Detecting and Solving the Risks of Hyperpromotion

31 March 2011 Comments
Signs that You Might Be Going Overboard

Too much aggression kills. One of the obvious dangers of pro bono blogging is that you will begin to sound so  desperate that you will repel attention instead of gaining sympathy votes (and help).
  • Overusing sales pitches and catch phrases
    "Greatest" "best" "and " "perfect" are abstract and purely subjective. Try citing figures for a change.

  • Repeating exactly the same post for the whole week or month (gasp)
    If you want the topic to linger, then at least add something new each time you open up the subject.

  • Trumpeting banner adds all over the blog site
    One is enough. Just position the badge at a visible, high-traffic area.

Sharing the Message, Amplifying the Results

30 March 2011 Comments
I'm feeling rather geeky today. This is a follow-up entry to my posts on pro bono blogging and social networking. The photo to the right is the face of new media: social sharing icons.

social networking icons
Back then, the pretty icons were not that popular. Conventional media - yes tri-media comprising radio, newspaper and TV - was doing the bulk of the work of sharing a message and amplifying the results.

A look back at traditional journalism shows mass media is so formidable that it continues to be regarded as "the fourth estate" and "the government watch dog."

According to Dr. Crispin Maslog, mass media can empower a population or dumb down the audience. It can shape and change opinions. It can move people to inaction or complacency. 

Today, new media has grown just as powerful, if not more formidable than traditional media... The power to communicate messages is no longer monopolized by media professionals but is now also exercised by average netizens.

Pro Bono Blogging and Bringing Out the Best in You

29 March 2011 Comments
Sharing is sexy, fat cat
Sharing is sexy, Puss.
Last month, I posted an entry on how social networking gone bad can harm your blog site. Today, I will talk about how freelancers can use social media to promote the common good: through pro bono blogging. 

"Pro bono" is Latin for "for the common good." This entails at least two things: promoting a cause to help the public and doing it for free. The term usually refers to legal professionals who lend their skills to help out individuals who do not have the means of paying for professional services.

Pro Bono Blogging Examined

Of late, many bloggers have caught up with the trend. Is this pure foolishness? Apparently not. The practice is good in at least 3 ways:

  • It brings out the human being in you. Oftentimes, the search for profit could make you a robotic money maker. A pro bono blog post every now and then leads you back to the truth: that you are human... that you have feelings... that you can do your share to touch one life.

  • It challenges your creativity to customize your blog post to fit your niche. The recent turn of events in Japan and how the gaming industry responded is a perfect example of how two unlikely subject matters can be melded meaningfully in a custom-made press release. You can do the same for your blog post.

  • It fosters the spirit of volunteerism. Both the recipient and the volunteer benefit from the activity. According to the World Volunteer Web, volunteerism allows you to learn new skills, experience a sense of achievement and belonging, boost your career option and interact with a diverse set of people. 

Helping Kassandra

In light of the above information on pro bono blogging and on writing to promote the common good, I'd like to take the opportunity to plug in the cause of Kassandra. I first knew about the child from Connie's blog post on helping children.  I know I could have blogged about cats and other causes, but Kassandra's story moved me. The child and her mom hail from a place close to my heart: Cebu.

6 Ways to Back Up Your Content

28 March 2011 Comments
eggs in a basketYou're backing up content, but are you placing all eggs in one basket?

Whether you're a freelance content provider or a prolific blogger, creating backup copies of your work will prove beneficial. Backups allow you to organize your files, decrease your downtime with data retrieval, keep deadlines and significantly reduce your stress levels.

There's no single way to back up your content. The more places you save your files and the varied your methods, the better. Use at least a combination of two or three. You can never be too sure that one technique might back-fire. Take your pick from the following methods, and be sure to review the pros and cons:

When is Blog Backup Day?

27 March 2011 Comments
organizer, calendarA month ago at the Adgitize forum, an appeal was launched to spread the word to bloggers about backing up their sites. I was a little late when I read the appeal. This week, I want to make sure that neither you and I will miss  the event.

