Tag Archives: Tips

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

In this Monday’s Link Roundup there’s lots of practical advice. In particular, I recommend Freelancing: a Complete Guide to Setting and Negotiating Rates. It’s useful no matter what kind of service you provide. For something to feast your eyes on, take a look at Best Bookstore In The World? It’s stunning!

  • Google Death: A Tool to Take Care of Your Gmail When You’re Gone. “It’s always seemed to be the case that the difficulty of planning for one’s “digital afterlife” isn’t so much the logistics of it but the psychological effort it requires to deal with one’s own mortality in a utilitarian, businesslike way. Perhaps the greater service Google has provided here isn’t so much the functionality of the tool — that it will execute your plans without you once you’re gone — but that they’ve made making those plans simple, requiring few decisions on your part.”
  • Discover Your Strengths and Supercharge Your Business. “What are strengths, anyway? Until recently, I never realized this was a trick question. I thought that your strengths were things you were good at, and your weaknesses were things you sucked at. But Marcus Buckingham, who’s made a career out of writing about strengths, put it this way:”
  • In China, Fake Apple Products Are an Acceptable Offering for Your Ancestors. “During this year’s Qingming Festival, fake Apple products made out of paper and cardboard were one of the biggest hits. One man, who makes cardboard replicas of luxury products like cars and houses, added Apple goods to his repertoire this year and said they were a hot ticket item. For just $7, you can offer your ancestors a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad, but if you want an iPhone 5, you have to pay an extra 50 cents.”
  • Freelancing: a Complete Guide to Setting and Negotiating Rates. “Setting and negotiating rates can seem like one of the most complicated and intimidating parts of freelancing but it really doesn’t have to be. Today I am going to give you an in-depth overview of how to set and negotiate rates with prospective and existing clients. Although I am a freelance writer, I believe that most of the following advice applies to any service-based business.”
  • Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl: the digital edition. “A introductory film for the new digital edition of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, a classic book that has played a key role in the world’s understanding of the Holocaust. The app takes the original text, published 65 years ago, and adds video interviews and other background material. The Diary of a Young Girl app, made by Beyond the Story, is available on iPad via Apple’s AppStore.”
  • Best Bookstore In The World? “…Dutch bookstore Selexyz might just be the prettiest bookstore we’ve ever seen. Housed in a seven hundred-year-old former Dominican church, it’s a stunning house of worship now devoted to the cult of physical books. El Ateneo in Buenos Aires is pretty special, but right now we’re leaning towards Selexyz.”

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6 Ways You Can Banish Freelancer Gloom and Doom.

sun shafts

No clients knocking on your door? Feeling discouraged? Thinking of quitting?

I’ve been there and know what that feels like. It’s no fun. So what can you do to get through the gloom and doom?

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.


Things happen – both good and bad. That’s life.  Accept the fact that as grim as your present situation is, it will change.

When you catch yourself listening to the voices of gloom and doom nattering in your head, switch channels. Your thoughts are just thoughts. They’re not solid objects. Just let them pass without becoming caught up in them.


Take some time to examine your intentions.

What were your intentions when you started your freelance business? Was it to make a lot of money? Serve your community? Supplement your income?

How have your intentions changed? Do changed intentions require you to re-evaluate your marketing approach? Maybe your intentions are different and you no longer have the same passion that you started with.

Stepping back and examining your intentions may provide a clue to your present dilemma.


Looking at colleagues who are successful can lead to feelings of  envy or incompetence. Likewise, identifying with others who are struggling like yourself can be demoralizing. You begin to think, “Why bother? It’s all hopeless.”

The quickest way to spiral into gloom and doom is to compare yourself to others.  Avoid comparisons.


Close the door to your office, disconnect from your beeping electronic devices, and indulge in things that bring you real joy. Forget about your business for a couple of weeks.  It’ll still be there when you get back.

Returning to your work after a complete break  gives you more energy and gives you fresh insights into your business.


We all need support.

Thinking that you can do it all on your own is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you connect with people who can provide practical advice, a shoulder to cry on, and inspiration.


No one said it would be easy establishing a new business. Overnight success rarely happens. Unrealistic expectations about your success will inevitably lead to disappointment and doubt.

