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Archives for January 2010

Laid Off? Out of Work? 5 Tips for Transitioning to a Career as a Freelance Writer

The American workforce is changing. Many jobs are disappearing in sectors that are not going to rebound (eg, manufacturing, newspapers). Those jobs are gone forever. While it may be a hard pill to swallow, it’s forcing many to rethink what job stability is.

I’ve been a freelance writer/editor since 1993. And while I’ve had some lean years, one of the things I’m always grateful for is that I know how to make money under my own steam. My income does not depend on any one client (one paycheck); it depends on me, my marketing savvy and my willingness to work hard.

If freelance writing intrigues you as a “recession-proof” career choice, and you find yourself looking to make the transition, following is some first-hand advice on how to do just that.

Tip #1 for Transitioning to a Freelance Writing Career: Rethink What Job Stability Means

If you find yourself laid off from a job that you thought was secure, and you haven’t been able to land another job, maybe it’s time to rethink what job stability means.

Accept the fact that gone are the days when you get with a company and retire with them. While a company can be sound financially one day, as we’ve seen over the last decade or so, things can change in a nanosecond. I mean, who thought GM would go bankrupt and have to accept government help to stay afloat.

While they seem to be bouncing back, they are doing it with a streamlined workforce. And, who knows what’s going to happen in 5, 10 or 15 years.

So tip number one for transitioning to a freelance writing career is accepting that the only job stability is the stability you give yourself.

Tip #2 for Transitioning to a Freelance Writing Career: Create Self Discipline

Many new to freelance writing – or any work from home job – say that they find it hard because there are too many distractions when working from home.

But, if you’re going to succeed in this career, you must develop self discipline. And the easiest way to do this is to create a routine — much like you would if you had to report to a job.

Get up at the same time every day, create a list of tasks to accomplish every day (in the beginning this will be marketing for freelance writing jobs), and sign off at the same time every day.

Some of the tasks you should be doing initially are getting a website up and running, creating writing samples and developing a marketing plan.

A routine will create the consistency you need to get these things done – which will lead to desired results (ie, freelance writing jobs).

Tip #3 for Transitioning to a Freelance Writing Career: Set Up a Home Office

It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can literally be a corner of your dining room table. But, having an “office” to go to goes hand in hand with creating a routine and being disciplined about work.

Tip #4 for Transitioning to a Freelance Writing Career: Set Income Goals

How much do you want/need to make? This will be different for every person. But, do set a goal; have a concrete number in mind. This is important because it’s like driving without a map. You must have an end goal in mind in order to motivate yourself to do what you need to do – day in and day out – to get work flowing in.

Without a number to reach, it’s much easier to be lackadaisical in your work habits.

Tip #5 for Transitioning to a Freelance Writing Career: Find a Mentor

This doesn’t have to be an actual person. It can be someone – or a few people — you follow online. There are going to be times you get discouraged. You’ll need some reassuring words (blog posts, articles, videos) to keep you pumped about your new career as a freelance writer.

Remember, if others can make a living doing this, you can too! It’s not rocket science, but it does require discipline.

Finding a Mentor Tip: The SBA (http://SBA.gov) has a program called SCORE (the Service Corp of Retired Executives). They mentor new business owners – at no charge. Go to the SBA’s main site and drill down to your city/state. Then, contact them to see if they have such a program in your jurisdiction and ask what you have to do to participate in it.

How Long Does It Take to Transition to a Career as a Freelance Writer?

peaceOf course, there are many more steps to take to transition to a career as a freelance writer. But, these are the broad ones that get you on the right road.

How long it takes really depends on you. You can start landing clients in the first week, or it may take a month or more. It all depends on your desire, how adept you are at marketing and which niche(s) you target.

Freelancing Writing: Priceless “Job” Stability

But one thing I can tell you, once you start making money “under your own steam,” it’s a liberating feeling. Why? Because you’ll realize that you’ll never be at the mercy of a job (one paycheck) again.

