Friday, August 22, 2014

Building a Website

Someone on LinkedIn was asking about building a low cost website where they could sell there books. This was the advice I gave:

You can register your own domain through Wordpress and Blogger - registering a domain is NOT purchasing it. You have to renew your registration or you lose your name. If you forget to reregister, you lose your name because there are giant domain purchasers who will scoop it up - then you have to buy it back from them, which is not cheap. Registering a domain is the only way to get a unique website name that is portable.

However, if you register a name through a free website builder (such as WordPress, Blogger, or one of the ones listed at the bottom of this post), it may or may not be portable depending on the host. (Some free hosts will actually register the name for you - in their name, so this is why many people want to do it separate from their website setup. However, not all of them are like this - read the fine print.) Many hosts will keep registering your name for you each year if you have given them a credit card to bill. GoDaddy (not recommended if you may eventually want to use a web developer), eNom.com, and Register.com are registries if you want to do it separately. (They should work with ICANN if they are legit. On average it costs $20ish per year, but some may have multi-year plans.)

I use Moonfruit: www.writetodreamreality.moonfruit.com because it is relatively easy to set up a shop with Paypal on Moonfruit and many websites want to charge you to do this. Obviously, since I my domain is umbrellaed under their name, I pay $0 and only have the small link in the upper right hand corner and the "Build your website through Moonfruit" at the bottom as far as ads go. The downside is that the instruction manual on how to set it up is long - and you want to download it for reference. Also, you have to update your website at least once every six months or you will lose it. Again, these were not problems for me. However, with CreateSpace, I would probably not need to sell on my website, because I could just link to my CreateSpace shop (which I do anyway on my landing page). If you just need a website that allows you to link to CreateSpace, you really wouldn't need something like Moonfruit.

Some people have trouble with Wordpress - to make a really nice website, you need to know HTML. I don't know what kind of shop you can set up on Blogger - my blogger websites are just blogs, but my website links to them and they link to my website.

Other notable and low-cost or free website builder/ hosts that allow you to have an onsite shopping area are: www.homestead.com (Paypal), http://jigsy.com/ (links to ebay), http://www.jimdo.com/, http://www.squarespace.com/ (if you are in the US), http://www.tripod.lycos.com/ (PayPal), http://www.webs.com/ (links to etsy), http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/ (PayPal), http://yola.com, and http://www.zoho.com/sites/

Different Methods of Freelancing Part II

Now, since my website is out if I were trying to promote myself as a freelancer without Guru, I could use my blog to generate business. Posting quirky little tips to attract potential employers - but then I think we all agree that would drastically change the look of my blog(s). Two of my blogs are purely book promotion: The Lost Histories of Eden and The Inconvenient Series. So, those are both out - unlike my website, they get an expected amount of traffic. (Actually, I have no clue how much traffic my website gets... according to Alexa I am ranked 9,000ish- whatever that means?) Then there is my RSS News feed page. I created this blog for myself. I wanted a homepage where I could read all my favorite news feeds and not have ads or distracting garbage. I use the blog part solely to vent about news. Which brings me to this blog. (This blog is unranked with Alexa - after all who really wants to SEO when you are ranting...)

Technically, I should be using this to promote my freelance business, but really? As any of you who follow me know - this blog is FOR freelancers. It is for you to realize that yes, there are very strange employers out there, but there are also excellent ones I just finished working with one). There are things that work and there are things that don't work. It is for you to learn writing and self-publishing tips. And, yes, it is for me to vent about my toughest jobs. I am a writer - since I don't currently own a punching bag; I don't currently have time to go to the gym or even workout; and the pen is, after all, mightier than the sword, this is my place to get it all out of my system. Because goodness knows tomorrow I may wake up and find I am working for yet another person who requires a huge amount of patience on my part - or worse, could really do with some sort of mental evaluation. And yes, I spend plenty of time on my shrink's couch venting there, too. Thankfully, my shrink knows how to laugh with me about my experiences.

Anyway, if you click on the article, you will also find tongal a crowsourcing website that doesn't appeal to me because (1) it's primarily for freelancers who make videos and (2) you have to go to the trouble of coming up with an idea and selling it, but if you aren't chosen, you don't get paid. :( And then there was contently which is a portfolio hosting website. The only benefit contently offers over Guru is that bigger names would get to see it...

I'll be the first to admit, my way isn't the only way. It just works for me. Yeah, Guru has serious messaging and file upload problems, but I would have to arrange for offsite delivery with many of the other options, too. And yeah, I don't get credit - but as an art for art's sake writer, I don't necessarily want a byline on an advertisement or even an e-book I pushed out in two weeks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Different Methods of Freelancing Part I

I was recently contacted to do an interview about the different methods of freelancing. Guru is obviously my preferred method, and it is considered a bidding platform. Usually, when I talk about freelance websites on here, I talk about Guru or elance, or some of the other bidding platforms/ freelancer classified websites.

However, this particular article was about being a freelancer in general - and obviously there are numerous ways to go about doing this. Most people think my way - bidding on jobs - is just awful. I shudder when I think about freelancing their way, so I guess we are even.

For example, some people have websites with blogs and market themselves that way. Well, here's my website. As you can see, I use my website to sell my self-published books. To date, I have sold 0 books on my website (I would rather sell through Amazon, anyway, so I don't promote it much; in fact, most of the book links on my website take you directly to Amazon) and was propositioned for 1 freelance job. That particular freelance job stressed me out and I didn't take it. Why? They wanted my Social Security # (SS#).

Now if you work in the U.S., your employers need your SS# for the 1099 tax form they will have to fill out. How do freelancers working outside of Guru control who has their SS#? I have no clue. Call me paranoid, but if I can't (1) recognize the name of your company [I actually did recognize his company] (2) get confirmation from HR at your company that you work for them and are indeed authorized to hire me for said project [I confirmed he worked there, but no one called me back after I left a message about his hiring ability] AND (3) work directly through your HR department (because really, do you need to act as a middle man when my SS# is involved?), then sorry, I don't particularly want the job that badly.

Still, MANY freelancers hand employers their SS# every day. They apparently do it safely - probably by creating an EIN# with the IRS and using that instead. Yes, I have an EIN, but I had just received it, and really, he should have asked for that.

NOTE TO EMPLOYERS: ask freelancers for their EIN# and not their SS# (or even one or the other).