Empowering youth – the freelance way

There are multiple ways going freelance can empower young people. Whether you are looking to fill up your free time with a couple of challenging tasks or break the routine that has been dictating your life, a challenging freelance project can make for an exciting experience whose lessons could stay with you forever.

The financial benefit

I don’t blame you if when you say, see, hear or read the word “job”, the first thing you think of is “how much?” We all work to make money—at least the vast majority of people. The flexible nature of student freeancerfreelance work and the fact that most projects are short-term could lead to a freelancer being paid higher rates than those a full-timer would be receiving for doing the same exact job. Looking for freelance work might be your best option if you’re a university student looking to make some pocket money while still having some extra time to do homework, read, or go out with friends. While some worry that freelance might not be a stable prospect in the long run, a bigger number of clients—and more projects—can ensure an almost-stable flow of income. Perhaps one of the best advantages of being a freelancer is the fact that you usually don’t have too many expenses — make sure to inform the client beforehand if you need to go to the field, travel, or buy material, and make sure to make sure they will cover the expenses. Starting to make money at a young age leads to financial independence, and the latter not only liberates you, but also empowers you.

Developing skills before you hit the marketplace

Although you might choose to go exclusively freelance and never have to spend time in an office ever again, you might also decide to accept a full-time job offer at a certain point. Regardless of the professional direction you deem fit, it is crucial that you start working on acquiring and developing basic skills so that when you hit the marketplace, you do so running. Freelance work can complement your studies in a way that classes and professors can only talk about—theoretically, for the most part. Marketing yourself as the right person for the job, agreeing with clients on the terms and conditions of a task, delivering, reviewing and finding quick, effective solutions to overcome daily obstacles are all activities you would have to do on an almost-daily basis while freelancing your way through the pre-career phase of your life. More know-how and a set of social skills is bound to empower you, maybe not overnight, but most definitely somewhere down the line.

Staying ahead of the curve

Competition is fierce out there. It’s a cut-throat job hunt that could leave many scarred for life, especially if you’re one of those people who get their hopes a bit too high a bit too fast. Although you will most probably be scanning the market for entry-level positions upon graduating from university (or high school if you’re too eager), all employers will ask you to submit both a CV and a cover letter, and they usually expect neither to be blank. Being a freelancer is in many ways similar to doing an internship at home. Only difference is: you would actually be doing work! By the time you decide to apply for more senior, higher-paying positions, you would have managed to learn and achieve more than your peers of the same age.

 

Three Keys to Unlocking a Successful Freelance Career

Nabbesh Presents a Full Solution to the Challenges of Online Work

Nabbesh is proud to announce the launch of our online rating system, which is one more step in presenting a full solution to the challenges of online work.  As an online marketplace for freelancers our goal at Nabbesh is to present you with all the tools for you to lead a successful freelancing life!

Nabbesh offers you 3 key benefits to ensure that your freelance career is successful:

  1. Access to a vast network encompassing the entire MENA region
  2. A secure online payment service that makes online work safe & rewarding
  3. Ratings & feedback on your work designed to increase your future opportunities

We launched our new rating system because we want our very best freelancers and clients to shine!

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Why are ratings important?

  • Positive ratings can increase your chances of getting hired!
  • Studies show that by building a positive rating online, freelancers can increase their income by 20% in the first year as they capitalize on repeat business and enjoy charging more competitive rates.
  • Positive ratings mean, freelancers can be awarded projects quicker than their peers as it provides the client with quality assurance.
  • As Nabbesh grows, positive ratings will provide freelancers an opportunity to compete on projects on a global level, gain new skills, earn more income and increase their exposure to employers.
  • Positive ratings give the freelancers added visibility on Nabbesh as clients will be able to sort search results by ratings.

Once you complete a project through Nabbesh, you will be able to write a review of the client (and they will also be able to write a review of you).

freelancer-rating-client Once you’ve completed projects on Nabbesh, here’s how your ratings and feedback will enhance your profile and be displayed:

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How can I receive positive ratings on Nabbesh?

