25 Jun

How to Start a Freelance Writing Career for $0

You’ve heard the old saying: “You have to spend money to make money.” That’s true in almost every field of work, whether you want to open a restaurant or start a blog. The problem? Some people with entrepreneurial spirits have just enough to get by and not a penny more. Not everyone has a good amount of dispensable income to spend to start a career.


If you’re struggling to launch your online career, and if you’re good with words, freelance writing is a wonderful option. Believe it or not, you can start freelance writing for $0. That’s right - nothing. The only thing you’ll need is Internet access. You don’t even need to own your own computer as long as you can get on the Internet.

Before we dive in, I have to say that freelance writing isn’t for everyone. You obviously must have a strong command of language (most likely English), the ability to pay attention to the smallest of details, and the drive to create a piece of content that is both compelling and eye-catching. Writing is no easy task, so you have to be up for the challenge.

That said, if you’re a word-oriented entrepreneur with a tight budget but a lot of aspiration, then you should consider freelance writing.

There are six steps to starting a freelance writing career. Note that they’re not six easy steps––they will take some time and work to complete.

Step 1: Study Writing

If you have a background in writing, you can skip this step. If you’re uninitiated but interested, you can study a plethora of resources to learn the craft. There are classic books like The Elements of Style by Strunk and White and On Writing Well by William Zinsser. These will provide you with a sturdy foundation, but keep in mind that to be a great writer, you need both education and experience.

Step 2: Choose a Niche

To begin, ask yourself, “What do I want to write about?” Find niches you’re interested in — consider your skills, hobbies, activities, and so on. Find an area that you could talk about all day. There’s a market for everything, from yo-yoing to stock trading, so don’t feel limited here.

Step 3: Study Your Niche

Take a look at what kind of content is prevalent in your niche. Blogs are a great source of intel for this step. What elements of the niche do blog posts cover? What are people commenting about? Find out what the trends are in your niche and study them. You can use BuzzSumo to see the most shared articles in your niche.

Step 4: Develop an Online Presence

This step is a time-consuming one, but it’s worth it. The two most important elements here are a portfolio and a LinkedIn profile. You can opt for other social networking profiles too––Twitter is second to LinkedIn in terms of effectiveness for networking.

Contently is a great option for a free portfolio. It’s a no-brainer to set up, and the result is a tidy, block-based layout that displays all your work clearly. This is ideal for linking to sites or blogs where you’ve been published. If you have samples but no published work, you can upload your work to Google Docs and then link to the samples on Contently.

Next, set up a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is hands-down the most important social networking profile to have as a freelance writer. It allows you to connect with other writers, approach prospects, and join groups. Fill out as much of your profile as you can. The most important sections are your headline and summary. Your headline is your first impression on LinkedIn, so make it eye-catching. Your summary is where people will go next, so make sure it’s compelling and describes your abilities well. Finally, add your skills and education history as well.

Now it’s time to make some connections. While there are no easy ways to do this, one of the best methods is to frequent forums or online communities (like Quora and Reddit) in your niche. Contribute to the discussion and slowly build relationships. This will take some time, but it’s a particularly effective long-term strategy.

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24 Jun

Understanding Elixir’s Ecto Querying DSL: The Basics

This article will take a look at the basics of querying with Ecto, a domain-specific language (DSL) for writing queries and interacting with databases in Elixir. This will involve going through joins, associations, aggregation functions, and so on.

A basic knowledge of Elixir is assumed, and knowing the fundamentals of Ecto beforehand will help too.

Ectoing Application

All of the examples in this article series can be run against my demonstrative Ectoing application. I highly encourage you to set this up (as described below) and run all of the queries as you read along. This will help to solidify your understanding by playing around with the examples to see what works and what doesn't work.

Let's quickly set up the application:

git clone https://github.com/tpunt/ectoing
cd ectoing
mix deps.get # don't forget to update the credentials in config/config.exs
mix ecto.create
mix ecto.migrate # populate the database with some dummy data
mix run priv/repo/seeds.exs

(I've chosen to use MySQL for this. The examples throughout this article should work uniformly across all supported databases, so whilst the Mariaex dependency could be switched out to use another database, I would advise against this. This is because some examples in the next article will contain MySQL-dependent code.)

The database structure is as follows:

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24 Jun

OkHttp, the Android HTTP Client from Square

Most apps need network connections to external services to access and exchange data. This is typically through REST APIs and an HTTP client in your app. OKHttp is an Android HTTP client library from square that reduces the steps needed, and means you c...
24 Jun

PHP School (Learn PHP Through Command Line Workshops)

The following is a guest post by Aydin Hassan, who is going to introduce to you a really compelling way to learn PHP. I'm sure all of us get asked by our less experienced acquaintances "how do I get started with X?" or even "what book should I buy?" Books can be great, but given the choice, learning code by actually coding in an interactive environment will do you better.

Whilst attending a local meet-up last year in Nottingham, …

PHP School (Learn PHP Through Command Line Workshops) is a post from CSS-Tricks

24 Jun

How to Ask Good Coding Questions That Get Great Answers

I see my fair share of poorly-asked technical questions. Zell Liew's advice:

The onus is on you to craft questions that others can understand and reply quickly.

Reminds me of two excellent sentences by Pamela Marie:

Golden rule asking a question: imagine trying to answer it

Golden rule in answering: imagine getting your answer

@pwnela #MadPlusRuby

— Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier) August 21, 2015

And also: Reduced Test Cases

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How to Ask Good Coding Questions That Get Great Answers is a post from CSS-Tricks

24 Jun

Web Development Reading List #142: Contextual Identities, Form Hints, And ApplePay.js


Today will be a day in history regardless of what happens over the next weeks. The majority of people in the UK voted to leave the EU, and this made clear once again that many people in our society think the current situation is no longer acceptable. Unfortunately, we think blaming those people is the solution, but, as we see, it isn’t. Instead, we should focus on teaching people about the root causes of problems, and we should retain from posting everything right away.

In other news, I’m back from vacation to bring you new articles to read. And I realized one thing: While mountaineering holds real risks and dangers, working on websites mostly does not. Of course, the security of our websites should be a top priority, but even if we fail, if a website is down for a few minutes, if we screwed up the layout on some devices, you won’t be dead. We have the opportunity to improve our work by making mistakes and fixing them.

The post Web Development Reading List #142: Contextual Identities, Form Hints, And ApplePay.js appeared first on Smashing Magazine.