5 Great iOS Apps for Freelancers

5 Great iOS Apps for Freelancers

Most freelancers are frequently on the go, and many of them can function in any space where there is an Internet connection. Wouldn’t it be great to make great use of your iOS device to better manage your freelance business?

Here are a few great iOS apps that freelancers may find especially useful:

MyPrice – Costs: $1.99

MyPrice is a valuable iOS app for independent contractors who aren’t sure how much they should charge for their services, whether on a project basis or at an hourly rate. This app gives you a general idea of how much you should charge a client based on various personal and external factors such as your background and daily expenses. MyPrice caters to an extensive range of freelance jobs, from web design and programming to writing and copy editing.

Expensify – Costs: Nothing

You may not need to submit an expense report to your boss (what boss?), but you do need to be responsible when it comes to recording your business-related expenses. Expensify is a nifty app that allows you to track your purchases as they occur by syncing them with your bank accounts and credit cards. This iOS app also allows you to use your camera phone as a receipt scanner for purchases that are made with cash.

SignEasy – Costs: Nothing

Have you ever finalized a sales contract, NDA, or consent form with a client, but had no immediate access to a printer, scanner, or fax machine? SignEasy is a secure and convenient way to use your iPhone or iPad to sign documents, whether at home, at the office, or at a remote location. This app allows you to easily import a document, edit PDFs, sign with a stylus or your finger, and email the final document or save it on Dropbox or other similar applications.

2Do: Tasks Done in Style – Costs: $9.99

There are hundreds of productivity apps out there, but if an app’s overall interface matters to you, then 2Do is one thing that’s worth spending on. This attractive and intuitive task manager has tons of useful features, such as picture attachments, audio notes, tabbed lists, instant previews, multiple alerts per task, as well as dragging and dropping tasks to and from lists.

Invoice2go Plus – Costs: Nothing
Invoice2go – Costs: $9.99

One of the hardest parts about freelancing isn’t actually making money, but collecting it. Invoice2go is one app that will make it a lot easier for you to create invoices, credit memos, estimates, and purchase orders. You’ll be able to effortlessly calculate taxes based on the state you’re in, and can also keep track of the clients who still owe you. Invoice2go comes with several invoice template styles to choose from, and also allows you to place a PayPal button on your invoice to make the entire process even more convenient.

5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Creating A Business Plan

5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Creating A Business Plan

When it comes to getting your small business off the ground, one of the biggest steps you’ll need to do first is create a business plan. Of course, while it is important to include necessary elements in your business plan, it is equally important that you do not commit any of the following mistakes:

1) Procrastinating

Unfortunately, most business owners tend to put off creating their business plan until it’s absolutely necessary, only creating one when an investor or bank asks for a copy. Don’t wait until the last minute. Take the time to plan for both the present and the future, and you’ll find that your efforts will go a long way toward your business success.

2) Being too vague

Avoid talking nonsense and being too vague with your business objectives and goals. Identify specific dates, milestones, budgets, and management responsibilities. If you’re trying to avoid revealing confidential material, then you may want to show interested parties your executive summary first, and then possibly ask them to sign a non-disclosure or non-compete agreement if they want to see more.

3) Being too detailed

Keep it clear and concise. When creating a business plan, remember not to get weighed down by too many details. Focus on the key elements of your business, and keep the technical information to a bare minimum. If you really must discuss the particulars, do so in a later section like an appendix.

4) Conducting inadequate research

It’s essential that your business plan be backed up by research. Ensure that numbers, statistics, and charts substantiate all your projections and assumptions. Also, double-check that your research isn’t dated, or you may just discredit the work you’ve done so far.

5) Claiming your business has no competition

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when creating a business plan is failing to acknowledge the fact that you have any competition. From the very beginning, list the other players in the industry, and identify how you can best compete with them. All businesses have competitors, whether in a direct or indirect form.

Common Website Mistakes You Should Avoid Making

Common Website Mistakes You Should Avoid MakingThese days websites are very easy to put together. Of course, putting a simple, bare website online will not automatically translate into more customers or clients. If you want to truly make your website an effective business tool, then you have to put some serious thought into what it looks like and what it contains. When it comes to creating a website for your small business, here are some common mistakes you should avoid:

1) Not updating your content.

Remember that the reason people visit your website is because they’re searching for content. A website is used as a primary source of information for both new and old customers, and it is a must that you keep it updated if you want to drive more traffic. Find a way to engage your customers and keep them coming back for more. A simple way to do this is by adding a blog to your regular retail site and use it to post topics of interest to your audience.

2) Being careless with typos and grammatical errors.

