your current rates are too low.
  • The Blood Red Pencil has a very useful posts about selling your rights. Its been divided in two parts. Part one and two.
  • B J over at Enriched by Words is collaborating for the first time. She explores the idea of collaboration and co-writing. Both are excellent ideas that I plan on trying out sometime in the future.

Found any links that you'll be going back to again and again for reference?

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Chasing After Ideas With a Paper and Pen


notebook-budget-pen Since my post on recording ideas (in which I practically stuffed a pen in your bags/briefcases/pockets), I decided to add something to my pen carrying habit. Instead of just being satisfied at having a pen in my bag, I decided to make sure to take the pen out every time I had a few minutes.

Chasing My Ideas

I added a small book in my tote and stuck a pen in it. I took it out every time I was out, was waiting for something or had a few minutes. I took it out on my way to school, waiting for my class, and on my way back. I even pulled it out while playing scrabble as I waited for other people to complete their turns. I wanted to see if I could make ideas come to me when I called them.

Coming up a Blank the First Time

The first time I took the note book and pen out, all I did was stare at the blank page and finally ended up doodling my name. Not a single thought or idea came to me. The second time, I was getting frustrated again when a thought occurred to me. "What does a person do when brain storming fails?" I wrote it down immediately.

All it Can Take is One Idea or Thought to Open the Floodgates

That thought is still sitting alone on a page. But it catapulted my brain into overdrive. Soon afterwards my brain was flooding with possibilities in answer to that question. Most of them were discarded almost immediately. But the ideas stemming from them took a whole new direction.

Jot Down Everything

Suddenly, I'm filling pages. Not every idea I get is good (actually, most of the are plain mediocre) or even well thought out but I write everything down and go through each point later. What seems like a bad idea today, may present an opportunity tomorrow. "Always remember, one bad idea gives rise to 10 better and at least one great one!" That used to be my father's mantra every time I would stop myself from voicing an idea saying it was 'stupid'.

My own mantra? Get the bad ideas out as fast as you can and make way for the great ones. Okay, so I may have heard my dad say that one too.

Finally: A Habit Formed

After doing this for the past two weeks, scribbling in my notebook has become a habit. My fingers start to itch if I'm sitting idle for more than a few minutes and stepping out without a notebook is unthinkable!

What do you do? Do you wait for ideas to come to you or do you go chasing after them?

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Dealing With Demanding Clients


Jason Cohen from A Smart Bear asked about dealing with demanding clients in my previous post about changing client definitions. The points he has raised are excellent and merit an answer through a blog post. We've all had clients that give us impossible deadlines or keep adding specifications that weren't in the original assignment making for countless revisions.

To quote him:

I'm also finding that the customers who remain are becoming more demanding, even to the point of no longer being profitable to support.

So then I'm left with an odd dilemma -- should we keep these customers or not?

You could argue "yes" because eventually things will recover and you'll still have these customers. Also because not being profitable but having revenue is perhaps still better than not having the revenue.

You could argue "no" because not being profitable is the end of the game.

So how do we deal with such a client? Before making any decision about keeping those clients or letting them go, it is important to evaluate your business and its needs. Ask yourself these questions and proceed according to the answers.

Can your business survive without the client's account?

Yes: Let go of your client. Let them know why you're turning down work from them. It is important that a client knows why a freelancer is choosing not to work with them. Even if they don't see it that way, it'll be a favour to them and future freelancers they work with. Be nice and polite. You never know when they might come back to you on your terms.

No: If your answer is no, consider the next question

Can you talk to your client?

Yes: Tell them your problem. Sometimes a client doesn't realize that they're being demanding or difficult. Recently, a client of mine gave me a very lean deadline. I managed to complete it on time but had a lot of trouble. After submitting the work, I told them about it and they were surprised as they didn't realise it would cause me problems. I'd been submitting my previous work well before the deadline so they assumed that I didn't need as much time.

No: Can't talk to your client? Consider the following option.

