Budgeting for the Freelance Writer

I struggle with budgeting, because my paychecks are sporadic. This article is worth reading if you do web design or any freelance work.

Heroic Technical Writing: Advice and Insights on the Business of Technical Communication

Pay Over Time 2014Freelancing is not for the faint of heart or the disorganized bookkeeper.

The graphic above, dollars and dates removed, represents what pay can look like over the course of a year. A normal person’s income (based on steady, regularly scheduled work) is a straight line, more or less, with some getting occasional bumps for bonuses or extra weeks in a month.

Freelancing work is not always steady. It can jostle up and down like a roller coaster. Bills, meanwhile, are more geared toward people with a steady paycheck. (In fact, here in the state of Florida, since I didn’t have steady income, I had to prove that I had assets on hand that could cover my entire one-year apartment lease!) And bills will keep coming, regardless of what your customers are doing. So how do you maintain a reasonable standard of living and your sanity when bills are steady but…

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Resume versus Networking

ImageI have a theory:

Networking works far better than sending a cover letter and resume.

The last three websites I created were contacts I’d made at my server job. I didn’t spend a single second writing a cover letter, I simply blabbed all about my web design infatuation.

 

 

 

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Why?

A personal face-to-face meeting, even to talk about the dinner specials, somehow gets people comfortable with your personality. They get to view you as you are; Your body language, smile, amicability, politeness, and professional attitude.

Believe me, I spent many hours applying for jobs–laboring over a cover letter, sending it to my professor for a quick edit, and overhauling my resume. Does that mean my cover letter and resume stink? I don’t think so. However, at this point in my career, I believe ample money-hungry people out there have more experience than I do. They’ve simply had more time in the job force. That’s OK. I will continue networking. In fact, I may soon receive a web design deal that could lead to a technical writing position.

And one more thing. I thank God that I am following His will, and not my own. I firmly believe that potential employers have not hired me because it’s just not the right time for me to have a full time job.

Next time…How did my students do with their HTML quick-training course?

I’ve Given Myself a Raise.

graphic2Hotel Websites.

A few weeks ago, with my newest assignment, I gave myself a raise. My boss thought I had learned a lot and could perform faster. My boss was definitely right.

This website is a renovation of http://www.gulfshoresresortmotel.com.

It required me to awaken the photographer inside to take pictures of the rooms, grounds, beach, and bay at this particular spot. In fact, I did most of this in 90 degree weather, but that’s normal for summer in Florida.

After spending a few hours taking photos, I began to wonder if there were actions I should take to increase the quality of my photography. Then, I had another hotel owner ask me to take photos of his apartments. So, after searching for a few tips, I leave you with this…

Nasim at Photography Life states:

  • Take pictures all the time.
  • Bring your camera with you. Everywhere.
  • Take pictures in the early morning or late afternoon for best lighting.

Nasim’s photography is breathtaking, so I have a heart to believe him.

Dak at Photo Tuts had several tricks for interior photos.

  • Shoot into the corner of a room and from a low position.
  • Turn on all the lights in a room before using a flash.
  • Choose the designs and accents that tell the story of each room/home.

beachhouse10lr

I followed that last tip by including the beautiful Cyprus wood ceilings in the beach side apartments I’ve been shooting.

 

Do you have any tips for indoor or outdoor photography? Please share!

How to Deal with Website Maintenance

ImageMy next website has launched at TracyandTrishasTreasures.com

But it’s not finished.

And how can it be? The internet is always changing, as are the fashion trends of my most recent site. Since this one falls into the “Shopping Website” category, it is especially tricky.

Our solution? My clients want to add their own inventory. Ok, great! How do we do it? A how-to guide, of course (Three cheers for technical writing).

My guide will equip my clients to add their own inventory by…

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  1. Resizing and saving their pictures (using Paint of course)
  2. Uploading their pictures to the server
  3. Using paypal to make their payment buttons & forms
  4. Manipulating the html code to reflect each item with the picture, description, and payment buttons.

Don’t worry. I am still called in to recreate banners, graphics, headers, and menu bars as the styles and seasons change in fashion.

Will my clients run with their new torch of web design skills? I’ll let you know after our training session!

I Want to Hear from You!

Priorities for Jump-Starting a Website (part 2)

sprigIn part one you’ll recall that we already completed the following steps:

1. Met with our client

2. Researched other websites and SEO keywords

3. Outlined and began building our template

In the midst of our build, we will forge onward!!

 

 

Fourth, research and build simultaneously. Researching other websites constantly while building yours is very helpful in reminding you of the great ideas of graphic and data display that you want to use. Develop the menu, header, and basic outline on Photoshop.

Copywrite Sarah Jurina

The second draft of the online store I am currently building. Click the picture to view the post regarding this build.

Fifth, meet with your client-again. Meet in person, or send an email to, your client showing them your template screenshot (see mine above). Meeting in person is best, because they can explain in length what they like and don’t like. Then, you can change it with them watching and see if they like the new version. It also encourages your client that you respect their desires and shows them you are great at what you do.

Sixth, get the go-ahead. You have everything how you want it and how your client likes it. Now let them know you want to begin placing it on Dreamweaver. Assure them it won’t be live yet.

Last, send your client a log. Send a log of what work you have accomplished and how long it has taken. Let them know if you think you are on schedule according to your estimate.

Do you have any advice for web designers in the early stages of the build? How about links to great templates you like?

Next time…We will learn what can remedy your wrist and back pain

Keep an eye open…I will be posting a podcast addressing the necessity for on-going web edits for a completed site.

Priorities for Jump-Starting a Website

Sarah JurinaDid you know?

Freelance web designers are also graphic artists, content developers, data organizers, SEO experts, interviewers, collaborators, visual designers, researchers, and so much more.

Many of these skills go to work in the beginning stages of a website build. Before starting Dreamweaver, or your ftp file manager, make sure that you execute the following priorities:

First, meet with your client. You need to do this a lot, unless your client doesn’t really care what the outcome is and leaves it all to you. Ask your client their expectations for the website; What information and links might they need? Do they have a letterhead or graphic that you need to include in the header? Are there specific colors you need to use? Then draw up a contract to summarize what you believe their expectations are for the website. Include your prices and an estimate for how long it will take.

Second, research. Browse other websites that are in the same genre. Get an idea for a good template. Record what ideas you want to incorporate, and what tactics you want to avoid for your own website. Also research SEO keywords. Shirley Kaiser has a fantastic guide for optimizing SEO from start to finish.

Sarah Jurina

Third, build a template. Draw out a template on paper first. My templates are a little strange looking since I have no drawing skills, so don’t be afraid if you’re the only one who can decode it. Ask yourself if all the links are included, and decide how much effort you want to put into the header. The header is the name of the website. If you need to create a new one, then consider the colors and how simple or complex you want to make it. What aura does the website need to give off? The header needs to be a capsule of the website itself.

Did I miss anything in the steps already mentioned? Do you have any questions? Please let me know!

Next time…there are a few more actions before starting your website!

After that…what gadgets should you have at your desk to avoid back and wrist issues?