Working Remotely in New York City

I have lived in a small Queens neighborhood in New York for almost two years now, and exploring the city and it’s cuisines by finding new places to get work done is always my favorite thing to do.

I don’t know about you, but working from home or being in the same environment for too long makes me antsy. Before I started working with the talented folks at Sawhorse, I was an off-and-on freelancer. I found the best way for me to focus and get work done was to get out of my apartment and hunt for coffee and a place to rest my laptop. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Get Lost

You don’t have to stay in your neighborhood! Get on the subway and pick a neighborhood you’ve never been to. Explore the side streets. Take it all in. Spend a few moments appreciating the architecture around you. Walk around, get lost and then settle at a coffee shop for a few hours. Find a bite for lunch and then do it all again! Or better yet, bring lunch from home and find the nearest green space. Enjoy your food without looking at a single screen.

Coffee Shops and Restaurants

Not all coffee shops have power or WiFi, which can be okay depending on the type of work you do. 75% of my design and development work can be done locally without internet. You just have to plan accordingly and make sure you have all the files you need beforehand. As for power? Charge up before you leave your home and spend a few minutes Foursquare-ing or Yelping coffee shops around you that have the amenities you need.

I’m the type of person that will bring my laptop to restaurants and work while eating alone. Surprisingly some restaurants have WiFi and power outlets! I make sure to go during off hours and order food that won’t get messy. Most waitstaff don’t mind it at all. Plus, bathrooms!

Here’s a great list of coffee shops in New York by @semel.

Coworking Spaces

When you need to hanker down and power through lots of work, Coworking spaces are your best bet. My favorite one is New Work City on Canal and Broadway. It’s peaceful, inhabited by independent creatives and there are bean bags! Wherever you end up, spend a few minutes researching cost, location and environment. I tend to stay away from the more commercialized Coworking spaces (Regis, etc) — because community is really valuable and it can be found if you look hard enough.

My new favorite recommendation for coworking in NYC is Croissant. It’s an app where you can essentially walk in and out of any coworking space in the city, counting down from the hours on your plan. Yep, that means you can stay in a space for 28 minutes and another for 2 hours, while only paying for the time you actually use.

Be Efficient

Know what you’re going to work on before you go anywhere. It might even behoove you to organize your tasks into 2-4 hour sprints. That way you can make the most of your time working and the breaks you take will be meaningful. Have meetings or calls? Try to make a plan to work around them. If you’ve got errands to run in the afternoon in SoHo, then get to the neighborhood early and spend the day coffee shop and library hopping.

For instance, when I freelanced I scheduled meetings with clients and phone calls on the same day and went to a coworking space on that day because I could use their phone rooms and conference rooms. Also it became an all day affair because I could make the most of the day pass (~$30) if I got there early and left late.

The NYPL

I can’t stress enough how awesome the library is for working… and it’s free! Seriously, New York has amazing libraries that are perfect for working. Outlets galore, WiFi, plenty of seating, quiet atmosphere, cool architecture — what more could you ask for?

Notably, check out the beautiful Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, which is open on Sundays but closes early. Two blocks down is the Mid-Manhattan Library that closes late.

Jelly or Do It With a Friend

Round up a two or three people and work together (typically referred to as a “Jelly”). Likeminded folks will respect that conversation and work can happen peacefully. Organized Coworking meetups in NYC happen regularly as well.

Make sure to bring your headphones, a notebook, MiFi, phone charger and whatever else you might need on the go!

You can work from anywhere, if you put your mind to it. So be free, explore, and find your happy place.

I work full-time at a startup and I still find one day a week to work out of the office. Collaboration, team lunches and pow-wows are great — but sometimes peace and quiet does wonders for productivity and clear thinking. Some people don’t work best sitting at a desk anyways.

3 years ago

How Often Should You Redesign Your Business Cards?

This is a question I ask myself every so often. I’m a big advocate of young talented people establishing their identity with business cards. I’ve had them since I was about 13, and I’m 17 now. In four years, I’ve gone through four redesigns. For me, I make an update when the crucial information changes (portfolio, etc).

For some, information might not change very often. I think it’s best to make changes on these factors: outdated designs, outdated information and new logos.

