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.

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.

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.

With the New Year Coming…


As a freelancer and the New Year coming, now is the time for me to look over a few things, update things and see what needs to be changed.  You have probably changed a few things throughout the year, have added a few things to what you do, and/or hopefully seen your business start to grow.  If this is the case, this would be why you would want to check what you have in place.

What are some of the things to check and/or update:

  • Tracking sheets – You need to have one for the 2013 year.  Having a yearly tracking system will help you know what is going on for the year and to easily compare 2013 to earlier years and help you plan for 2014.  These would be anything from your invoice tracking to your income/expenses sheet.  
  • Your goals – Review how you did with your goals.  If you wrote what you did, what you accomplished or what you at least started on, you will be able to see what you need to change, how to change things and whatever else you may want to add to your goals.
  • Clean up – It is the time to clean up your freelancing folders.  Are there folders you need to move to a completed folder or to another place because they are clients you no longer work with, etc.   There will be things you want to keep for your portfolio, etc, but you may not need everything visible as you may have ended contracts, etc.
  • Follow up – This is the time to see who hasn’t paid you, who you need to follow-up with, etc.
  • Start your list – Do you have a running to do list you need to update?  Also, if you aren’t doing this, this would be the time to start that.
  • Start new things – What new things do you need to start?  Are there new templates you haven’t used before?  Are there new clients to contact?  Whether it is putting it on your list or actually setting dates to do it, you need to get started.

This has been a great reminder for me as well.  There are several things I have done and gotten ready for the 2013 year and there are things I still need to get done.  But now is the time to start thinking about them.

Make sure you write things as you think of them as well, this will keep you focused and from forgetting what it is you want to do and where you want to go.

Following up


Follow up is very important in freelancing.  Follow up is needed in many areas of freelancing.

Some of these areas include:

  • Being paid – If an invoice hasn’t been paid following up with the client is important.  You need to follow-up after the certain amount of time the invoice says you need to be paid.  Also finding out from the client about when they make payments and making sure it gets to the right person for payment is important.
  • Getting Work – If you have a client who has work for you on an as needed basis you should check in every so often.  Don’t always expect they will get with you if they have work.  There are those who will get with you every time they have work or work that would be a good fit for you.
  • Starting a contract – If you have a new contract that is getting started, it is important to follow-up about the job.  This includes finding out about deadlines, format of work, what exactly needs to be done and how often they need to hear from you along when they need to see what is going on with the project, especially if you aren’t using something like oDesk.

You may have templates for the different types of follow-up and that is fine.  Just make sure you have all the correct information in the template.  This means making sure you make all the necessary changes when it comes to name of the contact person, work, invoice, amount, etc.

If you need to, put reminders in your calendar to follow-up or get work done for your clients.  But if you put it in the calendar make sure you check it regularly so you know what is going on.

Getting and Staying Motivated…


As a freelancer, just like anything else, getting and staying motivated is something you will need to work on regularly.

When you have regular, ongoing work, it can be hard sometimes to get or staying motivated to get the job done.  Many times when it is time to invoice you may be motivated so you can get paid.  But being able to stay motivated regularly is important.

For example, I had a job where there was a blog I needed to keep updated and was having problems getting into it for over a month.  I had a hard time wanting to keep writing while the client was working out the issues.  I did write, but not like I had in the past.  Now the site is up and working, I am now ready to get going again.  I was finding I was having trouble keeping motivated, but the little break ended up helping me now that it is ready to go.

When you are motivated you will do a better job along with continually getting new work. It is also important to look for work, stay on top of any new skills you can use or need for what you are doing and even looking at what you have covered.  I have also found that looking for work tends to help out as well.