Office space vs working at home – Which is more productive?

When running your own business, one of the decisions you need to make is where you will work.  Many prefer working from home, whilst other prefer to rent office space.  Either way, your business needs should drive your decision.  Here are some of the things you should consider whilst making your decision.

 

Space

Working from the comfort of your own home can offer flexibility which renting office space may not offer in such abundance but, in order to be productive, it is important that you have enough and, the right amount, of space to work in.  Things like background noise or even the environment at home may be distracting in which case renting an office space may be more suitable for you.

In addition to the space you need to work in, you may also need storage space in which case considering renting this may be more effective than trying to find space at home and/or spreading resources over multiple locations.

 

Workforce

If you work as part of a team or manage a team, you should decide whether it is most effective for you to do this remotely or face to face – or even a combination of both.  If you think that face to face arrangements may be needed then working from home as opposed to renting work space may not service these needs in which case you should consider renting office space, even if you do not utilise it  on a full-time basis.

 

Meetings

Does your business require formal meetings?  You can of course rent meeting rooms on an ad-hoc basis if meetings are few and far between, which works well if you are working from home.  But if this is a more frequent requirement and /or you want to offer clients a branded environment, renting meeting rooms on a longer term basis may be an option to consider.

 

Do you have all you need?

Things like internet and telephone access are usually essentials for any business and although this may not be a problem when working from home, it may become one if say, you have to provide this for your staff.  In such cases, renting an office space may be a better option for you.

 

Work-life balance

Although working from home is a luxury that many people enjoy, it can be hard keeping work life completely separate from home life.  Some people are disciplined enough to do this well.  If however this is a struggle for you, renting office space is a good solution for this – it is nice to end the work day and go home to an environment which is not associated with work.

 

If renting office space, meeting rooms or storage facilities is something you feel would be useful for your business Send Business Center is one to take a look at.  They offer reasonable prices and flexible options which makes finding a solution that specifically meets your business needs easy and cost-effective.

Kolkata or Calcutta?

I still feel a little presumptions calling this place Kolkata, as if, somehow I have become more familiar with it because of my Kolkattan family or their wholehearted and enthusiastic acceptance their latest Jami before and after my wedding blessing ceremony.

Calcutta or Kolkata, there are parts of this city that look like change will pass them by forever.

The city’s living history comes to life in every unspectacular stroke of metal file on a new, hand built window that manages to already look old or run of a carpenters plane, throwing curled hardwood into the street in front of the sea of people, ebbing and flowing between the surging traffic; behind the discordant symphony of horns and revving engines. As distracting as all of this activity is, Kolkata is pregnant with forgiveness for the absent minded or unaware straying into its machinery.
For my penny, I have never experienced a body of people with so much skill and determination to work, strive and survive. The close proximity of man, machine, logistics and real estate doesn’t appear to be anything but an advantage to the clustered work communities. It’s biomechanical harmony is mesmeric to me, almost making me forget to keep one eye on the traffic.

I got the feeling that my five senses would not keep me feeling safe in Kolkata for long, they were filled to saturation with stimulus within moments of my arrival. I began to realise that this is a city orchestrated for the and by the sixth sense, for all the good and bad that may entail.

A few days into my stay, across the road from my temporary home I watched a girl, likely around three or four years old, washing steel bowls in a sink of cloudy water created by half a dozen missing pavement blocks, an imperfection that proved useful for this task. My focus on her diligent attention to detail was broken when, after she finished cleaning, she took a bag from her home, an ambiguous pile of possessions covers by a frayed tarpaulin, and emptied the contents neatly into the gutter. The admiration briefly washed over with a feeling of judgment and superiority as this counter cultural act took place, then, back to greater admiration even though I couldn’t bear to throw any of my own rubbish in the gutter however many times I was told it was the way here.

On an early morning journey through the back streets from Indian Mirror Street to Newmarket I witnesses a man breaking up shiny black lumps of coal into smaller pieces and later saw a group of women sifting through charcoal ashes for unburnt fuel that had been deposited on mass on the empty pavement. I felt sure they would both be gone by the time the streets filled within the first few hours of daylight, set up in their stalls to sell their daily produce.

