Freelance your heart out – a review…

Freelance your heart out
Kris Emery
2012, self-published

Thinking of heading into a freelance career?

There is a lot going for it – freedom of your days, you keep the profits you work hard for, satisifaction and no office politics or commuting.

Yet, there is also a large price to pay for the lifestyle.

Kris Emery takes you through her freelance journey in her new eBook, showing some of the pitfalls and mistakes she made and shares the lessons learned.

She writes quite honestly and in a friendly style so it is easy to keep reading, even if you are not a big business book fan :)

Because it is honest, the eBook shows that freelancing requires effort and dedication – it is not an easy ride, and it doesn’t suit everyone.

Despite a few stumbling blocks, it is simple to read and has some good ideas. This eBook is a great read for anyone considering moving into freelance, or having recently started a freelance business.

It also has some ideas for more experienced freelancers, but is more of a light read for this group.

The 25 tips are useful for anyone in freelance, although you have to relate the examples to your own expertise as Kris specifically covers her fields of transcription and translation.

Some Considerations You Might Have Missed for Your Shop Layout

busy market in Bangkok Thailand

A busy market has a different layout to a shop

All of us think we know essentially what a shop layout looks like – it’s basically a row of isles each of which should have items on it and each of which should be positioned logically in relation to the other aisles and items in the store.

Of course this is the basic ‘archetype’ of an office, but it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that it’s actually a fair bit more complicated than that and there are many other factors to consider and things that can work to make your shop layout more or less successful in getting people to stay and crucial getting them to buy your products.

Here we will look at how you can encourage people to shop in your store by being smart with your layout and at some of the considerations that often go unnoticed.

Hidden Items

One thing that many people don’t think to do when they’re organizing their store is to hide some of their items. Of course this goes unconsidered mainly in many cases because it’s so counter-intuitive – why would you want to hide your items rather than trying to get people to find them?

Actually though there are a lot of good reasons, and the main one is that if people spend time searching for an item in your store then they’re going to see a lot of your other items that they weren’t looking for in the process. If you have something you know people want, then hiding these somewhere is a good idea.

The Colour of the Walls

This might not seem like something that is particularly important, but in fact the colour you choose for your walls can and will have a big impact on the way people shop in your stores. If the colour is a neutral and placid one for instance then your visitors will be happier to spend more time in the store and to probably by more as a result. However if you use very loud and bright colours like reds and oranges then this can actually make people want to leave sooner meaning they’ll spend less. Reportedly this is why fast food stores using oranges and reds a lot in their colouring – because it increases turnover by making more space for the next customers.

The Shelves

You need to think long and hard about the shelves you use to display your items when you get your shopfitters in. Not only do you need shelves that will allow you to fill your space without creating too much empty space or making the space look too crowded, but you also need to ensure that your visitors can easily find what they’re looking for and reach it, and that your staff are able to easily arrange the items and do stock rotations.


You will have a lot of people passing through your store (hopefully) and no doubt milling around to find what they want. You need to account for this in your layout in order to ensure that your visitors can get past one another and to avoid health and safety issues.


The above guest post is written by freelance writer, Sarah Jones.
Photo courtesy of 123Rf

How to View a Property Super Thoroughly

Woman dreaming of the perfect house

Finding the home you dream of can be challenging

When we go to view a property to buy we will always start out with the best of intentions. We know this is a big important decision and a huge investment, and no doubt most people are very nervous doing so.

However while we might intend to view a property thoroughly, when we get there we tend to feel shy that we’re trespassing into someone’s home and their free time, and we kind of get swept up in the song and dance that the estate agents give us. As such it’s often difficult to get in all the questions and all the checks you want to get in, which is why we end up with hardly any memory of what we’ve seen and annoyed at ourselves for forgetting lots of questions.

Viewing a property in fact is an art and here we will look at how to make sure you get it right.

Take your time

This is the first and most important point to consider – that you should just be sure to take your time.

As mentioned lots of us feel almost guilty when we’re looking around a house and don’t want to intrude which means we’ll go round quickly. Of course though this is the wrong attitude – remember you’re about to give this person potentially thousands of pounds or dollars of your cash, so the least they can do is to spare an hour. If you’re booking multiple properties then book them far apart and don’t let the estate agent rush you either.

Take pictures

When you go to view a property this can feel like an exciting whirlwind and when you come out it’s almost like being shell shocked as you try to take in everything you’ve just seen.

