Tips for promoting your freelance business

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How do you promote your freelance business effectively? ... photo by CC user FirmBee on pixabay

Photo by CC user FirmBee on pixabay

There could be any number of things that have led you to this point: eschewing the traditions of an office routine and following the same 9-5 weekday pattern. Maybe you’d like to be sat somewhere hot with a cocktail in hand while creating cool content, or you would like to explore IT freelancing to spend more time doing the things you love.

Whatever the reason, just because you possess the aptitude and desire to be working freelance, it is by no means a straightforward switch, and you may be left wondering how you will make the leap from unknown to in demand, and how to achieve this as quickly as possible. Luckily for everyone involved, there are a number of ways to make the dream a reality.

The best place to begin the journey is with the basics. Once you have a well-defined strategy and an essence of what sets you apart from everybody else trying to make their way in your field, you can commence in earnest. Starting local is never an option to be underestimated. Word of mouth rumors can spread faster than you can imagine, and a good review from a few trusted sources can lead to a huge spurt in business demand.

This helps to build your initial client base, and if you play it right, you can guarantee yourself a starter income to keep you ticking over while you scout elsewhere for further opportunities. If you are aiming to offer services worldwide from a remote location such as your home, word of mouth will only get you so far. Mastering your online promotion is vital to increasing your potential. Explore all of the different social media pages and figure out which ones you think best suit your business. Once you have an idea of your preferred platforms, create a profile and see what interest you can generate.

Social media is not the only tool of online promotion of course, and there are many other websites that may offer a huge client base for you to get in touch with. If you are a budding writer or have other online work you can showcase, it is vital to create a portfolio so everyone can see what you have been working on. Websites are easy to set up these days, with many host sites that do all of the design work for a reasonable fee.

Specialist fields can sometimes be difficult to break into, and there are several companies that specialize in helping to get your name out there to find more work. If you are a contractor, going through an umbrella company can really help promote your business, as they do all the searching for you. This allows you to concentrate on what you do best.

As always when starting a new venture, it is unrealistic to expect these things to instantly click into place, so don’t be too disheartened if there is no immediate uptake. Keep plugging, ensure you retain an element that sets you apart from the rest, and you could have the job you’ve always dreamed of.

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How To Use The Internet To Grow Your Local Business

Ensuring your business is successful no doubt takes up most of your time. Your business is your lifeline; its success affects your quality and way of life, on top of providing you the cash you need to pay the bills, put a roof over the family’s head and pay for food. Making sure your company survives and grows means having a great product or service on offer, offering high-value prices, boasting excellent customer service and standing out in the crowd.

In this increasingly competitive economy, marketing your business is arguably more important than ever. Small businesses may not be looking to get themselves on prime-time TV, but they should be looking to market their business effectively if they want the maximum potential return on investment. Even small, local operations can find themselves increasing profits through online trade and often find a great website can transform a small operation into a national one.

Local Internet Marketing

Utilising internet marketing, in all its forms, should be a top priority for local businesses in the UK. Customers are searching for all types of businesses and when they’re looking to buy, local searches are commonly used. By this, we mean people are searching for specific businesses in specific areas, and that’s why Thomson Local is the go-to place for local business advertising. This company is used by millions of customers in the UK, and they generate millions of online referrals and deliver millions of directories to households and businesses. Thomson’s goal is the same as what yours should be; to attract business from as many potential customers as possible.

Using the Internet to Get Found By Customers

Getting your business onto online directories is a no brainer, but to unlock online sales to the maximum potential and really watch your business boom, you should be utilising numerous channels of internet marketing. If you get to grips with what you need to do and, in time, master the art, internet marketing can be extremely cheap – oftentimes free – but you should always seek advice where you’re not sure to get the maximum return on your efforts.

