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If it takes a village to raise a child, it’s possible that it takes a vast digital village to raise a teleworker. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, our work habits, tools and business perspective are at least partly influenced by the people and ideas we encounter online.

Take a moment to think about the blogs you regularly visit, the high-profile professionals that you consider your mentors, and the groups you interact with online. How have they shaped your work? What extraordinary ideas did you learn from them?

As I pondered this myself, I identified the most important ideas that have helped me as a web worker. Read more »

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Ever heard the phrase “Spend less than you earn?” Personally, I like to take it a notch higher and spend much, much less than I earn. I can’t help it. I think I’m frugal by nature and that contributes a lot to my feeling of security […] Read more »

Since we spend a lot of time in our home offices, it’s a good idea to set them up according to our needs. But if you don’t have the time or money for a complete office makeover, even a few simple changes can turn your home office from drab to inspirational.

Here are a few things you can try. Read more »

Web work doesn’t necessarily involve earning an income. Through the Internet, we can give back to the global community and do a different kind of online work — volunteering. Here are some way to use a little of your time to help others. Read more »

I’ve noticed that many new freelancers tend to be nonchalant when responding to online job ads. Maybe online applications appear more instant and casual when compared with the traditional alternative of showing up for a series of interviews. Even though applying for a freelance job online […] Read more »

Many freelancers, especially at the beginning of their careers, may find themselves working with very difficult clients. When this has happened to me, either I helped change the client’s working behavior or stopped working with them altogether. While I always aim for the former approach, sometimes the better option is to end the working relationship. Whenever this happens I hope that if I do work with the client again in the future, they’ll be more cooperative — but that’s not guaranteed.

When one of your more difficult clients contacts you for a new project, how do you work with them again, without repeating the problems you previously had? Read more »

In a previous post, I explored the differences between freelancers who monetize just one professional skill and those who sell multiple skills. If you’re the latter kind, and market yourself as a copywriter/designer/consultant/etc., then you’ve probably faced this dilemma: Should you sell all your services through one storefront or have several? Is just one blog or web site enough, or should you create separate sites for each service you offer? Read more »

Given the vast and growing number of online tools available to web workers, choosing which to use can seem overwhelming. This makes it easy to obsess more about the tools themselves rather than the strategy for using them, as if by choosing the perfect tools you […] Read more »

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Online freelancers are forced to wear many hats. From the actual work you do, to administrative and support skills, you’re responsible for everything. It doesn’t stop there. You need to learn how to write well, so you can communicate better with our clients and have more […] Read more »

I’m always taking advantage of the mobility that web work allows. Once a week, I spend a night or two with relatives in another city. Also, when I travel, I prefer to stay in my destination for more than a week. But whether I’ll be away […] Read more »

Around 94 percent of all email is classified as spam. In 2005, Americans threw away around 5.8 million tons of junk mail. Fortunately, we can take steps to avoid both junk mail and spam email.

But what about the gray area? I’m referring to low-quality messages: those emails, tweets and messages that aren’t exactly spam, but aren’t ham either. If you spend too long dealing with unsolicited press releases, “Please Digg this!” emails, forwarded jokes and the like, you will know what I mean.

There may not be an automatic filter you can apply to these types of low-quality messages, but there are ways you can reduce the time and effort you spend on them. Read more »

One of the wonderful benefits of web working is that we can take our work with us when we travel. Unfortunately, the reliable Internet connection we have at home doesn’t usually follow us around,  especially if we’re traveling abroad. As someone who spends several weeks each […] Read more »

As organizations and businesses loosen their geographic borders, their teams will be composed of members from all over the globe. From a small web design group to an entire staff of offshore workers, we’ll soon find ourselves working with people from different time zones. But working […] Read more »

“Just do your work and then I’ll pay you.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My client told me to “just do (my) work” and yet he didn’t want to discuss any of the things that I needed to know to get the work done in the first place.He wanted to do away with the needs analysis stage and just get me to write a 50-page e-book based on a vague one paragraph description. If there’s a web app for telepathy I haven’t seen it, so he shouldn’t expect that I know how to finish a project after the first two emails.

To avoid this problem in the future, I’m reevaluating the way I work with clients. How do I include them in my work process? Can I improve on my current methodology? Read more »

Some years ago a web designer asked me if I thought it was right for him to design a site for a religious group whose values he completely disagreed with. “The site is actively promoting their beliefs,” he said, “and I’m not sure I want to be a part of that.”

I was reminded of his dilemma last week, when a potential client contacted me to ask if I could write sales copy for his multilevel marketing scheme — at twice my usual fee. After doing a bit of research on the company, however, it became apparent that this person was running a scam.

