What should you do before you quit your job to freelance?

If you are thinking about starting your own business, sometimes you might think to yourself that it would be so much easier if you could quit your job and focus on your freelancing 100%. However, in many cases it is best to wait to quit your job. There are many things that you will want to do before you quit to freelance full-time.

If you build up your freelancing services and clients before you quit, you will be more prepared and you will still have your hopefully stable day job income to count on. When first starting out with freelancing, it may takes months or years before you reach a stable level of freelancing income that you can live off of.

Build your services.

What services are you going to offer with your business? Will they be online services? Will you be selling a product? What kind of funding will you need in order to start and grow your business? There are a lot of things that need to be thought about.

Having a built-up portfolio is very important.

What should you do before you quit your job to freelance?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kristinnador/7640329884/

Build your clients.

What type of clients are you targeting? Will your clients be mainly other businesses? Or will you be selling directly to a certain market such as selling on Etsy? Advertise your services and/or products and make sure that people know who you are and what you are offering.

 

Related posts: 

Building your Reputation as a Freelancer

Finding Private Health Insurance When You’re Self-Employed

How to leave your job for Self-Employment

Work From Home Opportunities

Freelancing Options

 

Figure out what your budget and cash flow needs to do.

How much do you need to make each month in order to pay your bills? Think about how you will save for retirement as well. Will you be okay financially if you have a bad month?

How will you legally set up your business?

Will you have a partnership? What about an LLC? A sole proprietorship? They are positives and negatives of each. Thinking about taxes and your liability is important as well when determining what form of business you will run.

What would you do to make sure that your freelancing services are stable?

 

 

A quiet night in: an exercise in frugal saving.

image1As much as any couple, family or group of friends might like going out, it’s never cheap. Whether it’s fine dining or going out to your local bar or restaurant, these are costs that add up all too easily. They may seem cheap once in a while but once you start doing it on a weekly or semi-regular basis, it becomes a larger and larger chunk of your expenses.

In contrast to this, understanding the benefits of a quiet night in can prove useful. More than offering something different and relaxing it can demonstrate a way to stay cheap and cost effective whilst still enjoying the usual perks of life.

Food

If you go out to eat, you should know how much this can cost. Cooking for yourself is usually the cheapest but there are still other options. For instance, if you have the urge for Chinese food, it may be cheaper for everyone to pool money together for chinese takeaways than visit your local restaurant. It’s much cheaper and doesn’t have the added costs of additional drinks and restaurant prices and other service charges that are often forgotten about.

Entertainment

Likewise, if you’re not going out, there is nothing to stop you from being social. Your home can prove entertaining enough with the right company. Cheap entertainment can be anything from a movie rental (if you’re only going to watch it once, don’t buy something you don’t need) to various games, which offer entertainment again and again. These are all cheap, whether you use it once or buy it to use again and again. This is another lesson to be learnt in saving, by understanding the real value of something.

If you come across some movies that you and your friends love, it makes sense to purchase the DVD so you can all watch it whenever you like. Luckily, you can save money by ordering your DVDs online, so you do not have to worry about breaking the bank. To make things more interesting, consider having each person purchase a DVD online and then choosing between your favorites every time you gather.

Additional expenses

Hopefully the two areas above should highlight how easy it is to cut down on those little costs for every social occasion but there are always other areas to look at. Take your appearance, for instance. If you don’t go out to an expensive restaurant you might not need to risk your best shirt or shoes. It can also save on other expenses, such as getting a taxi home late if you’ve been drinking or other travel costs.  So, next time you think you might go out, suggest staying in to the others and see how much can be saved.

How Do You Prepare to Work from Home?

Working from home is a dream for most. Can you really make a live-able income all while working from the comfort of your home? Working from home might seem perfect to some, but there are many things to think about.

What is needed to start working from home.

The tools you’ll need to work from home may vary significantly depending on your chosen services that you decide to offer. For many at-home jobs, the primary prerequisites involve technology. Most importantly, you may need a computer, phone and possibly other devices to stay connected to your clients or customers.

If you need much more than that, make sure to put some thought into your idea before you jump in, as upfront costs for a new business can be steep. Make a schedule so that you know how much time is needed for your side jobs.