  • Social Media Marketing – You might be a traditional family-run business that’s been operating just fine for decades, and you might not be an avid user of Facebook yourself, but these days everybody is using social media, including your customers. Many people spend hours browsing through the social media feeds and millions of people check their feeds periodically through the day. If you attract followers to your page, you can share news about products and promotions that will be read by potential customers. Plus, they may share this news to others. You can respond to queries and complaints instantly to bolster your customer service, and if your campaign is a success, you can watch your customer base grow.
  • Having a Good Website – When people are searching for your business online, it’s important that you have a website for them to find. Online directories can help your business get found by local customers, but nowadays, they’ll want to find more than just a phone number and a location on a map – though both of those are completely necessary. They’ll want to take a look at your website and get a first impression of how professional your business looks. They’ll likely want to be able to look at products or have a general read of what your business is about. It’s also extremely likely that many of them will want to buy products from you online. Most of your competitors will be doing it, so having a website nowadays is crucial to staying in the marketplace.
  • Search Engine Optimisation – Just making a website is like putting a drop into the ocean. The internet is flooded with existing websites and new ones are created in abundance on a daily basis. Standing out in the crowd is what will bring your website success, and this is achieved via good search engine optimisation. Google among other search engines have a very complex system of deciding which websites are most relevant to user searches, but you can help your website reach the first page and attract more viewers by publishing content regularly, bearing in mind keywords your customers may search for and making sure they are featured in your text, building relationships with other businesses who can help spread the word of your website, and –as aforementioned – being featured on online directories and running successful social media campaigns.
  • Content Marketing – Many people are now immune to the hard sell. People don’t want salesman knocking on their doors and they don’t want to read articles on a website that focus solely on attracting their custom. People browse the internet at their own leisure, and as such, would prefer to read a more engaging article with useful information. Guest blogging and placing blogs on your own website, which explain things or provide a solution to a problem, can help build trust with potential customers and lead to future sales. Many businesses find success attracting new followers to their social media profiles by sharing related industry news and not always focusing on advertising themselves.

All of the above may be hard to master for new or inexperienced users, which is the reason so many businesses are around to help you market your business locally using the internet. Investing in one of these companies could be a good idea, but getting your business on Thomson Local really is a must. This company’s purpose is to get you found and it works with many partners to do just that, but it’s still important to remember other vital ways to attract new business using the internet. Social media marketing, having a great website that is search engine optimised and producing high quality content will all help you take your business into the future.

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Does Your Small Business Take Identity Theft Serious Enough?

cyber crime

In the world of identity theft (specifically information critical to one’s business), cyber-criminals oftentimes do not care whether your company is large and well-known or just a small business with a handful or workers.

As too many business owners have discovered (especially in recent years), cyber-criminals oftentimes don’t discriminate when it comes to trying to wreck a company. They will strike wherever security seems weakest, hoping to cash-in on a large amount of data.

With that the case, what exactly is your small business doing to thwart the attempts of identity theft thieves from striking your brand?

cyber crime

Know the Signs of a Weak Business

One of the first things that cyber-criminals look for when trying to steal identities (consumer and company data) is a weak security system.

It is imperative that you test your security system and firewall, making sure it is as close to 100 percent foolproof as possible.

Keep in mind that many cyber-criminals will “test” a company’s system regularly, looking to see where it is most penetrable. If your system is far from perfect, your business stands a good chance of being that company that is hit.

Among the practices you should have in place:

