Like many web designers and social media addicts, I spend a exuberant amount of time on my computer. I usually tell people “if you want to get in touch with me- skip the phone and email me instead.” After all, talking on the phone requires that I stop doing whatever it is that I am doing and focus on the phone. Even if I can put a person on speaker, it is sometimes too cumbersome to use and you often lose sound quality.
Now, unlike most people, I don’t have a cell-phone. Actually, my husband and I share a cell-phone. I work from home so spending a lot of money on a mobile phone seems silly when my home phone is cheap, contract-free, and has the best quality service around. The thing is that I need a business line- a way of allowing clients to get in touch with me without giving out my home number on business cards or on the net.
Enter Skype. I have been using Skype for years. I started back in 1999 and used it to discuss web design with Sarah, who worked on several projects for me when I was learning the ins and outs of web design. We lived miles apart and were broke but we needed to communicate. Skype allowed us to call other Skype members for free- so it was perfect. Now that I have my own design and consulting business and often need to speak with clients, I have a business number with Skype. For $26.95 paid every 3 months, I get:
- Unlimited calls anywhere in the world and calls to Mexico at discounted rates
- a Skype-to- Go number (a local number that I can use to call abroad from a land-line or mobile phone. I am charged for a local call which is unlimited in my Optimum phone plan rather than an international call.)
- a discounted online number which I use as my business line
So, since I am always encouraging my friends and business contacts to use Skype, I thought I should provide my recommendations for getting the most out of it:
- First and foremost sign up. Choose a user name that reflects the level of professionalism that you need. I am Leaderladyk (a name that has stuck with me from my years as a project manager).
- Decide if you want Skype for Business. While Skype is free, you can pay for unlimited calls to landlines on a monthly basis. This is great if you want to be able to call people from the web without them having your home or cell number (precautions are good).
- Get a headset (with a mic and headphones). I prefer USB headphones over wireless or mini-jacks. This way I can use them with any computer. I recommend that you buy a good set too because I tried to skimp and went through 3 headsets in 4 months. Many computers come with mics, but the background noise is annoying. A headset combats that.
- Get a good quality web cam if you plan on doing video conferencing. I have only ever used Logitech cameras. Most recently I am using a Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 that I received to review from MomSelect. This is a USB camera and I use it both on my desktop and on my laptop.
- Once you have everything that you need and you have installed the necessary software, play around with it. Call your friends. Adjust your voice and web cam settings, and store your contact numbers before using it for business calls.
The best part about Skype is that once you input your information it is available no matter what computer you use. As long as Skype is installed on the computer, you will have access to everything. Let me know if you have any questions and I will talk about more specific uses for Skype at a later date.