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September 18 2013

06:30

Freelancers Rejoice: Billbooks Helps You Run Your Business Successfully


  

Invoicing is a task that does not appeal to a lot of people. Yet, if it is not done properly, you’ll never get paid for all the great work you’ve done. There is no getting round it. Whether it is Google Sheets or Excel or any other kind of solution, you need an easy and reliable way to administer your bills and expenses. Billbooks is a fairly new service that wants to help you get these things done. We here at Noupe have taken a deeper look at what you can expect…

April 17 2012

14:00

Motivate Yourself More by Setting Up the Perfect Home Office

This is the link to the original article creator of this site, if this message appears to another site than 1stwebdesigner - Graphic and Web Design Blog - 1stwebdesigner is a design blog dedicated to bloggers, freelancers, web-developers and designers. Topics focus on web design and inspirational articles. it has been stolen, please visit original source then!

Being a freelancer is something of a foreign lifestyle choice to those that have grown accustomed to and are quite fond of typical employment. The random spots of high and low-income, no interaction with coworkers, responsibility solely resting on that one person’s shoulders, but there is one that probably baffles most of all — working from one’s own home!

Of course not ALL freelancers work from home, many have their own offices somewhere in close proximity to a coffee shop or cafe. However it is safe to say that a large number do indeed work out of their home, and that baffles those not living the freelancer lifestyle. There is one assumption that does make sense though, and is a good question. How professional can the experience of meeting clients at your office actually be?

Well after reading this article, you’ll have the knowledge to present a home office to clients that will more than appease them. In addition, make you more giddy than a school girl with a crush.

The Right Room


*Image Credit: practicalowl

The real difficulty in getting a home office just right starts with picking the right room to set up in. At the end of the day this is still your home, and not an office space, so having your work everywhere is not acceptable. Here are some tips to help achieve this balance:

  • Choose the closest room to your front door. This is always the best place because this provides an automatic separation for office and home. In addition, it will keep your personal stuff private from clients because where they need to go is a straight shot from the door. There is nothing worse than a potential client, or client in general even, seeing too much of your home life. Also it’s not nice having them walk around to the back either.
  • Make it as sound proof as possibly needed. This depends on your living situation mostly. If by yourself, then just enough so that normal outside interferences don’t leak in. If with others, especially kids, make that baby a room of isolation. There is nothing worse than being in a meeting or on the phone and having to hear the noises of a child at play.
  • Pick the best space match. All of the prior things mentioned are of course important, but making sure that the necessary space available to properly hold your office is just as important. The space has to be the right amount to hold everything you’ll need (desk, printer, coach/chair for visitors, etc) and a good amount of moving room. As we all know, not all rooms are created equal.

Desk Positioning


*Image Credit: TranceMist

Where your desk is placed is very important. The wrong position can cause a lot of annoyances that could have otherwise been avoided with a different position. A good example would be placing your desk right behind a window. This placement will give your computer a glare on it at all times, and not to mention have the sun beaming right in the face of every client you meet. This is not a good way to make a good impression. Here are tips on choosing the best location:

  • Place desk perpendicular to your window, with you facing east. This allows for the sunlight to be used at its best when it is brightest, and still not affect anyone sitting in front of you.
  • Leave your view from directly in front of your desk as bare as can be, avoiding things like bookshelves. These cause instant distractions on those less focused days, try just one calm painting instead.
  • If at all possibly not conflicting with the first tip listed, place desk directly in front of door. It is a nice subtle touch that clients respond well to without knowing.

The Chair


*Image Credit: massdistraction

This is a chair that I’m going to be sitting in for most of the day, a good portion of the year. These facts about the office chair automatically give off the assumption that it is best to get the chair that is found to be the most comfortable and suiting of one’s own personal style. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Honestly, a chair is just a chair here. All the extra thoughts and feelings that first pop in anyone’s head should be thrown out the window because they do nothing more than create a distraction. Think about it, if your office chair is really comfortable, what is going to put a halt at taking a snooze break in the middle of working on something? How about if it is so unique that you have to spend more than half a second figuring out how to sit down in it? Seconds add up over time!

The only qualities that matter most are reliability and durability. Here are a few tips on finding that office chair you NEED.