 

Related posts: 

Building your Reputation as a Freelancer

Finding Private Health Insurance When You’re Self-Employed

Work From Home Opportunities

Freelancing Options

Advantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant

 

via http://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/6826909042/

Legal and tax implications of working at home.

Before you take the plunge, you’ll also want to address the legal and tax implications of your new venture. There are many things to think about, and you should outline a plan as soon as possible.

For example, even if you are working solo on your project and freelancing services, you may want to incorporate your business, set up a limited liability company, set up a partnership or formally organize yourself in another way. Laws vary from state to state, so consulting an attorney knowledgeable about business entities and their formation could help you figure out the best way for you to operate your business. Costs for setting up your business vary as well, as in some states it might be as low as $50, and in others it might be in the hundreds. This cost shouldn’t prevent you though, as there are many, many positives of setting up your business legally.

In addition, the owners of many small businesses find out the hard way that some cities and states require licenses to operate businesses, no matter how small that they may be. Therefore, you should check with your local officials to find out if you’ll need a business license to proceed as it’s much better to know before you start offering your services or selling your products.

In addition, talking to an accountant or other tax professional to find out how you’ll be taxed is very important. Self-employment tax rates are generally high (you could be paying as much as 40% in taxes altogether!), and you may need to make quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS and your state taxing authority in order to avoid paying penalties and having to make a rather large check to Uncle Sam at the end of the year.

No one wants to find out at the last second that they owe a lot of money and can’t afford their dream of self-employment anymore. If you don’t think about taxes until when they are due, then you will most likely be shocked at how much you are taxed.

Can you actually work at your home?

Furthermore, while many at-home businesses can easily be conducted without any resulting disturbance to others, you should carefully consider whether anything about your business could annoy your neighbors and whether operating the business from your residence could violate any local zoning ordinance, any restrictive covenants governing your neighborhood or the terms of your mortgage.

It would probably not be a good idea if you constantly had people coming in and out of your house, as it can be annoying for parking in your neighborhood and your neighbors most likely will not like to have a lot of strangers in their neighborhood every single day.

A financial plan is needed.

Finally, you need a financial plan for your business or at least a budget. Although operating your business from home could potentially save you thousands in upfront startup costs, you need to carefully examine how much money you’ll need to conduct business before you get started. You don’t want to start a new business without a budget and then find out only months or even weeks later that your self-employment dreams are not possible anymore.

A budget will help you realize where you can spend and where you might want to hold back until funds are found for it.

The amount you’re willing to shell out on the front end for your new business should be determined, at least in part, by the earning potential of your new venture. For example, if you’re going out on a limb with a risky idea and have very few potential clients lined up, consider easing into the project so you minimize your financial exposure.

How would you prepare to work at home?

 

This post was mentioned on Dreams Cash True.

Are you a bad freelancer?

Freelancing is a topic that I have been covering a lot on the blog lately. Many bloggers have been increasing their freelancing services. So, what makes a good freelancer? What makes a bad freelancer?

If you want to become a freelancer with a great reputation, then you should try to not make these mistakes.

Being dishonest with your clients.

When freelancing, you should be as honest as you can be. Lying about a past project and/or past results is never a good idea. Also, pretending that you are able to do something (such as being able to design websites when you never have in your life) when you cannot is not a good idea. Even one small lie will make you look extremely dishonest. It’s always best to be as honest as possible.

 

Related posts: 

Building your Reputation as a Freelancer

Finding Private Health Insurance When You’re Self-Employed

Work From Home Opportunities

Freelancing Options

Advantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant

 

Being unprofessional or gossiping with your clients.

Most people like a little bit of gossip. However, you probably do not want to call your clients and customers and cry on the phone about something that your sister’s ex-best friend said about you. That is never a good idea. Being unprofessional can cost you a client.

via http://www.flickr.com/photos/ms-ito/362116116/

Turning in late work.

Many clients have experiences this, when your freelancer turns in their work late.

If you think that you may turn in your work late, you should let your client know immediately. They will appreciate your honesty and then they can schedule around when you think that you will actually turn in your work. Clients don’t want to find out at the last second that they won’t get your work until a week or a month later.

