If you're thinking about becoming a freelancer you probably fall into one of two categories: you're sick of the daily grind and your 9-5 and are looking for a more flexible lifestyle, or you want to score some extra cash on the side. Regardless of why you're interested in freelancing, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure success for your fledgling business.
You're a now a small business owner
That's right – if you're getting paid in exchange for a service or product, you need to pay taxes on your earnings. You can register your business on the IRS website, where you'll also apply for your EIN (employee identification number – sort of like a social security number for companies). Most freelancers choose to register a sole-proprietorship, as it's the simplest form of business. It doesn't create a legal entity, but once created, you are responsible for its debts. You can either choose a fictitious name (trade name) or register it under your own name.
Once you've registered your business with the federal government, you also need to check into local licenses. Depending on your location, you may need one to operate just like a brick and mortar business would.
It's all up to you, baby
Sorry – you're not exempt from taxes
As a self-employed individual, you'll owe taxes on the gross revenue you earn. In addition to filing an end of year tax return, you'll also pay quarterly payments on your revenue. This tax is the same thing your full-time employer would normally withhold from your paycheck: income tax, Social Security, and Medicare. If you're just starting out, make your best guess as to how much you'll earn your first year to determine your payments. If you're too high or too low, you'll either owe money or get a refund at the end of the year. Come tax time you'll file either a Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (for many businesses with under $5,000 of expenses).
Protect your health
If you're a full-time freelancer, you'll no longer have the option of getting health insurance through your employer. Never fear – there are plenty of individual health insurance options available to you. You can either do some research on your own, and buy directly from a large health insurance company like Cigna, United Health, and Anthem, or check out the plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace. If you're under 26, you can stay on your parent's plan.
Just take note of whether you prefer a high deductible plan (which costs less per month but for which you'll pay more out of pocket) or a more comprehensive plan (which covers more medical procedures and visits, but has a higher monthly cost). Choose whatever makes sense for your health and well-being. But make sure you do have health insurance: even young people in good health can have a health crisis that could easily set them back several thousand dollars without insurance coverage.
Every tabletop with internet access is now your desk
Go with the flow
Part of the reason freelancing is so appealing is because of the flexible hours. You're the boss, so you decide when you work. That means unlimited vacation time and are the freedom to work around your other obligations, like family. Many jobs don't offer part-time options, and for those craving flexibility, freelance work is ideal.
However, the flip side to the flexibility is that cash flow is often irregular. Some months you'll be overwhelmed with work, others you'll have a bit more free time than you anticipated, or wanted. If you can cobble together long-term contracts with your customers, you'll be assured a more regular income, but for the most part it's catch as catch can. This type of lifestyle can be enlivening to some, and anathema to others. It depends on your appetite for stability and risk.
You're the boss…in every aspect
Relying on freelance income means the buck stops with you. You've got clients who depend on you to meet deadlines and to deliver exceptional results. Working for yourself can be incredibly invigorating—there's nothing worse than working for a faceless company for a boss who really couldn't care less about you—but you should know yourself and how you operate before taking the leap.
For example, you have to be vigilant about managing your time. Some people don't need a boss hovering over their shoulder, asking about their progress. They can focus when they need to and deliver the goods on time. Others find it more difficult to work when there's no external motivation. They need that outside encouragement (read: casual inquiries about how the project is coming) to stay motivated. If your personality type leans toward the latter, it doesn't mean you won't be a successful freelancer. But just keep in mind it does take a certain amount of discipline.
Yes, I'm the CEO
So you've got a talent that other people will pay money for. Well done, you! Now all you need to do is find customers—easier said than done.
You can start by tapping your personal network: friends, family, acquaintances, old work colleagues, etc. Let them know about your new business and ask if they know anyone who might be interested in your services.
Make sure your digital presence is credible and professional. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, and either hire a web designer or use a pre-fab site like Wordpress or Wix to create a personalized website where you can send people interested in learning more. Also make sure you're active on social media (everything from Twitter to Medium to Digg, etc.) because you're building your brand. If people don't get to meet you in person, they'll get a sense of who you are from your online presence.
There are hundreds of sites for freelancers looking for work. Depending on your service, you can apply to be part of Toptal (for experts in their field), or set up a profile on 99designs (for designers), Contently or Freelance Writing Gigs (for writers), or a whole host of others. This is when having a website also comes in handy, as you can use it to showcase your body of work.
No more 9-5! You choose your own work/life balance
Being a freelancer isn't for everyone. Try getting some freelance gigs on the side to supplement your regular income to get an idea of what it's like. If you find yourself itching to work on those projects and excited to get more of them, perhaps a freelance work life is truly your calling. And you have to admit: being your own boss is pretty awesome.
