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Archive for January 2012

Jan/12

17

How to Become a More Versatile Freelancer

If you want to become a more versatile freelancer and get more work on GetACoder, you need to learn new skills. By taking the time to learn some related skills, you will be able to find more work and charge higher rates. First, you need to analyze your primary skills and think of the other skills that are closely related to yours. These closely related skills are called your secondary skills or your secondary skill set. One good way to find out which skills might be useful for you to attain is to talk to your buyer. You can ask them what skills they might want to see from you. You can also see if they hire anyone to work with your finished project.

For example, a writer might be good at writing blog posts and articles, but he might not know how to use all the major blog sites or how to submit an article to a directory, such as Ezine. As a result, the buyer might hire someone to post all of the articles to various directories. If you can offer your buyer the actual writing and the submission, you are suddenly more valuable to your buyer. Additionally, you can charge higher rates because you can offer more skills to your buyers.

Nearly any type of freelancer can benefit from learning additional skills. For example, a programmer might want to learn a little design, and a designer might want to learn a little programming. You don’t necessarily need to become an expert in a secondary field, but you want enough experience to be able to offer some basic projects and maintenance. For example, you might not be able to program a whole website, but you might want to be able to offer some basic programming for an established site.

An email marketer, for example, would certainly benefit from extra skills. He or she might want to learn how to do some social media marketing as well. Additionally, a marketer would be able to pursue virtual assistant positions as well if he or she is organized and is willing to cultivate some basic writing skills.

Learning or improving on some of your secondary skills is a good way to spend your slow days. Many freelancers have slow days or weeks, and you can spend this time reading about or practicing your new skill. There are tutorials online for learning just about any skill in addition to blogs and forums dedicated to these skills. By taking the time to learn some new skills, you show potential buyers that you have initiative. Once you are established and when you have some time, it is a great idea to expand your skill base and become a more versatile freelancer.

Caitlin Clarke graduated from the University of Mississippi in May of 2010 where she attained one bachelor’s degree in International Studies and another in Spanish. She began working as freelance writer shortly before graduating. SEO articles and blog writing are her specialty, and she claims to have written just about everything. Caitlin is one of several freelance writers on the GetACoder Blog team.

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Jan/12

16

Do You Invest in Yourself?

When the sun is shining on your freelance career, almost every job you apply for results in another lucrative contract. Your feedback rating on GetACoder is getting higher and your portfolio is becoming extremely impressive. Your rate of pay skyrockets and there is no cloud on the horizon. On the other side of the coin, you could be struggling to get even poorly paid jobs and even with a reasonable feedback rating and body of work, there seems no light at the end of the tunnel.

Helping Yourself

It seems obvious that the person in scenario B is in desperate need of help. One way of doing this is by investing in himself. However, the person in scenario A also needs to invest. In freelancing, standing still ensures that you will fall behind sooner or later. The problem is, there are freelancers who are unwilling to even spend $100 on improving their career. In reality, you may need to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the course of your life if you really intend on being a success. The key is to spend that money wisely.

Avoiding Scams

There are always compelling reasons to invest in one’s self. Likewise, there are some appallingly transparent scams masquerading as helpful advice relating to freelancing. You know something is wrong with these products when they promise results which are 10 times better than anything you would consider possible. Also, steer clear of ‘quick fix’ solutions or products that claim to only have ‘8 units left so you must buy today to avoid disappointment’. This sounds like fairly obvious scam spiel but it still works surprisingly often.

Do You Need It?

The first rule of investing in yourself is to ponder the uses of the product you have your eye on. Will it actually solve the problems you have or is it all style and minimal substance? You also need to ask yourself whether or not your problem can be solved with the product that has captured your attention. Most importantly, can you afford the purchase? You may need to invest in yourself but ending up in the poorhouse will do little for your career!

The bottom line is: You cannot expect to be a success in freelancing if you don’t invest a little cash in improving areas that are lagging behind. Software is a popular choice but you can’t go wrong with the purchase of a few books. For example, a copywriting book may cost you $20 but gain you thousands of dollars in new contracts because of the new skills you picked up. If you can’t afford to invest in yourself right now, at the very least, go to a library and get reading. After all, the greatest investment anyone can ever make in themselves is the improvement of knowledge. ‘There is no knowledge that is not power’.