As freelancers, we sometimes get requests that we find shady. These can range from the above examples to creating promotional materials for companies whose ethics we don’t completely agree with. How do we deal with these requests? Read more »

Inspired by Simon Mackie spring-cleaning his laptop, I’ve decided to devote this weekend to cleaning both my desktop and my laptop. I’m not talking about wiping my desk and calling it a day — I’m referring to serious dust-busting and de-cluttering. In this post, I’m going […] Read more »

Not everyone can afford a virtual assistant, especially if you’re just starting to freelance and it’s a little out of your budget. Still, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to enjoy some of the benefits of having one: you can still delegate and automate some of your tasks without the heavy price tag.

I’ve looked at some of the common services that VAs provide, and found some free or cheap alternatives that you might want to look into. Read more »

“What’s your workday like?” Whenever a cubicle-dwelling friend asks me this question, they seem to think that my answer will be representative of what a freelancer’s typical day is like. I often start my answer with “It depends.” Lately, I realized that I didn’t even know how my colleagues would answer this question since we never see each other. I had no idea if we were working on the same project in the same way, or if there were differences in our schedules, apart from the time zones.

This made me wonder: how do most freelancers schedule their day? Do they have a fixed routine? Is there a common element in the way we structure our work days? I decided to ask around and see what other freelancers have to say. Read more »

The first thing I look at when looking at a new application is the feature list. Many of those feature lists tend to be really long, and most of the time I find myself using an app without taking advantage of its lesser-known features. A program’s […] Read more »

Many freelancers I know, including myself, have outsourced tasks to subcontractors at least once. From a virtual assistant to the odd “extra hand” you hire from time to time, it’s common to have someone else help you with a project. Doing so makes you more productive, and allows you to take on large projects that you can’t handle yourself.

Still, it’s tough to keep an effective relationship between the primary contractor (you) and the subcontractor (your hired help). Subcontractors can make mistakes that interrupt your workflow, hurt the project, or altogether defeat the purpose of hiring them.

So, what are these subcontractor mistakes you need to watch out for? Read more »

We discuss Gmail quite a lot here at WebWorkerDaily, especially when there’s a new feature to play with from Gmail Labs. Canned Responses certainly isn’t a new feature, but it’s high time we looked at how it can be beneficial to the web worker. The truth […] Read more »

Lowering expenses is in vogue these days, with companies cutting costs in every way they can. Although freelancers work on a smaller scale, that doesn’t mean that we’re immune to these pressures. In fact, we probably feel the effect of the economy on a more personal […] Read more »

I called one of my friends earlier this week and asked her if we could have lunch on Sunday. I was surprised that she said she couldn’t make it, since she had to work. “What kind of evil forces are making you do this?” I asked […] Read more »

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo Da Vinci In art and music, the term “minimalist” describes work that is stripped down to its fundamental elements. Everything is simplified. This approach has its benefits on the web, where there are thousands of freelancers making themselves heard. […] Read more »

Let’s face it – we are not web working machines. There are several forces that are going against our productivity. So what do we do if we can’t afford to fall into an unproductive day? Here are four techniques to turn productivity into a habit. Read more »

In a recent post here at WWD, Dawn Foster brought up a discussion about the direction that online freelancing is likely to take this year.  It might be interesting to look at the other half of the web working population – corporate employees who are telecommuting […] Read more »

A friend of mine recently told me that she wanted to try web working.  Her biggest problem, though, was getting clients.  They didn’t seem to think that she was a “real” person, and not a team of scammers planning to run away after they’ve sent the […] Read more »

“How do you find jobs?” This is one of the most common questions I hear after I tell someone that I’m an online freelancer.  My answer to this question is varied.  Most of the time, new clients find my website or hear about me through referrals.  […] Read more »

Freelancers take pride in their independence.  But no matter how independent you think you are, you’ll need to work with a team and handle your difficult clients well.  Sometimes, the work can be so overwhelming that you think you’re left with no choice except to find […] Read more »

Online workers usually don’t receive an automatic raise from clients. But this doesn’t mean that we aren’t entitled to one from time to time. Raising your rates is one of the many ways you can go a step further on your personal career ladder. But with people throwing around the words “downturn” and “layoffs”, is this really possible? I believe it is, and here are seven simple things we can do to make it happen. Read more »

First time freelancers make the mistake of accepting every single job that comes their way.  I made this mistake, and there’s a good chance that you did too.  Who can blame us?  Freelance income isn’t stable, especially when you’re starting out.  We tend to think that […] Read more »

Can the internet public know more about you than you would like?  According to an article at New Scientist, there’s a company that uses software to analyze blogs and forum posts to find out a blogger’s age, gender, and interests.  Web workers who are avid users […] Read more »

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