Tax Time…


This is the time we are thinking about getting taxes done.  It is important to make sure you have everything ready when it comes to getting them done.

If you work for a company you will more than likely get a form of some sort saying how much you have made with them.  But it is also important to keep track of what you have made with all of your clients.  Depending on what country you live you in, it will determine how much you make on what you are supposed to claim.  But in reality you have to claim everything you make, so tracking what you make will come in quite handy for this.

If you work with oDesk, they are recommending you print what you have made for the year and turn that in.  That is a great idea and a good way to go about it.  It is also a great way to compare what you had and what make sure things match up.

If you don’t work for a company like oDesk, keeping track of your work will be important to do.  If you receive payments with PayPal, this is a great way to track your income as well.  You can print off the statements for each month and have it to use to compare what you make along with using to help complete the taxes.

It is important to make sure you complete your taxes on time and properly.  This means if you don’t know what to do, you get professional help.  Make sure you keep a copy of the taxes, regardless if you do them or have someone else do them for you.  This will help if you have problems later on down the road with your taxes.  Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help.  This is a great way to make sure you don’t do something wrong and the taxes are completed correctly.

Don’t forget to keep track of your expenses.  This includes anything from part of your internet, your rent/mortgage payments, computer, maintenance of vehicles, buying supplies for your computer or for what you do, etc.  But it is important to remember you need to start making a profit after a couple of years or it is going to be seen more as a hobby instead of work.

Asking questions and seeing what others do can really help make sure you have what you need when it comes to your taxes.

Goals…


Goals are important if you want your business to grow.  This helps you have an action plan and make sure you are heading where you want to be going.  Depending on where you look, goals have different looks and people say different things about them as well.  But no matter which way you choose to go about them, it is important to not just write them, but visit them regularly.

I had a time I didn’t review my goals from about (June 2012 – earlier this month).  When I was working on one of my post I realized I needed to review my goals.  I have updated them and even changed them to meet where I want my freelancing business to be going.

What have I included in my goals?  Here are a few of the things I have included:

  • How much I want to make each month
  • Where I will look for my work
  • Understanding the type of Professional Development I am looking for
  • Understanding about my workload

These are just a few of the things in my goals.  But you need to include what works for you and what is best for you, your business and how you want your business to be set up.

How they read will also vary.  This will be based on your experience with working with goals in the business world, what you have done in the past and what will help you to focus on your goals.  You may even find some ideas when you are looking online about goals.

It is important to review the goals and adjust them to what is really going on with your business.  For example, one of my goals is to make $400 a month.  Right now that isn’t something that is happening.  Although I have had a better month than I have had in the past several months of working.  I need to adjust it to be more realistic for what is really going on, maybe to $200 or so.  Then when I am actively meeting that goal, I should adjust it.

That is one good thing about the goals, don’t feel like you can’t adjust or change them.  I have taken some of my goals off that I have had in the past because I didn’t feel they were relevant any more to my business.  I also added some goals that seemed more relevant, even changing some of the goals based on what I am doing and what is going on with the business.

Remember, goals are to help you with your business.  So don’t put off setting some goals.  You can always add to them as you read about goals, work and even try different things out.

Being willing to work on your goals will make you feel better about yourself and your business.

Using Dropbox…


As a freelancer there are many ways to get the work you have done to the client.  Some like it emailed and they have specific ways they want it emailed.  Others want to be able to share the work in other ways.

One way to work, templates, instructions, etc. so you and your client have access to the current documents is Dropbox.  There are two different ways to get it.  One is to pay for it and you get more space.  There is a free options, but you don’t get as much, but can add space by having people who don’t have Dropbox who install and/or use it.  But there is a limit on how much free space you can get.

With each person you invite, you can set up the folders the way you would any other folder.  One of my clients and I have based on the different work I do and then within the folders we have the month and year.  You save the document like you would any other, except you pick Dropbox and then choose the folder you want to put it into.

You will also know when documents have been added, changed and/or deleted.  It also allows you the opportunity to decide who all can see the folders.  An example may be you have 10 folders, but not everyone can see all 10 of them, they only see the ones you have given them access to.

I would be happy to help you get set up with Dropbox.  Just drop me a line in the comment section with your email and I will be happy to help you out as well.

Invoicing with oDesk…


Invoicing with oDesk is quite easy.  When it comes to hourly work, oDesk has software that will track the amount of time you work for the jobs that are hourly.  Then at the end of the week they remind you to check your time, which you should be doing anyways.  This will show you the amount of time it shows you have worked.  Then the client is asked to check this time to agree or disagree with what they see.  Then they invoice the client who will then pay the amount.  You will receive the amount 1 1/2 weeks after the end of the week.

This is a great way to keep the number of steps you have to do limited.  You just have to make sure you pick the right client to bill when you go to work.  You want to make sure you are careful as when you open the software it will have you ready to log in to the last client you billed hours to.