The tiniest of spelling or grammatical errors may seem insignificant, but these mistakes can make you look unprofessional. If you can’t tell the difference between “their” and “there,” keep in mind that you may just be damaging your credibility. Have someone else proofread your website before publishing it on the World Wide Web, or use a spelling and grammar checker to look for errors.

3) Forgetting a call to action.

People are visiting your website—but now what? Don’t let them close that browser without taking some sort of action. Tell your customers what to do next! Ask them to contact you, buy something, or sign up for your mailing list. Every page should have some sort of call to action that leads your readers in the direction you’d like them to go. It might help to offer then an incentive for signing up with you like a free report or ebook.

4) Not making it user-friendly.

Your website might look nice, but is it easy for visitors to navigate? Don’t go live if your website isn’t user-friendly. Make the navigation within your website seamless! If your website visitors have a hard time finding the information they’re looking for, then they’ll likely take their business somewhere else. Keep your web design smart and simple.

5) Being unreachable.

Make it extremely easy for people to get in touch with you. List your contact numbers and email address in a location that is simple to find. Have a contact form or page so customers can easily leave you a message that goes directly into your inbox. Don’t forget to write them back!

Photo Credit: iClipart

5 Tips to Building an Online Presence for Your Small Business

5 Tips to Building an Online PresenceStudies show that approximately 80% of consumers use the World Wide Web to locate products and businesses online. These numbers give small and mid-sized businesses a reason to seriously think about getting on the Internet. Building an online presence for your small business can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. Where do you even start? Well here are some simple tips to get started on building an online presence:

1) Make a plan.

Building an online presence becomes a lot easier if, from the start, you are able to identify what you want to achieve. Incorporate online goals in your business plan. Who is your target market online and how do you reach them? What do you want to get out of your going online? Set traffic projections and social media goals.

2) Determine your media outlets.

There are dozens of social media sites out there—but don’t feel pressured to create an account for every single media outlet online. Do some research and stick to one or two accounts. Facebook allows you to easily connect with your customers, while Twitter makes it easy to chat with customers, colleagues, and other individuals in the industry. Hold contests or giveaways on your page and customers will definitely keep their eye on you.

3) Always choose quality over quantity.

Yes, you want to establish brand recall, but that doesn’t mean you need to post a dozen messages a day. If you don’t have anything compelling or interesting to share with your followers, then don’t share it.

4) Blog.

Establish confidence and trust in your customers by incorporating a blog into your website and posting regularly. Share your expertise by writing about what you know. Increase your online business credibility by offering your readers free, useful information and tips. Take the opportunity to show your customers that you and your company are approachable, knowledgeable, and active!

5) Keep it consistent.

It may be difficult to set aside time each day to work on building your online presence, so do your best to make it a habit. Schedule a particular time each day to go online, chat with your customers and reply to their queries.

Of course, there are many more things you can do to help out. Building an online presence takes a lot of time, effort and consistency. Work hard and your determination and discipline will pay off!

Photo Credit: iClipart

How To Monetize Your Blog and Earn Passive Income Using E-Commerce

Having been a work at home graphic designer for 6 years now I’ve learned a thing or two about how to earn passive income. While it’s true you can earn ad revenue from your blog you could also monetize your blog and earn passive income with e-commerce. With the right product and a bit of strategic marketing your blog could be earning you a steady stream of consistent income while you are off doing other things.

With the recent surge in e-commerce plugins it is now possible to set up a simple yet effective e-commerce solution right from within WordPress. I have run e-commerce stores using complicated and sometimes frustrating software solutions such as X-Cart and Zen Cart. X-Cart while a very robust system does not come out of the box with many of the features i’d need to run an e-commerce and has cost me into the thousands to modify. Zen Cart while free was just way too difficult to navigate on the back end for my needs.

Looking to start a new dot com and in the need of a quick e-commerce solution I decided to opt for WordPress. In earlier days if we wanted to sell from our blogs we could add a PayPal button to a page. While that is still an option your needs will most likely be greater than that. Now it is completely possible to set up a full e-commerce store by simply installing a plugin. Previously scarce the options for WordPress e-commerce solutions are now plentiful. Here are some of my top picks.

E-Commerce Plugins For Word Press

WooCommerce –  WooCommerce would be my first choice in plugins. Though I orignally test drove WooCommerce and found it to perfect in most every respect I ultimately did not choose it. I needed the option to assign multiple files to a single product and at the time this was not possible with WooCommerce. However I just got word yesterday that upon their next rollout they will be releasing the next upgrade with that feature. When that happens I fully intend to switch over.

JigoShop –  My next choice and current e-commerce solution, Jigoshop was actually born off of the WooCommerce platform. Many of the features are the same on the admin side but WooCommerce seems to be a bit more stylish. Jigoshop does allow the sale of downloadable goods and is even toying with the idea of allowing multiple files per product. I in fact am beta testing their version of multilple files per download and seemingly it works pretty well. They have just released their latest upgrade and surprisingly this feature was not implemented. Not sure why that is or when it will be added but here’s keeping my fingers crossed for that.