In order to fully express my creativity, I make sure each design is totally different than the next.

So, how often should you change your business cards? Think about the nature of your business, the people receiving these cards and the image you wish to portray. Does your information change frequently? Do your current cards give off the reflection you want it to?

This picture shows the first business cards I ever designed! Share yours!

 

Need new business cards? Check out BusinessCards.org templates!

6 years ago

My Experiences and Honest Review of InMotion Hosting

I have been building and running websites of all kinds for many years now, as some of you may know. With this, I have experimented with many different web hosts over time. Some have been awful, yet some of them have been really great! Today I am going to share my experiences with InMotion Hosting. I’d like to mention, that I’m not a fan of those large hosting companies. As a medium sized company, I found InMotion to have great support and great service – without having to compromise a single thing, as you would have to with other, larger hosts. (When I say that InMotion is a medium sized host, I am saying that they are not this big force trying to do everything so great – they focus on a few services, making them as great as possible. Quality over quantity!) I appreciate the friendliness and comfort I experience when dealing with the guys over at InMotion.

When I did my research on InMotion when I was looking for a new web host a few weeks ago, I was not able to find one negative thing about these guys. After going over my options, I took the dive and went for InMotion.  The sign up process was fast and easy, even for a beginner. All of the options are evident and you know exactly what you’re paying for. I have never seen an ordering process this straightforward!

99% of the time, you get a welcome email with account info when you order a hosting account . Most of the time they are the same tedious email, buy with InMotion hosting, I found the welcome email to be very thorough, well organized and jam packed with more information than I know how to do with. To be honest, I see a lot of hosts that just throw you your account information, which can be very non-newbie friendly. Although I knew what I was doing, I feel that here, things seem to be more newbie friendly and easy!

In the few weeks that I have had two of my sites with InMotion, I have experienced superior uptime and am thoroughly enjoying the great features they have to offer. Among them are: Reliable Backups (Weekly or Daily), cPanel, Multiple levels of hosting when your sites grow, money back guarantee and so much more. With hosting starting at $5.95 a month, you really can’t go wrong.

You may have had experiences with shady hosts, feeling uncomfortable about using their servers  – because I know I have. At InMotion, I feel safe. I know my data is secure. I don’t have to worry about downtime or compromised security; instead I have a peace of mind that is unsurpassed.

6 years ago

How to Choose the Best Hosting Plan for Your Website

I know how difficult it can be to choose a web host.  In fact in my years of being online, I have cycled through at least five different hosts.  Choosing a good host can be a daunting task.  Here, I will outline all of the things that you need to consider before purchasing hosting for your website.

First off, let me explain the different types of hosting solutions available.

Shared hosting is the most common type of hosting that you will see, mainly because it’s cheap.  It means that tons of websites are hosted on the same server, which isn’t a good thing.  If one website uses up too many resources, it can bring down the entire server – with your website in the sinking boat.

Another option is dedicated hosting.  This means that you’re basically “renting” your own server.  So, you don’t have to worry about anyone else using up your resources since you will not be sharing the space with anyone else.  This is also an ideal choice if you want to have full control over your server and the software installed on it.

Lastly, there’s VPS hosting.  VPS stands for Virtual Private Server.  A VPS means that you share the same hardware (server) as others, but you get your own partition (piece) of the server with your own operating system.  It offers a lot of the same benefits as a dedicated server does, except you physically don’t have the server to yourself.  This is like the next step up from shared hosting.

So, what are the different features offered with each?  Here’s a basic breakdown.

 

Email Servers

Dedicated and VPS hosting give you access to your own email server for your domain, thus bringing beefed up security and more functionality.

Platform Control

For those of you who don’t know, platform control refers to operating systems – in this case, it means that with dedicated and VPS hosting, you can choose what kind of software goes on your server.

Performance and Security

Shared servers are best for smaller websites that do not need many features or strict security.

Dedicated and VPS hosting allow for a lot of server set up and customization options with the added benefit of increased performance.  With these hosting plans, you have full reign over most aspects of the server.  These are best if you need your websites to perform well with a great deal of security features.

6 years ago

Does Your Design Company Communicate with You?

