5 Personal Qualities Essential to the Freelance Life

 

If you’re restless in your day job and have been casting around for a new challenge in your career, then it might have occurred to you that the freelance life has much to offer. Flexible hours, the freedom to pick and choose your projects, and the satisfaction of knowing that you’ll be the sole reaper of the rewards your efforts will bring, are all powerful and attractive benefits.

However, not everyone has what it takes to make a success of freelancing, as a particular set of personal characteristics is required. Are you cut out to be a freelancer? If you possess these five qualities then the answer could be yes.

Motivation

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Freelancers have no one to lead them by the hand or push them into action. They need to be self-starters, able to motivate themselves into getting work done on time, on budget, and up to standard. Successful freelancers must rely on self-discipline to apply themselves without external influences.

Initiative

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However, the motivation and discipline to deal with a heavy workload isn’t the full story. A freelancer who isn’t able to drum up business won’t have a workload to motivate themselves for, and initiative needs to be used to fill the calendar with paying projects. The best freelancers see possibilities everywhere they look, and have the drive to follow up on these ideas and seize their opportunities.

Creativity

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Most fields that freelancers are able to make a living in, tend to be competitive; to make an impression and stand out from the crowd, a freelance contractor needs to offer something different. Whether this involves coming up with a new angle that has a novel benefit to a client or having the ability to develop innovative and efficient working methods to increase productivity, creativity is an essential aspect of most freelance careers.

Dependability

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Word spreads fast in the business world. Let down a client, and the work will soon start to dry up. Freelancers need to deliver on their promises, meet their deadlines, and provide outstanding service for their clients. Freelancers have no one to hide behind and no one to make excuses for them.

Self-Confidence

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Finally, and perhaps most importantly, freelancers need to believe in the quality of their work and in their value as a contractor. After all, if a freelancer doesn’t have self-confidence, how will they convince a client to hire them? Furthermore, because rejections and setbacks are an inevitable part of independent working, a freelancer needs to have the self-confidence to bounce back from adversity, putting difficult clients or disappointing projects behind them.

The freelance lifestyle isn’t an easy fit for every character. You should not only be creative, you must also be motivated and willing to show initiative, as well as dependable and self-assured. If you have all or most of these qualities, you have a great chance of forging a successful and profitable career working for yourself.

Getting Off the Ground: Tips and Tricks for a Successful Blog Launch

Anybody can hop online and claim their own blogging URL within moments. This can lead many to think that launching a wildly successful blog is as easy as a few swipes of the keyboard. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly the case. Thousands of new blogs join the Information Highway every single day, and only a few of these will ever get read by more than a handful of people.  

Luckily, there are things you can do as an informed blogger during those all-important first two weeks to greatly improve your chances for the long term. And while the blogosphere is a notoriously fickle landscape with no guarantees, following these tips closely does increase your shot at success.

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First Impressions: They Matter

You have a matter of seconds to connect with your readers, make an impression, and convince them to stick around for a while. One of the best ways to make an impact on readers is to let them know who you are with a well-written, thoughtful About Page and welcome message. Depending on the type of blog you have, this might include images, an author biography, or other ways to connect with the public on a personal and professional level.

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Populate Before Going Live

Readers are unlikely to come back to a blog that’s barren the first time they visit, regardless of how many promises the site holds of things to come. You get one (very quick) shot at impressing a visitor, critic, potential buyer, or fellow blogger. Never launch with less than five fully developed posts. The most common mistake in this case is thinking you can hit the publish button first and then fill out the important stuff later. Your blog should be a fully fleshed out picture of you and what you stand for. New users should clearly recognize this image, the moment they come on your website.

You may not know, but Ian is the author of Ninjacam.

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Networking!

The blogosphere is basically made up of hundreds of communities and niches populated by people in the know. What you want is a seat at the popular kids’ table. You can’t get there by blindly stumbling around the Internet. And the old advice of trying to ingratiate yourself through blind email solicitations has pretty much been labeled as bad science.

Instead, look for other, high quality, well-written blogs within your niche and spark conversations and thoughtful, well-written comments whenever possible. Avoid clunky mentions of your own blog, as that’s when you come across as spam. Instead, simply leave your URL in the allotted field and let your ideas and words speak for themselves. With care, this can lead to contributions on both your and others’ blogs.

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Outbound Links are Your Friend

As the new kid on the block, your primary target audience is going to be other bloggers. You need to get noticed by search engines and social media in order to stay afloat during this crucial time. Older bloggers in your niche have the readership numbers to put your name in front of people. One of the best ways to get your blog noticed by them is to include lots of outbound links in your posts. By hyperlinking to relevant bloggers whenever possible, you’re alerting others in your niche community that you’ve noticed them, and increasing the chances that they will, in turn, link back to you.

