Photo Caption Writing - 5 Cardinal Rules from Old School

29 July 2011 Comments
Some lessons from old-school journalism are alive and well. Take, for instance, photo caption writing.

When you write a blog entry and include a related online photo with your post, you are not obligated to add a caption. 

For news stories, feature articles and other materials intended for print media publication however, using an appropriate and effective photo caption is essential. So, how do you start? You need to observe 5 cardinal rules:

  1. State what the reader will need to know. Images may indeed "tell a story," but make sure you don't leave everything to guess work. Many professionals suggest that you include one or two answers to any of the five Ws (who, what, when, where, why) and one H (how).

  2. Do not state the obvious. In the case of photos accompanying a main story, your central purpose is to highlight a specific detail. A lame caption for the photograph of a winning basketball team would be "basketball superstars." A better caption will mention the score or the point lead which led to the victory.

  3. Omit wooden descriptives. Some phrases are overused and too obvious that they are best deleted. You will save space and your work will have more impact. Wooden descriptives include the likes of "as shown above" "in the photo" "as mentioned below" "as stated in the article" and "smile for the cam."

  4. Keep things concise. You may use a phrase. Be careful that your photo caption does not sound like a telegram. It is perfectly alright to include the articles a, an and the. By rule of thumb, limit the caption to one to two lines only. The shorter, the better.

  5. Express verbs in the present tense and active voice. As with conventional news headlines, the use of the present tense commands more attention and conveys more actionable news than a statement in the past tense. When in doubt, use your common sense.*

Cebu Pacific Citibank Card - a Risky Deal

28 July 2011 Comments
Cebu Pacific credit card
Cheap and quality services  don't always go together. This is why I am very apprehensive and suspicious of the Cebu Pacific Citibank Card which the airline company is currently promoting. 

The invite had landed in my inbox last Monday, and my stomach immediately churned at the sight of the screaming subject line: ""Be the first Juan to apply!" It's one thing to be fun and another to suck at word play. Anyway....

The Offer

It turns out that Cebu Pacific will be partnering with Citibank. To solidify the collaboration, the airline will offer a free one-way ticket for people whose credit card application is approved by the bank any time between July 24 and October 15, 2011.    

The Cebu Pacific Citibank credit card will supposedly allow the holder to:

  • Redeem a one-way airline coupon for free
  • Utilize the one-way coupon to travel to any domestic or international destination 
  • Avail of points which never expire
  • Use the points to claim e-vouchers
  • Receive text alerts or reminders two hours before a promo goes live
  • Book without fare and destination restrictions

The Catch

Before you get carried away by sweet promises and sundry, be sure to read the fine print - yes, that inconspicuous link found at the lower right portion of the landing page - and you will actually feel like you're opening a can of worms. Here's why:
  • The return flight is on you and you cannot use the freebie in conjunction with any of the carrier's other seat sale or promotional offer. You must also use your credit card only to pay for the return ticket.

  • The freebie does not include taxes and surcharges. I'm not talking about a few hundreds here, but thousands. Hidden costs usually amount more than the ticket price itself, so be warned.

  • The one-way "free" flight stays free only when you remain a credit card user of "good standing" within 18 months. If for any reason you or the bank decides to cancel the card earlier than the stipulated period, you will be charged for the full amount of the "free" one-way ticket. Ouch!  

  • The "any domestic or international destination" clause is deceptive. In fact, you will not get to enjoy any free flight for the following destinations:   

    • Boracay, Philippines
    • Busan, Korea
    • Hong Kong
    • Incheon, Korea
    • Osaka, Japan

3 Places to Find Free Online Photos

27 July 2011 Comments
delightful cats
Who doesn't love good photos? Good pictures achieve several things: spark interest, tell a story and invite comments. You also need amazing images if you wish to stand out in online contests for creative people.

While iStock Photos houses the best finds, not everyone really wants to shell out cash for using an image or two. Here are some alternative places to source eye-catching pics for free:

Morgue File

Don't let the name scare you. The tag lines "free photos by creatives for creatives" and "where photo reference lives" speak a lot about what you can get from the Morgue File: only the good, the better and the best. 

What's more, you can download the images and use them without attribution. What does attribution mean? Source citation actually. The photographers would appreciate you dropping a friendly line to say hi and tell them where you used the image. In most cases, you're not obligated to include the photo credit or link back to the author's page which is standard practice elsewhere. 