An excellent writer, proficient in a variety of topics, Patrick Lynch has four years creative writing experience, which began in the National University of Ireland, Galway where he received a grade in the top 10 of his writing seminar.He is an editor for the University journal, ROPES, and is also a content writer for venusdatingmagazine.com, thirdage.com and kenetixcreativecontent.com. His fluent writing style has received high praise from several quarters. This, coupled with his attention to detail and propensity to complete a project well within any deadlines set, ensures that whomever hires him will be an extremely satisfied customer. Patrick is one of several freelance writers on the GetACoder Blog team.

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Jan/12

13

Must have items for the Daily Freelancer

If you work a 9-5 you have a lot of daily requirements; suites, work shoes, brief case and so on. If you are a freelancer, your requirements are less but equally important. Depending on the type of freelance work you supply your needs may slightly vary, however, there are a few items I found essential for most daily freelancers from all fields. A great list of tools can assure that you are able to secure regular work as well as deliver quality work for each project.

1. A dedicated email address with great features – Freelancers reply heavily on emails and other online methods to communicate with clients and partners. While most people have a regular email, it is important to have one dedicated solely to your work. This assures that you don’t miss an emailed message from an important source. It also allows you to have a professional email address. Mot people have play names or alias for their personal email, but that does not look very good on a profile, portfolio or card.

2. Notepad ++ -  is a must have for coding freelancers. I learned by working on GetACoder that most notepads that are standard on computers or laptops often pre-make or build codes as well as suggest the next parts in the line you are building. This program lets you code completely by hand as well as adds color to assist with easy filing.

3. Filezilla & Google Docs – Whether you are a coder, graphics designer, writer or any other type of freelancer, you likely have a large amount of files. Filezilla has a great price, free! It has an easy to understand user interface and is a good quality program. Google Docs is another great service that allows you to upload and store in the internet. It’s easy to share the link so that you don’t have to email large attachments back and forth.

4. Online payment system - Paypal is one of my favorites. You can create invoices at no additional charge and send to clients emails even if they don’t have an account. The charges for receiving funds are minimal and there is no charge to withdraw. You also have the option to apply for a debit card so that you can make in person purchases like you would with a regular debit card. Paypal is accepted worldwide. There are other money transfer services, such as Skrill (moneybookers), Amazon payments and the like, however, I have found that PayPal is the most widely accepted and secure of all the choices.

5. A Sales Letter, Résumé and Rate Sheet –  Regardless of how or where you locate your clients, you will need a good résumé. Every employer will ask for samples, be it past work or a custom made piece. The best way to assure that you clinch the contract is to assure you have a strong portfolio prepared that has a wide variety of samples of the services that you provide. If you have work that you can point to online this is a plus. At times you may also email companies or potential business directly to offer your services so a well written sales letter is also key. Every freelancer has their rates, you should make a spread sheet listing the exact charges for each service that you offer so that you may give it to the clients along with your portfolio.

6. A regular notebook is essential - You may wonder if everything else is online why use paper. Frankly this is still the best means to keep up with your time and assignments. Depending on your assignments you can also write down ideas that come to mind while you are offline.

7. Good Desk Set – One of the most important although mentioned last is to assure that your set up at home iscomfortable for your body type. Most people think that working at home is easy and comfortable considering you have couches and your bed nearby. This is far from the truth, regular home furniture is meant for short periods. People that work from home often work longer than those who attend a brick and mortar office building, so it is important to get a good desk set at the right height as well as a comfortable work chair. Consider investing in a higher end keyboard and mouse that fit your hands to further reduce the stress on your body. Make sure you take periodic breaks and exercise to keep in top shape.

Heather Howell is a native Southern Californian. She currently resides in Washington, D.C.  She devotes most of her time to rural development in Bangladesh. Having obtained a degree in from UCLA, she enjoy writing on a variety of topics that range from Infant health and International politics to fashion trends and health advice. Heather is one of several freelance writers on the GetACoder Blog team.

