5 Money Moves to Make Before Year-End

A lot of people are focusing on holiday shopping this time of year. Personally, my workload has increased and I haven’t given shopping much thought. (I really need to get on that!) But I have thought about my finances and some things I need to do as the year comes to a close. There are tons of year-end money lists out there and they all

How to Be Better With Your Freelance Writing Income

Too bad we’re not born knowing how to deal with money. If you had a financial literacy class in high school, you were pretty lucky. For many of us, much of what we know about personal finance we learned from our parents or our own mistakes. It’s not too late to learn those critical lessons you may have missed. Here are some tips on being

Managing Freelance Writing Income and Regular Income

For most people transitioning into full-time freelance writing or freelance writing on the side for awhile, there will undoubtedly be a period of time that you’re managing two kinds of income: income from freelance writing and income from a regular job. Or if you’re a writer who’s married to or cohabitating with someone who earns a regular income, the two of you may also face

What Not to Do When Your Writing Income is Down

One of the hardest parts about adjusting to freelance writing life, and self-employment in general, is living with a fluctuating income. There may be periods of time that the projects and payments are coming in like a flood. Others, they’re as dry as a ditch on a hot summer day. What you do during those low-income months is so important because it will have a

When Your Writing Schedule Leaves No Time For Taxes

The deadline for filing a tax return this year is Monday, April 15th. That’s just seven days away! I know there are some of us who filed our tax returns as soon as the IRS began accepting tax returns. Others of us may be too busy writing (trying to make enough money to pay the tax bill?) to get those tax returns done before the

How Freelance Writers Can Be Productive With Finances

Writing is actually one of the easier parts of freelancing writing. Maybe it’s like that with all craft-turned-businesses. The tougher parts of being a professional freelance writer can be things like finding clients, having a steady stream of ideas, and managing the finances. Because I’m no fan of mulling over finances for hours, there are some things I do to make this area of freelancing

Freelance Writers: Tips for Paying Estimated Taxes

Ah, taxes. It’s almost all you hear and read about this time of year, but we freelance writers have been thinking about taxes all year long. That’s because we, along with other self-employed workers, are required to pay quarterly estimated taxes to the IRS four times a year: in January, April, June, and September. If you’ve ever paid too little or *gasp* not paid at

What To Do With Extra Writing Income

Is your freelance writing business netting you more money than what’s needed to pay the bills? It’s not a bad problem to have. Here are some ways you can spend that extra money. Make sure you set aside enough for taxes. If you’re earning more than you expected, you may also owe more taxes than you expected. Update your estimated tax calculation and set aside

A Primer on Taxes for Freelancers

Every worker, freelance or not, is undoubtedly familiar with income taxes: the percentage of your income that’s paid to the Federal, state, and sometimes local government. (The rest of this post speaks primarily on Federal taxes.) When you’re full-time employed by an employer, the employer will typically withhold taxes from your pay. They send the withholdings to the IRS on your behalf. But, when you’re

Time To Create a Financial Organization System

Another calendar year means another fiscal season for freelance writing businesses.  It’s a great time to organize your finances. You may have had an ineffective organization system last year, if you had one at all. No matter what you did last year, the start of 2013 is a great time to tweak your old system or to create a new one. When I talk about

Managing Finances Without a Guaranteed Paycheck

If you’ve freelanced at all before, you probably already know: there are no guaranteed paychecks in freelance writing. I often tell my family and friends, particularly those who dream up things for me to do during work hours, that my pay is tied directly to my productivity. I don’t write, I don’t get paid. It’s not like a desk job where you clock in, stay

Financial Goals for 2013

This is one of my favorite times of year, not because it’s the holiday season (that part is actually more stressful than enjoyable), but because it’s the perfect time to reflect on the past year’s progress and make plans for the upcoming year. I like to start doing this earlier in December, that way I’m ready to put the plan into action at the start

Transitioning Out of Freelance Writing

By far, most freelance writing advice is building a successful freelancing writing business, not about leaving one behind. But, sometimes, writing businesses fail. Or, writers decide to pursue other opportunities. Your freelance writing business may morph into another business. There’s nothing wrong with that. The most important thing is to continue doing something that pays the bills and keeps you (somewhat) happy. If you have

Who Can Afford to Write for Cheap?