A lot of the amazing photos used in Teecup Limited come from the Morgue File. Check out the site. You'll be amazed at the generosity of many creative people who really share their talents and works of art without expecting anything in return. Note that some usage restrictions do apply. For instance, you can't use the pics as stand-alone images for commercial use in calendar and stationery printing.

Public Domain Pictures

The online repository of public domain images shares close to 15,000 photos. The images are considered "public domain," which means that the copyrights or intellectual property rights are not just owned by one entity but shared to and made available for use by the public. 

For the most part, the site serves as a teaser showcasing the photographers' works. The upper part of the interface displays the free photos, the lower left portion the image specifications and the lower right area other works of the photographer featured on Fotolia (where you need to pay to use images).

The best part about getting images from the public domain is that no commercial restrictions apply. Linking back to the site is encouraged but not mandatory if ever you feel like using an image or two. A few of the blog entries posted here include photos sourced from Public Domain Pictures.


The spelling takes some getting used to, and so does the "stock exchange" ring to the name. As an online gallery, Stock Xchng currently has close to 400,000 free images. As a community, the site allows the photo creators and the users to meet and exchange ideas.

The leading free stock photo site is owned by Getty Images and is manned by a team that makes sure that your file downloads are secure, reliable and virus-free. You will need to create an account and register with the site in order to download the photos in their original resolution. Right-clicking the image without logging on to the site will only allow you to save a downsized version of the pictures.

The cat photo used on this blog entry comes from Stock.Exchng. Technically, the same image gracing this blog post can also be used to customize a stationery set or mug, or be converted to a postcard or calendar. This is the essence of stock photography. The "stock" label does not refer to the images themselves but to your stock of rights to use the pictures a couple of times and on a variety of media. Not all photos share the same license types, so be sure to read the license agreement.

Now that we've covered three great places to source free online photos, it's now your turn to share what you know. Are there any other sites that you can recommend?*

Cheap is not always bad... or is it?

26 July 2011 Comments
kitty on a fence
Working within a budget isn't as easy as it looks, is it?

The past few weeks had been stressful. A house contractor had bumped up his price estimate by at least 60 percent from what was normally agreed.

While there was still room to renegotiate, a realization came to light: Just because you're the favorite does not mean that you're the only option.

There are plenty of alternatives. As a freelancer, you're just one of the many others out there. In job boards, the superstar providers compete for the client's attention along with the newbies and the individuals with mid-level experience.

Based on observation, online clients with limited budget (which is usually the case) are often the hardest to please, the pickiest and the most demanding. 

If you're charging $75 an article, many will balk at your rates. If you charge too little, you raise suspicions that the content you produce will not be up to standards.

These people would look past things that up your price such as a long line of positive feedback and many years of experience. They will always try to check if you're willing to slash your professional rates . Not a rosy scenario, but this is reality nevertheless.

After all, what is the point of hiring somebody you cannot afford? Economics will drive the client to select the most practical and cost-efficient options available. In writing projects for instance, the most viable freelancers for the employer under a tight budget would be:

  • college students
  • fresh graduates
  • work-at-home moms

Fighting the "cheap" stereotyping has not always been easy for these freelancers. On the brighter side, clients find a lot of college students, fresh graduates and work-at-home moms easier to work with, more receptive to changes in the job scope and less demanding when it comes to payment.* 

More people will work in their pajamas by 2016, survey says

23 July 2011 Comments
cat in PJs
How would you like to work in your pajamas? I don't normally repost news, but one caught my attention today and the article is worth a read. 

The Business News Daily and Yahoo News Philippines recently published a story which predicts that by 2016, about 43 percent of the US population will be working from home.

The prediction by Forrester Research is supported by data collected by Staples Advantage. According to the telecommuters surveyed:

  • They feel that they are leading better-balanced lives.
  • They are more willing to work overtime at home than in the office for an urgent project.
  • Their stress levels decreased by as much as 25 percent.
  • Their degree of happiness and job satisfaction increased by as much as 28 percent.
  • They would rather miss a favorite tv show or sleep late in order to keep telecommuting.
  • They do not mind choking a 10 percent pay cut off their normal (day job) wages.   