Even through lean times, I never worry about how I’m going to make ends meet because I know that my income depends on only one factor – me and my brain. And that’s a kind of peace no job — no matter how stable — can compete with.

Best,
Yuwanda
P.S.: Want a Recession-Proof Career? Get SEO Copywriting Training. If you’re ready to get on the road to job security in an exciting new career, this class will teach you how to do just that.

P.P.S.: Want an easy, fast way to get started in affiliate marketing, making as much as $50, $100 or $150/day? Get How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites (ie, Backpage.com). If you want to make some easy money promoting affiliate products on free classified ad sites, this ebook is for you. I routinely make $100-$150/day.

Copyright © 2010: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without my written consent (linking to is fine).

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Freelance Writing Business Tax Tips: 4 Things You Can Do to Make Filing Your Taxes Easier

Tax season is right around the corner. If you’re a freelance writer, this can either cause angst or not (there’s no in between; I mean really, who’s ever happy about tax season). So, you’re probably either feeling a bit queasy at just the thought, or it’s one more thing on your list that you have to handle (no emotion attached thank you very much).

Following are four things you can do to get ready for the tax man. And who knows, if you have all your ducks lined up, you may just feel a teensy, weensy bit joyful the closer Thursday, April 15th gets (come ooonnnnn, you can squeeze out a smile).

Freelance Writers: 4 Things You Can Do Now to Make Filing Taxes Easier

freelance-writer-tax-tipsI. Categorize Your Expenses: Freelance writing is a business that, at the outset may not look like it has a lot of expenses, but they can add up. So make sure you know what these are.

Some obvious ones are PayPal fees deducted from payments you’ve received from clients; offices supplies; telephone/cell phone charges and office equipment.

Some less obvious expenses you may forget to account for are:

Fees you pay for professional organizations like your Chamber of Commerce (you’d be amazed at how many forget this fee);

Mileage expenses if you drive to and from networking meetings or to meet clients;

Travel-related expenses: For example, if you go somewhere and write about it and submit to sites like AssociatedContent.com or sell it to your local newspaper, that’s a legitimate freelance writing business expense. Now, how much of your transportation, meals and other trip-related expenses you deduct can be a bit dicey, but it is a legitimate expense.

FYI, this is why I use TurboTax to efile taxes. It truly is practically impossible to go wrong with this software. Before finding TurboTax, I paid an accountant upwards of $3,000 some years to file my taxes (this was when I had an editorial staffing agency in New York). I’ve used TurboTax for the last four years, and I love it.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with TurboTax; I’m just happy user.

Recognizing Expenses Tip: Mentally do a walkthrough of some of your days as a freelance writer. Do you attend networking meetings on a weekly basis; does FedEx regularly pick up packages from your home office; do you use e-fax because you have a paperless office; do you backup your files when you close up at night; etc.?

I do a mental rundown like this when I pack to travel so that I don’t forget anything. By doing this kind of walk through, you remember expenses you may easily forget (eg, your monthly e-fax bill; your annual backup data storage fee; your mileage to weekly networking meetings, etc.).

II. Income: Income is much easier to calculate than expenses. I mean really, who forgets how much money they brought in, right? Not many of us.

HOWEVER, as freelance writers, we have a lot of clients and some of them are “one off” jobs. So don’t forget to declare that income. You should have some type of system where you track all jobs. You do, don’t you?

If not, get in the habit of doing so – now – because one time not declaring some income can have you paying out more in taxes — years later.

Freelance Writers: How Not Being Organized Can Cost You – Years Later — in Back Taxes

I remember one year I didn’t declare like $1,600 from a client who didn’t send me a 1099 at the end of the year. I simply forgot about the job because it had been done at the beginning of the year and the client never used my services again.

So two years later when I got a “revised” tax statement from the IRS, I owed hundreds more in taxes. I can be pretty flighty at times, but I’m not stupid. From that day on, I got organized — quick, fast and in a friggin’ hurry!

