All posts by Jake Poinier

What freelance clients want readers may already be familiar with the annual “Freelance Forecast” survey that I’ve done for the past two years. The survey polls client perspectives as well as freelancer perspectives…and today I’d like to dig into one of the client-side responses that can offer a bit of guidance on how you might want to pitch your services for freelance jobs—and retain clients for the long haul.

Top 5 Qualities You Look for in a Freelancer

  1. Reliability/dependability
  2. Talent/quality of work
  3. Ability to hit deadlines
  4. Understanding my needs
  5. Subject matter expertise/experience

Interestingly enough, these are precisely the same five qualities identified in Freelance Forecast 2009, though in a slightly different order. More than likely, none of these come as a surprise, especially if you’ve been in the game for a while.

But let’s take a moment to consider why these are important. All five answers speak to your ability to make your client’s life easier, and to make their business more profitable. They’ve chosen a freelancer as a business decision—rather than hiring someone or taking the DIY route.

My primary takeaway, though, is that answers 1, 3 and 4 are 100% under your control. (I’d argue that talent/quality of work and subject matter expertise require a combination of nature and nuture. You may simply not be a good fit for some freelance jobs and clients; or at least not yet.) Logically, it follows that you should work to ensure that those parts of your game are rock solid. Do that, and you’ll be way ahead of the pack of fly-by-nighters who exhibit the habits of a part-timer or hobbyist rather than a businessperson who’s serious about the client’s best interests.

Freelance-Zone contributor Jake Poinier is the founder/owner of Boomvang Creative Group and the newly launched advice blog for freelancers, Dr. Freelance.

The 411 on new 1099-MISC tax rules for freelancers

Not many headlines stop me in my tracks, but this one from Small Business did. (WARNING: You might want to swig some Peptol-Bismol before visiting the link.)

Health care law’s massive, hidden tax change

Currently, we’re all familiar with receiving 1099s at tax time; you’re also supposed to follow up with any client who owes you one. For those of us who hire other freelancers or legal services in excess of $600, you need to send 1099s to them, too. No big deal, it’s part of being in business for yourself.

But the new healthcare law slides a pair of nasty little requirements into your accounting for 2012 and beyond. You’ll now need to:

  1. Track not just services over $600, but tangible goods you purchase, and
  2. Send 1099s not just to individuals, but to corporations.

So, spend more than $599 and you’re going to send a 1099-MISC Apple or Dell, after researching their federal tax information. Same with GoDaddy, Staples, Costco, Verizon, Exxon and so on. Regardless of whether you are thrilled or horrified at the healthcare law, there’s no question this will add significantly to your accounting workload. (And you might want to stock up on stamps.) Naturally, our friends in D.C. are saying it’s for our own good, because it will aid in tax compliance to help pay for the new benefits.

Philosophically, I take issue with that concept, or at least with the execution. I pay my taxes willingly, but the process already consumes more than its fair share of my time and energy. $600 is an awfully low threshold nowadays, and this puts a burden on the people least equipped to handle it, in order to “police” scofflaws. I suspect it is laying the foundation for a VAT tax in our near future.

I also suspect it will create more unwitting criminals through tax bureaucracy. This opinion from a respected registered investment adviser, “1099 Mandate from Hell Slipped into Health Bill,” concludes: “Clearly this is insanity. If enacted, it will be the most widely ignored IRS regulation in history.” Time will tell.

New Freelance-Zone contributor Jake Poinier is the founder/owner of Boomvang Creative Group and the newly launched advice blog for freelancers, Dr. Freelance.