Resources For Freelancers: How to Get Started, And Stay Successful

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how to get started and stay successful as a freelancer

Becoming a freelancer is a huge step, and is often the first of many for fledgling entrepreneurs. It’s frightening when you’ve never walked the path before. However, many others have, and there is a ton of information available online to help you find customers, establish yourself, and enjoy the success you’ve worked so hard for.

Here are 15 resources to help you get started:

Finding Work

Before you can truly call yourself a freelancer, you have to get that first client. From online job boards to networking and setting rates that make sense, the following links can help you lay a solid foundation for your freelancing future.

11 Best Websites to Find Freelance Jobs and Make Extra Money

How To Network As A Freelancer

Email Marketing: Mailchimp

How to Set Your Rates for Your Freelance Services

How Can A Freelancer Grow Their Business as a Beginner?

Productive Ways To Keep Your Clients Happy

A few clients in, and you’ll start to get the hang of it. But as you grow, so too must your methodologies. Here are some ways to keep yourself on track as your customer roster expands.

Thrive: Time Tracking For Solopreneurs 

How to Stay on Track as a Freelancer Who Works From Home

7 Best Payment Methods For Freelancers 

The Best Online Collaboration Software for 2020

Client Communications Done Right: 8 Tips To Follow

Keeping It Together

When you work for yourself, you will soon find that there are many mistakes to make, but even more ways to perpetuate success. Information on creating a website, finding a graphic designer, and promoting your fledgling business below.

Mistakes New Freelancers Make

Building a Business Website

5 Tips for Hiring a Great Web Developer

10 tips for choosing the best graphic designer

10 Affordable Ways To Promote Your Freelance Business

As a freelance entrepreneur, your success – and failures – are completely up to you. And while no two individuals will have the same journey, the links above are helpful to just about everyone that’s chosen to step out of the mainstream and into the world of self-employment.

How to Set Up a Productive Home Office if You Are Blind or Have Low Vision

The world is not always as welcoming as it should be to those who are blind or have low vision, but every room in your home should be a safe and comfortable environment. If you’re a remote employee, this same rule applies to your home office. Many of the strategies you’ve likely already used in other areas of your home can be applied to your office space, but there are a few additional strategies that will help your comfort level and even your efficiency when you’re on the clock. Our guide offers the details on what you can do to create a productive home office if you are blind or partially-sighted.

Downsize Your Furniture Pieces and Other Belongings

It’s a smart move to downsize by reducing the number of items both large and small in your home office. Doing so will help you open up space so it’s easier to move around.

Start with large pieces of furniture. Anything you don’t need for work purposes should be removed, such as end tables and decorative shelving. If you still feel too crowded, you may benefit from buying smaller pieces of furniture and those that make use of vertical space rather than horizontal. For example, a tall shelf next to a downsized desk provides ample room to work and store your items without using a lot of floor space.

Just as important is taking some time to declutter and clear out small-sized belongings. Remove anything you don’t use for work the same way you did with your furniture, relocating it to another part of your home or letting it go by selling, donating, or tossing it. Be sure to ask a loved one for help with this project if you need it — it’s tedious (and even more so for those with blindness or low vision), but it’s worth the effort because of all of the space you’ll gain.

Open Up Your Layout

Once you’ve downsized the items in your home office, look for ways to organize everything more efficiently. Having an open layout allows those with limited or no vision to move around more safely and freely by removing obstacles and other tripping hazards. Here are some easy ways to create more space:

  • Move items against the wall as much as possible. For example, rather than having your desk in the middle of the room, put the back of it flush against the wall so you can walk straight to your seat as soon as you enter the room.
  • If you use floor lamps, be sure to put them against walls so they don’t clog up pathways.
  • Remove coffee tables that sit in the center of the room or that narrow walkways.
  • Opening up your layout will help remove many tripping hazards, but there are others that will become more pronounced as you clear out floor space. Area rugs can be dangerous for those with blindness or limited vision, but if you must have them, be sure they’re secured to the floor with double-sided carpet tape. High-pile carpeting can also be difficult to walk across, so if yours is longer than ½ inch, it may be necessary to replace it.

Once you’ve established your layout, try not to make any changes unless they’re absolutely necessary. This way, you won’t have to refamiliarize yourself with it and risk bumping into or tripping over your belongings.

