Vonage

Totally free land line calls and a saving on your current line rental.

This is a great offer if you use a traditional land line phone and also want to make free local and international calls.

Vonage is an internet phone company which sends all your calls digitally over the Internet. To use their service, you just need a broadband Internet connection.

It is very simple to use. You sign up with them and they send you a small box which you plug into your broadband connection. You then plug your land line phone into the Vonage box and that's it.

Pick up your phone, make a call and instead of it going down a phone line provided by BT or Virgin or whoever you currently use, it goes down your broadband connection, through the Internet and connects to whoever you are calling at the other end. You would never know - your caller will never know. The call quality is very good and it is free.

 

Advantages


You don’t need a phone line from a traditional telecom provider, so immediately save the £16.00 per month you are paying for that.

You don’t pay for calls in the UK, so save on that, too.

They have a number of monthly and annual plans with items you can add for extra felxibility.

The basic 'Entry' plan costs £7.00 per month giving you free UK calls plus UK mobiles cost 8p/min. The next price plan includes unlimited calls to the US, Canada, China, Hong Kong & Singapore then they have one with unlimited calls to 68 countries!! Plans go up to around £24.00 per month so there is something for everyone.

If that wasn’t enough, there are a shed load of features which are part of the package, including caller ID, so you can see who is calling before you answer, call waiting, diversion to another number as well as an online answering machine so you can retrieve your messages from any phone or via their web page.  They also have message to email so if someone leaves you a voice message it will type it up and email it to you.  


One other, curious, little feature is that you can travel with your Vonage connection and still receive your calls as though you were at home.  Unplug your Vonage box, plug it back into any broadband connection anywhere in the world and when someone rings you at home, the phone rings where you are!!  Ideal for the international traveling artist!

The small print

Vonage charge you an activation fee and postage to deliver your Vonage box but offer a risk-free 30-day trial with a no-hassle money back guarantee and make it clear that...”If for any reason you wish to cancel your service within 30 days of purchase, we'll refund your money with no questions asked.”

Get more details here: www.vonage.co.uk

giffgaff

If you want some of the cheapest mobile call charges in the UK market you should certainly consider giffgaff  a ‘sort of’ digital co-op run by its members which focuses on service and economy.

They keep their prices down by not having shops to maintain, not having call centers and, curiously, not having their own network.    

They run on the 02 service, using its coverage and infrastructure but remain independent.  This isn’t unusual as services such as Virgin, ASDA and Tesco mobile all run on networks provided by the big mobile companies.

So, how does it work, what do you get and is it worth changing over to?

giffgaff provides keen pricing on pay-as-you-go (PAYG) calls and monthly rolling contracts, so the first benefit is that you are not tied into a long contract.

The second benefit is that their prices are very competitive.  Their PAYG prices are some of the best on the market with cross network UK calls costing 10p per min, texts 6p and Internet access for 20p per day (up to 20MB).  You can top up anytime online with a credit or debit card and they keep you well informed about how much credit you have by sending a text after each call (which you can switch off if they drive you mad).

You can make even more savings by purchasing one of their monthly packages called ‘Goody Bags’.  For the really occasional user their £5.00 package gives you 60 UK mins, 300 UK texts, 20MB of data and free giffgaff calls and texts to other giffgaff users.  This is to use their G3 service but they also have similar Goody Bags for G4 services, Blackberry and just data.

If you need more minutes, and use the web on your phone a lot, they have a £10.00 package with 500 mins unlimited texts and 1GB Internet. 

They have other optios (Goddy Bags) valued at £7.50, £12.00, £15.00, and £18.00 as well as those data only sims aimed at tablet users.

With all of the goody bags you also receive free giffgaff to giffgaff calls and texts as long as you continue to top up.  Interestingly, free 0800 calls are actually free!  Not many networks give you that.
 

USING GIFFGAFF

To take advantage of these keen prices and packages you simply order a sim card, set up a free online account, activate your sim, top up with a debit or credit card and pop the sim into an unlocked phone.

This means you can keep the phone you love but take advantage of better pricing and no long contracts.  Their site offers lots of advice on how to unlock phones, your current network can do it for you (sometimes for a fee) or you can use one of the high street unlockers.

Recently they began selling unlocked phones themselves so you can buy an entire package, pay for your phone monthly over 24 months (they provide credit) and add a goody bag of your choice.
 

KEEP YOUR NUMBER

You can even keep your current mobile phone number.  Simply call your current network and ask them for a PAC code.  By law they have to give you this without question. They last for 30 days and you then pop that into an online form at giffgaff and they move you mobile number over to their service.
 

COMMUNITY

giffgaff keeps its costs down by using their community of customers to answer questions and give advice online.  A clever idea which means you don’t have to hang on the phone for ages waiting for a call center to try and work out your problem.

People who help with this sort of advice are paid with ‘PayBack’ points which they can exchange, twice a year, for cash, call credit or donate to charity.  
 