 

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Now is the Time for Giveaways

And finally, your launch week is definitely the time to give people a reason to visit your blog that goes above and beyond your typical awesome content. Whether it’s free samples of products, services, designs, plugins, stories, books, or even a report or PDF. The fact of the matter is, people love giveaways. Freebies create buzz, and buzz keeps people coming back for more.

Now you are ready to take on the internet and reach new audiences and heights through your blog. Although you’ll likely stumble a bit in the beginning, everyone’s been there and these tips will help you smooth out your first steps as much as possible.

Tell us what other tips you know that would help new and aspiring bloggers.  

5 Ways To Boost Your Creative Flow When Working From Home

When you work in an office and a manager oversees your work and keeps the production flowing, creativity comes easily. This type of management allows you the luxury of doing your assigned job and go home. If you are a self-employed individual, however, you are responsible for maintaining your creative flow.

Many self-employed people have their own office spaces to go to every day. Their creativity usually stems from social interaction. If you’re working from home with little client interaction, creative flow can become a problem. Although it helps focus your creativity, isolation quickly becomes an issue without proper self-management.

How do you maintain your creative drive while working from home?

1.  Expand Your Skills

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Someone who designs jewelry, for example, will use a set of techniques and materials on a regular basis. At some point, those designs and skills will become stale to them and their customers. The moment they lose interest, their work starts to suffer and find it harder to continue. This is true of any skill that loses its appeal.

When you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, try changing it up by learning new skills. Grab a technique book or take an online course or local class that adds to your existing skills. You will boost your creativity, even if you never incorporate them into your repertoire.

2. Explore Your Counterparts

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Regardless of what type of creative work you engage in, there are others out there doing the same thing. And given today’s social media reach, it is relatively easy to connect with them. You can gain a lot of inspiration, tips and much more by talking to other people who understand you.

If you paint, visit a local gallery. If you are a photographer, you may find local photos hanging in the halls of your city’s art university. You can stop by a local photography studio or camera shop and talk with the owner. Writers can drop in on a local book signing or join writing get-togethers. Conversely, a jewelry designer can visit area boutiques or small businesses for inspiration.

There are always places you can go where you can meet up with others who share your passion for your art. Apart from helping your creativity, social interactions are also beneficial to your overall health and well-being.

3. Take a Break

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Creativity is a fickle mistress and the harder you try, the more elusive it becomes. That’s why it’s better to take breaks away from your creations. This is more effective when you already know what motivates you. If you are a fan of music, find a place to listen to good live music. If you like sports, go to a sporting event, even if it is a kid’s baseball game in the middle of the afternoon.  

Since you work for yourself, you are not constrained by a boss that expects you to churn out a product. Breaks help you detach from the task and regroup your thought process. Often the greatest flashes of inspiration happen when you are operating subconsciously. Taking your mind off work might be the best thing for your project.

4. Solve Puzzles and Challenges

 

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The mind is a muscle just like your heart, and as your heart, it needs exercise.  Studies have indicated that solving puzzles or challenges keep the brain from aging. While most of these studies are still in their infancy, it’s not surprising that brain stimulation is so important. After all, creative people thrive on puzzles and challenges.

Even a few minutes of penciling in the answers to a crossword puzzle or filling in a Sudoku puzzle can give the brain a place to relax and recenter. If you find yourself stalled on a project, grab a word search puzzle and start looking for words. You’ll be exercising your brain and increasing future productivity all at the same time.

5. Engage in physical activity

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An artist can spend hours in one spot working on a painting or a specific design. All that time spent in one place can take a toll on the body and the mind. A tired mind can no longer find the motivation needed to finish a project or start a new one. It needs to be refreshed.

Physical activity keeps the body healthy while letting the brain rest and energise. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests that staying in shape reduces the risk of mental illness. Besides, what better way to boost your creativity than a few miles down the local trail or a dip in the pool or ocean?

If you are not fond of the gym, you can take a walk and admire the sights or jump on your bicycle and ride around the city. The point is to get the body moving and let the brain rest.

When you find yourself stuck in the middle of a project, your brain may just need a diversion to rejuvenate. These suggestions will help you get back to your creative state. They’ll also help your physical and mental health.

What is your favourite thing to do when you lack the creative state to get the job done? Tell us in the comment section below.

European Street Art is Giving Rise to a Whole New Generation of Artists

Over the past couple of decades, Europe has experienced a cultural rebirth in the form of street art. Cities once associated with classical architecture or drab buildings are now filled with art. Big names such as Banksy, Blu, Vhils, and Stik have invaded European streets. All of them have largely been welcomed by appreciating passersby. Not long ago street art represented outcasts littering city centers with graffiti and vandalism. Nowadays, street art is regarded as a means of mass communication. Among visual arts, street art is the most accessible, breaking through all social barriers.

