Your Friday 5: LLC, Home Office, Goal Setting & More for Novice Freelance Writers
Today’s freelance writing tips are aimed at nurses who are just starting out and have never written for profit before.
Tip 1 (Monday): Investigate Legal Structures for Your Business
A lot (I’d venture to say the majority) of freelancer writers begin their careers by writing under their own names, with no separate legal structure at all. I’ve argued against that approach before on this blog, and today’s tip continues my theme of “set your business up as a separate legal entity.”
But first, a disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I’m sharing personal opinion and observation, but you should shell out the dinero for some legal advice on structuring your business entity because laws vary greatly from state to state.
When freelance writers do set up a legal entity for their business, I notice most of them choose the Limited Liability Company or LLC. That’s the structure I chose. The LLC affords you some protection, in terms of shielding your personal assets from seizure should you lose a lawsuit, and it also offers the flexibility to be taxed (often more favorably) as an S-Corp without all the rigamarole that goes into setting up and maintaining a real S-Corp. Again, your mileage may vary.
Here are some resources to learn about various business structures. Your best bet is to consult an attorney.
- Should Your Business Be an LLC or an S-Corp – Inc.com
- Choose Your Business Structure – SBA.gov
- LLC vs. S Corp: Which Is Right for Your Startup? – Mashable
Tip 2 (Tuesday): Designate Your Home Office Space
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules are constantly evolving when it comes to the home office deduction. One thing that usually doesn’t change? Your ‘home office’ must be a clearly defined space. You generally cannot call your sofa your ‘office’ and deduct that space from your income tax.
Spend today figuring out where you plan to set up your desk and do your work. Preferably, this place should not contain (or should only minimally contain) any personal items. The IRS calls this the “exclusive use” rule. Your home office space must be an area devoted solely to doing business. You cannot comingle personal and business uses of the space. That said, you can use something like a room divider to partition a room, and the partitioned area probably qualifies as a “home office” for IRS purposes.
Tip 3 (Wednesday): Create a Website
Last week’s tip said “rewrite your website,” but perhaps that was like asking you to leap off the high dive before the pool was full of water. If you don’t have a website that positions you as a freelance nurse writer, you should set one up. Yes, before you have a single work sample.
I use and highly recommend the WordPress platform because it’s easy to set up, use and maintain. Because you are considered a ‘commercial entity’ as a freelance writer, you do not qualify for the free WordPress.com sites (as far as I know — someone can correct me if I’m wrong). You will need to open your wallet to a small degree in order to create a website, but you need to make this investment in your business. Do not cheap out here. There are places to cheap out when starting up a freelance writing business. Your website is not one of them.
Tip 4 (Thursday): Create a Letter of Introduction Template
Last week I told you to research three markets. This week, you need to create a boilerplate version of your LOI to send to the appropriate contact at one of the markets you investigated. Jennifer Goforth Gregory offers a great LOI example, as does Kelly James Enger. Your LOI doesn’t have to be fancy. Short, sweet and to-the-point is preferable. Write a generic version you can customize to each market.
Tip 5 (Friday): Set Goals
If you’re heading into this journey with an attitude of “I’ll do what I can whenever I can get to it,” you will fail. You need to set concrete, measurable goals and attach a deadline to them. As a freelance writer, your life will be governed by deadlines. You might as well start setting them now and learning you cannot bend or break them. In your freelance universe, deadlines should be immutable.
This week, set three to five concrete goals to accomplish over the next month. You can use the tasks set out in these Friday 5 tips emails, and you also can subscribe to the RN2Writer newsletter, which lays out a monthly action plan to get you going.
Use the comments section to share your goals, if that will help keep you accountable. We will root you on!
Wishing you well,