  • Security – Number one on your list should be a secure system that discourages cyber-criminals from hitting your company in the first place. Test and re-test your security software, seeing where your online activities may be the most vulnerable. If you’re stuck on a security software company, look to reviews of providers to see which one gets the highest ratings from industry experts. Also make sure that your server provider has a sound system on their side of things. One way to test your system is by having employees (see more below on their role in your company’s defenses) pose as cyber-criminals, trying to penetrate your security network. If one or more of your workers can get through, just stop and think about what a professional criminal can do;
  • Employees – Along with your security system, your employee are in essence your first line of defense. Their practices alone can oftentimes dictate whether or not someone with evil intentions can crash your system. Just as employees should be your biggest defense backers, some companies have come to discover that inside jobs were what ultimately led to being hacked. Make sure during the hiring process that you only bring in the brightest and most honest workers available to you. Yes, it can be challenging at times finding those individuals (see more below), but taking a little extra time in doing so can save you money and headaches down the road;
  • Outsourcing – More businesses find outsourcing their needs to be the way to go, especially since they don’t have to pay benefits to someone (typically works as an independent contractor) who is not on the company payroll 40 hours a week. Due to this, sometimes company and consumer data can be compromised. It is important that you vet each and every individual you consider outsourcing work to. Even more critical, only share important company and/or consumer data with those you fully trust, not to mention have secure servers at home or in their offices;
  • Travel – It isn’t uncommon for big and small business to ask some employees to travel for work from time to time. As a result, employees will oftentimes take company laptops with them in order to work out on the road. While the accessibility is great, one of the dangers in doing such is the vulnerability to being hacked. If an employee is working from a hotel room or even a café, can they say with 100 percent certainty that the server they are working off of is totally protected? In most cases, the answer to that question is no. If you’re not 100 percent sure the server is safe, don’t work from it and expose sensitive company and customer data. Save such efforts for when you get back to the office, working off of a server you know is fully protected.

At the end of the day, your business communications are at the forefront of lessening the chances of being attacked by cyber-criminals.

Making sure employees, management, and the security system software provider/s you work with are all on the same page makes a difference, especially if you plan on taking identity theft seriously.

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Where do I start with buying shares?

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In recent years, buying shares has become an increasingly appealing investment opportunity. In today’s technologically advanced society, there are now all manner of platforms through which you can buy shares, whether it’s over the phone, via post, online or even through a mobile app! However, with all these options on offer, the practice of buying shares can often seem daunting. Here are our top tips on where to start:

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Carry out extensive market research

Due to the fluctuating nature of the stock market and share prices, it is important to carry out extensive research before you commit to purchasing and selling shares. By investigating online and learning about a company’s recent stock market performance, its reputation within its field of industry and the economy as a whole, you can assess the short term and long term risks of investing in particular organisations.

It is also important to consider your long term stock market prospects. Do you want to rapidly buy and sell shares to make a quick profit or are you interested in becoming a minority or majority shareholder within a particular company or organisation? Although the stock market offers rife opportunities for rapid sales and quick profits, becoming a shareholder within an expanding organisation or an established corporation can equip you with the opportunity to benefit from exclusive shareholder discounts, or even to influence how the company is run.

If you intend to become a minority or majority shareholder within a company, it is important that you research the practice of shareholder’s agreements and the Disclosure Letter, UK laws differentiate from other areas of the EU so be careful that you are reviewing the correct information for your locale. Understanding these important legal documents can prove crucial in protecting your rights, responsibilities and long term investment opportunities as a minority or majority shareholder.

Choose a suitable stockbroker 

You have to buy shares through a broker who is registered with the stock exchange. As matters stand there are several stockbroker options at your disposal, including established City traders, the stockbroking divisions of large banking corporations or building societies and financial advisory firms who offer stockbroking services, as well as various online stockbroker companies. It is important that you extensively research the legitimacy, brand reputation and share purchasing processes of these organisations in order to find a stockbroker who is best suited to your particular investment interests.

Create a brokerage account

Now you have a stockbroker you can set up a brokerage account! This is the main account through which you will buy and sell real shares either online, over the phone or via the postal service. When choosing a broker account, you should scrutinise the terms and conditions of each account in order to assess whether it is suited to your investment interests. For instance: will you be charged inactivity fees if you don’t trade regularly? If you intend to rely on your shares for a regular income, how much will the withdrawal fees be? What are their interest rates? You should consider all of these factors before committing to opening a broker account and commencing trading.

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The Countries With The Fastest Internet

Countries With The Fastest Internet

Thinking about living the life of a digital nomad? Or maybe just need to get some work done while on vacation? Well check out this list to see the countries with the fastest internet. While it is often hard to determine who has “the fastest” internet due to many variables such as averages, cities, and wireless; these a few nations that stand out for the outstanding and cutting edge dedication to high speed internet connectivity.

