Tag Archives: freelance writers

Don’t Overpromise

by Mike O’Mary

I remember a sales rep from a commercial printer who would never tell me what I wanted to hear. I’d say, “Is there any way we can get that printed by May 1?” And he’d say, “Ooh! I don’t know…that’s tight.” Never once would he say, “Yep, no problem.” Yet almost invariably, it was no problem. He never overcommitted and always delivered on time.

As someone who used to do things like “commit” to being in downtown Chicago in 15 minutes when I was still 30 miles away, or “commit” to producing a draft of a 2,000-word article in two days when I knew it would take two weeks, I greatly admire that rep’s discipline. And I learned from him. It’s easy to tell people what they want to hear. And as a freelancer, you want to please your clients. But you will do them and yourself a favor if you are realistic when it comes to the commitments you make.

What is your track record as a freelancer? Do you deliver on time 100% of the time? Or is it more like 90%…or 75%…or 50%? If it’s less than 100% of the time, why is that? Is it because something unexpected came up, or were you just trying to do too much in too short a period of time?

Don’t fall victim to your desire to please clients by telling them what they want to hear. It’s better to please them by delivering on time. So set realistic deadlines and then meet them. If you can do those two things, you will always have repeat business–and your reputation will result in lots of referrals.

Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, an independent book publisher currently accepting creative nonfiction stories for anthologies on 15 topics.

Free Bookkeeping For Writers With Outright

This post is sponsored by Outright — Your Livelihood, Right Now.  Getting your taxes right with free bookkeeping.

This post is meant to give you a little peek inside of a business that we here at Freelance-Zone think is a great match for our readers. I, for one, hate keeping books–but I know that it is a necessary evil. I was excited to learn about Outright, and the thought of having all my records with me on the laptop is an appealing thing. We took some time to talk with Jennifer Escalona from Outright to bring you a closer look at what they are all about. With tax time approaching, you may want to consider signing on…

1.   What is Outright.com?

Outright.com is a free online accounting service that makes bookkeeping simple so that you can keep track of income, expenses, and taxes easy and – dare I say it – fun.

2.   How can freelance writers benefit from connecting with them?

When I started freelance writing, I kept track of my income on an Excel spreadsheet. I was so naïve that I didn’t even think about keeping track of my expenses until I’d been freelancing for months. There went those tax deductions.

I’ve heard stories of other freelance writers who buy complicated accounting software programs and then get so overwhelmed by all the bells and whistles that they fail to track their income and expenses at all. This is a big no no. You have to pay those darn estimated taxes, and it’s always vital to watch how much money is coming in and going out so you can adjust your business accordingly.

That’s why I was so thrilled when I found Outright. (I was an Outright.com user first. Working with them came later.) I’m a writer partially because numbers terrify me, but Outright.com gives me detailed charts and graphs of my income and expenses, and estimates for me the amount of federal taxes I need to pay every quarter. Better yet, it prints a Schedule C for me at the end of the year so that I can pay my annual income taxes with as little hassle as possible.

All freelance writers can benefit from a clear representation of how much money is coming in and how much money is going out. They can also easily keep track of deductions on Outright.com, which means they pay a little less at tax time. Who doesn’t want that?

3.   What are some of the specific features that freelancers might find useful?

As a freelance writer, many clients pay me through Paypal, so Outright’s integration with Paypal has saved me hours of manual data entry. Outright.com also integrates with oDesk, where many freelance writers find jobs, and several other services, like Freshbooks and Shoeboxed, that help take all the hassle of keeping track of income. If you have a business credit card, Outright.com can automatically import that data, too.

Freelance writers will also find the profit and loss report very useful. Just seeing the income (or, ouch, the losses) they make from month to month helps freelance writers track their income and make goals. Goals might include finding more clients to boost the bottom line, or maybe dropping a client who’s causing a lot of hassle but, according to Outright’s interactive “Income by Customer” chart, not bringing in a lot of income.  Outright’s reporting feature also allows a freelance writer to create reports on things like “Expenses by Category” so you can see where all of your money is going.

And, while it’s a sore subject at my house, freelance writers will benefit from watching with growing dread as the amount due in quarterly estimated taxes rises and rises. This lets them know how much money they need to be setting aside for that awful day four times per year.


4.   People will naturally want to know how you protect the privacy of their financial information. How does Outright do that?

Information security is an extremely valid concern, so Outright.com protects your financial data in a number of ways:

  • Outright encrypts all information you enter before it’s ever sent to our servers.
  • We use secure socket layer technology (note the https at the beginning of each page URL and the little lock in the URL bar) to protect your information, which is the same technology online stores use to protect credit card information.
  • All information in Outright is backed up every hour. This means you won’t lose financial information even if the service goes down briefly.
  • We strongly believe that your data belongs to you. You are able to pull your data (via a .csv file) out of Outright at anytime you like.

5.   What is the cost?

Outright.com is free! And, happily, the core Outright service will always remain free.

Outright did add their first paid add-on service earlier this year. If you hire contractors and pay them over $600 in a year, you have to file a form 1099 for them by January 31st the next year. Outright’s first paid service took care of filing those 1099 forms for only $5 per contractor. And, if the contractor decided to sign up with Outright.com, the $5 fee was even waived!

6.   Is the system easy to use, or do you need to have a bit of technical savvy in order to utilize it well?

Outright.com is extremely easy to use. The home screen is a simple ledger where you can decide if you want to enter your expenses or income first. The tabs at the top (i.e. “Taxes,” “Reports,” etc.) are self-explanatory and easy to explore. Outright.com also offers easy setup with partners like Paypal and oDesk.

But, if anybody has questions about using Outright, they can always visit Outright.com where support folks and other members will happily answer your questions, or they can always email support@outright.com and expect to receive a quick and thorough response.

This post was brought to you by Outright

Check Out All Freelance Writing…

by Catherine L. Tully

psam2Hey! Just a quick post to let everyone know that I will be doing a regular series on “Writing For Print” on All Freelance Writing. This is a great site and I highly recommend it for both new and experienced freelance writers. Owner/Author Jennifer Mattern has pulled together a very eclectic group of freelancers–and they are all sharing advice and opinions that can help you advance your career.

Drop by and take a peek–and bookmark this site–it’s terrific!

TutorialBlog: Tools To Make Your Life Easier


by Catherine L. Tully

I stumbled across TutorialBlog while doing some mindless surfing and bookmarked it to share with Freelance-Zone readers. This site can come in handy for freelance writers as it has a wide range of tutorials that will help with everything from blogs to Photoshop techniques. There is information on there about freelancing, self-promotion and equipment as well as writing and editing advice.

Freelancer Freebie For iPhone Users: Track Your Snacks

lose itby Catherine L. Tully

Do you find yourself snacking too much throughout the day? Many freelance writers find that it can be hard to stay active when they log so much time on the computer. Eating extra calories is something to try and shy away from, but it can be hard to keep track of how many you are taking in… Continue reading Freelancer Freebie For iPhone Users: Track Your Snacks

For The Writer: iTools


by Catherine L. Tully

Today I’m sending out a bite-sized post with a powerful website link for freelance writers…iTools. If you don’t already have a home page that you love, this could make a good one. It has several search features combined into one format, so you have quick access to things such as Google video or discussion groups. Take a peek and see if it’s for you.