Tag Archives: freelancing tips

Freelancing and the Smartphone

SamsungGalaxy4GBlazeWell…I finally did it. I bought a smartphone. A Samsung Galaxy 4G Blaze.

Amid a confluence of events a few weeks ago, I noticed that I’d worn the numbers off the keypad of my old Motorola flip-phone, just as T-Mobile’s e-mail marketing announcement for their $50 unlimited plan landed in my inbox; and when I followed the link to investigate, I was seduced by their special price on the Blaze. So I took the leap.

It wasn’t that I had any burning need for a smartphone, and could easily have ordered an updated model of my old flip-phone. But I also believe that a key element of staying sharp through the aging process is to embrace and master any new technology that seems relevant and applicable to my livelihood and lifestyle.

I spent the first week customizing the aesthetics and functionality of my sleek new toy. I wallpapered my home screen with an alluring photo of a tropical beach; I added smiling headshot photos of family, friends, and clients to all my contact IDs; I created an upbeat ringtone for incoming calls; and I imported an MP3 of Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning for my wake-up alarm. How could each day not get off to a fabulous start with her infectious exuberance to set the tone?

And then…Reality set in. The T-Mobile invoice arrived and smacked me upside the head like a mackerel. With the cost of the data plan upgrade, plus the price of my sexy new smartphone, I’ll be paying more than $800 a year for the next two years, which means that Miss Blaze is going to have to earn her keep.

Toward that end, I got rid of all the superfluous apps that came pre-installed on the phone to make room for a suite of downloads to boost my freelancing productivity. Of the hundred-bajillion apps out there to choose from, I managed to winnow the field to these five:

Dragon: I’ve conducted lots of interviews over the years with my Sony digital voice recorder. But reviewing and transcribing afterwards was always such a chore. So I’ll be using Dragon to record and transcribe my interviews with all those fascinating people.

Dropbox: The new darling for media creatives, this file sharing app allows users to access files of all kinds between their own devices, or with anyone authorized to access shared files.

HootSuite: I recently made a resolution to post more consistently and frequently to my professional pages on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But posting in triplicate can be so time consuming and redundant. So I added HootSuite to my Blaze so I can manage all my posts with one app.

QuickMark QR Barcode Scanner: There was a time when I had no idea what those little square bar codes were, until I was asked to put one in a client’s ad layout. Although I’m now reading reports that QR codes are already becoming obsolete, I still downloaded this QR scanning app to take advantage of the technology while it lasts. And of course, once the next iteration goes mainstream, I’ll download an app for that.

Mobile Banking: For the longest time, I’ve been seeing television ads by various financial institutions for mobile banking, in which account holders can receive money by electronic funds transfer (EFT), as well as by taking a snapshot of a check, thus saving themselves a trip to the bank. Can’t wait to give it a try when the payment checks arrive for this month’s invoices.

Sadly, and much to my dismay, although I searched high and low for a mobile app to help me find and apply for freelance writing and publication layout jobs, there just isn’t one out there yet that fills the bill. Sure there are lots of apps that make the claim, but the reviews for them are all negative, and some are even tagged as virus infected. Yikes! So I still live in hopes of finding an app that will notify me of freelance job opportunities the minute they’re posted to the web.

The four apps I’ve chosen to add to my Blaze represent only a few that I felt would serve my immediate needs, but I have no doubt that I will soon discover lots of others. In the meantime, I’ve compiled a list of my search results for the best mobile apps for freelancers:

iPhone.Appstorm: 90 Awesome iOS Apps for Freelancers

LifeHack: 30 Essential Tools and Web Apps for Freelancers

MediaBistro: Top 25 Most Popular Apps For Freelancers

FreelanceSwitch: The 10 Best Web Apps for Freelancers

CertifiedFreelance: 9 Android Apps for Freelancers on the Go

SitePoint: The 10 Essential Apps You Need to Run a Mobile Freelance Business

GuerillaFreelancing: 10 Apps for running your freelance business

FreelanceFolder: 18 Plus Free Mobile Apps for Freelancers

CelesteHeiterFZBioCeleste Heiter is the author of Turn Your PC into a Lean Mean Freelancing Machine, the creator of the LoveBites Cookbook Series for Kindle Fire, and the author of Potty Pals , a potty-training book for children. She has also written ten books published by ThingsAsian Press; and spent eight years posting her recipes, food photographs, and film reviews on ChopstickCinema .

Visit her website, and her Amazon Author Page.



Five Ways to Diversify Your Writing Portfolio

In case you haven’t figured it out just by reading a few of these blog entries, I like reading Folio. Even as a freelancer, I find this magazine-centric site filled from top to bottom with useful and interesting content. Take Folio blogger Mark Newman’s recent entry, You Will Be Fired. Newman’s advice is aimed at people making careers in magazine publishing, but his excellent advice should also be required reading for anyone aspiring to make a go at freelancing full time. Newman compares the writer’s collection of published clips to a stock portfolio.

In the investment world, people who don’t diversify get killed. The same goes for freelance writers. Sure, you could spend a good deal of time writing nothing but articles about Creative Anachronism, how to make your own swords, and what to wear to the renaissance faire. You could also spend a lot of time sticking your thumb up your nose wondering why you only sell five to ten pieces per year.

Here are some ways you can branch out, flex your creative muscles, and try to pitch ideas to new markets you never even thought of touching before. Some of these ideas are certifiably nutty, and by design. The purpose is to get you thinking about your own work in ways you’re not used to:

5. Make a list of your topics of expertise. Now take each part of your list and find a secondary topic that is informed by your actual expertise. A good example–if you have a lot of experience writing about art, chances are you’ve got a lot of solid information about how artists go about promoting themselves. You can start writing pieces about PR and marketing using what you’ve learned from your art writing. The key is to play up the artist-as-relentless-self-marketer angle.  Apply this idea to every entry in your list. You’ll be shocked at what you learn about yourself.

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