While we are undeniably living in the age of the self, with focus on the individual in every aspect of our social and professional lives, it seems that the business sector is slowly rediscovering the strength that lies in numbers. Inspired by the way grassroots efforts work, crowdsourcing is the name of the game across industries lately – but what could it mean for you as a freelance writer?
How much have you put into your freelance writing career? How much money have you invested? Have you eaten into your savings? Do you have existing mortgages and loans?
While many freelance writers are not in dire straits, the possibility of facing bankruptcy is something to think about – especially if you have put invested financially in your business. Additionally, you want to have a financial cushion in case unexpected expenses arise. Freelancer or not, having a rainy day fund is always a good idea.
If you already have more than enough work on your plate, then you can file away the following ideas to make more money freelancing for when you need more work. If you think you can handle a bit more – or you actually really need more – then consider the following jobs to make more money freelancing.
Closed captioning still involves writing, but the most important thing in this line of work is speed and accuracy. It involves the captioner watching and listening to a video – it can be TV or a movie – and writing down what’s being said. The result of your work are the subtitles you see when watching a TV show or movie.
If you have an amazing typing speed (say 200+ wpm), you may want to consider closed captioning as it pays really well.
Here’s a good resource on where to find closed captioning jobs.
Transcribing is similar to closed captioning but is more focused on audio files. Transcriptionists are in high demand these days. You probably already know all about medical transcription jobs as they are the most popular. Other business professionals and companies hire transcriptionists on a regular basis as well. Just like closed captioning, you turn audio into written form and typing speed and accuracy are of utmost importance.
Search for transcription jobs here.
Mystery shopping is one of the best ways to earn a little cash on the side. It may not make you rich, but it does have its perks.
The idea is for you to visit an establishment and evaluate it without the owner/workers being aware. Before you can work as a mystery shopper, usually you will need to go through a rigorous screening process. Mystery shopping companies want to receive feedback that’s as accurate as possible, and they want to ensure that their shoppers are discerning and reliable.
You can even use mystery shopping as a way to earn money while you’re on vacation! Read this article for more tips on this topic.
Teaching ESL (English as a Second Language)
While not all freelance writers have experience teaching English, I think we can all agree that we have a firm grasp of the language. With this qualification, it is relatively easy to find remote work as an ESL teacher.
There is the valid argument that while one may be a good writer, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he can be a good teacher. That is true, but I know for a fact that teaching skills can be learned relatively easily. A solid understanding of the language and firm grasp of grammar, however, is built on years of learning and experience. If you’re patient enough, even without a lot of teaching experience, you can help foreign language speakers learn English.
Here’s another article you might be interested in:
Hooray! A check from a client came in. Now what? Do you stick it in your personal bank account where it mingles with your part-time job income and your spouse’s direct deposit? If so, you might be making your life needlessly harder when it comes to keeping your freelancer finances straight. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about all the fine tax deductions freelancers like you and me get to take at tax time. But be warned, those nifty little deductions can get lost among payments to the grocery store, the vet, and Uncle Hal’s Hardware and Bait Shop. And don’t get me started on visits to the office supply store. When you’re doing your taxes a year later, it’s impossible to remember whether that September 1st trip to Staples was to buy your printer cartridges or your munchkin’s school supplies.
The obvious solution to this headache? A second bank account, devoted solely to your freelancing income. But not so fast, there are pros and cons to opening a second bank account solely for your freelancing income.
Just Do It: Two Bank Accounts are Better than One
The biggest advantage of a business account is peace of mind at tax time. Deposit all of your income into the account, pay all of your expenses out of the account, and your neat and orderly bank statements are your accountant’s dream at the end of the year. There’s no need to worry about accidentally deducting a personal expense and ending up with egg on your face (and no eggs in your fridge) in case of an audit. And there’s no chance of you forgetting a tax deduction because a business expenses got mixed in with your household purchases.
If you want to keep your financial life neat, simple, and uncomplicated. Then opening a second checking account for your freelancing income and expenses may be for you.
Don’t Do It: Commingle Those Funds
Have you deposited a paper check lately? Then you know that you sometimes have to wait a day or more for newly deposited funds to become available. I think we all remember the days of waiting impatiently for a check to clear. If you open a business bank account, you might put yourself through this irritation twice – once when the check clears in your business account, then once when transferring your funds from your business account to your personal account. Not to mention, many banks charge fees for everything. When opening a second bank account, you may end up nickel and diming yourself out of your profits.
Besides, who wants to balance two checking accounts at the end of the month? Some tax pros, like June Walker the well-known accountant to indies, say Schedule C-ers (us unincorporated folks) have no need of a separate bank account as long as we keep our financial house in order. June gives the example of a freelancer buying groceries. Some of the food is for the family, while some is for a client who’s coming to dinner. The ingredients used in client’s risotto are tax deductible, while the munchkins’ Teddy Grams are not. Does she pay with her business account or her personal account? (Or does she drive the clerk nuts by separating her groceries into piles?) A simple visit to the grocery store becomes a hair-tearing experience when a freelancer tries to use two accounts.
If you feel confident that you can keep track of your freelancing income and expenses, then you may not need to bother with a dedicated bank account for your business.
A final note: If you are incorporated and commingle your business and personal funds, you could be in big trouble come lawsuit or audit time. Check with your accountant about your options as an S-Corp, LLC or other incorporated entity.
Jennifer Escalona is not an accountant, nor does she play one on TV. Be sure to consult your financial pro before making important financial decisions about your business.