by Becky Scott
Many writers forget that as freelancers, we’re also businesspersons. There are things we must do, no matter how distasteful. Paperwork. Marketing. Deadlines (okay, so maybe some of us don’t mind deadlines).
Our reality, though, is that we must take care of our business if we’re going to really make it as a freelancer. And there are things we can do to make it easier on ourselves so we can do what we love – write!
1) Find a system and stick to it.You can waste a lot of time chasing the newest, shiniest organizational system. You don’t need that. Find something that works for you. Then use it consistently.
2) Track your expenses.If you track as you go, it will make tax time so much easier for you. Who wants to spend all day going through receipts? Just a few minutes each day or week is all you need.
3) Have a plan.Plan out your time. Take an hour or two a week to do administrative work. If you take regular bites out of it, it’ll be less scary.
4) Use a calendar.It doesn’t matter if you like paper or electronic calendars. Just use one consistently to track deadlines – that includes when payments and invoices are due, as well as your writing deadlines.
5) Track your payments.Know how much money you have outstanding. When you get a check, deposit it. If you only go to the bank once a week, keep your checks together until then. And after you deposit, mark the invoices paid. If you do this as you go along, you won’t panic thinking you lost a check. You’ll know exactly where your money should be.
6) Get a business checking account.You’ll look more like a legitimate business and that’s good for your taxes. And for some writing jobs, too. Businesses sometimes like to hire other businesses.
7) File paperwork regularly.Again, if you want to have more time to write, do those little administrative tasks regularly. Like filing. Take little chunks out of it rather than making it into a big monster that you dread attacking.
8) Market yourself consistently.Don’t just wait until you don’t have anything lined up. Take some time every week to send out queries, scan the job listings daily, and keep the work rolling in. Don’t you work better when you don’t have to worry about where the next gig is going to come from? If you market consistently, you’ll have work consistently.
9) Get an accountant.Unless you’re a CPA yourself or you just really like tax stuff, hire an accountant. Yes, you’ll be paying for a service that you can probably do yourself given enough time. But do you want to spend your time wrestling numbers, or writing?
10) Track your clients.Remember that company that needed a report last year? Have you followed up with them for more work? And the editor that loved your article four months ago? Did you follow up to say thank you? Tracking satisfied clients can garner you more business. Just give them a quick call or e-mail to see what they need from you.
These ten things can sometimes seem like huge chores to a writer. But if you break them into chunks and work your way through them, you can move on to what you are really here for – to write!
Becky is a freelance writer and editor in San Diego, Ca. She writes about a variety of topics including business organization and productivity, automotive info for women, personal blogging and celebrity real estate gossip. Visit her online at www.beckyscorner.com