Mark your calendar and join the movement, dear reader. April 1st is the next blog backup day! Thereafter, remember to keep a backup of your files on the first day of every month.

Why People Stick to Their Day Jobs

26 March 2011 Comments
If freelancing pays so well, why do people stick to their day jobs? What things will you lose when you freelance?

Most people treat freelancing as a supplemental income source or a nice little sideline business.

However, as you may have noticed, the average day worker tends to complain all day about how his work sucks and yet he holds on to it. What's up with this mentality?

Regular Benefits

A day job offers immediate security.

When you're freelancing, you're on your own. You have to to work hard to secure your finances.

In the Philippines, there are a number of benefits that regulars enjoy upon employment. These include Social Security System (SSS), Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth membership.

Since contributions are remitted and taxes filed on their behalf by the Human Resources Department, the day workers enjoy the security of being members of good standing with these departments. Loan approvals and hospitalization refunds are noticeably easier to process too. (Note that freelancers can also be SSS, Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth members but they themselves must file the paperwork and remit contributions.)

Perhaps the two most valuable benefits are medical insurance (which may cover dependents) and 13th month annual pay equivalent to one full month's salary minus the taxes. This duo is what's keeping mommies and daddies in their day jobs. With kids to feed and send to school, there is nothing scarier than not having a regular source of income.

Gift Ideas for Freelancers - Security

25 March 2011 Comments
a lovely home for freelancers
How stable is the future of freelancers?
 (photo credit: Petr Kratochvil)

One of the rewards of working from home is being your own boss. This freedom comes with a price though: security.

It's not surprising why a lot of people are reluctant to jump into the band wagon of freelancers. The road to working from home is rife with risks and challenges.

Self-employment and freelancing would usually mean living project after project and working for a client who might no longer require your services one day.

The pay is as good as it gets, yet are you doing something to achieve security over the long term?

A prudent agent gave me a planner a year ago. As I browsed through the pages, I realized that of the many gift ideas for freelancers, the most practical would be financial security.

Financial Planning for Freelancers

The financially wise insist that if you want to boon yourself with security and monetary stability, you should start as early as possible. When freelancing:

  • Remember to save. A good buffer would be an accumulated savings equivalent to 6 to 12 months of your earnings. This is a good amount to cover for short-term and immediate needs. You can easily withdraw and use your savings as needed.

    Savings represent the net amount when you deduct your total expenses from your total income. If you're getting negative figures, then consider how you can raise your earnings and minimize your expenditures.
  • Acquire assets.  Considering the very low interest rates of banks, it will be unwise to put all of your earnings into your savings account. Filipino freelancers must keep in mind that only up to P500,000 is covered by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation. Filing the necessary paperwork and claiming the money in case your bank goes bankrupt could take you years.

    This is why it's wise to purchase assets from your excess savings. Assets take the form of time deposits, properties, insurance coverage and plans. They function as safety nets over the long term and are convertible to cash. Assets assure you that you have enough funds to cover major expenses in the future.
  • Invest. While savings help you to stay liquid and assets keep your funds secure for future use, investments allow you to move your money. Depending on how you play it, you can either make your money grow or lose it. The risk is always proportional to the reward.

    Investing is ideally equated to profit-making or enabling you make more money from your money. This can take the form of higher education, stocks and bonds. Unfortunately, with so much emphasis placed on budgeting to cover for day-to-day living, very few people have the means to acquire assets and make investments.

Gift Ideas for Writers - A Round-Up of Teecup's Vanity Splurges

24 March 2011 Comments
Are you a vain freelance writer?
Is it okay to splurge on vanity?

If you ask me, I'd say yes on two conditions: one, only if you can afford and, two, only if you fully know the risks. The guilt begins to build up once you see other people scramble for supermarket discounts while you're out there gallavanting like a superstar to a salon.

