Freelancers generally enjoy a greater variety of assignments than in regular employment, and—subject to the need to earn a regular income—usually have more freedom to choose their work schedule. The experience can also lead to a broad portfolio of work and the establishment of a network of clients ultimately leading to a permanent position.
Sometimes a freelancer will work with one or more other freelancers and/or vendors to form a "virtual agency" to serve a particular client's needs for short-term and permanent project work. This versatile agency model can help a freelancer land jobs which require targeted, specific experience and skills outside the scope of one individual. As the clients change, so too may the players chosen for a virtual agency's talent base.
This can have a positive affect also. On occasion, freelancers and clients can form a relationship based on mutual needs and the professionalism, and competence of both parties.
Maintaining enthusiasm, productivity levels, a sense of humor and general sanity can sometimes be a challenge for career freelancers!
Here are ten lessons that every successful freelancer has learned: lessons that will help keep you on the right track in the world of going it alone.
The major drawback is the uncertainty of work — and thus income — and lack of company benefits such as a pension, health insurance, paid holidays and bonuses. However, many freelancers, especially in journalism, regard themselves as having greater income security through the diversity of outlets—the loss of any one of which leads to the loss of only a proportion of income, rather than its totality as with salaried employees.
What every freelancer should know
1. Get a tax advisor. These lovely people have chosen to read IRS documents as a full-time career -- take advantage of this bizarre miscalculation. Not only can they save you more money in taxes than they charge in fees, but hiring one means you will never, ever have to figure out the part of the 4562 Depreciation and Amortization form that asks you to calculate your special allowance for qualified Gulf Opportunity Zone property placed in service during the tax year and used more than 50percent in a qualified business use.
2. Set up a different bank account for your business earnings. And use a separate credit card -- which you pay for with your business account -- for business and healthcare expenses. This makes it much easier to keep track of your cash flow. I did this by opening a linked account with my normal bank account and then signing up for a JetBlue credit card -- which makes me feel like every time I'm buying staples (deductible!), I'm getting one step closer to a vacation. Or, at the very least, five free hours of DirecTV.
3. Pay your taxes quarterly/yearly. The bastards charge interest.
6. Build in rewards. To quote a friend: "Do not get into the habit of drinking beer with lunch. At the same time, you should sometimes drink beer with lunch, because that is one of the reasons you are self-employed in the first place." His advice isn't just about alcohol -- though I did have a ginger-tini with lunch the other day that made me feel everything was right with the world.
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