Category Archives: Freelance

Google Voice: Grab an extra no. on top of extra no.

Google started sending out invites to the new Google Voice service. If you don’t know yet what Google Voice is, you can watch this video.

But being a freelancer, it is always better to grab an extra no. that will stay put with your business and another number for personal life. At first I got one for myself, got my name in it and felt really happy about it, and later got one for business, got the name in it and is all set for rocking.

Separating the numbers will make things easier for me as I swtich bettween personal and business calls. I can also assign just one phone connection to both the numbers and have full control over the priority of call I take.

If you are traveling a lot internationally, don’t forget to bind your Google Voice number with Gizmo5 and start using the service whereever you go at a fractional cost. You can read more about it here. If you have any more ideas that could help freelancers with Google Voice, please do let me know!

Website development flow

I spent some time preparing this flow chart on how I manage projects. Thought it would help a new freelancer understand one of the ways of how software gets done in freelancing world. Most of the stuff in this flow chart is pretty much self explanatory but feel free to comment if you have any questions. Chao…

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Freelancers, fire a client today.

I fired a client today. It was difficult. This was my first client I had to let go since years. But I think I took a right decision. Things weren’t so good with us and the project was going beyond what I’ve expected. I did work with the client previously on other projects and I never really enjoyed that experience. I tried hard to look for a win-win situation, bent a lot of rules, but never could find it. It was always loose-win.

Today I feel I have taken the most important step in re-structuring the way I do business and like I said, I feel good about it. I am trying to get rid of some client if:

  • The client doesn’t enjoy working with me but sticks around because either I am skillful or affordable
  • I don’t enjoy working with the client but I am sticking to him because I dont have anything else to do

When it comes to freelancing I think it all comes down to enjoying the work and not stressing yourself out. Stress is ok if you are a new comer to freelancing world. But for an established freelancer, one must always work with clients you enjoy working with.

Time to filter some of my clients 🙂

myView: Free open source is not really free. It’s expensive!

Free Open Source is not really Free

Free Open Source is not really Free

So here’s another story that I wanted to share with fellow freelancers and my clients on how expensive so called “free” open source software can get.
This incident occurred a couple of times but only today that I realize how much expensive the open source bang wagon could be. You can call me a tube light for realizing this so late.
I worked on a Joomla 1.0.x (open source and quite an established php cms software) based project a year back for a niche community of houseboaters. We spent weeks configuring the site to make it work the way my client wanted. Adding new components, creating new components, complex customizations, design, SEO, templating, etc. etc. and it all looked good at the end. The client was very pleased and so was I for what I have created out of Joomla.

It all went fine until yesterday when the site got hacked and Google kicked it out of its search results. The traffic went down drastically leaving nothing but few thousand users. Turns out that my client wasn’t really paying attention to the growing security concerns of Joomla nor was he really interested in upgrading the scripts to the latest version. Anyways, I had to act quickly and figure out the best possible way of getting the site back on Google and make the site secure once again.
I spent one whole night researching and trying to figure out the problem.. finally I found the malicious code and removed it. You can read it here.
After getting it back on Google, our challenge was to make it secure. And the only way to do that was to upgrade to the latest version of Joomla and all the components, customizations etc.
The site has grown exponentially over the year and with so much customization, it has become quite difficult to bulk upgrade the site. Now the whole upgrade project costs almost same as getting a new site.
The point here is, although free open source software comes for free, you still need to shell out quite good amount of money to make it work the way you want. Plus, maintenance and regular monitoring is essential. This hidden cost of maintenance and upgrades could hurt your business model. So, make sure to include it.
Freelancers, a tip for you would be to explain the hidden costs to your clients and sign them for a maintenance contract!

About myView: myViews are totally my point of view of things I see in the industry. Could be a good analysis or just stupidity.

myView: Open Source hobbies slowly shifting to earnings

I used to see people create open source scripts/softwares and give out for free to the community and rely on donations to make few bucks out of it. Not really a good source of income but wouldn’t hurt if you do something as a hobby and people donate you some cash when they use it. But relying on donations may not fetch you as much as it would if you sell your script for a buck or two.

The way I see it, open source hobbyists are becoming smarter in business models and instead of giving the product for free, they are charging 99 cents to 5 bucks. A silly Magento CAPTCHA module I came across sells at $4.99 and most of the scripts from the vendor are of the same price. The vendor also has a community forum for people to help each other if they fall short of handling support tickets.  With this kind of business model you (vendors or freelancers) are sure to make good profit. iPhone Apps are another good example of how people are being tempted to own an app for just 99 cents. Considering millions of downloads of each app, you will be quick to make a million.

My advice to freelancers building products in free time, sell your product for a buck or two rather than put it free.