Set down your work terms

This is something that freelancers should consider from the beginning. Make a 3 or 5 point standard policy about your work so that the next time they send you work, things are clear from the beginning. Depending on the problems you're facing with the client, your points could include the following terms:

  • State that the pay being discussed is for the original assignment.
  • Clarify that further additions to the work after it has been assigned may cost more.
  • Include a fee for rush jobs. State what your definition of a rush job is.
  • Include a minimum day figure for turning in rush work. It will save you from being taken advantage of. The client may be paying you more, but that doesn't justify them asking you to turn in 1500 words in one day.
Important: If you're introducing this strategy to your existing clients, then make sure you let them know beforehand. Don't wait till the next assignment to send them a memo. An email updating them the change in your policy will be fine.

It doesn't matter if you're successful or just starting out. Demanding clients can suck you dry. The key is to be assertive and make changes according to the situation as they arise.

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Changed: Definition of a Good Client


This year the definition of a good client has changed for most of us. Before, a good client was one who:

  • Wasn't fussy.
  • Had a clear idea of what they wanted or trusted your judgement if they didn't.
  • Were reasonable about extensions if needed.
  • Gave feedback
  • Paid on time

Now, a good client is one who:

  • Informs beforehand that they'll no longer be able to afford you and that this will be your last assignment with them.
  • Contacts you on their own telling you about a delay in payment.
  • Gives a straight answer when you email inquiring about the due payment.
  • Gives you an excellent recommendation.
  • Apologize (Okay this one's a personal 'feel better' issue of mine).

What was your definition of a good client and how has it changed, if at all?

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Setting up a New Blog on WordPress .


As time goes by, I keep thinking Sunday Link Overdose has got to be the ugliest titles ever to be given to a weekly post. So I've decided to group together links into themes whenever I can and categorize them into SLOD.

This week has been filled with new projects. I'm working on setting up a new blog. Domain, hosting, WordPress - the works.

I found the following links useful in my search to put together a blog that works from the beginning. After all, the amount of information available, its tough to sort through the ones that are actually useful.

  • The Docs page of is a haven of information and has a reference on all things WordPress. Excellent for beginners like me.
  • Want to monetize your blog by putting up ads? Read Blogging for Ads is Dead before carving out an monetising plan for your blog. It's no longer enough to put up blocks of ads to earn money.
  • Once your blog's set up - you need to start thinking about RSS. Smashing Magazines 10 Useful RSS Tricks and Hacks for WordPress will put you well ahead of the curve. A lot of big blogs haven't paid much attention to how their RSS feeds look in a reader.

Setting up a blog on WordPress can be very intimidating for a first timer. Even their famous '5 minute installation' can take hours if you don't know what you're doing. I'll forever be grateful for the automatic installation option provided by hosting companies.

Hopefully these links will better prepare you for setting up your blog the way you want.

Good luck!

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What to do When Ideas Hit You Left, Right and Centre.



When Inspiration Strikes

You're sitting in a train on your way back from work, staring out the window feeling tired to your bones. Suddenly, as the train stops at one of its countless stations before yours, the graffiti on the wall catches your eye, making you sit up with a jolt. The colors, the message, the sheer creativity of it has suddenly given you inspiration. Your mind is flooding with ideas so fast you're afraid you'll lose them if you don't catch them. But you don't want to concentrate on any idea for too long fearing that it will stop the flow of other ideas that are just pouring in!

You fumble over what to do. And suddenly another idea strikes you. What do we do in a situation like this? How do we deal with the almost overwhelming influx of ideas?

Record Them!

Don't trust your brain to remember it for you. You're going to get home and the minute you see your front door all that inspiration will be forgotten. Your kids will launch themselves at you, welcoming you home and vying for your attention. You'd be so gratified and happy to see them after a hectic day that you'd want to spend time with them and forget everything else. In that instant, you'll forget your ideas.

Inspirations and ideas are flighty. If you don't immediately give them the attention they demand, they move on. Before you know it, someone else will be cashing in or getting famous on your big idea. We've all heard the original Napster joke.