Prioritize Lighting

The right lighting can make a huge difference for those who have low vision. Use these tips to brighten things up without creating distracting glare:

  • Allow in as much natural light as possible. Raising your shades or blinds during the day allows sunlight to pour in and helps reduce the need to add artificial light sources, including lamps that can clutter your floor and desk space.
  • Add bright bulbs to overhead lighting and lamps. When you can’t rely on sunshine, white bulbs with a high number of lumens will provide the most light.
  • Add a tabletop lamp to your desk and other workstations. They’ll give you a focused source of light.
  • Use a light paint color on the walls. This will help keep the room bright no matter the time of day.
  • Beware of glare. In a well-lit room, it’s easy for surfaces to glare off one another. This is distracting for people with full sight abilities, but it can be extremely irritating to those with low vision.

Use Colors and Textures

Use contrasting colors and textures to your advantage. Whether on large or small items, pairing bright colors with dark tones can make it easier for those with low vision to differentiate between objects. Similarly, implementing opposing textures is a helpful strategy for individuals who are blind or have partial vision. For example:

  • A black desk in a white room stands out.
  • Adding blue painters tape to light switches with white plates makes them easy to spot.
  • Attaching felt to the handles of the drawers you use most frequently makes grabbing them a cinch.
  • Adding textured cloth to the base of your desk lamp prevents you from having to feel around for it (and potentially knock something over).

Keep Your Frequently-used Items Within Easy Reach

Even if your schedule changes from day to day, it’s helpful to keep the items you use most often on or near your workspace so you don’t have to get up frequently. Of course, you should still be mindful of clutter, so don’t overcrowd your desk or the area surrounding it. To add convenience but keep things organized, try these tips:

  • Keep small items like pencils, notepads, and headsets in a shallow desk drawer. You’ll have easy access to them, but they won’t litter your desk or get lost in a deep drawer.
  • Store important documents, folders, and files in your largest desk drawer. If your desk doesn’t have one, add a small filing cabinet directly next to it.
  • Keep other items on open shelving or in cubbies next to your desk.

Invest in the Right Assistive Devices

Technology has come a long way for employees who have blindness or low vision. There are several tools that can help you feel more comfortable and be more productive at work. Consider buying one or more of these gadgets:

  • Extra-large laptops or computer monitors that allow you to adjust image size and screen brightness are a must-have for those with low vision.
  • Illuminated magnifiers can help make computer monitors and paper documents more visible.
  • Keyboards that have oversized keys are easier for those with partial vision to see, while those that include Braille letters and numbers are helpful for those who are blind.
  • Talk-to-text software eliminates the need for typing.
  • Text-to-speech software reads computer files aloud.

Our homes are the places we should feel the most secure, and our home offices shouldn’t be exempted. With a few adjustments, it’s easy for individuals who are blind or have low vision to set up a space that’s built for both safety and success.

Stay Focused, Stay Productive: Tips for Parents Working Remotely

advice for stay at home moms work from home parents working mothers

While the world continues to address the COVID-19 crisis, businesses have had to shut down and many, many others have had to drastically change the way they work. That means more and more employees have to change the way they work, too. As more employees work from home to help flatten the curve, a major issue arises: how do you stay focused and productive while working from home, especially as a parent? 

  1. Establish Boundaries: The lines between home and work, school and play are blurred for everyone in your home. It’s up to you to show your kids how to navigate this ambiguity. For example, you can tape a green piece of paper to your door, letting your kids know they can come in and interrupt. But when you are busy and cannot be distrubed, tape a red sign to your door. Create and maintain boundaries with your kids. Encourage them to create their own and show your support by respecting them.
  2. Take Advantage of Mornings and Nights: If you have little kids, the likelihood of being able to focus solely on work during the day is small. Work around their schedule by maximizing the times they are asleep. Rise early and tackle your inbox; stay up later to finalize that proposal. Create a calendar with a to-do list so you can stay focused on your priority tasks during these kid-free hours.
  3. Use Productivity Apps: Stay on task with productivity apps and software that keep you productive while working from home. Evernote, for example, helps you organize tasks and track activities. Todoist manages your to-do list using artificial intelligence. Try Slack to collaborate with your team members and limit distractions. If you manage employees, help your team stay productive with time tracking apps like Toggl, Harvest or Timeular.
  4. Batch Tasks: It’ll be tempting to switch from work mode to parent mode to house mode all in the course of an hour. Resist the urge! You’ll get far more done if you batch tasks, meaning you work on similar tasks at the same time. You won’t move on to another batch until you’ve completed one, which allows you to be more productive and less distracted. Similar tasks are easier to move between, multitask and organize. Batch your parenting tasks during times when your kids need you the most and your work tasks when they are asleep or doing independent activities.
  5. Create a Morning Routine: A morning routine is important for both you and your kids, especially if your children are used to getting ready for school. It doesn’t matter what kind of routine you have to start the day— as long as you have something that sets you up for success. A morning routine is a healthy shot of structure that scaffolds the rest of your day. Start with a cup of coffee and breakfast with the family, drink tea alone on the porch to plan your day or walk the dog around the block with your kids.
  6. 20/40 Method: Manage your time and limit distractions with the 20/40 method. Spend 20 minutes on child and home-related tasks, then the next 40 minutes on work. Or vice versa, depending on your responsibilities and priorities. When you are focused on a time block, you are less likely to be lured away by a task from another role. Finding the right time management strategy will be your anchor for work-life balance. 