Through all this time, the most frequent things I witnessed were signs of worship. Whether it was the shop fronts dedicated to gods, makeshift offertory’s, dedications of food, lime and pepper mandalas or the blessing offered to me before, during and after every interaction with the inhabitants of this city. Despite all the warnings nested in the pre-travel advice of friends, the only pale aggression I witnessed was a from a woman chasing a stray dog from her seat on the street of a folded jute bag. I suppose, given this was the equivalent of her living room, it was a justifiable act. The dog didn’t seem to take offence, it just moved on, happy for the few minutes of comfort that would inevitably end.
The dogs seemed to far outnumber the cats everywhere I went, except at the fish market where their fleet of foot and guile suited the nooks of the stalls. Though they received the occasional brush with the foot of shoppers and sellers alike as they were near impossible to spot when all feline and human attention was on the produce and its preparation for sale. The fish market building was old and only clean where it needed to be. Cables and ropes draped through the rafters, formed an extensive labyrinth or perching positions for the crows, somehow I was surprised how many crows there were all over the city and even in that excess, were the only subjects that resisted me taking photographs. Through all my attempts, they seemed fully aware of my intent and repeatedly out sensed me in jumping away when I got near the perfect shot, making me look like a fool every time, much to the amusement of the traders. I smiled back just to let them know I got the joke. The crows perched above the people and appeared to revel in their superiority being able, any time, to take to the wing and fly above the streets of Kolkata to anywhere else but I suspect the pickings must be too good here for such animals. Later in the day, when I saw two crows fighting over the carcase of a dead rat they didn’t look quite as dignified.

Whilst shopping at one of the many markets in the city, my new Shashuri, a mathematics teacher in the UK, was schooled in arithmetic by a trader on a large order of vegetables for the reception we had were hosting that evening. I remembered my wife pointing out when filling out my visa that the option of ‘illiterate’ was available under educational achievements. She reckoned it could only happen in India but watching this market trader, probably illiterate but with numeracy as a survival skill, a real world lesson in applied mathematics.

There were no rose tinted glasses strong enough for the harshness of Kolkata I had to see the dog with distemper drooling in a catatonic stasis outside the flat as a left for another morning walk, not the best one I experienced as I passed three heroine addicts and a group of dealers selling to prostitutes and pimps. On the same journey I was harassed by a woman begging with two children in tow, one who was maimed then from my blind side I was groped by child begging then offering sex. I managed to side step the team of men trying to get me to some underground stalls in Newmarket and ended up in a narrow street where a skinny dog was wrenching for a moment then projectile vomited and simultaneously exploded with dihoreiha. I doubled back and was almost skewered by 5 meters of aluminium rails run out of a side street by two men who then proceeded into the path of a man carrying a massive bag of cotton that completely covered his head. The cotton carrier couldn’t see but with one word from the leading rail carrier, slowed to miss the collision by about half an inch and the orchestra started again. By the time I got home, the dog with distemper had gone.
I missed most of the usual tourist spots, my father in law apologised about the lack of opportunity to visit the Queen Victoria park in particular. When I said that I could see Victorian parks back in London he feigned offence and suggested that we should express gratitude to Queen Victoria for his freedom from British rule. I was half way through explaining that she had to take it first before I realised how deep the sarcasm runs in native Kolkatans as the Celt in me appreciated how humour could be the only thing left to remind you of who you are when the cupboards are bare and purses empty. Still, he would have wanted me to see the park.

The strength of community values and practices of my new family were always happily obvious to me but I had got to know them in the UK and seeing them in their native city brought home how deep this vein of joyous common humanity runs. Evidence of this was everywhere, from the child singing along at the top of his voice to a song blaring from the radio in of a parked auto rickshaw or, closer to home as I watched the countenance of the child returning to my wife during this trip, the food dances breaking through when she was given mishti dhal and the taste brought back 30 years of the memories and sensations brought to life in Kolkata.

Passing a laminated poster of Mother Theresa, I remembered that she was known to me as Mother Theresa of Calcutta throughout my youth. It made me think of how abstract the descriptions of her ‘good deeds’ were to me in my Scottish primary school where tales of Christian beneficence through Mother Theresa’s iconic simplicity and determination appeared to lead the the masses from darkness. The truth is I believe she must have loved the spirit of the people of this city, like the good heartedness exhumed by any disaster, the grace and kindness in action of this community create a palpable result in anyone really looking in. The odd part is that this disaster of poverty and overcrowding has been prevalent for 200 years in this City, yet the conditions do not detract from the intent and the deeds of those still offering kindness, civility and happiness to natives and travellers alike.