Be prepared for the long haul. It’ll take a couple of years of hard work before you begin to see the fruits of your labor. Knowing this will help keep you from despair when times are tough.


Last but not least, laugh more! Some days the old saying “If I didn’t laugh, I’d cry ” sums it up.  We need to lighten up. Grim determination and a furrowed brow won’t make work easier.

If you need a quick fix of laughter check this out.

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Photo Credit: The Waterboy

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

In this Monday’s Link roundup I recommend taking a look at Lost Cat: An Illustrated Meditation on Love, Loss, and What It Means To Be Human. I love cats and can’t wait to read this unique memoir. With the arrival of Spring on the West Coast, I’m valiantly trying to throw stuff out. That’s why I thought How to Speed Up, Clean Up, and Revive Your Windows PC seemed the perfect How to. 

  • Massive Volunteer Collective Proofreads 25,000 Public-Domain Books. “Give these people a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, because they surely deserve one: As of today, 100,000 people around the world have taken part in a massive proofreading project to correct the electronic texts of 25,000 publicly available books on the Project Gutenberg site.”
  • The Key to Getting Motivated: Give Up. “…trying to “get motivated” can often make matters worse. The real problem isn’t that you don’t feel like taking action. Rather, it’s the underlying assumption that you need to feel like taking action before you can act. Which explains the hidden pitfall of most “motivational” advice: it’s not about how to get things done, but about how to get in the mood for getting things done.”
  • The rise of the virtual bookshelf. “Enjoy snooping at what other people are reading? Now a host of websites allow readers to explore each other’s shelves online.”
  • Lost Cat: An Illustrated Meditation on Love, Loss, and What It Means To Be Human. “…a tender, imaginative memoir infused with equal parts humor and humanity… Though “about” a cat, this heartwarming and heartbreaking tale is really about what it means to be human — about the osmosis of hollowing loneliness and profound attachment, the oscillation between boundless affection and paralyzing fear of abandonment, the unfair promise of loss implicit to every possibility of love.”
  • How to Speed Up, Clean Up, and Revive Your Windows PC. “Flowers are blooming and birds are chirping, which means it’s time to start your yearly spring cleaning extravaganza. While you’re emptying your closets, decluttering, and getting rid of the bloat in your life, why not do the same for your computer? Here are some simple, easy to follow tips to give your trusted Windows PC a little spring cleaning of its own.”
  • I do not fear death. “Roger Ebert was always a great friend of Salon’s. We’re deeply saddened by reports of his death, and are re-printing this essay, from his book “Life Itself: A Memoir,” which we think fans will take particular comfort in reading now.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

In today’s Monday’s Link Roundup don’t miss Why obituaries seduce us. It examines why the best obituaries are mini biographies. And whether your interviewing, writing, or promoting you’ll definitely want to read The psychology of language: Which words matter the most when we talk.

  • Bookstore Of The Year 2013. “Every year, industry bible Publishers Weekly names a Bookstore of the Year, and it announced yesterday that the 2013 award would be given to to Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, “the center of the fictional Yoknapatawpha County in William Faulkner’s novels.”
  • StoryPress for the iPad. “StoryPress is an iPad app (with an Android version promised “real soon now”) that helps you preserve your memories in your own voice by recording spoken history…Subscribers to StoryPress are greeted with a sequence of questions to help them create a story. The app uses a book metaphor for each story, allowing the user to enter the author’s name, date of birth, and story title. Users also can use a photo from their iPad photo libraries for cover art on their story.”
  • Why obituaries seduce us: They’re a door on a world that’s vanishing. “Properly done, obituaries are “biographical essays that set a life in context, pay tribute to achievements, and account for failures and faults,” as Sandra Martin, who has produced many great ones for this paper, wrote in her recent collection, Working the Dead Beat: 50 Lives that Changed Canada.”
  • Free “Perspectives on Personal Digital Archiving” Publication. “We [Library of Congress] are very excited to unveil our new e-publication, Perspectives on Personal Digital Archiving! This is something new for us: a published compilation of selected blog posts published in The Signal. All of these posts are written by NDIIPP staff as well as guest bloggers from inside and outside the Library of Congress. This resource can serve as a primer for the digital archive novice, as well as a refresher for those with more experience.”
  • The psychology of language: Which words matter the most when we talk. “Recently, a lot of the long standing paradigms in how our brain processes language were overthrown. New and cutting edge studies that produced quite startling and different results. The one study I found most interesting is UCL’s findings on how we can separate words from intonation. Whenever we listen to words, this is what happens:”
  • Too busy? Maybe you’re procrastinating. “Here’s the thing: when we’re busy we can easily trick ourselves into thinking that all of that activity means that we’re not procrastinating.  We’re busy, sure, but we’re not focused on the things that should really have our attention. If someone were to tap us on the shoulder and say, “that thing you’re doing, is that the best use of your attention right now?” we would hesitate to agree. We’re busy procrastinating.”