All these new and changing responsibilities— full-time employee, full-time parent, full-time educator and full-time remote employee— can be a lot to manage. Even with busy and demanding children underfoot, you can use these tips to stay focused, productive and keep both life and work balanced.

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The Home-based Volunteering Guide: Making Real Local Impact from Home

Thanks to technology, it’s possible to make a huge impact on the causes that mean the most to you without ever leaving your home. Virtual volunteering is a great way to lend a hand to local charities that rely on volunteer help to make a difference in the community. No matter how you want to contribute, here is all of the information you need to get started as a home-based volunteer.

Consider Your Skills

Whatever your skill set, there are opportunities for you to do good from home for a cause that’s meaningful to you. For example:

  • If you’re a great writer, you can contribute to a charitable organization’s blog or create copy for newsletters.
  • If you have a background in graphic or web design, you can make website updates or design logos.
  • If you’re a public-relations (PR) whiz, you can organize fundraising efforts or manage social media accounts.
  • If you’re crafty, you can make items to sell on sites like Etsy to raise money for charity.
  • If you have a high-quality camera, you can take and edit photos for an organization to use on its website, on its social media channels, and in its marketing campaigns.
  • If you have personal or professional experience in pet care, you can foster homeless cats, dogs, and other critters.

Think not only about what you’re good at, but what you’d actually enjoy doing with your extra time. If you devote your benevolent efforts to the same thing you spend 40 hours a week doing at work, you risk burning out. Try to find something that complements your areas of mastery but isn’t an activity you’ve already filled your schedule with.

Finally, be honest about what value you can offer. For example, if you want to help with writing blog posts but your grammar skills aren’t superb, you’ll make a more meaningful impact by finding a different way to contribute. Even though you’re donating your time, not doing something well could cost the organization in terms of time and money if they have to revise or redo any projects you worked on.

Find a Cause

Devoting your spare time to an organization that’s not financially compensating you isn’t fulfilling unless it’s something you’re truly passionate about. It’s important to think about causes close to your heart, and search for opportunities from there. Some popular areas of focus for charities include:

  • Animal rights
  • Cancer cures and prevention
  • Children’s wellness
  • Disabilities
  • Education
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Homelessness
  • Hunger
  • Illness prevention
  • Literacy
  • Mental health
  • Pets
  • Physical health and obesity
  • Poverty
  • Public safety
  • Unemployment
  • Veterans and military families
  • Wildlife
  • Workers’ rights

Look for Local Opportunities

Since you’ll be working from home while doing your volunteer work, you’re not limited as to the location of charities you’re interested in working with, but consider reaching out to local orgs. Donating your time and money to an organization of any size and scope is a wonderful and meaningful gesture. However, small, locally-based charities don’t get as much exposure as national nonprofits, so they’re often more in need of help and resources than large nonprofits that serve multiple areas. Once you’ve chosen your cause, start by looking for opportunities based in your area. A quick Google search should offer you a list of potential programs, or check your local government’s website for ideas.

Keep in mind that while charities that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in donations each year are registered with the IRS as tax-exempt nonprofits — often 501(c) or 501(c)(3) — many local orgs aren’t. If you find a small charity you want to partner with, don’t be alarmed if it isn’t registered as a nonprofit. It’s expensive to set up this type of entity, and some organizations don’t have the monetary or legal resources to do it, so it’s structure shouldn’t be a red flag if you’re confident about the work it’s doing and how its funds are being used. While its budget may not be public information, you should be able to do a little research about its reputation to ensure it’s a charity you want to align yourself with.

Pitch Your Volunteerism Idea

Once you’ve decided which organization you want to work with, check for volunteering opportunities on their website. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, don’t worry — a lot of nonprofits don’t have the time or resources to update their websites on a regular basis, and many volunteer organizers simply don’t think to ask for help with the service you’re hoping to provide.

If there’s no information about available opportunities in your wheelhouse, look for information for the organization’s volunteer coordinator so you can email them about how you’d like to help. Try to keep your message short (these folks are busy, after all!), but be very clear about the free service you’d like to provide, and ask about next steps for getting started. If you don’t hear back by email or phone after three or four days, send a follow-up email. It’s tempting to call when you’re excited to get going, but phone calls can be disruptive to a person’s day, especially if they haven’t read your email and won’t be familiar with your reason for calling. 

