If you’re renting an apartment or buying a new home, you’ll probably be asked to provide proof of your income. In some cases, the same goes when starting a new service or opening a line of credit. Before I had health insurance, I even had to provide proof of my income every time I needed to get a doctor to sign for a renewed prescription.
Freelancers can’t exactly present a pay stub, though, making what should be routine paperwork much harder. The fact that the situation isn’t all that common for most of the people you’ll be dealing with just complicates matters more. When you tell an apartment manager that you don’t receive a pay stub, it’s very possible that he or she won’t even know what sort of paperwork can substitute for it.
But you can prepare yourself for these sorts of situations, providing the necessary information. While a customer service rep or a manager may not be able to figure out what to do with you, just by having some sort of paperwork in hand, you can often resolve the issue and move past it. Continue Reading
There are a lot of numbers about your freelance business you can probably tell me right now. You can definitely tell me your hourly rate. You can also probably tell me a rate somewhat below that hourly rate that’s the lowest you can afford to work for and still pay your bills. But you may not be able to tell me much about the numbers that businesses run on. And make no mistake, freelancing is the same exact thing as running a business — knowing these numbers make it a lot easier to grow your freelance business.
In particular, you need to have a few numbers easily to hand so that you can make decisions about how hard you need to be working on bringing in new clients and whether there’s some fat you could trim. Having the right variables on hand means that you can recognize problems or opportunities as they appear. Continue Reading
If you are new to freelancing or your idea of bookkeeping is a pile of paper scraps that you keep jammed in the back of your desk, then Rockable Press’s latest book, Finance for Freelancers, will make for valuable reading.
The truth of the matter is, most of us could care less when it comes to the questions of finance in our freelance business. Isn’t bookkeeping just something to put off until that sick feeling in your stomach forces you to do a marathon session of filling, itemizing, balancing, and…I think I’m going to be sick.
I mean even look at the word “bookkeeping”. It’s just begging for a hyphen and there it is just sitting there looking stupid with its double k’s. It’s just so smug.
Well, there’s good news on the horizon! You no longer have to be a bookkeeping bigot like myself. Author Martha Retallick is here to save your bacon with a little Finance 101 in her book: Finance for Freelancers. This book is designed to help introduce new freelancers to the wide world of managing your business’ money. And for those dragging their heels, the book will deliver a swift kick in the freelance derrière.
Truth be told, a lot of creative freelancers don’t like to deal with the financial side of their businesses. This aversion to accounting can lead to bills stacking up, checking accounts going unbalanced, invoices not being sent, and clients not paying.
Martha goes step by step through the basics on setting up your business with a solid accounting foundation. From bookkeeping to picking out an accountant, the book will give you a great introduction to some of the things you should be thinking about, and the areas you’re going to want to address so that you don’t find yourself buried under a mountain of paperwork, or even worse, a mountain of debt. Continue Reading
I have worked with plenty of freelance consultants over the last couple decades, and it is fair to say that perhaps the majority of them started out working for someone else.
For example, most of the training consultants I work with (my target market) served as training staff in medium to larger companies before going out on their own. They drew on the skills they developed and the knowledge they acquired working for someone else to develop products and services for their own freelance businesses.
That often meant that their consulting work was more or less a reincarnation of their previous work. Oh, certainly, running their own business was very different in many ways, but they tended to work with the same kinds of people or businesses, to do the same kinds of work, as they did before going solo.
Often, after a few years in business, they became dissatisfied with their new lives. Consulting just wasn’t as much fun as they expected. The smartest of these figured out what was wrong, and made adjustments, and now they are reaping the full benefit of having the courage and ability to set up their own consulting businesses. (Others, unfortunately, either grind along and live an unsatisfying business life, or give up on running their own businesses.)
What was wrong, usually, was that they took the easy path, doing what they knew in environments they were familiar with, and then measured their success only by their income. But even if you are making a good income, it is hard to keep doing work that doesn’t make you feel good.
And it doesn’t make you feel good because:
- you are working with people you don’t like,
- performing tasks you don’t enjoy,
- or under conditions that make you grumpy.
Looking explicitly at these factors and their contribution to your satisfaction with the consulting life is the first step in going after the kinds of projects and clients that you will enjoy. Continue Reading
PDF (Portable Document Format) is a pretty standard means of passing information along. As freelancers, we have many opportunities to send and receive PDFs, but as a traditionally read-only medium, it can be a bit difficult to manage edits.
This tutorial will walk you through a few of the core features of PDFpen from Smile Software that many freelancers might find most useful, including how to make changes to the text of a PDF and how to add a signature.
Part 1: Working With Text
Since invoices are such a big part of freelancing, let’s begin by make some changes to a recent invoice that I drew up.
Editing and Correcting Text
The first thing I notice after creating my invoice is that some of the wording in my greeting at the bottom is not quite the way I want it. We traditionally think of PDFs as read-only files. But it is possible to make edits to a PDF, and PDFpen makes that easy to do. In order to change the greeting at the bottom, chose the text-select tool from the toolbar and highlight the text in the PDF as you would in any other document.