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6 More “Purrfect” Business Tips from My Cat.

Annie in tree

Annie in the plum tree.

Groan. Don’t you just hate puns?

Anyhow, my cat Annie  is a source of inspiration for my life and business. Previously I wrote 6 Lessons My Cat Taught Me About Time Management. I might add, she was quite pleased by the positive response that article received. ;-)

Here are some more of Annie’s pearls of wisdom.

1. Take time to play. Every day Annie insists we play at least once if not twice. If I’m not available, she’ll make up her own games. She’ll race madly about the house, dive into a stack of newspapers, or climb the plum tree.  She knows the wisdom of the old saying “All work and no play makes…”.

Make certain to build play time into your daily schedule.

2. Exercise caution in any new situation. Annie doesn’t immediately take to new things. A new chair, plant, or visitor is carefully and gingerly approached, sniffed, and either tentatively accepted or rejected until she feels more comfortable.

Whenever you embark on a new project or work with a new client, you could emulate her behavior (well maybe not the sniffing part). Take time to do your homework and assess the situation before plunging in.

3. Claim your territory. Annie has claimed the backyard as her territory. She defends it vigorously from other cats. And for the most part they now leave her alone.

It’s important to claim your space in the business world. Be clear on what you’re offering and to whom. Then stand up and stand out!

4. Be curious. All cats love to explore. And Annie’s no exception. In the summer she spends hours in the backyard, peering into flower beds and checking out the next door neighbor’s yard. She comes in at the end of the day, tired and stimulated.

Curiosity is a tonic that keeps your business fresh and relevant. Be curious about your competition, potential new products and services, and interesting marketing ideas.

5. Be gentle but strong. Annie is petite, soft, and gentle. That is until she feels threatened by another cat. Then she puffs herself up to twice her size and lets out a blood-curdling scream. It seldom goes any further than that. The other cat receives the message and retreats.

I’m not suggesting you puff yourself up and start screaming at people who upset you. Even though this might satisfy the “inner cat” in you. ;-) What I am saying is that you must be clear that you will not be taken advantage of or treated poorly.   Stand up for your rights!

6. Break the pattern. Annie’s a creature of routine. She has her favorite chair and set times for eating. She loves a snuggle while I’m watching a little TV at night. But she also mixes it up. She’ll decide to move to a different spot to sleep or skip the snuggle and be on her own.

It’s useful in our business to avoid becoming stale by doing the same thing over and over again. Follow Annie’s example and change things now and again.

Annie has looked this post over and approved its content. Whew! She can be so demanding.

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Photo by Dan Curtis © 2012 all rights reserved

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

For first time visitors to my  Monday’s Link Roundup, welcome. This is an eclectic list that features articles I find engaging, whimsical, and educational.  And I hope of interest to other personal historians, biographers, videographers, family historians, and memoir writers. Enjoy!

