Question for Freelancers

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by GanChan, Apr 27, 2006.

  1. GanChan macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2005
    #1
    For those of you who are self-employed, what advice do you have for someone who is about to take the plunge into freelancing? Has it been a good experience for you overall, or do you regret it?
     
  2. Black&Tan macrumors 6502a

    Black&Tan

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    #2
    I'm buried with work, but then again, I also have a full time job. Its a good lifeline to ensure that the mortgage gets paid and there's food on the table.

    However, freelance work seems to have taken off lately. I was up till 2am last night getting work done and I had to be up by 6 to deliver a job. These late nights are starting to become more common. It took a few years to grow my client base, however. Cultivate your contacts and develop a strong relationship with your printers. You never know when you can get some work through them. I've got three new clients through relationships with my printers.

    Avoid burning bridges, you never know when it can bite you in the ass. Start with one client and make them very happy. As you grow, make sure you keep your first client happy.

    Cheapest is not best nor is the reverse.

    Incidentally, a home business is a great tax deduction. It has paid to renovate my home office and potentially a new Intel tower this year. We'll see how the year goes. It helps that my toys and wants tend to hinge around the Mac.
     
  3. Queso macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #3
    Keep your accountant close and listen to their advice.
     
  4. UKnjb macrumors 6502a

    UKnjb

    Joined:
    May 23, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    #4
    Yup to keeping your accountant close. And keep an immaculate paper-trail of stuff bought and sold.
    Plus ---- be disciplined with yourself. I find/found it helps a lot to keep 'proper' hours and, if you have to, just keep working your own overtime until the job is finished.
    Um, what else? Don't sell yourself cheap with your clients just to get some/any work (a succesful lawyer friend told me "double your prices, halve your work").
    Good luck with it! :) :)
     
  5. jelloshotsrule macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Location:
    serendipity
    #5
    not to get off topic, but how exactly does this work? my brother and i are starting up a business that will essentially be making video productions for festivals and such... no real expectations of income (at this point). however, we are unsure if we could somehow use it to help us with taxes... in terms of our equipment costs, etc. he mentioned he thought we could "sell" our personal equipment to the company to use (obviously only our production related gear).... any info/insight on that would be great!


    not even being a real freelancer myself (not enough to live off of anyways), i'd think the main thing before jumping in is having a sense of your niche and also ideally a few jobs/potential customers lined up.
     
  6. Black&Tan macrumors 6502a

    Black&Tan

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    #6
    Also, don't turn down the little jobs. They are sometimes the key to bigger and better work. Impress them with business card designs, they may want you to redesign their corporate identity or sales literature.

    Don't get attached to your designs. What the client wants, the client gets. Artistic expression does not pay the bills.

    Do your best on every project.

    If you're working out of your residence, and you own your own place, you are able to deduct a percentage of your home expenses such as utilities, insurance and mortgage payments.
     
  7. Peyton macrumors 68000

    Peyton

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2006
    #7
    good point from the lawyer, but beginning freelancers.. shouldn't. grow a client base, THEN double prices, because 'halving' a client base of 0 is very small. In that case you can triple your prices, doesn't matter cos no one will pay you. ;)
     
  8. jelloshotsrule macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Location:
    serendipity
    #8
    so unless you own your home, it's worthless as far as having a "business" that uses your, what could be described as, hobby items? hah hmmmmm
     
  9. Black&Tan macrumors 6502a

    Black&Tan

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    #9
    All you need to do is set up a business with the INTENT to earn money. You may need to get a tax ID number. If you lose money, that's okay. Even if you lose money for 10 years running, you're still a business with the intent to earn money. If you earn money, you need to pay taxes. The more expenses you have, the less profit you make and therefore the less taxes you pay.

    If you're working out of your residence, you have to own it. No renting. Check with an accountant for equipment expenses. Equipment purchases should be deductable, as long as they're used for work.

    Also, computer equipment depreciates in value, and the depreciation is deductable. Again, check with an accountant for more details in your state. And their costs are also deductable!!
     
  10. Black&Tan macrumors 6502a

    Black&Tan

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    #10
    You can still deduct business expenses such as equipment and materials, just not home expenses such as mortgage/utilities/internet.
     