The tech industry's having a tough time. Only months ago, those who were bragging about their hot tech jobs and (seemingly) hyper-performing Crypto portfolios are probably screaming, crying, gnashing their teeth, and throwing up. And they may or may not be unemployed.
First, the recession is obliterating the stock market as we speak. Then, the summer Crypto proved the “decentralized marketplace” isn’t as impervious as Crypto nerds claimed. And now, the entire tech industry is facing a serious reckoning. It’s meltdown season — and Mercury isn’t even in retrograde.
First, Elon Musk bought Twitter. He subsequently fired a staggering number of employees. He then instituted Twitter Blue, a verification subscription which was a spectacular FAILURE. Most notably, causing the stock price of every significant insulin company to plummet by BILLIONS. It’s a long story, but the takeaway: the best $8 some random Twitter user ever spent.
Meanwhile, major tech companies like Meta, Salesforce, Redfin — and more — have been laying off thousands of employees. Wave after wave of layoffs are tearing through the entire tech sector, leaving thousands bamboozled and bereft. And this — alllll this — is happening while Jeff Bezos is giving away his money to Dolly Parton. I love her, but she has a theme park. These people don’t have jobs!
But this is nothing compared to the drama going on at former-Crypto giant FTX. And somehow, Tom Brady and Gisele are implicated!?! First, the divorce, now this.
Here’s a simplified version of events — and you don’t even need to understand crypto to follow along.
The Super Bowl: The true origins can be traced back to the Super Bowl, where much ad time was devoted to emergent crypto companies vying for the attention of potential investors. Among them: FTX.
January 2022: FTX was valued at an estimated $32 billion. They even had an NBA stadium named after them in Miami. But most prominently, their now infamous Super Bowl ad starring Larry David, who had never appeared in a commercial before. Just imagine that shoot. You should’ve stuck to your guns, Larry.
Don't Miss Out on Crypto: Larry David FTX Commercial www.youtube.com
Nov 2: The real drama started — as it always does — with some shady trades. CoinDesk published a report that exposed that Alameda Research – owned by the same people as FTX – had bought a ton of FTT … FTX’s cryptocurrency.
Nov 6: In a Tweet, the founder of Binance — one of FTX’s biggest competitors — said their company was going to dump their FTX tokens "due to recent revelations that have came to light." Investors panicked and followed suit. And so began the FTT price plummet.
But with all their investors cashing in their coins, FTX was on the hook for all that money — which it could not afford to pay out. This is when things started to look really hairy.
Nov 8: With their tails between their legs, FTX went to Binance for an out. Binance agreed to acquire FTX.
Nov 9: Just kidding! Whatever was in those docs must have scared off Binance because they pulled out of the deal just a day later. Does this feel like an episode of Succession to you, too?
Nov. 11: FTX had no way to repay all this money. And any potential buys were not going anywhere near this dumpster fire. So FTX was forced to file for bankruptcy. 30-year-old CEO and founder Sam Bankman-Fried resigned.
He tweeted that he was “really sorry,” though! SO maybe that counts for something. Cue the world’s tiniest violin playing in the background.
\u201cFun fact:\n\nIf you spent $1,000 shorting the 2022 Super Bowl advertisers, you'd be a billionaire today:\n\n\u25ab\ufe0f FTX\n\u25ab\ufe0f Carvana\n\u25ab\ufe0f DraftKings\n\u25ab\ufe0f Uber Eats\n\u25ab\ufe0f Meta Oculus\n\u25ab\ufe0f Rocket Mortgage\n\u25ab\ufe0f Coinbase\n\u25ab\ufe0f Vroom\n\u25ab\ufe0f Salesforce\n\u25ab\ufe0f GM\u201d— Chris Bakke (@Chris Bakke) 1667931782
But there’s more!
Later that day, reports emerged that FTX transferred $10 BILLION to Alameda — the same sister company mentioned above. That’s right, the one that started this mess — sparking controversy about how much access top leaders had to the company's finances.
Nov 13: Where’s the money? New reports reveal that those BILLIONS of dollars had just … disappeared?
Nov 14: Now the cops are involved. Where the hell is the money, man? Regulators are trying to get to the bottom of this, while looking into criminal liabilities.
Nov 16: Here comes the class action. Defendants are suing FTX’s Bankman-Fried for misleading information. But the walls are now closing in on celebrities who appeared in FTX commercials, including Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, Stephen Curry, Larry David, and Shaquille O’Neal.
