Archive for March, 2011


Tax Tips for Freelancers

With tax day right around the corner (April 18 this year!), many freelancers have taxes and tax issues on their minds. Whether you are brand new to freelancing or just want to know what’s new in 2011, visit Freelancers Union for their video series on taxes for freelancers. The videos themselves are not particularly comprehensive, but they will direct you back to their site to download a tax webinar.

Tax Videos

Tax Resources

In addition, you might want to check out the Freelance Union’s latest newsletter which has info. about the Freelancer Payment Protection Act in legislation in New York, as well as advice on dealing with client anxiety and controlling the money conversation with your clients.

For additional tax resources, visit the IRS online. Click here for instructions on completing your Schedule C, if you are a freelancer operating as a sole proprietor.


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Make a Profit AFTER Paying Yourself

Contributed by Paula Pant, blogger at AffordAnything.org

Freelancers are not just writers/editors: they are small business owners. Like any other business owner, freelancers invest in business expenses. They pay for work-related internet, phone service, envelopes, a fax machine, mileage, travel, and an office (whether its at home or elsewhere).  And at the end of the year, they either make a profit or they don’t.

“But wait,” you might be thinking, “freelancer’s expenses aren’t that high — its a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars per year. How could you possibly NOT make a profit?”

Great question. The truth is, many freelancers don’t make a profit — and never realize it. READ MORE …

 

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40 Important Lectures for Journalism Students

Freelancers come from all walks of life. Some of us are students freelancing on the side during college, others had a full-time media job until the recession hit, and still others had completely different careers before becoming journalists. No matter what our background is, it is important that we continue our education in journalism. We need to hear what journalism experts and educators are saying, and we need to understand how new tools help us to tell our stories.

Here is an interesting link forwarded to me by a visitor to the freelance blog. These lectures might serve as a good starting point for some of your research:  40 Important Lectures for Journalism Students

Enjoy and please share your comments here. I’d love to know what you think!

Dana Neuts
SPJ Freelance Committee Chair

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Advancing the Story: Getting Freelance Journalism Jobs

Last week I had the pleasure of flying to SPJ’s headquarters in Indianapolis to tape five freelance training videos for SPJ members. We covered five topics:  generalization vs. specialization; how to find work; and freelancing as a business (three-part series).

Deb Wenger, former broadcaster, author and journalism professor, was on hand to coach me through my first broadcast experience. During the taping, she took some notes and posted these tips on her Advancing the Story blog. Thanks, Deb, for your support and for following up with this column!

 

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The Retirement Files, Part Two: How to Stash Your Cash

Contributed by Afford-Anything.com blogger Paula Pant

In my last post (December 2010), I discussed how freelancers can save for retirement — detailing the different types of retirement accounts a freelancer can open.

Today’s topic is what to do once you have cash in your retirement account.

If you’re like most people, you know that cash should be invested. But you might not know the first thing about stocks, and you’re scared off by all the rough-’n-tumble market volatility of the last few years.

Don’t worry. You don’t need to know a thing about stocks. All you need to know are two things: your age and your tolerance for risk.

Since I assume you know your own age (or else you have bigger problems on your hands), you’ll need to figure out your risk tolerance. If your balance plummets and you lose half your savings, what would you do?

Most people are awful judges of their own risk tolerance, often assuming themselves to be able to stomach more risk than they actually can. When stocks are flying high, they’ll throw thousands into the markets and feel confident about their investing skills. When the markets crash, they pull back and convince themselves that they haven’t chickened out — they’ve just “changed their mind.” Then they walk away with half the money they started with. They keep this remaining money in a savings account and miss the eventual stock rally … and, in short, end up with the worst deal possible. All downside, no upside.

This is why honestly assessing your tolerance for risk is so important. Misjudging it can cost you thousands.

Click here for a quiz that helps you figure out your risk tolerance. Once you figure that out, follow two more steps:

Step 1: Use the “Rule of Thumb” to figure out what percentage of your portfolio should be in bonds and what percentage should be in stock funds (such as index funds and commission-free ETFs).

The Rule of Thumb states that 110 minus your age is the percentage of your portfolio that should be in stock funds. If you’re 30, then 80 percent of your portfolio should be in stock funds, and 10 percent in bonds.

Quiz yourself for risk tolerance at the link above. If you have an appetite for risk, increase this number to 120 minus your age (so a 30-year-old is 90 percent in stock index funds). If risk makes your stomach queasy, decrease this number to 100 minus your age.

Step 2: Divide your stock funds according to these three suggested risk-tolerance scenarios:

If you love risk:
40% domestic large-cap markets
20 % domestic mid-cap and small-cap markets
30% in foreign developed markets
10% in foreign emerging markets

If your risk appetite is only so-so:
50% domestic large-cap funds
30% domestic mid-cap and small-cap funds
10% foreign developed markets
10 % foreign emerging markets

If risk makes your stomach queasy:
60% domestic large-cap funds
15% domestic mid-cap funds
10% domestic small-cap funds
10% foreign developed markets
5% foreign emerging markets

Paula Pant is the blogger at Afford-Anything.com, a website that teaches people how to save, invest, and earn more. Follow her on Twitter @AffordAnything.

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Repost: The Future of Book Publishing for Freelancers

I saw this post today on the Northwest Independent Editors’ Guild’s Facebook page:  The Future of Book Publishing for Freelancers. It includes some Q&A as well as additional resources. Check it out!

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Why Every Freelance Writer Needs a Budget

contributed by Maya Payne Smart

Many freelance writers work without a formal budget. They run extremely lean operations, spending money on little more than office supplies, phone calls, and Internet access and considering the leftover money as profit. Keeping overhead low is their lone strategy for staying in the black, and they see no need to complicate a checkbook-and-calculator operation with spreadsheets and income and expense projections. But by operating without a budget, they’re missing an important opportunity to evaluate their performance, examine their priorities, and identify new opportunities.

Freelance writer Julie Sturgeon says that having a strong grasp of her historical income motivates her to pursue premium clients and keep her spending in check. “I know what my expenses are on a monthly basis, and I’ve been in this long enough to build a pattern of extra expenses,” she explains.

READ MORE —>

 

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