Countries With The Fastest Internet
The United States
Let’s start out with the big one. The U.S. has at average speed of over 8.6mbps per second. This is only getting faster as plans for massive fiberoptic are being completed including ambitious plans by Google. Wifi is also abundant and often “free” with purchase at most bars, coffee shops, and restaurants. Due to America’s massive size and diversity, the accessibility and speed of internet can vary greatly depending on your specefic location. Some cities have even began implementing city wide free wireless Internet.

South Korea
South Korea has possibly the fastest average speed at an astonishing 22.1 mbps. This blows away most other countries and sets up an infrastructure to allow for massive economic growth. With close to 95% of the population using the internet, South Korea makes good use of the high speed bandwidth. South Korea’s reputation as one of the countries with the fastest internet is credited to a hybrid approach including  governmental planning, private section competition, a dense urban populace, and a culture thirst for the information, online games, and live streaming YouTube celebrities.

Denmark
This northern European country boats some of the fastest and most widespread high speed internet connectivity in the world. Despite lack of competition, the danish broadband market provides excellent speed and accessibility. Denmark is also leading the pack with wireless broadband with a recent promise of  99% of the population to be covered with 4G (10mbs) in 2015. Denmark also repurposes existing infrastructure such as out of use smoke stacks as antennas.

Northern European and and North East Asian countries  are consistently ranked  to have the fastest internet. The commonalities seem to be small prosperous  nations with urban populations. It is much easier to get all your citizens on a single high speed network when they all live in same city, other developed countries such as China, Australia, and the United States face a more difficult time keeping up due to their size. Also it is important to know these numbers seem to be increasing by the year, so a country with limited internet access today could have wide spread broadband by next year. Also the amount of high-speed cellular data networks is rising exponentially and it is not hard to a imagine an entire world connected by a 4G network.

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The Best Home Workout Programs to Get Shredded

Get Riped

Tired of looking or just feeling bit flabby? There is no reason you can’t be in the best shape of your life regardless of age or excuses. No gym? No problem! Here are some of the best home workout programs to get shredded. Each one makes different promises but they all have one thing in common, sweat. So just because you are at home doesn’t mean you will be on the couch. Be prepared to work hard.
Get Shredded
Shortcut to Shred
Hosted by legend Jim Stoppani this six week program is designed for any skill level and will give you a fat free hard body. No one promises it will be easy though, nothing good ever is right? Jim is gonna kick your butt for six weeks but it will pay off when that butt is hard as ice. So if you aren’t afraid to sweat, give this program a try and get shredded.

Kris Gethin 12-Week Trainer
Kris Gethin (or should we say Get-thin) doesn’t have time for your excuses, in fact that is his matter of fact philosophy: “No Excuses!” While this plan is probably for the intermediate to advance level given its intensity, expect to be in some of the best shape of your life following this 12 week training. Your friends will be asking who your personal trainer is and what gym you have been spending all your time at, having no idea you just stayed at home and were able to get shredded.

P90x
There is a reason p90X has become a household name. Short for “Power 90 Extreme this at home workout was created by Tony Horton and has gained incredible traction in the last decade. This program is suitable for beginners and combines  cross-fit style training with periodization along with a diet plan to ensure you will get maximum shape. The 90 in P90X also shows how many days it will take. While some programs offer a shorter span for results remember patience is a virtue. Follow the P90X program and in less than 3 months you will be in better shape than you ever though.
These are three solid programs if you want to get shredded. There are probably dozens more that work as well but there is one key factor in all of them, hard work. If you want to get rock hard abs, a toned core, biceps the size of pythons, you are going to have to work for it. That means waking up and doing the home workouts everyday. That means ditching the cheeseburgers and maybe doing the workouts twice in a day. So if you think you can handle it, try one of these work outs and be prepared to be the envy of your friends when they see how ripped you gotten.

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Most Successful Entrepreneurs Under 30

Most Successful Entrepreneurs Under 30

Just because you are young doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. Don’t let your youth hold you back rather embrace it and make it an advantage. Here are some of the most successful entrepreneurs under 30 who have changed the rules and already left their mark.