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Jan/12

12

A Mutual Benefit: How to Learn from Each Other

Everyone who you work with on GetACoder can teach you something. If you are a buyer, you can learn from your freelancers, and if you are a freelancer, you can learn from your buyers because everyone has different skills. The key to learning from one another is communication. If you notice that someone has a certain skill that you would like to learn, you need to ask them about it.

One example that applies to everyone is creating a good job description. As a buyer, when you post a job, you want quality freelancers to respond to it. As a result, it is always a good idea to ask your new freelancers what they like to see in a job description. What attracted them to your job posting? This will help you create good job descriptions in the future.

A freelancer should also communicate with a buyer to learn new things. Does your buyer use a project management service, a certain type of software, or a certain program? While many buyers appreciate initiative, meaning that you need to learn about these things by yourself, you can always approach them to learn more. If you want to learn more about a program that your client uses, you should prepare some questions before you talk to them. This will help you get information quickly.

Did your freelancer create something for your site that you think is interesting? For example, they made a specialized contact form for a website, and you would like to learn more about it. You can start out by telling him what a great job he did on the project and then you can ask for more details about how they did it. Most people are willing to share information with others. One of the best ways to gain information or new skills from a colleague is to offer an exchange of ideas. If you want to learn about how to use Basecamp, you can offer to teach the other person how to write a good résumé.

Open communication is the key. If you want to set up a mutually beneficial, long term relationship, you, the buyer,want to start communicating from the beginning. Take some time to introduce yourself and explain your project and your goals for the relationship. If you take twenty minutes to start a relationship with your freelancer, you are more likely to keep that freelancer for a longer period of time. As a freelancer, you should be open to this communication because solid relationships last longer and result in more work for you. As a freelancer, you want the buyer to invest in you, to teach you, and to keep you working for a long time.

Even though freelancers and buyers rarely see each other, we all need to remember that we are working together. We should take the time to establish solid working relationships with one another. We should also learn from one another even though we might be separated by thousands of miles.

Caitlin Clarke graduated from the University of Mississippi in May of 2010 where she attained one bachelor’s degree in International Studies and another in Spanish. She began working as freelance writer shortly before graduating. SEO articles and blog writing are her specialty, and she claims to have written just about everything. Caitlin is one of several freelance writers on the GetACoder Blog team.

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Jan/12

11

Creating a URL Link in Microsoft Documents

Being hired in a highly paid freelance job is not getting easier every day.  One of the main reasons is the increasing number of competitors from different corners of the globe. And many of these freelancers are willing to bid very cheaply.  To be more competitive, freelancers must gain more technical knowhow on some of the basic aspects in link building.

Some buyers at GetACoder don’t require their providers to create links, but others do. URL link creation is one of the basic components in link building.  But some freelancers, especially the beginners may have not heard about it yet.  URL link is a component of an article or blog that redirects readers to a particular website.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the Microsoft Word (article or blog) or Microsoft PowerPoint document.
  2. Select the word, phrase or image where you want to display the link.
  3. Click ‘Hyperlink’ menu under the Inset tab, after which the ‘Insert Hyperlink’ window pops up.
  4. Click the ‘Existing File or Web Page’ tab at the top left under ‘Link to:’
  5. Type the address of your target website in the ‘Address box’. After you click OK, the word or phrase becomes underlined and its color turns into blue. Make sure to write the correct address or an error occurs. To simplify the process, copy and paste the address from the web. All you need to do is open the target website, copy the address and paste it in the ‘Address box’.
  6. Double check if you put the right address. Simply right click on the word or image where your link is displayed. Then click ‘open hyperlink’ tab and you will be redirected to the website. In case error occurs, you have to repeat the process. First step is to remove the wrong hyperlink. Again right click the word or phrase where the hyperlink is and click ‘remove hyperlink’. Once the incorrect link has been removed, repeat steps from 1 to 5.