  • Avoid the good looks. There are many chairs available that look good and are well put together, but after a little time of use, begin to crumble. Having your own office will hopefully mean you’ll be calling your own shots for a long time. So make sure that you’re looking for a chair that matches that ideal time frame.
  • Find suitable material. The material used to make your chair must match the conditions that you like to work in. Say you’re the type that likes it to be hot, would a leather chair really be your best bet? Or how about someone who likes it cold, would a material that tends to harden in cold weather be your best bet?
  • Decide between rolling or stationary. This is more so related to how your office is organized. If your office space is somewhat spread out, then the ability to just roll around would be most beneficial. However, if everything is close enough to not need to get up regularly throughout the day, then a stationary is best. Avoids the temptation of spinning around too, :).

Laying Out Your Office


*Image Credit: Andy Caster

Spending enough time in the corporate world will make it easy for anyone to become accustomed to walking at least a few yards to reach the printer, get new paper for said printer, grabbing something out the refrigerator, or other walking tasks office life entails. Like it or not, it gets into your head and becomes what you are used to. Considering that, how would things be for someone finally being able to set things up the way they need? Let’s just say, the best ideas might not be implemented.

Freedom is a wonderful thing, which is why you’re freelancing in the first place, but it can’t be abused. Here are some tips for setting up the layout of your office:

  • Always have a clear walkway to and from the desk to the door. The experience from having to maneuver around your desk, and other objects, just to reach the door and vice versa is not a good experience. Especially when it’s done multiple times during your work day. Add in the times when you are just so frustrated and everything can irk you even more, it can easily take your mood further in the wrong direction.
  • Always aim for slightly undersized furniture. It is hard to resist that nice big oak desk, but having it take up the majority of your space is a huge negative. It throws off the entire flow, makes it harder to accurately place other items, and everything extra that you’d need to put in a bigger piece of furniture could be in something smaller and separate with better placing.
  • Keep in mind how you do things. The way anything personal is laid out, should match a personal approach in how one likes things done. An example would be someone who likes to do a few light stationary exercises at the beginning of the work day, it would be ideal to have an open space right by the entrance to do that. How about if you like being able to choose from an assortment of food items throughout the day to enjoy? Something like a mini-fridge would be convenient. It’s all about the little things here.

Organization


*Image Credit: Sean MacEntee

Being in a home office, working for yourself, makes every document that you receive via paper or email three times as important. So while those who work in a corporate office have multiple people with the same documents, and being on file somewhere, the self-employed only have themselves to turn to when something goes missing.

This is why being properly organized is a critical necessity for anyone looking to be successful at being their own boss. Here are a few tips at keeping everything neat and tidy:

  • Properly arranging documents with the three A’s. All documents, whether physical or digital, should be arranged into the three main A categories and subcategories by year and month. These being archiving, active, and anticipating. Each A represents a stage in the typical life cycle of a project, or anything else really. Using this system will help easily identify documents when the need comes for them to be found.
  • Never leave your desk cluttered for more than two days! It is quite easy to be so busy with work that needs to be done to forget about the environment you’re working in. One day of not noticing and coming back the next morning to see all the papers and items relating to what was being worked on yesterday all over the place is acceptable now because of the vague memory from yesterday about what everything is, but the next day is another story. Things will be looking quite unfamiliar. That is why two days is the max!
  • Unpack briefcases/travel bags regularly. If your schedule requires to leave the office on the regular, its understandable why it would make sense to keep things put in your bag of choice. However, this will become a problem when you become so accustomed to those items being there so much that they are forgotten of. So, it is always good to regularly take things out and get them back into your organization structure of your office.

Any successful advice from your home office you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

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04:05

November 04 2011

10:00

Hot WordPress Themes For Freelancers For Personal Branding

In order to succeed as a freelancer and build a successful brand, website creation is paramount to displaying a professional image. WordPress makes it easy for freelancers to build beautiful, professional websites that are not only impressive to potential clients, but also easy to manage and customize.

The right WordPress theme can make or break your website, so its important to choose one that is clear, concise, simple to navigate and overall generally pleasing to the visitor.

