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I’ve had two people ask me about freelancing within 1 day of each other. So, I’m going to give some advice. I also talked about finding freelance clients a few weeks ago in this episode.

Talk to other freelancers to see if they know people looking for work. It’s a great way to get advice as well as referrals.

Start talking to people in the community. I found all of my original clients directly or indirectly by talking to people I knew both locally and in the international community.

You should also go find a good accountant and have him advise you on setting money aside for taxes and structuring your business to save you on taxes. My accountant has probably saved me thousands of dollars on just this alone.

Your accountant will probably tell you this, but set up a business entity (usually an LLC or S-Corp) and get an EIN tax ID. It makes it much easier to write off expenses, avoid being dubbed an “employee” of your clients by the IRS, and makes keeping your books simpler since you will have to get a separate bank account.

The IRS looks for freelancers who are, for all intents and purposes, employees of their clients. To avoid this not only do you need your own business entity, but you also should have more than one client and use your own equipment when working for them.

Figure out what you need to charge and charge it. There are cheapskates out there who will be shocked that you want to charge them more than $20-30 per hour. Stick to your guns! Go to the Freelance Switch Hourly Rate Calculator and figure out what you need to charge to get by.

The problem you run into with the cheapskates is that these people are looking at Filipino and Indian developers on oDesk. Several of these developers are decent developers. A lot of them aren’t. Your potential client usually doesn’t know how to weed them out. So, if they insist that they’ll go overseas, let them.

Start a blog. Write about the stuff you’re doing. Someone will want something similar done. I’ve gotten a bunch of business off the Twitter Clone videos Eric did a while back because people are googling “Twitter clone.” I’ve also seen quite a bit of interest from my podcast, even though it’s geared much more toward programmers.

Finally, don’t be afraid to fire clients that don’t fit with your lifestyle or business. And don’t be afraid to raise your rates periodically when you need more time or money to make things work.

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The second part of the tutorial for building a blog with Ruby on Rails version 3. We demonstrate how to set up some basic routes, manage the controller and views, and create a basic form for creating posts.
Download 161.4 MB
Download (iphone & ipod) 65.8 MB

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Every good project needs a good setup. In this episode, I set up a github repo, create a new rails application, hook in Cucumber and Rspec, write a Cucumber feature, and write the code to make it pass.
Download 142 MB
Download (iphone & ipod) 59 MB

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This is the fourth week that I’ve been working on 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Just to recap what I saw the week before last, 9 Ways to Use Rails Metal was featured on the Rails Envy Podcast. Coverage in the podcast alone accounted for over 50% of my traffic over the next 3 days. I’m still seeing traffic trickle in from the podcast. To be honest, I wouldn’t have written the post (Day 2) or contacted Gregg Pollack (Day 3) to get the feature if I hadn’t been following the steps in the booklet. You can get your copy by clicking the image at the top of this post.

I did see the traffic on my site trail off over July 3rd and 4th. I’m not sure if that’s due to the American holiday that weekend or due to the fact that I took Friday off to enjoy the holiday and didn’t post anything. I’ll let you in on a little secret though and tell you that things really picked up Sunday and Monday after the holiday. Look for next week’s blog for more details.

Dashboard - Google Analytics

Overall, in one month, I’ve gained a Google Page Rank of 3 (out of 10). My Alexa page rank is now 1,799,062 (down from almost 3,000,000 a week ago). Google analytics and the other metrics I’m using keep showing the readership going up. The RSS feed is gaining subscribers. The system works. In two more weeks, I’ll have finished the 31 days and I’ll give you a grand overview of the difference it has made. I think most people will be pretty surprised at how much difference it has made in 6 weeks.

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After the third week of doing the 31 Days to Build a better blog, I’m seeing the traffic and participation on my blog increasing by leaps and bounds. This last week, the traffic increase was due primarily to being featured in the Rails Envy Podcast. The idea to email Gregg Pollack about my post 9 Ways to Use Rails Metal came from step 3 in the 31 days.

You can see from the google analytics I’ve included in this post that Wednesday and Thursday I saw significant traffic. About half of that was from Rails Envy.

Traffic from Week 3 - 31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Traffic from Week 3 - 31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Overall, I’m extremely pleased that this system has helped so many people find what I’m offering. I’m also excited that it appears to help some people with their Ruby on Rails applications. It’s encouraging me to think about other ways I can contribute to the community. You’ll probably see posts in the upcoming weeks regarding some of the things I’ll be doing to chip in and help a few more people with Ruby on Rails.

Follow this link if you’re interested in getting 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.

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This is the second week I’ve been doing the 31 days to build a better blog. I’ve completed steps 3 through 7 this week and have seen an explosion of traffic on my blog. (See week one.)

Comparing the week (Saturday to Friday) of June 7th to the week of June 14th I’ve seen my visits jump from 34 to 198. That’s almost a 6 times increase in traffic. Here’s the graph from google analytics comparing the two weeks.

Traffic from June 14-20 vs June 7-13

Traffic from June 14-20 vs June 7-13

I thought I’d see a slight uptick in traffic from following these steps, but I had over 6 times the page views and just under 6 times the visits. My new visitors was down slightly, but what that really means is that I’m getting more and more return readers to my blog.

The information in this booklet is pure gold! I’m going to get my Dad blogging for his dental practice and we’re going to apply these same principles to get his traffic and readship up just as quickly. To say I’m pleased would be a gross understatement. I’m really excited.

Look out for my report next Monday.

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Last week I started the 31 days to build a better blog on this blog. The week before I started—May 31 through June 6—the blog got 28 visits and 34 page views.

I’ve completed the first two days’ assignments. It was very helpful in a couple of ways. First, it helped me define exactly what I wanted to do with this blog. It also made me realize that my about page wasn’t visible from my wordpress theme, so I found a new theme and reworked my site. Finally, it guided the writing of one of my posts, which I think was very helpful both to the readers and for me as a writer. Feel free to let me know what you think so far. I’ll post the changes in traffic next week regarding these effects.

As of right now, I’ve gotten 34 visits and 42 page views this week—since the beginning of day June 7.

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Upon the recommendation of the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert at work, I’m going to try out 31 Days to Build a Better Blog by Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net.

I’ve decided to make the 31 day challenge a public challenge. I’m really curious to see how well this works in making my blog better as well as increasing traffic to my blog. So, every day—excluding Sundays—I’m going to complete one step. And every Saturday, I’ll post an update detailing the number of the step I’m on—he’s selling it, so I don’t feel like I can spell out each step, but I’ll give as much as I feel I can—and my feelings about the quality of the blog and the traffic over the last week.

I’ll also be redesigning the site as I find the time.

I’ve browsed the book and it appears not only to be useful to blogs, but could be used to guide small business websites as well in building their content and reaching out to their customer base. If you want to check it out, follow this link. Or you can wait to see what my results are. It costs $19.95 and appears to be well worth the money.

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