3 Deadly Mistakes Freelancers Often Make

Freelancing is a great way for anyone to work independently or make some extra money and for employers to hire talent at an affordable price and in a flexible way. However, freelancing isn’t a hobby; it is a full-time job in which you cannot succeed unless you abide by a certain set of rules.

Using freelancing marketplaces like freelancer.com, elance.com or odesk.com is a first step in making your freelancing work more professional and will be very helpful in getting your projects. However, even when using such platforms, I have seen many freelancers struggle to get projects by making some major mistakes.

This article is about three deadly mistakes freelancers often make that could easily be avoided.

Not looking pro

It is all about perception not reality! You could be the best designer, the best coder, the best SEO… if your customers cannot see that in a way or another, for them you just are not.

There are many ways to convey a positive image. Some past showcase work and positive feedback (portfolio, testimonials…), others spend a lot of time writing compelling proposals… However, many fail when it comes to producing enterprise-grade invoices in particular and admin papers in general.

YES, INVOICES! I have seen many freelancers unable to provide a decent invoice and others that couldn’t tell me how much they charged for the last project we worked on together!

The solution is simple, use tools! There are so many free and paid tools out there that can help you look more professional and make your job easier. Just imagine you are at one of your customers’ office and he asks you if he can have an invoice in order to pay you. With a cloud-based invoicing system, all you need is a computer with Internet access, and you’re done, give him the invoice and cash in the check!

Here are my favourite invoicing/billing tools:

INVOICERA, The popular one

Invoicera is probably the most widely used. It has always been reliable and handy. If you want to make online invoicing a straightforward and uncomplicated process, this is one of the best tools out there; they even have a free plan.

MAVENLINK, The comprehensive tool,

If you are ready to pay for a pro tool and get some support, this is your most comprehensive choice. Mavenlink lets you collaborate, share files, invoice, track time, and make or receive payment in a custom-branded project management solution.

HARVEST, The easy one

HARVEST is extremely easy to use and can simplify your timesheets with time tracking and fast online invoicing.

Not charging enough

Price is a major parameter in a project manager’s choice, but the quality is also a primary concern. As humans, we have been educated into thinking that quality and price are related, and that’s not always untrue.

In fact, for many people, the price is an indicator of how good your work will be. So being too aggressive on your prices and making sacrifices might have a negative effect on how good you are perceived to be.

In conclusion, my advice is to try and strike a balance between:

  • The cost of the job (time and resources)
  • The price the employer can pay (budget)
  • The price the employer things he has to pay for a good quality work

Over-trusting your employers

Trust is part of life, and many employers need to see you trust them, and they can trust you before they can give you the project.

So you have to inspire trust and manage the customer interactions very carefully. Some people will quickly try and take you to a feeling driven relation because that’s how they do it. In fact, as a freelancer, you will certainly have to work with people from different countries, regions, cultures…

This is why I would strongly advise you to use tools like escrow to make sure you get paid and if not, can file a complaint or a dispute.

As you might already know, most freelancing platforms offer such services, but that doesn’t mean you should entirely rely on them and not filter out your partners carefully.

Of course, once the customer is a recurring one, you might want to be more flexible to speed things up and help make working together easier.

Project Management for SEO Companies the right way

Successful Project Management for SEO Companies is not just about executing SEO tasks in a good and timely manner; it also requires excellent process management to allow for the team, the clients and all the people involved in the project to work together as efficiently as possible even when they are geographically distant.

To achieve such efficiency, communication and organization are key. Those two parameters are then critical when choosing the tools you’ll be using to back the project.

We have talked to many SEOs around the world, and surprisingly, we have found quite a few commonly used tools amongst the SEO community. We have also been able to identify three major types of tools:

File Sharing tools

Dropbox

Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc., which offers cloud storage, file synchronization, and client software. Dropbox allows users to create a special folder on each of their computers, which Dropbox then synchronizes so that it appears to be the same folder (with the same contents) regardless of which computer is used to view it. Files placed in this folder also are accessible through a website and mobile phone applications.