“You want to hire me, but you don’t want to pay my rates. Tell me again how accepting a project that pays far less than what I need to survive on is going to benefit me.” My honesty is never this brutal, but it’s sometimes exactly what I want to say to those clients who want to hire me, but want to pay me in

Handling Freelance's Biggest Financial Surprises

Some surprises are nice: surprise birthday parties, surprise gifts, surprise breakfast in bed. Other surprises are not so nice, specifically surprises that cost you. When you’re a fulltime writer, your income fluctuates often, so surprises are typically unwelcome. But they happen, even to the most experienced writers. Success and longevity hinge on your ability to manage these surprises. A big project falls through. Not every

Freelancing Doesn't Have to Mean Financial Failure

If you asked my 20-year-old self what kind of job I wanted after graduating college, writing would not have been my answer. But, if you asked that same me what I was passionate about, I would have answered “writing” without hesitation. I’ve talked to many people who, like I was, are afraid to follow their dreams of being a full-time freelance writer because they’re worried

Freelance Writers: A Checklist for Switching Banks

If you bank with a major bank, you’ve probably received notice that a monthly fee is being added to your account. For the most part, these fees can be waived if you maintain a certain balance, make a certain number of debit card transactions, or have a certain amount direct deposited into your account. Basically, you may have to go through a little bit of

Documents You'll Need for Tax Time

Tax time is still a few months away but if you wait until then you could be in a rush to get all the paperwork together. You can make it a lot easier on your tax preparer (even if you do your own taxes) by keeping up with necessary financial documents throughout the year. W-9 forms for contractors to whom you paid more than $600

Financial Signs Freelance Writing Isn't Right for You

A lot of people have the wrong idea about freelance writing. Being able to write 500 words on a single topic doesn’t mean you’re cut out for freelance writing. Even having impeccable writing skills doesn’t mean you’ll have a long, successful writing career. That’s because freelance writing is part craft, part business. Without the financial habits of a successful business owner, there’s a low likelihood

When People Ask About Your Income

People are always shocked when I tell them I’m a full-time freelance writer. Invariably, they want to know how much I make and how I can afford to pay my bills on the money I make from writing. I don’t blame them. Before I started writing full-time, I was one of those people completely oblivious to the fact that writing was a legitimate source of

How to Be a Better Loan Candidate

Taking out a loan, especially a mortgage, when you’re self-employed is hard. Because lenders see self-employment income as risky and unpredictable, the lending standards are a lot harsher for us than for other workers. Before the mortgage crisis, freelancers had an easier time getting major loans. Many banks offered “no doc” or “low doc” loans that required little to no income documentation. Now, you can

What the Affordable Care Act Means for Writers

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is legal. While there’s still much debate on whether it’s the right move for the people and the economy, the provisions of the law provide significant benefits for self-employed workers like us freelance writers. If you have private health insurance or you’re covered under a spouse’s health insurance, nothing much will change for

The Cost of Running a Freelance Writing Business

What one of the things I love most about freelance writing is that I only need a few tools to get my job done. I can work nearly anywhere and any situation. I prefer my laptop and an internet connection, but if I have a pen or pencil and some type of paper, I can be just as productive. Because there are only a few

Freelancers Union: The World's Largest Invoice

Last month, the Freelancer’s Union launched a neat website – WorldsLongestInvoice.com – which totals unpaid invoices from freelancers all over the world. The current total unpaid invoices is just a couple thousand dollars away from $16,000,000 and the site has only been live for a little more than week! Dozens of writers have added their names to the list. For example: Lanelle: $300 for Content

When The Shoe is on the Other Foot: Paying Contractors

As a freelance writer, you’re used to getting paid for your work. But as a business owner, you’ll undoubtedly make some payments to your own contractors. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you outsource work to other freelancers and businesses. Make sure your business can afford the payment As with all expenses, be sure you have enough money to pay the

Setting Your Prices and Deciding Which Applies

From my last post on Payment Policies, Anne Wayman gleaned that there are basically four ways for writers to charge: per hour, per word, per page, or per project. Pricing methods might differ, but the price should equal about to about the same.  In other words, your hourly, per word, per page, or per project rate are just different ways of saying the same thing.

Do You Have a Standard Payment Policy?

Having a standard payment policy not only makes you appear more professional, it also makes it easier to manage your business and get paid. With a documented payment policy, you don’t have to come up with payment terms each time you do a project nor do you have to rely on your client’s payment terms. I considered my own payment policy and looked at a

Using Your Freelance Earnings to Earn More

Being a writer is one thing, having a writing business is another. Read any business book, magazine, or blog and you’ll quickly figure out that growing your business means reinvesting your business profits. Big businesses do it all the time and they even have a fancy finance term for it – retained earnings. Growing your business isn’t the only good reason to reinvest your freelance

Stand Up for Your Rates

To make a good living from writing, you must (must MUST) charge a rate that you can live on. Years ago, when I first started freelance writing, I routinely accepted jobs for just one or two cents per word. I had a full-time job that paid handsomely, I was just happy to be paid to write, and I didn’t know better. Now, I wouldn’t dream

The "Live on the Rest" Budgeting System

For many self-employed workers, taxes and savings are the two hardest expenses to keep up with. I think it’s because there’s no immediate benefit or consequence to either of them. A lot of people mentally plan their budgets based on a certain dollar amount that often hasn’t been adjusted for taxes or savings. So you might end up spending all your money and not having