How to Develop Your Freelancing Brand

Brand development is one of the key goals for businesses everywhere. By developing a brand, businesses are able to carve out a customer base and ensure that they keep coming back.

Like many other parallels between working as a freelancer and owning a business, brand development is also an important consideration for freelancers as well. In the same way that developing a brand is beneficial to businesses selling a product, freelancers can use brand development to attract new clients, retain current clients, and even increase the rates that they are able to demand.

If you’re unsure how to go about developing a beneficial brand for your freelancing career, follow the tips in this guide to get started.

Specialize

In freelancing, it’s often better to do one thing really well than to be decently good at a variety of things. If you can set yourself apart as an expert in a specific niche, finding clients in that niche who are willing to pay you top-dollar rates will become much easier.

For example, a freelance copywriter may establish themselves as an expert at writing product descriptions, or a freelancer photographer may specialize in shooting weddings. While both would still be able to pick up work outside these niches, developing a brand focused around these niches will set them apart from the competition and enable them to command higher rates when they are working within the niche that they specialize in.

Best of all, the niche you choose is entirely up to you. While the more in-demand a niche is the better, you may be surprised by the abundance of work available in a wide range of highly specific fields and niches.

Your Communication is a Part of Your Brand

Freelancers have a few less opportunities to establish their brand than a company selling a product. With this being the case, it’s important to take advantage of every brand-development opportunity that you have available.

One such opportunity is your communication with your clients. How do you want to come across to them? Themes such as professionalism, helpfulness, and astuteness are all themes that you may wish to incorporate into your communication. In addition to these, you may wish to establish other, more unique themes depending on what you want to be known for such as a slightly personal level of friendliness or even quirkiness and humor. In the end, the brand you establish through your communication is entirely up to you.

In addition to incorporating themes into your communication, you may also wish to adopt certain standards such as how you deliver files, your email signature, and more. These standards provide clients with a sense of familiarity when they work with you and may help persuade them to keep coming back to you for more work.

Create an Online Presence

For freelancers who are working primarily online, your web presence is by far the bulk of your brand. This web presence can include your profiles on sites that you are working off of, social media pages, and even your own website.

In all aspects of your online presence, it’s important to consider the brand that you are trying to develop. When creating profiles for yourself, be sure to be thorough and professional, drawing emphasis to your particular skills and specialties. When creating your own website, you’ll have even more control over the design and the content. Think carefully about the ideas you want to convey about yourself to potential clients and try to incorporate those ideas into your website design.

Lastly, you may wish to make use of social media in order to better connect with your clients and establish your brand. However you go about building an managing your online presence, keep in mind that it is the most effective tool you have available for establishing your freelancing brand. Take advantage of it as best you can.

Create a Logo

The first step of brand development for most every business is to develop a logo that captures the theme of their business and helps convey a message to potential clients and customers. As a freelancer, you too can make use of a great-looking logo to help make your web presence look more professional.

Whether it’s true or not, clients often associate logos with experience and professionalism. Take advantage of this association by having a logo designed for your freelancing business and displaying it across your online presence.

Having a great logo is especially important if you are working in any sort of design field. Before you can convince clients to let you design their projects, it certainly helps to display some great designs of your own.

Develop a Bio

When you go into business as a freelancer, you are selling yourself. Many clients will want to know a little bit more about who they are working with, and, therefore, it’s a good idea to put together a thorough bio.

While this bio should certainly focus on your work-related skills and accomplishments, don’t be afraid to include a little personal info as well. Where did you grow up? What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Giving clients a little glimpse at the person behind the work may help them trust you more and make them more likely to give you their business.

Make Use of Marketing Materials

Freelancing these days may be a largely online pursuit, but that doesn’t mean that more traditional, physical marketing materials such as flyers and business cards have gone the way of the dodo.

Quite the contrary, you can make use of these physical marketing materials to reach clients who may have never otherwise stumbled across your web presence. You never know who you are going to run into, and handing out business cards to people who are interested in your services may help you land a few new clients. Likewise, putting up flyers at events and other spaces can also help you attract new interest.