As you can see, it will mainly help you access your data from any location in the word as it is cloud based thus making it easily sharable with other project members, that’s extremely useful when you have large files that you cannot send via e-mail.

Dropbox also has a set of iOS and Android apps that make it even easier for anyone to use.

Project Management tools

Mavenlink

Mavenlink is a cloud-based team collaboration and project management application, sometimes referred to as a professional service automation software, developed in the United States. The company’s SaaS platform enables professional service providers and their clients to efficiently manage their project from start to finish.

In this Mavenlink review, you can see for yourself how this amazing tool can help you take your project management to the next level as an “end to end” project management solution.
Trello

Trello is a free web-based project management application made by Fog Creek Software. It lets you organize anything easily, from life goals and to-do lists to group projects. It works wonders for teams. Assign tasks, streamline communication and get everyone on the same page, fast. It’s just about everything you need to accomplish great tasks. Check this particular tool here:

Communication tools

Google Docs

Google Docs is a market leading free web-based office suite offered by Google within its Google Drive service. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users.

Skype

Skype service allows users to communicate with peers by voice using a microphone, video by using a webcam, and instant messaging over the Internet. Phone calls may be placed to recipients on the traditional telephone networks. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free of charge, while calls to landline telephones and mobile phones are charged via a debit-based user account system. It’s so simple to use even for business, family or friends communication.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is a Web-hosted service. It’s a remote meeting, desktop sharing, and video conferencing software that enables the user to meet with other computer users, customers, clients or colleagues via the Internet in real-time. It’s a professional and easy to use.

Tools are great but do not be mistaken, they will never do the job for you and direct communication with your colleagues, partners, and customers is also critical to an SEO project’s success.

Face to face meetings and phone calls with the client are aiming to set the goals and the expected results of the project as a whole. Internal weekly meetings with colleagues to assign and adapt tasks, responsibilities and check on the results,

Using the right tools and implementing the right processes is very important to a successful SEO project, it saves a lot of time and lets you build a good organization. It allows you to expose your work more explicitly to the clients.

The last key is the client’s satisfaction. As an SEO, your tasks are vast; they include optimizing pages, building links, improving rankings, driving traffic…

“There is only one boss-the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton.

How To Save Big Through Shopping Online

Online shopping is becoming more and more popular because it provides customers with a simple one-stop shopping experience. Some of the benefits of online shopping include:

  • Available sizes for every body type
  • Wide variety of items
  • Different colors for the same items
  • Different brands at the same location
  • Online-only exclusives
  • Discounts, coupons, and promo codes

The last one is a major bonus for online shoppers. Especially those that shop frequently. These discount options help shoppers to save big. Let’s take a look at some of the best coupon sites below:

List of the Best Coupon Sites

For people who love shopping, hanging out or traveling, they will definitely try to find the best deals on offer. In fact, customers feel happy when buying the good and cheap things. They will compare the deals each other. People want to get the best offer, don’t they? Well, the easiest way to find is by searching in internet. It is recommended to get the best offer by buying a coupon on a trusted website. Maybe some people still get confused of this site. Well, this article will tell you about the discount coupon sites. This site provides us the valid discount coupon that can be used in online site or e-commerce. When talking about coupons or voucher, we need to know where to buy it. The following are the best coupon sites you need to know.

1. Groupon

It was launched in 2008 and now becomes one of the best deals sites. The payment method on this site is quite interesting. Every time you buy the coupon, you don’t have to transfer via bank account. You can transact using electronic wallet which can be recharged. It is so practiced, isn’t it? In this site, customers can buy various products such as food, beauty, and even traveling. Traveling coupon that is offered by Groupon involves some famous destinations in the world like Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore.