I don’t think she would have cared which religion claimed her, the needs of the poor, then as now are so clear that whatever little each received, given with love respect and dignity, would lift that person out of the soup for a few seconds and raise them to the full spiritual height, making the coming days in the middle of the noise, pollution and ceaseless movement of the human capital of Kolkatta that much more bearable for them. If she experienced half of what I did from giving nothing but an open mind to Kolkata then I can understand why her life was dedicated to its people.

So now, by marriage, I am closer and more connected to this city, and I feel all the better for it.

And by the way, its Kolkata because the natives say so and its the city of joy because they make it so.

Written by Sean McMahon

Should mothers work?

“Working mothers risk damaging their child’s prospects” is the latest offering from the Daily Mail Online, fuelled by findings from the Institute for Social and Economical Research.  Will the debate over whether mothers should work never abate?  More over, what will it take to dissolve the ‘them and us’ divide between stay at home mums and working mothers?

The findings conflict with the Government’s stance of cutting tax breaks and reducing benefit entitlements for stay at home mums, and endorse the mother’s who do sacrifice their careers to devoting time to raise their children.  However, as desirable as the latter option is to so many, financially, it is not always the most viable choice.  Perhaps this is what part-contributes to the rising figures reported by the Office for National Statistics whereby the number of women with dependent children has risen by almost a fifth since the mid 1990’s

Whether mothers should work has long been a source of debate, but when living in a society of increasing financial pressure, it becomes less of a debate and more of a necessity.  Unfortunately, soaring childcare prices trap many into a confusing mindset of never knowing whether they have made the right decision.

It seems that either way, mother’s are not relieved from guilt; if they go to work they may risk causing long-term psychological and academic damage to their child.  If they don’t go to work they miss out on Government-led financial incentives that makes the decision easier to live with.  For many, it is compounded by colleagues and employers judging mothers for leaving work promptly to collect their child from childcare, as reported by a quarter of working mothers surveyed by Mumsnet.

Perhaps Licia Ronzullu (pictured), Italy’s Member of the European Parliament has got it right.

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

When she first appeared with her baby in a sling in the European Parliament, it attracted a lot of attention.  Although she denied it being a political stunt, she did call for discussions around the life of working mothers shortly afterwards.  Perhaps not all political stunts are bad.

As utopian as her demonstrated solution appears, it is not a practical one for many – as a teacher, I can’t imagine holding a toddler on my lap while teaching a rowdy group of fourteen year old students.  However, having been paranoid about remotely hinting at any long-term plans to have a family in job interviews, in case it is seen as a lack of commitment, Licia Ronzullu does remind me that it is okay to have an overlap between work and family.  And perhaps this poster girl for working mothers may just pioneer a different meaning to the term.

Is your e-commerce site lonely? Find out how to attract more visitors.

If you have an empty shop floor, you are not going to make very much money.  Instead of being reactive, usually born out of panic, take a step back and identify why you aren’t generating the custom you want.  This knowledge will be an investment from which you will receive long-term of return.

If you went to a supermarket and spent an hour looking for the apples because of no clear sign posts or help from staff, would you be happy?  Of course not – your customers are no different.  This is why your e-commerce website design should be the first thing you analyse.  To go back to the drawing boards, have a brainstorming session to identify what your website should provide and, revisit your outcomes so you can refine them.  For example, you may identify that your website must offer ‘information’.  But what’s more important is that it is useful information.  Tying this in with your e-commerce website design, perhaps the useful information should be accessible from every page.

High ‘bounce rate’ is bad.  It indicates that visitors are leaving too quickly, usually within a few seconds.  So how can you encourage customers to stay for longer and therefore, significantly increasing chances of them spending money?

Incorporated into designing should be logical structure – when you enter the supermarket to buy apples, you want a clear sign directing you where to go and, to be able to find other fruit nearby.  You also need to pay attention to navigation.

Let’s go back to the supermarket.  When you are in the fruit aisle and realise you also need to buy bread, it would be useful if you could view the signs directing you to the right place from where you’re standing instead, of having to re-enter the shop.  Similarly, your customers should be able to easily access pages anywhere on your website rather than, always having to returning to the homepage.

