Friday, September 14, 2007

POSTS #15 & 16: 40 Days to a Successful Freelance Writing Career

PUBLISHER NOTE: If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know about the upcoming freelance writing seminar in October. Details.

Many have inquired about what will be discussed at the seminar. So, in order to answer your questions and to get you prepared for what to expect, I've started a series of posts entitled "40 Days to a Successful Freelance Writing Career."

To start at the beginning, click here. And, welcome to the blog. Now, on to today’s post . . .

Post #15: How to Tell If Freelance Writing Is a Career for You

Before I sat down to write this post, I was trying to come up with a unique list of things to tell you to consider about becoming a freelance writer. I wanted the list to be unique because I hate writing something that’s been written about a thousand times better by a thousand other writers.

So, instead, I switched it and thought to myself, “What is the number one thing I’d want to know if I was trying to decide is a freelance writing career is for me?”

The #1 Question Wannabe Freelancers Should Ask Themselves

And, I kept coming back to one thing – the work. As in, if you can’t actually sit down and actually do the work – on a schedule – then this career is not for you.

While it may seem like a simple and obvious detail, it’s one I think many wannabe freelancers overlook. Why?

Because, like many new business owners, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of working for yourself. I mean, you get to decide every detail – so, off you go thinking up your company name, opening your new business account, buying your new laptop to sit on your new desk beside your new coffee mug, which you emblazoned with your fantastic new logo!

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. But, after your office is designed “just so;” your bank account is ready to receive funds and your marketing campaign has finally brought a project to your door, you have to sit down and do the work.

Why Freelance Writing Can Suck as a Career

And, you know what? Nine times out of ten, it’s going to be something you could care less about, and/or that will probably bore you silly.

Eg, a local hardware manufacturer hires you to write the copy for their new brochure, a local mail order companies hires you to write the copy for their postcard campaign, and/or a cleaning company hires you to rewrite the copy on their website.

Yawn, schmawn – a thousand times!

But, you know what, you’re going to have to sit down and write, rewrite and edit copy for this as if you’re editing a Stephen King novel – you must bring that same excitement and rush of energy to your clients.

Believe me, it’s hard to muster sometimes. If get a string of clients like this, you could be working on material you are lackluster about for months on end – and you’ll count yourself lucky. Why? Because you have work – work that allows you freedom from things that bother you more than rewriting a hardware manual.

Eg, fighting traffic to get to a job you hate for pay that barely allows you to pay your bills. And, this is the payoff.

One thing I’ve realized over the years as a freelance writer is that no one – and I do mean no one – has the absolute perfect situation (although Oprah seems to pretty much rule her universe).

We all have to answer to someone and perform some duties that we’d rather not. BUT, the joy – at least for me as a freelancer – is that I get to mitigate how much of this I have to do and for how long.

The Greatest Joy of Being a Freelance Writer

Like anything in life, freelance writing is a tradeoff – you trade of the “security” of a full-time job for the “insecurity” of working for yourself. And, the reason the words security and insecurity are in quotation marks is because I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a secure job anymore.

I’d rather depend on many “employers” (ie, clients) for my living than one employer (eg, a job) because, as a freelancer, the loss of a few clients doesn’t mean the loss of my livelihood. It just means the search continues for the next “employer.”

Want to learn exactly what to do to earn $100, $150, $200/day or more as a freelance writer, editor and/or copy editor? Inkwell Editorial's upcoming Freelance Writing Seminar will tell you how. Details. It's a career anyone who can read and write can start  with the right information.
Post #16: The First Steps to Take If Freelance Writing Is a Career for You

Now that you’ve answered the question of whether freelance writing is a career for you, you may be thinking, “Now what?”

Well, the very next thing you need to do is to decide on a structure for your business. And, if you read Post #14, entitled, Should You Officially Register Your Freelance Business?, you know that I recommend NOT registering your business in the beginning.

So, here I’m going to tell you how to set up as a sole proprietor so you can start getting those tax benefits of running a home-based business.

First, as a sole proprietor, you don’t need to do anything if you already have a bank account. You can accept checks in your own name and deposit them into your account. BUT, I strong advise against this.

Why? The IRS doesn’t like it when you commingle funds – eg, access the same account for personal and business use. And, if you’re ever audited, you could face penalties.

How to Keep the IRS Off Your Back as a Freelancer

So, I recommend that you set up a separate checking account. I suggest a checking account because that way you can write checks for business expenses.

Use this account ONLY for business purposes. Even though it’s a personal checking account, using it strictly for your freelance writing business purposes will make your accounting so much easier at tax time – and avoid any questions should the IRS have a need to question you.

Assuming you have all equipment, this is pretty much all you need to do to be in business as a freelance writer.

At tax time, I suggest using a professional tax preparer to file taxes. Doing this will get you all the deductions you’re entitled to as a home-based business operator. And, it will lessen the chance that you’ll be audited by the IRS.

According to the article, “Common Red Flags that Lead to IRS Audits,”one of the red flags that could trigger an IRS audit is a home-based office expenses.

The article sates: “There have been several articles on major sites recently touting the tax advantages of a home office, but you’ve got to be careful. This is a huge red flag. For more information, here are some home office deduction reminders from the IRS web site. [source: 2/27/07]”

Knowing what is a legitimate expense, how to categorize it and what percentage of it you can/cannot claim can be confusing – especially if tax law reads like Latin to you (I know it does me!).

Hiring a competent tax preparer can alleviate all of these worries – and, you’re much less likely to be audited if you use a paid tax professional.

NOTE: You can save money by using tax preparation software like TurboTax, which literally walks you through the process of preparing your return step by step. But, at least for the first year, I recommend hiring an accountant.

If freelance writing is a career you decide you’re going to keep for the long haul, you can decide how to organize your business for the long-term (eg, whether or not to incorporate). Then, you can revisit the idea of preparing your own taxes.

What do you think? If you have questions, comments or observations about this post, send them in. Email them to info [at]

Editorially yours,
Yuwanda (who is this person?)
What’s in Inkwell Editorial’s Newsletter?

Missed the last issue of Inkwell's freelance writing newsletter? The 9/12 issue featured an interview with freelance writer, Gordon Graham, aka, that white paper guy.

Gordon charges $90/hour just to edit a white paper and a minimum of $4,000 to produce one from scratch. Wanna know what he had to say? Sign up to receive your copy to read his informative, in-depth interview.

Gain clients, web traffic and brand awareness. How? Let us interview you for our popular newsletter? Full details. Read the first issue here.
Copyright Notice: May be reprinted with the following, in full: Yuwanda Black is the publisher of THE business portal for and about the editorial and creative industries. First-hand freelance success stories, e-courses, job postings, resume tips, advice on the business of freelancing, and more! Launch a Profitable Freelance Writing Career in 30 Days or Less -- Guaranteed! Log on to
Like what you read here? Find the content useful and informative? Make us a Technorati Favorite. Simply click the Technorati icon at the top right-hand corner of the page.

No comments: