You’re a writer. A freelance writer. This means that you’re constantly aware of your cash flow — or a dam in the flow of cash. Managing freelance income is always a challenge — you’re continually either in a state of feast, or of famine — but you can do it.
Start by managing your spending.
Manage your spending by tracking it
It’s simple, and easy, and it’s the best way to be prepared for tax season, so track what you spend. Track everything. It’s amazing what you can save, once you know where your money’s going.
Keep your tracking simple. Stash a tiny notebook in your pocket or purse (I use Field Notes) and enter your daily expenses into a spreadsheet. After just a week, you’ll spot areas in which you can save. You may also be amazed at the expenses for which you can claim on your income tax. (See getting an accountant’s advice, below.)
Build your business with retainers
Are you shy of asking your clients for money up front? Don’t be. It’s common business practice.
As soon as a client accepts your quote, send an invoice which itemizes everything you’ll do in relation to the project. Also send your Terms of Service (TOS) document. (All your standard business document templates are included in The Professional Writers’ Pitch Book.) Your TOS describes the number of revisions you’ll do, and when copyright passes to the client. Copyright only devolves on payment in full. Until everything’s paid for, copyright remains with you.
As a rule of thumb, I advise my students to get the complete payment up front on smaller projects, under $300. For big projects, include milestone payments in your quote.
Essential: never work for more than eight hours without a milestone payment.
Invest in yourself: YOU are your writing business
Every writer is constantly learning. I invest in myself every year by taking courses and programs. It’s essential. You need to ground yourself in what you do. As with every other craft and profession, the more you know, the more you’re worth.
Sadly, courses don’t magically implant themselves in your brain, and fingertips. You need to practice what you learn, then you need to use that knowledge.
My proudest moments with students are always when they take what they’ve learned, and put it into action. It takes courage, but you have that, otherwise you wouldn’t write. 🙂
Get an accountant’s advice, every year
The small fee you pay your accountant pay for itself, many times over. Your accountant knows how to manage money, and how to minimize your tax obligations. Even if you’ve only made small sums from your writing, and you do your own taxes, get advice. Often we’re too close to our business to see it clearly.
YOU control your freelance income
Seriously. You do. You decide how much you’ll charge, with whom you’ll work, and how you get paid. Confidence comes with experience. Your clients take their cue from you.
If you’re not sure how to do something — ask. Always. However, don’t be a doormat. You’re the boss now. 🙂
Closeout deal: The Professional Writers’ Pitch Book
The Professional Writers’ Pitch Book: Win The Best Writing Jobs Now includes everything you need to run your writing business professionally, including templates for all business documents. You’ll love the Pitch Template — it’s easy, just copy and paste, then customize it with your own details.
When you discover the secrets of pitching, you’ll get the great writing jobs you’ve always wanted; you can double and triple your income, almost instantly, when you learn how to pitch.
How to profit from your writing: online store.