E-Junkie –  E-Junkie is a subscription based service. Monthly fees are based on how many products you have and/or how much storage space you need. E-Junkie allows the sale of digital files and gives you the option to host the files on your server or theirs.

PayPal –  PayPal has evolved and offers options for adding buttons to your blog for accepting payments. The benefit of using paypal is that they are highly recognizable and well trusted. You can accept credit cards without having to go through the hassle of setting up an account with the credit card companies. To use this feature you will need a business account with Paypal.

If you don’t happen to have any products readily available or are unsure as to what you could even sell here are some ideas. I made certain to list plugins that allow the sale of downloadable goods because that is the truest way to really make passive income.

Here are some of the top E-Goods that may be lucrative for your blog:

  • E-Books
  • Software
  • Music Files
  • Digital Art
  • Website Templates

If you don’t have any of these products to sell you may want to consider partnering with or becoming an affiliate for someone who does. Of course you could always sell any of your own products be they digital or even physical if you desire. Another option to consider is drop shipping. This allows you to offer a variety of tangible goods on your website but all of the shipping and product handling is done by a third party company.

Naturally the key to keeping this truly passive is to opt for as little effort as possible. The products I’ve mentioned require no maintenance or upkeep and there is no shipping involved. Your greatest effort will be in setting up the initial product in the store. Once that’s done you are free to sit back and let the passive income flow.

How To Monetize Your Blog and Earn Passive Income Using E-Commerce:

Here’s how to get started.

  1. Install a WordPress blog to your website.
  2. Select the right e-commerce plugin for you and install it.
  3. Choose a payment gateway, this is essential for getting paid! Sign up for a service and then enter your user information in the designated area of your plugin. Popular gateways include, PayPal, 2Checkout, Google Checkout and a wide variety of other services.
  4. Choose your product.
  5. Brand, package and upload your product to add it to your store. You will be able to do this through your WordPress plugin or you may need to use FTP depending on the file size.
  6. Add product to your store. Typically this is just like adding a post depending on the solution you choose. Be sure to assign the file for download or the customer will have nothing to download.
  7. Check and recheck! Be sure to check all product descriptions for accuracy. Doe the product image match the product description? Does the description text accurately portray what is being sold? Log in as a guest and purchase the products. Even have a friend do this as well. Did the payment process correctly? Were the files delivered properly? Ask your friend how the process went for them. Test your store on different browsers. Be sure everything is running smoothly before you open your doors to the public.

Though getting your e-commerce store set up can be simple, and maintenance will be minimal be aware there will be some maintenance.

  • Customer Support: For obvious reasons most downloadable goods come with a no return policy. But you will still need to offer customer support if you want repeat business and referrals. Be sure you or someone qualified is available to answer any customer inquiries or concerns.
  • Website Maintenance: Keep your website up to date! Pay attention to update alerts and keep all versions of your blog and e-commerce plugin up to date. Failing to do so can cause great security risks!
  • Marketing:  Plan a strategy for getting the word out. You’ll want to have some type of promotion in place to let visitors know about you and your awesome product. Take some time to promote your site and your product. Doing so will reap great rewards.

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be raking in the passive income with your blog.

Author Bio:

Veronica Spriggs is a full time graphic designer working from home creating photographer album templates. She is also an amateur photographer always looking for the perfect shot. She has a love of art, music, movies, food and all things beautiful. She enjoys educating others and offers many helpful photographer tutorials on her blog.

Empower Your Small Business with Amazon Marketplace

Amazon Marketplace

Did you know that you can sell your products on Amazon?  You can level the playing field against your larger competitors and reach millions of Amazon customers by offering your goods in the Amazon Marketplace.

You can easily upload your product inventory into any of the following categories:

Books
Baby
Beauty
Camera & Photo
CD and Vinyl
DVD, Video/VHS
Electronics
Grocery & Gourmet Food
Health & Personal Care
Home & Garden
Musical Instruments
Office Products
Personal Computers
Software
Sports & Outdoors
Toys & Games
Tools & Hardware
Video Games
Wireless Antennas & Boosters

If you sell less than 40 items per month you’ll pay only 99¢ per item plus selling fees, or if you sell more than 40 items per month you’ll want to open a Professional account for $39.99 per month plus selling fees.  For a limited time, you can even get your first month free!

You can choose to ship your own orders or for an additional fee Amazon will fulfill orders for you.  The best part is that Amazon deposits your earnings directly into your bank account – every 14 days for Pro sellers, and every 7 days for individual sellers.