Other considerations

You also have to know where to put the link in your article. In most cases, buyers give clear instructions as to where the links are placed. In case no such guidelines are given, links can be put anywhere in the article.  You can put them in the introductory part, in the body or in the conclusion section.  Link should not be put in the beginning or last part of the article as a separate part.

Hideliza as a PhD graduate in Agronomy, have written and published several technical papers. She started her career as technical and blog writer last January 2011. As a technical writer, she specializes on topics related to Agronomy and Soil Science and other related subjects. As a blog writer, she have written a number of topics from sports, fashion, dating, relationships, gardening to the most popular tourist destinations worldwide. Hideliza is one of several freelance writers on the GetACoder Blog team.

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Jan/12

10

Get Organized!

Being a freelancer is a great way to have freedom in your life and to have a flexible schedule that works with all of your wants and needs. By being a freelancer, especially one online, it’s easy to find different clients through GetACoder and have a steady stream of work at any given moment.

If you are a successful freelancer and have a few jobs going at the same time, it’s very important to stay on top of work and multiple deadlines in order to continue with the success and ensure more future work.

Organize Clients

The very first thing that all freelancers should do is compile a list or spreadsheet for all of their clients. Sometimes having a profile for each client is the best way to keep track of particular information and the type of work or style they expect from you.

By having a structured profile of each client, it’s a good way to add notes here and there to see what they like best about your work and what should be worked on. It’s also a great way to keep track of the time given to particular clients and their jobs to give you a clear view of how much of your time is taken up for certain jobs and how it can get better for you.

Organize Jobs and Deadlines

Having a list of all of the jobs with their corresponding deadlines is one of the best ways to stay on top of work. By having everything laid out, you will get a better idea of which job is more urgent and also help motivate you every time a job is marked as “completed”.

There are different ways to organize jobs and deadlines. Some people choose to make a simple checklist style while others color code deadlines to clearly see which ones are more urgent than others. Play around with lists and spreadsheets to see which ones work best for you.

Organize Hours

Just as deadlines are important to keep track of, so are working hours and payments. While some freelancers have a few simple jobs that are easy to track, others may have a dozen or more to keep track of each day, and that can get easily get out of hand for anyone.

Make a note of the hours worked for each job with a spreadsheet or keep individual client hours marked on theirpersonal profiles. By being a freelancer, you are the one responsible for keeping track of your hours and pay. Without proper documentation, there’s no way of knowing if you got paid fairly or not.

By being organized from start to finish, you can comfortably and easily work through all of the jobs that need to be done without having to stress out about missing information or missed deadlines.

Eva has been a freelance writer for over 4 years and has experienced the different struggles associated with working as a freelancer and hiring freelancers for different jobs online. She writes and illustrates children’s books in her free time and enjoys learning new trades from her travels abroad. Eva was an English teacher in Japan for over 3 years and has recently returned to her home in Toronto where she works for an online SEO company and continues her freelance writing part time.Eva is one of several freelance writers on the GetACoder Blog team.

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Jan/12

9

Can I Have a Career?

At first glance, it would appear that freelancing is a free-spirited role where terms like promotion and demotion are non-existent. It is especially the case for newcomers to the vocation who believe that their main goal is to make enough money to live on every month. The only real promotion you can get is an increase in the rate you charge. However, this is really not the case at all. Savvy freelancers know that there are a world of options at their fingertips and all they need to do is be smart enough, hard-working enough and brave enough to make that leap of faith which will take them to the next level.

Mastering Your Craft

The most obvious progression is to go from casual ‘jack of all trades’ freelancer to master of one niche. Instead of being content to write articles for various companies and basically become a nomad, you should look to become one of the elite members of your field. This means that you should focus on one main aspect of your career to date. You should choose the topic with which you are most comfortable as this will aid speedy progression. Research your chosen niche and don’t be afraid to speak at freelancing conferences or write guest blog posts which emphasizes your growing reputation.

Outsourcing and Project Management

Part of the reason why many freelancers left a corporate organization and jumped into the arms of GetACoder was to escape the clutches of an unreasonable boss. Yet freelancing offers you the opportunity to become a manager. Outsourcing is one of the most intriguing freelance options available today as it allows you to take charge of a group of cyber employees. Project management is among the most lucrative and rewarding aspects of freelancing today. From being a small fish in an ocean, you could become part of a larger organization that has the ability to really make a dent in the world of freelancing.