About myView: myViews are totally my point of view of things I see in the industry. Could be a good analysis or just stupidity.

It’s all about staying connected.

logmein-ignition-iphoneLogMeIn provides easy access to your computers (with static or dynamic IP) from any other computer using nothing but just a web browser (of course, internet too). I’ve been using LogMeIn’s  free service for a while now and I really enjoy it. Especially when I am at work and need to quickly access my PC either to grab some songs or files, I find this tool really handy. I know there are other services out there but I am so happy with LogMeIn that I never felt a need to try something else.

Recently, LogMeIn came up with an ignition/app for iPhone/iPod that will allow you to do the same as with a computer. It’s currently priced $30 (probably the most expensive app on the AppStore) and its totally worth every penny. If you are a freelancer living a nomad life and own an iPhone or iPod, then I strongly recommend going for this app.

Before I end this quick review, the connection speed when using on WiFi is obviously faster than 3G. But it wont disappoint you. Unless you are living in some deserted area with bad 3G reception. I haven’t had a chance to try it on 2G iPhone.

iPhone App Development Offer!

 

So I have this crush on my new iPhone… I’ve been discovering new things each day and it goes on impressing me with cooler apps, or features every day.

Like many things I want… I always wanted to create an iPhone/iPod application based on some of my ideas and put it on the App Store. I’ve been reading quite a lot on how to get it done and feel pretty confident about it. The only problem seems to be the hardware… I am more of a PC guy, been with windows my entire life and the iPhone SDK doesnt seem to give a *hit about PC. So the bottom line is, I need to either buy a Mac, or tweak my PC to install OS X and then pray for iPhone SDK to work flawlessly (which doesnt seems to be the case based on my research). The only recommendation I am getting from my friends and associates is to get a Mac…

Thus, I started looking for some new and refurbished options… while refurbished machines are great, I am just not into saving few bucks and getting a used piece. So, I’ve decided to get a new one… and thinking whether to go with a Mini or Book… Since, both seems to serve the purpose, I am kinda tempted to go with the aluminum macbooks…  Now that the expense of buying one is coming down to somewhere around $1700 (yeah, I want a good config machine), I am getting in touch with my clients who were once interested in getting an iPhone application done, to sponsor me for the hardware… what do they get in return? Well, theres a lot in the offering. First, service valued upto $2500 (redeemable once or in multiple phases), secondly, free hosting on my supreme servers for 5 years, finally, a free iPhone app based on their idea (upto $1000)… thats more than $5000 for just a mac book!

Interested in sponsoring me? contact me now before someone else does. Think, its too late? you can still get in touch to see the current exclusive vaked.com offers.

How to get Motivation to work

Sometimes, after a long busy day at office, I don’t feel like working at home. I feel so lazy that I either watch another episode of Family Guy/America Dad/Arrested Development or something like that and just hit the bed. I would even spend couple of hours with my roomies, talking nothing but worthless crap (I know I need to be social too, but its just not my kind of thing right now). Lately I started reading some books on getting ‘motivation to work’ and also implemented few of the techniques that are proving fruitful. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • Split the tasks into very small 10 min. tasks that look doable and easy
  • Write down all the best things that would happen If I finish these small tasks early.
  • Make a small plan on how I can tackle difficult problems in an efficient way.
  • Talk to Mom for encouragement (sometimes this takes lot of time!).
  • Realize how happy my client would be if I finish the project way before deadline (or) realize how mad my client would be if I delay the project any further.
  • Go through my goals list to realize that I need more money!
  • Have a coffee or tea to ensure I stay awake and work.
  • Staying focused on those small tasks I created. Avoid blogging!

But unfortunately sometimes, even with all that my laziness overshadows my plans, tasks list, talk with my mom, goals list and everything under the sun. That’s when I feel I am tired and I need a good night sleep 🙂

Use W8-ben instead of W9

Federal law requires all companies/individuals to hire contractor (freelancers) on W9 unless they are foreigners (international residents, non-us citizens, non-immigrants) , for which W8 form has to be submitted. I see a lot of freelancers do away from big projects that require contractor’s US tax id to work (especially for w9 purpose). But one thing most of them do not know is the fact that they can hire foreigners on W8 bases. W8 works equally well as W9 for tax filing. W8 is designed for US residents to hire foreign resources working off shore.

Next time when you were asked to submit W9, request your client to process W8 instead. W8 entitles you to pay taxes in your home country.

Freelancers, do you work or sleep?

I have many friends that are into Freelancing and share the same experience. Many times freelancers have to do away with sleep and work 24 hours stretch, just like a resident in a Hospital. I came across a nice tool that will create a pie chart based on no. of hours you spent on daily routine. Have a look.

I have attached mine here.

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