How to Work Out Your Hourly Rate

I read this ten seconds ago and rush to bring it to you. I’ll be off now trying this out for myself, will you join me? It’s an online hourly rate calculator for freelancers. Contently just covered it, saying in part:

Many people assume figuring out what your hourly rate should be is a simple task. If you’re a freelancer who wants to make $30,000 a year, just figure out how many hours you work per year and divide, right? Not quite. And as any veteran freelancer will tell you, calculating desired rates requires a much more complicated equation.

Basically, before you know thy employer, you must know thyself. BeeWits, a project management software company, wants to help you with that process, and the company’s new rates calculator is straight out of a freelancer’s dream.

Press “Calculate My Hourly Rate” and presto! Your rate, down to the cent, pops up. It would be great to have an explanation of the calculator’s exact formula, for transparency’s sake. And we’d also love if the calculator could save your numbers to refer back to in the future. But if you’re looking for a thorough tool that can take care of some multi-variable accounting, this is perfect.

The Freelance Rates Calculator We’ve All Been Waiting For – Gabe Rosenberg, Contently (20 May 2015

Read the full piece for their take on it and then use the calculator itself online.

Rich kids use the internet differently

Well, they still have computers and phones and they’re glued to web browsers but if you’re a rich kid, you are using the internet to get ahead. And if you’re poor, you’re not.

Compared to their poorer counterparts, young people from upper-class backgrounds (and their parents) are more likely to use the Internet for jobs, education, political and social engagement, health and newsgathering, and less for entertainment and recreation,” Putnam writes. “Affluent Americans use the Internet in ways that are mobility-enhancing, whereas poorer, less educated Americans typically use it in ways that are not.”

Rich kids use the Internet to get ahead, and poor kids use it ‘mindlessly’ – Jeremy Olshan, MarketWatch (17 March 2015)

Read the full piece for how and maybe why.

Honk if you want pizza

What is this, bad-but-delicious food day? Completely unrelated to the pizza-ordering fridge magnet comes this: you ordering pizza via your car.

That’s not as in driving to the restaurant, that’s not as in asking KITT where the nearest takeaway is, that’s as in:

The pilot test will let some lucky car owners order a stuffed-crust gut-bomb from the comfort of their drivers’ seats. When the car arrives for pickup in a designated parking spot, bluetooth sensors will alert the Pizza Hut staff of its arrival so they can deliver the pizza to the car. A Visa exec said the company will soon announce the car manufacturers that are on board. It’s not yet clear how many locations will be part of the future pilot test, which will run for three months later this year in Northern California.

“It’s the start of what I hope will be a commercial rollout of not just a frictionless quick-serve restaurant experience but many other use cases,” said Bill Gajda, Visa’s senior vice president of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, noting pay-by-car opportunities at gas stations and parking meters, too.

Visa Seriously Wants You to Pay for Pizza and Gas With Your Car – Jason Del Rey, Re/code (2 March 2015)

One caveat. This is something announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. So it’s a trade show. Trade shows are where companies talk up products they haven’t made yet. And while I don’t know anything about MWC’s track record, I am a cynic over ones such as the Consumer Electronics Show where most products are fantasies. So maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t, but if it does then it looks like it will save you the arduous walk from your car to the Pizza Hut counter. And back.

The very bad, very good pizza idea

Ignore what I’m about to show you. Focus on how you should eat regularly and eat well. But since you work all the time and it’s common to find you looking in the fridge late in the evening, it’s possibly a public service to tell you about this. This is new. This requires you to close that refrigerator door and then tap your finger against a kind of fridge magnet.

This is why:

Say hello to the Click’N’Pizza. Invented by an Italian startup called La Comanda, the Click’N’Pizza is a big magnetic button that sits on your refrigerator. When you push it, your favorite pizza order is sent in to the local pizza place and a pizza is sent to your house.

That’s it.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are living in a glorious pizza future.

Carlo Brianza, the CEO and founder of La Comanda, is a pleasant Italian man with salt-and-pepper hair and a passion for both pizza and simplicity.

“I can order my favorite pizza with one click,” he said, holding down a big red button until an exuberant “Pizza is coming!” message appeared on the screen.