If you are working on a fixed price project, they will pay you once they feel they want to.  Just because a job is due on a certain day doesn’t mean they will pay you on that day, if they pay you at all.  So, it is best you look at their feedback from other contractors and payment history to see if this is the option you should consider, especially as you are beginning.

If you are freelancing and not using any type of company, but doing it on your own, you need to find a way to invoice that works for you.  Each of your clients will have their own way and/or timetable they work best with.  I know one person who wants an invoice weekly while I have others who say it doesn’t matter, as long as they know when I will be doing it.  So, those clients I usually invoice once a month, unless it is a really big project.

If you invoice on your own you need to have something set up that you use to help you know who has paid, when and for what.  I now use a spreadsheet that tracks my customers I invoice on my own.  I have set it up to include a number I give each client and then started with 1 and the invoice numbers will go up. Then on another worksheet I keep track of when the invoice was sent, when it was paid and if it was paid by PayPal, what the amount of the fees I will be paying as well.  I highlight the invoices that haven’t been paid, then I un-highlight them when they are paid.  Since this is done in Excel it is easy to do.  This helps me know who I need to follow-up with on unpaid invoices.  The amount of time they have to pay will vary if the contract we have stipulates the amount of time they will take to pay or not.  If it doesn’t, then I put in my date for it.

If you want a sample of what I use let me know and I will be happy to send it to you.

Back up, Back up and Back up


There are several reasons to back up.  There are also several reasons to make sure you have the folders in the right place .

Backing up your computer, especially your freelancing work will save you a lot of stress if something ever happens to your computer.  Your back up should never be on your computer either.  How often you do this will vary, but do it regularly.  When I worked outside the home, I learned this lesson the hard way, the very hard way.  Trust me, you don’t want this to happen to you.

But it is also important that if you ever work from other computers occasionally that you make sure you move documents and/or folders back to the correct area.  Our oldest daughter is taking part of a story time at the local library.  This provides me with one (1) hour of uninterrupted time to get some freelancing work done.  This week I put a couple of folders that had projects I needed to work on and put them on the flash drive.  When I got home, I moved one of them to the wrong place.  Needless to say, I was panicking for a bit.  But I did find the folder, thank goodness.  Since I don’t have a laptop now to work on, this is the best way for me to get work done at the library.  If and when I buy a laptop for freelancing, I can take it with me and won’t have to worry about this problem of wondering where I accidentally put the folder when I moved it.

Asking for Work


Don’t be afraid to ask for work from your client.  This is a great way to have plenty of work and get referrals.  When you are willing to see if your clients have work for you, it shows you are up to the challenge.  Eventually you will have some you will just come to you when they have work, you won’t have to worry about asking them for help.

Some things you can do would be to give suggestions on what you can offer them based on what the company does.

When asking for work you don’t want to sound desperate either.  You could say something like, “I haven’t had any work from you lately and wanted to see if there was anything I can do for you.”  Or, “You said you would be getting back with me on the next assignment and I haven’t heard from you.  I just wanted to see how things were going and to see if I can do anything for you.”  It could be they got busy, thought they sent the next assignment and didn’t or they thought someone else was going to and didn’t get it sent.  You reminding them will help them get it too you.

I have a couple of clients where I touch base with them every so often if I haven’t gotten any assignments from them in a while.  The amount of time varies based on the client.

Also, I have one client who lets me know when she has work and asks me if I want the new assignment.  A great example of this would be today one of my clients asked if I can do a job quickly.  She had hired another freelancer to do the work and they weren’t able to finish it last night.  I had the time and got it done rather quickly.  Because of that I will more than likely get those kinds of assignments in the future because of my ability to do it so quickly and well.  The client was happy with the work.

It is also a good idea to find out how often they want you to check with them if you haven’t heard back from them.  Sometimes if things are slow they may want you to touch base with them once a week, once every two weeks, etc.

But also remember, if you have people who keep telling you to check back with them and never give you work, you might want to stop checking in with them.  You can spend your time working for your clients who actually give you work or to look for other clients who will give you work.

There is nothing wrong with asking for work.  Many of your clients actually are happy when you ask if there is anything you can do to help them.

My Goals for 2013…


In my last post you will remember that I talked about things we need to update as a freelancer.  I have to say my goals for 2013 is one thing I haven’t done.  Why, you may ask?  Because I haven’t made them a priority, which is wrong.

Goals are important in helping move your business forward and making sure you stay focused what is important for you and your business.  If you haven’t had goals for your business before, then don’t feel you need to have a lot of them.  It is o.k. to start with a few and then add more as you go along.

What are some things you should include in your goals?

  • How much you want to make
  • Your clients – how many you want, your workload, schedule, etc.
  • Professional Development
  • Type of work you will do

Remember, you are in charge, so don’t be afraid to make the goals work for you.  Having somewhere to start is important to get started.