In the grand scheme of things, these kinds of marketing materials may be a relatively small part of building your brand. However, they are still worth having around in case the opportunity to put them to use comes up.

Create a Blog

No matter what services you are selling, creating a blog centered around those services is a great way to attract new visitors to your website, develop your brand, and showcase your skills.

Creating a blog allows you to further demonstrate the style and voice you want your freelancing brand to showcase. Better still, it can help show off what you are capable of. For example, if you are a freelance copywriter you can use your blog to showcase your powerful prose. If you’re a freelance graphic designer, use your blog to show off and talk about some of your designs, and if you are a photographer you can use a blog to tell the stories behind some of your photo-shoots.

People love stories, and providing them with stories centered around your brand is a great way to increase their trust in your services and pique their interest. As an added benefit, writing a blog is a great way to boost your SEO and drive more visitors to your website.

10 Tax Deductions Every Freelancer Should Know About

These are Ten Tax Deductions Every Freelancer Should Know About

From a tax perspective, working as a freelancer is akin to owning a business in which you are the only employee. On one hand, this can be a negative thing, as your income will likely be taxed more than if you were receiving the same amount as an employee for another company, and filing your taxes will likely be more complicated as well. However, it also comes with a big benefit – deductions.

Like any other business, freelancers are able to deduct expenses that are related to their business, and the more deductions that you can find to take, the more of your hard-earned money that you get to keep.

With that in mind, here are ten tax deductions that every freelancer should know about. While these may not apply to every situation, they are certainly common deductions for freelancers and are things you should be on the lookout for in order to save money when tax season rolls around.

Home Office

The majority of freelancers work out of their home, especially when they are first starting out. For individuals working out of their home, the IRS allows them to take a deduction known as the home office deduction, in which they can deduct a portion of their mortgage or rent.

To qualify for this deduction, you must have a space in your home that is solely dedicated to your work, and you can’t use it for any other purposes. Moving a desk into your bedroom won’t qualify you for the home office deduction, but having a room that is used solely as your office will.

If you do qualify for this deduction, you can take $5 per square foot of your home office or you can calculate your rent, utilities, and other expenditures and multiply them by the fraction of your home that your office takes up.

Marketing

Working as a freelancer will require you to continuously market yourself to new clients, and sometimes this marketing will come with an expense. If you take out ads on social media or Google AdWords, print business cards, or engage in any other form of paid marketing, you can deduct these expenses from your income. Just make sure to keep good records of the marketing expenses that you have.

Training and Development

Successful freelancers are constantly honing their craft. Sometimes, you may even wish to pay for professional development by attending online classes, purchasing resources, and more.

Any expenses that you have in regards to training yourself or furthering your education in your field can be deducted from your income.

Unpaid Invoices

Having a client who refuses to pay an invoice is one of the banes of a freelancer’s career. While it thankfully doesn’t happen very often, it can be a real blow to your morale when it does.

The good news is that the IRS is willing to help take a little of the sting out of an unpaid invoice by allowing you to take the amount that was unpaid as a tax write-off for your business. To qualify for this deduction, you will want to make sure that you keep a detailed list of each unpaid invoice that includes the invoice number.

While it’s a good idea to set up a system that discourages unpaid invoices as much as possible (such as having a client put money in escrow or only doing large amounts of work upfront for clients that you already trust) it’s good to know that there is a way to get some form of compensation for invoices that are not paid.

Incorporation Costs

If you succeed as a freelancer, you may wish to incorporate your business into an S-Corp. Doing this allows you to take a portion of your income as dividends from the corporation and a portion of your income as a salary. On the portion of your income that you take as dividends, you will not be required to pay the 15.3% social security and Medicare tax. If you’re doing well, this structure can save you a lot of money.

However, the fees and costs associated with incorporating a business can be several hundred dollars or more. You will have to pay a fee to the state, and you will likely have to pay a CPA to help you through the process. All of these expenses, though, can be deducted.

Website

After you’ve been working as a freelancer for a while, you may wish to create a website for your services. While the cost of creating a great-looking website has gone down in recent years, there are still a few expenses associated with owning your own website. These expenses include buying a domain name, paying a hosting fee, and potentially hiring a web developer to help you build the site. If you do decide to create your own website, keep track of these expenses as they are all deductible.