YOUR REWARD

Apart from great call charges, if you sign up to giffgaff, activate your sim, top up and then recommend a friend, who does the same, you get £5.00 call credit on your account, and they get £5.00 credit too. After this first one every person who joins the service on your recommendation, and tops up ( you can even order extra sims to hand out), you receive 500 PayBack points.
 

TESTING TESTING

We tested giffgaff for a month and were very impressed.  The new sim was delivered very quickly, activation was fast and simple, topping up online with a card was easy, call quality is very good (you can always check coverage on their site to make sure it works in your area), the online account is informative and easy to navigate, community help is, erm.....,  "helpful" and, very nicely, they send you an email each month analysing your usage and suggesting if you could save money by using another package or PAYG.

There is an element of ‘creativity’ and quirkiness which appeals in a market full of bloated, boring and unhelpful mobile phone networks.  How much are you paying?

Order a free sim herewww.giffgaff.com

Mailchimp

Mailchimp - is an e-mail newsletter service with attitude and - we really like this - a Monkey which tells you jokes when you log in!  Apart from the frivolity, they offer an exceptional service full of flexibility.  You can afford to be quirky when you are so good at what you do!

Their free service allows you to send up to 12,000 e-mails to a list of up to 2,000 people a month. For most of us this is more than enough. Their system is easy to set up, intuitive, helpful and very ‘graphic’.

They will manage your e-mail lists for you, make sure addresses are removed if people no longer want to hear from you (a legal requirement), and offer powerful tracking. You can find out who opened your e-mail, how often, what they clicked on in the message and where they are in the world.

Of particular interest to visually creative folk is the ability to include images and graphics in your e-mails. Mailchimp has a selection of readymade templates which you can drop your images and text into, or you can design your own.We have been using Mailchimp for a few years now, for one of our other projects, sending out monthly newsletters to participants, and have found it fast, simple and very effective. So much so that when we were looking at who we should use to manage the WeLikeArtists.com mailing list, we chose Mailchimp.  So, if you have not signed up for our free newsletter which we send out now and again when we find brilliant savings or add new sections to the site, do it now and see, in a live situation, how it works for you as a subscriber.

Sign up to our newsletter here. If, for any reason, your list grows beyond the 2,000 e-mail limit, Mailchimp offer reasonable paid monthly packages with unlimited sending limits or an economical Pay-as-you-go version, a little like buying credit for your mobile phone. You prepay and then use your ‘credits’ as and when you need them.

For the iPad crowd there is a free application which allows people to add their email address to your list themselves.  Great if you are at an exhibition or conference and want to add people 'on the fly'.

www.mailchimp.com

 

YMLP

YMLP - Your Mailing List Provider is an online service which offers free management of your mailing lists.

You can have up to 1,000 contacts in your list and use any one of their 30 e-mail templates to start designing your newsletters or mail shots.  They offer a host of features in the free version but don’t allow tracking of who clicked on links in your e-mails.  

If you need this - it is often interesting to see who is opening your e-mails and on which parts they are clicking - then go for MailChimp which limits you to 500 subscribers but offers advanced tracking and a monkey.

We have used YMLP on one of our projects and found them very simple to use, flexible and reliable. They do what they say and offer reasonable facilities. If you have a large list, then they are a good service to consider.

They also offer two paid versions at £2.65 and £3.50 per month, which probably isn’t going to break the bank if you are serious about managing your mailing lists. Each, naturally, offers a little more than the free version and includes unlimited contacts and advanced tracing.

www.ymlp.com

Professional Web address

How to set up Web forwarding*

If you have your own website, it is likely that your professional domain name is already connected to that site but, if you are just starting out, and have set up a free website, online portfolio or blog, the address you have been given may well be so long and complicated that no one will be able to remember it, let alone type it into a web browser without making a mistake.

It would be much more professional (and simpler for your visitors) if they had a short and simple address to remember. Here you can use your new professional domain name.

Let's say you registered the domain name www.fredbloggs.co.uk and you have just set up a website at one of the free sites such as Yola.com.  Your new (free) web address might be http://mygreatnewsiteonline.yolosite.com - not particularly memorable or professional. It would be better if it was www.fredbloggs.co.uk.

HOW TO DO IT

Log into your Heart Internet account and select the “Manage Domain Names” icon.

Click on “Web Forwarding”. You now have two options: “Configure Automatic Redirect” and “Configure Framed Redirect”. Each does the same thing differently.

For a more professional image, select the “Configure Framed Redirect” option.

In the empty box after the ‘http://’ fill in your full website address. In our example, this would be "mygreatnewsiteonline.yolosite.com".

Add your name in the “Title bar text” box so that it appears at the top of each browser window.

You can then add a short “meta tag” description which is used by some search engines and displayed when they show you their search results.

The "keywords” section allows you to add words you think people might search for when looking for you on the Internet. These might be: your name, city, creative discipline, media, etc and will sometimes help search engines catalogue your site.

Click on the “Update Now” button and that’s it. It may take up to 24 hours for everything to become active so, after this time, type your professional web address into any web browser and see if it redirects to your chosen site.