“This is the real one click,” he added. “Not the Web one click.”

Click’N’Pizza Is a Magic Button That Delivers Pizza to Your House in One Click – Jason O. Gilbert, Yahoo! Tech (2 March 2015)

You have been warned. For more details, read the full story.

Index your own work online

This is a very good idea and yet I go pale at the thought of trying to do it:

While online portfolios are incredibly important for showing off your expertise, there’s a second kind of portfolio—a completely different kind of portfolio—that can be a really valuable tool for all freelancers: an Ultimate Archive.

An Ultimate Archive is an “offline” portfolio for organizing and analyzing your body of work. It’s a simple spreadsheet with a link to everything you’ve ever written on the Internet. You’re likely the only one who will ever see it. But besides tracking your bylines, there are many different ways it can help you land new clients and improve how you approach your career.

Why You Need an Ultimate Archive of Your Work – Aubre Andrus, Contently (17 December 2014)

Read the full piece for more on why and some on how to do this for yourself.

Assistant for hire – virtually

Naturally you and I need full-time assistants, perhaps even a whole team of them based in our plush offices and working 24/7/365 right beside us. But some writers don’t have our needs or our lofty incomes, yet they also sometimes need the benefit of an assistant:

Whether you’re an executive flying all over the world or you’re a stay-at-home mom overwhelmed with too many tasks, Zirtual, a virtual personal assistant, aims to take some of the administrative and organizational tasks off of your plate, to make your day-to-day a little easier.

Zirtual assistants can respond to emails on your behalf, coordinate travel plans, manage your calendar, create itineraries and much more. Zirtual is also a great if you don’t need a full-time assistant, but you still need some help coordinating your hectic schedule. So instead of getting bogged down with all of the small administrative tasks that can suck hours out of your day, you can focus on the important tasks at hand.

8 Apps to Help You Get More Done in Less Time – Elisha Hartwig, Mashable (25 October 2014)

That’s all Hartwig says about Zirtual: it is only one of eight pieces of advice or services or software applications that she is recommending. Do read her piece for the others but also take a look at Zirtual’s own pages for details of this service. Zitual is an American company but it works with people in the UK, so long as they have from $399 per month to spend.

Do women learn differently from men online?

It’s not like I’d even thought of this but if you had asked me what online learning meant for women and men, I’m sure we’d have had a good natter about how great it is that all this stuff is out there for everyone. Unless you already knew access for all hasn’t meant women accessing all, I doubt we’d have mentioned it. But it’s true.

If it’s on a website or iTunes U or any digital spot, there is zero difference between a man”/ ability to access online learning and a woman’s. Yet there is difference. Great difference:

…dismally low numbers provide a reminder that “access” to education is more complicated than simply throwing open the digital doors to whoever wants to sign up. So how can we turn the mere availability of online instruction in STEM into true access for female students?

One potential solution to this information-age problem comes from an old-fashioned source: single-sex education. The Online School for Girls, founded in 2009, provides an all-female e-learning experience. (A companion institution, the Online School for Boys, is opening this fall.) It appears to be doing an especially good job of educating girls in STEM: Last year, 21 of its approximately 1,000 students were recognized by the National Center for Women in Technology “for their aspirations and achievements in computing and technology.” And over the course of the 2013-2014 academic year, the Online School for Girls prepared 30 female students to take the Advanced Placement exam in computer science. To put that number in perspective: 25 American states each prepared fewer than 30 girls to take the AP computer science exam.

Do Girls Learn Differently Online? – Annie Murphy Paul, The Creativity Post (20 October 2914)

I went to a comprehensive school and I’d say its sole value to me – no, wait that was where I learnt authority could be having a nervous breakdown and I had to fight, both of which helped me later in journalism – but otherwise its sole value was that it was a mixed school. I loathe the idea of single-sex education because I think it damages your education about two sexes. Men, at least, can end up as permanent schoolboys unable to talk to women. Look at the UK government.

Yet Annie Murphy Paul’s piece does make compelling arguments. I’d rather we didn’t have single-sex education but we’ve got to have education that works. Read the full piece. And take a look at the Online a School for Girls, well, online.