Mileage and Gas

Depending on what field of freelancing you are in, you may have to drive to meet clients, suppliers, or others. Of course, driving comes with expenses, both in the form of gasoline and wear and tear on your vehicle.

The IRS allows you to deduct these expenses either by taking a standard deduction based on how many miles you drive for business purposes or calculating the cost of maintaining your vehicle and the cost of gasoline that you buy for business related travel.

Travel

Mileage and gasoline are not the only expenses associated with travel. If you are traveling to a conference or other business event, you can also deduct your hotel accommodations and even a portion of your meals.

The IRS allows you to deduct the cost of your lodging and 50% of the cost of your meals. It’s important, though, not to try and deduct any expenses associated with site-seeing or entertainment while you are on a business trip. Doing this is one of the most surefire ways to trigger an audit, which is something everyone – especially freelancers – should avoid at all costs.

Software

The vast majority of freelancing work is done from a computer. In order to do your job, therefore, you may be required to purchase certain software such as Microsoft Office, video editing software, web development software, and more. All of these expenses can be deducted from your income.

Contract Labor

Most of the time, working as a freelancer is a one-man or one-woman operation. Sometimes, though, you may need to contract out certain portions of a project to a third party. For example, if you are designing a website for a client and need help with a more complex software application, you may wish to hire a software developer to help you build it. While it would be good to factor in these kinds of expenses into your initial bid for the project, you can still deduct them from your income as well.

Hiring contract labor is quite a bit different from hiring an actual employee, and the process of paying them and deducting the expense is much simpler. Just keep a record of how much you paid them and what you paid them for and your accountant will be able to help you take the appropriate deduction for these expenses.

How to Deal with a Difficult Client as a Freelancer

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a freelancer is the fact that there isn’t any one person that you have to answer to. In a traditional job, if you have a difficult boss that is making your work-life stressful, you don’t have a lot of options short of finding a new job. With freelancing, though, you have the opportunity to work with numerous people, adding and removing clients as you please.

With that said, there will still be times when you get a client who makes life difficult. While you do have the ability to pick and choose the clients you work with, dealing with a difficult client is still a real hassle and is almost inevitable if you stay in the business long enough.

If you end up working with a client who has you pulling your hair out in frustration, follow these tips to make the most of a difficult situation.

Finish the Project You Agreed to do

When you come across a difficult client, chances are you won’t want to accept any repeat business from them. However, for the work you’ve already agreed to complete, try to meet their expectations to the best of your ability.

In freelancing, your reputation and reviews are worth their weight in gold. If you leave a client unsatisfied, no matter how difficult they are being, you run the risk of having them leave you a poor review that could end up haunting your freelancing career for a long time.

From a compensation standpoint, going above and beyond to please a difficult client may not be worth the pay you receive in return. However, it is certainly worth the effort to preserve your reputation. Once you finish the work you agreed to do, you can dust yourself off and never work with that client again. Until then, it’s best to push forward and try to please them.

Communication is Key


Most problems with a project arise from issues in communication. The trouble is that many clients are not entirely sure how to properly communicate their expectations. It’s understandable that they may not understand the nuances of the project as well as you do, or else they wouldn’t have to hire someone else to complete it. In many cases, though, this can lead to them knowing what they want but not knowing how to explain it to their freelancer.

It falls on you, then, to help them out by asking the right questions. If a client tells you that they are not happy with the work you have done, ask them for specifics about what they are looking for and what needs to be changed. Try to get as much information as you can before you take another stab at it. Often, a little bit of better communication is all that it takes to turn a difficult client into a satisfied one.

Don’t Get Defensive

If you’ve been working hard on a project and are proud of the work you turn in only to have a client tell you it isn’t good enough, it’s easy to take it personally. It’s important, though, to remain as impartial as possible and not get defensive in the face of criticism.

Arguing with a client is never going to produce good results. You are not going to change their mind, and you are almost guaranteeing that they leave you a negative review. Even if you end up unable to please the client and have to cut your losses, stay polite and professional at all times.