It's not just the workers who are feeling the advantage of telecommute jobs. The Staples Advantage survey also mentioned that companies which allow their employees to work from home also save on overhead costs for space rental, equipment and office supplies. In fact, majority of home-based workers know that they won't be billing their online employers for electricity usage or Internet plans.  

With home-based job prospects getting rosy in the US, should Asian providers be worried? Suffice it to say that competition is generally good as long as nobody uses low-balling to dominate the industry. The salary landscape is expected to change with the influx of Western freelancers into the job market.*

Behavioral Patterns of Online Clients

22 July 2011 Comments
English poet William Cowper once said, "Variety is the very spice of life." The same variety applies to freelancing clientele. Dancing with a variety of personality types takes skill and experience. Although you may feel burned at times, it doesn't hurt to think positively of these occasional misgivings. 

This article aims to bring to light some of the most common behaviors of clients that you will meet online:
  • Some clients don't have any inkling what codes mean and what search engine optimization is good for. They just want you to get the job done. If you get into specifics and start using jargons left and right, you might actually end up conducting tutorials to get your point across.

    Technophobia is a perennial challenge in the freelancing world. Not all businessmen are Internet-savvy and you'll be surprised that some still prefer to communicate ideas over the phone. Working for technophobes is not a chore when you consider the degree of creative freedom which you get to enjoy in a given project.

  • Some clients exhibit their very high standards through nit-picking. Unlike the technophobic individual, this type of client has considerable knowledge with what he wants and how he wants things done.

    Working with clients who see themselves as the authority in the business can actually be a straight-forward and educational experience. You go with the flow, you learn from your mistakes (which the client points out with gusto) and you feel a sense of accomplishment upon completing the task.

  • Some clients make you think that "Demanding" is their middle name. All the urgent commands and 10 pages of step-by-step instructions didn't just come from habit. The behavior probably emerged after hiring a freelancer who over-promised and over-charged but under-delivered.

    Dealing with this type of behavior can be stressful and limiting to your creativity, but it can also an opportunity for you to learn about effective time management and customer satisfaction.* 

5 Types of Online Clients

20 July 2011 Comments
As with most things in life, the clients you will meet online rarely fall into either the good or bad department.

Notwithstanding scammers, there are about 5 types of clients you will likely run into before you end up with the ones you really want to work for. Have you met all of them already? 

The Picky Bargain Hunter

Job descriptions that trumpet the following lines are strong indicators of the bargain hunter: "Anyone can do this job. We will award the project to the lowest bidder.... Willing to pay $1 for grammatically correct, high-quality articles.... Superstar writers only."

Good quality and cheap pricing do not necessarily go together. Do yourself a favor and walk away. It's not even worth it to consider this type of client as a future business prospect - unless you have masochistic tendencies.

The Wholesaler

"Our previous freelancer charged half your rates. If you agree to our price, we can give you continuous business and maybe an increase."

The promise of more work down the line has been a bait long used by many online clients. Freelancers are divided on this issue. Your best move would be to decide what is practical. If the "discounted rates" are still good enough for you, then take the offer.

The Micro Manager

Clients who obsess about very high standards, status updates, time-in and time-outs and job protocols can be very difficult to work with. You might end up spending more time over their projects than you normally would because of endless revision requests and instructions.

On the upside, some freelancers get pumped just trying to please the micro manager. For the heck of experience, you might actually want to rise to the challenge.

The Juicer

As opposed to the micro manager who does all the thinking on your behalf, the juicer expects you to provide free in-depth consultation. The juicer is a lot like the content predator -- except that he steals ideas instead of your actual output.

He might or might not hire you. What is certain to happen is that you will be milked for information on "related" concerns often raised in the guise of a job interview or follow-up. If you estimate to spend 3 hours only finishing a task and the rest of the day chatting business with the big boss, you've just met the juicer.

It's high time you delineate your professional service fees from your consultation charges. Otherwise, dancing with a juicer might just hurt your business and your health. 
The Perfect Client

He doesn't treat you like rubbish and communicates instructions well. Revision requests and feedback are phrased constructively, and payments are delivered promptly -- with occasional bonuses to boot.