Taking some photos as you go around then makes sure that you don’t forget anything important and means that you can check any details you’re struggling on and that you can better imagine what it might be like to live there.


When you’re in the property you aren’t just looking for any structural issues. At the same time you should also be thinking about how it will practically fit into your lifestyle and one of the best ways to do that is with some visualization.

Imagine this is your house and that you have to fit your furniture here – would you be able to? And would you be happy to show guests that this was where you are living now? And where would you spend your evenings? How would you decorate the living room?

These visualization exercises can make everything a lot more real and will help you to simulate living there so you do an almost ‘trial run’.

Write down questions

You should take with you a list of questions to ask the current owners/the estate agents. This way you’ll not forget any crucial points you wanted to mention and avoid coming out kicking yourself. It might seem over the top, but it’s a smart move.

Once you’ve done all this you will know that you’ve done at least all that you can do. Now just make sure you use the best professionals from the conveyancer to the surveyors to concur with you.


The above guest post is shared by real estate and property blogger, Jason William.
Photo courtesy of 123RF

How Different People Deal With Grief

Bare, exposed tree and root system

Grief can leave us feeling bare and exposed

Losing a loved one, losing a job or going through a break up are all incredibly hard processes to go through, and ones that many of us would rather avoid if we could. Of course these are also the experiences that forge our personalities and define us, and unfortunately are necessary if we are to form meaningful attachments during our time on Earth.

However while they’re unavoidable, the way we deal with them can vary greatly from person to person, and the way one individual deals with grief can be very different to the way another person does. Understanding this is key to getting through a difficult period emotionally intact, and it’s key to helping others get through it and understanding where they might be coming from.

Here we will look at a few of the ways that people deal with grief, to help you better understand the process and hopefully maybe prepare.


Denial is a common way to deal with grief and is something that we’re all familiar with. The person in denial is the person who refuses to accept things the way they are and who insists on looking for answers.

If you’re faced with a terminal illness then, someone who reacts by showing denial will potentially not believe what they’ve been told and will be constantly looking for ways to prevent what’s happening. Of course this can be adaptive if it leads to an actual solution, but when no solution is forthcoming it can be destructive when others need you to help them face and deal with what’s happened.


In bargaining we have given up on trying to deny what’s happening or prevent it, and instead will try and bargain and offer trade offs.

In the case of a breakdown of a relationship this can be very literal as we find ourselves literally pleading with our ex partners to come back to us, but in other situations it might mean pleading with God or a chosen deity.


Sublimation means directing your distressed energy towards something else and absorbing yourself in that.

For instance if you are having a hard time dealing with a recent loss, you might try to compensate by cleaning the house erratically, or by doing a workout.


While most of us will show sadness following a personal tragedy, others will react with anger and will lash out at things around us and look for something to blame.

This might mean taking legal action, or it might just mean ‘blaming’ God or punching a pillow. Of course this isn’t the healthiest way to work through emotions, and sometimes you just need to stop fighting and let go so that you can begin the healing process.


Many of us will try to ‘escape’ reality in one way or another.

This might mean reading a book or delving into our imaginations (the latter is a common coping mechanism for children), but more dangerously it can mean drinking or using drugs. Again it’s important to deal with the emotions and to face them, even if this requires professional help or hypnotherapy.

Helplessness Response

Sometimes we react by simply shutting down and retiring to our beds to cry and weep.

This can be a good way of dealing with the event in that it means we vent our emotions, but of course we eventually need to return to the world, and we need to be there for others around us.


The article is written by health counsellor and blogger, James Swansea. He also writes numerous posts on health and self development.
Photo courtesy of 123rf

How to Reduce Mess When You’re Getting Work Done On Your Home

clean streak on dusty florr

Dust is to be expected when building and renovating

Getting work done on your home whether it’s to have a room renovated or  to add a balcony is an exciting way to get more from your property and at the same time to increase the value and the your future profits.

However while it is a very good way to spend money on your home it can also be a very stressful and expensive one. One of the most stressful elements here is that you’re going to have so much mess in your home as things get stored around the house, as workmen walk around in their shoes, and as drilling and hammering creates inordinate amounts of dust.

You shouldn’t let this put you off however, as if you employ the best techniques it is possible to reduce this mess to make the whole experience a little less invasive. Here we will look at how to do this.