  11. UKnjb macrumors 6502a

    UKnjb

    Joined:
    May 23, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    #11
    Of course you're correct for a '0' client base. I was really trying to dissuade from the idea of offering to do work on the cheap, merely to get work in, even at the beginning. That route can so easily lead to working at a real financial loss.
     
  12. jelloshotsrule macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
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    #12
    thanks much! will look into it.... accountant eh? that's a novel idea.
     
  13. 3rdpath macrumors 68000

    3rdpath

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2002
    Location:
    2nd star on the right and straight till morning
    #13
    Actually, you can write off any home area used exclusively for your work regardless of whether you rent or own. You can also write off a % of your utilities based upon the ratio of work/live space. Same for business mileage, phone calls, meals ( within limits), travel etc.

    Any equipment you buy can be written off either in a lump sum( there are limits) or depreciated over time. These write-offs can help lower any taxable income you have from other jobs. The kicker is you need to be making some money ( ideally, a profit) off of your venture. The IRS frowns on hobbiests...

    As far as equipment you already own...not sure. That's a question for a CPA ( as is every business related tax question...).
     
  14. Black&Tan macrumors 6502a

    Black&Tan

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    #14
    Hmmm...this may be an individual state thing then. When I asked my accountant five years ago, that was the answer I was given. Utilities/rent not deductable for renters in the fine state of Connecticut.

    Unless its changed, of course. The tax laws never change...

    :rolleyes:
     
  15. 3rdpath macrumors 68000

    3rdpath

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    #15
    from the IRS site


    linky dinky
     
  16. UKnjb macrumors 6502a

    UKnjb

    Joined:
    May 23, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    #16
    Slightly off-topic (UK versus USA).

    Self-employed can claim %ages of their home space as 'office' and get tax relief as well. That is the good thing. The bad thing is that, if/when you come to sell your home and there is a capital appreciation on it (i.e. you have made a profit), then the tax man can claim a cut of the office space allowances based on your claimed %age. Um - that's what my accountant told me. And it can amount to substantial sums. Is this the same in the USA?
     
  17. jaydub macrumors 6502a

    jaydub

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    #17
    I've only done a couple of freelance web design gigs, because I frankly don't have the time for it among my full-time job, full-time school, and marriage. At any rate, just make sure that anything you agree to do is in writing.

    Some tips that helped me while I was doing my design:

    * Get periodic payments. Don't have them pay you all in one lump sum at the end, or all at the beginning. This promotes some goodwill with your client, and shows them that you're not just out for the paycheck. It also keeps both of you on a consistent timeline. The way I had structured it, I got an up-front pmt of about 25%, then 25% after the design was complete, 25% after coding, and the final 25% when the site was up and running.

    * Always keep them involved and don't progress too far without knowing exactly what they want you to do. The first time I heard "oh I trust you, do what you think will look best" I ended up putting a lot of work into a layout, only to have them hate it. Don't put yourself thru that, or waste your time.

    * If it's someone who isn't savvy about the internet or who doesn't know YOUR skillset, be honest about your shortcomings. If you can't code in a certain language, don't lead on that you can in hopes of landing the gig. It'll only make things harder when they ask you to perform.

    I'd love to freelance more, but the time commitment was more than I could bear at the time. Also, the person I did the site for was an aspiring model and was about as dumb as a box of rocks. Pick your clients carefully. ;)
     
  18. 3rdpath macrumors 68000

    3rdpath

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2002
    Location:
    2nd star on the right and straight till morning
    #18
    It used to be but the IRS has revised their view of the whole recapturing scenario...thank goodness. Of course that could change again...tax law seems like a pretty fluid enigma.
     
  19. macscripter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2006
    #19
    Check out MacFreelancer

    While this post is a tad late in the game, you guys be sure to check out MacFreelancer

    Enjoy, and happy freelancing!
     
  20. GanChan thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2005
    #20
    Cold calling

    Just an extra note, since this thread was revived, to state for the record that cold calling isn't much fun.

    Thing is, sometimes it works. So I can't just not do it. But on those days when you're sucking wind on a whole list of what you thought were fairly decent prospects....like, um, today.... :eek:

    I'm about to call this day quits and declare Happy Hour. ;)
     

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