When you hire a graphic design company, there are a lot of different things you need to consider. Things like their experience, their level of skill, and their fees are just a few of the considerations that will influence your decision. But one of the most important factors that you should look at when comparing web design companies is something that most clients don’t think twice about: their ability to communicate.

See, the marketing process is an ongoing, complex process. There’s a very important need for consistent communication between the marketing company and the client. If that communication isn’t there, then you’re going to have a serious problem. Without proper communication, your logo design and marketing firm could end up creating a campaign that doesn’t mesh with your vision or help you meet your business objectives.

So, what are some of the ways the best marketing agencies communicate with their clients?

Well, it all starts at the beginning. From the initial consultation, your marketing firm should get the conversation going. They should be committed to learning everything they can about you the client. They should perform an in-depth opening interview to gather as many details as possible about your company, your competitors, your goals, your target audience, your unique selling points, and so on. If your marketing agency doesn’t do this from the start, that’s a pretty big warning sign that you’ve chosen the wrong firm to handle your brand.

After the initial interview, your marketing company should continue to keep the lines of communication open with you, because the next step is the development of your campaign. Depending upon the scope of your project, this could mean the design of a range of marketing collateral (website, brochures, print ads, etc.), the development of your messaging (copywriting), and general strategizing.

Obviously, it’s important that you play a role in this. After all, it is your company, so you should be involved in developing your marketing strategy so that you can be sure it’s in line with your vision and your objectives.

But that’s not all. As your marketing campaign gets implemented, you should still be communicating with your marketing agency. They should be keeping you updated on the current status of your campaign, and they should be measuring results to let you know how it’s performing. This could mean that you have weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings with your marketing agency to keep you apprised of all the latest happenings surrounding your brand’s development.

In short, communication is an essential part of the marketing and design process. The best marketing agencies know how to communicate effectively with their clients, helping to ensure your voice is always heard and you continue to remain satisfied.

Photos by: arinas74 and OmirOnia

6 years ago

First Steps in Affiliate Marketing: Is Outsourcing the Way to Go?

I have spent the past few weeks fully immersing myself in learning about affiliate marketing, better blogging and the like. Why you may ask? I believe that I have what it takes to make it big out there. (As an entrepreneur in the online world that is).  I want to make money online, and I want lots of it. I am tired of seeing my family struggle month to month. I am tired of not being able to have the things I want (and sometimes need). I know that I can do great things — why not use them to make money?

Well folks, here it is. The time has come and this is the first start of my journey to being rich and famous online. Before I was scared. Scared that I would waste my time, money and efforts, but now I truly believe in myself. I will succeed. I just have to put my mind to it.

As the title says, I’m going to start off my journey by outsourcing. Outsourcing may not be for everyone, but for me: I’m still a teen, which means I have school. That equates to me not having tons of time to do keyword research, article writing, etc. I just ordered two gigs on fiverr.com. I’ll write about my experiences in a few days! Now, if you are considering outsourcing there are a few things you have to ask yourself. 1) Can you afford it? 2) What kind of tasks are you going to outsource? 3) Why are you outsourcing? (ie. are theses tasks you could just be doing yourself)

My first goal is to make $150 online before my 17th birthday (May 14th). That’s 32 days. It’s going to take sweat, blood and tears, but nothing can stop me from achieving my goals. You with me or what?

How I’m going to make this money? I really don’t have a solid plan yet. But this is what I do have.

Find niche -> Do keyword research -> Find products to market -> Build niche site -> Monetize site -> Buildbacklinks and get traffic to site -> Happy ending?

We’ll have to see how my plan works out. Wish me luck! 😀

6 years ago

5 Tips for Working Without a Dedicated Office

What do the following three people have in common?

* A parent who wants to add to the family income

* A telecommuting cube warrior

* A successful retiree who’s starting a second career

They each need a home office, or at least some space that can be set aside for it. Ideally, there’s an extra room somewhere in the home that can be converted to a work-at-home environment, but it’s not always the case. Many who work from home have to squeeze office furniture into rooms that are already being used for other activities, yet they’re successful at it. Here are 5 things they know that you may not:

Source: Fabio Bruna

1. Use Physical Barriers to Set Aside the New Office Space

If you’ve chosen a spot in the family room, rearrange the furniture to set your new work space apart from the rest of the room. Use a portable screen or even a curtain hung from a rod to create the illusion of privacy. You might even put a piece of masking tape on the floor where the “office door” should be and ask roommates or family members to pause there and knock politely before entering.

