Email Newsletters

Email newsletters have been around for a while but I have just ventured into the realm.

My husband asked me to do some research because he was interested in sending his clients regular news. I checked out a few info sites and found that, if the heart is willing and the spirit strong, someone like me could develop his/her own templates, link to the company website and zip and zap newsletters to multiple users. There are templates available for download for free (virus scans always recommended) and instructions galore.

However, since I do not have time to come up with email templates of my own, or even tinker around with the instructions, I opted for an email newsletter service. I’m sure many of you have heard of Constant Contact. They’ve been around for several years and last week, I signed up for an account.

The first sixty (yes 60!) days are free for the user to tool around and see if the service is worth the membership fee  of about $150 for an annual subscription. The dashboard is very user-friendly and after a few minutes I was able to put together a *slightly* impressive sample newsletter and emailed it off to my hubbie.

Also, it helps if there are people who really want to read about what I’m up to, right? So… I posted a “sign up for my newsletter” link on my website that links directly to Constant Contact. Very few people have subscribed. Until I get at least a higher number of subscribers, I cannot justify the expenditure. Great program though!

Let me know what you think about Constant Contact or any other similar service. Let’s share ideas!

Backing Up Documents Online – Storage Options

Does anyone besides me remember Yahoo! Briefcase? It was a great little online document storage tool unless files were large.

Well, today one of my colleagues and I had a discussion about online storage. I mentioned my recent incursion into the world of Windows workspace but he was looking for something different. Since I spent the time looking up some information about it, I thought I would share with the Technolo-gee gang.

I have not used any of the following sites except for Windows Skydrive but I am intrigued by the different capabilities of the various services to save different versions of files, share with other users, and automatically update files.  My primary concern is security so I’m hesitant about backing up my entire computer, o r even certain files to unknown sites. I will comment more on my experiences later. For now, here are a few companies offering online backup services:

Windows Sky Drive offers 25GB free. Since I already have a Windows Live ID I didn’t have to do anything to sign up. Very nice for the lazy in me!

Carbonite piqued my interest with the comment that the software “encrypts files twice” during the automated backup. Very affordable with plans starting at $55 per year. One of my educational colleagues has used this site for over a year and she  with the results. has plans for basic users (50 GB free) up to 1 terabyte for premium users ($139 annual fee). I don’t know anyone who is using this service so I cannot comment on how well it works.

What online storage services are you using? Let’s share ideas!

Internet Browsers – Why I like Firefox

At-home career professionals spend much of their time on the Internet. Whether for logging into secure systems, checking email or performing research, we have to be able to rely on our Internet browsers.

Right now, I am becoming disenchanted with Internet Explorer (IE). Until last week, I used IE7 for several years. Then suddenly it just kept shutting down on me—or rather, getting stuck in the land of “not responding.” I’m pretty sure it had something to do with Microsoft updates to my system. Well, I finally gave in and upgraded to IE8…and I’m not seeing any improvements, or any distinctions in the two versions for that matter.  For me, IE8 has too many lags and delays, the primary delay occurring when I upload documents from my computer.

Whether I am attaching a file to email or uploading to my website, the execution time can be counted in minutes and not seconds! I’m not a computer expert by any means so I’m not sure what could be causing it. And, though I am a diehard Microsoft fan, I am close to giving up completely on IE. In fact, for the past few days, I have opted to keep IE closed and use Mozilla Firefox.

With all that stated, I realize that I still have to use IE to access a few client proprietary web-based programs. It hasn’t been that long ago that I could only open webmail from my previous university in IE. So, though I like Firefox, it’s not an all-purpose solution.

On that note, I am happy to report that I have not had any problems with consistent lags or delays with Firefox on my PC. By the way, I just upgraded to the latest versions of Firefox on both my PC and Mac. When I started using the Mac version, the only slightly annoying aspect was that I had to select an application a dialog box when I opened a pdf document in the browser. After doing that twice, I opened the application preferences and set the default applications I wanted to use. No more annoyance! There are often delays with Firefox on the Mac, but no more than with the other browsers.

There are other options besides IE and Firefox. My husband (who gave up on IE in 2008) likes the Opera browser on his PC. He says that the pages load faster and videos play “like cable tv.” Before trying Opera, he had used Safari and liked that pretty well… until he learned about Opera.

My opinion of Safari is limited to my use of the browser on my Mac. Delays occur pretty often and that “rainbow pie of doom” appears on the screen. However, the program usually starts working within a minute. I use the Opera browser on my phone and it definitely works better than the mobile version of IE. I have downloaded Opera to my PC. I am not using it because for now, Firefox is working quite well.

Finally, I realize that Google Chrome has been out there but since I haven’t tried it, I cannot offer an opinion.

Which browser do you prefer to use on your Mac or PC? Why? Let’s share ideas!

Working With Office Documents on the Web Part II.

Well, after a few days of trying out Windows Live Workspace, I have to say it’s very useful way to back-up files, and also as I mentioned in Part I of this post, it helps me with document version control! One issue with Workspace so far: my PC runs on the Windows Vista O/S and when I use the service in Internet Explorer, the Vista “ring of doom” appears on the screen quite often.*  So, I probably won’t use the service too often until all the beta “bugs” are worked out. If you’ve used Workspace, let me know what you thought about it. Let’s share ideas!

*Note, I just updated to Internet Explorer 8, and I didn’t see much difference in the program compared to 7. I was going to attribute my problems with Windows Workspace to the new version of the browser; instead, I will use the problem to start another research project to find ways of speeding up my system. More later on this topic!

Getting Past Protected Office Documents

Have you ever received or downloaded a protected document (i.e., you are locked out of parts of or the entire document) and experienced a huge amount of frustration with using the document?  Well, I’ve experienced that frustration on occasion but thanks to a colleague, I can now share how to override the document protection. So far, I know this works with Microsoft Word.

