6 Lessons Super Mario Can Teach You about Freelancing

Posted by Harshad

6 Lessons Super Mario Can Teach You about Freelancing

6 Lessons Super Mario Can Teach You about Freelancing

Posted: 27 Jun 2013 08:01 AM PDT

I got my first video gaming system from my uncle, who ironically thought that playing games was a huge waste of time. Reading books was always deemed a ‘better use of my time’ than making Mario run about saving princesses in the wrong castles. Back then, it was about making excuses to get more time to spend on the game than on homework but looking back now, I found that it was a real good game that had a lot more to offer than just a jam-packed afternoon for a kid.


I’ve come to discover that Super Mario has taught me 6 lessons to do with freelancing, good and bad. You may think that I am kidding now, but read on, until the end and see if you agree with me.

1. Shortcuts in Freelancing?

In Super Mario, at the end of some stages, there are warp pipes. These warp pipes are shortcuts to reach the final stage faster and skip a few of the stages in-between. However, unlike Super Mario, in freelancing there are no ‘warp pipes’ that allow you to slide over and skip some fundamental stages.

mario shortcuts

It may feel hard to resist the urge of earning money fast, wanting and always making room only for high-paying clients, while ditching the other clients ‘who cannot afford me‘. But skipping the basics is a terrible plan. Each and every stage is a part of your journey, and there is no Pass Go and collect $2 million.

Supercharge Your Skills

It takes hard work to go through all the processes, and this is the key to success, one that lasts. You can work on joining mentoring programs, online coaching, reading tons of books, etc, it is fine. However, these can’t be considered shortcuts; they are only forms of supercharging the way of learning the skills you need to attain success.

2. Find More Ways To Grow

During his adventure in the mushroom kingdom, Mario can only grow by taking mushrooms. This poses some limitations, as you can obviously figure out. If along the way he doesn’t find any of these items to help him grow bigger, odds are he’s going to lose a life real fast.

Don’t be like Mario and depend on only one way to grow… your income. In other words, don’t put all your mushrooms in one basket or rely solely on one client’s mushrooms.

Mushrooming Your Business

To achieve freelance freedom you should be able to find ways of diversifying your income. It is extremely important to create multiple streams for your income growth. You can focus in providing your freelance services to regular clients, so that even if some clients decide to ditch your services, your business is still stable enough to continue.

3. Searching For Invisible Money

In the world of Super Mario, a player can find hidden treasure in bricks, or behind bricks with questions marks on them. To get to these hidden coins, Mario has to break a lot of bricks with his head, or search in secret places for a treasure trove of coins.

The lesson learned here is that the real money isn’t displayed out in the open aka √•on ads.Freelancers consistently apply for work that is only displayed on marks like online job ads. You can land a good-paying gig in these places, however, generally, the real money is not there.

Looking For The Gold Mine

Like in Super Mario, these secret places are hidden, to hunt the treasure you should search for them and sometimes you need to find new approaches to get the golden mine you are craving. Work smart, contact reputable companies, market your business strategically and build a strong online presence. You will then be more likely to grab the attention of clients who are holding the treasure.

4. Tackle Obstacles As They Come

Throughout Super Mario’s journey you will notice that he encounters various obstacles, challenges and enemies. There are certain occasions where a ladder support is needed to proceed to the next stage. In other instances, he must jump a big flame and grab onto a flag pole or battle a dragon. These obstacles are what make the game and the journey fun!

Know The Obstacles To Deal With

Like in Super Mario, your freelance journey is made of obstacles as well. And it would be good for you to know how to get past them.

Finding clients, health problems, procrastination, deadlines, financial issues, distractions, confidence, fear, and uncertainty are among a variety of enemies and challenges you will face throughout your freelancing journey. Knowing how to deal with them is essential to keep your business afloat.

5. Adapt To Changes

While venturing through the mushroom kingdom you will notice that there are certain stages where the environment drastically changes. You move from a plain landscape to going deep underwater or high above in the clouds where a single misstep means certain death, battling different troops of enemies. This is where your adapting skills come into play.

Adapt To Survive

Each gig is different from another gig – the rewards aren’t the same and neither are the procedures. Similar to Super Mario, as a freelancer, you will constantly be working (and battling) in different environments.