Exhausted. My Inkspill writing retreat contribution now available online

All afternoon I’ve been involved in Inkspill and I can relax now. But if you missed my sessions, if you’ve missed the whole Inkspill phenomenon, you can now get the lot online in one go. Hey, if you caught it and liked it all, you can go get it again. It’s just as good the second time.

Here’s what my afternoon looked like on Inkspill:

An Afternoon with William Gallagher – Guest Writer

15: 00 A Video From our Guest Writer William Gallagher

How to Get Rejected

Making Time to Write

Writing Doctor Who

What You get from Writing

Tomorrow is being run by writers Charlie Jordan and Heather Wastie and the whole Inkspill shebang is by poet Nina Lewis. Read about it all on the official Inkspill Writing Retreat site.

Did I mention that it’s free?

Starting now – Inkspill online writing retreat

Welcome to INKSPILL 2014, here is the programme of what’s coming up over the weekend. Remember you can follow in real time (GMT) or just dip in at your leisure.

If you are currently working on a writing project or preparing for NaNoWriMo, then gather your notes and start by giving yourself some time to write.

INKSPILL 2014 – Programme of Events | awritersfountain

I’m one of the contributors to this and my bits are on this afternoon. But read the whole programme and get writing, okay?

Love at first iteration: gaming your way to a partner

I adore dating companies because they are so fascinating: if a dating business does its job well, it immediately loses two customers. I’m a nut for romances anyway so on the one hand you have the delicate tinderbox of when two people meet but then on the other you have a business that might have to fail in order to succeed. Or even survive.

Then with online dating there’s the fact that it was once something you wouldn’t admit to. (You’d go on ITV’s Blind Date and be matched up by Cilla Black, fine, but you wouldn’t admit to using online dating, nooo.)

Plus online dating seems a bit geeky, somehow. I know it isn’t and we all know how deeply personal and intimate technology can be – friendships are made and lost on Twitter – and as writers it can’t shock us that the typed word can have so much power. But the notion of ticking boxes and saying your ideal partner must have GSOH, it’s geekily clinical.

Amy Webb, who I just realise has quite an appropriate surname given how she’s written about using the web to find love, has, er, written about using the web to find love. But Brain Pickings describes her as “mathematically-driven” and Webb went full-on, geek-out analytical:

After a series of bad dates following a major heartbreak, [Webb] decided to take a quantitative approach to the playing field and started systematically recording various data points about her dates, revealing some important correlations. After one particularly bad date, she decided to formalize the exercise and wrote down everything that was important to her in a mate — from intellectual overlap to acceptable amount of body hair — eventually coming up with 72 attributes that she was going to demand in any future date. She then broke down these attributes into two tiers and developed a scoring system, assigning specific points to each. For 700 out of a maximum possible 1800, she’d agree to have an email exchange; for 900, she’d go on a date; for 1,500, she’d consider a long-term relationship.

Love in the Age of Data: How One Woman Hacked her Way to Happily Ever After – Maria Popoca, Brain Pickings (31 January 2013)

The full piece on Brain Pickings includes a page from Webb’s handwritten notes (which curiously includes a bit saying “year: 2050” and also “have to get military experience” which all feels like a different story altogether). And it recounts how Webb could’ve stopped there but instead took the next logical approach and analysed herself.

She also analysed the statistics of women on online dating and, actually, some of that is really depressing. I’m a man and statistically I am supposed to prefer blondes, I’m supposed to be turned off by powerful women. I don’t like this bit. But I really like how Webb ripped all this online dating apart to get the guy of her dreams – and, spoiler, she did it – and in doing so really revealed a lot about us.

Online dating firms claim to have these great personality-matching algorithms but Webb shows how they can of course only go by what we tell them. And, worse, what the other person tells them.

She found ways to get around that artifice, perhaps by creating artifice of your own but still. She broke down online dating into what works – and as you read what she concludes, you’re going to be thinking about yourself. Specifically, about yourself on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and all the rest. Never mind dating, what she’s found is alternately useful and eye-opening about the image we unconsciously present of ourselves.

Do read the full Brain Pickings piece for, as ever, Popova has written a really good article about all this. But then go read Webb’s book: Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match.