  • Start by completing your profile on Nabbesh. A 100% profile completion will give you added visibility in search results as well as when Nabbesh matches your profile to a project posted on Nabbesh.
  • Check all the projects listed on Nabbesh and apply to the ones where you can deliver high-quality work. It is important that you make a good impression with your first project to secure a positive rating.
  • Follow the Nabbesh application process by sending the client a proposal for the work, including your portfolio, and eventually an invoice once you have delivered the project according to the terms of the agreement.
  • Finally make sure you maintain very good customer service throughout your project so you can ask the client to give you a positive rating.

 

Announcing the Launch of Nabbesh’s Payment Services

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A message from Nabbesh Founders to all our Friends & Owls.

Nabbesh is very proud to announce the launch of our new payment services, bringing us one step closer to providing our community of nearly 30,000 freelancers all the tools you need to work your way — and get paid!  At Nabbesh, our vision is to be the preeminent platform for every independent worker and freelancer in the MENA region, providing you with a simple, easy to use, one-stop platform, to bring you more work opportunities and financial prosperity.

Our Vision: To connect every freelancer in the MENA region with a job!

When we started Nabbesh, we began with only a vision and the determination to make that vision a reality by improving the way MENA’s men, women, and youth work.  Our goal is to create a virtual marketplace for people looking to break out of the confines of outdated work models.  Technology has already revolutionized the ways we connect with friends, search for music, and now the way we search for, find, and get paid for project-based work!

One of our community members, Tariq Mehmood, was able to showcase his work to HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, all because of Nabbesh.  Nabbesh is truly a marketplace that provides unlimited exposure and merit based opportunities for our community, no matter where they live.

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Nabbesh also prides itself on listening and quickly adapting to the needs of our highly-skilled community.  In a recent study, Nabbesh found that 30% of our freelancers have had a client who never paid them!  For us, that number was too high, and we personally know the negative impact that not getting paid can have on your daily lives.  So we worked hard to provide a solution to this problem!

 Getting Paid Just Got Easier

We know that there are risks associated with working for someone across borders, or online, and we also know that not everyone can commute to an office or work in more traditional ways.  But we see the potential in you, and we have harnessed technology to make getting paid securely online simple. Our new payment system now allows you to send a work proposal, a deposit request or an invoice, while providing an escrow service, giving you more peace of mind.

What does this mean exactly?  It means that people like Ameera in Jordan can work for people like Sami in Dubai, negotiate a work proposal on Nabbesh, and Ameera can actually see the deposit that Sami makes online through Nabbesh before she even begins her work.  And with our credit card payment options and our options to receive payments through bank transfer, we have improved the way you hire, pay, and receive money for your work.  No bank account?  No problem!  Nabbesh also offers simple payments through money transfer services (i.e., Western Union).  We are taking the headache out of freelancing in this region.

Benefits of Nabbesh’s New Services:

-No need for paperwork. Send proposals, deposit requests & invoices via Nabbesh

-Transparency & convenience through secure online payments

-Freelancers can receive payments via bank or money transfer services (i.e., Western Union)

-Track project history, agreements, milestone changes, all in one place on Nabbesh

-A two way rating system which helps you build a reputation and improve your visibility

We hope you like the new and improved Nabbesh!  Work your way and try it today!

Loulou Khazen Baz & Rima Al Sheikh

8 Practical Tips for MENA Freelance Journalists to Keep Business Rolling

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Today’s blog post comes from Ahmed Medien who specializes in online publishing, blog writing and social media marketing. Ahmed has experienced freelancing first-hand after he left his writer job at Tunisia Live (Tunisia’s leading news website) in January 2012. He has tried it all and has failed on several occasions, but has acquired, in the meantime, a lot practical knowledge about the profession. He also had the chance to meet other freelance journalists from everywhere in the region. 
 

If you are a freelance journalist in MENA, then worry no more. There is tons of work for you and a lot of opportunities to become a fully-established reporter in your area. The Arab Spring has brought a lot of change and dynamics to the region. And, most importantly, the world is still hooked to our news. The demand is virtually high, and you are the supplier.

Here are 8 useful tips to become the next legitimate source on Middle Eastern affairs.

The purpose of this post is to help freelance journalists position themselves both financially and professionally in the MENA media industry, and also improve your status as a freelance journalist.

1) Know your priorities

It is important to establish some priorities before getting into journalism. Journalism is a very demanding job. It can be both frustrating and exhausting if you don’t prepare or, as I call it, strategize enough for the job. Your career might not even pick up if you are not sure what you are trying to accomplish with this new job.

Therefore, it is useful to ask yourself some of these relevant questions before starting writing, filming, photographing, etc.: How many hours will you allocate to this new job? Is it going to be your main job? Are you mentally prepared to follow news around the clock in different countries and languages? Do you have the necessary technical skills to make it on top of the market? Are you ready to do it without pay?

Basically, you want to know where you are headed with this profession when you decide to take a stab at it.

2) Make the right investments

The word investments, here, could be interpreted literally and loosely as it could a more expensive phone plan, a tablet, your own website, a better camera, a better sound recorder, a video/sound editing software – you name it.

Basically, you want to make sure that you’ll be using your time and strategic location more efficiently through these assets to help you make the most of your experience as a journalist.

Internet on the go or a mobile device will help you stay connected with people and actions wherever you go if mobility is part of your reporting activity. A better camera will help you deliver better quality photos that will sell more in the market or attract more clients.

3) Get online

This is beyond obvious. It is the most efficient way to interact with your community, larger community, and also engage your audience with the kind of journalistic content that you produce.

4) Seek out an internship

Just like any other profession, you will need job credentials in journalism in order to be taken seriously by other publishers. Therefore, whether you live in a small or bigger city, try to find any media outlet that is hiring a new member in their team. This could be paid or unpaid, but it is really up to you to establish your priorities and must’s in your new career.

Preferably, you want to choose a media organization that focuses on your topics of interests be it a specific city or country, a “region”, foreign affairs, culture, etc. When you do start this new job, you want to absolutely make sure that your organization is completely onboard with staff writing or producing for other outlets. Otherwise, abstain, because it is not professional.

You will also need to quantify your experience at this new job so that you can display it nicely in numbers on your CV/portfolio. For example: I have worked x hours a week. I wrote x many articles with x thousands in unique views and social media shares. I covered x political/cultural/social demonstration events on the ground. I produced multimedia content (video, photos, sound bites) for my organization, etc.

5) Build up a portfolio

Do not limit yourself to your CV. Portfolios can make a difference when a media outlet is hiring a freelancer in the region. Your employer wants to look easily and quickly through your proven publishing, photographing or video experience and a portfolio is the best fit platform for that.

This is why you do also want to make an online portfolio. One of the most famous free portfolio hosts are Carbonmade.com. If you do believe that you even need your own website with more content to yourself, then you may also want to try breezie.com. It allows you a more aesthetic web presence that potential employers can scroll through easily.

6) Take initiative

You have got to take the initiative and go cover breaking news or any other interest of yours even if you don’t have any client yet on the line. You could always find people who would be interested in your work later. This really depends on your ability to market yourself and present your work, but that wouldn’t happen at all if you don’t have the necessary content.

Even if nobody reaches out to you personally and ask you to write or produce any media piece about a particular event, you can literally go to knock on other editors’ doors. Ask them if they would be interested to have this or that. Be creative and authentic with your coverage. This might or might not work. But, you will get some interesting contacts that you will keep for future uses and dates.

7) Narrow your breadth of coverage

This is something to keep in mind as long as you’re doing journalism. You do not want to be the kind of person who does everything. Editors will not take you seriously if you present yourself with a minimal experience – let’s say – and an alleged expertise in 10 different topics. You have got to pick one or two or three depending on what your experience is.

If you are Palestinian and have grown in the West Bank or Gaza, then you might know about the subject legitimately more than other fellow MENA freelancers. Topic expertise could be anything such as Arab Spring, war, Hezbollah, Palestine, business in the Gulf, culture, human rights, Iran, etc.

8) Pay

Pay is perhaps the trickiest subject among the other aforementioned tips. Excessive pay demands or expectations might draw some employers off especially that there are also many competitors in the media industry in MENA. Typical pay for more renowned international media organizations is often in the xxx dollars, but beware that these media companies do also know their way around the region as much as you do. Do not think of robbing anybody off. Never.

It’s hard to determine how much you should ask for pay i.e. your profit margin, as it really depends on your line of coverage, technical skills and experience. Therefore, it is best recommended to talk to peers and try to assess quantitatively and qualitatively the work expected to finish the job.

You have to send out the message clearly enough, though, at the beginning that you are expecting to be paid. You should keep some kind of leverage so that you can guarantee that you won’t be robbed off. However, in case you do agree to waive your rights to a fair compensation of your efforts, please make sure that you will commit your employer into health insurance if you know that you will be risking your life or any other legal liability of that sort.

 Did you like Ahmed’s tips? Follow him at @ahmedmedien or know more about his skills on Nabbesh 

Freelance Jobs in Over 100 Middle Eastern Cities on Nabbesh

Nabbesh has launched in June 2012 in Dubai and ever since we have been working really hard to cultivate the freelance movement in the region and be the platform that empowers freelancers to showcase their skills, gain exposure and connect with clients. Whilst many of you may think that we are a job site catering to the UAE, the truth is we have grown a lot since our launch to become the “go to” marketplace for professional service providers or freelancers in the region and we wanted our community to know about that.

 

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Looking through the 2,000+ freelance projects that have been posted on Nabbesh since the beginning of the 2013, we are proud to assure freelancers everywhere in the Middle East – there’s an employer out there who needs YOU.  So far we have had jobs from employers in over 100 Cities in the Middle East & North Africa, and even some from the US and Europe. How’s that?

Month on month, over 300 jobs are posted from various cities. Aside from the UAE, the majority of freelance gigs on Nabbesh are originating from Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. We are also proud to have an increasing number of jobs from Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. A recent survey done by Nabbesh in September 2013 highlighted that 35% of employers registered on Nabbesh are open to hire freelancers residing in a geographic location different to their own, this truly emphasises Nabbesh’s unique position to be the regional marketplace where people connect & sell their services.

If you are a freelancer or a supporter of the freelance movement, and if you want to help talent in the Middle East find work opportunities, then we have a modest request! Please share this post on the interwebs to spread the word so we can build a vibrant regional marketplace and create more wealth to our Nabbesh community.

Freelance Designer in Dubai – What is it really like?

We wanted to give you a peek inside the life of an expat freelancer in the UAE. Danny Ammounah is the CEO and Creative Director of The Design Hat, he is originally from the UK and has settled in the UAE since the 90’s.He started his own agency after working as a designer with agencies such as Fitch and retail art pioneers Gallery One for over 5 years.  And his guest post tells you why he took the plunge and how has his life changed as a freelancer. 

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Every freelancer has his own history that led him to his true passion, which then turned into a dream job. This is a little insight into my brief experiences as a self-employed web and graphic designer. The life of a freelancer might seem somewhat idealistic, but in reality its hard work and your work ethic, and your willpower needs to remain strong in order to ultimately succeed. Prior to becoming self-employed I had a pretty regular working lifestyle. I worked all day 9 till 6, came home and usually had more work to do then. This was my life for a good five and a half years. Working for some of the largest design agencies in the UAE, this was an important time and life experience for me as it taught me the basic fundamentals of which I rely so heavily on today.

However, it started to get a little tiring and I saw freelancing as a way of easing up this hectic work schedule and starting a new chapter in my career. I mean why not? I had gathered all the necessary skills and know how over the years, why shouldn’t I take a slice of the cake? The thought of running my own business really excited me but also posed a great challenge as well. Not only would I need to do the actual design work, but there’s also the need to manage the finances, prepare the proposals, find the clients & also get those deals sealed. This is a lot to take on when you are used to having multiple resources and man power available to help collaborate on a project. Now it was just going to be me. It’s a frightening thought but as I found out it’s all about time management and adapting strong organisational skills to your everyday routine. In a way, I find this is the most enjoyable aspect of freelancing.

Being self-employed I have a strong responsibility to ensure that each piece of work I undertake is completed on time. How I manage that time is entirely up to me. If I want to leave my desk and got to the pool, I can. If that means making up the time by working into the early hours, that’s fine. As long as the deadline is clearly set, completed and delivered by then, who is to argue? Mostly, I have been trying to stick to a fairly standard 9 till 6 routine, mainly so that my life doesn’t completely go out of sync with others around me. The freedom to choose when and how much work I do is a fantastic feeling and that’s what really sold this gig to me.

However…

There is one minor downside that I have noticed. Freelancing can usher you into quite a lonely everyday working environment. Generally I’m very happy with my business and don’t get fed up easily, but being on your own Sunday – Thursday can start to test your ability to maintain sanity. To help alleviate this, I often head out to my local coffee shop or business hub and treat this like my mobile office. This a great way to meet other freelancers, take meetings and a puts you in a more creative and buzzing environment than that of your bedroom. One of the greatest surprises when I decided to go freelance was the fantastic support I received. Before I decided to go freelance, I did take the time to asses my options and really examine if this really was the correct move for me. I wasn’t sure at first and it’s never easy leaving a secure working environment for something somewhat unknown and usually risky. But after I took the plunge and the support I received through family, friends, emails and work referrals, I was in no doubt it was the correct decision for me.

If you can relate to Danny’s story, connect with him on twitter, or hire him as a freelance graphic designer via Nabbesh

How I Stumbled Into Freelancing as a Résumé Stylist

We are interested in learning about how people choose the freelance journey. This is a guest post by Yvette Ali who is currently a Résumé Stylist by night and homemaker and part-time student by day. Her exhaustive career spans over a period of 20 years in everything from sales, marketing, management, operations to small business. Originally from the United States Virgin Islands, she has worked and served clients both in the USA and the UAE. 

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After years of working the 9 to 5 lifestyle, I felt stifled. At day’s end, there did not seem like much room for creativity left in the corporate world. Rumors of company cutbacks pushed me to start thinking what if I lost my job? That in addition to the fact that I needed some extra cash to pay for my college classes pushed me to a brown study mode where I began to identify my marketable skill-sets. I had done a few résumés for my colleagues and students with great reviews and feedback – until one day someone offered to pay me to do theirs. Hence, my ah-ha moment!

I began on a small-scale and grew my clientele base over time via word-of-mouth and eventually social media. Although, this has never been a full-time gig for me, it has allowed me to work whenever I need to and make some extra income. There have been times, I’ve had to turn clients away. But I did not become a great resume-writer overnight, which is my key takeaway here: you must maintain a solid grasp of the latest developments in your area of expertise and focus on selling or marketing one skill that you have truly mastered. Clients looking for freelancers do not want a jack of all trades.

My advice to those who want to become freelancers is to take a close look at all of your current skills and interests to see if any of them can be turned into a freelancing career. This can be just about anything you’re really good at, have good knowledge of, and most importantly really enjoy doing. The possibilities are endless and can run from copywriting, business writing, and audio production to catering, cartooning, researching, social media virtual assistant, photography, proofreading, language translation, medical transcription, tutoring, voice-overs and dog training. The potentials are well worth looking into. Best of all, it’s a business you can run out of your own home right from your kitchen table, although I highly recommend establishing a home office free of distraction. You can establish your own hours and take it to any level you desire! Most  importantly, pursue a path that you REALLY are good at, otherwise you will find yourself pushed outside the door by your more qualified peers.

 

Interested in connecting to Yvette? You can reach her on twitter or via Nabbesh

Nabbesh freelancers! Here are 5 tips to land a job via Nabbesh.

We have recently been on a hiring spree to grow the Nabbesh team by recruiting expert freelancers from across the Middle East to work on specific tasks or even manage certain business areas.

Our needs range from technology related jobs, to data analysis tasks to business development and community management! So of course we put Nabbesh to the test!

We were not able to fill all the positions yet, however we thought we’d share with you our top 5 tips to land a job via Nabbesh. Quite frankly, these tips are built into our selection criteria!

1 – Be professional

No matter how friendly or casual a job description may seem, make sure your application is professional. Do not use jokes, caps, shorthand or inappropriate language. Before you submit your application, make sure it is free of typos or major grammatical errors; it can be a turn off for employers. Make sure you spell the employer or the company’s name correctly. If English is not your first language then clearly mention it in your application in order to set the expectations, employers will respect you for that.

2 – Read the job description

There is nothing more off-putting to employers than someone responding in a generic way for a specific job description. For example “I am interested” or “I can do the job” which can signal to the employer that you did not make any effort to address his or her needs. Take the time to read the job post, understand the requirements and address them in your application. Highlight key strengths that you may have in relation to the job like relevant industry or market experience, refer to your skills listed on your Nabbesh profile page as well as highlight your portfolio on Nabbesh.

3 – Be specific in your application

Employers have a short attention span and they quickly scan for relevant information with respect to their job post. Be brief, make sure you get the employer’s attention but not necessarily tell them your life story. Do not by any shape or form copy and paste your CV into the job application as this will certainly lead to your application being ignored. From our experience, CVs are secondary to how you phrase your job application and how you convince the employer that you are the person for the job!

4 – Show your enthusiasm

It is quite nice when you end your application with comforting notes like how much you would love to work for the employer, that you are willing to provide the employer with additional information if needed, that you are available to start immediately and that this is an opportunity that you wouldn’t want to miss! Flattery goes a long way.

5- Follow up

Employers may be busy and may forget to respond, or they may have several applicants that they are interviewing or several proposals to go through. If you follow the above tips, we are almost 100% sure that you will get a response. In case you don’t, it is always beneficial to drop the employer a gentle reminder mentioning that you are looking forward to hear from them and always offer additional information if needed to further emphasize why you are perfect for the job!

We wish you good luck! And we are still taking applications for the jobs on Nabbesh. To apply please visit http://www.nabbesh.com/careers

How to Keep Up Your Morale as a Freelance Writer

This is a Guest Post by  Anne John, a software engineer who switched careers to follow her passion for the written word. Currently she works as a web content manager with an online women’s magazine and moonlights as a freelance writer and editor. 

Anne John

Freelancing comes with many perks such as the ability to choose your work assignments and work flexibility. However, it has its downside as well. A common problem that most newbie freelancer writers face is keeping up your morale as you kick-start your freelance writing career. Trust me, I’ve been there. As a beginner, you haven’t built up a strong portfolio yet and with every pitch you send out, your hopes go soaring, only to fizzle out a week later. Rejection is hard to face and we freelance writers voluntarily expose ourselves to rejection over and over again. One of the hardest things to do when starting out as a freelance writer is keeping up your morale in the face of continuous disappointments. Here are 3 tips that helped me keep my chin up – and will hopefully help you too:

 

1. Learn to feel good about yourself: Although it is very difficult to believe in yourself when you keep getting rejection letters from editors, it is also exactly the time to give yourself some love. I save every good comment or appreciative feedback that I ever got for my writing. It could be from family, friends or total strangers. It could be on one of your published articles or even on your blog. Build a database of all the positive comments that your writing has ever garnered – you could print out the comments and save them in a folder or simply bookmark them on your computer. When you are feeling particularly uncharitable towards yourself, revisit them. Surely, all those people would not be wrong about you? This will help nip negativity in the bud, cheer you up, build your confidence and restore your faith in your work.

Keep Up Your Morale
Photo credit: Jennifer (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)

 

2. Don’t take it personally: Don’t take every rejection as a personal attack on your writing skills. Perhaps, the pitch was not suited to that particular publication at that point in time or perhaps they carried a similar piece quite recently or maybe the editor simply missed seeing your mail. You have no clue and there is no need to be offended. Train yourself to let it go. If the editor gives you any explanation for turning down your pitch, view it as constructive criticism and see what you can learn from it.

 

3. Keep writing for yourself: Most freelance writers start out because of their love and passion for writing. However, we often have to alter our writing to suit the editors’ or readers’ tastes and requirements. Soon, many writers get disillusioned with the whole process and writing begins to lose its charm. To prevent this, keep writing for yourself too. Maintain a blog or a journal where you can give free reign to your pen without worrying about word limits and house style. Simply savor expressing yourself and keep the magic of writing alive. I hope these pointers will help keep your morale up on your freelance journey! All the best!

 

Don’t forget to connect with Anne via her profile on Nabbesh and follow @annejwrites on twitter.