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Some excellent advice for freelancers; especially pay attention to the part about how much income you need to report and when your employers should be sending you a 1099.

Tax time may be over for 2011, but if you’re a brand new freelancer starting out, your tax time begins now.  So here are some basics you should know when it comes to your new relationship with Uncle Sam. Bear in mind these are general tips meant to educate freelancers just starting out; whether you’ve gone full-time with employees or your freelancing is just a side hustle for now, you should consult a CPA for professional advice and guidance in all cases.

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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According to Fast Company, a new startup called Assignmint is going to create an online go-between for freelancers and employers, starting with writers and editors. Says Fast Company:

The company, headed by formerNew York Press and Forbes Traveler editor Jeff Koyen, will offer a complete pitch-to-payment cloud workflow system for freelancers and their employers. It helps digitally manage work assignments, editorial calendars, invoices, pitches, expenses, contract information, and payment. Freelance journalists, meanwhile, will be able to have access to all their outstanding invoice and payment information in one place. The startup also plans to implement a clip and algorithm service to match freelancers with potential new clients.

Assignmint has a private beta scheduled for June; you can sign up at their website assignment.com.

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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Remember when the Huffington Post was sold to AOL -- and all the bloggers who had been writing for free got, well huffy? They said that because their contributions was part of the value of the product, they should get some of the proceeds. Unfortunately, the judge didn't agree. According to an article in The Guardian:

John Koeltl, who presides over a US district court in New York, rejected the argument outright. He ruled that the bloggers had been fully aware that their work was to be unpaid when they signed up for it, and so any compensation would be to rewrite the terms of their engagement retrospectively.
via The Guardian

Much as I feel for all those disappointed writers, and sympathize with their feeling of betrayal, I can't help but consider that they voluntarily worked for HuffPo without an expectation of payment. The moral of the story, I think, is that if you want to be paid for your work, make sure that it's part of the deal in the beginning.

 

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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Blogger Gordon Dymowski does a nice job of busting some of the myths surrounding the freelancing life (myths that, as I well know, are still out there). Here's one of my favorites:

You have much more time to do what you want to do - not necessarily; as a freelancer, I'm doing two things: the work that pays the bills, and the networking/calls/follow up that helps me acquire the work that pays the bills. Part of my current "dilemma" is attempting to decide whether to move towards a freelance/self-employed small business model, or stay within the "traditional" work model. Either way, though, there's much work to be done, and many people who talk about the "fun" life of a freelancer may not be seeing the full challenge.

As somebody who has spent a great deal of time both as a freelancer and as a staffer, I'd say that, on the whole, you have more of your own time as the latter. Freelance work is very much a "feast or famine" enterprise; you're either doing a great deal of work all hours of the day or night (including weekends); when you're looking for work, you don't stop at 5 p.m. on Friday. Of course, these days, most staffers are also taking work home -- but my own experience says that if you expect to write that novel, freelancing to pay the rent is not necessarily the best way.

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Kevin Purdy on the Fast Company site offers a few tips on what freelancers should look at when doing their taxes -- such as figuring out your home office deduction, the rule about business gifts, deductions for job search costs, etc.

If you work from home, work for clients on the side of your main paycheck job, or run your own small business or freelance consultancy, here are a few clarifications and considerations you should make when tallying up your receipts from last year.

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New freelancer Gary M. Krebs interviewed Sheila Buff, Job List Chair of the Editorial Freelancer's Association in order to get some tips on today's freelance market. Sheila offers advice and some personal observations:

I worked in publishing offices years ago and I would never go back. I'm incapable of a 9-5 job. I love the freedom of being a freelancer and I've been doing it since 1981. It's not for everyone. You have to have the right personality and the right discipline. It can get pretty isolated working at home and you have to be okay with that.

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According to an article in Fresh business thinking.com, there has been a massive increase in the U.K. in freelance hiring by small businesses -- instead of traditional temps or full-time staffers. According to the article, the second most popular category was Writing/Editing/Translation (the first was Web design & tech development):

The trend towards small businesses recruiting remote freelancers online is showing no signs of slowing down. The annual PeoplePerHour.com Small Business Survey revealed that 50 percent of the small to medium enterprises (SMEs) surveyed have started hiring freelancers in the past year for the first time.

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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I've been a member - albeit not a very participatory one - of LinkedIn for several years, and it is a very useful way to make business contacts if you're looking for a job or looking for a quote. In this article, Dan Taylor offers some advice on how to use the social network to generate leads for your freelance business:

Of all the social networks floating around out there today, Linkedin is the benchmark when it comes to social business networking (business social networking?). That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of business happening on many of the most popular networks, but Linkedin is clearly about making business development happen.

Ultimately, the goal of any business focused networking activity is to drive a sale. And what’s the best way to start that process? Here are 5 tips to get the leads flowing in your direction via Linkedin.