Acknowledge Without Agreeing

As stated above, disagreeing with a client or arguing with them is rarely the best path to resolution. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to agree with their critiques.

The best way to walk the fine line between arguing with a client and apologizing for things you don’t agree with is to acknowledge without agreeing. For example, if a client sends you a list of critiques, you could reply with something along the lines of, “Thank you for the feedback. I will get started on these changes right away.”

Notice how replying in this manner allows you to acknowledge and address a client’s critiques without admitting that you made any error and without trying to defend yourself. The client gets the satisfaction of knowing their critiques were heard without you having to apologize for your work.

Under-Promise and Over-Deliver

Many times, a client’s frustration may stem from a freelancer failing to deliver what they promised. While it may be tempting to over-promise in order to land a job, doing this may lead to conflict if you are unable to deliver.

Instead, it’s better to give yourself a little bit of wiggle room in your promises and then over-deliver, leaving a client pleasantly surprised by the outcome rather than disappointed. For example, instead of saying that you will complete a project in the next twelve hours, tell the client that you will have it to them within three days. Then, when you deliver the project in one day you are over-delivering on your promises rather than falling short of them.

So long as you don’t back yourself into a corner when it comes to what you promise a client, you leave them little to be frustrated with.

Look for Red Flags Before You Ever Agree to Complete a Project


Sometimes, the best way to deal with difficult clients is to avoid them entirely. While it can be difficult to know whether or not a client is going to be difficult before you work with them, there are red flags that you can look for.

Take a close look at the client’s project description and your initial communication with them. Are they complaining about freelancers they have worked with in the past? Do they come across as demanding or harsh? Do they do a poor job of describing the project or communicating their expectations? All of these things are red flags that suggest they might be a difficult person to work with. Unless you’re feeling brave, it may be best to avoid clients that demonstrate these red flags.

Dust Yourself off and Move on

Sometimes, no matter what you do, you won’t be able to please a client. It may be due to a conflict of personalities, an instance where a client has expectations that are beyond reason, or any number of other possible reasons.

In these cases, sometimes there is no other better option but to dust yourself off and move on. You may wish to offer the client a refund, or you may not. The client may choose to leave you a poor review, or they may not. No matter what happens, remember that your freelancing career is not going to be defined by a single client or project.

There are plenty of great clients out there for whom working with them is a real joy. When you happen across a client that is simply impossible to please, brush it off, accept whatever the outcome may be, and move on to clients that love your work and are happy to keep working with you time and time again.

10 Ways Freelancers can Make Money Online

10 Ways Freelancers can Make Money Online

Today, the market is filled with more exciting possibilities for freelancers than ever before, and it is now completely possible for talented individuals to make a great living working entirely online. If working from home as your own boss and at your own pace sounds like a dream come true, you may wish to consider pursuing one of these ten ways that freelancers can make money online.

Graphic Design

There are countless online projects that require the work of a graphic designer. For example, you may be hired to create a logo for a business, design a label for a new product, design a website, design the cover art for a book, and many more.

Graphic design is one of the most popular fields for freelancers, and with good reason. Working as a graphic designer can be done entirely online, and there is certainly no shortage of projects available. If you have a talent for producing great designs, you could easily start a freelance graphic design career.

Writing Content

Another of the most popular online jobs for freelancers, working as a freelance writer comes with plenty of opportunities. Businesses have a lot to gain by publishing high-quality content on their website. For one, well-written content helps engage and inform potential customers. In addition to this, though, quality content is also great for SEO, helping businesses get their websites to show up higher in the search results.

Working as a freelance writer, you will have the opportunity to write blog posts, web copy, e-books, product descriptions, and much more. Best of all, all you need to do your work is Microsoft Word and an Internet connection.

Proofreading and Editing

Being a great writer does not automatically make you a great proofreader, and vice versa. This is why many companies will choose to hire two different individuals to produce content for them – one to write it and one to edit it.