Research has shown that 60% of shopping cart abandonment is caused by having multiple page checkouts.  It seems foolish to lose custom at this final phase but, the more times you ask your customer “are you sure?”, the more opportunity you are presenting for your customer to change his/her mind.  Studies have indicated that single click buying increases the conversion rate to 70% – what a difference.

With e-commerce sites, it is very easy to focus on functionality.  You are right to place importance on this but, the online marketing should not be overlooked.  After all, why would someone buy from you if they don’t know you exist?  Blogs are an inexpensive and easy way to not only spread awareness of your company but, to add a personal voice to the company image.  Building and taking part in this community is essential in maintaining credibility.

How to Become a Freelance Writer

So, when did you decide to become a freelance writer? (the emphasis being on writer)

The answer should be “I didn’t”.  Why?  Because you either are one or you aren’t.  I realise that it makes my impression of the writing community somewhat clique but, that’s not my intention.  My point is that, writing is a need not just a want which means that to stay motivated enough to keep writing  – even about things that you aren’t particularly interested in – you need to need, to write.

Making money from writing can be tough.  There are a lot of opportunities out there – thousands in fact but, there always seems to be more writers.  And, with so many writers being willing to do it for free or a ridiculously low amount of money, to actually make enough money to live just through freelance writing can feel very unstable.

Notice that I have used words like ‘tough’ and ‘unstable’?  Notice that I didn’t say impossible?

What sort of writer are you?  In-line with any sensible marketing strategy, you need to be focused so that you can create confidence in your services for your target market.  If you prefer or are better at writing in an instructional style then perhaps you should promote your technical authoring services.  Although you do not have to choose one specialism, it is a good idea to broadly focus on one area at a time when promoting yourself.  For instance, if you like creative writing but also know that you can keep the money flowing through writing say, reviews, you should separate the two ‘brands’.

Start writing and keep writing.  Would you buy a car without even seeing a picture of it first? I didn’t think so.  It is therefore completely reasonable for potential clients to want to see your work before they recruit you.  This makes it a worthy investment of your time and efforts to start and maintain a portfolio of writing and with so many free to use facilities available, WordPress being just one of them, there is no excuse not to have a content rich portfolio.  This also serves a double purpose; many clients ask for a sample article of their choice to be written.  Why should you write for free?  Instead you can point them in the direction of your portfolio where they can see variety of samples.

The keep writing part in my opinion, is a very important step towards becoming a freelance writer.  This is because, if you find a job you want to bid for and in response start writing and publishing lots of suitable articles, given that everything is date stamped when publish digitally, you would not look like the experienced writer that you are.  So, start writing and keep writing regardless of whether you have a job in mind or not.

“Writing is like prostitution.  First you do it for love…and then for money” (Moliere)

I didn’t even like that quote when I first stumbled upon it and now I have used it in two of my blog posts.

If you are trying to become a freelance writer you need to know that this quote will come true – no matter how much you tell yourself that you will only write about things you are genuinely interested in.  Truth is, as much as that ideal doesn’t seem like a hard feat, if you are a freelance writer who seriously wants to make some money from writing instead of some loose change, you cannot close so many doors.  It means that you will look at how much your client’s budget is before you think too in-depth about the job itself.   However, this will always make the writer in you feel unfulfilled after all, isn’t the dream to see your name in the place of J.K. Rowling on bookshelves everywhere?  This doesn’t mean a complete loss as since you are now in-the-know, you can think of ways to ensure that your creative side is well-balanced with your business side.  And hey, the prospect of the business side coinciding with the creative side may not be frequent but, it can happen.

Despite the many obstacles or uphill climbs that a freelance writer faces, one should not lose hope – keep trying to write your way out of a 9 to 5 and eventually, you will.

5 Shortcuts for Becoming a Freelance Writer in Record Time

With the aid of the internet and so many means by which a freelance writer can get jobs, it is much faster to set up your freelance writing business than you may imagine.  In truth, you can do so without spending a penny – all you have to spend is your time.

The world of freelance writing is a tough one.  Competition is fierce and desperate writers who believe in bulk over quality are driving the prices for buyers down.  Maintaining your quality standards which should be reflected in how much clients pay you is one way to take charge of your freelance writing career but this is only helpful once you have established yourself.