ADVANTAGES

One great advantage of all this is that you can keep swapping your web redirection if you change your website provider or set up a new online portfolio or blog. It means that you don’t have to keep telling people you have a new site, they all know www.fredbloggs.co.uk and that will always redirect to the site you want them to see.


*Although this help page is based on setting up web forwarding with a domain name registered at Heart Internet, the process is very similar with other domain companies, so just adapt the information here or search your chosen company’s help section for advice specific to them.


Image by Liftarn (User created) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Published in Guides

Professional e-mail address

Be professional - set up your own e-mail address

This is a very simple and economical way to look professional and save you time in the future* 

Having your own www address (Internet domain name), has two remarkable advantages: It allows you to have a professional, personalised e-mail address AND can be used for the address of your website if you set one up in the future.  You don’t have to do both at the same time - the website can be set up later.  What’s more, a www domain name is simple to use, economical and can be set up in minutes.

THE BACKGROUND

Let's say you already have an e-mail address with Hotmail. This is convenient because it is free and you can access your mail from any computer. You know how it works and have been using it for ages.

The problem is all the good names have already gone. Your free address might be This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Great for your mates, but completely the wrong image for a professional artist.

It says "free account" to everyone who sees it.

THE PROFESSIONAL SOLUTION

Register your own Internet domain name at www.heartinternet.co.uk (which we think offers the cheapest deal on the Internet) and then set it up to act as your professional e-mail address.

Let's say your name is Fred Bloggs. 

Register the domain name: www.fredbloggs.co.uk which you then own. You can then set up an e-mail address such as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and have all your messages, which are sent to this address, redirected to any e-mail account you choose. You just pick up your mail as you always did. The ‘redirection’ works in the background.

HOW TO SET UP E-MAIL FORWARDING*

Log into your Heart Internet account and select the “Manage Domain Names” icon.

Click on “Catchall E-mail Forwarding” and, in the box under "Destination E-mail address" add the address you want all your e-mail to be delivered to (for example, you current Hotmail account).

Click on the “Update Now” button at the bottom of the page and  that’s it.

In about an hour (it can take that long for it to permeate the system), all e-mails sent to your professional address will be delivered into your Hotmail account, where you can pick it up as normal.

THE BIG ADVANTAGE

If, for any reason, you change your Hotmail account to another provider (such as Yahoo or Gmail), just repeat this process and change the address to your new e-mail account. You can do this as often as you need and the best part of this is that you NEVER have to tell people you changed your address as they all have your professional address and never know it gets redirected.

This means you can, for example, include your professional address on business cards or other print items and the information never goes out of date because you can always redirect your mail to any address you use at the time. This can save you a fortune in time by not having to write to all your contacts to tell them you changed address!

NEXT STEP

If you have a website or online portfolio, have a look at our Web Forwarding advice which shows you how to connect your professional domain name to your site.


*Although this help page is based on setting up e-mail forwarding with a domain name registered at Heart Internet, the process is very similar with other domain companies, so just adapt the information here or search your chosen company’s help section for advice specific to them.

  • Published in Guides

How Rude are You?

Email Etiquett

Quite frankly, we don’t often think about it as we dash off another rapid reply to clear the email inbox. But how are people perceiving you online when they receive your email messages? How rude are you?

I mention this only because of a recent incident where I received an email from someone which didn’t leave me with a very professional opinion of them. I sent a group message to a list of creatives who are taking part in an event I’m coordinating. It was a simple request to send a 100 word text about themselves to show to people who might like to talk to them at the event.

Within an hour I received a reply with a 100 word text. No greeting, no signature, no niceties, just the text. I left my computer thinking how unfriendly this was. Small-minded of me, I know, and a little ‘picky’ but it did seem rude.

When I came back to think about it a few days later, I realised what an impact this less than professional reply had on my perception of the person who sent it. Someone I don’t know particularly well so can’t guess their frame of mind.

OK, I expect that they were busy, had a lot on their plate and just wanted to get the reply sent to get it off their “to do” list, but the result is that the next time I need to employ someone for a creative event, and there are two similar people who can do the job, I’m going to favour the other one. Life is too short to work with people who appear unprofessional and less than friendly.

So, here are our top 5 tips for email Etiquette when you don’t know the person particularly well. They might just help make sure you are the one who gets considered next time an opportunity comes up. They do seem obvious (very obvious) and simplistic, but there are people out there damaging their reputation by getting it wrong.

  • 1, Always include a greeting (Hi there..., Dear..., Hello...)
  • 2, Always include a parting comment (Thanks again for getting in touch...) and then your name.
  • 3, Don’t type in CAPITALS, it looks like you are shouting. 
See this article on the BBC news website about a New Zealand woman who lost her job after sending e-mails filled with block capitals!
  • 4, Keep it short. Readers are as busy as you and don’t want to read a short story.
  • 5, If you are angry with the person you are emailing - leave it for a day before you send it so you can ‘cool down’. I speak from experience!!


And just in case you need more advice, type “Email Etiquette” into your favourite search engine. There is a great deal of detailed information out there.

Oh - and remember emails are not private - don’t write things that you wouldn’t write on paper!

 

  • Published in Advice
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