Tyler Haney
At just 27 seven years old Tyler Haney is the founder of Outdoor Voices an active apparel company that has over 8 million dollars in venture capitol. Talk about a big amount of cash for a young person. Tyler is handling is the responsibility and her education in sports and fashion are proving crucial in her new role, running a company.

Shawn Mendes
Shawn is only 17 years old but he already has a envious amount of success. Shawn is a singer and through self promoting videos on Vine he was able to obtain a manager, a contract, and now even a number one single. It just shows you what a lot of talent combined with a self starter attitude can get you.

Jordan Maron
The 23 year old Jordan Maron has made countless YouTube videos reviewing video games. Skeptics would not see this as a career but they were wrong. Jordan has over 8 million YouTube followers and with that many followers you have advertisers eating out of the palm of your hand. His giant online following will ensure his influence and success for years to come, of which he has many!

John Boyega
 Most Successful Entrepreneurs Under 30
This young actor recently starred in Star Wars the Force Awakens, a record breaking film by all measurements. John Boyega is only 23 years old and is likely on track to be one of the worlds most recognizable faces given the insane amount of marketing and promotional products tied to the new star wars movie. This young actor sure knows how to pick his roles and given the success of this film, he will likely have first dibs on acting roles for the remainder of his career.

Matthew Ramirez
A 26 year old Berkeley English Major, Matthew Ramirez has combined the high-tech with the old-school. He has created an algorithm that analyzes writing and automatically provides feedback and suggestions. His software has already been purchased by dozens of schools and looks like it is gaining some serious traction.
These successful entrepreneurs under thirty all have one thing in common, they shot for the moon. Regardless and because of their age they were able to use modern tools to showcase their talents. What to be like them, well first you need to decide what your talents and skills are. The second step is to market yourself or your company using modern social media platforms. Whether you are thirteen or seventy-three it just goes to show you that anything is possible.

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The Best Digital Nomad Hubs of 2016

digital nomad hubs of 2016

Digital Nomad is the buzz word of 2016 and if you are like thousands of people around the world you find the idea appealing.  Working from an exotic location can be a fun, rewarding, and even enlightening experience. With thousands of cities to choose form, here are the best digital nomad hubs of 2016.
digital nomad hubs of 2016


Chang Mai, Thailand
Thailand’s low cost of living, relaxed vibe, and beautiful scenery have made it one of world’s hubs for digital nomads. Chang Mai takes this a step further. This city in northern Thailand offers all the conveniences of a larger city such as Bangkok without the chaos and pollution many are trying to escape. Chang Mai offer affordable housing and daily expenses, high speed inter infrastructure, all while being surrounded by northern Thailand’s scenic mountains and reasonable climate. It is also far less touristy than much of southern Thailand. Combine this with a large convenient airport and you have an excellent choice for one of the best digital nomad hubs of 2016.

Santiago, Chile
Another warm city tucked away in the mountains, Santiago is the perfect place for a creative expat on a budget. This city features a low cost of living and world class amenities. It is also the perfect jumping off to spend your weekend enjoying Chile’s insanely diverse natural splendor, from deserts, to mountains, to penguin rich Patagonia. This capitol city is home to a number of university’s which has sustained a vibrant youth culture of artists. It is also home to a vibrant street food scene. Santiago houses over 6 million people, rich cultural history, great public transport and with a stable economy you may love it so much you could  find yourself transitioning from a nomad to a resident.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This Southeast Asian megacity is often over looked by digital nomads but I’m not sure why. With it’s tropical climate, low cost of living, and access to surrounding beach towns; this modern metropolis is the perfect to spend some time while trekking the world with your laptop. In the shadow of the worlds largest twin buildings and with massive modern infrastructure and ample co-work locations, Kuala Lumpur on of the ideal digital nomad hubs in 2016. So if you have a taste for adventure (not to mention spicy food) put Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on your digital nomad shortlist.

The are just a few of the cities that offer a good bang for the buck as a digital nomad. There are countless more and if you play your cards right you hopefully will get the chance to see most of them. Whether you are just spending a few weeks or end up spending several years; any of these locations will be perfect for your work and travel.