A Quick Change

In the corporate world, if you end up in a position you hate, getting out of it is difficult without either taking a backward step or leaving altogether. For a freelancer, it is not too hard to move from one field to another. If you feel that the area you are currently in is not for you, learn new skills relating to an entirely different field while still earning money in your current job. Then, when you are ready, you can move on without slowing down or even pausing when it comes to career development.

The most important thing about freelancing is to never stop moving and never cease learning. As long as you are ambitious and constantly seeking knowledge, success is not likely to elude you for very long.

An excellent writer, proficient in a variety of topics, Patrick Lynch has four years creative writing experience, which began in the National University of Ireland, Galway where he received a grade in the top 10 of his writing seminar.He is an editor for the University journal, ROPES, and is also a content writer for venusdatingmagazine.com, thirdage.com and kenetixcreativecontent.com. His fluent writing style has received high praise from several quarters. This, coupled with his attention to detail and propensity to complete a project well within any deadlines set, ensures that whomever hires him will be an extremely satisfied customer. Patrick is one of several freelance writers on the GetACoder Blog team.

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Jan/12

6

Pace Yourself

As a freelance coder or programmer working on GetACoder, you must have realized that you spend excessively many hours working and your wallet does not reflect this. What could you be doing wrong and more important – how do you bridge this gap between hours spend and income?

The secret is in pacing yourself better. By this, we mean that you should spend the same hours of work on the right type of jobs and you will see a turn around in your income.

Freelancers have a certain amount of hours in the day that they set aside for earning extra money and thus they look for work online. Newcomers to this industry tend to take any work they can get. As they get more informed and gain experience, they all realize one thing – maybe not every job out there is for them and it is OK to say no. To reach this point takes a while, but once you gain this insight, it becomes time to pace yourself.

How do I pace myself?

  • Have a good look at jobs on offer and compare jobs available to your current skill set as coder. In many cases you need to work on sites for instance where you need to work online and often you are held back by service providers that slow down during peak times or even go off line for long periods of time. By choosing jobs that you work off line you set your own pace and can deliver much faster than when you are waiting for interactions with online sites to finish up or download.

Pacing yourself this way, you still fill your available hours but with jobs that pay for the actual time that you put in. Remember work smarter not harder.

  • Before you accept a job offer, first estimate as a test run for yourself what time frame you are looking at by doing an hour of work. Time yourself and include every minute you spend on research. Now you have an idea on how long this specific job will take you to deliver.
  • Knowing what your usual work pace delivers per hour, you can easily work out the total hours that the job you want to do will take to complete. Always work in a few extra hours that you may use sending work or downloading files.
  • Bid the right amount of money that you will need to dedicate your pace to this single job. It is of no goodwinning a job that fills your every hour of the day and in the end, you are paid a dollar an hour for all your hard work. Your pace of work may be fantastic and your client will be over the moon, but you will not be able to keep up working on this basis as your income per hour is simply too low.

Keep your work pace related to your income and you will have a long and prosperous career as freelancer.

Carel Steyn writes for various sites on various topics. He is the voice behind Australia’s Bride Online website and also work as stylist / photographer in the food and interior world. Based in Melbourne Australia, this ex South African has an eye for detail and a love for people that can be seen in his photography, writing and personal life. Carel is one of several freelance writers on the GetACoder Blog team.

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Jan/12

5

BuildMyRank – a New Tool to Increase Your Skills

BuildMyRank (BMR) is a new SEO tool. It is considered by many as the best link building service. Its mechanism is quite similar to its predecessors like LinkVana but at a more affordable rate.  If you are a newcomer in freelancing, you might be wondering what BMR articles are. If you happen to see a job posting on GetACoder looking for an experienced BMR article writer, check it out and don’t let it pass because it might be the job you are looking for.

Is it different from the rest?