It’s sometimes easier if space in the laundry room or a walk-in closet can be converted, but the idea remains the same. Mark the space as clearly as you can so everyone knows it’s now your office.

2. Treat It Like an Office

This is sometimes harder than it seems, especially if the space is in a room with lots of other traffic. It’s up to you and those who live with you to respect the new space as work space. The children shouldn’t leave toys in there, and laundry shouldn’t pile up on your printer stand. You go to your new office space because it’s time to go to work, not play computer games or chat with friends online. It’s a mind set that can help you make the transition into a work-at-home career more effectively.

3. Make It as Comfortable as You Can

If you can afford to get ergonomic office equipment, do it. A comfortable chair, a keyboard and mouse that are easy on the wrists, and effectively placed lighting are just as important at home as they are in a corporate office.

4. Declutter and Stay Organized

This is especially important for small spaces. Invest in some shelves, filing cabinets, plastic organizers, anything that will fit comfortably in your new office space and provide containers for “stuff.” Once you get it all put away, train yourself to put things back when you’re finished with them. Do all your filing every day so it doesn’t stack up around you. Good organizational habits can make a huge difference in productivity at home.

5. Eliminate Distractions

Ringing telephones, chattering roommates, blaring television, barking dogs, nosy neighbors or spouses – these elements of everyday life can be “death by a thousand cuts” for productivity. If you’re in a room with a TV, you might ask that it not be on during your working hours, or choose to wear a good set of headphones that can block out noise. Turn off the ringers on the house telephones, or set up a caller ID system that will allow you to see. What do a parent looking to add to the family income, a telecommuting cube warrior, and a successful retiree now starting a second career all have in common? The need for a home office, or at least some space that can be set aside for it. Ideally, there’s an extra room somewhere in the home that can be converted to a work-at-home environment, but it’s not always the case. Many who work from home have to squeeze office furniture into rooms that are already being used for other activities, yet they’re making it work.

The challenges that come with the choice to work from home differ from those of working away from home, but they can be met with some of the same strategies. The most important trait you can bring to it is the determination to take your new work seriously and to succeed at it.

6 years ago

8 Tips for Creating an Office at Home

office
Source: smemon87

Whether you are running a business out of the guest room, working from home in the den, or paying your bills in a corner of the family room, constructing a comfortable, professional space is critical. Use these eight tips for creating an office at home.

 

1. Design an office that meets your needs

The first step in crafting the perfect home office is to settle on its purpose.

  • Will you have sole access, or will it be shared with family members?
  • Will you always work alone, or will you need seating for vendors and clients?
  • What shelves, baskets, filing cabinets, and desk space will you need for storage and organisation?
  • If you will claim your home office as a tax deduction, make sure you meet the Internal Revenue Service guidelines.

 

2. Create a floor plan before making purchases

Before you bring new furniture into the space, you must confirm that it will fit. The same principle applies to wall accessories like bulletin boards and dry erase boards.

The simplest method for fashioning a floor plan is to draw your room measurements on a piece of graph paper, cut out coloured paper to match the scaled size of the items you want, and then try different configurations to until you find the best combination. If you prefer a high-tech approach, you can built your floor plan with a spreadsheet, CAD software, or an interior decorating application.

When you are developing your plan, remember to about one foot of extra depth for open file cabinets and desk drawers. More importantly, make sure you have enough electrical outlets and amperage to accommodate all of your equipment. You do not want extension cords wrapping around the room, and you do not want to trip a circuit breaker every time you switch on your desk lamp.

 

3. Define the space

Separating your office into a professional space will help you stay in a work mindset and remain productive. If you will be using only part of a room, consider designating your space with some type of barrier. Some inexpensive options include a Japanese Shoji screen, painted bookcases, adjustable curtains or fabric panels, or even a row of potted plants or trees.

