Technology is a vital part of any successful freelancer’s career. Learning about all of the different tech you will encounter and use may seem intimidating, but knowledge is power!
Familiarizing yourself with a few key concepts will help you run your freelance business more efficiently and with confidence.
Technology is a vital part of any successful freelancer’s career.
As a freelancer, you may need to connect to a client’s network (and you will almost certainly need to do some basic networking in your home office).
There are two main network models, peer-to-peer and client/server. In peer-to-peer models, devices connect directly to each other to share information (for example, you may have a home network to connect your printer to your computer and smart phone). In the client/server model, devices (or clients) are connected through a server.
Generally, in a home office you would use a peer-to-peer network, but clients may need you to connect to their client/server networks. A basic understanding of how they work is useful.
Some networking terminology to know:
- IP Address: The Internet Protocol Address is a unique set of numbers that identifies a network device.
- Server and Client: A server is a specialized computer that manages the shared resources of a client/server network. It generally has more memory and resources than the clients on the network. A client is a computer on a network that requests resources from another computer on the same network. In the case of a client/server network, this request would go to the server.
- Firewall: A firewall is a security system that controls incoming and outgoing traffic on the network. It is a barrier between the network and other untrusted networks, and operates on a set of rules about what kinds of data and data requests are allowed. Firewalls are significant because they prevent malicious access to the data on the server.
- LAN and WAN: A LAN, or local area network, connects devices across a relatively small geographical area. A WAN, or wide area network, connects multiple LANs across a wider geographical space.
If you have a website, keeping it updated is an important part of your success as a freelancer for a few reasons. First of all, search engines like Google favor sites with newer content in order to make search results more relevant.
It also ensures you are accurately represented for what you currently offer rather than what you did when the website was created.
There are several key functionalities that a you should strongly consider when creating or updating your website, listed below:
- Domain Name – a memorable domain name will help visitors recall the web address easily.
- Format – the webpage should be designed with readability and good organization kept in mind.
- Simple Navigation – all areas of the website should be simple to navigate to and not hidden several clicks deep. Most visitors prefer easy navigation.
- Search Functionality – as a website becomes larger, a search function should be added to assist users in finding the content they seek. Ideally, filtering would also be included to help users find information most relevant to them.
- Readability – the color scheme should make the text easier to read rather than being irritating or difficult to read. This is important because it can help the user enjoy the site while they look for information and won’t drive them to a different site that is more readable.
- Browser Continuity – the website should work with as many browsers as possible, whether they are up to date or not. This is important so that users are not led to believe the website is broken if their browser is out of date/not supported.
- Speed of Load Time – as many factors as possible should be optimized to speed up the site, such as image size or third party connections, to avoid frustrating users with a long wait.
- Mobility and Responsive Design – instead of having two different websites for mobile and desktop users, a responsive design adapts to the platform a user visits from naturally.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – the usage of alt tags on images, metatags on sites, and meta descriptions for each page helps a search engine like Google get the end user to the page they’re looking for quickly.
- Organized Forms – forms should only ask the questions relevant to the user to promote quick completion. This is important because most users prefer to finish with a form quickly.
- Form Validation – forms should assist users in inputting the correct information by only accepting input of the correct type and notifying users of any errors.
Information security is vital to freelancers. Sensitive information is generally stored digitally and needs to be protected. Two information security practices that would benefit any freelancer with digital systems are as follows:
- Regularly delete sensitive information that has little to no future use. An example of this would be deleting the financial information of a one-time client.
- Restrict access to sensitive information. Implementing strong password protection on computers, networks, and online storage mediums is a huge part of keeping the sensitive information you store about your clients and yourself secure.
Gaining a basic understanding of the concepts above will help you confidently navigate the technological aspects of your freelancing career. While it may seem daunting, a little bit of effort put into implementing these concepts will help you appear more professional and knowledgeable to clients and keep your information more secure.