Tag Archives: outright

Business Networking

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

business networkingby Joe Wallace

Networking is one of the most important thing you can do as a freelancer. It goes against the stereotype of the lone scribbler, locked away in a writer’s garret for days on end, coming out to blink in the sun only when the lastest masterpiece is done–and that’s exactly why you need to do it.

Nobody writes in a vacuum. Not you, not me, not Stephen King. There’s an army of trained professionals all working together in this game we call freelancing, from the people who make sure your blog can still be viewed on the ‘net to the fact checker responsible for annoying you for one last detail before that magazine article goes to press.

But how does a new freelancer make some inroads in the networking game? Newcomers rarely know people in the business, and the few they do know can only help so much…but networking isn’t quite the daunting task it seems when you’re just starting out if you can remember a few simple concepts:

1. A newcomer’s enthusiasm and drive is a huge plus in any undertaking. You may not have much experience, but your willingness to throw your lot in for a common cause–a charity, a benefit, a volunteer project, whatever–earns you more than just the experience of doing it. You’ll also be remembered as that high-energy person so willing to devote themselves to the project. Who will the people you worked with think of first when asked if they know any good quality people for something that pays in your line of work?

2. Your skills in other areas may be more valuable than your writing skills…at first. Networking sometimes means taking a side journey that leads you to more direct opportunities as a freelancer. I volunteered to help someone run a table at a horror convention last year, which led to a direct opportunity to write for a newsstand magazine later on. The power of being in the right place at the right time shouldn’t be underestimated.

FreeSmall_300X3003. Networking doesn’t have to be strictly business. Sometimes just making friends with your fellow freelancers on social media or via local mixers or meet-and-greets is a great idea–your new friends might not have anything going but their own projects, but what happens when one of them decides to move on, cut down a client list to a more manageable size, or change specialties?

Speaking for myself, I’ve always given my friends and freelance colleagues the first shot at things I knew would be opportunities. Nepotism? Sure. But why not, when you have people you trust that you can recommend? Friends first, networking potential second…but that is definitely there for the people in my life. I’ve shared plenty, and if the day ever comes that I’m in a fix, I know a select group of people who would only be too happy to lend a hand.

4. Network your own life. That’s a play on the old computer geek saying, “Hack your own life.” Know somebody who needs a writer? Maybe you don’t right now…but you will. Never be shy about offering your services in non-obnoxious ways in your existing circle. Here’s a hint–“friend prices” and deep discounts are never bad thing in this context, but always offer with a caveat along the lines of this:

“I don’t normally offer rates this low (or free), but I’m a big believer in ‘friend prices’. Everybody else pays the going rate, so please don’t share the details of our arrangement or I’ll be swamped with offers that can’t help me pay the rent.”

5. You can start networking TODAY. Just go to where the pros congregate on Twitter, Facebook, MediaBistro.com and anywhere else where comments, advice, and resources are shared. Introduce yourself, be friendly, and meet people.

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

Writers: Up Your Income–Add Photography

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

home_photoNewPMby Catherine L. Tully

If you are looking for ways to up your income as a writer you may want to think about adding photography to your skill set. These days digital pics are the popular choice and if you are somewhat “tech-savvy”, you can make some extra dough.

I’m not saying this is a totally simple thing to do, but if you already own a decent digital camera or have interest in learning, it’s well worth it. I have made good money sending in pictures with an article. What a magazine will pay for it varies, and that is where this handy book comes in–Photographer’s Market.


Photographer’s Market is full of listings where you can sell your pictures, and th 2010 version has all the latest and greatest markets. It is set up similar to Writer’s Market, so for most writers it will feel familiar.

If you don’t want to get into doing the photography yourself, perhaps you may want to team up with someone who does. Check into a local photography club to see if there is anyone who may be interested. While this will mean they will make the extra money, it will also help endear you to editors. Most of them love it if you can provide pictures to go with a piece you have written.

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

The Freelance Business Tax Break You Didn’t Know You Had

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

by Joe Wallace

Some bloggers and freelance writers like me who specialize in finance writing are afraid to go on the record about giving tax advice. They issue these disclaimers saying, “this is not tax advice”.

And while I am not a tax professional, I do believe a writer should stand by their words or don’t write them at all–I’ve got the guts to say this is tax advice, plain and simple. It’s advice, it’s about taxes, and I’m giving it. And there’s no possible way to get into trouble taking this advice–in fact you might get the exact opposite effect. The IRS may actually like you better for doing it.

And yeah, transparency alert, I’ve given the “this is not advice” disclaimer myself in the past, but I’m done with all that. Let’s live like crazy people and really go out on a limb here. Woohoo!

I talk a good game, but this isn’t some kind of nutty tax protester advice I’m handing out here. Instead, I’m telling you to find ways to love the IRS. The IRS is your friend. Keep saying that to yourself long enough to get past April 15th, mkay? Be dilligent, rely on good records, and all that. But that’s not the “wisdom” I need to impart today.

Here’s my earth-shattering tax advice. NEVER ROUND YOUR NUMBERS on deductions and related details. Use exact figures.


Do it the hard way and write in exact figures right down to the dollars and cents for your expenses  and deductions. Same goes for when you calculate them–why cheat yourself out of those extra cents? They add up. Five cents here, ten cents there…if you have over 100 receipts, 500, a thousand, well, you get the idea. No, it’s not a fortune. But add that to your SEP IRA, your mileage, your legitimate business expenses for meals and incidentals…and there’s also this other thing.

The headline of this post implies that not rounding your freelance deductions is a tax break you didn’t know you had. That’s true about getting a more exact figure to put in your Schedule C income tax forms, but it’s also possible, according to Business Week writer Karen E. Klein, who says putting in exact figures looks more like you’re using your actual records instead of guessing, which the IRS is inclined to take a dim view of.

Avoiding an audit sounds like one hell of a tax break to me.

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

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