Friday, February 20, 2009

Firefox and Misspellings

If you have issues with spelling, or you just want to make sure you don't have any, Firefox is likely the best browser ever because of its built-in spell checker. I'm not afraid to admit that I have a few spelling issues. Ok, I'm a little afraid because I actually make a living writing things for people. But, no matter how bad your issues with spelling are, no one ever has to know if you have the right tools on your side.

With a combination of Word and Firefox, none of my misspellings ever see the light of day. No one would ever find out how often I misspell things because I use both all of the time without fail. Well, thy might find out if I spilled it on my blog or something. Oops.

Anyway, one of the things that I do regularly is to go through my Firefox dictionary additions to make sure that I haven't accidentally added misspellings to it. Surprisingly, this is a common occurrence that many people are guilty of. I discovered one recently because I usually cross-check anything I've written by checking it in both Firefox and Word. That ensures that if Word is being weird, Firefox will catch it. And if something was added to Firefox by accident, Word will catch it. Here's a detailed explanation of how to do this. It's pretty simple to do, and if you use Firefox, you might be surprised at what you find.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Freelancing and Insurance

One of the troubles with freelancing in the U.S. is the insurance situation. I know a lot of Web writers who rely on their spouse's insurance to cover them, and I have periodically been able to do this. But since mine was laid off earlier this month, that insurance will run out at the end of February. If you're a freelancer who is unsure about the insurance situation, I wrote an article about finding insurance recently that sums up some of the companies that I have used.

That article was written only four days ago but there has already been a change that can affect a freelancer's choice of insurance. A new bill was signed two days ago that allows anyone laid off recently, going all the way back to September of 2008, to have the government pay 65 percent of their COBRA payments for nine months. Our COBRA payment was going to be over $900 a month, so I was about to sign up for a family plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield when the bill was passed. The subsidized coverage sounds great, and I was quite excited to hear that we could actually keep our policy after all. Unfortunately, there are problems.

The first problem is that no one will discuss it with me yet because it doesn't go into effect until March 1st, and no one is dealing with it until it does. Coincidentally, that is the same day that our insurance lapses. So, employers have 60 days after that date to send information out to laid off workers about the program.

So, during that 60 days, are we covered? Do we have to pay the full premiums? Will we be reimbursed if we do? What if we wait until we get the information to sign up and have to go to the doctor before the program is available to us? Will we be covered retroactively? The insurance companies aren't sure. The employers aren't sure. I don't know that even the government is sure. So far there are zero answers about any of it and I'm getting nervous. I don't want to be without insurance for even a day and I sure as heck am not chancing it for the two months that employers have to send out the materials.

If you're a freelancer waiting for COBRA coverage or looking for short-term coverage while you're looking for a job, I recommend Blue Cross Blue Shield's temporary policy. They have short term policies for up to three months that are dirt cheap. I'm going to sign up for a month of that coverage just to make sure I'm covered while the powers that be mill around and decide what they're going to do about the whole COBRA situation.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

News and Bacon

I haven't been around Ye Olde Blogge in awhile, but anyone who reads it may forgive me when they hear my so-sad tale of woe. Actually, I'm not all that sad about it and I don't really have any woe. Sorry. My spouse was laid off since last I posted and I have had to keep us all afloat with my freelance writing.

I've been earning a good percentage of the family's income for a year now, and before that I was earning most of it. Unfortunately, spouse works in an industry that is no longer what it once was in this country and this is not the first time there's been a layoff. I don't think I expected it this time, though, even with the bad economy. But, a freelancer must press on. If you are freelance writing and don't think you could pull it off, you might be surprised by what is possible. Here's what I did as soon as I heard the word "layoff" (redundancy, for my Brit friends):

I bought a very tiny vacuum. Now I can giggle as I vacuum my desk with its retro hideousness. No kidding. First thing.

I made a layoff budget to keep things we can't live without (Netflix!) and to get rid of things that we can (McDonald's).

I figured out exactly how much that I need to earn per day in order to meet that goal. I usually work seven days a week anyway and I already had a daily goal of what I had to make before in order to meet bills, pay off debts and buy stuff we want. The new daily goal is more than double the old one, but it's still doable.

I figured out what the most lucrative gigs are that I have been doing lately and started concentrating on those more than my millions of side projects. That has increased my income and I'm really not working many more hours than I did before.

I started adding bacon to random websites to amuse myself.

If you're a freelancer and are fearing the economy, it is possible to keep going online and to earn a respectable income. Business on the Web is actually increasing, according to the latest figures. I have heard that PPC rates have gone down a little, but people are buying online, setting up websites and hiring writers just like they did before. I suspect that the Web content business is staying afloat because as people lose their jobs they are attempting to set up businesses online to replace their income.