1099 Due Date: When You Should Receive These from Clients

The 1099 due date is the end of January. This is when all clients you’ve worked for the previous year should have mailed out your 1099 – if they paid you more than $600 over the course of the tax year. But, some of them don’t. Ultimately, it’s up to you to track your income.

Receipts: One of my sisters owns a business and she several rental properties. She’s a master receipt keeper. I swear to God, if you ask her for the receipt for a key she had made three years ago on October 18th, she’d dig it out.

I’m not that great with keeping receipts for every little thing. But for the big stuff, I do (eg, purchasing a new laptop, cell phone charges, shelf installation in my home office, etc.).

You never know when you’re going to get audited. So it’s best to keep all receipts. Some accountants say keep them on hand for three to five years. If you haven’t been audited for years gone by by then, then it’s a very good chance you won’t be.

III. Questionable Writeoffs: Is your home office really a home office? If so, how do you account for it? If you take a client out to lunch, can you write the whole thing off, or part of it? When you travel for business, how much of your trip is deductible (meals, car rentals, plane tickets, money exchange fees (if you travel internationally), etc.

All of these are sticky situations where it takes some reading to understand. If you use an accountant, you can ask them. If you use a software like TurboTax, it can give you guidance and you can even request help from an actual tax expert (for a fee).

Line up these questions to ask before you sit down to do your taxes or drop them off to your tax preparer. It’ll make the process so much easier.

IV. Filing Date: Finally, set a date to sit down and file your taxes or meet with your accountant.

This way, you won’t be rushed into doing them at the last minute when it can cost you more. Not only because mistakes are more prevalent and/or your accountant may charge a rush fee, but because you are in such a rush to just “get them done” that you don’t take the time to get every write off you’re entitled to.

Caution: Be Aware of Tax Scams This Time of Year

The tax scammers are starting to come out. Just a couple of days ago, I got an “email from the IRS.” I didn’t even open it. Why? The answer is, and I put the phrase in quotation marks because, the IRS does not send emails. Again, the IRS does not communicate with taxpayers via email. They will always send a letter.

The goal of IRS scammers is to get a hold of your financial info – name, social security number, birth date, etc. All of this means they can steal your identity and ruin you financially. It can literally take years – and thousands of man hours – to get this all figured out.

Don’t fall for it.

REMEMBER, “The IRS does not discuss tax account matters with taxpayers by e-mail.” Source: IRS.gov.

Learn more about IRS phishing scams directly from the IRS.

Happy Tax Filing!
Yuwanda

P.S.: Start a Recession-Proof Career. Get SEO Copywriting Training. As of 1/12/2010 there are only 5 slots open for the SEO writing class starting on 1/25. If you’re ready to get on the road to job security in an exciting new career, this class is for you.

P.P.S.: Find this post informative? Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

P.P.P.S.: Want an easy, fast way to get started in affiliate marketing, making as much as $50, $100 or $150/day? Get How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites (ie, Backpage.com). If you want to make some easy money promoting affiliate products on free classified ad sites, this ebook is for you. I routinely make $100-$150/day.

Copyright © 2010: As a reminder, all material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without my written consent (linking to is fine).

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How I More Than Doubled My Income as a Freelance Writer in 2009: The #1 Reason I Was Able to Do This

I’ve actually wanted to write this post for a while, but it meant that I’d have to reveal some personal stuff – and I don’t like to do that. But I feel ready to do so. In case you’ve forgotten or are a new reader to Inkwell Editorial, this week’s post is all about how to make more money this year.

BUT, I’m not going to talk about marketing. You can read the specifics of how to make more money as a freelance writer here for that. And here; and here.

What I want to talk about is much more important — clearing energy sucking, motivation depriving, negative thinking people from your life. To illustrate this point, I’m going to tell you my story.