Ideal clients are true gems in the business, and most of the time, they are keepers. Value them as you would your closest friends because they are very hard to find.*

How to Get Prospective Clients to Remember You

18 July 2011 Comments
pretty kitty
Freelancers know that rejections are a given in the business. Perhaps your application came in too late and the client has already hired someone for the job. Maybe the company does not need your expertise right now but may require your help in the future.

The bottom line is this: Although every attempt ultimately leads to either a yes or a no, not all rejections are absolute.

You can convert a "No, not this time" to "Yes, we want you" by communicating well with the people and companies that you want to do business with. The following are some savvy lines to get prospective clients to remember you or your application: 

"Thank you."
Majority of the bidders simply move on to the next contest or project in line. Stand out from the rest with this simple gesture. Apart from building rapport, you paint a positive image of yourself: courteous, likeable and hire-able.

"Can you keep my resume on file?  I would love to work with you some day."  
Send a clear message to the client that you're really interested in working for him - if not today, then perhaps tomorrow. Some companies are so daft at picking up hints. Never leave success to guesswork.

"I understand that my rates do not fit your current budget, but should this change in the future, please let me know." 
Do not regard companies that cannot afford your rate as low ballers. In all fairness, some just do not know how much freelancers really charge.

"Feel free to browse my site for further information and drop me a line if you have more questions." 
Invites like these achieve at least two things. First, you avoid being pumped for too much information for free. Second, your client gets to view your online portfolio or your blog site which may just be the key to having the company develop an interest in your services.

"I previously expressed interest on one of your projects and would really like to work on this one."
By citing your previous application, you reinforce your enthusiasm, commitment and persistence to be a part of the company's success. Clients will most likely remember you for following up.

    The next time you get slapped with rejection, do not be discouraged. One of the greatest failures in life is the failure to try. Oftentimes, this decision stems more from the fear of failure itself rather than from the inconvenience of taking tests or bidding at freelancing sites. Go ahead. Take your chances.*

    Instant Traffic Correction with Adgitize

    15 July 2011 Comments
    happy cat
    When Ken Brown said that Adgitize can immediately correct traffic problems for a flat fee of $14 a month, I was not convinced.

    I could not say whether it was my curiosity or the sense of community at Adgitize which drove me to give advertising a try.

    All I know is that after two weeks of being an Adgitize advertiser, I now fully agree with Mr. Brown. Adgitize network is indeed a handy tool for instant traffic correction.

    Before Adgitizing

    Before advertising at Adgitize, the number of absolute unique visitors to Teecup Limited would barely hit 20. 

    This is still a better figure than the daily visits of 2 to 5 recorded during the first two months.

    Word-of-mouth invites did not prove very effective as not all of my friends shared my interest in freelancing or cat herding or blogging.

    Some would like the fan page or visit the home page as a favor, but many do not become repeat visitors or take time to leave comments.

    Lesson learned: Getting others to notice a new blog site is hard work, and doing it manually is not a walk in the park.

    After Adgitizing

    I knew that I had to reach out to like-minded people in the blogosphere if I wanted to get my blog site noticed. I needed a crutch, an exposure aide... and Adgitize seemed to fit the bill. This is now how my site traffic looks like:

    From 10 to 20 visits a day, the site now welcomes 50 to 80 readers daily on the average! If it's not called instant traffic correction, then I don't know how else to call the spike.

    In all fairness, the system is far from perfect. See my post on Adgitize and Why Ugly Ads (Still) Get Noticed for starters. I also miss the low bounce rate during my pre-adgitizing days. Visits that consist of only one pageview and which typically last less than 10 seconds are considered by Google as a bounce.

    The effect of Adgitize to bounce rate is, in my opinion, almost proportional to the increase of visits. From 16 to 20 percent, this blog site's bounce rate increased to almost 90 percent! Who am I to complain? I wanted to expose my blog site, and Adgitize helped me do just that.   

    Lesson learned: Getting others to notice a new blog is now easy with Adgitize. The challenging part is to build reader loyalty.*

    How does Google assess quality?

    14 July 2011 Comments
    curious cat
    Wooing the search engine is not really my cup of tea. With the dreaded Panda slapping down the page rank and search engine position of content farms and websites, I felt that this list deserves a share.