2. Ebates

Ebates is really great. It is another option of the best discount coupon sites. It does not only offer the best coupon but also give the cash back for customers. It is believed that this site is the pioneer of online store that gives cash back. In fact, cash back becomes the main attraction which makes people will be happier when shopping. In Ebates, you can get cash back up to 25%. It is so fantastic! Besides, if you can tell your friends and them him buy in Ebates, you will get $5 after your friend purchases item with the total of $25. However, it is only in a certain time. In this site, you can also buy the deals from other discount coupon site like Groupon.

3. Coupons.com

You can’t go wrong with this one. Coupons.com has secret coupons and deals with Expedia, Lane Bryant, Victoria’s Secret, Rue21, Amazon, Bath & Body Works, Kate Spade, Sephora, NYX Cosmetics, Forever21 and many more brands. Coupons.com is such a great site to visit. The information which is provided on the site is interesting and complete. In one service, you can get the information about coupon code, voucher as well as the discount.

4. Retailmenot.com

RetailMeNot is one of the best sites for finding relevant coupons and promo codes. They are constantly removing the dead links and providing you updated codes. Ultimately, this saves you time because you no longer have to try a bunch of invalid codes to find one that works for you. This website also offers reward points for using their coupons. This means you can even earn Cashback for future purchases. Of course, this offer is only valid through participating store, but with over 500 retailers, you’re bound to be able to take advantage of some of these deals!

5. Offers.com

Offers has coupons and discounts for more than 16000 brands site-wide. The website also offers tips that will help you to save money, which is always a bonus. Promo codes and coupons are always being added as well. Unfortunately, finding a relevant coupon through Offers is a little tricky. There are endless coupon codes and not all of them are going to be working.

6. Slickdeals.net

Slick Deals offers a variety of coupons for many of your favorite retailers. The coupons are often relevant and work well to save you money. Unlike the other coupon websites that merely offer codes and discounts, Slick Deals also offers a review section. This is where customers, like yourself, can share your experience with any retailers. This will help other people to be aware if they are purchasing from someone who is unreliable. It can also help you to find great deals that might be hidden! A website like this is useful because you can use this information to decided whether or not you want to buy something. Once you’ve made a purchase, you might consider letting other people know about your experience. Remember: Share the positive experiences as well. If you have recommendations, make sure you’re trying to share those too!

7. CouponVario.com

Couponvario is one of the largest deal and coupon websites that gives you free access to coupons and deals. Couponvario also offers online coupons with secret promo codes you should try when you were shopping online. This may mean you’ll have to try a variety of codes before you can actually score on savings. With over 100, 000 codes available, you’re bound to find one that is useful to your shopping needs.

8. Couponfollow.com

Coupon Follow offers a variety of coupon options, including “trending” coupons. Users sign up through their Twitter accounts to take advantage of the offers available. One of the best perks of Coupon Follow is that you can subscribe to alerts for your favorite retailers. This means, you’ll get an email notification when new coupons and promos are available for the stores of your choosing. This can help to make sure you never miss a great deal.

9. ShopAtHome

ShopAtHome has lots of online deals and printable coupons for stores, including rebates.

10. Living Social

LivingSocial is an awesome site especially for those of us who like to support local businesses as it focuses on local shopping.

Now, we realize that business is not only producing profit but also building trust. The best coupon sites will make the customer visit again and again or even buy the coupon. The price of the product is not last forever. It will go back to the first price (normal price) in a certain time. The purpose of the site owner in offering cheaper price is to introduce the product as a part of the promotion.

Unfortunately, there are some weaknesses of buying a coupon in the best coupon sites. The sites do not accept payment method by m-banking. In addition, it is quite difficult to find the deal from a small country or infamous brands. On the other hand, the coupons are really helpful. It saves your money, so you can use it for the other things.

Social Media-Newbies Getting Started

Social Media on the Internet is one of the advantages of having an business online. With time to learn and do everything at a premium, you will need to get the most bang for your buck.

5 Places For A Newbie to Start

1. Twitter can be a very effective tool. The trick is to learn it well and use it to your advantage. You will find several twitter posts on this blog that will help you. Look under categories.

2. Your blog– When you are giving good valuable content your blog will be a resource for others. You can be the blog others want to come to.

