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Frugal Freelancing for Tough Times
by Jennifer Brown Banks

Let’s face it. No matter where you are on the economic ladder of life today, or where you live, your dollar buys less than it did a few years ago. True? With the increased cost of living, everybody’s feeling the pinch. So what does this mean for today’s freelancer?

It makes it even more important to be good stewards of our sporadic income, and to save for that “rainy day” now. It means being more strategic and governing our time more wisely.

To this end, here are seven fool-proof ways to hold on to your writing dollars and your freelancing freedom.

  1. Take care of your health. This may sound simplistic, but it’s crucial in its implications. Poor health can often lead to the need for frequent, costly doctor’s visits, prescribed medications, less productivity and/or a modified lifestyle. Ralph Waldo Emerson stated it best “Health is the greatest wealth.”

  2. Reinvest in your career. Take a few bucks from paid articles or writing assignments to put money back in your business. For less than a week’s worth of Starbucks, you can: purchase ebooks with markets for your work, pay membership dues to a writers’ organization, buy supplies, or get a subscription to a literary magazine. You reap what you sow.

  3. Create multiple streams of income. If you write articles, try doing greeting cards. Edit others’ works. Sell products in addition to providing services.

  4. Work smarter, not harder. Retain as many of your writer’s rights as possible for resale purposes. Slant. Study online guidelines. Send simultaneous submissions. Opt to send your work via email rather than snail mail. Keep in mind that time is money.

  5. Keep a financial journal. Record expenses, sale dates, spending habits, expected income, and other information to help you to make prudent decisions regarding your money. And most importantly, stop trying to keep up with the Joneses.

  6. If you can’t afford a website with all the “bells and whistles,” consider creating a quality Blog. The benefits? Most are free and easy to design. Like websites they serve as great promotional tools to showcase your writing or promote your classes, workshops, book signings or speaking gigs. These online journals require little maintenance and are very popular. Blogs are the new black! Two cool sites to get you started are Blogger.com and Wordpress.com. Choose a template design, follow the steps, and join the millions of Bloggers on the World Wide Web.

  7. Put a good tracking system in place. The key to keeping up with your dollars and “sense” is to create a comprehensive, easy to maintain log of your submissions and funds due. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet created on your computer. Note the date the work was sent, the publisher, rights sold, response time, amount due, etc. Tailor it to your own specific needs. Also save pertinent email correspondence until the debt is fully paid.

These are the seven laws of cutting corners without compromising your quality of life. Just make sure to take a little of the money you’re likely to have by following these tips, and put it away in a bank account. That way, you’ll be one step ahead of any tough times ahead of us… Just in case.

© Copyright 2008, Jennifer Brown Banks

Jennifer Brown Banks is the former senior editor of Mahogany Magazine. She holds a B.A. in Business Management and blogs at Penandprosper.blogspot.com

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