This is the latest entry in our series of short clips featuring advice and tips for freelancers. This one covers freelance tax resources, and if you need extra time to jot down any resources you find in these clips, you can always hit the pause button…we’ll be posting some longer clips featuring podcast-style discussion of the pros and cons of freelancing soon.
I fired my tax preparer today. He doesn’t know he’s been fired yet. He’ll probably never know unless he looks in his database someday and realizes that I didn’t come back at tax time in 2010.
Why did I fire my tax guy? I discovered he filed my 2008 taxes using an old address even after I specifically said at the start of our 2008 tax prep conversation that I’d moved. Simple mistake, anyone could make it. Is that reason enough to give him the axe? No, not really.
But when I called his office to straighten things out, not only did I not get a call back the same day, I didn’t get a call back PERIOD. And taxes are far too important to doink around with. If the professional you’ve hired to do the job can’t get a simple detail right or at least get in touch to reassure you he’s working it, it’s time to move on and find someone who will instill the trust you expect. Continue reading Sometimes You Don’t Know You’re Fired→
I just read an article by Allison Boyer lamenting yet another “freelancing is easy and anyone can do it” type article, so I wanted to throw my two pence in.
If you’ve spent any time freelance writing at all, you know by now just how easy it is. After all, all you need to do is write well, do research, be disciplined enough to follow a regular schedule, remember to file your articles on deadline, send invoices, keep all your publications and editors straight, be a subject matter expert on something or other, and market yourself until the sun doesn’t shine.
Of course, I’d be remiss in my snark if I didn’t throw in something about not abusing the comma and the apostrophe, but freelancers know how easy it is to catch all those spelling errors and bad word choices. Simple, right? And how about those paychecks? Every magazine and website pays on time, generously, and always throws you more work. They care about you personally and how high your rent is, they really really do.
I don’t really know what Allison Boyer’s complaining about.
Oh, and lest you think this post is snark for snark’s sake, here is a list of five ways you CAN make your freelance life a little bit easier:
All freelancers have dirty little secrets they won’t share because they know there are too many people fumbling around “trying to be a writer” who will stampede towards the dirty secret in question, ruining it for everybody.
This is rarely discussed on writing blogs, forums, and elsewhere, but we all know it’s true. Here are a few of mine, just because I like being a maverick–not in the Sarah Palin sense where “maverick” means “business as usual” but in the Barack Obama sense where some kinds of new ideas irritate and upset the status quo.
I don’t bother using online writer’s markets. I ALWAYS go direct to the source and read the magazine or website. The best way to land a gig is to read it first. This shouldn’t be considered a dirty secret, but trust me, once you learn WHY it works you’ll know why it’s my dirty secret.
I like to pitch to bizarre markets. If you know of a magazine or website paying for articles about cockroach wrangling, I’d be happy to take a look and make a pitch. These markets don’t get flooded with bad queries.
The dentist office is often a great place to find new markets to pitch to. Don’t bother with the magazines you know well. Look for the oddball ones you never heard of.
People blow their query letters by discussing things that have nothing to do with the query itself. Like whether or not you are a “full time freelancer”.
Query letters tied to current events sell. I just sold an article by riffing on those commercials on TV lately about “the Oprah Effect”.
The writer who is not prepared to at least consider turning in a queried article in one week isn’t thinking like a busy editor.
If you can’t write what you know, write what other people know. I don’t have to try to pretend I’m an expert, I simply let my interviews state the facts. But here’s my dirty secret–I never let on that I DON’T know. I state the facts with authority because my quotes did the talking for me.
Sometimes rattling off a list of highly technical terms makes you sound like you DON’T know what you’re writing about. Simplify. Jargon is for trade mags.
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