3. Forums– Join a forum in your niche. Do a Google search for a forum that relates to you niche; dog forums, tropical fish forums, etc.

4. Comment on other blogs. You can create quite a community by giving good information on blogs that are related to your niche. This has worked really well for me. I just bookmark blogs I visit and comment on. Most of my traffic comes from other blogs. The key is to give good data that compliments what the blog is about.

5. Become an expert in you niche on Yahoo Answers. You can strut your stuff in any category that fits your niche and attract potential customers.

Remember what ever you do -learn it well. Pick one item, learn it and get it rolling before moving on to the next tool. Keep it simple.

To your social media success!

P.S. Making Money online is all about Social Networking. It is never two early to get started.

Optimizing for Conversion, Ignoring Consumption

We have worked with many demand or lead generation companies over the past 10 years. Most of the time when they come to us, they ask us to help them increase the number of people they convert into a free trial, a free download, or to create an account.

Conversion Isn’t an Event, it’s a Process

We always like to focus first on increasing the number of leads towards the top of the sales funnel. However, without the next step, consumption, the companies don’t necessarily achieve their better but usually unstated goal of increased revenue.

This is the same fuzzy focus that has companies intent on getting more clicks to their PPC ads just so they can show the increased traffic numbers without focusing on converting that visitor into a lead or sale. To tell you the truth it is not as hard to get visitors to take the uncommitted step, as it is getting them to actually use and consume the product.

When you optimize for customer experience you really need to take the whole scenario from awareness (clicking your ad) through conversion and ultimately to consumption (and ideally to evangelism) into account.

An Example of Trying to Create Consumption

Yesterday I received this email from TimeBridge. I set up an account when I received an invitation from a friend at another company to setup a meeting. You know how challenging it is to coordinate a meeting amongst several people using email, etc. Well I responded to his request and I really enjoyed the experience (partially because it was seamless using my Mac and Entourage) so I decided to setup an account. I even told several people about it. But I was never converted enough to incorporate it into my work flow.

I must have setup countless meetings since then all without the use of TimeBridge. What do you think went wrong? I converted, did a little worth of mouth for them but never consumed the product. Somehow the persuasive momentum was lost.

This is one way to try to initiate consumption. Use emails to try and prod engagement, add a bit of bribery (such as a contest for a $10 Starbucks card) and see how it works. We’ve seen several other really good examples over the years, what is the best method you have ever seen?

Attraction, Conversion, Consumption: Why You Need To Separate the Trio!

Go to a pond where you can visibly see a lot of fish. Take a stone and throw it in the water. Notice what the fish do? Yes, they race towards the stone in anticipation of a feeding frenzy?

Of course, you know what happens next.

The fish figure out you’re just teasing, and with disappointed guppy faces, they swim away. Um… if you continue to throw stones, they’ll keep coming back, till they work out it’s useless to humour you any more.

7 Signs Your PPC Campaigns Needs Optimization

Are you getting the most from your pay per click (PPC) campaigns? How would you know? Are you as efficient at getting clicks and converting visitors as you would be carrying water with a leaky bucket? Let me give you 7 signs to tell that you are not optimizing your PPC spend:

1. You use the set it and forget it strategy to PPC. If you setup your PPC campaigns months ago and haven’t adjusted a thing in it, I can practically guarantee you have room to improve it. The seasons change, traffic flow and traffic quality change, even Google’s Quality score changes.

Don’t Overlook These Common Cart Mistakes

I’ve seen a few big shopping cart no-nos lately, so I just want to alert Grok readers to them–they’re pretty easy to avoid:

The Homepage Dump: You add an item to your cart and are thrown into the checkout process. You’ve got another item on your shopping list, so you click the little link that says “Continue Shopping.” You’re dumped on the homepage. This is especially bad when you’ve done a lot of searching and results-filtering, and now it’s all gone. It really does feel like you’ve just been dumped! I can’t think of any good reason why the homepage is the proper place to land a visitor to continue shopping.