Freelancer Operating Costs You Can’t Afford to Live Without

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It was 10: 43 on a Sunday Morning. Anxious to tie up some loose ends, I clicked on my computer to check my emails for the status of clients’ projects. Much to my horror, there was a warning message in the bottom of my screen that alerted me to “corrupted files.”

I panicked. The last time this happened, I ended up losing some important files and some unbillable hours to boot. Both of which were difficult to recover.

Immediately, I picked up the phone to leave a message of S.O.S. to the tech support hotline associated with my recent computer club membership. To my surprise, a live person answered on the third ring! I almost fell over in disbelief.

In a matter of minutes, the person  was able to troubleshoot my troubles, and get me back in the mix. This was proof positive that my decision to pay for a more expensive form of virus protection was worth the investment. The peace of mind that it provides is priceless.

Let’s face it: often times, in an effort to operate “lean and mean” in our freelancing businesses, we cut fat more than the local butcher. And we should. Part of being able to go the distance and stay in the black, is contingent upon our ability to be good money managers and strategists.

But be forewarned: being penny wise and pound foolish can be very costly. Here are four expenses you should never nickel and dime yourself on.

1. Virus protection-–I learned the hard way when I originally opted for a “free” software program recommended by someone else. Though no virus protection program is 100% effective in combating attacks, paying a little extra money to get the best you can afford, makes good business sense. Go even further and invest in backup and technical support through a computer club.

2. Image in marketing materials—Have you ever gotten a business card that looked like it was created by a kid in an art class, or one where the person scratched out old info and wrote in the new information? No doubt, It looked cheap and sent the message that the person might be a little less than professional. Don’t be one of them. Remember, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

3. Professional affiliations—Even if you can afford just one a year, choose wisely. The benefit is that the better ones offer perks like medical insurance, press passes and a job bank. And keep in mind that it’s also a business deduction at tax time, perfect for freelance writers on the go.

4. Eyewear—Okay, so admittedly, I used to wear reading glasses that I scored at the local Dollar Store. But, after a lecture from my mom, I upgraded. And boy, am I glad I did. It really helps if you can read clearly as you compose your creative pieces. It typically means fewer errors, less eye strain, and a greater acceptance rate with editors. As they say, “there is none so blind as he who will not see.”

Seven Things Freelancers Should Never Do To Gain Or Maintain a Client

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“Desperate times call for desperate measures.” In a tough economy, some entrepreneurs may be inclined to use this expression to justify getting a little more “creative” in their business practices and principles.

This in an effort to stay afloat and stay in the game. And, of course, a little “resourcefulness” can be a good thing depending upon how it’s applied and approached.

For example, finding ways to cut corners without compromising the quality of your services, or networking with other professionals to increase your client base and your bottom line.

But even amidst slow periods, lean times, and sheer fear, there are a few things you should never resort to in pursuit of fame, fortune, or food on the table.

I like to call them the seven deadly sins. Here they are in no particular order.

1. Discounting fees to your own detriment—Faced with mounting bills and the pressure to succeed, it’s not unusual for a freelancer to under price their services to drum up business, or to help a budget-conscious client meet their goals. Don’t be one of them. It’s rarely appreciated, and many times, it unfortunately lessens your “perceived value” to others.It’s okay to give a price break to loyal clients, or for projects that are quick and easy, if the situation dictates. But make sure that you’re compensated fairly in the process.

2. Embellishing your credentials and/or your experience— “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive.” Newsflash: with search engines, social media, and investigative software available to the general public, you’d be amazed at how much info is available to “inquiring minds.” Never present yourself as someone you‘re not. Remember that integrity is just as important as skill sets.

3. Working without a contract— I’m a big fan of Judge Mathis and courtroom T.V. and I can’t count the times that someone was out of money due to this oversight. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out fancy-smancy document. Even an Email exchange outlining the terms of your working relationship is better than nothing.
4. Badmouthing the competition—Green is rarely a good color on anyone! Maintaining an open relationship with all website copywriting services will put you under the radar, in good positions to advance.

5. Compromising your values—-If a client asks you to do something that doesn’t align with your moral code, or simply makes you feel uncomfortable, (i.e. fixing you up with their next door neighbor, lying, etc.), decline. You’re for hire, not for sale.

6. Being on call 24/7—Unless they’re compensating you the equivalent of a doctor’s salary. Besides, being well rested and recharged means that you’ll ultimately be better equipped to provide them with your best work.

7.  Accepting poor treatment—Frankly it defeats the whole purpose of working for yourself.
Keep these seven sins in mind  to ensure a heavenly freelance experience.

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