Below are some of my picks (free and premium) for the hottest WordPress themes for freelancers:

1. Typominima – Free

Typominima-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

Download Here (Link to a blog post by the author)

Typominima is a great theme for freelancers who want to spotlight their writing and publishing experience. It’s a simple, clean design that can be used to showcase a writing portfolio or simply to use as a blog in conjunction with a freelance writing business. The theme also includes some design customization options.

2. Boldly – Free

Boldly-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

 

Download Here

Boldy is a simple, yet robust WordPress theme by Site5.com. It comes with helpful features such as a theme options page, Ajax-based contact form and a Nivo slider. This theme is perfect for the freelancer who wants to start a professional website that lists everything a potential client needs to know.

3. Fotofolio Landscape – Free

Fotofolio-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

Download Here

Fotofolio Landscape is a WordPress theme designed by Wordspop.com for photographers to showcase their work to clients. This theme would also do well showcasing a designer’s work.

4. Suburbia – Free

Suburbia-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

Suburbia is a great fit for a freelancer who is interested in showcasing magazine work or a blog. The design is simple and minimalistic and it also has some flexibility such as a logo uploader and a theme options page.

5. Smashing Multimedia – Free

Smashing-Multimedia-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

Smashing Multimedia was designed by Smashing Magazine for podcasters, videographers and photographers or anyone who needs to easily embed videos and images, rate them and showcase them in their own blog. The theme comes with layered PSD source files and a help guide as well.

6. Businezz – Free

Businezz-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

If you are looking for a “corporate-looking” theme, this design will meet your needs. The home page includes testimonials and real-time news updates from your blog showcased in a clean and crisp layout.

7. Berita – Free

Berita-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

One of my top picks in the “free” category, this theme is simple and easy to navigate. It is a great starter theme for those freelancers who are transitioning to building a company brand for their services. It has a casual feel, yet it allows you to showcase your work and your services in a professional way.

8. Strange – Premium

Strange-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

I like this premium theme because it works for either portfolio-based content or a business website. It offers a variety of customization options that are easy to change even for the novice user. You can modify layout, styling, colors, sidebars and fonts directly from the backend admin.

9. U-Design – Premium

U-Design-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

I am slightly biased with this premium theme because I use it for my personal website. I love the clean design and the many layouts available. It is built with SEO in mind as it relates to content placement on the home page and it offers easy customization of colors for backgrounds, links, text, menu links, etc. I have had the theme for a month and I am still finding new ways to customize the site to complete it. It gets a “thumbs up” in my book.

10. MyResume – Premium

MyResume-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

MyResume is a premium theme suited for the freelance professional who needs a digital resume to showcase to clients. It is sleek and easy to use and allows the user to add new pages and tabs and a custom portfolio as well. It also integrates well with social networking sites and includes sections for services and testimonials.

11. Client Machine – Premium

Client-Machine-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

To be honest, this design has me a bit envious and I may have purchased it had I not already decided on a theme. It offers a clean, professional design and it comes with features such as built-in invoicing and the ability to create professional project proposals. You can also display testimonials, contact forms and social media icons with customizable widgets. A rotator is available as well so you can showcase your specialties by choosing from a library of 20+ icons.

12. Studeo – Premium

Studeo-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

Studeo is a feature-packed premium WordPress theme designed for any freelance creative professional or a creative agency. It includes a filterable portfolio, custom widgets and custom page templates.

13. Rockfolio – Premium

Rockfolio-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

Rockfolio is a simple premium theme with high-end coded CSS, compatible with all the major browsers. It is a great theme for freelancers starting a small business or simply showcasing their work skills. Some highlighted features include easy to edit html coding, lightbox portfolio sections with gallery view options, and PSD files.

14. Classica – Premium

Classica-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

The Classica theme puts your talents and skills front and center. It is a clean and beautiful design that allows you to present your work professionally. It is a great theme for any type of artist whether graphic, motion, print or web.

15. Lightspeed – Premium

Lightspeed-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

Lightspeed is a clean, versatile theme perfect for freelance professionals. It includes the Content Composer v2 which allows you to drag & drop your content and layout with ease. Version 2 of the Content Composer comes with a templates system that allows you to continually utilize Content Composer templates by saving, loading, importing and exporting them with other themes that use this same system.

