The Week In Freelance: April 16th

Posted: April 16th, 2010

The Week In Freelance: April 9th

Posted: April 9th, 2010

Review: The Blog Business Funnel by Skellie

Posted: April 8th, 2010

Photo From Skelliewag.org

Photo from Skelliewag.org

I’ve read ebooks all the time on various subjects whether freelancing, marketing or the like. Occasionally, I’ve received a nugget or two of information that has been very useful to me but, nowadays, I tend to shy away from ebooks. Even the free ones.

That’s because many ebooks are simply too general when explaining a topic. I’d prefer to see an ebook explain something in detail and give examples rather than pointing me in a direction to do a Google search.

Yep, I’ve even fallen victim to those “six figures to…” which now clutter up my hard disk. These days, I’m not an easy sell.

Then I happened to run across Skellie’s ebook, came across the sales page and read this:

In July 2008 I was studying full-time and freelancing part-time as a writer, copywriter and consultant. In that month, I earned more than $8,000 through my own Blog Business Funnel. Every single cent was earned through jobs that came through my blog.

Wow, I thought. OK, fairly credible. I forked over the 29 USD, not for the advice inside, but just to see how the hell Skellie did that.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

What intrigued me was that Skellie utilizes techniques used in online sales (read: big red headline, long sales page) and presents it as a way for freelancers to adopt without being all sales-pitchy-pushy.

Not only that, but it is written from the perspective of the everyday freelancer. No numbers, charts, formulas or the like. Just simple logic expressed in Layman’s terms with clear examples and a bit of  “pep talk” thrown in to convince you that Skellie’s techniques can be done.

Here are some key items that the ebook covers:

  • The building blocks of a blog that sells your services.
  • Writing to gain trust of your blog audience.
  • Branding yourself and creating a buzz.
  • Setting up a non-sales-pitchy sales page on your website.
  • Utilizing a business launch to generate clients.
  • Effectively using advertising and email lists to promote your services.
  • How to effectively raise your rates.

Now, the material is geared toward freelancers of any level. In my opinion, however, you will need some time freelancing under your belt and experiment a bit in blogging to really understand or get anything out of this ebook. If you’re at least at the point where you are asking yourself “How can I get better?” then this is for you.

This also may require you to step outside your normal marketing boundaries. Typically, freelancers are used to obtaining clients through job boards and referrals and are less skilled at their own sales.  While the material isn’t aimed at teaching sales, you will be using it, though in a manner freelancers can be comfortable with.

Personally, I consider myself a successful freelancer but, I admit, I’ve done very little of what was presented in the ebook. I also haven’t made $8,000 in any single month yet either. Therefore, I can guarantee that this ebook will not be collecting dust on my hard drive.

Read a preview of The Blog Business Funnel on Freelance Switch

Order the ebook here (with chapter previews)

The Freelance Rant is not in any way affiliated with The Blog Business Funnel and did not received a free copy for evaluation. The Freelance Rant also hints that there is a discount code in the first link above that he forgot to use. D’oh!

Think, Laugh and Cry

Posted: April 5th, 2010

In the time leading up to the national championship basketball game later on this evening, I happened to run into a speech by the late Jim Valvano, coach of the 1983 champion North Carolina State University, on YouTube.

To give a little primer, here was a man who was ravaged by cancer, needed assistance to the podium and gave a mind-boggling energetic speech on what is really important in life. Two months after giving the speech he passed away.

Even for the non-basketball fan, this is a must watch.

Everything about your life and freelance career will be properly put into perspective.

Our freelance work can often bog us down but keeping your head on the bigger picture, your life, dreams and goals, will help make it a more satisfying and prosperous one.

Why You’re Not a Better Freelancer

Posted: March 29th, 2010

Photo by Dave Jones (Flickr)

Photo by Dave Jones (Flickr)

These days, with all the information out there to help you with freelancing, it should be no problem at all to become successful in a short period of time.

You would think so at least.

Actually, freelancers are lucky to have a wide range of resources available to them. I’d say you’ve been hiding under a rock if you haven’t visited the massive archives at Freelance Folder or Freelance Switch yet. If you followed all the advice in their posts, you are virtually guaranteed success.

The problem is that freelancers have to work. There is that income thing, you know, and learning doesn’t exactly pay the bills. Working and learning is similar to holding a job while attending night classes. You have to work overtime to get both done and sacrifice your free time and even sleep in the process.

In other words, it’s not easy. But here’s a question for you. Are you putting in that overtime to learn on top of your freelance work?

If  I hear a ‘no’, don’t worry. You’re not alone. In fact, these are the likely scenarios when it comes to improving as a freelancer:

  • No time. You have your project deadlines to worry about or you’re working your butt off looking for clients.
  • You have some “game-changing” articles bookmarked collecting dust, still waiting around to get to them (see above).
  • You’ve tried some of that advice out there, but eventually fall back into your old habits.