How to Make More Money as a Freelance Writer by Getting Rid of Non-Empowering People in Your Life

About a year and half ago, my two-year engagement ended. My ex-fiance was actually a very nice guy – so this is not a bashing story. In fact, although it was very painful, we had a very civil breakup. We broke up basically because we weren’t compatible – in a lot of ways. We looked at money differently; approached our careers differently and had different levels of ambition.

support-me

I’m definitely a Type A personality. I don’t do anything half ass. Either I’m all in or all out. This is especially true when it comes to my career. I’m extremely focused and can work around the clock if I have a goal in mind. This type of tunnel vision can become a problem if you’re with someone who’s a bit more laid back about everything.

In our case, it led to a lot of arguments about money, time spent together (or not spent together), future goals, etc.

The year after we broke up, I more than doubled my income and paid off more debt in that one year than I had in the entire two years that we were together. Now, again, this is not to blame or point fingers. The point I’m trying to illustrate is that when you don’t have anyone in your life holding you back from what is really important to you, you can literally move mountains.

I once read somewhere that 90% of your happiness in life will depend on the mate you choose. I believe this fully. Why? Because this is the person that you will ostensibly spend the most time with; who you will look to for inspiration; who will encourage you when you’re feeling down; will inspire you when you feel you can’t go on; and who will give you that extra pat on the back when you feel like crap.

If the person who is supposed to love you the most in the world is not supportive of you and your dreams, it weighs on you – more than you will ever realize. In fact, to realize it, you have to get out of it – and be out of it for some time – to see the effect that it has on you.

The same goes for friends in your life by the way. In fact, people in your life either add to it, or take away from it. A wise man once said that you can tell what a person is all about (ie, how successful they are/will be) by the five people they’re closest to in their life.

If your friends are ne’er-do-wells, or afraid to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, or don’t support your dreams — even if they don’t come right out and say it – they’re holding you back.

How?

When you bring up a new idea, they may shoot it down or say “It’s too risky; why would you want to do that?” Or they may say. . .

“Man, I sure hope you know what you’re doing. I’d be scared to death if I were in your shoes.” Or, …

“How are you going to afford healthcare; you’d be crazy to give up that job.”

Or . . . you get the picture.

They’re well meaning but they don’t add to your life; in fact, they’re holding you back. This is especially true if you’re skittish anyway.

This is why you need to cultivate friends who will support you – no matter what. Now you don’t want “yes men” around you. But at the end of the day you want them to say, “You’re a smart cookie and if you’ve weighed the pros and cons — and have done your due diligence — then if anyone can a make a go of it, you can.”

The year after my fiancé and I broke up, because I didn’t have the emotional garbage that comes with being in a relationship that’s not working, I actually probably worked fewer hours. But again, I more than doubled my income.

I also started to take better care of myself – running more, eating better, drinking less, sleeping better, etc. All of this attributed to me feeling better, hence more focused. Ideas flowed easier, projects got done quicker, money flowed in seamlessly.

And all of this is because I was able to be at my best – emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. I can’t stress enough how important this is to your success as a freelance writer.

As a freelance writer, you’re building a small business. It takes will power, fortitude, encouragement and boundless energy to do this. The wrong relationships – romantic or otherwise – drain these from you right at the time you need them the most.

So take a good, long, hard look at your life. Are the people most important to you adding to your dreams,  or taking away from them?

If they are taking away from them – get rid of them; I beg of you. You’ll feel so much better and will be genuinely surprised at how much more prosperous you’ll be – not only financially, but emotionally, physically and spiritually as well.

Tranquilly yours,
Yuwanda

P.S.: We’re getting down to the wire in the SEO Writing Training ecourse. As of 12/30/09 there are 4 slots left for the class starting on January 25th. You can reserve your spot for as little as $50, so sign up today!

P.P.S.: Find this post informative? Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

P.P.P.S.: Want an easy, fast way to get started in affiliate marketing, making as much as $50, $100 or $150/day? Get How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites (ie, Backpage.com). If you want to make some easy money promoting affiliate products on free classified ad sites, this ebook is for you. I routinely make $100-$150/day.

Copyright © 2010: I don’t say it often, but all material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without my written consent (linking to is fine).

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