Ariel view of the neighbourhood from the balcony of my office.
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Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), an international information technology firm has today (Oct. 3) launched its activities in Uganda which will see majority of the rural communities helped to access and use information technology facilities.
According to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the country has over five million internet users. The U.N.’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) says over 12.5% of Ugandans were using the internet in 2010, compared to neighbors Kenya and Tanzania at 25.9 and 11% respectively.
Speaking at the launch of the company’s activities at the National Information Technology Authority Uganda head offices in Kampala Tony Vetter, the company’s senior director operations said they will soon recruit young graduates from all the higher institutions of learning in Uganda to spearhead the company’s activities.
(They [graduates] will be trained to become leaders of change in their communities,” he said, adding they will introduce the importance of the internet and basic computing to everyday economic and social life.
Vetter said the training will include elements like personal awareness and confidence building, effective communications, critical thinking, action research, project management among others.
He added the company has put aside over $10million to fund the program across the East African region.
Stella Alibateese, director legal services at NITA-U welcomed the company and promised that government through The National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure (which involves connecting all major towns across the country to the internet) will support the company’s activities since information technology is the way to go for any country in the world.
Information technologies can be applied in various socio-economic activities like agriculture, education, health, trade and commerce among others to achieve economic growth and development.
DOT is headquartered in Canada but has operations in most countries across the world.
Want to make money as a Blogger? – Here is how!
I am a blogger. I love to write and connect with people in a more personal way; which is why I blog. I am not good at it: but I am willing to learn. Creating a brand is one thing that we writers and bloggers seldom think about. But it is important. In this day and age where New Media consumers are on the rise, one needs to create a Brand that they are loyal to, but also one that will help identify them.
I came across interesting notes by Dan Cristo on why Bloggers are broke and I thought that they would be insightful for all of us.
So allow me to share Dan Cristo’s thoughts.
Marketing. Most bloggers lack basic marketing skills (Sorry, guys, but it’s true). They’ve never built a real brand, brought a product to market, or studied the mind of a consumer. They’ve got a blog, but it isn’t making money, and now you know why. Now here’s what you can do…
Build Your Brand
Your brand is your identity. It has little to do with how capable you or your company is, and everything to do with the feeling people get when they identify you.
Take any popular musician or actor. There are thousands of kids out there with more talent than Justin Bieber, yet Justin broke through. Why? Because when teenage girls recognize Justin, they feel something. They can’t explain exactly what it is or why it’s there, they just know they’ve got BiebaFeva, and they don’t want it to stop. They’re compelled to run out and buy his music, watch his videos, go to his movies and worship him on Twitter.
The Key Is Association
I don’t buy Apple’s products because they provide the best value; I buy them because of how they make me feel. They are cool, prestigious, attractive, rebellious and fun. Not the products themselves really, but the brand that embodies the products. Through years of carefully planned advertising, product placements and packaging Apple has successfully associated their products with those feel-good attributes. When I use a Mac I feel great, and I really like feeling great.
Coke is another great example. Have you ever noticed how Coke never talks about the actual product in their commercials? They always show people enjoying life while using their product, but you never hear the voice over actually talk about the soft drink itself.
I can see it now… A young couple on roller-skates swinging in circles on a sunny day in the park enjoying a Coke. Lively music hints at a party getting started as friends dance into the scene. The 30 second spot ends with a close up of an attractive girl smiling, then a quick flash of the Coke logo against an black background. 28 seconds of positive, feel good emotions are now firmly associated with Coke’s trademark logo. Believe me, when you see that logo on store shelves, you’re going to subconsciously feel good, and now you know why.
Enter Their Soul
Don’t just understand what your customers are thinking… Enter their soul and understand what they are feeling. When we considered what the Triberr brand should be we asked ourselves, “What do bloggers want to feel more than anything else?” The answer was “power”. Bloggers get the raw end of the deal over and over.
- Their hard work is ignored by media outlets.
- Spammers take advantage of them, plastering their commenting systems with links while hackers inject malware into their site.
- Companies don’t respect them, offering them coupons and samples in a sneaky way of getting free product promotion without paying like they would any other advertiser.
- Even search engines make BILLIONS off of blogger’s content, but couldn’t care less if an algorithm update wipes a few thousand blogs off the face of the earth.