Being able to deal with different types of clients and projects will save your freelancing career. Some clients are easy to work with (dream clients) and others are aggressive, arrogant and picky. Being able to identify them will allow you to find which approach you should take to handle them and their projects, effectively.

6. The Game Is Never (Really) Over

There is always a reset button for any game. You can literally reset when your game is over and get another chance to save the princess. Freelance is a game as well. We are the players on it. And in every game, there are winners and losers. Countless reasons can lead players to failure but none of them can be responsible for any decision to give up.

Of course, there is no reset button to delete all the past experiences you have gone through in your freelance journey. In real life, the reset button allows you to re-evaluate the factors that caused you to fail. You can then implement new approaches to achieve success. Remember: Never give up, you may lose the game but if you never give up, you haven’t lost the battle.


A New Way Of Thinking About White Space

Posted: 27 Jun 2013 06:01 AM PDT

Ask any Web designer, and they’ll tell you about their personal views on white space. Scores of minimalism-loving designers have utilized it extensively in their Web design content. “Less is more,” they might insist, having been trained to eliminate everything that doesn’t immediately and purposefully add to the user experience.

(Image Source)

Behind the scenes as well, white space dominates as a design philosophy, with clean, elegant code being the holy grail for a functional Web design. I’ve noticed, however, that there are some designers out there who don’t truly understand what white space actually is, much less how to interpret it in non-obvious ways to get the most out of the concept.

The What And Why of White Space

Early modernist painters were masters of white space, using the media of pencil and paint on canvas to elevate one essential idea, eliminating all else as unnecessary. If you look at the sketches of artists like Miró, Kandinsky, Mondrian, and especially Picasso, you will see that economy of form is often a key feature in their work.

White space as a desirable feature in Western design (as opposed to just empty space to fill up with ornament or type) came into its own in the early part of the 20th century, at the height of modernism. Artists and designers of the Bauhaus school in Germany united under the modernist idea of minimalism and had a profound effect on much of the art and design produced thereafter, continuing to influence creative professionals to this day.

(Image Source)

The West has embraced this feature of minimalist art and design quite strongly in the last century or so, but it’s definitely worth noting that Eastern art and design – particularly the art and architecture of East Asia – has been exploring the concept for hundreds of years.

Late Apple mastermind Steve Jobs was heavily influenced by both the German Bauhaus aesthetic and the simplified forms and copious amounts of white space used by the Japanese.

Is White Space White?

White space is simply, in my opinion, the absence of active design elements. Many people, when they hear the words “white space,” assume that white space has to literally be a.) white, and b.) a space.

In fundamentalist terms, that’s true; however, most of the time you can take a more figurative interpretation and still create a “white space” in the form of a non-active area.

For example, a blurred photo used as the background image on a Website would, in this looser definition, be considered “white space,” even though it’s neither white nor space. However, it’s not an active part of the site’s functionality – it doesn’t demand anything of the user.

(Image Source)

You can rest your eyes while looking off to the side at this blurry image, and it will have a similar effect on your brain as a pure white box.

Reducing Back To White Space

Communication is the fundamental goal of any design. When you work through the design process, you are determining how best to speak to your audience. Frivolous details that simply get in the way don’t help with this main goal of communication. There’s an inherent challenge in the design profession to always be thinking of how to do more with less.

Add Item, Reduce Space

But as humans, our natural inclination is to fill up empty space with clutter.

Think of a messy garage, or a room in your home that’s been needing a good dose of spring cleaning for some years now. When you first moved into your house, that room was empty and pristine. You didn’t have to create space – it was already there. Through the process of everyday living, you actually reduced the amount of space you had in that room. The same thing can happen to a design if we aren’t careful.

White space, then, isn’t something you start out with in a design. It’s something that must be created, or “reduced,” from what you’ve put up on your screen. It must be discovered, like a juicy clue in a detective novel, coaxed out of hiding to shine and fill your viewer’s heads with the majesty of zen-like peace.

