Tag Archives: freelance writers

Comparing Bing To Google

by Catherine L. Tully

I just posted about Bing the other day. It’s a new search engine that is giving Google a run for the money. If you can’t decide which one you prefer, why not stack them up side-by-side and do a search. This site will allow you to do exactly that. Although either one can be a great asset for freelance writers, you may find you prefer one over the other once you compare. As for me? I’m still undecided…

Quarterly Tax Tips From Outright.com


From time to time someone offers Freelance-Zone some valuable content that we feel will be helpful to our readers. Kevin Reeth is the CEO at Outright.com, a free online bookkeeping system that helps small businesses keep track of tax info and related material. (Read what PC Magazine has to say about this company here, or just check the company out at their website where there is plenty of information about things such as the security of data and how to get started.)

Since quarterly tax time is approaching, we thought you could use the information Reeth sent over and are printing it for you here. Thank you to Outright.com and Mr. Reeth for the timely information!

(Please note that the facts, thoughts and ideas expressed below are that of Outright.com and not of Freelance-Zone. We are not tax professionals–we’re freelance writers!)

5 Opportunities to Turn Tax Time to Your Favor 

1. Get away with nothing.  If self-employed, you are free from estimated tax payments if what you owe, after subtracting exemptions, deductions, and credits is less than $1,000.

2. A safe harbor during the economic storm. If you choose to pay the same amount as your total tax bill last year, simply pay the same amount on June 15, 2009 as you did June 15, 2008 OR 90% of what you will owe this year.  You can feel confident in what you pay and send your check without further calculation and time spent concerning yourself with the details.

3. Pay it or stay it?  We have had a rocky few months with the stock market.  What are your thoughts on where it will go next?  The IRS doesn’t pay interest on the money you give them now for taxes due later.  Extend those tax expenses and put the money to work for you instead.  Remember! You still owe the money so don’t take risks with it; just consider the tradeoff between what you could earn on it in a safe investment.

4. Credit have you tied up?  The government penalty on underpaid estimated tax payments is down to 4%, the lowest rate we’ve seen in the last 10 years.  Paying down those credit cards, with rates as climbing into the twenties, will likely save you more than the penalty due from underpaid estimated tax payment.

5.  Organize for 2010.  Work with outright.com to keep track of your estimated tax payments; saving the details for next year’s taxes and freeing your time for your business. 

Health Insurance For The Freelancer


Do you have health insurance? Freelance writers often have difficulty figuring out how to navigate the waters when it comes to this important subject. Medical expenses can add up quickly and you don’t want to be caught without at least some protection. Unfortunately, there aren’t many good options for most of us at this point in time.

I have a policy that covers me in case of emergency, but as I get older I am going to need to look at more comprehensive options. Here is what I can tell you if you are looking into this for the first time:

  • If you can get coverage through a spouse (or partner in some states), this is probably the best way to go.
  • If you are a recent college graduate, check with your alumni association and see if they have any health insurance options.
  • If you are making the jump from part-time to full-time writer, see what the COBRA options are for extending your insurance. This can be expensive, but it is an option for continued care.
  • Consider an insurance plan with a high deductible. The monthly payments are typically lower, but you still have some coverage.
  • Check with your Chamber of Commerce and see if they have any advice for you.
  • Look into various associations for writers and other freelance professionals. The Authors Guild  has plans for those in New York and Massachusetts and I recall both MediaBistro and the American Society of Journalists and Authors as having health insurance plans as well. You can also check out the National Writers Association and I”m sure there are others out there, so take a look and see if their plans are right for you. They require membership, and some are not available for all of the US.
  • Check out resources such as RXAssist which can help you find free or low-cost medications, or ask the pharmacist if your medication is available in a generic which will lower the price.

The face of healthcare is changing, but for now, freelance writers don’t have a lot of good options. Still, some coverage is better than none, and there are some places that you can look. Take a little time to investigate, and if you find something worth sharing–please do!

Ten Habits of Highly Paid Freelance Writers

Freelancers with big paydays have many things in common, the least of which is the business savvy to know those paychecks don’t always come as often as they should. In 2008 I moved out of the low-to-mid 30s into a much higher income bracket thanks to respecting most if not all of the things you’ll find on this list. Not everything on the list is true for everybody, but some of this will be true for EVERYBODY who tries to earn a full-time living working from home whether you are a freelance writer, voice talent, any career path you choose.

10. Highly paid freelancers aren’t highly paid all the time. This is Rule One and should be the cornerstone of all financial planning. This leads us to the next rule.

9. Highly paid freelancers are forward thinking and plan for the worst. Never assume that the fat pile of cash you make today is going to last even until next week. You should have something better than a rainy day fund; highly paid freelancers have a “The Sky Is Falling” fund.

8. Freelancers don’t start off being highly paid, but if they persist, hone their writing/marketing skills and don’t give up, their business will expand over time. 50% of your competition will drop out before you get discouraged enough to think about quitting. Don’t join them.

7. Highly paid freelancers get many assignments from editors they already know. This comes after a lot of networking and making contacts in the business. You don’t start out with those contacts overnight—much of developing these relationships is about trust building. Be trustworthy and your relationships will develop.

6. Highly paid freelancers share what they know. If you aren’t volunteering to help struggling freelancers on the career rung below yours, you could be doing yourself a disservice. Get involved in the writing community. Insulated, homebody writers look at their yearly earnings and wonder why they can’t get to the next stage in their careers. Reference this with #7 and see if you notice a pattern of advice forming here. Continue reading Ten Habits of Highly Paid Freelance Writers

Freelance Writing Distraction #782: Bookslut

bookslutlogo.jpgWhen you spend all your working hours in front of the infernal machine (read: laptop), you find yourself eager for any distraction from the drudgery at hand. I am a sucker for well-written material on other writers, musicians, anyone at all involved in media. Bookslut is one of those distractions I must force myself to save until late in the day when the work is nearly done.

Having only recently looked into this Chicago-based site, I find plenty to keep me occupied. The author interviews alone are worth the time drain. One example: In issue 73, Jason Jones interviews author Jeff Warren about his book The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness. The interview is thoughtful, the chemistry between
the two is good, and it’s a joy to read. Some freelance writers shrug and say, “So what?” They are used to reading high quality material, but the context is quite different for me. With an editing background in music journalism, military reporting, and commercial writing, I’ve spent years wading through other people’s poor preparation, clumsy interview questions, and just plain hopeless work. It’s enough to make you give up the game and run screaming for the nearest Civil Service exam.

That’s why I tend to take notice when I discover another outlet for solid writing in any field remotely close to my own. Bookslut is aimed at people who love to read. That’s me, so this is more than just a case of me having respect for writers with skill; they are talking directly to ME. As an omnivorous book consumer, I have acres of tomes with subjects ranging from sexual life in ancient China to the life and times of Lester Bangs. Bookslut is my kind of people.

If you are the kind of person who writes by day and uses a pry bar to cram another two or three titles into an already-distressed set of bookshelves by night, Bookslut is definitely for you. My warning–don’t make any plans once you click the link, you’ll be there for a while.