    What is quality content for Google? As quoted by Web Pro News, quality will be screened by Google on at least 20 points:

    1. Can you trust the information presented?

    2. Is the author reliable?

    3. Can you say that the site is an authority of the topic?  

    4. Is the content shallow or in-depth?

    5. Can you trust the site with your credit card information?

    6. Are there too many factual and typographical errors?

    7. Was the content primarily created to rank in search engines?

    8. Does the content reflect original research and analysis? 

    9. Does the site follow content quality measures?

    10. Is the site rife with redundant articles with slightly different keyword variations? 

    11. Is the page of substantial value to readers when compared to other pages in search results?

    12. Is the article biased or fair?

    13. Does the content appear to be mass produced or outsourced to many writers?

    14. Does the site discuss the topic consistently and comprehensively?

    15. Is the information or analysis presented beyond the obvious?

    16. Is this content something that you might want to recommend or share to a friend?

    17. Is the site cluttered with ads which overpower the site content?

    18. Can you imagine the article published in a printed magazine or book?

    19. Are the articles short and unsubstantial?

    20. Will the site evoke reader interest or complaints?*

      8 Bidding Pitches Doomed to Fail

      13 July 2011 Comments
      cat with lopsided look
      Today, I thought I'd share with you 8 of the most common bidding flops that I spotted online.

      This is a free-for-all activity so we can all learn from our own and other people's freelancing mistakes.

      Join the fun and help me figure out why the following pitches are doomed to fail:

      1 "Bwing it on lets do this."

      The person probably wants to say, "Bring it on! Let's do this!" Tweety style. The level of enthusiasm is commendable, but everything else leaves much to be desired. There is no semblance of professionalism.  

      2 "Hi. My name is Adam. I am PhD."

      I am Sam and I am Number 4 are fine. I am PhD is not. It's not necessary to flaunt your academic track record unless your course relates to the niche that you're hooting to win. This one-liner bid is all introduction and no action.

      3 "I am article writing since one year and have a qualified team that can make it best for you."

      Teams are more likely to get the job then single providers on bulk projects with short turnaround time. However, it is obvious from the above statement that the client will prefer somebody who fully understands tenses.

      4 "My bid is $400."

      It is good to lay out specific numbers. Without adding any details though, you create the impression that you're making a run for the money without being realistic about the job or convincing the client that you reviewed the job description.

      5 "I can complete the job by tomorrow."

      Promises of fast turnaround time are bound to be broken and tend to take a toll on the quality of the work turned in. This statement might immediately attract clients who need the job completed as soon as possible though. 

      6 "We are a team of professionals with over 10 years of experience in article writing."

      The level of experience mentioned will draw attention, but with so many providers saying almost the same thing, the pitch loses its magic. The client will further lose interest if the bidder makes no reference to the project and continues to yak about the team's mission-vision statement.   

      7 "Pls. PM me."

      Brevity is the soul of wit. Text-speaking is not. Some outdated clients may not even know what PM (private message) stands for. It's not a good idea to riddle your bid with mnemonics and ask the client to contact you for details. It's not like you're the only provider interested in the job.

      8 "I have never submitted anything before, but please give me a chance."

      Touching honesty will be just as bad for the business as an outright lie. You will never be able to bid successfully at freelancing sites if you make your lack of experience the highlight of your bid. Sympathy votes might work for you in reality shows, but not in the freelance business.

      Why, oh why, do providers keep on harping the same ineffective sales pitches? If you were to bid on a project, how would you market yourself? *

          Tested Skills Get You Noticed

          12 July 2011 Comments
          cat with fangs showing
          Your exam days are far from over, sorry. Freelance bidding sites such as Odesk and Elance require providers to pass a qualifying test in order to register with the system. 

          The test is really a clever way of letting you know about the protocols observed on site. Once you pass the initial exam, you have the option to take more skills tests. Should you take them too?

          While a lot of people would scream, "Foul!" and tell you that exams are a waste of time and that test scores are not a true measure of your skills, you will find test taking itself an advantageous activity. Here's why:

          How to Win Bids at Freelancing Sites

          11 July 2011 Comments
          You're smart. You're capable. You're eager to  freelance, but you've got one problem. Despite the number of bids you have machine-gunned everyday, you're not winning any clients and you're not beating the competition.

          Luck accounts for about 10 percent of your success. The rest depends on your effort. Are you choosing your battles wisely and bidding competitively? Here are 9 practical tips for the win.

          1. Polish your profile page and portfolio. Marketing yourself as a grammar-savvy professional and writing like a kindergarten kid will fool no one.