Seeking White Space

In the culinary world, a reduction is the liquid (usually thick and syrupy) that’s left over after a chef puts a bunch of ingredients in a pot and lets it simmer for hours and hours. I find it helpful to think of design white space as following a similar process. It’s like discovering a delicious gravy or sauce on my computer screen, after “simmering” many different design ingredients together – for hours and hours.

Okay, maybe I’m a tiny bit in love with the concept of white space, but the bottom line is that white space almost never just “happens.” As designers, we have to purposely decide to find it.

Drawing A Blank

One of the most helpful ways to develop your “white space muscle” is to keep a sketchbook. I know, I know, you don’t draw that well, and what if someone accidentally sees one of your horrific doodles? Relax; it’s okay. Sketching, in a design context, is simply a way to harness the full power of brainstorming.

Brainstorming by physically drawing out possible solutions is, in my opinion, the secret to reducing down your designs, just like a chef or an amateur sleuth. Personally, I like to answer questions in the form of sketches. Such as “what would happen if I took this color out?” Or “would I get a better result if I eliminated that type family altogether?” The answer, by the way, to most “should I remove this” questions is usually “yes.”

It’s interesting to see that, the more you draw, the more you can actually reduce clutter in your designs. How many times did Picasso have to put pencil to paper before he was able to achieve the perfect balance between representation and abstraction? I’m no Picasso biographer, but my mathematical estimate would have to be “a heck of a lot of times.”

(Image Source)

Going Back To Functions

The students of the original Bauhaus embraced minimalist concepts like white space not only in their work, but also as part of their mindset. Bauhaus founder, architect Walter Gropius, helped pioneer the now standard “form follows function” philosophy in modern architecture and design, mainly from the observation that there is beauty in the simple functionality of an object.

This is not to say that there is never a need for ornament. Sometimes you just have to break out the floral patterns or pretty navigation buttons. But learning to see and appreciate the basic function of something is as much a learnable skill as fancy illustrations or UI features.

In Conclusion

White space is more of a concept than a hard and fast rule. To reiterate, it’s merely the non-active space in a design, and the psychological calming effect that it has on the viewer. There are no set guidelines. Use your best judgement, experiment profusely, and develop your own relationship to white space.


Backup Your Skype Chat & Audio Conversations Online With Simkl

Posted: 27 Jun 2013 03:01 AM PDT

Skype is one of the more famous messengers and online meeting tools. It saves your conversation history in your computer but to read it, you would need to download a file viewer or read it from the Skype messenger itself.

If however, you are not on your computer and want to check up on your Skype chat history what can you do? Check this out.

intro image

Simkl is a free Windows desktop tool which helps you save your Skype calls and messages. You can save it to your computer or to Simkl cloud storage so that, even when your computer loses the data, you still have a copy of it in the Cloud.

Here’s how to set it up.

Getting Started

To save your Skype conversation with Simkl, first browse over to Simkl and download it.

click on download

It will ask you to login to your account. You can either sign up using your Facebook account or you can create a new account.

sign up for account

After creating an account it will ask you to choose the instant messenger you want to save your chat histories from. Set the time zone to your time zone here as well.

choose skype and set time zone

Install the desktop tool on your computer. Run Skype. Allow Skimkl to use Skype.

allow access to simkl

Now, if you make any calls on your Skype, there will be a notification telling you that your conversation is currently being recorded.

call is being recorded

View Recordings

To view your call recording, right-click on Simkl and click on ‘Open folder with call recordings’. You will find all of your audio recordings in that folder.

how to view calls folder

For text conversation, you can find the saved conversation on your Skype messenger or in the Simkl Cloud storage. Right click on Simkl and click on ‘View History Online’.

Do note that for both calls and text history, the ones that will be saved by Simkl are conversations that happen after you start using Simkl.

view history online

On the Simkl website, you can see on the right column all your Skype contacts. Just click on anyone of the contacts and it will open the chat history on the left.

view chat history

And on the website, you can also view your call recordings.

audio history

Simkl is always running in the background of your computer system so, anytime you hit the call button or have a text conversation, it will record and save it.


The Simkl Cloud storage for call recordings is only free for 7 days and Simkl does not provide suport for other cloud storage that you might already be using.

To keep using, you will need to pay a monthly subscription fee that gets cheaper the more months you subscribe to.



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