Here are five shortcuts on becoming a freelance writer in record time:

1.  Join the bidding wars!

Rather than politely applying for freelance writing jobs or waiting to be contacted for freelance writing jobs, get your hands dirty and join the mass freelance writing community who bid for jobs.  Websites like Elance and People Per Hour are great for this and it is the ideal place to start building your writing portfolio, networking and making some money from freelance writing in the process.

2.  Start blogging

When setting up or running your own freelance business in any field, the proportion of time spent marketing versus ‘doing’ should be more weighted.  Blogging is a great way to show of your writing and with sites like WordPress, you can do this for free.

3.  Use social networking to your advantage

Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn have plenty of pages dedicated to freelance writing looking to network and find freelance writing jobs.  You should join groups and make your presence known so that the next time a buyer is looking for a writer or, a freelance writer needs another to take over some work, your name springs to mind.

4.  Be patient

J.K. Rowling has been known to share some of her tips on being a succesful writer in which having patience features.  She openly talks of the need of being patient when looking to get published and the same applies for freelance writers whether or not you are looking to write a book.  Taking on a variety of writing jobs may not adhere to topics you are passionate about but, do serve as stepping stones towards being able to bid for larger, more lucrative and more interesting freelance writing jobs that require some experience and proof of your writing abilities.

5.  Be savvy

Buyers will try to get as much out of you that their money can buy but, treat your time as being precious.  This is not to say that being ruthless is the only way to succeed at being a freelance writer but, being willing to do everything that the buyer wants without charging for the extra’s means that you are using time to make them happy that could be used to work on money-making projects.

freelance writer

How to Take Charge of Your Freelance Writing Career

Being a freelance writer is not easy.  In fact, if you inspect any list of writing careers, you will find that they all tend to be quite lonely jobs.   Freelance writers are also often forced to accept low paying jobs just to keep the cash and work flowing.  Even freelancers who are writing great articles are all too often unrewarded for their talent and hard work. 

In a bid to promote our community and encourage buyers to pay us our worth, I have used my own experience to discuss how to become a freelance blog writer and get paid enough to make a sustainable living from it.

For a start, you need to stop accepting low paid jobs.  In my experience, charging a reasonable amount and sticking to it oozes confidence.  And if that confidence is backed with you writing great articles, you are guaranteed to get repeat business.  If a client expressively has a smaller budget you may feel that you are driving business away but actually, you are not.  I have been inundated with clients asking me to do corrective work because a cheap writer has done a bad job or, clients who have learnt from experience and are happy to pay a reasonable sum for someone who is good.

However, in order to turn down business in the short-term to fulfil a more long-term goal, money still needs to be flowing.  You could take on quick jobs to keep topping up the bank balance but, it wouldn’t be very time/cost-effective.   This is why it is wise to take the leap into being a full-time freelance writer once you have saved up 3-6 months’ salary and, have been earning a steady income for 6 months to a year.

The next thing is to keep writing for love.  Anyone is a writer will tell you that it wasn’t a choice to be a writer, it is who they are.  Don’t lose that passion because, the more you write the better you will be and, the more you write great articles the more business you will attract.

I know that this isn’t packed with the secret to being a successful freelance writer but, I do hope that it gives you some faith and motivation to keep doing what you are passionate about whilst integrating it with some strategy.  Happy writing!

J. K. Rowling’s Top 10: Good Tips for Writing a Book

I bet J.K. Rowling could give us some good tips for writing a book – she does, after all, epitomise a modern day ‘zero to hero’ story.   Since J.K. Rowling’s global success many aspiring authors have been born.  By giving rare interviews and immersing herself instead into writing and charity work, Rowling has done very little to quench the insatiable appetite for finding out what her ‘J.K. Rowling tips on writing’ are.

But, if you look closely, you can see how she has sprinkled some handy top writing tips into the public domain.  By observing her works, life, process and interviews, once can deduce quite a good ‘J.K. Rowling tips on writing’ list.  Here’s mine:

1.       Fail to plan, plan to fail

One most commonly preached top writing tips is to plan well.  ‘Harry Potter’ was born in Manchester, on a train during a delayed journey to London.  Rowling proceeded to spend the next five years outlining the plots for the other stories in the series before even writing her first novel.
2.       “Kill all  the adverbs!” Mark Twain

Ok so this is technically a Mark Twain tip which has been famously backed by Hemmingway.  But, when searching for good tips for writing a book, scattering adverbs sparsely is one that Rowling agrees with.  When interviewed on the Charlie Rose show, she commented on how she wished she could rehash her earlier Potter novels and remove all the adverbs.
3.       “Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.” J.K. Rowling