In brief:

1. Open the document.

2. Save it as a template (1997-2003).

3. Close the document.

4. Create a new document using the template (double-click on the template or if you are using Office 97-2003, File>New (from template) and choose your template).

5. Turn off protection in the new document.

Note: This is useful information for those who intend to protect their documents!

Working with Office Documents on the Web Part I.

I work on multiple computers and I sometimes have trouble with version control. I thought I would solve the problem by only working on one computer for one set of clients, and on the other computer for other clients. However, as  freelancer, I answer email messages all day and I download files on the computer where I happen to be working. Then, I edit, upload…and so on. Hence my dilemma with version control.

I have used Google Docs on occasion and it worked fine as long as I didn’t have to download the spreadsheet or word processing document, which rendered the document useless. Online, the versions worked as well as Excel and Word but with some annoying delays that I could never overcome regardless of the type of web browser I was using.

Well, now Microsoft has come out with Windows Live Workspace (

It’s in beta stage but it looks promising.  I’ll be back to revise this post after I use it more to let you know if it helps me!

If you’re already using Windows Live Workspace, let me know how it’s working for you! Let’s share ideas!

Job Search Sites

Well it’s not as hard as it used to be to look for a work from home job. Several companies have sprung up all over the world with the at home work model. So where can you find a job?

Please note, I am writing from my personal experience: I am not being compensated by any job search website company. In addition, I will check out any website that is suggested in the comments prior to approving a posted comment. I am interested in posting information on sites that are credible and useful to jobseekers!

Finding credible posts can take time on any job search site but even filtering through the most legitimate sites like careerbuilder,, and is sometimes a chore. Some websites cater to at-home job seekers, such as Many of the genuinejobs postings are from other sites. I’ve actually found some good opportunities on this site and landed a contract opportunity that I’ve had since 2008. That particular job is with a legitimate company with a website, email address and telephone number for whom I was able to find company documents on the state commerce department’s website. Hint: take the time research the background of a company!

Recently I found Element Care, a company based in the southeast offering part-time and full-time customer service jobs. Their qualifying process was very relevant and the home office technology requirements were pretty standard. They have a two week full-time training session which is mandatory so make sure there’s time for this if this sounds like an interesting job to you! I’ve had to postpone working with them until I can set aside the required 40 hours.

In the past, I’ve posted on jobs from but I haven’t found anything recently. One thing I would like to see on that site is the post date of the jobs, to be able to determine how fresh the content is. Right now there is no way to tell whether a job was posted yesterday, or last month.

For translators, is a good site. Membership is free and the site allows a user to submit a limited number of free bids. After that point, a membership can be purchased–I’ve used the site for three years and it’s definitely worth the yearly fee. I’m sure that I’m not using all of the features of my membership.

There are quite a few other freelance pay sites out there that won’t allow a free trial period and since I’m not willing to subscribe to an unproven search site (it’s rather counter productive to have an unemployed person to pay for access without proving that the site is reliable, don’t you think?), I won’t even mention them.

What sites have you used to find online jobs? Let’s share ideas!

The Work at Home Career – A Journey

When I was in my second year of my first graduate program, I developed the motto: Life is a journey; wear comfortable shoes. My new motto hasn’t quite been developed yet but it could be something along the lines of: Computer technology changes quickly; don’t get too comfortable with what you know!

In part II of my get a “real” job or work from home post, I wrote that I wish I didn’t have to “be the accounts payable, accounts receivable, marketing, scheduler, project manager, customer service, order fulfillment, sales and service departments when all I really get paid for is the order fulfillment (the rest is overhead!).” I understand that there are software programs that will reduce the amount of time that I have to use on management and administrative matters.

Thus, in this journey, I will address various topics and, I hope, obtain feedback from others that will make our work at home experiences better. Future blogs will about using office technology to reduce the effort in performing various management and administrative functions (scheduling, accounting, tax submissions, customer service, marketing, etc.), managing your finances, maintaining computer security, and of course, getting paid (alas, it is mentioned last but not the least of your worries).

Let’s share ideas!

Work Environment: Where do you work?


Part II. Get a “real” job, or work at home?

Yesterday I wrote about some of my perceptions about working independently or with a company. Some may view those ideas a little differently than I do. Today the topic turns to disadvantages of working from home and working from the office.

I participated in a conference call this morning to discuss a potential training opportunity. One of the things I miss about working in-office is the face-to-face interaction. It’s great to be able to shake hands with someone to establish rapport.

Working from home Disadvantages

I wish I didn’t have to…

Buy my own software—it gets expensive, pay for software upgrades myself, maintain my computer’s safety, watching for viruses that I normally wouldn’t be exposed to if I hadn’t decided to use the computer for various on-line jobs; work such long hours that I have to put in sometimes to get work done—there’s no quitting time; be the accounts payable, accounts receivable, marketing, scheduler, project manager, customer service, order fulfillment, sales and service departments when all I really get paid for is the order fulfillment (the rest is overhead!); lower rates of pay (* see previous post concerning pay), and finally; work with people I never get to meet in person so much.

Working from Office Disadvantages

Well, it has been a while since I worked full-time in an office environment so my memory is a bit fuzzy. What I liked least was having to…

Get to work at 7:00 a.m. and leave by 4:00 p.m. or after 6:00 p.m. to avoid traffic (this was when I commuted a long distance); less flexibility to choose working at home on some days (like days when it snowed and I didn’t want to slide off the road); catching colds and sharing germs with colleagues and clients; and what I liked least of all was office politics (need I say more?).

So what are your thoughts on advantages and disadvantages? Let’s share ideas!