Slacking off with your freelancing services.

There are many reasons for why some freelancers might start slacking off with the services that they offer. They may feel like they are not earning enough and will start slacking off to “get back” at their client. This is a HORRIBLE idea. If you feel that you are not getting paid what you should, then you should say something immediately. Slacking off can cost you many clients now and in the future.

Others might start slacking off because they took on too many projects at once. You should be realistic with your time. You should never give your client less quality work just because you cannot keep up.

What are other bad freelance behaviors?

 

Freelancing Options

 

To me, freelancing is my perfect world. I have dreamt of it for a long time, and my dream/reality is finally here. Working for yourself has so many positives. Not everything is perfect, and there are almost downsides to everything, but to me working for myself very much outweighs working for someone else.

Freelancing isn’t for everyone though. Some prefer to work for others. If you work for someone else, you can most likely go to work and then go home, without the stress of being an owner and having an unstable paycheck.

If you want to become a freelancer, then you have to have some sort of skill. Not everyone can be a freelancer because there has to be some sort of market for the services that you want to offer.

via http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/5730523107/

Don’t worry everyone, freelancing doesn’t mean that you can only be a writer. It’s amazing how many people consider freelance writing as the only form of freelancing in the freelance market. There are so many things out there that you can do:

  • Writer – of course I have to add this one.
  • Website/graphic designers – This is something where it really takes talent. I would be a horrible designer! There are website designer, logo designers, and so on.
  • Translators – Do you know more than one language? Maybe you can translate a language. Another idea would be to teach others a new language.
  • Editors – There are so many websites out there. They all need to be managed somehow!
  • Virtual assistants- As a virtual assistant, you can help others with their website, manage emails, help with online conferences and so on.
  • Customer service representatives – There are many companies that hire for customer service representatives where you work from home.
  • Photographers – Same with website and graphic designers, talent is needed if you want to become a freelance photographer.  Many also go to school for this as well.
  • Interior designers – Do you love to decorate and come up with floor plans? Then interior designing would probably be perfect for you!
  • Wedding planner/consultant – Planning a wedding can be a lot of fun, but also stressful. You can help a bride plan her perfect day

 

 

Do you want to be a freelancer? Why or why not?

 

Virtual Assistant Disadvantages

 

Freelancing seems to be on a lot of peoples’ minds lately. One hot topic is virtual assisting. There are many positives and negatives, and today we will be talking about the disadvantages. The other day we talked about the advantages.

Disadvantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant

And yes, there are some. The main disadvantages of becoming a virtual assistant are:

That you need to provide for your own health care costs, taxes, setup costs, training costs etc. This is something that many who are new to freelancing do not realize. I’m sure that you read plenty of income reports online written by people who make a good amount of money online or freelancing, but you have to keep in mind that there are other costs that they have to factor in that you might not think about if you work for someone else.

Working from home might also be a disadvantage for you. If you don’t have the discipline and focus to work on what you need to, then you might find yourself wasting many hours doing things each day that are not productive or money-making.

Healthcare costs can add up very quickly. You might only need coverage that cost a couple hundred dollars each month, but sometimes coverage for you and your whole family might be in the thousands each month.

It takes a lot of effort and hard work to get established initially, with the effort required being similar to starting a small business.

You need to deal with the back end issues – calculating the taxes, dealing with customer support and issues, marketing and promotion etc. As a freelancer, taxes also need to be considered. You will most likely have to pay self-employment tax, and your taxes altogether may be near 30 to 40%.

If you would rather not be saddled with these issues,  you can get around some of them, to a certain extent, by joining a virtual assistant agency who will match you up with a client (for a fee, of course). If you are looking for a temporary gig, or a one-off project to make some extra money, or just want to get a taste of this before diving in, then this may be the route to go.

Is virtual assisting in your future?