If you don’t hear back after a week, send one last follow-up email that reiterates your interest and invites them to contact you if they’re interested in your free services. Then, start exploring other opportunities with other organizations.

Also keep in mind that there may not be a need for new volunteers or someone with your skills. In that case, be sure to thank the coordinator for their time, and if you’d like to be considered for future volunteer opportunities, say so. There could be a volunteering or staffing changeup down the line that creates a need for someone with your expertise, but in the meantime, you can pursue working with a different org.

Whatever your passions and skills, home-based volunteer work is a great way to make a difference in your local community. As a bonus, it will also be a great addition to your resume. Pinpoint the exact type of contribution that feels meaningful to you and would add value to a local nonprofit, choose a cause close to your heart, and look for the charitable opportunity that’s right for you.

How to Set Up a Disability-friendly Home Office

Working from home offers a lot of advantages to individuals living with physical or mental disabilities. It removes the need to commute to and from the office each day, which can be physically demanding and emotionally draining. Plus, it usually comes with more flexible hours, which is a huge benefit for those with health issues and can be a boon to work-life balance.

To be a successful remote employee, it’s important to have a home office that promotes productivity, regardless of your physical or mental health. When you have a disability, there are added details you should pay attention to in order to make your work area a safe and comfortable place, and we’re here to help. Our guide discusses how to make your home office more accessible when you have a physical or mental disability.

In order to provide the most value to work-from-home employees, we’ve addressed home-office-design guidelines that will be helpful to a wide audience in this guide. We also have content devoted to helping you set up a productive home office when you have these health conditions: 

Home Offices for People with Physical Disabilities

When you have a physical disability, the key to creating the ideal home office is finding ways to make it more accessible to navigate and work in. These strategies will help:

  • Remove the doorway threshold leading into your office. Doing so removes a potential tripping hazard every time you enter and leave the room.
  • Open your layout. An open floor plan makes moving through the room easier, especially for those who use mobility aids, including wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and crutches. You should also declutter your space by removing excess items you don’t need in your home office (in other words, anything that isn’t work-related). Too much extra stuff lying around is a quick way to block open pathways.
  • Brighten things up. Lighting is critical for visibility when moving around a space, so make sure you have plenty of it. Natural lighting is the preferred choice for many employees, but if your space doesn’t allow a lot of sunshine in, be sure you have bright bulbs in your overhead lighting and lamps. Keep in mind that lamps may create barriers and tripping hazards for individuals with mobility impairments.
  • Invest in the right furniture. Desks that allow wheelchair users to fit their chairs underneath make for a comfortable workspace. Those who have trouble moving to a seated position should select an office chair with a seat that can easily be raised and lowered.
  • Choose disability-accommodating office equipment. Whatever your unique needs, there is likely a tool that will make working more comfortable. For example, height-adjustable computer monitors are helpful for those who sit in a low-riding wheelchair, and oversized keyboards make typing easier for those who have limited range of motion in their hands.
  • Keep things within reach. Both at your desk and in other areas of the room, make sure you can easily access the work-related items you need each day. Placing items on lower shelves, especially when they’re placed next to your desk, is more practical than opting for out-of-reach storage solutions. If you have difficulty gripping items, removing doors on cabinets and lids on storage bins will make getting what you need even simpler.
  • Remove tripping hazards. Any home-office element that makes movement difficult or dangerous should be removed or adjusted for your safety. Area rugs present tripping hazards for those who use walkers, canes, or crutches, and they can make navigation in a wheelchair more difficult. Power cords should run along walls rather than lie across the floor or float from one part of the room to another.
  • Add grab bars and handrails where needed. Next to your desk, they’ll help you lower in and out of your seat, and they’ll provide balance and stability in other areas of the room.
  • Consider key structural repairs. Widening doorways, lowering light switches and electrical outlets, and adding windows to provide more natural light are all projects that provide big payoffs for those with physical disabilities, but they’re expensive and require a professional contractor’s expertise. 
  • Make sure your service animal has what he needs within reach. If your service dog spends your workdays with you, be sure he has a water bowl in your home office. He’ll be more comfortable throughout the day, and you’ll reduce the number of times you need to leave the room to care for him.

