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 an active freelance writing business, you can’t shut down operations and never look back again, as if you worked drive thru for a fast food restaurant. Take certain steps to be sure you've tied up all proverbial loose ends.

Notify existing clients

Let your current clients know that you’ll no longer be providing writing services. I think it’s a good idea to finish up projects you’re currently working on. Refer your client to a fellow writer, if you know one who works in the same niche.

Cancel recurring payments

Be sure to cancel Paypal or other recurring payments so clients' accounts don't continue to be charged. Clients may have to cancel on their end if they’ve set up regular payments through their bank or credit card.

Invoice for the outstanding work

Get paid for the work you’ve done up to date. I hate to sound sneaky , but you may want to send the invoice and get paid before you tell the client you’re not writing anymore. Some clients may try to skip out on payment once you’ve announced you’re not in business anymore.

Follow up on outstanding invoices

Your decision to move on doesn’t mean clients don’t have to pay you for the work you’ve already done. Stay on top of unpaid invoices you’ve already. 

Keep your current year’s records for next year’s taxes

You’ll still have to pay taxes on the freelance writing income you received this year, even though you’ve dissolved your business. Make sure clients have your current mailing address so they can send a 1099 form for what they paid you. 

Don’t toss your financial documents/tax returns from previous years

In the US, the IRS says you should generally keep tax and financial documents for three to six years. Your accountant can give you a better idea of the specific timing for keeping your records. Besides tax purposes, you should keep your records to show income history for certain lenders.

Post a notice on your website

If you have a professional website, let visitors know that you’re no longer taking new writing clients. You may do this for a few months or weeks until the domain expires.

Make a decision about your web hosting

You may keep paying for web hosting if you plan to maintain websites. However, keep in mind that it may no longer be a tax-deductible business expense if your web hosting service is not related to a business.

Maintain professionalism even when you’re transitioning out of freelance writing. You may end up coming back. And if you don’t, you may encounter some of your clients or colleagues in another area in the future. You want to have left a positive impression of yourself.

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LaToya Irby is a full-time freelance writer and a graduate of the University of Alabama. She primarily writes about personal finance, freelancing, and other self-employment topics.

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