There may be economic recovery in parts of the U.S., but it’s not being created by big business. According tp the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 10.1% of total U.S. employment were self-employed. Since 2001 there has been a 14 percent increase in people who have become self-employed, with over 15 million self-employed workers in 2015. You know the saying, “If you can’t find a job, create one“. If you’re a creative freelancer who dabbles on nights, weekends and in your spare time just to make some extra money, this can be the time to up your game and make your freelance career your full time career. Turning your part-time freelancing into a full time business can be complicated, but it can be the most satisfying job you’ll ever have.
Being a full time freelancer may seem like a day filled with doing whatever you want whenever you want, but you’ll actually have to be more disciplined than you ever were working for someone else. If you don’t have to punch a clock and there’s no one to tell you what to do, what’s to stop you from taking the afternoon off to go to the beach? The fact is, if you don’t work, you don’t make money, so getting organized and working is your only option. Schedule your day like any other work day, with tasks and a schedule/calendar, and keep your focus on the job. Try some tools to help you build and plan (see Trello) your business (see Fizzle and the Pomodoro Technique) to help keep your focus, if your mind tends to wander.
Independent businesses have an entirely different tax structure than employees do, including paying their own social security and Medicaid taxes. Your best bet is to consult an accountant to find out all the details, but basically you’ll have to set aside money to pay the taxes your employer used to pay on your work. The IRS will accept quarterly tax payments based on your estimated annual income, and a large number of items can be used as income deductions.
The odds are pretty good that you’re not an expert business accountant, so keeping track of your income and expenses can be a confusing concept. This is important when it comes to claiming the right income at tax time, knowing when to raise your prices, and figuring out where the money is going. Instead of taking courses in accounting, it’s much easier to find a program online. Find accounting software that fits in with your knowledge, and use it daily to keep your business on track. There are many options, such as QuickBooks and FreshBooks.
The days of getting paid by check for your services is long gone. Today’s online payment structure is instant, employing virtual money you may never see. When it comes to online payments, PayPal is the king, available worldwide and accepted without question in almost any business online. If you’d like to add variety for your clients, there are a number of alternatives to PayPal that work in the same general way. Most financial institutions offer some version of online payments.
Even if your freelance business is not web based, leveraging social media is key to any successful business. Setup your own domain/website as a start. Create social media accounts for your business (keep these separate from your personal social media sites) including (but not limited to) LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Consider advertising on one or more of these platforms and ensure that your profile is clear in terms of the products and services you offer.
You will want to create a business email address that is separate from your personal email address and it makes the most sense to leverage the same domain that you use for your website. Your email address should be something that is easy to remember, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Your hosting company should have tools for this or consider having Google manage your email accounts.
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