Re: freelancing

Subject: Re: freelancing
From: Barb Philbrick <barb -dot- philbrick -at- PCOHIO -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 1995 10:33:00 -0500

BP>Well, here's my first oops of the year. Sent this message to the
BP>wrong list...sorry. But, hey, if it sparks some discussion,
BP>fine.

Well, I'm responding to it a month late, so I think we're even on the
"oops" factor. <g>

BP>>> - how to find freelance editing and proofreading work,

I sent out mailings, plus I stay active in the local chapter of STC to
make contacts. I also did cold-calling, though it mostly got me correct
mailing list information, not contracts. However, the mailings netted
two clients per 100 mailings, which I'm told is a pretty good return.
(1% is typical.)

BP>>> - how to organize the business end (accounting, etc.) of the
BP>>> - work, and any other start-up advice you might have.

Well, I did it all wrong. A former employer called me and asked me if I
would do a little work on the side, since they had never replaced me. A
week later, I got a call from an agency that had gotten my name from my
college referral office (I'd forgotten that I'd even left a resume there
- you never know where leads will come from!).

I was unhappy in my new position, and had been thinking about
contracting, so it sounded like fate was pushing me. Who I am to
question fate? I quit my job, bought a good computer desk and chair, and
put my little 386 to work.

As it turned out, my former employer came through for me, and continues
to be an intermittent customer. The other position fell through. Through
persistence and marketing, I got three more clients that year, one of
which is still with me.

The first year was tight - my take-home dropped about $10K - but I have
since grown by $5K per year, so I'm now making more than I did at the
first firm. Plus, I love it. I love learning different products; seeing
different companies and the way they operate; setting my own schedule
(sort of - clients dictate my workload, which in turn dictates my
schedule); and even handling all the nonsense involved in having your
own business.

What should I have done? Well, I should have purchased a laser printer,
with Postscript. I couldn't afford one till my second year in business.
It would have been nice if I had an upgrade computer and *legal* copies
of all of my software (I am happy to say I am now legal on *all* of my
software. Besides the legal issues, I feel it's unprofessional to use
bootlegs).

I should have gone to a lawyer and had a contract drawn up (I've been
lucky and haven't had any problems, but it's tempting fate to work
without one). I did use the quotes to cover some of the angles, but a
contract is far better.

I still haven't incorporated, and according to my lawyer and accountant,
it isn't necessary. I'm going to check into it again this year to see if
it's worth it for me yet. It costs about $500 to incorporate, but
involves additional paperwork; I have to see if the benefits are worth
the costs.

I bought business insurance last year; it covers me for defense costs
and up to $1M liability should I be sued. It would be a good idea to
have this coming into the business. I would like to, but have trouble
qualifying for, disability insurance. This is one place where
incorporating would help - I don't have a "guaranteed income" (like
anyone does), so my insurance company wouldn't cover me. As a
corporation, I would have a salary, instead of just taking money out of
the business account when I need it.

One thing I did from the start that helps both bookkeeping and keeping
the IRS happy is to establish a separate business checking account and
credit card. Check around - I tried three or four banks before I found
one that let me open a "Doing Business As (DBA)" account. If you open a
straight business checking account, they'll charge you an arm and a leg.

I didn't get a business phone at first - just installed a second
personal line that was dedicated to the business. This year, I moved
into an outside office and got a business phone, but I'm not sure that
it was worth it - the phone company must subsidize personal phone lines
with business phone lines, since installation and monthly service are
about four times as much as my personal line was. But I'll be in the
Business-to-Business Yellow Pages now - I have yet to see if it will
produce additional clients.

That's all I can think of right now - I just dove in and learned to
swim. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Barb

barb -dot- philbrick -at- pcohio -dot- com
---
* CMPQwk 1.4 #9107 * An open mind is a terrible thing to close.

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