There's nothing wrong with spending on a vanity trip every now and then - be it for yourself or for your writer friend. Since I began freelancing, I've set aside a tiny portion of my earnings to reward myself. Below is a quick round-up of my vanity splurges:

Gift Ideas for Writers - a Visit to 887 Rebonding Salon

23 March 2011 Comments
Writers can have beautiful hair too
News travels fast, but the most effective form of advertising  that rakes in a lot of conversion would be word-of-mouth testimonials. The latter was what the 887 Rebonding Salon had plenty of.

Girls talked about where they had been and what they liked most. Pretty soon, the parlor became known  for rebonding hair and is still creating a lot of buzz in the underground forums. Female freelancers and writers who never found any reason to flip and flaunt their hair ought to check out the place.

I was one of those convinced to have my hair rebonded at 887.  My sister and 3 sisters-in-law had theirs done at the same parlor too. We were a bit appalled though that the entry which topped the search engine for "887 rebonding salon" left a negative impression.

Honestly, I'm surprised that not one of the many satisfied clients actually took time to write a decent blog post about the place. So today, I'm going to write about the salon where I spent a flat fee to give my tresses a make-over.

Gift Ideas for Writers - A Vanity Hair Make-Over for Her

22 March 2011 Comments
What pops first in your mind when you hear the phrase "freelance writer?" Unless you associate the person to be a fashion blogger, you're apt to imagine the female freelancer as the geeky fashion victim wearing glasses, mom jeans, granny panties and unkempt hair. A person who's always out beating deadlines is likely to care about her looks... or not. 

beautiful hair - gift idea for female writers
Barbie of Meteor Garden and her beautiful hair
(photo credit: Pantene China)
While books and the usual nerdy presents will send the freelance writer gushing, why not boon her with a vanity hair make-over?  It's not the average gift idea for writers, but hey, hair is a woman's crowning glory, you know.

I've splurged a bit on mine because I don't want to suffer from a needless loss of self-esteem and poor self-image.

You might want to prepare your debit card or some cold cash for these suggestions. The busy recipient might be reluctant at first, but deep inside, she'll jump for joy. She could really use a make-over! 

Females love to flaunt their tresses. A more practical reason for the prudent freelancer is that nice hair is easier to comb. The less time she spends brushing her hair, the more time she'll devote for  work. So, what might she need?

Gift Ideas for Writers

21 March 2011 Comments
gift ideas for writers
Over the past few weeks, you've been bombarded by blog posts about freelancing, money making and blogging.

I'm going to change up the mood a bit in preparation for spring vacation. This week's theme will be gift ideas for writers.

Right off the bat, I'd say a big fat pay check makes everyone happy, and so would a horde of Twitter followers, Facebook fans and blog subscribers. However, I'm not going to write about "those" things.

Join me on this blog site everyday of the week as I write about the personal splurges that I was able to source from online freelancing.

Blogger Burnout - 7 Tips to Stay on Top of Your Game

20 March 2011 Comments
burnt out blogger
Are you on the verge of dropping dead?
(photo credit: Vera Kratochvil)
Newbies and seasoned writers alike should know how to avoid getting burnt out with blogging. The activity is fresh and exciting for a while, but when the reality of deadlines and expectations sink in, a lot of people cave in to the pressure. 

Do you reach a point when you're high and dry of ideas and writing inspiration? Well, you're not alone. Here are some practical blogging tips to help you stay on top of your game and in control of your schedule.

Blog Commenting - How to Say More with Zero or Little Words

19 March 2011 Comments
quote about commenting

The quote from one of my favorite blogs - Blogger Stop Net - stole my attention.

Commenting is one of the main activities whereby bloggers and readers can engage in meaningful interaction. Sometimes however, a blog post is so good, so factual or so foreign that you have nothing better to say than "great post," "interesting info" or "thanks for sharing."

Now, no matter how good your intentions are, these statements are overused. You could be mistaken as a spammer! For the non-native English speakers and writers, commenting in English can be a daunting task. Will the community make fun of your sentence structure or choice of words? Can you get your message across?