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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MastersDegree.net has created a fascinating infographic called The PitFalls of Freelancing:

Pitfalls of Freelancing
Created by: Masters Degree

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ZDNet writer Stephen Chapman has blogged about how Facebook is not the place for a freelancer to make contacts -- because a private message is very easily missed. He wrote:

As was discussed by my colleague Emil Protalinski this past December in a piece titled “Facebook is hiding your messages from you,” you most likely have messages waiting for you that you had no idea about (which means, so do the people you’ve tried messaging without “friending” first). For some, they’re just spam messages. But for folks like me (and, similarly, folks like those I’m trying to reach out to), I often have people legitimately message me without adding me first (which is understandable), and where do all of their messages end up? In that “Other” folder.

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It's seldom that there's good news on the health care front for freelancers, but it looks like the Freelancers Union is trying to put together a way for entrepreneurs to get reasonable insurance. I just got an announcement that they are putting together a nonprofit co-op (that will now be possible as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) for members in New York, New Jersey and Oregon.

CO-OPs will be open to all comers, including independent workers typically shut out of the traditional healthcare market. Americans making less than 400% of the federal poverty level will be eligible to receive financial support from the government to pay for their CO-OP health plan.

If you're looking for affordable health insurance, you may want to follow-up on this. They expect to start enrolling people in the Fall of 2013 and start offering coverage in January 2014.

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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I love talking to the cab drivers of Las Vegas -- well, most of them, anyway. The good ones are outgoing, chatty, and interesting; the really good ones are opinionated and let you know exactly where they stand, mostly on local issues. They get good tips.  (Then there are the bad ones, who spend the entire ride telling you how put upon they are because people aren't tipping them enough... They get reasonable tips, as long as their driving skills don't leave me white-knuckled.)

During the five days I was in Vegas, at least three drivers told me that Vegas was in a financial hole. The guy who drove me to the airport was especially eloquent; he explained that one of the reasons things were worse than they used to be is because, as I said in my last blog post, the latest fashion for hotel/casinos was high glitz and high prices.

It used to be that people could come, get a cheap hotel room, have a steak dinner for very little, and then spend their money in the casinos and shows, he told me. Now, the prices of the rooms have gone up and the cost of a meal has skyrocketed, due to the fact that most hotel restaurants these days are independently owned and high-maintenance, many pushing fancy foods and famous chefs. So people are finding that they have to spend their money on accommodations and food, and have a lot less to drop in the casinos. As a result, the casinos need to make up the difference by charging more for rooms and bringing in more expensive outside vendors, and the cycle goes on.

The cabbie also lamented the fact that ordinary people - who used to make up a large proportion of Las Vegas' customers - now visit casinos and walk past shops filled with extremely high-priced merchandise that they couldn't possibly afford. This, he asserted, makes them feel bad, subverting the idea of Las Vegas as a vacation spot. 

In short, he said - as did one or two others - Las Vegas has priced itself out of its former glory days as a place for working-class and middle-class people who enjoyed gambling to go and pretend, for a short time, that they were well-off and important. The rich, he shrugged, have other places to go.

You know, in writing this I've just become a bit embarrassed. It's not as if I ever really liked Las Vegas. When I first went for the Comdex trade show in 1993, it was all new and weird. My colleagues and I would go out after the show and walk along the strip, watching the volcano go off outside the Mirage, giggle at the elaborate costumes and decorations in Caesar's Palace, and then do a bit of judicious gambling. We'd have dinner at one of several restaurants without worrying about going over our expense accounts. It was fun.

Now, it's different. I thought perhaps it was me: that I had gotten older; that I wasn't hanging with a large crowd of friends and colleagues; that the overwhelming size of CES and the number of evening events had made it impossible to take the time to explore the city. But when I expressed this to several colleagues - and to one of the cabdrivers - they said that no, it was different. The "fun" hotels were getting seedy. It was difficult to find a reasonably decent place to have a middling expensive meal, never mind a good cheap one. It wasn't the same - and it wasn't getting better.

I'm not a gambler. I'm not fond of the way Las Vegas earns its money by persuading people to pour their money into what is essentially a black hole. But because I go there once a year, and because I've come to like some of the folks who work there, I feel bad for them and hope things can get better.

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Seek or Shout is a new -- so new that it's beta -- service from Cision, a company that helps PR professionals by offering databases of media contacts, media news and other support. According to the site:

Seek or Shout is a new community for anyone who creates or promotes content, including bloggers, journalists, freelance writers, public relations pros, marketers and students.

The idea is that bloggers and other writers can ask the community for sources, ideas, etc. and then promote the finished piece among their peers. Like other social networks, its success will not only depend on how well the site is designed, but whether anyone shows up.