Have a spare room

Having a spare room is a very good way to make sure that you are able to clear the room where you are going to be working. This means you can remove the furniture for instance and that you can get rid of anything that’s preventing you from moving around freely. This is highly useful as otherwise all that spare furniture etc. will be strewn across the entire house creating chaos.


It might seem like a bit of a waste of time to clean your house just before all that plaster and dust is going to get everywhere, but actually doing so can be an effective way to reduce the total mess that you end up with. By dusting off surfaces this means you’ll have one layer of dust instead of two and because it will all be quite new at the end it will be easier to quickly clean it up.

Rent a skip

Using skip hire means you’ll have somewhere for workmen to put all of the waste materials and unwanted items that would otherwise have to be cleaned up right at the end. This could mean old furniture you don’t need from a room or it could mean sawn off branches and old tiles. Either way, renting a skip means they won’t be an eyesore or a tripping hazard.

Put down some covers

Getting a dust cover is a great idea before any development project. This way you can cover your floors to reduce the dust that ends up there, and at the same time you can prevent mud from getting walked into your carpet.

Speak with the workers

If you are still stressed about a mess being left in your property, then chat about it to your contractors. If you ask them nicely they can make arrangements like coming in through the back door, keeping doors to the rest of the house closed and even taking their shoes off when they walk through the house. Don’t be a afraid to sound anal, most will be happy to oblige.


The article is shared by Sarah Corris, a home improvement blogger.
Photo courtesy of 123rf

Conversation Topics for the Next Party You Go To

Group of girls having fun chattingGoing to parties is a lot of fun and it’s a great way to meet new people, to improve your social skills and to have a laugh. At the same time, if you’re going to a party or an event of a corporate nature, then this is also a great opportunity to network and to perhaps advance your career or help your business.

At the same time though, some of us may feel a little apprehensive before going to a party or gathering, and often this is down to the fact that we will be forced to ‘mingle’ with lots of people we don’t know. Unless you’re the world’s biggest extrovert, most of us find it at least slightly intimidating having to make conversation with large groups of people that we haven’t met before and putting ourselves out there.

As such then sometimes we can find ourselves shying away from conversation, or even avoid going to the parties at all – which obviously is a real shame if it means you miss out (and if it means that you don’t ever improve your social skills as a result).

Something that can help though is to have prepared a number of different conversation topics that can help you to get by and that you can fall back on in the case of a lull in the conversation. Here are some ideas.

Asking What People Did With Their Day

This is perhaps my favourite fall-back conversation topic and the easiest one to use naturally. When you meet someone you know well and you talk naturally, normally this is the kind of thing you would talk about ‘so, how’s your day been?’ and normally you’ll find this leads on naturally to lots more conversation all of which runs smoothly and which automatically informs you as you go on their personality, opinions and lifestyle. If you use this style of conversation then it will come across as so natural that you won’t seem to be nervous or awkward at all – because you’ll just be acting normal.

The News

If you’re in a larger group then asking what people did with their day doesn’t work as easily. As such then you should look for a topic that applies to more people – and something that happened in the news is a great option here. Watch the news that morning, and then at the party you’ll be able to simply ask ‘did anyone BLANK in the news?’. This again is a great way to get an idea of people’s opinions and personalities and it’s something that can lead naturally to other topics.

Smaller Questions

There are many other simple questions that come up commonly at party venues and events. These include:

  • How do you know the host?
  • What do you make of this party?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • What do you enjoy doing? (Often more telling than just what they do as a career)
  • Do you have any plans this weekend/next week?
  • How was your journey here?

The secret then though is to let them speak and listen to the answer rather than trying to influence where the conversation goes. A bad conversationalist will try and move the topic onto what they want to talk about, but if you just listen to the response and show genuine interest, and let the conversation flow naturally from point to point. Pretty soon you’ll forget you were ever worried and be making fast friends…

The article is written by Jamie Watt who has worked for many event management company and shares his experience through guest posts.

What we can do together – our online power

The power of we has always been strong – our online world has often made that power more obvious, more influential and I guess more powerful.

links between blogs connect the world

links online connect the world

We have power online because today we can combine our voices in ways we couldn’t do in the past.

We can connect with new people to find a community of support and to raise a combined voice that is louder than our individual voices – think of people with a specific, uncommon interest or issue who would probably never meet in the real world but can find each other from across the world via the internet.

Bloggers acting together

Today is Blog Action Day.