Spam Protection for Comment Luv - 7 Options in Your Arsenal

18 March 2011 Comments
no spamming sign
Two days ago, I installed a cool deep linking plug-in to this blog. Topping my list of concerns was spam protection for Comment Luv users. 

Since the tool allows the comment makers to leave deep links back to their site, won't Comment Luv magnetize a lot of spammers and selfish back-linking bloggers? 

In a word, yes, but Comment Luv or not, there will always be people spamming unwanted ads about weight loss, boob jobs and any other product under the sun.

Calling all Blogs with Comment Luv

17 March 2011 Comments
love letter photo
Send some love with Comment Luv.
(photo credit: Petr Kratochvil)
Sorry I'm breaking my promise about reverting to the work-from-home topics today. I don't care if I'm wearing Pinocchio's nose! I'm going to let Comment Luv for Bloggers linger on Teecup Limited for a while.

As you can tell, I'm still on a high with my latest toy... err plug-in. That's right... Teecup is gaga over Comment Luv! If you haven't installed the free widget already, then you're missing out on a lot of things. If you have the plug-in enabled on your blog, then I'm interested in your site.

So here's the deal. Post a comment here, say a few words about your niche or general interest, and I'll invite myself to your blog site. Blogs with Comment Luv will receive VIP treatment from me.  VIP treatment translated: visits, comments and maybe a fan following. ♥

Just How Useful is Comment Luv for Bloggers?

16 March 2011 Comments
At last, I've successfully installed the Comment Luv plug-in to Teecup Limited! The plug-in is not one of those fancy but useless widgets used to prettify (and add clutter to) your site. It's rather a handy tool a sociable blogger would like. Just how useful is Comment Luv for bloggers?

Blogging Advantage 

heart pic
As a blog site owner, you entice readers to comment on your posts. Why? By default, the tool automatically pulls the latest entry from the RSS feed and appends the title to the comment.  Your readers' motivation to post translates to traffic for your blog!

Tip: There's an option to select which of your 5 most recent posts to go with your comment. Simply click the semi-transparent arrow that appears beside the RSS feed to make the selection.

Comment Luv also makes a wonderful scout for blog site owners who want to go blog hopping. How? The plug-in gives you a preview of the comment maker's blog without requiring you to actually visit the site. You can then decide which blog to visit and which one to skip based on how well the title piques your curiosity . 

Ways to Get Paid Working from Home

15 March 2011 Comments
smiley with dollar signs for eyes
No matter which way you look at it, one of the best things about working from home is thinking about how to get paid for your work and what you'll do with your earnings.  While there are actually a number of ways that work-from-home employees can receive compensation, this blog post will give you an overview of the most popular payment options for freelancers.

Online payment processing entails the sending and receiving of money via a website. When you use a payment processor, you have to log in to the site in order to initiate a transaction.  Your funds are technically held online until you decide to transfer them to your credit card or bank.

PayPal, Alert Pay and Moneybookers are some of the trusted and reliable online payment processors being used by freelancers and their clients today.

Freelancers Should Avoid Check Payments - 3 Reasons to Say No

14 March 2011 Comments
Of the many payment options, getting paid by check is one that freelancers should avoid. It's rarely a win-win situation for both parties and must only be used as a last resort. Based on experience, there are 3 obvious reasons that you should not agree to being paid by check.

7 Ways to Get the Lowest Possible Cebu Pacific Fare

12 March 2011 Comments
7 cats
You don't have to be a ticketing specialist to get the lowest possible Cebu Pacific fare. Long gone were the days when you could rake in great savings by going to a travel agency.

Today, most of these businesses charge you even higher than what the airline of your choice would. That is -- on top of the published airfare, you need to cough up a "service charge" for ticket processing. This post will teach you how to make money online by saving up on your Cebu Pacific ticket.