          2. Write like you mean it. A bid with a sincere cover letter will build better rapport and draw more attention than a generic message or a numbers-only proposal.  

          3. Customize your proposal. Show the potential client that you have reviewed the job specs carefully and that you are the right match. Avoid template bids. You will never stand out.

          4. Follow special instructions. Some projects require that you mention a key phrase or keyword in your bid. Failing to follow the instruction might just kill your chances of winning the job.

          5. Keep the praise release to a minimum. You have your portfolio for that. Talk less of what you previously accomplished and more of how you will complete the project.

          30 Ways to Succeed at Freelancing - Part III

          08 July 2011 Comments
          cute kitty in a cup
          Face it. You are at your most productive age at 20 to 45, but what do you plan to do when you're already past your prime? 

          Are you working smart to secure your future or have you gotten too comfortable in your cocoon?

          The second batch of tips yesterday focused on developing a healthy working relationship with your boss. Today's final batch is all about making your freelancing career work for your long-term goals. 

          Here they are... your final 10!

          1. Have multiple income streams. Do not think that you will be working for the same bosses forever or that you will get all of your clients from the same bidding site. Your best bet would be to diversify. Many full-time freelancers have ventured into online selling, while others have integrated some sense of normalcy into their lives by putting up their own business or taking on a regular part-time job.  

          2. Know when to say, "No" with a smile. Overbooking yourself at the expense of your sanity and physical health is simply not worth the big bucks. The greater your work load, the higher your chances of compromising the quality or missing the deadlines. You might want to refer the interested client to a friend instead.

          3. Keep on learning and make it a habit to improve your skill set. Theory and application do not always jibe, so think of your freelancing work as a gigantic classroom where you will be taking nothing else but hands-on examinations. Respond to mistakes proactively. If a job requires SEO skills and some HTML coding, go take advantage of online resources to teach yourself.

          30 Ways to Succeed at Freelancing - Part II

          07 July 2011 Comments
          menacing kitty
          Are online bosses difficult to work with? That the relationship between freelancers and their clients is one of love and hate is not necessarily true. 

          Most dealings are purely business, but transactions that span a long time cultivate familiarity and friendship. Today's freelancing tips are geared towards developing a healthy working relationship with your boss.

          By putting yourself in the employer's shoes, you will get an idea of how to be the ideal freelancer.

          1. As much as possible, insist on a contract. Written agreements iron out potential disagreements and help protect you and your client's interests. The typical contract sets out the job scope, compensation, time frame and non-disclosure agreement.

          2. Observe a reasonable margin in estimating how soon you can complete the job. If you feel like you can complete the project in 3 days' time, say the finished file will be ready within 7 days. The extra days give you some leeway in case unavoidable emergencies arise.

          3. Meet the deadline. The value of time is underrated in the post Working Hard vs. Working Smart but for the employer, time is really a precious commodity. Unlike freelancing where you own your time, businesses have to stick to a deadline. Your role is to deliver quality output that will help the client stay on track and on target.

          30 Ways to Succeed at Freelancing - Part I

          06 July 2011 Comments
          kitty camouflage
          Everyone can use a bit of luck in finding the ideal client or discovering a well-paying freelancing opportunity. 

          What happens after that is up to you. Are you ready to carve your own success story? 

          There are 30 tips to help you by. The first 10 are presented in this series. The rest will be published in the coming days. Enjoy and feel free to add to the list.

          1. Open your mind. Be aware of the cold truth to hot online jobs. Like many other industries, the world of freelancing is home to both the legit players and the con artists.
          2. Learn as much as you can about freelancing and being a freelancer. Blogs, e-books and forums contain first-hand information and helpful tips to prepare you for the world you're about to enter. 

          3. Do ample research about your potential clients' reputation. Online visibility is a good indication that the company won't vanish into thin air when it's time to collect your dues.

          Working Hard vs. Working Smart

          05 July 2011 Comments
          There is a stark difference between working long hours and working efficiently. While "hard" work is essential for cultivating the value of self-discipline, hard work in itself is not enough to land you a freelancing stint in the real world. As a matter of fact, hard work is overrated. Here's why:

          cat with glasses
          photo credit: Guy with Glasses
          Potential clients prefer someone who can work smart. Multi-tasking, adapting to new roles and hitting targets efficiently are valued skills that will outshine the hardworking freelancer on any given day.