 

4. Pay attention to the furniture

You will get little work done sitting in an uncomfortable chair for hours. You also risk aggravating back problems. Choose a chair and desk that will maintain your good posture. According to Cleveland Clinic, having a proper sitting position means the following:

  • back straight and shoulders back
  • knees at a right angle, even or slightly higher than your hips, with feet flat on the floor and legs uncrossed
  • elbows and arms resting on your chair or desk with your shoulders relaxed
  • shifting to a different position at least once every half hour.

 

5. Avoid bad lighting

Poor lighting can cause eye fatigue and headaches. Move your monitor to a position that will prevent glare. Take advantage of natural lighting whenever possible, and use soft, ambient light bulbs to complement the space. Keep in mind the placement of task lighting for reading and manual work and the general level of room light for other activities.

 

6. Keep the office fun and inspirational

Surround yourself with pleasant colours, motivating artwork, creative toys, and gallery-like accessories. The items in your office should be calming or thought-provoking but never distracting. Live plants, soft tunes, and aromatherapy products can help form a relaxing environment.

 

7. Keep the office clean and tidy

Do not be tempted to pack items into every nook of your office. Leave some open space, remove unnecessary trinkets and piles, and use creative storage units to keep unattractive cords and clutter out of sight.

 

8. Reduce the noise

Locate office noises and take steps to quiet them. Add a door to the furnace, install carpet or wall hangings to absorb echoes, seal door frames, close windows during peak traffic periods, and let your family know your office schedule so they will control interruptions.

 

With a little planning, you can create a perfect environment for your business activities. As you are pulling together your ideal furniture, equipment, and accessories, keep in mind these eight tips for creating an office at home.

6 years ago

Understanding Web Hosts: Free Vs. Paid

Hello all! Here is the first post in a new series called ‘Understanding Web Hosts’. In this handy guide, I will be showing you what to expect when purchasing hosting and what to look for when doing so, as well as other aspects in web hosting. In helping you understand the logistics of all of this, I won’t go into lots of technical details. This helps you grasp the concepts and it makes it easier for me to explain! To start off, I’m going to explain the difference between Free Vs. Paid Web Hosts.

Free Hosts

Free hosts generally have a lot of limitations. They aren’t in it to help you, they are in it to make money. (I do realize that there are good people out there who do like to help others and offer free hosting, sometimes they are few and far between.) The people I am talking about are the larger, impersonal ones. Like 000webhost. Features are very limited. No free host can really offer you the support and services that a real paid host can offer. At the end of the day, your site is in their hands. All that hard work can be gone in an instant. Why free hosting is a bad idea:

Not professional

Very limited features

No domain

Bad support

Would you like me to think of more?

Paid Hosts

There are many great and affordable web hosts out there, that can take your site to the next level without hurting your budget. Paid hosts really can make a huge difference in a hosting experience. If you have never had an experience with a paid web host, you really should try.  Now, there are many different features that may confuse you when purchase hosting, but I will cover that in the next post.  Features of most paid hosts:

Good Uptime

Freedom with your site

Installers (Fantisico!)

Other cPanel Resources (Stats, Email)

Add-on Domains

Option to Upgrade

Friendly and prompt service

Payment discounts

Money back guarantee (sometimes)

Alas, hosting can be expensive, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. In my experience, I have been hosted by these two companies; A Small Orange and Jolly Works Hosting. JollyWorks has a hosting plan for only $1 a month. I actually used to be hosted on this plan, and I have no real complaints. Good customer service, good prices, good uptime. I don’t remember why I switched, but I did. And that was to A Small Orange (Coupon Codes). In the time I have been with them, I have had relatively no downtime and excellent customer service. I pay $5 a month for about 6 or 7 websites. (Add-on domains) To me, you really can’t go wrong here! If you are considering buying web hosting for the first time, go with one of these two companies!

Now, not every paid host out there is as glamorous as I have told you above. The ones I have mentioned here really are great. Before you purchase ANY kind of web hosting, research! Look at reviews! Don’t invest until you know everything. Ask someone who is hosted by a certain company what they think of it. Just promise to do your research!

6 years ago