Top 6 Gift Ideas For Freelancers & Small Business Owners

Christmas Gifts for Freelancers
Wondering what to get the independent professional on your list? Stumped about the best present for the small business owner in your life? 

Although there’s more to the holidays than giving and getting, here are some useful gift ideas that will help your favorite freelancer be even more productive and successful in the New Year. Feel free to add your own gift suggestions in a comment below!

1. Membership at a local coworking space.

(You know I had to…) There’s nothing better than the gifts of friendship and community, and you’ll be giving both when you buy a coworking membership for your favorite mobile worker. Most coworking spaces offer different levels and lengths of membership, so it’s much more flexible than a gym membership or fruit of the month club. Do some light research before you buy to make sure the coworking space is conveniently located and has all the amenities your small business owner will need. Cohere has a wicked discount on 3 day pass packs right now. 3 days for just $25!

2. Cloud storage for precious data.

Freelancers live on, for, and through their laptop and other mobile devices. In the blink of an eye these precious machines can be destroyed by a poorly placed coffee cup or dragged to the floor by a dangling power cord (just ask Julie). Give peace of mind by purchasing a storage unit in the cloud. Online data storage backs up your files automatically, and allows you to access them from any internet-connected computer. Check out these top five affordable online storage services.

3. A stand-up desk.

While freelance work can be done from almost any location, it’s almost always done in a sitting position. According to a study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal, people who sat most of the day had a 54% increased risk to have a heart attack. Therefore, a stand-up desk can literally save a freelance writer’s life. Check out for some of the best stand up desk designs.

4. A mobile hot-spot.

While this might be at the pricier end of the holiday gift-giving spectrum, it is absolutely worth the cost. A mobile hot-spot has the power to change a freelancer’s life by creating a little bubble of secure wi-fi that will travel with them wherever they go. Slow, costly airport wi-fi, and unsecured coffee shop wi-fi will be a thing of the past, and your beloved freelancer will never have disconnect anxiety again. Read reviews of the fastest, most reliable hot spots.

5. Portable solar charger.

The only thing worse than having no internet access is dead devices with no power outlet in sight. Ease the fear of running out of juice by giving a portable charger that only needs the sun to work! There are now solar chargers that can power everything from your laptop to your smartphone as long as you’ve got an hour and access to sunlight. Check out the best portable solar charging devices here.

6. Industry-relevant e-books.

As a small business owner, it’s easy to feel like you’re just making stuff up as you go along. Reading books by successful entrepreneurs can restore inspiration as well as confidence. Instead of giving a bulky book that will only end up gathering dust, give a sleek (and more affordable) e-book that can be accessed anywhere. Here are some of our favorite titles:

Guide to Guerilla Freelancing – In this compact eBook (22 pages), Mike Smith packs in information on how to start your freelancing business for a minimum amount of money, red flags to look out for, benefits and drawbacks to freelancing, and more.

What Matters Now   – This free 82-page eBook from Seth Godin is a collection of thoughts and quotes from well-known bloggers and thinkers on important topics. Each topic is about a page long. Use this book for inspiration.

Coworking: How Freelancers Escape the Coffee Shop Office – The only book written specifically for coworkers by coworkers, this is your guide to the who, what, where, why, and how of coworking. Featuring tips for finding and participating in a local coworking community, and personal stories from coworkers around the world.

Time Management for Creative People  by Mark McGuinness from Wishful Thinking – Do you struggle to find enough time to get everything done? This book is here to help. Over 30 pages on how to manage your time better.

How to be a Rockstar Freelancer  – Written by the creators of Freelance Switch, this ebook goes far beyond the creative aspects of the business, giving practical advice on the difficult situations a new freelancer can face: from managing your budget on a freelancer’s changing income to balancing work from multiple clients.

Seek and Destroy  by Peter Shallard – This 61-page eBook discusses some of the common obstacles entrepreneurs face and explains how to overcome them. If your business is stuck and you can’t figure out why, Peter may have the answer

What do you want Santa to bring you?

Image Credit: Flickr – _Fidelio_

3 Reasons Why Freelancers Don’t Need A Traditional Resume

When you were in school, a well-rounded resume seemed like the Holy Grail. Extra-curricular activities, internships, grades…you pursued them all for the sake of  ‘the resume.’

But that was probably back when you thought all jobs happened in an office.

Now you’re an independent member of the mobile workforce, handling the marketing, client relations, and yes, the actual work pretty much all on your own.

If it’s been more than six months since you’ve even thought about the state of your traditional resume, you might wonder if there’s even a point in updating it.

And even if you want to build a traditional resume, you’ll probably find that paragraph-long snippets about your objectives and accomplishments hardly does the freelance experience justice.

So why bother? There are much more modern and efficient ways to demonstrate your professional prowess.

Here are 3 reasons why you can feel completely comfortable letting that resume gather dust on your hard drive:

1. Your Clients Don’t Want To Read It

Let’s be honest: no one ever found work because of a piece of paper listing their previous work experience and supposed accomplishments. Independent professionals aren’t seeking traditional jobs, so why would they marketing themselves in a traditional (read: outdated) manner? Clients will come to know you and your work in the same way: by meeting it face to face. When clients consider you for a project, they want to know how you work, what your work looks like, and whether you’ll get the job done right. These are all extensions of your personality, and unless your personality is similar to an 8.5 x 11 in. piece of paper and Times New Roman font, the traditional resume ain’t gonna do it justice.

2. Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words

Prospective clients don’t want to read about your alleged work, they want to see, feel, hear, and touch your actual work. Instead of slaving over a correctly formatted resume, why not create an easily accessible portfolio that demonstrate the true depth and breadth of your passion? I think Megan, a commenter on FreelanceFolder said it best:

“I have had some requests for resumes, and honestly I’m at a bit of a loss as far as why someone hiring a freelancer would want a resume, especially when I, like many freelancers, have a portfolio full of work for them to look at. A portfolio can offer so much more than a resume can, since a portfolio can have not only information on a person’s skills but examples of skills in use, and not only a list of prior employers, but actual examples of work done for those prior employers.”

I would add that you never think to ask a company for its resume, you ask to see examples of its work. And as a freelance professional, you’re a business and should present yourself as such.

3. There Are Websites That Do That

Paper is out, digital is in. Instead of forcing clients to slog through your attached PDF resume, why not provide them with a one-click ticket to a gallery of your work? A blog or personal website is the resume of a 21st century freelancer. If you don’t have the time to set one up, sites like LinkedIn, BranchOut, or ReferralKey are more efficient tools for hosting your work experience in an online format.

The Catch

Not everyone produces work that can be displayed easily in a portfolio or on a blog. Writers or coders are two that immediately spring to mind. In this case, I would suggest getting creative. Like this guy:


Or this one:

Or Miss Smiles at the top of this post.

Your turn: How many times has a traditional resume helped you get work in the past year? What do you use instead?

Image Credits: Flickr – jwynia | Ethan Hein | socialisbetter

August 9th is International Coworking Day 2011!

Coworking as a movement, a business solution, and a kick-ass global community is turning 6 years old on August 9th, 2o11.

On this day every year, coworkers and coworking spaces around the world take a moment to celebrate their independence as well as their discovery of all the dreams that can come true when you’ve got a solid community in which to create and collaborate.

Even though our attendance is somewhat unpredictable during the summer months, Cohere’s community is getting into the spirit of things as well! Here are a couple easy ways that you can participate in this worldwide celebration:

1. Come to Cohere’s Coworking Day 2011 Open House: Swing by between 9a-4p for snacks, coffee and high fives. Want to cowork a little to ring in your next year of independence? That’s okay too. Seats are first come first serve! RSVP here.

2. Invite someone to Cohere: What better day than a free open house? Whether you’re hanging out at a coffee shop over the weekend, or talking to a friend that owns a struggling small business, why not mention that there’s a community of independent, creative people hanging out at 215 Jefferson?

3. Show Your Coworking Spirit: It can be hard to strike up conversation with those you don’t know, so if inviting someone in person isn’t possible, think about using your multitude of social media networks. You could,

  • Use your Facebook status as a place to tell people you’re going to Coworking Day and include a link to your favorite Cohere blog post.
  • Tell your Google+ stream why you’re thankful that coworking exists and why they should try it too.
  • Tweet this: @CohereLLC is having a FREE open house on Aug. 9th. All #freelancers and #smallbusiness owners invited! #coworking

Got other cool ideas about how we could share coworking with the Greater Fort Collins area and beyond? Share them in a comment!

Image Credit: Flickr – mdanys

5 Reasons You Should Fire That Crappy Client

Trump says you're fired!

We’ve all had those clients. The ones that act like you couldn’t possibly have a life outside your work. They change their minds mid-project, send you three emails a day asking when things will be done, hint that your prices are too high, and then act like your work’s not good enough.

For one reason or another, they are the clients you dread working for/calling/meeting with but think you have to tolerate because of the money.

News Flash: You’re the boss! It’s time to find your balls and practice your best Donald impression, and here are 5 reasons why:

1.They always pay you late. If you don’t pay the electric company, your lights get turned off. At the grocery store, they don’t let you work out a payment plan: if you can’t pay you don’t get the freaking groceries! You too, are growing a business. What makes people think they can take your hard work and then make excuses about why they can’t pay the number agreed upon in the contract? It’s bullshit and you shouldn’t stand for it. You’ve gotta eat and pay the bills this month, not next year.

2. They insult you. Making snide comments about your work or level of professionalism indicate a client is really dying to be fired. Maybe they think that because you’re a freelancer, you’re entitled to less respect. Or because they know they’re a big account for you, you’ll take their shit just to keep the money. Prove them wrong. Clients like this make you hate your work, and take time away from the other clients that you enjoy.

3. They question your expertise. There’s a reason why you can support yourself as an independent professional: you’re awesome at what you do. No one decides to leave their traditional job and tackle the uncharted landscape of the freelance world if they have no idea what they’re doing. In most cases, independents fail to be challenged by the comfortable hierarchy of the corporate world, and strike out on their own because they’re tired of restraining their creativity. If your client thinks they know how to design a website better than you, let them try it. Alone.

4. They ask you to do something unethical or illegal. Ok, they probably won’t ask you to cook the books or hack into a competitors website (but it’s happened before). It’s usually something a little more subtle, like copying text from another website, or scraping a competitors directory and claiming it as their own. Maybe they’re just pushing you to make a product that you don’t believe in, or demanding that you use marketing tactics that make you feel icky. Integrity and reputation are everything when you’re out there on your own. Sacrifice them for no one.

5. They drag you away from your goals. As a freelancer, everything you do, from sending emails to creating a website, reinforces your brand. Or not. Think about your dream job, whether it’s getting a photo spread in a national magazine, or writing for the best website in your niche. Now think about that client that’s asking you to spend 10 hours a week photo-shopping pictures for a print brochure (gag) or writing mindless SEO articles for pennies a word. If you stick with them long enough, these clients will force you away from the work that you’re passionate about. And they’ll be taking up room that could be filled by the clients and projects that will take your career in the right direction

What are other reasons that you’d fired a toxic client? Share them in a comment

Next week: 5 Ways To Fire That Crappy Client While Keeping Your Dignity Intact!

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