Freelance Tasks You Should Never do Yourself
The month is drawing to a close. I hope you’ve not only been reading these blog posts but have been implementing the suggestions and action steps in them. If you have, you are well down the path to becoming a freelance nurse writer. Congratulations!
When you’re first starting out as a freelance writer, you have to wear a lot of hats — all of them, to be specific. You must be:
- The CEO, who handles all of the executive functions, from setting up the business entity to creating the business plan
- The administrative assistant, who manages all of the administrative functions including setting up interviews and creating Word templates for common, repetitive tasks
- The accountant, who balances the business books, files quarterly self-withholding and performs all the other glorious numbers work
- The webmaster, who designs and maintains your most important marketing tool
- The researcher, who does all the background legwork related to whatever writing project you’re working on
- The writer, who puts the research, interviews and other materials into readable prose, slideshows or whatever the deliverable consists of
- The editor and proofer, who goes back over the writing and tweaks it for clarity or conciseness
- The wife, mother, caregiver, housekeeper, cook — and every other role related to everyday life
It’s a lot, isn’t it?
As a freelance nurse writer, your time literally is money. Every minute you spend trying to figure out what IRS form to file (and when) or looking up statistics is one less minute you have available to bill. If you charge $100 per hour for writing, doesn’t it make sense to pay someone else $20 per hour to perform mundane tasks? It’s arithmetic so simple even I can do it.
Here’s my list of the top tasks a freelance writer should never do herself.
You not only waste valuable time, but you also can cost yourself serious dinero if you enter into DIY bookkeeping and miss an IRS deadline, under-withhold, file the wrong form… the list goes on. So don’t do that.
You need two competent financial people to handle these affairs: an accountant and a bookkeeper. Let’s examine what they do and why outsourcing your accounting is a great investment.
An accountant handles the higher-level financial tasks of your business, such as setting up the books, filing the taxes and so on. Accountants generally charge more because they have a college degree and sometimes a CPA certification. A good accountant is worth her weight in gold. When you shop for accountants, make sure you engage someone who understands the business of freelance writing specifically. You will find accountants who brush off questions about these specifics by saying, “I work with all types of self-employed people.” In my experience, that’s not good enough. A freelance writing business is not the same as a hair salon or a mom-and-pop grocery store. Since you’re going to be paying good money to your accountant, find one who truly understands the freelance business and has other creative freelance clients. You want your accountant to be your partner in this business venture — your VP of Finance, essentially. Choose wisely.
A bookkeeper is a person who handles the day-to-day financial tasks of operating a business, such as balancing the checkbook and setting up your accounting software. Most accountants either employ a bookkeeper or work closely with one. Bookkeepers cost less than an accountant, which is why you want one. There’s no reason to pay a CPA to balance your checkbook. Folly! If your accountant doesn’t have an in-house bookkeeper, shop carefully for someone who (again) understands the freelance biz.
I am happy to recommend my accountant, Jason Deshayes, at Butler and Company CPAs. My bookkeeper, Jennifer (in the same office), has provided invaluable assistance to me in handling mundane financial tasks.
In 2001, I bought HTML 4 for Dummies Quick Reference Guide and proceeded to code my own website. It was fun. I love visual design! Picking colors!
But, man, was it time-consuming. When I think about all the billable hours I wasted on that, it blows my mind.
Don’t be me.
Today, WordPress rules the world, and for good reason. WordPress makes it easy to maintain a handsome website and to blog. But don’t design your site yourself. Get a good designer. I highly recommend my designer, Thauna, of Bellano Web Studio. She will get you set up and rolling on a beautiful, responsive WordPress site you can easily maintain yourself. And if you can’t maintain it (or don’t want to), Thauna is only an email away.
Your website represents your entire reputation as a nurse writer. Make the investment. This is not a DIY project.
It took me a long time to realize the value in hiring a housekeeper, but it’s the best decision I ever made. Look at it this way:
- Dusting the whole house: 1 hour, $100 of your time
- Cleaning three bathrooms: 1 hour, $100 of your time
- Vacuuming, sweeping and mopping all the floors: 2 hours, $600 of your time
- Cleaning all the ceiling fans (one in every room), dusting the blinds: 2 hours, $200 of your time
That’s a $600 investment in home upkeep (based on a hypothetical rate of $100/hour). Seriously? And you need to do this how often? Twice a month, at least?
Just hire a house cleaning service. For $200 – $300 per month (depending on the size of your house), you can relieve yourself of that constant nag in the back of your head telling you not to sleep in on Sunday morning because the floors need mopping. Oh, believe me, hiring a house cleaner is worth every cent!
I know of many freelance writers who use the FlyLady system for housekeeping, and that’s a great alternative. I used the FlyLady system for many years, until I reached a gross revenue level where I felt comfortable hiring a housekeeper. My husband has been very happy with my decision because now we spend our weekends pursuing enjoyable activities instead of shaking throw rugs outside.
You can outsource many aspects of your freelance business, and I urge you to outsource as much as it makes sense to do based on your earning level.
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Wishing you well,
Image via Jeremy Keith