Time Tracking Software with Screenshots and Activity Levels Start Free Account ×

A blog about remote work, management, productivity, and marketing

Closing Clients on Elance

So you want to use Elance and make some serious money, but you don’t know where to start? As it turns out, closing clients on Elance is not as complicated as it might seem. On the contrary, the process is quite simple, it just requires due diligence, persistence and a solid strategy.

While there are a myriad of things that you can do to obtain more clients, in this article we wanted to focus on the four things you should look into right now. These are the 4 things that bring the most bang-for-the-buck, yet remain unused by most Elancers. (and here is some info on how to find freelance clients outside of elance)

1) Take all the skill tests you can

You must have already stumbled upon Elance’s free skill tests. There is a good reason that the Elance team tends to remind you about these tests every now and then, even though answering a bunch of questions might seem like a waste of time at this point. In most cases, freelancers are not doing enough tests to see the difference.

There are a plethora of beginners who break into the business every single day. And yet, clients are generally more willing to hire someone with work experience over someone who has nothing to show for their time on the site. How do these beginners do it, how do they break into the business without the work experience?

Elance Skills Tests

It’s simple: they do it by taking the free tests. This shows the prospective employer that you are a serious and dedicated employee, long before you have a backlog of successful projects to your name.

The secret to quick market entry

Freelancers who make a quick impact upon joining Elance are the ones who take dozens of tests every week, until it works in their favor. In fact, every freelancer is three times more likely to get hired if they do skill tests. The truth of the matter is, employers don’t really care that you have Basic English skills or enough know-how to use proprietary software. All they want to see is that you are the type of person takes work on Elance seriously.

That’s the point of taking these skill tests. They weed out the less serious, and often younger freelancers, from the people who can truly get the job done. This might ring an “ageist” tone to your ears, but it is simply how the current system operates.

Facebook1Twitter45Google+2

Marketing on Instagram and Vine

marketing with instagramMarketing has been changed with the evolution of social media marketing. Having a presence on Instagram, Vine, Facebook and Twitter, to name a few, has become a growing trend for most companies.

Introduction to Vine and Instagram

Vine is one of the latest video sharing apps. This app was launched by Twitter but resembles Instagram’s scrolling feed. Vine allows you to create a six second video that is either continuous or separate instances linked together. The app was launched in January 2013 and, in June, Vine had more posts on Twitter than Instagram. Vine is different from Instagram in the sense that it is video-only sharing, and these videos are shared 4x more than other online videos. I think Vine can be more beneficial for companies who are looking to explore new ideas and creative outlets to attract an audience.

Instagram is a top social media competitor. It is a user-friendly app that allows you to post short video clips and photos while applying different photo filters. According to Simply Measured, 59% of the world’s top brands are now active on Instagram.

How Are Companies Using Vine and Instagram to Promote Their Business?

In the column, This Week On Vine, you will find some samples of how companies are getting creative with their videos. These vides are short, sweet and memorable. I appreciated the Lowe’s series, #lowesfixinsix, because they show you how to take care of a household chore long enough to hold your attention. Companies are using their time wisely in these super short segments to grab your attention, reel you in and make their brand memorable. Target went old school with a LiteBrite Vine, reintroducing the infamous toy while making their logo apparent.

Facebook0Twitter3Google+4

Time Tracking for Quickbooks

Today, we’re proud to introduce our new integration with Quickbooks desktop software.  For as long as we’ve been building this software, time tracking for Quickbooks has been one of the most requested features.   What you will see below is Phase 1.  Phase 2 will include a tighter integration with the online version of Quickbooks.

The current integration supports the Quickbooks desktop versions for 2006 – 2012.

This feature can be used for two main purposes:

  • Track time in Hubstaff and import to Quickbooks to pay your employees / contractors
  • Track time in Hubstaff and import to Quickbooks to invoice clients

Here’s a video that describes exactly how to integrate Quickbooks with Hubstaff.

Facebook0Twitter46Google+1

Gmail Productivity Hacks

Gmail is an awesome platform for managing most of your communications on a daily basis, but there are tons of options and settings that can really improve your experience.  Here are a few “hacks” that can help you get more benefit from Gmail.  Enjoy!

gmail hacks

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

Facebook4Twitter54Google+6

Survey Results: How Many Developers Write Unit Tests?