Jot Down Your Ideas The Minute You Get Them7710_writing_cartoon

  • Always keep a paper and pencil handy.
  • If a paper and pen is not handy, then take notes on your cell phone. Don't have a cell phone? Get that paper pencil at once! And don't forget to tell me how you live without a cell phone!
  • If you're a writer, you're going to have a laptop close by most of the time. Write down your ideas immediately - don't wait till you get done working or have time. Open a word document and write it down now. Like, RIGHT NOW.
  • In the loo? This is why I keep telling you to have a pen handy. You can easily write on toilet paper if you have a pen. Heck, you can write on your hand!
  • At a restaurant? Use a napkin. I keep telling you to keep a pen with you.
  • Do yourself a favour and buy a moleskin. And buy that pen too! It's an investment.

As a writer, keeping a pen with me is a habit I consciously cultivated after finding myself getting ideas or perfect comeback lines (in my teenage years) often. Now,I'm more likely to have a pen in my bag than house keys.

Bottom line: Buy a pen. Surface to write on is easy to find.

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[04/01/09] Sunday Link Overdose

Since SLOD was off celebrating the holidays last Sunday, there'll be double the links there would have been today. And it's a good thing too! I found quite a few gems in all the yearly round ups everyone was doing! Not to mention the few I discovered through my own lazy browsing.

Write Better Content

  • First up is Chris Brogan's '100 Blog Topics I Hope You Write'. Face book was at number 1. Going with the current craze though, I'd think it should be replaced with twitter.

Improve Your Blog

For the Fun of Reading

  • I discovered this through B J Keltz blog. But 'My Kingdom for a Toothbrush' is hilarious! Having read enough historicals during my school and college days, I fully appreciated the questions raised by Angela. Heck, I don't even speak in the morning before brushing my teeth!
  • Tazeen from A Reluctant Mind has sketched a horrifyingly accurate (not to mention funny!) picture in 'Updating Your Life - Online' about status updates on social networking sites like Facebook. Some of it might not make much sense due to cultural and political references but most of it is bound to hit its mark.

That's my link line up for the two weeks. I went through dozens more. But these were the ones that I though you guys would like most.

I'd love to know what you read. Found a post or a picture you laughed out loud at? Or felt passionate about?

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New Year: Wishes and Plans


I'm about three days late but since people still happy_new_year_2008wishing me a very Happy New Year, I figured I'd stop feeling bad about being late and wish you guys.

May this year bring you happiness, health and success. May all our writing dreams come to fruition and may our blogs get enough traffic and make enough money to put a smile on our face

Now if that isn't a heartfelt wish, I don't know what is!

What are your wishes for the new year? Set up any goals for yourselves?

One way to constantly remind yourself of your goals is to write them on a paper and tuck them in your wallet. Keep it with you at all times. You'll find yourself coming across it at odd times which will serve as great motivation.

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Triumph & Trial Report for December.

It time for the T&T report. This month has been better than the last but I saw areas where I need to work more.


Landed my second gig: This ones  a lot better paying! But the work coming isn't as much as I'd like. Upon inquiry, its not because of the quality of my work (thank God!). I'll just have to be patient.

Increase in inquiries through my 'Contact Me' page. Not necessarily about work. But definitely related to freelancing, blogging, and much to my delight, reading!

Due another pay day! Woohoo! This is my favourite part of the end of the month.

Made my first ever online purchase from my own hard earned money! Yes, incidentally, it was also my first online purchase ever. But I was so excited! What did I buy? I got myself the SEO Ninja book by IttyBiz.

Twitter: I finally got the hang of it!


Revenue Sharing Sites: This one is going to turn into my pet peeve. People I know from back home are referring me to people who're running revenue sharing sites. Its very difficult to explain why I won't even come near a revenue sharing freelance writing website. They need to realize that there are better opportunities out there and that if they're writing for revenue sharing sites then they're selling themselves short!

Adsense: This is related to my blog. I've been trying to figure out how or why my Google Adsense ads have disappeared. See that empty square on the right hand? Yeah, that one. I've made new ads and put in the codes etc, but still nothing.

Lack of Comments: I'm obviously doing something very wrong to not be able to spark a conversation. I need help in figuring out what it is. Is my writing sub standard? Or is it the fact that its just not interesting? I'm asking because I want to improve.

So there you have it. Another month gone by. It's been rewarding in some ways and a little frustrating in others. How's your month been?

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