I'm excited. I've been a fan of Sharon Hurley Hall for a while now, and I've followed her (short of stalking, I swear) and have been impressed with her business sense. Sharon is the master mind behind the Get Paid to Write Online site. It was thanks to Google Plus that I finally connected with Sharon. We were linked on Twitter, but Google + gave us the chance to actually connect.
I'm glad we did. Sharon's a dynamite, friendly person and a super writer. Through our chatting, we managed to get on the topic of blogs. She honored me by asking me to write a post for her blog, and that thrilled me for many reasons, not the least of which was because now I could ask her to reciprocate. Please welcome Sharon to the blog!
Working Remotely: Tips and Tools
How do you stay organised as a location independent writer? Here are some of the tips and tools that work for me. Whether you're working from a local coffee shop or from a completely different country, the trick is to have everything you need with you. I don't know about you, but I don't like carrying lots of stuff around, so I've optimized my computer setup to minimize the number of items I need to have when I travel.
Let me step back a bit and talk about my desktop setup. Although I'm location independent, I have a home base, and I decided to get a desktop so I could have more processing power and a bigger screen when I'm working from home. Organizing my writing business is as simple as creating a few key folders. Each client has a separate folder where I save all their work, with sub folders for particular projects or periods of time when needed. All of these are in a bigger writing projects folder, which also has folders for invoices, bids, contracts, blogging work and other key aspects of my writing business.
The writing projects folder is the one I need access to wherever I go, so I ensure that it is backed up (I use SugarSync for set it and forget it backup) at all times. I also (just because I'm paranoid) do a weekly hard drive backup and transfer the whole folder to a USB stick and my laptop before any trip. I'm not taking any chances on not having access to my stuff. And the good thing about an online backup tool is that you can usually view and edit files on the web if you need to make changes in a hurry, then have it synced back to your main location when you get back.
The second key part of my organisational strategy as a location independent writer is to optimise my browser for use in multiple locations. My browser of choice is Google Chrome, which has built in functionality to synchronise bookmarks, extensions and more. Before a major trip, I download the latest version of Google Chrome portable, put it on a laptop and fire it up. I log in with my Google account, enable synchronisation and wait for it to magically update all my extensions.
This also means that my secure password extension. LastPass, is also up to date wherever I go. I never have any problems logging into WordPress dashboards or other sites, which makes it easy to manage personal and client blogs.
I use the portable version because if I need to change computers for any reason, I can run it from a USB stick. It's always good to be prepared for the unexpected.
Email and Communication
If you're a writer on the move, then good communication is essential. I always find out about internet access wherever I'm going to be staying. I prefer to have it on the premises (with free Wi-Fi so I can use my laptop in my room), but I'll take a decent internet cafe if that's the only option. I use Google Apps mail (just like Gmail but on my own domain) and I always access it through the web interface, wherever I happen to be in the world. That means I always have an up to date record of client communication. (Of course, I back it up to both Outlook and Thunderbird, but I don't use those tools for any other reason.)
Other Key Tools
I can't mention my favourite tools without talking about Skype. This is pretty much an essential for running my online writing business. I don't have a Skype phone number mainly because my business is split equally between the US and the UK so one set of clients would lose out. Instead, since most of my clients have Skype accounts, I just talk for free and absorb the hit for the few that don't.
Other key tools I use include:
- Google Docs for editing on the go, though I have to admit that I couldn't live without Microsoft Word.
- Feedly for keeping up with RSS feeds
- Windows Live Writer for blogging
- Workflowy for outlining and planning
- Todoist for my to do list, which I loved because I can colour code jobs
- Paypal for payments and invoicing, along with Excel
- 30 Boxes/Google Calendar for calendar management
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking for dictating articles and blog posts. This last one is a real time saver and really boosts my productivity. When next I update my phone, I'll be able to use the smartphone app for dictation on the move.
With very few exceptions most of those tools work in the browser which means they are accessible wherever I go. What tools are in your writing toolbox?
I'm Sharon and I was born to write and blog. I’m a word nerd, a Scrabble fiend, fanatical about grammar, and am fascinated by learning new things. I've been mentoring other writers at Get Paid To Write Online since 2005 to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. I also blog professionally; check me out on sharonhh.com