Home Offices for People with Mental Disabilities

The measures you should take to make your home office more comfortable when you have a mental disability depend on the nature of your health condition and your unique needs. However, each of these actions can help ease stress and keep you from feeling overwhelmed, and they may even offer an instant emotional boost:

  • Choose your wall colors carefully. The right paint color will depend on your disability and your style preferences, but in general, light shades are best for home office design. If you have a condition like autism or another type of sensory-processing disorder, bright, bold colors can feel overwhelming, so pale hues are more comforting. If you have a condition like depression or generalized anxiety disorder, muted yellow, blue, and green can lift your mood, so these shades are ideal in your paint and decor selections.
  • Reduce clutter. Doing so will help you stay organized, a key element in keeping stress at bay.
  • Set up your lighting mindfully. If too much light is overstimulating, you should add adjustable window covers to filter out sunlight as needed, and opt for soft-glow bulbs in floor lamps, desk lamps, and overhead lights. Alternatively, those with mood imbalances will benefit from natural light that shines in through windows. Light boxes are also used in treating conditions like seasonal affective disorder (SAD), so adding one to your desk may be useful if you battle any form of depression.
  • Limit noise distractions. Especially if you’re sensitive to sensory stimulation, look for ways you can cut down on ambient noise. Blackout curtains are a great way to reduce sound that comes in from the outdoors, and sliding a pad under a closed door will help block noise that trickles in from the rest of the house. If listening to music or podcasts relaxes you, consider using an external speaker to play them, which tend to sound less harsh than when aired from laptop and computer speakers.
  • Be strategic with scent. Aroma can be a powerful tool — for better or for worse. If you’re sensitive to smells, avoid using candles, incense, and other air fresheners. If you find certain scents to be soothing, consider adding one of these elements to your home office.
  • Invest in helpful tech. There are all kinds of office supplies to suit almost any need and help ease mental health disorder symptoms. For example, if you’re dyslexic, it may be helpful to install voice-to-text software on your computer, because you’ll spend less time typing and fixing errors. Similarly, text-to-speech programs will read text files, website copy, and PDFs. Both of these tools can reduce work-related stress for those with difficulties reading or writing.
  • Choose decorative items that promote a sense of calm. No matter your emotional health, items that are soothing, not distracting, will help stabilize your mood.
  • Add comfort items. When you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, reaching for a stress ball or simply looking at a framed photo that captures a cherished memory can help put you at ease.
  • Remember your service or emotional support animal. If you have a service dog or another emotional support animal, he should have access to a water bowl in your home office. If he has toys, be sure to only bring in those that don’t have distracting lights, sounds, or other elements, especially if you have sensory issues.
  • Reach out for help. Regardless of ability, many people struggle with feelings of isolation as a home-based employee, but there are plenty of resources you can utilize for help. If you ever feel overwhelmed with your work or personal life, contact your mental health professional immediately.

If you have a physical or mental disability, there are steps you should take to create a home office that’s as safe as it is comfortable. As a bonus, feeling secure in your workspace will help you stay productive and on task — and may even help you launch your career to the next level.

Resource Guide: Finding Remote Work Opportunities

If you've recently found yourself without a job, whether due to layoffs, the coronavirus pandemic, an economic downturn, or any other reason, you are 100% not alone. Millions of Americans are currently facing unemployment, many for the first time in their professional lives. Something positive that has come out of this global event, however, is that employees and employers alike have embraced the idea of remote work. Here are some resources to help you prepare yourself for the challenge as well as information on where to find remote opportunities and which skills are most in-demand.

Get Yourself Ready First

Before you break out of your comfort zone and start applying for remote employment positions, it’s a good idea to get your home and yourself ready for the challenge.

Everything you need to set up your new coronavirus-ready home office 

What internet speed do I need? Here's how many Mbps is enough

11 ways to eliminate distractions while working from home

Top 6 Challenges of a Remote Work And How To Overcome Them

Job Sites That Cater To A Remote Workforce

As recently as February 2020, there were just less than 5 million work-from-home jobs available in the United States. That number has skyrocketed since, and even many traditional roles will likely transition away from the office in the coming months. Here is where to find them.

Virtual Vocations


Skip The Drive

Github Jobs


Skills That You Can Capitalize On

There are some jobs that have to be done in person. But there are a surprising number of skills and job experiences that don’t require a brick-and-mortar location.

Online Teaching Jobs

Textbroker: Online Writing Gigs

How to Become an Online Personal Trainer in 2020

ZipRecruiter: Remote Web Developer Jobs

As you can see, finding remote work is not as challenging as it was just a few years ago. And as more and more employers realize the benefits of providing their employees an income opportunity sans the commute, there are only going to be additional jobs open up. So whether you are pursuing freelance gigs to supplement your family’s income or are ready to go remote full time, you can do it, and the information above can help.

Photo: Pexels