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August 2011

Five Things They Didn’t Tell You About Working from Home

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Working in new media allows you to, in many cases, work out of a home office. I love that aspect of my job – I can make my own schedule, bake cookies while I blog, turn on the TV if I want, take a break to play with my cat during the day, wake up/go to sleep when I feel like it, and more. Of course, there are some not-so-good aspects to working at home too. The “big three” that most people talk about are:

  1. When you work at home, it is easy to get distracted by your family.
  2. Making your own schedule requires tons of discipline so you actually work, not do other stuff all day.
  3. Your family members and friends have a hard time wrapping their mind around the concept that you actually work even though you’re doing so at home.

But that’s not all. When I started working from home as a blogger, I was prepared to deal with distractions, the need for discipline, and people in my life asking for favors. And of course, I was stoked to make my own schedule, living a more flexible life. I was not, however, prepared for everything – good and bad – that comes with being a work-at-homer. Here are the five things no one told me before I started:

The Good

  • You actually make some awesome friends because you’re on social media sites all day.

When I started, I thought that one of the things I would miss the most is not having coworkers in the traditional sense. I’m a girl who likes to chit chat at the water cooler, and working from home would take that away. Except it didn’t. Because I work from home as my own boss, I don’t have to deal with blocked sites or a manager getting angry that I’m “wasting time” – I can be on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Skype, etc. all day. In fact, it’s part of my job! Of course, these can be distractions if you go overboard, but I have to say that I’ve met some of my best friends online. It’s always really rewarding to meet these people face to face at conferences throughout the year, but social media lets us hang out all day too, which is fantastic.

  • People have a ton of respect for you.

Never mind that most of my days include zombies and tacos. I’m a business owner. People are impressed. I didn’t get into freelancing from home because I wanted to show off or impress people, but it certainly is a perk to have the respect of people you meet. It also leads to great conversations. Because you do something off the beaten path, people love to talk about it, which makes great conversation when you’re meeting someone new. If you have a more typical job that people already understand, it’s not as good conversation fodder.

  • You get to work on ridiculous projects.

I put in a lot of time writing about boring topics, but occasionally, I get to write about crazy awesome stuff too. Like right now, my main project has me writing about zombies every day. Most typical jobs don’t give you as much variety, but online, anything can happen. It’s really fun to learn about so many interesting things and meet so many interesting people.

The Bad

  • Every project is the most important project on your schedule.

Working with multiple clients is tough! Everyone assumes that you’re working for them all day, every day, when in reality, you have to juggle multiple important projects. Even if you don’t don’t work with clients and instead just work on your own blog(s), there are always a million things to do, each of them equally important. Do you write posts? Work on your next ebook? Answer reader emails and comments? Spend time promoting? Work in your design? It can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not good at prioritizing.

Oh, and let’s not forget that life will come in to mess up your day, demanding that you stop what you’re doing to deal with the situation. For example, yesterday as I was working, this little critter found its way into my house:

Even though I had deadlines and was expected on a conference call, I spent a good 20 minutes trying to avoid screaming as I chased Mr. Slimey around (including up a flight of stairs) before catching him in a Swiffer container.

  • Working from home is expensive.

When you work from home, you’ll save money on gas, but it can also be expensive in other ways. For example, if you’re self employed, you’ll pay more in taxes as well as have to purchase a business license in some areas. For many, this also means playing for your own health insurance and travel to conferences can get pricey if you don’t have an employer sponsoring you. I also pay for faster Internet, have higher utilities bills, and pay more for a larger rental since I want an extra room for a home office. If you work from home with clients or affiliates, you also have to worry about getting paid on time. It’s not a traditional weekly or bi-weekly paycheck situation, so even if you have very reliable clients, you have to plan your budget carefully.

Okay, for you work-at-homers – what are the good and bad things that you didn’t realize about this career path before taking the plunge to self employment from a traditional job?

Firefox May Be Getting a More Modern Look

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Mozilla designer Stephen Horlander posted a set of screenshots, which he calls “really early mockups”, for what might be some new design possibilities. These new designs were part of an internal meeting and were up for discussion to talk about different designs. Some are out of date, but some could possibly be the future of Firefox. You can see the entire set here.

Although there’s no word when or if the design will change, according to TechCrunch, we could see these changes sometime in the near future.

Here’s a run down of some of the changes that are noticeable from the mockups:

  • No more search bar
  • Full screen mode
  • More room for content
  • Tabs have a rounder curve
  • Only active tabs have the round curve, which identifies what is currently open easier
  • New menu which includes tasks like copy, paste, new tab and more

So far, I like what I see and I think Firefox is due for a change. What kinds of features would you like to see in a new Firefox design?

MasterCard Launches Facebook Places Campaign

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If you live in New York, you have the chance to see some of the 20 seats from the original Yankee Stadium that will be scattered around the city. These seats are part of MasterCard’s new “Priceless ” campaign through Facebook Places.

The original Yankee stadium was demolished in 2010, but a few of the seats survived.

When you find a seat, scan the QR code with your smartphone and you will be checked into Facebook Places. Once you check in, you’ll be eligible to win VIP tickets to a 2011 Yankee game.

The seats have different names such as Doubleheader and Triple Play and will be placed at places like Katz’s Deli and the New York Stock Exchange.

Towards the middle of July, MasterCard announced their Priceless New York program, which is meant to “help drive preference and affection for the MasterCard brand among cardholders by offering them an opportunity to enjoy the things they are most passionate about, whether its travel, sports, shopping, culinary or arts and entertainment.”

New York is the first city to be spotlighted for the program.

So New Yorkers, have you seen any of these seats yet?

Foursquare to Roll Out New Pages Feature This Week

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According to AdAge, Foursquare will roll out a new pages feature this week where anyone, not just brands, can create a page. As of now, only brands can create a page where users can follow them and see “tips” that are left.

Starting this week sometime, everyone – from brands to the average citizen – can create a page and leave tips for others to follow.

Foursquare’s product manager, Noah Weiss, says “We’re seeing 70 new brand page sign-ups a week with the old system. When we launch this, anyone will be able to create a brand page that can be followed.”

This new feature will allow users to develop a connection with people on Foursquare, without having to reveal where their location is. This will also encourage users to do more writing by leaving tips on the locations they visit. They are hoping this additional content will add more value to the app.

Another important change is the ease of signups for pages. The 75 person Foursquare company had been approving accounts through a hand-written process, but now with the new feature, it’s done completely online. The new process only requires a Twitter account to authenticate.

Will you use the new Pages feature to create your own page on Foursquare?

 

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