16. Semantic – Premium

Semantic-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

The Semantic theme is a great choice for a web design company or a smaller scale business. It is clean, professional and includes many features that are easy to implement and customize.

17. vCard – Premium

vcard-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

For those freelancers who are looking for a simple, electronic resume or business card, vCard (Virtual Business Card) is a solid choice. Its minimal design is clean and professional and allows you to showcase your experience and customize your layout.

18. Multi-theme – Premium

multi-theme-hottest-wordpress-themes-freelancers

Multi-theme would work for any freelancer in a wide variety of industries. It is a more universal theme and it can showcase portfolios, blogs, and any other services you offer.

19. Fiero – Premium

Fiero is a simple, yet bold theme designed with the artist in mind. If you are a photographer, digital artist, graphic designer or anyone who wants to showcase your amazing designs, this theme is an ideal choice. There are many different color options available or you can use the included PSD files to completely customize the look.

20. Intense – Premium

Intense is suitable for a freelancer with an active business or blog. It includes a custom accordion slider, portfolio pages, PSD files and more.

21. Vendor – Premium

Vendor-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

Vendor is another powerful universal theme which will suit any company or business looking to expand on the web. With extensive theme options and customizable widgets, you can control content layout, manage your showcased products and advertising media as well as display your latest tweets, posts and videos.

22. Harmonia

Harmonia-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

Harmonia is catered to the freelancer who is interested in regular blogging. It is completely customizable and also features many options for showcasing and selling your services.

23. The Novelist

TheNovelist-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

The Novelist is for the serious journalist, writer or copywriter who is more focused on showcasing his/her work. It is the perfect avenue for authors to display snippets of their work or simply to blog about their expertise.

24. Bookpage

Bookpage-Hottest-Wordpress-Themes-Freelancers

Bookpage is a great choice for the freelancer/internet marketer who has an e-book to sell. It comes with payment options, book sample carousel and testimonial functions. And at only $8, it’s a pretty sweet deal.

Do you like these themes? Which themes have you used for your website? Please share in the comments below!

July 21 2011

04:18

Online Proofing Solutions For Everyone

Effective communication is key to moving design projects forward and is especially important for proofing. In an ideal world, designers and clients would meet face-to-face, but in reality client schedules and locations make it impossible, leaving electronic communication as the only viable option. What designers need is a virtual workspace where they can communicate with their client much like how they would in person. Emails do this to an extent but they are painful to keep organized, make it impossible to mark-up proofs, and require more work from the client and designers than they care to invest.

With so many marketing firms, design agencies, and in-house creative teams, there should be at least one software option out there that works better than email, right? There are actually several tools that can significantly make the proofing process easier and take the stress of project review down a notch. These types of tools offer you a way to automate the proofing process and send feedback to your client and vice versa without jumping through unnecessary hoops. This article lists and briefly describes many potential tools that can streamline your proofing process and make your relationship with clients less of a headache. But first, I need to point out a few factors that can effect which proofing software you choose.

Size can be a big factor in finding a proofing software that works for you. Are you a small company or a freelancer? Maybe you want something that is simpler and more straight forward. Do you manage a large corporate creative, publishing, or design team? A proofing software that offers advanced scheduling and workflow management might make your job easier. Your size and the size of your clients also play into the many security factors you should consider.

Large Agencies and Corporate Creative Departments

If you manage the proofing process for a large agency or company, you might find value in a software that not only gets the job done but also does so in an efficient and organized manner. You will want something that has advanced workflow and scheduling capabilities to make managing your team easier. In terms of security, your clients may prefer their projects hosted on a server that you own and manage rather than a third-party server. This requires more configuration and maintenance on your part but will put your clients’ minds at ease when they know their digital assets are in trusted hands.

Approval Manager

Screen Shot 2011-07-20 at 10.57.18 PM

Approval Manager includes an integrated annotation tool along with email notifications. It offers advanced workflow and schedule management features which makes it a good solution for larger teams and design firms. Approval Manager also is hosted locally by the user on a personal server so security issues are managed in-house. There is a free version available along with an upgraded version that offers more features.

