The headlines are telling us nearly daily about another major retailer or online service that has had their data compromised by hackers. If we’re not personally affected, we just thank our lucky stars and go on – but freelancers often have far more passwords to various client accounts than even the multiple accounts held by the rest of humanity.
Many sites we have personal accounts with require a capital letter, a symbol, and at least 1 number – so we come up with a formula we can remember and end up using it for every account we have because the brain can only hold so much.
Then some hacker gets into some obscure account you signed up for 10 years ago and you don’t even remember you ever had… and BOOM – your password is then used to get into PayPal, eBay, and everything else you have to basically ruin your life. Now – multiply that by getting your clients’ sites compromised as well, and perhaps domain names you’v acquired for them.
Enter 1Password. It is available for iOS, Windows and Mac, and you can sync your passwords via your DropBox account or via iCloud. And right now, it is FREE for iOS for TODAY ONLY. It is normally $14.99 in honor of the iOS 8 release. If you get 1Password for Windows or Mac (sold separately), your passwords are always available to you and 1Password will generate secure passwords for you – all very different from one another – and ones you never have to remember. You only have to ever remember 1 password (hence the name) – the master password for access to your vault. Because it works across platforms and with your iPhone, you cannot afford to not get this software – especially as it is temporarily free at the AppStore right now.
Before you embark on having a freelancer create a logo for you – you need to understand what a logo is and what a logo is not. A logo represents your company. It is a symbol. Over time, it becomes a recognizable mark that people associate with your brand. A logo is not, however, an artistic representation of everything your company does, or anything your company does.
The logos we are most familiar with mean little to nothing in of themselves. Most are word-marks – that is, a stylized version of a letter, group of letters or the name itself. Some logos, like the Apple logo on the right, do symbolize the word “Apple” – but this logo has nothing about it that indicates that it represents a company that makes computers, iPhones or any type of technology.
The Nike logo, that we all recognize instantly, means nothing. It is a symbol that over time, we have learned to associate with an athletic company. The McDonald’s logo, known by description as the golden arches, also means nothing. The original McDonald’s location, had a couple of arches adorning its restaurant. Later incarnations of the logo morphed into the letter “M” to form a word-mark – but nothing about the logo itself lends itself to the notion of burgers, fries or shakes.
So, when you embark on this journey to get a logo, your expectations need to be properly set. Your logo needs to be able to be reproduced in black and white for various printing applications (business cards, letterhead and signage). If your logo relies on drop-shadows, embossed edges or other Photoshop tricks to be effective, then it is not effective. The best logo is simple. Once your logo starts getting complex, it starts to resemble a family crest or coat of arms. When you’re driving down the highway at 60 mph, you can see a McDonald’s logo out of the corner of your eye and know exactly what it is. You don’t have to stop or slow down to examine it. It’s simple and very instantly recognizable – because it is used consistently and never altered.
We innately know this, but don’t accept it for our own personal logos. We want bells, whistles, kitchen sinks. We don’t want to show the logo to colleagues, employees or even our friends and family and have them wrinkle our foreheads and say, “what does that mean?” It means you are beginning a new journey with your business. That’s what it means. Anytime you doubt yourself – look at the simple – very simple – logos of successful businesses you respect. They are not ‘busy.’
Now – when you pay for a logo, it should belong to you, not to the freelancer or the company that made it for you. Just as in the days of film photography – you want to own the negatives. The ‘negatives’ for a logo would be a vector file. This is something you should be asking for from the get-go. Even if you don’t have the software to open up an Adobe Illustrator file or an EPS – you still want this file. Any service bureau or even an online printer like VistaPrint will print the highest quality business cards with a vector file. You can also request an Illustrator PDF, which will be viewable by you using Acrobat Reader, but can also be used to print your business cards. A good freelancer will be creating your logo in Illustrator, or another vector graphics software package, and can easily provide the vector file as well as .png, .gif, and .jpg files for you. When you know what you should be expecting, you know what to ask for in writing while negotiating with your freelancer.
Most of our freelancers are cross-platform, but many lean to Mac in design, website development, video editing, photo editing and by necessity, in iOS coding. TextExpander is a MUST HAVE for anyone on a Mac that types many of the same things over and over again, and may have gotten burned out on copy/pasting from Stickies or those getting confused with the multiple clipboard apps – most of which only hold 12 or so items max to the pseudo clipboard.
TextExpander lets you create macros for everything in your life. Let’s say you’ve got e-mails you answer every day for your freelance business – and you always start your replies with:
Thank you for your e-mail.