  • What Is the Business of Literature? “As technology disrupts the business model of traditional publishers, the industry must imagine new ways of capturing the value of a book.”
  • 7 Ways to Summon the Courage to Say “No”. “What do you do when a freelancing project just isn’t right for you? Do you turn it down, or do you take it anyway? Most freelancers already understand that they should say “no” to some clients. But often we freelancers just keep on saying “yes” when we know that we shouldn’t.”
  • Why You Should Fire Yourself. “What would you do if you discovered that the secret to your success online lay in firing yourself? Would you do it? That’s the question Alex, a freelance copywriter, had to face.”
  • Hey, at Least You Can Be Virtually Immortal. “NO one will confuse typical retirees today with the Emperor Augustus, who constructed a huge mausoleum to celebrate his life for eternity. And yet they belong to the first generation of elders within easy grasp of something once so rare and valuable that relatively few historic figures could enjoy it until now: virtual immortality.”
  • The Best Ways to Be Sure You’re Legally Using Online Photos. “Using images in our online work is crucial. It’s a visual medium and how better to tell your story or draw in your audience than with a compelling photo? But while some may be flattered you’re using a photo they took or image they created, most are not. Besides all the SEO and search-engine ranking reasons, using someone else’s work without their permission is not only wrong but also may be illegal.”
  • Getting Media Coverage: 5 Things You Need To Know. “Any publicity is good publicity, the saying goes, which makes free publicity even better. A mention in a magazine or buzz on a blog can put your company on the map and help boost sales, in most cases, without costing you a dime. But how do you get on journalists’ radar screens?”

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How to Turn Your Blog Posts Into an E-Book.


Want to give all those blog articles you’ve written a second life? I certainly do.

I’ve assembled 5 online services that allow you to do just that by capturing blog articles and editing them into an e-book.

Here’s my take on these services. I really like Anthologize but it isn’t compatible with blogs like mine that operate on WordPress.com. Ebook Glue downloads your whole blog and doesn’t appear to allow for editing. Papyrus only works with Chrome and Safari browsers and I use Firefox. I didn’t want to download a different browser just to use their program.

This leaves me with two  services – BookSmith and Zinepal. Both look relatively easy to use.

I can’t wait to get started on my e-book. What about you?

  • Anthologize “…a free, open-source, plugin that transforms WordPress into a platform for publishing electronic texts. Grab posts from your WordPress blog, import feeds from external sites, or create new content directly within Anthologize. Then outline, order, and edit your work, crafting it into a single volume for export in several formats, including—in this release—PDF, ePUB, TEI. Please note that Anthologize cannot be installed on blogs hosted at WordPress.com.” Read more.
  • BookSmith “…a tool that lets you convert your blog posts into print ready book files easily and quickly.We currently support following platforms: Blogger.com (hosted on blogspot.com or elsewhere) and WordPress (self hosted as well as WordPress MU platforms like those on wordpress.com).” Read more.
  • Ebook Glue “…was developed in late 2012, and was launched on December 24, 2012. Since then, over 2,000 blogs have used Ebook Glue to publish their content as a downloadable ebook.” Read more.
  • Papyrus. “…gives you a very simple online editing interface to create your books. Convert your blog to a book in one click.” Read more.
  • Zinepal: “…creates eBooks in the PDF, ePub, Kindle and Mobipocket formats. It’s one of the easiest ways to make eBooks and printable PDFs from existing web content in order to reach additional audiences and offer readers more choices.” Read more.

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

In this Monday’s Link Roundup, I really identified with Bibliocide. If you’re like me and have an old encyclopedia gathering dust, you’ll want to read this article. And have you ever wondered about whether e-mail sign offs  make sense in today’s electronic universe? Then check out You Say “Best.” I Say No.