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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EContent offers an article on how to find work on the Web -- and offers some good sources for hopeful freelance writers looking to avoid the content mills.

For freelancers looking to find work and support themselves through bid-based sites, the only answer is to raise their rates and hold out for the right job, a technique that often produces mixed results. Thursday Bram notes that "Oddly enough, while I started out pricing my work fairly low, every time I've raised my rates I've actually gotten more work. I'm not the only freelancer to experience this phenomenon. After conversations with clients, the reasoning is fairly simple to understand: a freelancer doesn't charge rates that she can't expect to get, generally speaking. As long as the freelancer in question has a good reputation, a raise in rates signals that there's demand for her work.

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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New York Times blogger David Bornstein wrote a follow-up to a piece reporting on the Freelancers Union's health plans for freelancers, including some of the reactions of readers, some of whom were grateful for the plans supplied by the Freelancers Union, but others of whom thought they were too expensive. And they're not cheap; according to Bornstein, they start at $225 a month. However, as Bornstein writes:

F.I.C.’s plans are substantially less expensive than most other options available to independent workers in New York, but they are not cheap. Individual plans range from $225 to $603 per month. (That’s the main reason that, like many others, I went without health insurance for the first decade of my writing career.) For 2012, many health insurance companies requested permission to enact huge premium increases. For example, Aetna made a request to hike the rates for its individual and small-group plans from 8.9 to 53.6 percent. Freelancers Union’s rates also went up, but only by 2.3 to 8.3 percent, well below the average. (In 2010, Aetna’s chief executive, Ronald A. Williams, also received $72 million in compensation.)

When/if the United States ever has the courage to get its act together and offer basic health care to its citizens -- whether they're employed by a company, self-employed or unemployed -- then plans such as those offered by the Freelancers Union will be unnecessarily. Until then, freelancers will still have to choose between paying a large proportion of their incomes for health insurance or taking the chance of having none at all.

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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According to MediaBistro, the National Writers Union, together with the Newspaper Guild, has decided to end its boycott of the Huffington Post -- a boycott which stemmed from the sale of the Huffington Post and the unhappiness of its unpaid writers. According to the article:

The Newspaper Guild has also stopped the boycott, writing: “We have asked, from the beginning, that Arianna Huffington and her staff meet with us to discuss the need for a model that compensates journalists for their efforts. Such meetings have now taken place, and the company has publicly pledged to work with us to resolve our differences. We are pleased to see HuffPost leaders stating so clearly the importance of paid journalism, not only to our society as a whole, but to their own business model.”

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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A new online service called Contently is offering to provide a way for freelance journalists and bloggers to manage their careers by letting them to promote their work. Those looking to hire can also use the site to find the writers and journalists they need. Contently is currently in open beta.

According to Emma Hutchings, who wrote about Contently on the site psfk:

The “anti-content-farm” is optimized for brands and forward-thinking agencies who want to commission magazine-quality writing. Contently’s network offers writers a place to showcase their work.

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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Jane Finkle, a writer for Abingon Patch, has written a short but useful article on freelancing for beginners. She suggests check out the Freelancers Union and a local (to her) resource, MyPartTimePRO, which posts freelance, temporary jobs and part time jobs in the Philadelphia area.

The series of Patch sites may be something worth checking out for freelance writers. It assigns "editors" to the locality in which they live, and they publish all the local news and events of interest there. I don't know what the rate of pay is, but if you're looking for some general freelance writing work, it may be worthwhile tocheck out their openings.

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Content farms such as Demand Media's eHow.com sometimes seem to have an unending appetite for fast, cheap (to them) articles -- so a hungry writer might who can crank out articles on a steady basis might see them as reliable sources of at least some income. But it looks like even a large farm may have its limit -- or, at least, may be affected by the stalled economy.

According to Noah Davis, a writer for Business Insider, Demand Media sent a letter to its freelance writers -- who, according to Davis, number in the thousands -- basically saying (in business speak) that it will be cutting down on its assignments.

Looking ahead, as we continue to publish articles for eHow and our other sites, we want to be sure we are building on what already exists, not replicating it. This is not to say we will stop assigning standard titles in How to and Topic View format for eHow.com. But it does mean that we will have fewer eHow.com assignments for the foreseeable future.

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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Freelancer Tamara Oberholster offers five tips on staying sane if you're a freelancer. They're pretty basic, but that doesn't mean that they don't make sense. These include: keep office hours, get out more often, get support, take on jobs you love (not always practical when you're freelancing, but never mind), and my favorite, understand the true meaning of the word "urgent":

Freelancers who enjoy their sanity need to learn to manage client expectations by not agreeing to take on totally ridiculous deadlines and by not letting the client’s stress and sense of urgency take over their lives.

Posted via email from Resources for Freelance Writers

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