Required writing: Do I really need a blog?

Dr. Freelance, I’ve been blogging for a few months. I usually enjoy it, but it’s a bit frustrating to pour my heart and soul into something and then have practically no traffic and certainly no new clients to show for it. As a writer, I know it’s something that people expect, but I’m close to concluding it’s not worth the effort. Am I missing something? Do I really need a blog just because I write for a living?–Bloggers Anonymous [Read more…]

It’s tax season…do you know where your 1099s are?

Dr. Freelance, if I don’t receive a 1099 for each client who paid me $600 or more, can the IRS penalize me?—Infernally Ravenous Scoundrels

Dear IRS: No, as long as you pay the appropriate taxes on your paid freelance gigs, there is no penalty for not having the actual form 1099s. There’s a wide variety of common 1099-MISC issues, such as if they’re too high or low, have incorrect information, or don’t come at all. Because the rules and regulations are too complex to deal with here, I recommend that you consult the IRS.gov site or your CPA for guidance on how to handle those types of situations correctly. [Read more…]

Why working on commission is best left to salespeople

Dr. Freelance, I’ve recently experienced a rash of potential clients suggesting I should be working on commission. (I do a lot of PR work, so they want to pay me based on how much press I get them, for example.) I’m not sure if I’m giving out some sort of weird vibe or if this is just a temporary thing, but I know for sure that working for free is no way to pay the bills. Any suggestions on how to handle these situations?—The Commissioner

Commissioner, I think you’re correct calling it a “rash”—it gives me hives just hearing about it. My guess is that these people aren’t making much money right now, and so they’re trying to figure out ways of doing things on a shoestring. Your shoestring. [Read more…]

A healthcare alternative

Dr. Freelance, I have a pre-existing health condition, and I am considering taking a part-time position with one of my clients as a way of securing affordable insurance. I haven’t made my final decision, because it feels like I’m “giving up” if I’m no longer freelance-only. What’s your opinion? — 100% 1099

100% 1099, I understand your pride in being full-time freelance. That pride, however, needs to take a back seat to the more practical matters, which are 1) your health and 2) your overall financial well-being. [Read more…]

Will layoffs cause a freelance tsunami?

Dr. Freelance, I’ve got quite a few friends in the newspaper business who’ve been laid off in recent months, and many of them are hanging up a shingle as a freelancer. Do you think this is going to lower prices and/or create more competition for freelance gigs? — Freelance Tsunami Watcher

Freelance Tsunami Watcher, I’ve seen the same thing, with tons of friends (in all types of media, not just papers) who’ve lost their jobs in the past year. It’s pretty awful. There are several factors to my answer: [Read more…]

How to cure the new-client jitters

Dr. Freelance, I’m relatively new to freelancing–I’ve been at it just over a year. I love it once I have an assignment, but I still sort of freak out in a first client meeting. I’m confident in my abilities as a writer and editor, but I’m not sure I’m coming across as professionally as I should. (Actually, I’m sure I’m not.) What can I do to get rid of the new-client jitters?–Sweaty Palms Springs

SPS, I think we all like the concept of having a new client meeting. We’re daydreaming about the interesting projects, future referrals, and, of course, the dollar signs…but sometimes, we load it up psychologically so that we’re too focused on “not blowing it.” (Especially in a lousy economy or when you’re just starting out.) [Read more…]