As a freelancer, one of the biggest constraints is that you have to do everything yourself. Partnering with someone else can help you get another set of hands on a project, if not directly improve your bottom line.
There are many different types of partnerships that a freelancer can build, depending on her own strengths and weaknesses. Before you start hunting for a partner, it’s worth considering what areas for improvement you see in your freelancing career — if there’s something that you know your clients would love if you offered or if there’s a particular opportunity that you need help taking on. Those considerations should be what you use to focus your search for a partner.
Unless there’s a specific reason to move faster, don’t push too fast to land a partner: do some due diligence and make sure you know exactly who you’re working with. You can build something that will be beneficial to both yourself and your partner for a long time if you move a little slower and do everything right. Continue Reading
There are plenty of online solutions in today’s project management and collaboration tools segment aiming to ease freelance and distant work. The search for the one that is most suitable to you can be no less exhausting than the pursuit of your significant other.
The majority of teamwork apps have a specific focus: Do.com only for task assignment, SugarCRM for sales management, Intuit for accounting. Some well-established project management market players like 37 Signals or Zoho have a whole bunch of tools, but each of their services is intended for separate deployment.
Nevertheless, in the dynamic online world with tons of information to process daily “all in one” solutions seem to be more and more tempting. When saving time and resources is a priority, either dictated by your client or freelance needs, you will definitely address apps where most of the tasks can be fulfilled centrally in one service or portal.
To help you make up your mind on what is the online project collaboration tool for your freelance business, this post will cover the most versatile and well-reputed services, while taking into account a series of important factors including:
- Intuitive Interface – speaking about “all in one” solutions, it’s of vital importance to grasp how everything works from the first minutes and without reading a heap of guides.
- Comprehensive feature-set – for a freelancer to get hold of the maximum functionality, a virtual office can provide, it should combine tools on task management, forum or instant messaging, file sharing, calendar, CRM and invoicing.
- Accessibility – cutting edge technologies have given way to cloud apps easily reached from any location in the world with only an internet connection needed.
- Data Synching and Integration – no matter how many features a service boasts, it’s always handy when it can be easily integrated with other useful or popular apps to provide more opportunities for working in one and the same workspace without additional installs or tab switching.
- Customization – any collaboration or project management service should be ready to serve the needs of a variety of professional spheres and the more customization options it can provide the better for users.
- Affordability – cost effectiveness is everything. Some apps stick to the freemium model, giving away a part of functionality for free, meanwhile the majority will allow you only a free trial, with the flexible pricing options offered according to the number of users and amount of storage space used.
Certifications are not just for the employed because they can be equally beneficial for those that are self-employed, such as freelancers.
The benefits of getting a certification can include enhanced knowledge, more clients, more authority in the field, and more income.
Some creatives do not have certifications available to them, but it is very much an option for programmers, IT professionals, web developers, and graphic designers.
Certifications are generally not required by most clients, but some of them will prefer to hire certified professionals because they view them as being more qualified, higher skilled, and more reliable. Here are some of the most useful credentials for freelancers to pursue. Continue Reading
In the course of your freelance business you may be asked to do a concept presentation for your more complex projects. A concept presentation is a pre-development or planning phase where you show your client a prototype or draft of what you’re going to deliver.
If you’re a freelance web designer, a design concept presentation is often referred to as a “mockup.” If you’re a freelance writer, it’s often two or three pages of copy and layout work, or an annotated outline of a planned article or report.
A concept presentation is where you present your development work and decide a particular direction before launching into full-work mode. There are three distinct stages of a concept presentation and you can excel in each of them.
Freelancers have the most unusual type of obstacles when it comes to getting their clients to pay them. Beyond customers going M.I.A. or claiming they forgot, sometimes freelancers find clients refusing payment because they are unsatisfied with the work or not sure if it’s what they wanted. Yet, the work was done, so you deserve to be paid. End of story.
As a freelancer, you need to take proper and effective precautions to make sure you don’t find yourself in a position where a customer is paying you late or not even paying you at all. Continue Reading
Do you wish you had more freelance gigs? One way to get more work in your pipeline is by collaborating with other freelancers and creative agencies that might hire you when they’re overloaded.
Networking to grow your rolodex of freelance contacts can help you line up subcontracting assignments.
I’ve had several gigs that involved subcontracting — I’ve been a subcontracting writer for an agency that had a Fortune 500 client, I’ve split big projects with other freelance writers, and I’ve served as project contractor and paid subcontracting writers I hired. So I’ve seen this setup from all sides.
Subcontracting work out allows you to take on bigger projects than you could otherwise tackle alone. For instance, I had a large government-agency writing project I once split with a writer because the tight deadline wouldn’t allow a single writer to complete all the needed research and interviews.
If I hadn’t been able to find another qualified writer in my local market to share one recent freelance project, I would have had to pass on an assignment that netted me over $6,000. Hopefully that little example whets your appetite for the earning potential you can unlock by collaborating with other freelancers.
Now that I have your attention, let me say not all subcontracting arrangements are created equal. You will fare better if you ask some key questions before you sign on, either to be a subcontractor or to subcontract some of your own work out to other freelancers. Continue Reading