ConceptShare

Screen Shot 2011-07-20 at 11.00.47 PM

ConceptShare also offers an annotation tool for marking up and commenting on proofs along with notifications. Users can organize their proofs into collections, workspaces, and folders so they can easily navigate through their proofs. The entire proofing process, including uploaded files, are hosted on ConceptShare’s website. Their website offers a free trial and four separate editions that offer different capabilities based on team size.

ProofHQ

Screen Shot 2011-07-20 at 11.06.59 PM

ProofHQ is a lot like ConceptShare in that the whole process is hosted online. ProofHQ includes a basic annotation tool, folders for organizing your files, file versioning, and email notifications. Prices range from $17 – $299/month which are based on the number of users, storage size, and the number of proofs per month.

Small Creative Teams & Boutique Agencies

Small design firms may be able to get away with a proofing solution that doesn’t offer as many features as the ones discussed above. As a manager of a small team of designers something that is simple and cheap might be best for your needs. Hosting on a third-party server might be another desirable option because it is easy to setup and you don’t have to waste your resources on maintenance. Granted, this option isn’t as secure as hosting locally, but it is a practical option for a small design firm.

Backboard
Screen Shot 2011-07-20 at 11.15.19 PM

Backboard is a simple online proofing tool that allows you to mark-up a proof using a red pen tool. Users can set deadlines and receive notifications on those deadlines along with feedback and new proof versions. Users can also upload their existing contact lists to Backboard to easily mail out their proofs to existing colleagues and clients. All projects are hosted with Backboard and plans range from $6 – 50/month.

Notable
Screen Shot 2011-07-20 at 11.18.44 PM

Notable allows you to take a screenshot of your design, upload it to their website, and receive and share feedback between your team members. It also offers user workspaces for organizing screenshot based on projects and clients. Notable offers a limited free version, a free trial, and basic paid plans ranging from $19 – $49/month.

ProofQuick
Screen Shot 2011-07-20 at 11.22.44 PM

ProofQuick is much like Backboard in that it is a quick and simple online hosted solution for small team proofing. It also offers notifications and an integrated markup tool. ProofQuick was originally built specifically for the yellow page industry but can be used for a variety of purposes. Their website offers a free 15-day trial.

Freelancers

Whether you’re a novice designer or independent expert, a simple and free (or close to free) proofing software solution might be your best bet. If you don’t have as many clients as bigger firms, workflow or scheduling management capabilities may not be essential. You can probably get away with a software that directly emails your clients the proofs and allows the clients to quickly make comments and email them back when they are finished with their review. In this case, the simpler, the better.

Redmark
Screen Shot 2011-07-20 at 11.25.12 PM

With Redmark you can upload an image and send it off to your client for review. The client can then use Redmark’s online annotation tool to comment on the image and email it back to you when they are finished. It also offers a way to archive and view past versions of the image. Redmark is limited in comparison to other online proofing solutions but is a free service.

ididwork
Screen Shot 2011-07-20 at 11.27.01 PM

Ididwork is a free solution that can be used as a simple feedback tool. Users can share what they have been doing with their team members and begin receiving reviews and comments on their work. Users can either sign up as managers or employees so user categories can be defined to a project. This isn’t exactly tailored for a designer/client relationship but may be used to fulfill this need.

DesignSignOff

Screen Shot 2011-07-20 at 11.31.41 PM

DesignSignOff hasn’t officially launched yet, but did recently acquire a popular proofing tool called GetSignOff. Users can present their work to clients who can then give feedback. Clients can stay up-to-date on their project with email notifications and project stats. Once this project launches, it could be a great tool for freelancers and novice designers.

Adobe Acrobat X Pro

Acrobat X Pro offers simple version control, annotation, and review. You can use the “Adobe SendNow” feature to send, track, and share your files online. Adobe X Pro doesn’t offer all the features of a regular proofing software, like workflow, scheduling, and email notifications, but does offer a simple way to receive quick feedback from your clients. This option may be a bit pricey, but Acrobat x Pro does come packaged with Adobe Creative Suite 5.5. Acrobat X Pro costs $449 for the full version and $199 for an upgrade.

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Online Proofing Solutions For Everyone

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