I won't tarry, as you probably would want to catch the on-going promo by the Philippines' leading budget carrier. Below are 7 ways that you can get the lowest possible Cebu Pacific fare - with or without a promo:

1. Book your flight online. There's a web administration fee of P116 (per individual) when you book online, but doing so allows you to save up on commuting fare and your travel agent's add-on service charge of P200 to P400. You can pay by credit card or in cash at designated banks and payment service centers (sans any processing charge). 

2. Pay by credit card -- if you have one and only if your internet connection is fast, secure and reliable. Majority of the companies offer points (convertible to freebies) each time you use your credit card. To avoid paying interest, simply settle your credit card account within the month and before the stipulated due date. 

As of the moment, the airline does not accept payments via debit cards. So no, you cannot use EON to pay for your Cebu Pacific plane ticket. The available payment modes are credit card and cash which you can pay at banks or accepted payment centers.

3. Make sure you enter your name correctly. Careless mistakes can cost you. One-letter typos can be fixed without charge, but if you require a major name change on your ticket, chances are Cebu Pacific would charge you no less than P800 for the correction - or worse, advise you to pay for the full price of a new ticket.

Grading Your Blog Site

11 March 2011 Comments
blog grade by blog grader
In a scale of 1 to 100, how well does your blog site rate? Friends and family will likely give you 101 stars. Critics and been-there-done-that individuals will be less merciful. 

Human subjectivity is hard to fathom and sometimes, the only way to know how well or how bad your work has been is to ask an objective rater for a verdict. You guessed it right: Let the machine take care of grading your blog site from header to footer.

I came across a site called Blog Grader today. It does not require any sign-ups or registration... not even an e-mail address or username... nada. The first thing you'll see is a blank field for entering your blog site URL and, after a few seconds of processing some information,  the site returns with a numeric grade and some criteria on how the number was derived.

Dressing Up a Naked E-mail Address

10 March 2011 Comments
Spongebob and naked e-mail addresses
Hello, spam bots! Err... Spongebob... 
(photo credit: Julia of MySpace)
If you're fond of posting your naked e-mail address everywhere, chances are you're wooing spammers and spam bots to the highest level.

A naked e-mail address (for instance is a bare-all piece of contact information. It is (1) completely seen, (2)  easily copied and (3) usually clickable.

While posting this kind of detail will gain you instant connectivity points with an audience, it comes with a price: a flood of spam, some identity thievery or both. The whole circus just smells too sweet and inviting for human spammers and automated spam bots.

How in the world then do you keep your information safe without ex-communicating yourself from your readers? Simple: You dress it up. I've seen a number of veteran bloggers employ the following dress-up methods:

Distinguishing the Freelance Writer from the Regular Writer

09 March 2011
freelance writer vs. regular writer
I spent the weekend at the university. Though the tri-semester was supposed to end last month, I still had a mouthful of backlogs to take care of in my statistics, research and philosophy classes. 

My brief visit reminded me of a well-liked text book, which inspired this post: Lee and Friedlander's Feature Writing for Newspapers and Magazines. As observed by both authors, a lot of people these days still equate freelancing to unemployment or some lowly profession. A few more individuals use the terms "freelance writer" and "regular writer" interchangeably. 

Both positions are paid, after all. Besides, freelance writers can create content for a regular client, can they not? How do you distinguish the freelance writer from the regular writer?

Munchkin - the Color of My Love

08 March 2011 Comments
Munchkin - Teecup's catI stumbled upon John Chow's blog today. A guest post suggested that in order to deal with the onset of a blog writer's block, you should try to (1) find a quiet place to write, (2) consider commenting on other people's posts for inspiration (3) give blind writing a try or (4) take a break.

I responded by saying that my cats help me fight the dreaded blog writer's block... and you've seen the proof over the past few days: Munchkin is all over Teecup Limited! Whenever I feel pressed for time to churn out a decent quality blog post, I simply rummage through my stock of cat images, select a few and upload them to the site as stand-alone blog entries. A few photo series every now gives me a break and my readers some eye candy.