"FTX’s fraudulent scheme was designed to take advantage of unsophisticated investors from across the country, who utilize mobile apps to make their investments," the lawsuit alleges. "As a result, American consumers collectively sustained over $11 billion dollars in damages.”
There you have it. But don’t hold your breath — there’s more to come, I’m sure. In fact, the documentary is already in the works
And if you still don’t follow, here are some TikToks tracking the drama:
SBF bears a striking resemblance to Bernard Madoff. #money #crypto #ftx #finance #sbf #news #binance #alameda #bitcoin #ethereum #ftt #coin #cryptocurrency
Every time payday rolls around, I’m on top of the world. Jeff Bezos-level rich - even though I’m anything but. And then somehow the very next day, rent is due.
The cycle continues. The next payday, bills for my apartment. I find myself without a surplus of savings since I just moved and newly-furnished my apartment completely.
Even more terrifying is the looming presence of the holiday season. Halloween’s officially over and before we know it, hello Thanksgiving…and then there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s. It’s insane.
I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.
Now that fall is officially here, the holidays will sweep in and I’ll have to contend with the fact that I won’t be spending them with my family in the UK. I went home to London earlier this year, so there’s not much left in my travel budget for another trip across the pond. A few domestic jaunts might be in my future, but the closest I’ll get to England this winter is watching Love Island and Love, Actually.
So in that spirit, I’ve been filling my days with content from my favorite Brits. I’m listening to all the old British rock bands I grew up listening to, patiently awaiting the new Arctic Monkeys album, and rewatching anything with Michaela Coel in it. I even shipped myself an order of British Baked Beans, so you know it’s dire.
I’ve also been watching British YouTubers like Grace Beverley — my favorite. Generally, I only go on YouTube to watch Vogue Beauty Secrets and AD Open Door videos. But I’m so glad I stumbled on Grace. Her content is a mix of London lifestyle (what lured me in), relatable entrepreneurship, and mindful productivity. I’m not a hustle-and-grind-girlboss, but as a creative person in a 9-to-5, I need all the help I can get to stay plugged in. So, the video “how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed” changed my approach to WFH.
Grace outlines her own productivity method: the to-do table. Instead of making a simple to-do list, she divides her tasks into a table that anyone can follow. As someone who’s survived with to-do lists for years, I recently implemented Grace’s method, and it’s revolutionized my workdays.
how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed www.youtube.com
I follow her routine to a tee. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, she divides her daily responsibilities into four categories: quick ticks, tasks, projects, and non-negotiables.
- Quick Ticks: Actions that take less than 5-minutes
- Tasks: To-do’s that take up to 30-minutes. Probably don’t take too much brain energy.
- Projects: Long-term list items. These help guide your priorities, even if you’re not crossing them off in one day.
- Non-negotiables: Pick 3 things each day that you must get done. This is how you’ll truly measure success.
With everything written down and sorted, next address your schedule. Meetings, deadlines, and time blocks — whatever works best for you. Write it down. Then make a pact with yourself to stick to them.
This way of categorization provides a roadmap for prioritizing your day — making you far more productive. Have you ever spent the entire day on small tasks and then suddenly realized you hadn’t moved the needle on any task? Or do you spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t a priority? No more. With your non-negotiables laid out, you know what to laser-focus on and what to dedicate energy towards.
Also, it pays to know your working style. I’m not a morning person. Yet, I have to be up and at ‘em super early. So, first thing in the morning, I march through my Quick Ticks to warm me up. I set a time limit, so I can knock out some easy wins which is totally inspiring. Then I move on to bigger things without lingering on emails or admin. For others, it might be more helpful to tackle the big things with all that early-in-the-day brain power earlier.
Grace has great tips on avoiding overwhelm and burnout. My favorite is taking more intentional breaks rather than scrolling through social media. I call this scrolling “productive” because I’m “coming up with pitches.” Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. It’s more productive in the long run to giving my brain a break with non-screen related stimuli.
Grace’s solution? Set a timer to read a real, an actual book. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a genius way to check off some books on my TBR and kickstart my creativity. After reading a good book, I’m completely inspired to write. So having books near my desk helps me step away from the computer during my lunch break for an actual reset. (And yes, the current books I’m reading are by British authors: Assembly by Natasha Brown, and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalolu.)
In my pursuit of switching out my WFH set-up and getting my life together, I’ve engineered my workstation for success. With my new WFH essentials and Grace’s productivity technique, I’m revitalized for work — despite the fall blues and my melancholy about the pending holidays.
Here are the things getting me hyped for work and helping me crush my Grace Beverley-inspired to-do tables — no lists in sight: