So you wanted to become a Freelancer. That’s great! You’re one step closer to more personal freedom and a job you actually enjoy. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind – things I found important to consider when I began freelancing. Of course there are many more, so feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section.
Your finances are the most important issue to consider when starting out. You’re probably used to getting a pay-check by the end of the week/month/year. Not having that is what many people are afraid of when embarking on their freelancing career. Luckily, you will get used to this pretty quickly. You just have to approach your finances differently. The most important thing is to always have enough money in your bank account to allow you to live for the next couple of months, even when it seems the work is rolling in.
Taxes are an important part of accounting that many overlook in the early days. It’s tempting to spend all the money you get, but it’s important to keep in mind that someday the tax office will want its part of your income.
In order to avoid being trapped in the pitfalls of your tax system, I highly recommend getting an accountant. It’s generally not too expensive and allows you to focus on what you’re good at. At the beginning of every month I collect my bills, drop them off at my accountant’s and wait for her to tell me how much I have to transfer to the tax office.
However, it is possible to take care of your finances without the help of an accountant. If you have the time to spend on your accounts (and a mind that bends well to these things) you can have a far greater control and insight into your financial situation. The most important thing is to be realistic – if you know you’re not the accounting type, get an accountant straight away. Hiring an accountant at the beginning of your freelancing career will be far less expensive in the long run than fines from the tax department and hiring someone to sort out your abysmal records.
Can you believe the calendar is about to tick over to June? Months seem to be getting faster, as if time is in a hurry to get somewhere. Well with another month gone it’s nice to know that FreelanceSwitch is still growing with every passing week. After doing a little Google search, I think we can safely say that you’ve helped make the ‘Switch the biggest freelancing blog around! So thank you to all our authors, our visitors and most importantly our readers – you! So on with some FreelanceSwitch news:
Text Link Adverts
First of all in my efforts to look after the business-side of the site, we have now added Text-Link-Ads to the site. What you probably already know about TLA is that if you sign up you can get yourself a $100 worth of free ads with their starter kit – here’s our listing. What you probably don’t know and certainly I didn’t know until I got an email this morning is that one of our readers designed the TLA banners! Long live freelancers!
Job Postings Free for 31 More Days
For anyone wanting to post freelance job ads, don’t forget our board is still free but only for 31 more days, so get in there now! Having said that I can promise the job board is going to stay pretty cheap (though admittedly not free), as we realise that for most people looking for a freelancer the idea of paying what might amount to a significant portion of the job just to find someone to do the job doesn’t make much sense.
Much as we love the little guys here on FreelanceSwitch, they are being replaced with new custom illustrations. The current set have been based on stock illustrations from the always useful iStockPhoto and have brought us a long way, but unfortunately are open to other people leveraging our brand. Fortunately this means we get to hire a very talented freelancer named Scotty who has already crafted our first FSw character and is now busy making up the team!
So in any case, thanks for helping us make May such a big month. As always we have plenty on our plate for next month including those forums and resource directory that I’m yet to finish (yikes!), more mini sites like the rate calculator we recently put up, lots of product reviews from our new product reviewer Dickie, and wallpapers featuring our new characters. And because I think we’re going to hit 10,000 subscribers this month, we can launch the freelancer survey which I’m very excited about but which will probably be way more work than I’m imagining
If you’ve written for a print publication, you’ve had the bittersweet experience of submitting a story and having your headline written for you. It’s great, because another human being has to go through the agonizing experience of writing the perfect headline for your story. It’s also horrible, because this little baby that you’ve nursed and cradled and nurtured to perfection is now turned over to a perfect stranger, who for all you know will mangle it with a clunky humdrummer.
But as a blog writer, you no longer have the luxury of writing brilliant, untouchable prose and letting someone else do the hard work of writing the headline. And as a blog writer, the half a dozen or so words of the headline just happen to be the most important half a dozen words you will write.
Time for a roundup of useful links from across this beast we call the world wide web:
- Chris Yeh at Sitepoint has some practical tips for The Best Practices For Freelance Business. It covers those necessary but unromantic things like salaries and retirement that the average freelancer avoids thinking about!
- I don’t know about you but I always avoided thinking about my finances (or saving) with the excuse that because my cashflow was so varied from month to month that I couldn’t budget effectively. True, it is harder to budget without a regular paycheck but it is possible. I’ll write a post on that soon, but in the meantime read 7 Ways To Take Charge of Your Finances In 2007 at Get Rich Slowly.
- Copyblogger has a great article entitled Do Your Metaphors Rock? Highly recommended reading for writers, and entertaining reading for everyone else.
- It is becoming harder and harder to avoid Skype. I uninstalled it after a week of getting nothing done and vowed to avoid it at all costs. However, recently a lot business contacts have been asking for my Skype address, leading to the decision that next week I will again give in and see if I am disciplined enough to still get anything done. Last 100 has recently conducted a poll to see if Skype could replace their landline for business calls.
- And finally, Some Design Tips For A Productive Home Office over at the always fantastic Lifehack.
If you have a useful link or article that you think FreelanceSwitch readers would be interested in, Send It In!
In a quest to find the ultimate way to get yourself fired we’re running a competition for all you FreelanceSwitch readers. To get you thinking here are five to get you started courtesy of thePhatPhree.com’s list of 50 plus nine extras that I came up with this afternoon!
1. The Auctioneer (From PhatPhree)
Sell office items on ebay. “Hey Mr. Jones, I need your chair. Some guy in Boston bought it for 85 bucks… You believe that? Don’t worry; I’ll cut you in. How’s 80/20 sound? It’s only fair since I did the all work.”
2. The Worm (From PhatPhree)
Store live bait in the refrigerator with a price tag. When confronted, ask how much they want. Then when they insist you remove it, deny having put it there, and get angry at the implication.
3. The Material Girl (From PhatPhree)
Tape the paper cones from the water cooler onto your chest and sing “Material Girl” at the top of your lungs into a stapler. Refuse to stop.
By Leo Babauta
If you’re like me — and if you’re a freelancer, you’re probably like this — you procrastinate on your assignment because, well, you just don’t feel like doing it right now. There are tons of reasons why: it’s an intimidating project, you’re not sure how to start, or simple inertia stops you from getting started.
A solution that works every time: break the job into smaller bits, and do those bits in bursts.
That may sound obvious, but not many people put this to optimal use. Too often they procrastinate because they’re stuck with a daunting task on their to-do list. If that’s you, try these 10 productive tips:
Granularize. Got a project? Just put the very next physical action on your to-do list, not everything on the list. Is that task still too intimidating? Break it down even further. For example, instead of writing a whole article, write the intro. Or do an outline. Instead of doing a whole graphic design, just do a sketch. Or start by brainstorming. Or searching the web for ideas (don’t get lost on the web).
One of the most important things to take into account when calculating your hourly rate are the plain old numbers of hours, costs and profits. And to help you do this, we’ve built a simple calculator tool to play with. It takes about 5-20 minutes to complete depending on how much attention you give each calculation and is a useful tool for working out a starting point to base your rate on.
Remember your hourly rate should always take into account factors like market demand, industry standards, skill level and experience – things that unfortunately we can’t put into a calculator!
Code by Errumm
Everyone who hasn’t encountered designer’s block, raise your hand. Just as I thought. Well then, chances are you could use some places to get inspiration for those days when the pixels aren’t aligned and your mouse finger isn’t clicking like it should. We’ve compiled a list, online and off to serve up everything from logos to icons to art to fashion to just inventive ideas to get your mind ticking.
So kick back and let your senses run wild as we bring you 15 websites packed full of inspiration, 10 must-have books and 9 things to do to get inspired. Continue Reading
Those are the two keys for becoming a good blog writer. Everything else is mechanics. Thus it follows that if you want to be a good blog writer, you should read blogs with good writing.
What follows is a list of 15 blogs you really should be reading if you want to be a good blog writer — at least, read them for awhile until you get the gist of their style. Read them entirely for style, not content. The information isn’t as important as how they write.
Now, before you get offended at this list, please let me note that 1) it’s not comprehensive — there are many other well written blogs out there, and I can’t possibly name all of them; 2) these aren’t necessarily the most popular blogs, although there are some very popular ones here — these are ones that have good blog writing; 3) the writing on these blogs aren’t necessarily works of art, but are great examples of how to write for this medium. The writers on these blogs understand what makes a good blog post, beyond catchiness or just good grammar.
Here they are, in no particular order:
We’ve drawn the two winners of the Color Schemer Studio contest. Drumroll please…
The winner of the best answer to the question “What’s your favourite colour and why” is Andy Martin with:
My favorite color is vermilion because it sounds like a small creature and something irresistibly delicious at the same time.
The winner of our random draw is Rhys with:
My favorite colour is R:246 G:242 B:235 because it’s the colour of my wife’s face when the sun is rising on a early Sunday morning, when we camp outside around the camp fire, about an hour NW from Captains Flat in NSW.
Yay for (Aussie!) Rhys and his wife’s face
Thank you to everyone who entered, and to Color Schemer Studio for the great prizes!