The truth is we can balance our work and learning without severely cutting into our our precious free time and sleep. All it takes is a more organized approach in four easy steps.

  1. Realize that you won’t get to everything you read. There is simply too much information out there for a freelancer to use. Plus new information is constantly outdating the old. Just be selective and pick out those articles you want to concentrate on the most.
  2. Pick one or two topics a week you want to work on; something that won’t take more than a few hours a week. Remember, you don’t have all the time in the world to learn everything.
  3. Evaluate what you just learned. Is it working for you and is something that will make you better down the road? Then keep doing it!
  4. Repeat the above with new articles.

Sound simple? Well it is actually. We’re not going to learn everything in a single day, nor week. Just taking baby steps to apply what you read and learn, though, adds up over time. Before you know it, you’ll begin to see results that may surprise you.

The Week In Freelance: March 26th

Posted: March 26th, 2010

Some Tax Help For All You (U.S.) Freelancers

Posted: March 10th, 2010

Photo by Andrew Whalley (Flicker)

Photo by Andrew Whalley (Flicker)

For those freelancers in the States, there’s a little over a month left to go search out those receipts and get your tax returns filed on time. Plenty of time but, if you have been freelancing a while, you then know that the sooner done, the better.

No, freelancers don’t have the option of filling out that one-page 1040-EZ form either. So say hello to the “long form” 1040. I recently received the 1040 form with instructions by mail, too, just the other day which contains about 200 pages of forms and IRS business jargon.

Fun reading.

Good thing there is a lot of tax information available that specifically apply to freelancers. These have helped me out quite a bit and will help you get the most out of your deductions and reduce your tax liability. Or in other words, save you some cash you can use to replace that broken desk chair.

Filing The Tax Returns

The best option is to utilize a tax service such as H & R Block and have a professional accountant help you out with your returns for a nominal fee. A tax professional will be able to identify deductions that passed you by, and end up saving you more on taxes than the fees of their service. Not to mention, your risk of an audit is drastically reduced.

If you decide to go on your own, there are plenty of online tax services which make this task easy. Did you know, though, that, if your adjusted gross income (income minus expense and other deductions) is $57,000 or less, you can use a number of services for free?

If you qualify, the IRS website has a list of “Free File” websites to do your taxes. I personally recommend TurboTax since it’s incredibly easy to use and includes a check to reduce your chances of an audit.

Tax Deductions

It is almost guaranteed that there are deductions you can take that you probably haven’t considered. Did you know even PayPal fees are one of them? Check out these for a comprehensive list:

  • Freelance Switch: A list of ten common (yet not-so-known) freelancing related tax deductions.
  • WiseBread: Talk about a big list… 101 tax deductions for freelancers and bloggers.
  • ProBlogger: There is a list of 46 deductions here, some of which overlap the above but will round out the possibilities.

The “Making Work Pay” Tax Credit

Every freelancer in the U.S. is eligible for a credit of 6.2% of his or her earned income, up to $400. All that has to be done is to file a Schedule M along with your return. For more information on this credit, visit the About.com page.

Other Tax Resources

For any other questions, advice or general curiosity in dealing with taxes, the following are very helpful in getting the answers you need.

  • TaxGirl: A blog dedicated to just taxes with very informative articles. Try a search for any topic which you have questions on.
  • H & R Block “Get It Right”: A community forum where you can look up tax questions by other users or you can ask a tax professional one of your own.
  • Turbo Tax: Handy tax calculators plus comprehensive guides to taxes.
  • IRS Self-Employed Tax Center: Normally I try to avoid anything IRS related, but there is great information on anything tax related for freelancers here.

Do You Have Other Suggestions?

Have any other tax tips not mentioned here? Leave a comment below and let us freelancers know!

Top Ten Reasons For Freelancers To Return To Their Old Job

Posted: March 8th, 2010

At some point or another, freelancers contemplate going back to the jobs they left, having missed the security of steady paychecks. Did you know there are other reasons, you may not have heard of, for making a beeline to that now coveted job? Yep, these are true.

10. The need to contend for the employee-of-the-month title.

9. Freelancing plus the side gig at the Burger King wasn’t working out as you hoped.

8. Thought your old boss was actually kinda cool.

7. Access to the free coffee machine again.

6. Hourly wages rock!

5. Get to hear jokes again from the fat, smelly guy in the next cubicle.

4. You could use some new stolen software anyway.

3. You can finally stop eating ramen and raid the stale donuts and leftover birthday cake around the office.

2. Get back those medical benefits then get that nasty tumor thing looked at.

1. They wouldn’t survive a day without me anyway.

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