 

Advantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant

Freelancing seems to be on a lot of peoples’ minds lately. One hot topic is virtual assisting. There are many positives and negatives, but we will save the disadvantages of being a virtual assistant for another day 🙂

Advantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant

The main advantages of becoming a virtual assistant are:

The ability to work from home. Some people like to work from home, while some honestly do not. I actually prefer to work from home. Working from the comfort of my own home is a huge positive. I can create my own schedule. I also don’t have to waste a lot of time by driving to and from work. That saves a ton of time right there! I know of a lot of people who spend a couple of hours EACH DAY on their commute, who wants to do that? You would also save on gas costs as well, and you might be able to eliminate your transportation costs completely from your budget.

The ability to choose the work to suit your personal needs – your schedule, your tastes, your temperament, your unique working style. This is a big positive of freelancing and being a virtual assistant. You have the option for what you want to work on.

The ability to scale your work (take on more vs refuse a client) depending on the demands of your personal life.

The option to get more creative both with your skills and your choice of clients.

The ability to set your own price. Depending on whom you ask, this may actually be a disadvantage, but I believe in taking control of our lives and finances, so no matter how difficult the task may seem, if it puts us in control, we list it in the “advantages” section 🙂 You can determine your price and what you see as valuable.

And, the best of all, being your own boss! You still have to answer to your clients,  and some clients may have the tendency to micro manage, but hey, once you finish a project for that client, you don’t ever have to work with him/her again, if you don’t want to!

Remember, you may have to wait until you are established before reaping some of these benefits, though. For instance once you have a steady stream of projects, you will have a lot more freedom to pick and choose which projects you want to take on, but in the beginning when you are still trying to get your footing, you may have to take on tasks that may not be as much of a perfect fit for you.

 

Do you want to be a virtual assistant?

 

Are you looking for clients? Part 2

Recently, I talked about what you should do when you start looking for clients for your freelancing endeavors. In order to start off on the best foot possible, then continue reading Part 2!

When a person decides to live the freelancing lifestyle, a lot of things need to be thought about. So how do you get started with freelancing? Clients are key of course!  Finding clients should definitely be your goal as a freelancer. However, before you jump right in, you want a game plan so that you can be successful.

Create a Client Contract

When freelancing, contracts are very important. Why shouldn’t freelancers deserve the protection of written contracts? Before looking for clients, you need to sit down and create a contract that covers the service you are offering, the price agreed upon, the client’s details, the project details, and any actions you will take if the contract is broken. You can use this sort of as a template for future contracts, so that you are prepared for work that comes your way.

No, you don’t have a client yet, but you can create a contract template that you will fill in with all the pertinent information later. When you get a client, if you aren’t under contract through one of the websites above, you must email the client the contract, request their signature, and have it sent back to you, either through the fax machine, or an online faxing service. In the event that you do not have a contract, at the very minimum ensure that all the terms of the project are in written format in an email.

Set pricing for your freelancing 

We finally come to the most enjoyable part of all money making ideas – figuring out how much to charge for your freelancing work. The best way to create a fair list of fees is to figure out what other people in your industry are charging. What is someone with the same experience and similar level of service offering? Are you looking to be a “value” competitor or are you looking to be the highest price?

You need to determine if you will charge hourly, per project, per word and so on.  If you take 2 hours to do a simple task, you might want to consider a per project price just because clients don’t want to pay you for slacking off or incompetence. If you can crank out 3 articles an hour, you need to charge a per word rate so you can get maximum returns for your skills.

Register with a payment site to collect freelancing payments

There are many different payment sites that you can use for your freelancing, but PayPal seems to be number one when it comes to trustworthiness. Almost everyone uses it, so that also makes it more simple for everyone as well.

Determine what hours your freelancing will be

When you become a freelancer, you might choose to work whenever you want. You might be working ALL THE TIME. But in order to have a healthy freelancing business, it is usually best to choose set hours for your freelancing business.

Are you looking for clients? Part 1

When a person decides to live the freelancing lifestyle, a lot of things need to be thought about. So how do you get started with freelancing? Clients are key of course!  Finding clients should definitely be your goal as a freelancer. However, before you jump right in, you want a game plan so that you can be successful.

Jumping into freelancing without any kind of plan isn’t the best idea.You need to be prepared.

Create a Portfolio for your clients.

Clients will have lots and lots of questions, especially if you are brand new and don’t have much experience. One of the first things potential clients will ask is, “Have you ever…?” or “Do you have references?” or “Do you have links to some work that I can see?” They also probably just want to know if you have a full list of your services. Don’t try to just “wing” everything.