As writing is a creative sport, writers often feel like they can and should only write when they feel inspired.  Rowling unguardedly disagrees and claims a work ethos that she drops into her top writing tips – treat writing like work.
Most aspiring author’s are desperately trying to write themselves out of a 9 to 5 and if nothing else, can feel reassured to know that J.K. Rowling used to write through the night.  Since having a family she waits for the house to be empty but still puts in a solid eight hours daily into writing.  If you want your writing to pay out, treat it like a job.
4.       You are allowed to have more than one on the go

Many of us writers are guilty of this – pursuing more than one novel idea at a time and feeling guilty for doing so because none of them are getting finished.  To our reassurance, listed in the J.K. Rowling tips on writing is the admission that she often does the same.  She admits that novels get completed faster if you focus on just one but, it is not an unrealistic prospect to be working on multiple projects.
5.       She re-wrote her first chapter fifteen times…

No matter how well you have planned your novel, one of the top writing tips that J.K. Rowling imparts is that, re-writing is essential.  She herself reworked her first chapter fifteen times until it was perfect.
6.       Keep your readers on the edge of a cliff

Out of all the good tips for writing a book this is the one that Rowling had to learn the hard way.  I flinch at the thought of it.  After J.K. Rowling had written her first of the ‘Harry Potter’ series, she realised that she had given away her entire plot – for all seven books!  She had to re-write it in order to keep the readers wanting more.  How?  Well, that leads me to the next of the J.K. Rowling tips on writing.
7.       Write strategically

If you follow the first of these top writing tips you will be in a position to think strategically.  In order to avoid the above mentioned mistake Rowling made, you should ensure that you do not give too much away.  This sounds obvious but, is in fact an easy thing to trip up on because you know what is going to happen so, can struggle to see it through the eyes of the unknowing reader.
8.       “What you write becomes who you are” J.K. Rowling

… “so make sure you love what you write!”
Any successful writer will tell you that they did not wake up one day and say to themselves “Today I have decided to become a writer”, they simply are one.  If you want to write, just do it.  If your aim is to publish, one of the good tips for writing a book is to bear in mind that not everything is publishable.  But, it is important to write from your heart.  One of the most alluring things about the ‘Harry Potter’ series is its passion – the only thing that could possibly drive such a concept that has been so intricately designed.
9.       Create good characters

In a QA session hosted by Stephen Fry, at the Albert Hall, unlike a typical ‘Aftrenoon with..’ style questions, most of them were about the Harry Potter characters – as thought they were real!  One member asked “Professor Snape has always wanted to be Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. In book five he doesn’t get the job. Why doesn’t Professor Dumbledore let him be the DADA teacher?”
Create a world – it doesn’t have to be a fantasy based one – but one that your readers will be drawn to.  After all, most readers read as a form of escapism – make people want to escape into your world and hang out with your characters.
10.   Be patient
J.K. Rowling openly talks of her struggles to get published – it certainly wasn’t easy for her.  Given that it took around a decade from ‘Harry Potter’s’ inception to being published, being patient is a crucial trait.
It is true that if you have been rejected by every publishing house in the world, it may be time to accept defeat but, equally, consider this.
An unknown Joanne Rowling, an unemployed woman living on state benefits became J.K. Rowling, billionaire author within 5 years.  ‘Harry Potter’ was rejected by numerous publishers for a year.  She waited patiently and it paid off.

Have your voice heard globally…Unbiasly

“Unbiasly was designed to bring together…what the media writes, what the people say…what your friends say…and what people see…”  Devin Dixon, creator of Unbiasly

Just now my Mum called saying that she was stuck in gridlock traffic asking whether I knew what had happened.  I went on the BBC’s live traffic update site and had no luck.  But then on Facebook, a friend wrote how there had been an accident nearby and all the surrounding roads weren’t moving.  I let Mum know.

Last week I found out that there was actually an online petition against Margaret Thatcher having a state funeral on Twitter.  Last month I found out that my friend had a baby girl and saw her first pictures on Instagram.

It is fairly safe to say that we are living in a social media driven culture.

Given that most people have multiple social media subscriptions, it is no wonder that companies like HootSuit are tapping into the niche of providing users with one interface to access multiple social media accounts.  Unbiasly is a new entry to that market but, with a fresh perspective.