          With the exception of hourly jobs, you will be gauged by your level of contribution to the business. If extra hours are all that you can bring in, then you're probably persevering but not capable enough to help your client succeed.

          Fewer businesses today are willing to pay the full price for your time or your diligence. They expect you to maximize what you can do within a given time frame. Remember that you're not paid to just pass time away or to be on your best behavior. You're paid to deliver tangible output and services.

          According to studies, the average human being can stay fully focused for a maximum of two hours only. Imagine how much several 15-minute breaks will add up to when you clock in for 12 hours straight. You are less productive and your client gets less value for hiring you. The next time you prepare to bid on projects, don't say that you are a hard worker. Market yourself as someone who knows how to work smart.*

          Around the Water Cooler

          04 July 2011 Comments
          splash of water
          The thing itself is a gadget, but to many writers, the  water cooler is a place where employees can enjoy a brief respite from the work load. It is a popular place during coffee breaks. 

          What makes the area far more interesting is the buzz created by the people who surround it. Freelancers who work in a team are apt to associate the water cooler with juicy tidbits of gossip, information, misinformation and possibly a ton of freelancing jargon. Here are some interesting topics you will often hear discussed:

          Going Rates. The going rate is also known as your asking price. At what compensation range are you willing to take on projects? How high do you charge and how low are you willing to dive?

          Scope Creeps. Have you found yourself in the awkward position of having to please a client who is very fickle? Scope creeps are people who expect you to work for the same rates while changing the volume of work required, asking you to make too many changes or modifying the time needed for you to complete the job.

          Low Ballers. No matter how high-end the community or bidding site, there's bound to be a whole lot of the bad kind. Low ballers are freelancers and service providers who go to the extent of charging unreasonably low rates in order to get the job and kill the competition.

          Botches and Slip-ups. Gossip aside, the water cooler is also a place to learn from another freelancer's mistakes and how to avoid them. As a green horn to web content writing, you will often be warned by kind enough veterans to steer clear of critical errors that freelancing newbies tend to commit

          For even the non-sociable folks, there's a thing or two to glean from hanging out at the water cooler. What you won't be hearing though are best-kept secrets such as which client pays best and how well-paying your last project had been. *

          Bulk Work - Should You Take it or Leave it?

          03 July 2011 Comments
          cat and fish
          Freelancing has its highs and lows. Job security is one aspect where holding a day job is more advantageous than a freelancing stint. 

          During seasons where job projects are scarce, a number of freelancers find themselves in a dilemma to accept bulk work or not. Should you do it?

          People who have had some success with online work say that going for the small fish might not be good for you. Here's why: 

          1. The volume of work can be overwhelming. Unless you work in a team or plan to outsource the workload to a third party, a bulk project can burn you out. As a single provider, can you really churn out 100 articles in a month? Fewer hours of sleep, little or no time to pursue other interests, the increasing pressure to deliver well and on the dot -- For how long can you survive the pressure?

          Freelancing can be a Handful

          02 July 2011 Comments
          a cup full of kittens by jevigar of DeviantArt
          If you think being floored by paperwork on your day job is a handful, try freelancing.

          Chores aside, there are different deadlines to beat and a variety of clients to please. There's no sense of monogamy or loyalty here.

          Neither the client nor the service provider (you) is obligated to stick together. The only binding agreement between the two would be a contract.

          Everyday is just business... like retail even. Do a good job, and you get repeat orders. Disappoint, and the clients say, "Thank you" and you never hear from them again.

          Here's a template conversation that you're bound to engage in whenever someone asks you what you do for a living. I get this so many times that I've resorted to giving out cookie-cutter replies...

          Teecup is now on Adgitize

          01 July 2011 Comments
          Teecup Limited badgeI made the switch from plain publishing to advertising today. The badge that you see on the left is your hot key to Teecup Limited. Whenever you see it, you know what to do: click and check out what's new on my site!

          I'm both excited and anxious to try out this new role at Adgitize. Wish me luck! Leaving a comment will even be better. I'll be sure to return the favor. Toodles for now. I promise to stay on course in the coming weeks.*
          Copyright © 2012 Teecup Limited. All rights reserved. Powered by Blogger.