Clients will almost always have questions (it would be weird if they had zero questions) and you as a freelancer should be prepared to answer them. If you’re just starting out in your particular niche and don’t have anything you can show for it, provide the client with a portfolio of work that you’ve done in another niche.

If you’ve been in the freelancing game for a while, you should compile a list of links to work that you’ve done before, and choose to showcase the best ones that you want other people to see.

Create a Website for your freelancing business.

When freelancing, it is almost ALWAYS a good idea to have a website, and you should consider purchasing a domain name and creating a website. Usually when you decide to do a company, you search for them online. It is just a habit of most people, and it almost always increases your reliability if you have a professional website that your customers can look at.

A website that contains your portfolio, a list of your services, a list of what you charge, testimonials, a link to your blog, links to your networking sites, and a way to contact you can make you look professional and get some instant credibility. Pictures and anything else are always a good idea for your freelancing website.

Register on Freelance Sites so that potential clients can find you.

Before you go looking for clients, register on several freelance websites. There are a ton of them out there and it’s always a great way to get your name out there. Here is a list of some of the popular ones –

 

Many of these sites are free to sign up, but they all require a fee for any work done through the website. Often times, freelancers will find clients through these websites and take the work ‘offsite’ in order to bypass the fees.

Do you do all of the above? Why or why not?

 

Start Your Own Business for Less Than $500

If your friend announces that they’re going to start their own business, what is your immediate thought? If you’re like most, you probably imagine them opening up shop in a building downtown and selling something to customers that walk in the front door.

This is certainly one way to start a business, but in today’s world I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. The building itself would cost $200k or more, and then you would most likely have to buy a bunch of inventory to stock the shelves, and then you would have to hire someone to sell it! It’s an expensive way to do business and it fails more often than it succeeds.

Since the internet has come along, starting a traditional “brick and mortar” store is most often for broke thinkers. It costs way too much to start and the potential for profits is extremely slim.  Self-employment and working online is possible as well.

 

Two Factors For Your Business

If you’re thinking about starting your own business, you must at the very least take into consideration to factors: (1) how much are the start-up costs, and (2) what are the potential earnings?

If you open up a baseball card shop downtown, the initial costs will be astronomical and even if you sold thousands of baseball cards each month, what are the odds that you’ll earn enough profits to stick around for the next 20 years? The odds are incredibly slim. This model has high start-up costs and low earnings potential.

Now, what if you took that same baseball card store idea and decided to make a virtual store instead? The initial cost of your website would be $100 or so and the potential sales wouldn’t just be to one neighborhood, but to the entire world! Your earnings potential is now through the roof!

 

Related posts: 

Building your Reputation as a Freelancer

Finding Private Health Insurance When You’re Self-Employed

Work From Home Opportunities

Freelancing Options

Advantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant

 

Start-Ups for $500 or Less

So what businesses can you possibly start for less than $500? I can think of quite a few actually. Pretty much any business online will cost you almost nothing, but in case you’re interested in doing something that doesn’t force you to use your laptop, here are some other ideas:

1)      Lawn Care – All you need is a lawn mower and a weed whacker and you’re in business! If you already own them (which many of us do), then your start-up cost is practically nothing.

2)      Spring Clean-Up – Nobody like to pick up rotten leaves and sticks. You could make a business of this and clean-up! All you really need is a wheelbarrow and a pair of working gloves. Now that’s a cheap start-up.

3)      Detailing Cars – People very rarely clean their cars inside and out and would much rather pay someone else to do it for them. You’ll have to buy a few supplies, but in total, this really shouldn’t cost you more than $100.

4)      Vendor – If you have a lot of parades and events in your area, you might want to try your hand at being a vendor. The cart could get a little pricey, but with a deal, I bet you could keep it under $500.

5)      Build Cabinets – All you need is some lumber and a few tools. If people like your work, this business could really turn into something!

6)      Mechanic – If you know how to repair cars today, you could be in pretty high demand. If you already have the tools, then this start-up will cost you absolutely nothing and it has a tremendous upside!

 

Are you thinking about starting your own business?