Nearly 20,000 bloggers around the world are all blogging today on the same topic – the power of we.

Blog Action Day in itself is an example of the power of we – 20,000 people with diverse blogs, from different countries, using different languages, adding their own experiences and perspectives to discuss one important topic. Bringing awareness to their communities and influencing the world.

This year the theme is the power of we, but in the past topics have included water, food and climate change.

Think about the impact of thousands of bloggers sharing a message with thousands more. Together, bloggers can and do make a difference.

More power of we

There are many examples of how the power of we works , and how the internet, blogs and social media have enhanced that power.

With the connection of twitter, people in Egypt stood together and showed their government how they felt about things in their country. Alone, each person could do little; together they were heard.

Bloggers are having an impact on girls in Sierra Leone, too. Problogger wore a dress to a conference to raise funds and Love Santa will put Santa in a dress to get more girls into school. Many others are doing it in a dress, sharing the word (and pictures!) in blogs and other social media. Together we can get girls to school and change Sierra Leone for the better.

When a nasty radio DJ in Sydney insulted a journalist, people spoke out on the Change website – his advertisers pulled out and he had to apologise. People had a boundary and told him he crossed it. Phone calls from irate people would have had less impact in the past. Like advertisers pulled away from another DJ when he insulted the Prime Minister’s later father.

If you watch things like trends on twitter, you can see how people can increase the popularity of a topic. And how making people more aware of it gets it spread more – that is, once a topic trends, people talk about it more (this is what we talk about as ‘going viral’) and talk about the fact it is trending.

Sure on Twitter, many of the trends are about meaningless things, but sometimes, there is a trend because people make the effort to bring an issue to the fore. Like I expect BAD12 to trend today.

How will you use your power?

What online activities do you get up to? Can you use those activities to make a positive difference in the world?

What little thing will you do TODAY to build the power of we?


* Image courtesy of  Word Constructions

Book review: Does my head look big in this?

Does my head look big in this?
Randa Abdel-Fattah
Scholastic, 2006Cover of does this make myhead look big?

I was looking forward to reading this book, based on the fact it was encouraging cross-cultural tolerance and my fourteen-year-old daughter loved it.

Abdel-Fattah introduces us to the world of teenage muslims girls in modern Australia through the eyes of 16-year-old Amal. Amal believes in Islam and lives a comfortable life with her intelligent and accepting parents.

The story revolves around Amal choosing to wear the hijab as a sign of her faith and the usual teenage issues of boys, clothes, parents and make-up.

It is clearly written for a teenage audience and has less appeal to those beyond school politics and blushes over first crushes. However, with the cultural undertone of a Muslim girl, the story has an innocence and freshness that is nice to read.

Showing understanding of Muslims and other religions, this book has the potential to help foster better relations throughout the community. It is a positive and broad view of Islam, and teenagers, without any overt religious message. Most of the key characters are understanding of all religions and cultures met in the story.

While clearly an Australian book (set in Melbourne), Abdel-Fattah has used many American references and terms which is disappointing – especially in a story about the meeting of cultures.

In summary, a positive story that teen girls are likely to enjoy while possibly broadening their views of Islam.

Book review: Outside permission

Outside permission
Eleanor Nilsson
Viking, Ringwood, 1996

This was an unusual book to say the least.

To be honest, I read 40 or so pages and left it alone for a few months before starting again and finishing the book. The second time was easier as I had a clue to what was happening.

Outside permission is about David, his sister and their mate, Simon. They live n Adelaide, but not exactly the Adelaide we know as some power has taken over. This unknown (well unknown for the readers, the characters seem to accept the situation) power maintains records of everyone’s live – including the date of death.

David and Simon often dare each other to do things, but lately Simon has been acting differently and sets a much harder dare with unseen consequences. The final consequences surprised David and me as a reader, although some of that was surprise on my part was disbelief in the method of the ending.

I found some of the inconsistencies to be distracting in an already complex story. For example, they boys went to school (not yet in the senior class), could drive and went to fancy restaurants without parents. It made it hard to decide how old they were – perhaps not a critical detail but distracting none-the-less.

certainly not a book for children or early teens – the language, violence and adult-scenes are not an issue, but understanding the issues (as they are implied not written) and implications requires a certain amount of sophistication.

I can see that some people would enjoy this book, and the suspense is interesting, but I doubt I’ll be bothering with it again.