How to Secure Your Future as a Freelance Writer
A freelancing career can be extremely lucrative. In fact, two-thirds of freelancers say they earn more than they did at traditional jobs.
However, freelancers’ income streams can fluctuate wildly, and there’s often no saying what the next month will bring.
No matter how much you earn, in such an unstable climate, you need to think carefully about what the future holds and how you can shape it to your advantage. So here are some tips to help you secure your future as a freelance writer.
Track Your Income Meticulously
Whether you’re an established copywriter or you’re just starting a travel blog, your income probably varies a lot from week to week. Unlike with traditional jobs, where you know exactly what to expect at the end of the month, as a freelance writer, you need to keep track of how much you earn.
We can’t overstate the importance of keeping a record of your earnings and even analyzing it to notice any potential trends. This can allow you to plan your expenses accordingly. It’s so easy to get carried away and indulge your whims when you’re on a good streak, just to be living on a shoestring budget the next month.
Know Your Base Expenses
Just as you need to keep track of your earnings, you need to be aware of your minimum monthly spending. If you want to set viable financial goals for the long haul, you should know what you can survive on in a month and build from there.
Freelancers are often unaware of their expenses, and it’s difficult to budget when you don’t know what to expect. However, once you’ve put down the minimum amount of money you can get by in a month, you can plan what to do with any extra earnings.
This is important because you don’t get a lump sum when you need it. Rather, you get paid in smaller increments, which may not be enough for an unexpected bigger expense.
Make Sure You Have Health Insurance
Depending on where you live, it may be more or less difficult to get health insurance, but you absolutely need it. As a self-employed person, you don’t have an employer who will take care of that, and you need to explore your options yourself.
There are probably local and national organizations providing plans for freelancers. Other options are industry-based and private groups that offer affordable solutions.
You may even consider joining a family member’s plan if this is available to you. Depending on your country, you may even be able to get insurance coverage as a business rather than as an individual.
However, one thing is certain — you can’t plan for your future without thinking about your health.
Save for Retirement
Retirement is often a scary word for freelancers. Some of them believe they will never be able to retire, and others don’t ever want to.
However, you need to be mature and realize that, one day, you may not be able to work for one reason or another. Be it your health, industry changes, or something else, there are plenty of potential factors that could disrupt your work in your golden years.
Saving for retirement should be your number one priority, and you can make it easier by treating this monthly expense as you would any other bill. Allocating 10% of your earnings shouldn’t be too big of a problem, and if you find that it is, you may want to reconsider your future plans.
Always Work With Contracts
Freelance writers are especially susceptible to all kinds of fraud and trickery when it comes to payment time. No matter how great of an arrangement you make with someone, you should have it all down in black and white. At the end of the day, you never know who you’re working with.
The contract should be there to protect both you and the other party by outlining all the agreed-upon terms. You should even consider adding a late payment fee clause to discourage clients from stalling their payments.
If you’re not sure how to create one, you can always find examples online or, even better, hire a professional to draw up a template for you.
Have a ‘Buffer’ Account for Extra Income
Saving for a rainy day usually means around three-months worth for people with traditional jobs. However, as a freelancer, a rainy day may come more often to you and in many forms. Late payments, dry seasons, difficult clients — you never know what you’ll have to deal with and how much the problem will set you back.
That’s why it’s important to have a separate account where you’ll dump all your extra income and look at it as an emergency fund.
So on a slower month, you can tap into these savings to even out your cash flow, and when you’re having it good, do the transfer in the opposite direction.
You need to look at those numbers often and analyze them carefully. Are you earning more or less than before? Are you spending more? How much do you have in your emergency fund? What are your financial plans for the foreseeable future? Are they feasible?
These are only some questions that you have to answer more often than people with traditional income streams. You always have to be ready for the unexpected.
This step in securing your future is especially important if you have big expenses to think of, such as that of buying a house, saving for your children’s college fund, or anything similar.
Consider Hiring an Accountant
Figuring your taxes can be challenging, and there’s much more to think about when you’re your own accountant. If you’re worried about all things financial, you should consider hiring a professional to do your bookkeeping and take care of your financial records.
They could even steer you in the right direction taxwise and save you tons of money in the process.
Of course, you don’t even have to have a full-time accountant as a freelance writer. However, hearing a professional’s opinion every once in a while can be extremely beneficial.
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