For your viewing pleasure, here is Munchkin once more in a photo series that I call as "the Color of My Love."

Munchkin - Lucky Charm

07 March 2011 Comments
Munchkin sleeps as Vanilla sits.
What's your lucky charm? One of my money good luck magnets is Munchkin herself. The cute kitty has 3 dotted patches on her back. 

Above is a photo of Munchkin and her beautiful dots. The cat on the right is Munchkin's mom, Vanilla, and those pink pajamas belong to Teecup! More than anything else, we girls love to sleep together and cozy up on really rainy days.

Munchkin - Self-Cleaning Stuffed Toy

06 March 2011 Comments
A shower a day isn't necessary for Munchkin. She's my  live self-cleaning stuffed toy of a pet. A cool piece of information I uncovered online posits that cats spend as much fluid in grooming as in urinating.

Munchkin - Resident Glam Cat

05 March 2011 Comments
pretty Munchkin - glam cat
Pretty Munchkin loves to pose and philosophize.
Cookie Boy and Vanilla have had considerable exposure on this blog site already. Today, I'd like to introduce you to Munchkin - the resident glam cat of Teecup Limited.
name: Munchkin
aliases: Munchie, Munch 2x, Pretty
eye color: yellow green
fur: white with three black dots
weight: 4 kilos
favorite food: freshly cooked fish

Munchkin has her mom's (Vanilla's) eye color. She's the most photogenic feline of the lot and arguably the most photographed. She is known for her hot-dog length body and voracious appetite. 

She's not very showy, but come bedtime, Munchkin quietly sneaks into the room to snuggle and purr to her heart's content.

Cookie Boy and Munchkin play

04 March 2011 Comments
Cat's don't need any deep reasons to be happy. They spend approximately a third of their life just lazing around. They hunt a little, eat a bit... and when they're through, they find absolute contentment in sleep. I am a writer, and my cats keep me sane. How about yours?

Cookie Boy and yellow ribbons

Munchkin and yellow ribbons

Is Midnight Snacking Healthy for Freelancers?

02 March 2011 Comments
cake - healthy midnight snack?
I stirred to the tune of a Happy Birthday song from my superfwend and some soft scratches and meows from my cats. My midnight snack had arrived!

The mocha and chocolate creation from Goldilocks came with a festive ribbon, 3 lighted candles and a generous serving of chocolate syrup and icing. Yum!

Every now and then, I indulge in a good bite or two before bedtime, but is midnight snacking healthy for freelancers? 

85 Catchy Phrases for an Online Audience

85 catchy phrases for online writing
(photo credit: Kablam)
Do not worry if you are nothing like a writing superstar. With very few exceptions, the online audience is not difficult to please.

Even with Google's recent change in ranking algorithms -- which is reportedly expected to affect how content farms will rank in search engines by factoring in the quality of content -- masses will continue to be hooked by an internet marketer's sales pitch. 

Nine times out of 10, most sales pitches work, because they feed on the human need to get more out of something. Even the simplest minded individually consumes online content with a purpose: to be entertained, to be informed, or to learn how to do something.

On this list, you will find 85 of the catchiest phrases online. Wooden  as they sound, these key phrases continue to be used by marketers all over the world. Do you use any of the following on your title?

8 Work-from-Home Buddies for Busy Bees

01 March 2011 Comments
busy bee
Are you too busy to run a home?
(photo credit: Karat Radi)
I'm not a super woman. I believe in the saying that nobody can serve two masters equally well at the same time. However, I strongly think that juggling a freelance career and full-time home-making is so much easier today than it was yesterday.

So, how do I get by everyday with what I do? My secret is no secret really. I rely on a few buddies to help me do all the household work in record time.

While some die-hard full-time homemakers think that hiring a stay-in maid is tantamount to cheating, note that my tactics lean on the softer side, hehehe. My 8 favorite work-from-home buddies are:
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