Well – how about if you only had to type hhel and have that fill in automatically, with the line return in formatting? TextExpander fits that bill – and it’s on sale – right now! Sale ends in just 3 days. Follow our link to get 51% off the regular price of
$39 for just $16.99!
You won’t see us posting regularly about deals. We’ve got ads that support our site and keep it free for you, but we are not going to blog about a tool unless it is really awesome and something we use every day… and we do.
This video (sorry for the sound quality – it’s not our video!) shows you some of what you can do with TextExpander:
One recurring theme any web programmer and/or designer will tell you they run into when working on websites for clients, is that clients will approach them and ask, “So – how much does it cost to get a website done?” To neophytes in this field, it seems like a reasonable question – but let’s reel that back and place it in any other category… such as, “How much will it cost for you to build me a house?” Is it a 1 story? Is it a 3-story? Is it a single-wide mobile home? Is it a shanty or a mansion? Does it have solar panels, or just the basics with insulation having an RF factor of zero? Likewise – how much does a car cost? Are we talking Hyundai or Jaguar? Or somewhere in between?
As an employer looking to have a site designed for your blog, your hobby, your small business, your civic organization, etc., you need to know what your goals are for your web presence. Many small businesses sustain quite well with what is called a ‘business card site’ – basic information on one page – that pertinent contact information on it, and not much else.
It is unlikely that you’d go through the trouble of buying a toll-free number for your business, get it silk-screened on the side of your company car, but never bother to answer the phone, yet this is how many people treat their online presence. Before you build your website – you need to already have a goal in mind. Are you getting a site just so you can say you’re ‘on the web,’ or are you – at the very least – going to use it as a communication tool? If your site has blank pages, broken links, or a ‘coming soon’ message anywhere – you might as well have that toll-free number go to a voicemail message that states, “Welcome to our new phone number. We’re not ready to answer your calls yet, but please call back soon!” YOU may not be very web savvy, but many of your customers are – and when they run into this, they will quickly leave to go to one of your competitors.
When you’re building a custom home – you have a budget limit you have to stay within, and you have architectural plans to present to your builder. Without an outline at the very least, of how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want in the house, the builder will not be able to start. In similar manner, the person you hire to work on your website has to rely on YOU to supply content. You need to have your contact information and a blurb about your company/organization at the bare minimum.
What are the sites you visit most frequently? Have you looked at your competitors’ sites?
Many small businesses and owners of sole proprietorships have been ‘burned’ by vendors in the past – including so-called web designers who took thousands of dollars and never delivered. After this experience, they then decide they will only pay the next person $100 for the same amount of work they were willing to pay $2,000 for with a previous contractor. While this emotional response is understandable – we would not apply that reasoning to any other part of our lives. We would not have a bad attorney, but expect a better one at minimum wage. Nor would we feel good about paying a mechanic to replace our transmission for $100.
This is where references come into play. Freelancers on freelancing.com have the ability to include links to their online portfolios where they may include links to sites they’ve worked on for other clients. You have the opportunity to do your own research – before you make a commitment. When we have a leaky pipe – we often will ask a neighbor if they have a plumber they trust… or if we go online, we may consult Yelp! or Angie’s List for any type of feedback that might be present for plumbers in our area. You can also look for their profile on LinkedIn to see if they have recommendations from colleagues or former clients.
Can you get a legit, decent looking website on the cheap? Yes. There are online services that will walk you through steps to get a cookie-cutter site up and running – but if you want a site that lets you maintain ownership of your own dot-com (domain name) and where you will get professional guidance on best practices – a freelancer with lots of real world experience and an impressive resumé of past clients can in the long run, deliver far more bang for the buck.
After much thoughtful debate, we felt it was time to change the format of freelancing.com. Our job board received a lot of traffic and we had thousands of members who had signed up – but frankly – we didn’t see many members getting gigs through our job board. We have always felt that in order to be successful, success must be promoted and shared with others. In short, your success is our success.
With our new format, freelancers have the ability to better tell their story to prospective employers. There is no shortage of talent and thankfully, there is no shortage of freelance work.
We know there is competition out there, and we say, “bring it on!” Competition is what makes successful companies and freelancers – successful. The more places an employer posts their needs, the more likely they are to get their needs met – and the more places a freelancer lets their face and talents be known, the more likely they are to get noticed and remembered.
We cannot wait to see the new relationships that will be formed between employers and freelancers.
The world needs worker bees. Not drones.