The Help Files: Freelancing, Mapping, Shutting Up, & More

The Help FilesNew month, new collection of hints for making your work life more productive, no matter whether your office is a cubicle farm, your car, or even your couch. I cover everything from system tools, to freelancing, and even when to ask questions and when to shut up. I cover lots of ground, but if I don’t talk about something you want to see, sound off — I take requests.

freelance14 Years of Freelancing

Nearly everyone who must report to an office Monday through Friday dreams of chucking the 8-5 routine for the freedom freelancing. Working in one’s pajamas! A five-minute commute to the couch! Finishing that big report while chowing down on Ruffles! Okay, that last item was a bit of a porkie. I plow through bags of Ruffles while I’m in the office, working. And that’s where many people are, in the office working. Taking the plunge into freelancing isn’t for everyone, but Jake Poinier took the plunge in in 1999, which was 14 years ago, and shares what he learned.

careerpathHow to Reinvent Your Career

I am fortunate to like what I do as a technical writer, but not everyone feels as I do. After years doing the same job, some people need to figure out what they really want to do. Some people need to tweak their current jobs just a little bit. Others need to a complete change of scenery. Jennifer Parris has a few hints to help you get started.

rollingstonestongue10 Things You Should Keep to Yourself at the Office

I do my utmost to keep my mouth shut when I’m in the office. If someone wants my opinion, I’m sure they’ll ask for it. Usually, shutting up is easy for me. There are times when I impulsively open my yap to contribute, but I keep those moments to a minimum. According to Jake Wallen, there are 10 things you should definitely stay mum about in the office, so I think I’m doing the right thing.

interviewThe 3 Questions People Always Forget to Ask in an Interview

If you’re looking for a job and are lucky enough to land an interview, what do you say toward the end of the meeting and the interviewer sits back in their chair and asks if YOU have any questions. When I was young and stupid, I always said, “No.” This is same answer some unprepared job seekers give now. Fortunately, serial entrepreneur James Caan has three excellent questions for us to ask.

googlemapsHow to Use Google Maps Like a Pro

Some people never get lost. They can be dropped off in NoWheresville USA, know instantly where they are, and navigate their way easily. Other people get lost in their own living rooms. I am one of those people. I rarely know where I am. Yes, I’m that bad. Happily for me, there is Google Maps. If I am running in one of our wonderful national parks and I lose my bearings, I get out my mobile, pull up Google Maps, and find out exactly where I am. Technology Personalized takes this even further and demonstrates how to use Google Maps like an experienced navigator. I have already put their tips into action. Feeling experienced is great, especially where you’re just faking it!

invoice27 Free Invoicing Tools for Businesses on a Budget

Business of every size are on budgets that seem to get tighter all the time. Running any type of business costs time, effort, and money. Every task has a dollar amount attached to it.  Grace Smith shows us how to invoice without breaking the bank.

systemcleanerWhat is the Best Free System Cleaner for Windows?

I try to keep my old Windows XP system running as smoothly as possible. Nothing is automatic, because that costs money I don’t have. I run the free versions of SUPERAntiSpyware, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, and a handful of other utilities. Martin Brinkmann, who started the Ghacks.net technology news blog in 2005, discusses his favorite system cleaners. Several contributors share their favorites too.

Have some tips or tools to share with your fellow technical communicators and content developers?  Drop Craig a note: HelpFiles@TechWhirl.com

Craig Cardimon

Craig Cardimon wears many hats and loves all of them -- technical communicator, content curator, and freelance copywriter. In his not-so-copious spare time, he reads, writes, runs on the local trail, and watches way too much "retro" TV.

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