The tools of the freelance trade

Freelancers can be overwhelmed by all the different tools they can use. Here’s some information to help find a path through the confusion. Here’s a presentation I recently gave on some of my favourite tools.

I had the pleasure and privilege of speaking today with fellow freelancer Leslie Falkiner-Rose at the 2011 Freelance Conference today. Our session was called “The Set Up” and we spoke about the hardware, software and other tools we use in our businesses.

My part of the presentation was facilitated with a short slide deck that you can see below. I hope it’s of value to you.

 

Is the iPad 2 made for freelancers?

The iPad 2 might be a perfect fit for the busy freelancer.

Perhaps Apple has created a perfect tool for freelance writers and content creators in a hurry.

As a technology writer, I love to get my hands on the latest gadgets. I had an iPad 1 almost as soon as it was released and decided to join a long queue to get my hands on an iPad 2 when it was released in my home town.

On paper, the differences between the iPad 2 and its predecessor look modest. Front and rear facing cameras are the big ticket items and the Smart Cover, which looks great, is really just eye-candy – designed I suspect to extract a few extra dollars from shoppers as they hand over their hard earned as they pay for the latest Cupertino slate.

But is this a tool for freelancers? Is it just for writers or is there something for photographers and video producers?

Firstly, the iPad 2 is a lot thinner and lighter than the original version. 6mm and 60g mightn’t sound like much but it’s very noticeable – particularly as the iPad 2 has tapered edges making the edges seem razor thin. For the traveling professional, those small differences are of great value.

I’ve already discussed the value of Evernote as a note-taking system. It works the same on iPad 2 although the ability to take video notes is a handy supplement to the audio recording facility.

On video, the ability to do video conferencing using Skype, FaceTime or other conferencing facilities is a great advantage while traveling. While email and VoIP calling is great, seeing a face on the line is a great advantage.

There are times when editing and image or video on the road is important. The iPad 2, like the original iPad, supports capturing and editing images using the Camera Accessory Kit and myriad third party applications.

Video editing is new with Apple creating a version of iMovie for the iPad 2. There are some great videos that have been produced using iMovie already, showing that it’s a capable tool. Videos can be shared by email, MobileMe, YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and other services.

In other words – the ipad 2 can be used for capturing and maipulating lots of differnt content, communication, research and filling in spare time while traveling.

In short, the ipad 2 could be a great accessory for the traveling freelancer.

The 7-step guide to using social media for small business owners

Social media can be an immensely useful tool for small businesses. Here’s our 7-step guide to getting the most from social media for your business.

This guest post is by Phoebe Netto, the Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, a marketing and public relations consultancy for small-to-medium businesses. Phoebe has a background in public relations and marketing, and takes these skills that are often reserved for big businesses with big budgets, and uses them to help good small businesses grow and meet their objectives. Visit www.goodbusiness.net.au (be sure to sign up for the Good Business Consulting newsletter and check out the blog while you’re there) or follow her on Twitter at @Phoebe_Netto

In marketing yourself and your business, you should aim to be at every watering hole where your ideal clients congregate. After all, if people do not know that you exist and what you can offer, how else will they become clients? For many of you, one of those waterholes will include social media.

Social media opens up a whole new audience to you, provides a means to make new connections, and gives you the tools to introduce yourself and your services in a subtle way to your ideal clients.

It allows you to extend the reach of your thought leadership and gives you the opportunity to share examples of your work and testimonials. Social media can also provide you with a constant flow of advice, ideas, and links to resources that are focused on your area of expertise or interest.

Regardless of what social media platform you decide to use, there are universal principles or golden rules that you must adhere to. You will notice that these rules are not much different to society’s rules for social engagement offline.

1.        Do things on purpose

If you are on twitter, know why you are on twitter and let your tweets reflect your purpose. The same rule applies for every social media platform. For example, I help small-to-medium businesses and sole operators grow with marketing and public relations. I need to ensure that the majority of my tweets on twitter are about small business, marketing and public relations. My twitter followers should know what to expect of my twitter content.

One of the mistakes that many small businesses and sole operators make when using social media is that they do not choose the right platform. This results in busy activity rather than productivity. Only focus on social media platforms that are a gathering place for your unique target group.

For example, young pet owners would be more inclined to interact with you on facebook than on LinkedIn. If you are a freelance journalist, twitter would be best as there are countless editors to interact with there and you can share links to examples of your work.

2.        It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason

Always remember that social media is not a foreign land speaking in another language. It is real life with real people, real relationships and real conversations.

This is why many of the same social etiquette principles that we value and operate by in business and in life, also apply to social media.

3.        It is better to give than to receive

In my business there are a couple of principles that lead to successful marketing and public relations. In media relations if you give others (journalists, editors and the publication’s readers) what they want, you will get what you want. For example, if I help a journalist by giving them a great piece of news or a well-written bylined article, I will get what I want which is great coverage for my client.

Similarly, marketing is most successful when it is focused on meeting needs and making life easier and more pleasant for others. When a small business addresses the deepest concerns and desires of both its clients and potential clients, and makes them feel special, they will attract leads and repeat business.

When operating by the following rules, social media can deliver your message to new audiences, provide you with new connections, and act as a platform to share your expertise and thought-leadership:

4.        No yelling in the hallway (or on social media)

Would you ever walk into a room full of strangers and announce, “I can take your business to the next level at half the price”? No? Didn’t think so. So don’t do it on social media.