Bloggers need a source of power. Someone to help them say, “You know what, you’re not worthless. What you’re doing does matter. You don’t need to fear spammers. You don’t need to bow to Google. You don’t need to pimp your blog out for last year’s samples. Your blog CAN earn money, it CAN be successful, and it CAN change the world.” That’s not just ad copy; it’s Triberr’s mission statement almost word for word.
Everything we do at Triberr is built around empowering the blogger. It’s core to our company, and it’s made all the difference in our brand. When we launch new products, sell our gear, or hold a seminar, our members buy, wear and show up in huge numbers. They support us because we help them feel strong, confident and successful. It’s not about manipulation; it’s about aligning our values with their needs, and communicating that to all who will listen.
It’s how Justin became a celeb, how Coke beat Pepsi, and it’s why bloggers are broke, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Who are your customers? What do they want to feel? How closely is your brand aligned?
Starting October 9 this year, the commemorative sh1000 coin that was launched at the Bank of Uganda (BoU) on Friday will become legal tender, the BoU governor has said.
With a crested crane wading in water on one side to depict Uganda’s rich heritage and a court of arms on the flipside to depict the nation’s unique identity, the Jubilee coin is a spectacle to behold.
The granite-grey and golden sh1, 000 coin has officially been launched and it will become legal upon its circulation on October 9 – the exact date Uganda got her independence from Great Britain 50 years back.
“We thought of a way to commemorate Uganda’s independence Jubilee and there was no better way than to print this magnificent coin that all citizens of this country and the rest of the world can relate to,” said deputy central bank Governor, Loius Kasekende.
He made the remarks at the BoU headquarters at the launch of the Jubilee coin Friday evening.
Henry Kajura, the second deputy Prime Minister and former Governor (BoU) said the Jubilee coin is “wonderful”, an “excellent momento”.
“I will place this coin in the most vital place of my living room so that everyone that visits me can see it,” he said.
Governor Mutebile said that the new coin will circulate alongside the sh1, 000 note and will effectively be legal tender.
“A non-circulation, momento version of the coin will be made, so that citizens and foreign nationals can purchase and keep the jubilee coin as a collector’s item [souvenir],” Mutebile said.
Kajura recounted the days when he served as Governor, urging for the return to a single East African currency and the East African Currency Board that existed before 1966 when Bank of Uganda was established.
“I still hope that someday all five East African countries will have a single currency. I don’t know when, but I’m sure it will come,” he said.
He then urged the central bank to prepare for the oil economy, adding that the way in which oil cash will be handled will determine the fate of Uganda.
The first Jubilee coin was offered to His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, with subsequent coins going to Kajura, former finance minister Ezra Suruma, former Central Bank governors Leo Kibirango and Alengot and finance minister Maria Kiwanuka.
The British envoy, all five East African envoys, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corp in Uganda also received Jubilee coins.
The commemorative coin was minted by a South African mint company and so they received one coin in appreciation for the excellent work done.
If you would’ve told me when I got laid off I’d have a profitable freelance design business a mere 18 months later, I’d have laughed at your absurdity.
Heck, I may have even snorted.
Losing my job = best thing ever?
Looking back, getting laid off was the best thing that could have happened to me. It forced me to take action. I couldn’t just put in my 8 hours anymore; I had to decide where I wanted my career to go, roll up my sleeves, and take myself there.
So literally the day after I got laid off, I started looking for another full-time job. That’s right, freelancing wasn’t even in my scope of career paths. And you know what I found out?
My portfolio sucked.
After 5 years of in-house design, I wasn’t impressed, and neither were my potential employers. The majority of my printed portfolio was college pieces!
I knew I needed to ramp up my portfolio, so I took a graphic design continuing education course that promised portfolio pieces at a local art college.
It was fabulous – not only did I create neat stuff, I also learned a lot and most importantly, boosted my self esteem.
I was reminded I am a good designer, and I can create masterpieces! (If you’ve never been laid off, it’s a real kick in the ego pants.)
How you can best prepare for making the switch to freelancing
- Invest time in yourself. In what areas do you need to improve? Tackle a project that lies in one of your weaknesses. Brush up on your design techniques, bolster your self confidence, or learn the basics of business accounting through online resources, seminars, peers, and continuing education classes.
- Save. There’s no guaranteed paycheck in freelancing. While you’ve got one, bank some of it for survival while you build your client base.
- Create an awesome portfolio. Take a design class or do non-profit volunteer work. Make both print and digital portfolios – check out mine on Behance – and don’t forget to share work on Facebook, too. Think quality, not quantity.
- Change your mindset. Profitable freelancers generally need to be focused, thick-skinned, self-motivated beings.