  • What Happens to Publishers and Authors If a Used Ebook Market Becomes Legal? “Amazon has a patent to develop a market for used digital content. Apple has filed for a similar patent and ReDigi, a self-styled marketplace for used digital content, is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Capitol Records over the resale of digital music files. Basically, it looks like a used ebook marketplace might become a reality. For consumers, this could be very good news indeed. Imagine seeing on an ebook’s Kindle page a link that will take you to a sell page for the exact same product for half the price. Same ebook, same user experience, even lower cost. For publishers, this would undoubtedly be very bad news.”
  • Bibliocide. “They were mouldy, unread and long out of date. So why did I feel so bad about burning my Britannicas?”
  • You Say “Best.” I Say No. “Email signoffs are holdovers from a bygone era when letter writing—the kind that required ink and paper—was a major means of communication. The handwritten letters people sent included information of great import and sometimes functioned as the only communication with family members and other loved ones for months. In that case, it made sense to go to town, to get flowery with it. Then, a formal signoff was entirely called for. If you were, say, a Boston resident writing to his mother back home in Ireland in the late 19th century, then ending a correspondence with “I remain your ever fond son in Christ Our Lord J.C.,” as James Chamberlain did in 1891, was entirely reasonable and appropriate. But those times have long since passed.”
  • A Vanishing Past? “Can science save the daguerreotype, the first successful medium of photography?”
  • Clare Boothe Luce’s Advice to Her 18-Year-Old Daughter. “On November 24, 1942, Luce penned a letter to her 18-year-old daughter Ann, at the time a sophomore at Stanford, found in Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children (public library)– the same wonderful collection that gave us Sherwood Anderson’s timelessly poetic advice on the creative life to his teenage son. Amidst counsel on Ann’s first romantic relationship, Luce offers the following advice, which in some ways squarely contradicts and in others subtly seconds F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous advice to his daughter, and is at its heart the same manifesto for living with awareness and presence that Jackson Pollock received from his father.”
  • The loss of you lingers. “In 1989, 52-year-old Long Island resident Joan Cook Carpenter passed away after succumbing to breast cancer — a battle which she had chosen to keep from her loved ones until her final days. In 1999, a decade after Joan’s death, her 29-year-old daughter, Karin, wrote her the following letter.” [Thanks to Francie King of History Keep for alerting me to this item.]

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

In this Monday’s Link Roundup there’s some practical advice. If you’re considering offering clients a newsletter, you’ll want to read The Benefits of Offering an Email Newsletter for a Freelancer.  For eBook publishing don’t miss eBook Formatting: Possibilities and Limitations. And if you’re struggling to attract clients, then you’ll want to take a look at The 6 Fundamentals of Client Building.

  • A U.S. History of People with Disabilities. “A Disability History of the United States pulls from primary-source documents and social histories to retell American history through the eyes, words, and impressions of the people who lived it. Throughout the book, Nielsen deftly illustrates how concepts of disability have deeply shaped the American experience—from deciding who was allowed to immigrate to establishing labor laws and justifying slavery and gender discrimination.”
  • Adorable Miniature Houses Built of Books. “Ever wish you could live inside a book? Well, you can’t quite live in Dutch artist Frank Halmans’s stacked vintage book houses, but you can tell he’s had the same idea. The works in Halmans’s series Built of Books, which we recently spotted over at My Modern Met, are adorable odes to the worlds created by literature — complete with windows and doors to see through. Take a vacation in some tiny book homes after the jump, and then be sure to head on over to Halmans’s website to check out more of his work.”
  • eBook Formatting: Possibilities and Limitations. “While we are well into the eBook revolution–far enough in so that it’s pretty safe to say eBooks and eReaders are not a fad and have become a permanent disruption to print books–there are still significant limitations on how eBooks can be presented to the reader.”
  • The 6 Fundamentals of Client Building. “The kind of influence needed to acquire clients doesn’t require money or status. Social psychologist Robert Cialdini has pinpointed six key elements of influence or persuasion. We all use them. Once they’re on your radar, you’ll spot them everywhere. You can apply them to make a connection, strengthen a bond, stand out, or even navigate tricky situations.”
  • The Benefits of Offering an Email Newsletter for a Freelancer. “Email may be a fifty-year-old technology, but it’s still an incredibly useful marketing tool. Billions of people use it not only for communication, but to subscribe to news and other information. It’s incredibly inexpensive to create and send, especially compared to other types of marketing. Done correctly, email can help you build a close relationship with your clients so that they’re willing to trust you with more freelance work on a regular basis.”
  • See your Family Tree in 3 Dimensions! “Progeny 3D Family Tree™ is the only program that can display your family tree in 3 dimensions. The 3D Family Tree gives you a whole new insight into your roots. 3D Family Tree builds pedigree and descendant trees in three dimensions. Photos of your relatives really make the tree come alive.”

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Encore! What Makes a Personal Historian a Professional?

I call myself a professional personal historian because I consider what I do and how I do it to be professional. But what does that actually mean? And who really cares?…Read more.