Enough is enough. I’m exhausted with the incessant whining I’ve heard lately from the herds who refer to themselves as “freelancers.” You whiny little bitches.
You’re not freelancers – you’re business owners. So stop pulling the woe-is-fucking-me game and start acting like it. I don’t care if you’re sitting in your house working in your bunny slippers, in the middle of a co-working space or a coffee shop devotee. It’s time to cowboy the fuck up and start acting the way you want people to treat you.
Like a business.
I’m going to give you some words to live by that someone shared with me (and not so long ago), along with a few of my own thrown in for flavor. We never give ourselves great advice, so maybe you’ll take my mashup of experiences and rub the lotion on your “freelancer” skin and be all the better for it.
You are a business owner, not a “freelancer.” I don’t care what you have to do to lend a sense of legitimacy to whatever it is you do, but get out there and go do it. Get an LLC, rent office space, have business cards made with your business moniker on them. Hell, GET a business moniker. But when you stop calling yourself a freelancer and start owning a business, you might be surprised in a whole lotta shifts that trickle down. I know I was. You can get your LLC setup online in most states through the Secretary of State office. Easy-peasy.
Get a business bank account. The fees you receive from clients aren’t your own little personal piggy bank. It’s income. It is taxable and subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes as well. If you think you can handle all of your business accounting on your own, I sure shit hope you’re a “freelance” CPA. Otherwise, get a CPA, business formation papers and get thee to a blessed financial institution to open a business account. You need to put aside money for taxes, pay them QUARTERLY (yes, quarterly) and pay a few hundred bucks a year to a qualified tax professional to keep your shit straight. Oh, and get an invoicing program. I personally use GetHarvest, but know several others who adore Freshbooks. Keep your shit straight. Oh – and both integrate with PayPal.
Make it easy for people to pay you. If you only take checks, you’re stuck waiting for the mail. If you don’t take credit cards (a merchant services account or PayPal), you’re making a huge mistake. If you’re not charging a 50% deposit to commence, you’re a moron. The easier you make it for people to pay you, the more likely it is…they’ll actually pay you! If you’re pissed about PayPal or merchant account handling fees, add a surcharge on your quotes – visible or invisible. Doesn’t matter. And by the way, if you had a CPA, he/she would probably tell you those service fees are tax-deductible. Just sayin’.
If you can’t make a living, something is wrong. Until a dear friend and colleague told me my pricing was as out of whack with market trends as GM stock prices, I was oblivious. I was taking more and more work and making barely any more money. Pull your head out of your freelancer ass and do some research like a business owner. Dig into rates that others who provide similar services charge. If you’re in the creative space, know what agencies are charging. If you’re a writer, you need to subscribe to Writer’s Market and download their annually-updated ‘What to Charge” guide. If you don’t price your services so you can afford to eventually outsource the slew of work that will be coming your way, you’re doing it wrong.
You need to invest in your business. I was recently at a conference where someone complained about the $30 ticket price for 8 hours of focused information sharing. I stood up and said, “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me. This is a steal! You just got 8 hours of info – actionable info – for $3.75/hour.” If you’re not willing to invest in your business, what ARE you willing to invest in? $30 is an investment if you’re buying a pool floatie toy or a hamburger. It is a scam if you’re talking about buying a house or a car. Everything in between is negotiable. We go to Target and walk out with $100 worth of crap we didn’t need (but it was ON SALE), and you complain about a $30 (or $300, for that matter) investment in your business? Shut…the front door.
You need to network. And it needs to be outside of your own backyard. There are conferences nationwide, no matter what industry you’re in, and you need to do your research and figure out which ones to attend. There’s going to be some trial and error, and some of the experiences are going to suck. But you’re going to meet people. And those people are even more valuable than the information you receive. So when you’re thinking about investing in your business, conferences need to be on your radar.
You can’t do it on your own. You need allies. Colleagues. People you can trust. McDonald’s buys their “beef” from a vendor and their soda from Coca Cola. Who are you going to leverage to get business done? Ah – but there’s that B-word again. It’s because you run a business. When you take the time to invest in your business and network, you’d be surprised how easily these trusted resources come along.
It’s okay to be frugal, but cheap can suck it. Not everyone can afford a Bentley (and not everyone that drives one can afford one). But if you run your car on the cheap and ignore things like…oh, say oil changes, you’re going to kill the life of the car. It’s the same with your business. It’s time well-spent to find a $9.99 oil change but it’s shitty money saved to skip it all together. Keep your business running lean – but don’t ignore what it takes for it to keep running.
And for now, that is all fellow business owner. Consider yourself slapped.