Reunited with my mojo, I continued seeking out a new position, and I let EVERYONE know I was on the hunt: friends, family, Facebook. I joined LinkedIn and many job boards and spent a good portion of each day not only pursuing full-time leads but networking with peers.
Through networking I started acquiring freelance projects.
An old coworker with a friend in need, here.
A new LinkedIn connection with a project, there.
Within months I started to realize that I didn’t have time to work a full-time job!
How you can find clients
The most common question GDB readers ask is how to find design clients. Here are a few tips that served me well:
- Get the word out. Even your third cousin twice-removed should know. I just sent my brand new business cards to 10 of my closest family members.
- Show off your portfolio. If your non-design network is like mine, the term “graphic designer” doesn’t mean much. Once I started showing my friends and family my work, they were totally impressed…and started spreading the word.
- Network! Like Preston said,“all the talent in the world will not help you if no one knows you have it…” (click to tweet)Join LinkedIn groups, respond meaningfully in peer evaluations, go to meet-n-greets in your area. Some of your best clients may also be your competition!
By the end of the year, I realized this was for real.
Working for myself was putting food on the table and paying the bills. Wow! I didn’t even set out to be a freelancer!
However, I’d been (sort of purposely) procrastinating on some critical aspects of owning a business that I knew I needed to face. Little things, you know, like a business name, identity, goals, website, business cards, bookkeeping software, a license.
No wait, those are BIG things!
So how did I create a foundation (goals) for my business, choose an awesome business name, design a great logo, create business cards, and launch my website with a client-focused blog (oh, and enjoy a 2-week vacation) in less than 6 months?
I set aside time for what mattered to me. I know what you’re thinking – that I didn’t sleep, I’m lying, or I had no clients.
It’s true I worked long hours at times, but Preston’s book, From Passion to Profit, provided a road map and exercises to get me going quickly. And instead of playing video games (big fan) after a day of client revisions and conference calls, I sketched my logo or created website content.
Also, I hired a business consultant.
Remember why most businesses fail – because their owners don’t know how to operate a business. Not only does my business consultant prepare my tax return, he provides sage advice and wisdom backed by decades of experience. And he is awesome at QuickBooks.
How to make your freelancing business a reality
- Schedule work hours for your business. Work for your clients, then work for yourself. For example, conventional wisdom says 30% of your work time should be devoted to marketing.
- Stop making excuses. As the saying goes, “if it’s that important, you’ll make time.”
- Get some advice. Snag a copy of From Passion to Profit, scour the GDB archives, start with the 50 best GDB posts you might have missed, hire a professional, and/or find a mentor.
Staying Motivated…and Keeping the Ball Rolling
Sometimes this is the hardest part. You work hard to get established and then have no idea what new progress needs to be made.
My goals this year (not to be confused with my overall business goals) are to publish new, client-focused content on my blog at least once per week as well as a source of passive income, and find cost-effective, creative ways to increase my client pool.
To achieve this I’ve developed a marketing plan designed to encourage existing clients to refer new ones and turn one-off projects into repeat clients. I’ve also launched my website and my first blog post.
How to take your freelance business to the next level
- Set short-term goals. Yearly, quarterly, or monthly goals help you see progress and stay motivated to put your business in the best position.
- Find passive sources of income. Preston is the king of the passive incometheory, and I subscribe to it. At some point, you’ll hit a plateau where you’re doing all the work you have time for (or want to have time for) and, without charging more, can’t increase your income. Enter passive income streams.
- Stay educated. Workshops, continuing education classes, business surfing, and online tutorials are excellent ways to keep up on new trends, new software, and new techniques for not only honing your design skills but also every aspect of running your business.
What do the next 18 months look like for you?
Now could be your time! How do you make freelancing a profitable venture? What tips and tools do you use? Share your story and your opinions in the comments on this post!
This post was written exclusively for GDB by April Greer : April is a freelance graphic/web designer and owner of Greer Genius with over 10 years of industry experience. She has both design and programming skills, a rare combination of creative expertise and technical savvy. April prides herself on brilliant design and excellent customer service with a cheerful, professional personality.
To contribute a guest post to GDB, click here.
About two months ago as an Adobe Youth Educator I was thrilled by how creative young people can be when given the right tools. I was mentoring a group of 15 students using the Adobe Methodology of creating with a purpose.
Four groups were formed, And the following challenges were discussed and worked on as regards culture challeges.