The life of a freelance writer has its ups and its downs, just like any job. In my honest opinion I feel like the pros and cons are running a tight race for me.
On the plus side, I do have my days working from home or from the library, I don’t have to abide by company rules — the perks are really nice.
Deciding ten years ago to make freelancing my full-time career was a move I knew wouldn’t be easy. From time to time I found myself having to supplement my income by signing up with temporary employment agencies. I knew at least I was guaranteed a weekly paycheck, which I used as part of my cushion. I try not to get into the habit of temping too much because it would take away from my goal of freelancing full-time.
- Pay your bills on time.
- Set aside money for taxes to be paid to the IRS (in a separate account if possible). The general rule of thumb is to put half away, just to be on the safe side.
When I really got into the groove of getting steady assignments, the first issue that came to mind was how to budget my paychecks. When I first started out as a freelancer, I didn’t pay myself and put a portion of money away in a savings account. I deposited everything into my checking account and spent most of my income. I knew this had to change and I had to budget accordingly.
- Always pay yourself first.
- Calculate the average amount of income coming in per month.
- Have a savings account to act as your “cushion.”
There are times when it seems like paychecks will come in like clockwork. Then there are those months when it seems like you’re checking your mailbox or PayPal account every other day to see if there’s cash coming in. As a writer, I have to consider the payment cycle of the publication — whether the company pays once the article is submitted, or when it is published can make a huge difference. Once the article is submitted I can be rest assured that I’ll will have money coming within the week. If the publication’s policy is to pay the writer upon publication, that time frame can vary.
Often times I would write for trade publications that would require me to submit seasonal material 4-6 months in advance; I would most likely have to wait for that check whenever it was published under the editorial calendar. I always take these factors into consideration when trying to budget my income.
- Always try to increase your freelance writing projects in order to pull in more income.
- Reach out to other full-time freelancers and see how they budget their finances. It’s also a great way to network.
- As a last resort you can always accept temporary assignments to supplement your income.
Depending on the number of assignments I write per month and per year I can calculate what my average monthly income will be, then I will budget off of these numbers. I had to learn how to calculate accordingly since there were months where my assignments would fluctuate. It wasn’t easy to become budget friendly as a freelancer. It also takes a lot of discipline and not spending my cash on things I wanted, only for items that I needed.