Number of words – It is similar with the other SEO articles since every article must contain the required number of words. But it is different in a way because it only needs a minimum of 150 words, a lot lower compared to others. Maximum number of words may vary from 400–500 words.

No article spinning – every BRM article must be written manually to avoid post rejection. This is very important because BMR tool is very sensitive to spun articles regardless of the software used. So if you’re thinking of giving your buyers spun articles, forget it.

Be unique – Article uniqueness is not new in the field of SEO networking. However, if other services allow articles that are below 100% unique, BMR does not.

Use proper English – Simple mistakes on grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc. must be avoided when writing BMR articles. One mistake might be acceptable but two or more may result to your article being rejected.

Know where to place the link – It is common to find links written outside the body of the article (e.g. after the last paragraph).  Some may be integrated within the article but they deviate from the main thought of the article. These must be avoided when writing a BMR article.

Article content and link coherence – The article content has to be somewhat related with the link. An articleabout engagement rings will be rejected if the link is related to pet dogs. A link related to diamond rings is a better choice.

Avoid topics that are most likely to be rejected – Contents about illegal activities (e.g. gambling, illegal drugs, prostitutions, etc.) are the most common grounds for rejection.

Know what spam articles are and avoid them – Adding highlights and contact information are ways of making your BMR articles look like spam. The use of bold and uppercase letters must also be avoided.

Hideliza as a PhD graduate in Agronomy, have written and published several technical papers. She started her career as technical and blog writer last January 2011. As a technical writer, she specializes on topics related to Agronomy and Soil Science and other related subjects. As a blog writer, she have written a number of topics from sports, fashion, dating, relationships, gardening to the most popular tourist destinations worldwide. Hideliza is one of several freelance writers on the GetACoder Blog team.

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Jan/12

4

A Home Set-up for Graphics Freelancers

Anyone with even a small amount of experience as a graphics artist or designer can tell you the importance of the right tools to complete your work. This is a simple guide of the latest tech out there that is still in the average price range for new and intermediate freelance graphic designers. Most freelancers spend a vast amount of time researching and plotting ideas on their computer or laptop set. Upgrading your set-up for your personal design studio is a good investment that will reflect positively in your work.

A docking station is great for people who are often on the move, you won’t have to lug a large amount of cables from place to place, all you have to do is slide in your laptop, log into GetACoder and you are ready to work. It is highly important to have a good cooling system for your computers. Graphics programs place a huge demand on your system it is necessary to have a quality cooling apparatus in place to prevent overheating.

While laptops are great for on the go work, most graphics workers will tell you that you must have a desktop for the highest resolution and storage capacity. Apple I-Mac and Sony All in one system are great for designers. Regardless of the set up, it is a good idea to have a portable back up drive for storing projects as well as programs. You should have a great collection of graphics editing software as well as Dreamweaver.

The next and probably most important part of your setup has nothing to do with your electronics, but with your body. I can’t stress enough how important is to have a ergonomic workstation. Freelancers spend an inordinate amount of time sitting and using the computer, and over time this can take a toll on your body.

If you use the phone a lot, purchase a soft handset that is light weight.

Assure that small items you use regularly are in arms reach so you don’t have to strain your muscles.

Make sure to place your keyboard and mouse at the same level.

Use a glare free computer screen and place it a position where there is not light reflecting back at you while in use. Place the screen at least 20 inches from you and at max 32 inched away from your face.

Place your monitor at the level of your eyes while you are sitting. Looking up or down to your screen can create back and neck problems.

When locating a chair, avoid the overly plush as they tend to lead to back problems, use a chair that offer firm but gentle back support and allows you to place your feet squarely on the floor while working. If at any time you feel pain, take a break and move around, not only will your body feel better, but often the short break is just what is needed to keep your creative juices flowing and active.

Heather Howell is a native Southern Californian. She currently resides in Washington, D.C.  She devotes most of her time to rural development in Bangladesh. Having obtained a degree in from UCLA, she enjoy writing on a variety of topics that range from Infant health and International politics to fashion trends and health advice. Heather is one of several freelance writers on the GetACoder Blog team.

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