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Millenials: From 30 Year Careers to Freelance

careers to freelance

In previous generations you picked a trade after college or high school and chances are you stuck with it but for many this is changing. Today’s millennials are opting out of this process due to personal preference or the labor market. They are working as freelancers instead of choosing 30 year careers. Like many things, the transition from careers to freelance has it’s pros and cons, lets explore some of them.
careers to freelance

Benefits
Traditional healthcare, dentistry, 401k, and many other benefits have been provided by your employer but this is not the cause in many modern freelance positions. Working as a freelancer you may likely be required to take care of these things yourselves. This is an important thing to keep in mind while you looking at salary in a freelance role. Remember these things are often very expensive but freelance hourly pay is often higher than a salary role.

Job Security
The traditional 30 year career promised job security, though we have found this is not always the case. While it was definitely harder to get fired from a job where you have seniority, it is also harder to find a new if you are. A freelancer is by definition flexible, if you are expecting your job to end shortly, chances are you are ready for the next one. The key to thriving as a freelancer is keeping your skills marketable and current.

Hours
The forty hour work weeks of previous generations, complete with overtime pay are becoming harder to find. Today’s millennials are more likely to have a feast or famine work schedule. It is becoming increasingly common to work multiple jobs at once, logging well over 60 hours for months on end only to be followed by periods of little to no work. For the millennial freelancer it is crucial to be aware of this and like a squirrel, stash away your earnings during the busy periods so you will be okay during the inevitable slow times. The savvy millennial freelancer can also use this to their advantage and plan vacations around these downtime or even take it a step further and spend your life on vacation as a digital nomad.

So the debate rages on whether this transition in work style is for the greater good or not, there is not denying the impact it is having on the millennial generation. Those young workers who are most successful are flexible and constantly adapting to the changing demands of the workforce. They also need to be self reliant regarding savings and benefits. You can no longer count on a salary and career for your life from a single company. The workforce of today and tomorrow will be shaped by freelancing millennials moving from careers to freelance.

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What Can Virtual Assistants Do For You?

Virtual Assistant

No, a virtual assistant is not something out of a science fiction movie. A virtual assistant is often a freelancer working from home (virtually) who can help you with your business. So what can virtual assistants do for you? Well, they can do just about anything a physical assistant could; often at a fraction of the cost. Here are some ideas:
Virtual Assistant
Presentations
Last minute meeting and you don’t have your presentation ready? Your virtual assistant can help you with this. Maybe you have all the content ready to go but you don’t have the time or expertise to put into a shareable format. This is a great task to assign to your virtual assistant, simply provide some instructions and wait for the results.

Research
Is your business set to expand into a new arena? Do you need to do some research on potential clients or competition? Give this job to your virtual assistants and let them loose. They will scour the world wide web and bring back a well written data driven document on the topic of your choice. This is not only time saving but can be crucial in making your next big move.

Emails
Out of control inboxes are far to common these days. This is something your virtual assistant could help with. Imagine waking up Monday morning to a single email from your assistant telling you the highlights and must does from the weekends messages. I couldn’t think of a better way to start your week.

Chasing Clients
Maybe you know there is business out there but you don’t have the time to chase up all those leads in your Rolodex (or digital equivalent.) Share these ideas with your digital assistant and have them send personalized email or physical mailers. Instead of using a mass email service you could be having your assistant write customized personal messages geared at each client. These emails could pay off big time and you will be thanking your virtual assistant.

Vacation Planning
Its not only business, you could also have your virtual assistant help with something more fun. A digital assistant is the perfect tool for planning your and your families next getaway. Your virtual assistant can look up the perfect hotels, restaurants and flights. They can also find unique things for you to do while on vacation. Imagine having your next trip all sorted out before you even leave home, so all you had to think about are the waves rolling up on the beach.

These are only a few of the possible things your virtual assistants can do for you. The sky is the limit on what tasks you can assign your virtual assistant. Once you get used to your virtual assistant you will be wondering how you ever lived without one.

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