What we read, see and hear influence all of us.  This is why the media have a responsibility to inform us accurately and without bias.  I hear you laugh.  I express a utopian concept but Unbiasly is a platform which brings us slightly closer to it.

How it works?

Once you have registered (free), you search for a keyword – I searched for ‘Thatcher’.

The results deliver a range of articles from different sources which you can read and then ‘take action’ – here you can select how biased you think it is, comment on it, and give it a star based rating.

When you move across the tabs, you also see Twitter comments, Facebook comments linked to your account, and Instagram images.

Cleverly, you can hone in on particular elements of your search criteria by adding more keywords – I tried ‘Funeral’.  This quite smoothly tailored my results however, slightly out of place, was an article about Simon Cowell…forgivable at the website’s current Beta stage.  As I clicked the ‘x’ next to ‘Funeral’, the results returned to the previous.

From a usability point of view, the website has clear navigation, results are instant and flexibility seems unlimited.

What does this mean?

With enough promotion, this could be a Facebook style revolution – a global, open and real-time discussion board with anyone who chooses to take part.  In a Western culture of ‘free speech’ and ‘democracy’, too many do not get their voices heard and Unbiasly may just be the future platform that makes international news.

Unbiasly is a refreshing concept that extends what is good about social media and global networking without jumping on the back of saturated markets.  Imagine yet another social media platform.  I like that its agenda is driven by distaste towards biased media accounts.  With so many of us being quite ignorant, being misinformed can have quite dire consequences as I found out on a recent Facebook argument; someone was ranting about ‘illegal immigrants draining the UK benefits system – if they are illegal, they can’t claim benefits.  But the slogan is a comfort zone for the ‘patriotic’ of the British population so they continue to harbour the views fuelled by certain newspapers.  How irresponsible.

Thank you Unbiasly for taking some responsibility in this travesty and giving the world a voice for real issues.

Finally, a way to make money from freelance writing

Being a freelancer is tough business.  Competition is fierce which makes not only winning jobs hard but, charging enough to make a living can be fruitless.

I had tried making money from freelance writing for years.  Naming no names, I spent a lot of time and effort writing through websites that made no financial sense.  In a bid to take it more seriously and place more value on my skills, I came across PeoplePerHour.

Here I found a wide array of jobs in abundance – it made me realise that while I was shoulder to shoulder with other freelancers, here was a forum which provided enough space for us all.  The site itself gave me a warm welcome with monthly free credits that allows me to bid for jobs – I finally had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Initially I struggled to stay motivated as I didn’t seem to be getting any response from jobs I was bidding for.  But I slowly got smarter.  I made my profile more sophisticated and set up ‘hourlies’ to focus my services and increase my presence.  For PeoplePerHour virgins, an ‘hourlie’ is a means by which you can claim to do something for a fixed charge.  Buyers can simply purchase your hourlie and voila! You have a job.

My first breakthrough moment was in November where I was asked to create some blog posts.  It was great as SEO writing wasn’t something that I had much experience in but, through the guidance of my client, I learnt fast.  And without PeoplePerHour, I never would have had such access.  I have since created and sold a variety of hourlies and, the intuitive website that allows easy virtual networking means, that I am now frequently approached by buyers to complete a variety of jobs.

PeoplePerHour has allowed me to join a community of professionals where one thing can quite literally, lead to another.  Just last weekend a copywriter asked me to complete a review of the latest Samsung Galaxy and, in being able to deliver a fast turnaround, he asked me whether I could squeeze in one more.  The initial earning potential of £15 instantly doubled.

From a business person’s point of view, PeoplePerHour cater for accounts management with their easily downloadable record of transactions.  It means that I have been able to maintain my accounts with no effort and instead, concentrate my efforts on making money.

Although there are many sites out there that allow buyers to advertise jobs and sellers to bid and sell services, I can’t help but feel that PeoplePerHour are deserved leaders.  Their high expectations means that, unlike other sites I have used, as a seller and buyer you are completely protected and, there is a real promotion of delivering high quality work.

I owe a lot to PeoplePerHour.  On the face of it they have simply enabled us to network with one another and fulfil mutual benefits.  But personally, this website has brought me closer to a dream I was beginning to think would never come true – to get paid for doing what I truly love.