If you notice that someone on your social media platform asks for a recommendation or complains that they can’t find a good provider of a certain product or service, then sure – feel free to suggest a solution or offer to discuss offline with them. You might even land a nice piece of new business. The point is to be helpful, with brings me to my next point.

5.        Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you

Use social media to share, give value, help others, provide helpful information, collaborate, and create a reason for people to want to know more about you and what you do.

You can give value and at the same time promote your business by sharing links to your blog, provide thought leadership, expertise and helpful advice. This shows that you are passionate about your industry area and gives people a non-confrontational and subtle way to experience your knowledge.

Make sure you also share other people’s blog posts, links to useful website, spread great social media content (such as tweets) from others, and promote other businesses (if worthy of promotion). Remember, it’s not all about you!

6.        You have two ears and only one mouth for a reason

My mother always used to tell me this and she was right (as usual). Social media is not a forum for monologues. Those who do not interact or listen to what others are saying on social media will eventually find themselves very lonely (offline and online).

Worthless tweets and overactive robots cause more harm than good.

Instead interact with others by asking questions, offering advice and responding to other people’s online questions.

7.       All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

Show your personality. People do business with people, not companies. So make sure show your personality so people can feel a connection.

Be sincere. You can’t fake relationships – even on social media. Put a smile on the faces of those who follow you.

These principles are also golden rules of social media. Zig Ziglar summarised it by saying, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” When you follow these principles you are well on your way to building important connections with your ideal clients.

Social media is one of the greatest tools available to small-to-medium businesses and sole operators. You can communicate directly with your ideal clients without going through a ‘middle-man’ such as a journalist, advertisement or website.

A small business owner’s guide to using social media – Part 2

This post is continued from Part One of A small business owner’s guide to using social media by Phoebe Netto of Good Business Consulting

Just like society has golden rules and universal principles on how to interact with others, social media also has similar rules to operate by.

Social media is one of the greatest tools available to small-to-medium businesses and sole operators. You can communicate directly with your ideal clients without going through a ‘middle-man’ such as a journalist, advertisement or website.

When operating by the following rules, social media can deliver your message to new audiences, provide you with new connections, and act as a platform to share your expertise and thought-leadership:

(For the first three rules of social media use, click here).

4.        No yelling in the hallway (or on social media)

Would you ever walk into a room full of strangers and announce, “I can take your business to the next level at half the price”? No? Didn’t think so. So don’t do it on social media.

If you notice that someone on your social media platform asks for a recommendation or complains that they can’t find a good provider of a certain product or service, then sure – feel free to suggest a solution or offer to discuss offline with them. You might even land a nice piece of new business. The point is to be helpful, with brings me to my next point.

5.        Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you

Use social media to share, give value, help others, provide helpful information, collaborate, and create a reason for people to want to know more about you and what you do.

You can give value and at the same time promote your business by sharing links to your blog, provide thought leadership, expertise and helpful advice. This shows that you are passionate about your industry area and gives people a non-confrontational and subtle way to experience your knowledge.

Make sure you also share other people’s blog posts, links to useful website, spread great social media content (such as tweets) from others, and promote other businesses (if worthy of promotion). Remember, it’s not all about you!

6.        You have two ears and only one mouth for a reason

My mother always used to tell me this and she was right (as usual). Social media is not a forum for monologues. Those who do not interact or listen to what others are saying on social media will eventually find themselves very lonely (offline and online).

Worthless tweets and overactive robots cause more harm than good.

Instead interact with others by asking questions, offering advice and responding to other people’s online questions.

7.       All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

Show your personality. People do business with people, not companies. So make sure show your personality so people can feel a connection.

Be sincere. You can’t fake relationships – even on social media. Put a smile on the faces of those who follow you.

When you follow these principles you are well on your way to building important connections with your ideal clients.

Phoebe Netto is the Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, a marketing and public relations consultancy for small-to-medium businesses.

Phoebe has a background in public relations and marketing, and takes these skills that are often reserved for big businesses with big budgets, and uses them to help good small businesses grow and meet their objectives.

www.goodbusiness.net.au (be sure to sign up for the Good Business Consulting newsletter and check out the blog while you’re there)

@Phoebe_Netto

phoebe@goodbusiness.net.au

Flipboard – best social media and RSS reader

Yesterday, I posted a summary of the ins and outs of RSS and why journalists need to be across this important, time saving technology. I mentioned in that post that one way to access your RSS feeds was to use a special piece of software called an RSS reader or aggregator. If you’re an iPad user, one of the best apps for this task is Flipboard. That’s not a compliment I give cheaply.

Flipboard grabs data from different sources such as RSS, Twitter and Facebook and presents them in a magazine style format. For example, let’s say you’ve created a Twitter list from the TV shows you like to watch. You can create a new section in Flipboard that grabs all tweets and any included links and pictures and presents them in a visually appealing and more engaging format.

Below are images from Feeddler, an RSS reader for the iPad, and Twitter for iPad. Both are well regarded applications that present new information neatly. However, you’ll see that both present data in a linear form.

Flipboard completely discards this paradigm. It takes the same content but presents it in a magazine-style format.

See the difference? There’s nothing wrong with Twitter or Feeddler but in Flipboard, the experience is far more engaging. Also, because Flipboard pre-fetches content from links for me, and not just a link to a page, I don’t have to tap as many links or wait for things to arrive. When I want to move to the next page, I simply swipe a finger across the screen and the page turns, just like a magazine.

It’s only been in the most recent update to Flipboard that RSS integration, for Google Reader accounts has been added. Also, content is now cached so that you can view content when you’re not connected to the Internet.

Flipboard is free from the Apple App Store.