Working for yourself is exciting AND scary! I became a contractor when moving to NC & honestly, I was terrified. Would I make as much money hourly vs. salary? How do I save for retirement? Insurance.. huh?
It took me awhile to get in the groove of things but after roughly 12 months, I can say I am better off working for myself than I was for someone else. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way:
Calculate your rate.. accurately.
You should never charge less than what you deserve. Figure out what the going rate is in your area & add to it based on experience, skill set, & expenses. When in doubt, round up. That way, if they counter offer, there’s some wiggle room.. hint, hint.
Have a contract.
If you are offering a skill or service, it’s important that you have a contract so no lines are blurred. This will protect you, your business, & your work. There are contract templates online or you can hire a lawyer to draft one up for you.
To be honest, I was pretty clueless on what to look for when it comes to health insurance. I’ve always let my employer take care of that, ya know? I used healthcare.gov to compare plans & help narrow down my choices. It was one of the first things I did as a freelancer because I need to, & want to, be covered. I pay a few hundred a month & it covers my routine checkups so, no complaints.
Track your invoices.
To make my life easy, I knew I had to streamline my billing proces. I have a invoice template (via FreshBooks) I use for all clients & an Excel I use to track the details of each invoice. Every time I receive a check, I spot check it against my Excel & note the day it was deposited. It helps to have a record when filing taxes, too.
Save 30% for taxes.
As soon I as I deposit a check, I go to “Transfers” in my banking’s mobile app & automatically transfer 30% to a separate Savings account. I pay taxes at the end of each quarter & when that time rolls around, I just pull the money from that Savings account. Easy.
Hire a financial advisor.
As soon as I left my employer, I moved my 401K into a Roth IRA. I then hired a financial advisor who I trusted to make that money GROW. Yes, I add to it & will continue to to do so.. but investing just 100K can turn into millions in 10+ years. I do not plan on touching this money until I retire so, I feel comfortable handing it over to someone I trust. I found my financial advisor through Dave Ramsey. Ask around, do some research, & find someone who is a teacher at heart.
Create a website.
Nothing fancy but a website, a portfolio, or even a one pager that highlights your skills & past projects is an easy way for prospective clients to find you & learn more about what you can offer. Keep it updated, along with your LinkedIn. Job security isn’t guaranteed so it’s important that you are always open to more work.
I like to organize my Inbox & Google Drive by client, creating a designated folder for each. I also use a huge paper calendar to note down important events & deadlines – visually seeing what I need to get done for the week helps. I also like to use my “Reminders” app on my Mac to keep track of daily to-do’s for each client.
Do you work for yourself? If so, do you have any tips or tricks that work well for you? Share the wealth & shop my look below!
Images by Glory Roze Photography.