Developers are told to write unit tests. But how many do? I was wondering this after receiving several comments to my last post by developers who were arguing against the practice of writing them. [1]

Development’s Dirty Secret

Do most developers write unit tests as I had been led to believe? Or is it a dirty secret in the development culture that people say they write tests but far fewer do than you would be led to believe? Naturally I was curious and did what I always do to try to satisfy my curiosity, I went to Google. Surprisingly I could not find any unit testing surveys. Granted I didn’t conduct an exhaustive search, but then again with Google I don’t usually need to. So I conducted my own survey and got a few hundred developers to take it. Here are the results:

Survey: Do you write unit tests?

How many developers write unit tests and what do they test? (Click for full size infographic)


Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

Facebook43Twitter89Google+9

Time Blocking: A Simple Guide

You can live your life proactively or reactively.  Living proactively means that you are designing your days around the tasks that will help you accomplish your longer-term goals.  Living reactively means that you either don’t have a design to your days, or that you have a design but you don’t stick to it for whatever reason.  The reasons can include your own procrastination, or letting others push their goals onto your day.  The latter happens when you subscribe to the false thinking that someone else’s goals are more important than yours.  If you are in the habit of living reactively it can be a hard habit to break, but time blocking can help.

What is time blocking?

In my previous post I explained how to determine “what” you should be doing and the tools I use to manage my day. That’s the first part of productivity.  Today, I’m going to discuss the second part which is daily time blocking.  Time blocking is the process of arranging your tasks into the hours of a day to achieve max productivity.  It’s how you design your days in a pro-active way, vs. being reactive to the demands of others. [pic of calendar]

Below, I am going to quickly describe my process for daily time blocking, and how you can develop a similar plan.  This is meant to be a very fast and effective way to get started with time-blocking, not the end all solution.

Step 1: Determine your most and least productive times of the day

This is different for each person.  I am a morning person naturally, and I think it will always be that way.  By 9 pm I am ready for bed, and by 6 am I am ready to get up and start the day.  My most productive time of the day is from 6am – 9am.  This is the time that I really feel renewed and able to think deeply and get my best ideas.  The important aspect here is not whether you are a morning person or a night person, but to realize when your most productive time is and maximize that time.

Action item: Decide on a 60 minute block of time that is your most productive time.

Step 2: Schedule it and Stick to it

Schedule out right now when your time is going to be.  Start with only 60 mins, but book it and put it on the calendar.  Experiment with doing this just for 7 days.  Don’t make a big commitment… You don’t need to.  You just need to book 60 minutes of time when you feel the best during an average day.

Do not let anyone, under any circumstances, disturb you during your productive time.  This is YOUR time, and despite the current thoughts you may have, it’s not too much to ask.  Turn off all distractions.  Email, phone and chat should all be turned off during this time.

Action item: Book the 60 minutes on your calendar for each of the next 7 days

Here’s how it looks:

time blocking

Step 3: Put the most important tasks in your 60 minute slot

Facebook2Twitter31Google+2

New Plans Introduced

Annual Plans Introduced

Today we introduced some new plans to choose from.  We’ve gotten several requests for annual plans, so we’ve introduced several annual plans to choose from, and you can get two months free by subscribing to an annual plan.  Here are the current annual plans that we have, and you can always see the annual plans by selecting the annual plan toggle.

Hubstaff Annual Plans

Smaller Plans Introduced

Facebook1Twitter47Google+1

Should I write unit tests? Yes and I’ll tell you why.

We write a lot of unit tests at Hubstaff. Testing is something we have taken seriously from day one and as a result it’s a big part of our development culture. If you’ve been on the fence about writing unit tests but haven’t dove in headfirst yet let me tell you why you should. You’ll save yourself a bunch of pain and work happier by writing unit tests. Happy programmers write better code. There’s no better medicine for a software product than a frequent dose of high quality code.

Disclaimer: I’m not going to preach in this post about whether you should write tests before you write the code. That’s a debate in itself. I just recommend that you write them one way or another.

Unit test results in terminal window

Unit test results in a Mac OS X terminal window

Myths About Unit Tests

Most developers don’t write tests. It’s easy to understand why. Tests take time (and in most cases money) to write. Maybe your boss or client thinks that your progress will “slow down” by writing tests. Maybe your company doesn’t think the cost is justified. Unit tests do increase the size of the code base, which means more lines of code to maintain. Ugh, who wants that?

So you skip writing unit tests because it’s obvious that you’ll save your company money, finish your work early and make it home in time to watch Game of Thrones. Not so fast! Give me a chance to change your mind.

Tyrion Lannister from the HBO show Game of Thrones

Tyrion Lannister from the HBO show Game of Thrones

Unit Tests Explained in 60 Seconds or Less

For the uninitiated let’s quickly cover what unit tests are. Since I’m a programmer I’ll show you some code.

 

This is an RSpec test but most unit test frameworks look and work similarly. You write a bunch of these tests, which assert certain conditions. A test does X and expects Y. If the test does not get Y it fails. It really is that simple.

The Big 3 Reasons Why You Should Write Unit Tests

  1. Know if your code *really* works
  2. It will save you a lot of pain (and time)
  3. It makes deployments a snap

Facebook8Twitter68Google+11

Goals, Mindsets, and Technology: How to Maximize Your Productivity

How often do you feel overwhelmed by all the random BS that is constantly piling up in your “inbox”?

For me it’s pretty much 24/7, and I think almost everyone who runs their own business feels the same way.  There’s seriously a thousand things going on at any given time… you know the feeling.

One of the reasons my to-do list piles up is because I manage a team of remote contractors, and I recently got asked this question from one of my contractors in Pakistan… “Sir, how do you manage everything you have going on?  I mean, how do you keep it all straight?”

At that point, I decided this was a good topic for the Hubstaff blog (Both Jared and I have recently committed to getting you one post like this a week) to answer publicly so that anyone who was interested could see how I manage my daily life.

First off, my definition of a productive person is someone who can manage all these random inputs AND successfully achieve their goals.  It’s all about productivity.  In my mind, productivity cannot be achieved without a mix of goals, mindsets and technologies.  I am about to lay out all three in the post below.

Goals

Goals are first for a reason because most of being successful is knowing “what” to do.  Goals are your “what” (Your “Why” is also important – Read about it here).  Goals keep you focused on what matters.

Set your goals according to what you want to accomplish.  I typically lay out 12-month goals, 6-month goals, 3-month projects, and 30 day tasks.  You work backwards.  First decide where you want to go over the next 12 months.  That’s your 12 month goal. Next, figure out what needs to happen in order to reach that goal.  These are your 6 month goals, etc… Work backwards all the way until you have your 30 day goals. These goals get converted into tasks and executed.

This “working backwards” method is great because it aligns your short term tasks with your long term goals and you always know “what” needs to be done.  That’s key.

Here’s how it looks:

using goals for max productivity

Mindset

Now that you know “what” needs to be done, it’s time to start executing. This is where mindset comes in.

Facebook6Twitter49Google+2

10 Strategies to Quickly Grow Your Social Media Following

10 Strategies to Quickly Grow Your Social Media Following

Although the general consensus in social media reflects the thinking “if we build it, they will come”, in reality, it can sometimes be very difficult to grow a social media following. There are many reasons why people aren’t following, or why it takes so long to build a large community. Here are 10 strategies to quickly grow your social media following:

1. Find Your Target Market

Before you even consider creating social media accounts for your business, you should first determine what networks your target audience is currently using. If they’re mostly found on a social network that you’re not considering, you may be setting yourself for follower failure. Research is key when starting your social media marketing. Take the time to fully understand the online habits of your target demographic. Find out where they are, what they like, and what they’re talking about.

Check out Traackr, an influencer research tool, to help find key players that relate to your industry to help determine where you should be.

2. Get Staff On Board

When building your network of social media followers, it’s important to encourage brand advocates; people who will engage with your brand and talk about your products and services. Who better to engage with your brand than your own staff? Have them like and follow company pages and profiles, respond to posts and tweets, and share your content to their followers. You’ll not only increase your reach, but you’ll show users just how engaging your company is, and they’ll soon want to join in.

Consider using a social media dashboard, like Sprout Social, to communicate among your team.

Facebook4Twitter57Google+6

Easily Manage Your Remote Teams Free Account ×

×
Free tools that teach you how to find and manage awesome remote teams
  • Free 83-Page Outsourcing Guide
  • Find Awesome Contractors for Low Rates
  • Free Time Tracking for up to 3 Contractors
  • Free Inbound Marketing Plan

Enter your email for updates