The French artist JR once stated that the streets were “the largest art gallery in the world,” and he has a point. It’s also a free art gallery, where people from all walks of life occupy the same space every single day. “Culture” is becoming more and more available to the masses. How the audience members perceive and understand the art, however, varies greatly.

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JR Through the Eye of Liu Bolin – Image source

By nature, street art is interactive and blends into the urban landscape. People may interpret it any way they see fit. In areas riddled with unemployment and deprivation, it has become a tool for venting anger and frustration. Artists use “guerrilla art” as social or political commentary and often provoke a reaction. They choose to bypass traditional exhibitions to communicate directly with the public. These artists free themselves from the confines of the formal art world.

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Guerrilla art by Banksy – Image Source

Street art is now considered a legitimate form of art by most people. Of course, some critics and politicians still view it as pure vandalism and seek to cut it out. Many governments disapproved of it, fearing the message spread and received among disaffected citizens. In times of unrest, it can be a voice for change, as seen in Berlin and more recently in Istanbul and Athens. Plenty of contemporary street artists have earned support from curators and galleries.

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“Hidden Street” at Hong Kong – Pearl Lam Galleries SOHO – Image Source

On occasion, urban art has been painted over or erased, causing public outrage. Politicians have had to acknowledge these facts and act accordingly. Cities such as Copenhagen, Prague and London, have assigned areas where artists can paint. The authorities are at least feigning interest in the importance of street art. Being seen to encourage creativity casts them in a positive light with young voters.

Street art takes many forms and is not just the domain of spray paint and stencils. These days you can find sculptures, sticker art, mosaics and installations using different materials. The French artist, Space Invader, drew inspiration from the popular arcade game “Space Invaders”. He is famous for his pixelated mosaics of characters from the game. His works now adorn much of Paris and other European cities. Meanwhile, Banksy uses a variety of media, including the creation of huge installations. One such example is Dismaland: Bemusement Park, resembling a dark version of Disneyland.

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Space Invader in London – Image Source

The art isn’t always political or thought-provoking. Sometimes it’s just fun or used to brighten up the locale. One such example is Banksy’s satirical Well Hung Lover, on a building in Bristol. It depicts a man looking out of a window while his wife’s lover hangs naked from the window sill below him. Bristol remains one of the most important locations for street art. The city hosts the largest free street art festival in Europe.  

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Well Hung Lover by Banksy – Image Source

Urban art can be found all over Europe, but the street art scene in Berlin is possibly the most active. It also has one of the most compelling histories of the medium. Here, a long tradition of art as an expression of political freedom started in 1989. When the Berlin Wall came down and the East Side Gallery was established a year later. The open-air memorial to freedom and reconciliation covers 1.3 km of the Berlin Wall.

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East Side Gallery, Berlin – Image Source

The same spirit of creativity as part of a counterculture movement lives on all over Europe today. Artists saw the wall as a focal point and painted inspiring and controversial works. Their works still attract locals and tourists alike. Even long after those artists left, the art scene continues to thrive. The city has become a mecca for street art and has inspired many other cities in a similar way.

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East Side Gallery, Berlin – Image Source

The popularity of street art in Europe looks set to continue in the foreseeable future. It’s an ever-changing and evolving means of expression. More so because it allows the viewer to interact with it on a personal level. Despite its celebrities, urban art is a universal art form available to the masses. It is a platform for artists to reach audiences traditional galleries hardly allow. There will always be people who perceive street art as crime. Yet, more and more people now see it as a legitimate way to experience quality art. The number of smart phone apps, festivals and tours involving street art, attest to that. Artists have found an enduring way to use public spaces as an outlet for artistic expression.

What is your opinion of street art? Tell us you thoughts in the comment section below.

InkyDeals Easter Contest: Join the Egg Hunt and Win

Easter is fast approaching and Inky, in his festive spirit, has been very busy. He’s hidden ten images of colourful Easter eggs all over the InkyDeals website and beyond. He even took the time to write a letter on each one of the eggs.

Your task is to find these eggs and make out the phrase Inky spelled on them. Each egg you find counts as 10 percent discount for a deal or bundle of your choosing. If you find all of them that means you get a 100 percent discount.

To enter the competition, look for the Easter eggs on:

  • Product preview pages
  • Product pages
  • The InkyDeals Facebook page
  • The InkyDeals Instagram page
  • InkyDeals Newsletter

Once you find the eggs write the letters you’ve found or the entire phrase in the comment section below.

So hurry and find those eggs, because only the first three people that comment with the full phrase will receive the prize. If by some chance nobody finds the entire phrase, don’t worry, the first three commenters will receive discounts according to the number of letters they’ve gathered.

The egg hunt will run all through the weekend and the prize winners will be announced on Monday, March 28 as an update to this post.

Update: 

Congratulations to the Inkydeals Easter Contest winners: Laura, Dan and Sara. You will be contacted by one of our colleagues via email, in order to receive your prizes.