A tax return is a nice way to bolster some additional funds into your working life, but make the most of this annual bonus by looking at it as part of a bigger, more holistic way to manage your freelancing finances. Here are some tips to consider if you’re a solo show-pony.
- Set yourself up for success: Setting yourself up properly is key to success – this includes setting up an ABN and understanding deductions that you can claim on tax. These will be unique depending on your line of work, but some expenses may be related to travel, clothing, home office, tools, equipment, gifts and donations. Remember, one of the perks of being a freelancer is that you’re own boss and keeping up with changes or advancements in your chosen industry are no longer optional, but essential. As is self-education. So sign up for courses, attend seminars, invest in subscriptions and research, and network like no other to ensure you’re ahead of the game.
- Hire help for long-term gain: Freelancers may find it hard to get out of their own heads (both for business and pleasure), which is why hiring other professionals can be one of the most powerful ways to enhance your business without necessarily increasing your workload. You might find simpler ways to get jobs done with a virtual assistant doing the niggly things on your website, an agent to negotiate the rights of your publishing contract, or completely reinvent your day-to-day goals and direction with a specialised creative consultant. A single brainstorm and consult may snag you months – potentially even years – of bigger and better business. The best bit? This investment is likely to be tax deductible.
- Work from your favourite cafe (and claim it!): Heading to a cafe to write up a few ideas over a spiced chai can actually soothe your financial woes as well as your stress levels. Provided the experience is conducive to producing high-quality work on your part, this little outing can return a small present to your back pocket once a financial year – like a caffeinated Santa Claus. Instead of keeping individual receipts from every business meeting you have, consider getting a low rate credit card with interest free period to pay for work-related meetings. This is great for tracking expenses, but also makes tax time a breeze as all your claims will be in one place, eliminating the stress of tracking receipts and purchases.
Whether you’re a freelancer, employed full-time or just testing the waters, you’ll have to work incredibly hard to prove you’re actually a killer writer and worth the coins. Follow these three tips to stick out from the crowd and show potential clients that they need your words!
- Charge what you’re worth: So many people don’t like talking about money – and they squirm at the idea of meeting a client to discuss prices. However, once you break out of this traditional mindset you’ll realise that not only is the cost of your work an indication of how much money you make, it’s also a signal to others that your time, efforts and words are of that particular quality. In some cases, upping your worth could make you the more attractive option. A key consideration to make here is that increasing your costs will also make you more accountable for your work’s quality. Think about ways to add value. For example, include an extended version of the content for use on the publication’s website; this shows that you’re thinking beyond your pay rate and are a valuable contributor for them to have on board.
- Word rate or flat fee? This point could almost be re-worded to say “know how to read your client”. When it comes to providing written work to a client, the length and nature of your arrangements has a huge sway on which payment methods you should bring to the table. If, for example, you’re providing the written copy for an ongoing campaign, asking to be paid per word doesn’t make sense – it’s messy, hard to pinpoint and requires too much brainpower on their end. In this instance, paying per project is likely to be a much better option, both for minimising invoicing efforts on your part, and approving those payments on your client’s end. Use this calculator to determine what you should be charging.
- Become top of mind: Having a regular and engaging brand presence is one of the most underappreciated skills of the modern writer, but when you think about it, it’s also one of the most obvious ways to promote your skills. If you’re using social media and regular face-to-face catch ups to put snippets of your work in front of the right people, seeds are being planted in their head that will sprout the next time they’re sitting at their desk needing fresh content. There’s nothing better than being on the receiving end of that eureka moment when a big name realises “Oh, ___ would know something on this!”