All posts by Helen Gallagher

Working in the Cloud

Ready to work with your head in the clouds? Cloud computing isn’t a new fad. It’s been used in the corporate world for many years and smaller firms caught on in 2006, with the proliferation of laptop computers and the mobile workforce.

cloud-2Cloud computing lets you access your data from any web-enabled computer, and for a small fee, use the software of your choice. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars for an upgrade to Office or  Adobe products, you can cut expenses for software licenses and  tech support.

You’re already working with cloud software when you use Gmail, Google Docs, Shutterfly and hundreds of other programs. If you use an online backup program, you’re backing up to the cloud. Mozy Stash gives you 2 GB of free backup storage in the cloud and iDrive offers 5 GB backup storage space for free.

Benefits of cloud computing

  • No need to purchase software licenses or update software
  • No need for a powerful, fast computer with large disk space
  • No more worry about backups and virus/spyware problems
  • No need to pay for tech support if your computer crashes the day before a client presentation
  • With data stored remotely, you can work from home, on the road or collaborate on projects with others.

Start working in the cloud for free, with these well-known options:

Google Docs
Google Docs for word processing, presentations, spreadsheets. It also offers loads of templates, forms and drawing tools.

Software developer Oracle Corporation now owns OpenOffice, the free equivalent of Microsoft Office that’s been around for a few years.

Microsoft Office Web
Microsoft’s Office Web is a browser-based version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, for a fee of 5 cents to 96 cents per hour for small users, paid monthly.

Adobe recently launched Creative Cloud, for sharing tablet applications and allowing people to share creative services with software including InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Prices start at $49.99/month, instead of thousands of dollars to purchase the software.

Head for the cloud
There is an inherent risk in storing all your data in the cloud. We take this risk every day with any online service, including banking, email and web browsing. Short of an electric power outage, cloud computing has real benefits for freelancers. Sound good? Sign up for a test run and enjoy the freedom of having your software maintained and updated with no hassles.

BIO: Helen Gallagher joined to share her thoughts on small business and technology. Her blogs and books are accessible through Address questions to


It looks like 2012 may be the year of the resilient freelancer. Turmoil in the economy and around the world didn’t stop us. We’re still here, still reinventing ourselves, and still successful.

time-moneyWe survived the cash crunch when magazine markets cut their budgets. Whether you freelance in writing, graphic design, or photography, you likely felt the squeeze.

For many authors, the ebook flurry dropped the value of our writing, while some got rich on 99-cent books. Distracting gadgets shifted the reader’s attention span toward video integration, drawing us away from the serenity of the written word.

But, we adapt and we keep working. We publish essays, write memoirs, articles, build new networks and plan new projects. Paying markets are still there, especially online.

Yet, we occasionally run into a dry spell, and have to make the choice to do more work for less pay. If that happens to you, consider a few strategies to keep you at peak efficiency.

1. Stay organized – whether on paper or electronically, keep track of your time, make lists so you can group calls and errands to save time and money. Make notes of follow-up dates and remind yourself of upcoming deadlines. And chase client for payment if  they are slow to pay you for your work .

2. Blog – Work your writing muscle every day. Keep visibility, stay connected, and create some buzz for yourself every week. Need help finding a source, or need an editor? That’s what social media is for: Use it to reach out to your online networks to find what you need.

3. Publish –  Nothing revs you up like a few quiet hours to look back at your previous work and find a way to freshen it up. Repurpose an article into a ten-point list, or create an ebook with a fresh spin on an old idea. Because you blog, you’ve got an audience ready to buy your ebook.

4. Spend less –  When clients are slow to pay, try to spend less money. Cancel a membership you’re not using. Resist the trip to the office supply store, where you’ll convince yourself life will be better with new color-coded file folders.  Instead, shop online . Shop where you can take advantage of rebates, use online coupons, and deal sites. Always use vendors who offer free shipping. If you need new tech equipment, shop online for refurbished items. There are great deals on yesterday’s tablets and laptops. Even if you prefer to shop locally, look online for the best deals before you buy.


Before you invest in a software upgrade, consider a move to the cloud – next week’s post will explore the growing trend to work on the web with cloud-based programs. In fact, you’re using many of them already. Check back next week for the details on living in the cloud.

BIO: Helen Gallagher joined to share her thoughts on small business and technology. Her blogs and books are accessible through Address questions to