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Archives for January 2011

Freelance Writing Advice: 6 Guidelines for Determining If a Client Will Pay – Use These to Assess Clients Before You Accept an Assignment

Back in December, in the post, What Payment Methods to Expect//Accept from Clients & How/When to Raise Rates without Losing Clients, a freelancer wrote in to ask me “Is it common practice that very large marketing firms do not use Paypal?”

After I wrote that post, I left a note to myself to do this follow-up post on how to determine if a client will pay. So, here goes . . .

I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993. And, I’ve never gotten burned on a writing job – ever. While some of this is luck, a lot of it is because I assess clients before I ever accept projects from them, using the guidelines below.

Note: While these guidelines are not infallible, they will go a long way towards helping you to know when to turn down a client, and when you might be getting a freelance writing scam run on you.

Did They Approach You or Did You Approach Them?

freelance-writing-scam-adviceThis matters because lots of times, scammers who have no intention of paying freelance writers reach out to a lot of freelancers, hoping to hook one. And, they invariably do. I wrote a few articles in last week’s Article Marketing Bootcamp on freelance writing scams.

In my research, I was unpleasantly surprised by how many freelancers seem to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous content thieves. So if someone contacts you out of the blue and won’t explain how they heard about you, especially if you haven’t been marketing a lot, be wary.

Lots of times, prospects who have no intention of paying find the contact info of freelancers via their website/blog and/or social media account. Then, they’ll contact you with offers of a large and/or ongoing “article writing job, blogging job and/or web content writing job.”

Read this post in its entirety at http://bit.ly/JgJ5Pf.

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Find this post informative? Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

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P.S.: Quickly Become a Published Author This Year!  Start the New Year off right. FINALLY get that ebook you’ve been wanting to write done in Inkwell Editorial’s “How to Write an Ebook in 3 Days Market It & Start Getting Sales within a WeekEbook Writing & Publishing Tournament.

P.P.S.: Want to start a successful career where you have the mobility to live and work where you please? Visit our freelance writing bookstore for a ton of opportunities (freelance writing and internet marketing) to get you started.

Read more.

Freelance Writers: How to Secure Your Financial Future & Never Have Money Worries Again – Starting Today

If you’re a freelance writer – full-time or part-time – you run the risk every year of owing good ole Uncle Sam (the IRS) if you don’t pay attention early on to your finances. I learned this the hard way.

Make Sure You Don’t Wind Up Owing the IRS Come Tax Time

One year, I found myself having to write a check for over $6,000! Another year, I was on the hook for $17,000+! This was when I ran my editorial staffing firm in New York and had employees.

When you deal with employees (as opposed to independent contractors), taxes get a lot more complicated. Needless to say, right after the $17K debacle, I got an “official” accountant who handled everything. Before, it had been on kind of an ad hoc basis.

So, how can you avoid my past mistakes? By getting on the right track from jump. Following is some advice to do just that.

Freelance Writers: Steps to Take Now to Avoid Owing Taxes Later (and Get on the Road to Financial Security)

Just in case you don’t know, independent contractors should pay taxes quarterly. Now, I don’t always do this. I usually wait until the end of the year and file all at once. This is because though, I’ve been doing this long enough to be able to calculate how much I’m going to owe* at the end of the year.

*Note: Owning a home has given me certain tax breaks, so now, I have about a 50/50 chance of owing.

This year I’ve decided that from now on, I’m going to start paying quarterly. I don’t want to write a check at the end of the year anymore.

Learn how to file quarterly taxes as an indepdent contractor (eg, freelance writer), ie, figure out what you owe and where to send your payments.

Next week, I’ll detail how I got even more financially organized this year so I won’t ever wind up owing the IRS again – ever!

As retirement looms closer every year, I’m really starting to pay attention to things like my money market accounts, my savings account, how much I save each month, how much more I could/should be saving each month, the major purchases I make/don’t make, etc.

Start Saving Now to Secure Your Future

If you’re reading this and you’re in your 20s especially, do one thing for me please. Start saving at least 10% of your gross salary. Trust me, you won’t miss it after those first few paychecks and those little amounts add up over the years. And, if you invest in a good mutual fund, compound interested will be your best friend as time goes on.

Please, please, I BEG you to do this.

I look back at some of the lump sums of money that have gone through my hands in past years (auto accident payout, monies from deceased parents, large projects/placement fees from clients, etc.) and I wish I could go back and redo some things differently.

Saving Over $500K Is Not as Hard as You Think

Consider this: if you start out saving nominal sums of money when you’re young (eg, 20, 23, 25, etc.) AND you invest for the long haul in solid financial instruments (mutual funds are one of my faves because they’re not complicated), you’ll never have to worry about what your retirement is going to look like – even if you never have a high-paying job.

This is building wealth is not about how much you make, but how much you save — on a consistent basis.

Look at the chart below. If you started out investing $100 and you added just $200 per month for the next 40 years, at a 7% return (less than what the S&P usually returns, which is around 10%), you’ll have over $514,000 in your account.

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Use this savings calculator to see the magic of saving little bits of money – and have compound interest kicking in. Nothing like seeing in black and white what a few dollars saved today can grow to be in a few years.

This may not be enough to retire on for some, but if you have a paid-off home, no other debt, medical care (good health insurance (which gets more expensive the older you get)) and social security coming in (if it’s still around!), you could have a very nice, simple retirement.

And my belief is, this is all most of us want. While we’d like to be able to jet off to Paris for a month, if most of us could take a two or three-week vacation twice a year, visit the kids and grandkids once or twice a year, indulge in a favorite activity regularly, have our health and no daily money worries – hey, that sounds like a darned good retirement to me!

So, even though retirement is over 20 years away for me, THIS is the way I think now. And if I had kids, I’d pound it in their heads from Day 1 that this is the way they should think.

Freelance Writers: How Your Upbringing Affects Your Financial Outlook

I grew up in a poor, working-class family, so came to learning about money later in life that some of my friends. As I told one friend recently, being old and broke is my greatest fear in life. It’s one reason I’ve always been such a hard worker.

I don’t want or need a whole bunch of money because my life dreams are basic and I get the greatest joy out of the simplest things. But, I don’t want to have to penny pinch or worry about money either when I’m older; not even a little bit.

And time passes soooooo fast. If you don’t take the time to prepare for your future, it will be here before you know it – when you’re likely to be faced with a lot more (eg, age discrimination, possible health problems, maybe falling out of the loop of technology, etc.).

Don’t do this to yourself.

Freelance Writing Financial Advice: It’s NEVER Too Late to Start Saving for Retirement

I don’t care how old you are, you can take steps today to secure your financial future, as this post on GetRichSlowly.com illustrates.

Avoid Being Old & Broke

Again, in next week’s newsletter, I’ll detail how I got super-organized with my finances this year so I could not only “see” what my financial future is going to be like, but take comfort in the fact that I won’t face my greatest fear — being older and broke.

Find this post informative? Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

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P.S.: Quickly Become a Published Author This Year!  Start the New Year off right. FINALLY get that ebook you’ve been wanting to write done in Inkwell Editorial’s “How to Write an Ebook in 3 Days Market It & Start Getting Sales within a WeekEbook Writing & Publishing Tournament.

P.P.S.: Want to start a successful career where you have the mobility to live and work where you please? Visit our freelance writing bookstore for a ton of opportunities (freelance writing and internet marketing) to get you started.

Read more.

Freelance Writers: Here are Some Time-Saving Tools That Allow You to Make More Money‏

In last week’s newsletter, we discussed how to put in fewer hours, but still maintain and/or increase your freelance writing income. In order to do this though, you need some time-saving tools because time is your greatest asset when you work for yourself. You did realize this, right? 

Today, we’re going to discuss some specific tools to invest in to make (more) money as a freelance writer.   In tomorrow’s SEO Writing Jobs newsletter, I’ll outline the guidelines I use to determine when it’s time to loosen the purse strings. 

Time-Saving Tools of the Freelance Writing Trade

There are lot of things you can buy that will save you money. And, when you’re a solo entrepreneur (like most freelance writers are), you definitely want to get some of them. But, there’s no need to go overboard. You really only need a few.

To determine which few those are, you have to know where your business (indeed, your life) is going. I talked about this in last week’s post, stating: 

. . . what is your overall life plan? Where do you want to be in a year, three years, five years, etc.? . . . It is sooooo much easier to plan your day, your week and your month when you know what you want your year (and beyond) to be like.  

If you don’t have a life plan yet, it’s ok, don’t stress about it right now. I’m going to break the tools you need down into two groups – immediate investments and those to invest in a bit down the road (after you DO have a life/business plan).

Freelance Writers: Tools/Services to Invest in Immediately

You must be a subscriber to read this post in its entirety. See the sign-up box to the right (top of column) on every page of this site. Once you subscribe, you will immediately be emailed this post, as well as all previous posts where a subscription is required.

Find this post informative? Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

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P.S.: Quickly Become a Published Author This Year!  Start the New Year off right. FINALLY get that ebook you’ve been wanting to write done in Inkwell Editorial’s “How to Write an Ebook in 3 Days Market It & Start Getting Sales within a WeekEbook Writing & Publishing Tournament.

P.P.S.: Want to start a successful career where you have the mobility to live and work where you please? Visit our freelance writing bookstore for a ton of opportunities (freelance writing and internet marketing) to get you started.

Read more.

Freelance Writers: How to Cut Your Workday in Half (Literally!) and Still Increase Your Income

Reminder: The ebook writing tournament  starts next Monday. If you’re ready to write and publish an ebook in as little as 3 days, this is the way to scratch that goal off your list this year!
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First let me say, I hope you had a very happy New Year and are looking forward to what this year brings. I know I am. I brought in the New Year at a sports club dancing my butt off! For me, it was symbolic of the way I want my year to go — laughing, having a good time and enjoying life to the fullest.

In order to get this done though, hard work must be part of the equation (hey, dancing is hard work if you’re really boogeying — and I was!).   Seriously though, working hard does not have to mean putting in 8, 10 or 12 hours a day. If you’re  a long-time reader of my newsletters, you know that I’m a huge advocate of putting in long hours. Because I enjoy what I do, the long hours don’t bother me so much.

But, the older I get the more I value not HAVING to put in such long days. And, one thing has happened recently to help me crystallize the fact that I don’t have to.

Freelance Writiing Tips on How to Work Less and Earn More

As I told you in last week’s newsletter, I got a computer virus that put my laptop in the shop. It’s been in there since Christmas Eve (fingers crossed that I’ll get it back this Wednesday). I have an old desktop that I could’ve used, but it’s slow as methusala, so I’ve been using my sister’s laptop (lord bless her; she’s been sooooo generous).  

You see, she’s a writer too and uses her laptop as much as I use mine. Since my computer has been in the shop though, I’ve been using hers from anywhere between 2-4 hours a day.

This has forced me to be super focused when I am online. And you know what, my ebook sales and other online income has been as consistent (if not up) as when I’ve put in full days. And, I haven’t even been doing as much marketing as I normally would because of the holidays and the fact that I don’t have access to all of my files.

I talked about how being focused can allow you to get a lot of work done in a small amount of time in a post in my living in Jamaica series. I’ll be headed back to Jamaica soon and plan on spending more time on the beach than I have in the past.

So this idea of working less (while still growing my income) really appeals to me.  Following are some specific tips I want to share with you that I already practice on how you too can work less and earn more as a freelance writer.

Here goes . . .

You must be a subscriber to read this post in its entirety. See the sign-up box to the right (top of column) on every page of this site. Once you subscribe, you will immediately be emailed this post, as well as all previous posts where a subscription is required.

Find this post informative? Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

how-to-write-an-ebook-sm

P.S.: Quickly Become a Published Author This Year!  Start the New Year off right. FINALLY get that ebook you’ve been wanting to write done in Inkwell Editorial’s “How to Write an Ebook in 3 Days Market It & Start Getting Sales within a WeekEbook Writing & Publishing Tournament.

P.P.S.: Want to start a successful career where you have the mobility to live and work where you please? Visit our freelance writing bookstore for a ton of opportunities (freelance writing and internet marketing) to get you started.

Read more.