When working as an editor, you may be hired to edit copy that was completed by an in-house copywriter or another freelancer, hired to edit a book that an author has written, or assigned to any number of other proofreading and editing projects. If you have an excellent understanding of the rules of grammar and the ability to sniff out mistakes, then there are plenty of projects that you can pick up working as an editor or a proofreader.

Transcription and Data Entry

If your typing skills and attention to detail are above average, then transcription and data entry may be the perfect freelancing gigs for you. Transcription is common in the medical, legal, and market research fields, though you will you probably need to be familiar with the terminology before you pick up transcription jobs in one of these fields. Meanwhile, data entry jobs are available in a wide range of fields.

These types of freelancing jobs can be done by most anyone with enough practice and effort, and they can also be completed entirely online.

Online Tutoring

Tutoring is a job that once would have had to be performed in-person, but thanks to the Internet, tutors can now work with their students from anywhere.

Online tutoring can take several different forms, from working with a student via a videoconferencing app such as Skype to getting paid to answer questions. If you have the right credentials, you may even end up teaching an entire classroom of students via a videoconferencing app.

Working as an online tutor will require you to have a pretty extensive understanding of the topic you are tutoring someone in and preferably some credentials in that topic such as a college degree.

Virtual Assistant

In the digital age, working as a secretary no longer requires you to spend your 9-5 inside an office. Now, those who enjoy secretarial work can work from home in the role of a virtual assistant.

Virtual assistants perform many of the same tasks as traditional secretaries, making use of email, messaging apps, and videoconferencing apps in order to communicate with their employer. When working as a virtual assistant, you will likely find yourself doing things such as scheduling meetings, replying to emails, placing orders, and more.

One difference when working as a virtual assistant as opposed to a traditional secretary is that you will likely be working for more than one employer. Many businesses and individuals choose to hire virtual assistants because they do not have enough workload to justify hiring a full-time secretary, so most virtual assistants have several employers they work for in order to fill their schedule.

PR and Marketing

If you are a PR or marketing professional, it’s entirely possible for you to work from home as a freelancer. Working as a freelance marketer is akin to owning your own, one man or one woman marketing firm, and most of the tasks you perform will be the same as a traditional marketer.

There are a lot of roles that fall under the umbrella of PR and marketing, but some roles are better suited for freelancers working online than others. One especially common role for freelance marketers is social media coordinator, which can be done entirely online.

Selling Products

Most freelancers working online are selling their services, but it’s entirely possible to sell products as a freelancer as well. If you are a skilled artist or craftsman then you can sell your creations online on websites such as Etsy or eBay.

Other products that freelancers can create to sell online include E-books, calligraphy invitations, and more. When it comes to selling products online, the sky is the limit, and the product you choose is really only determined by your own interests and skill-sets.

Web and App Development

If you are skilled at coding enough to create custom apps and websites, then finding web and app development jobs online shouldn’t be a challenge. Many clients are in need of custom websites that go beyond what they are able to create themselves, and the same is doubly true for apps which can be even more difficult for a novice to create.

Website and app development is a job that can be performed entirely online as long as you have the right programs on your computer. If you’re good at what you do, web and app development can also pay really well, and it’s completely possible to make a nice career out of it.

3D Modeling and CAD

At first, 3D modeling and computer aided design (CAD) may seem pretty similar to graphic design, however, there are a number of key differences.

Working in 3D modeling or CAD will require you to have a decent bit of technical knowledge and background. More than creating a visually appealing design, 3D modeling requires you to create models of functional products, structures, and more that will demonstrate how they work in the real world.

Most people who go into 3D modeling or CAD will have some background in engineering, though it is possible to teach yourself these skills with enough effort. Once you have the training and the software that it takes to create 3D models, working in 3D modeling and CAD is a job that can be done entirely online.

5 Things You Should do to Take Better Care of Yourself

Here are 5 Five Things You Should do to Take Better Care of Yourself.

There’s no denying that working as a freelancer offers certain comforts and freedoms that people working traditional jobs do not often enjoy. From working at home in your PJs to traveling the world and taking your work with you wherever you go, it may seem that being a freelancer is nothing but roses and butterflies.

However, the reality is that there are certainly stresses associated with working as a freelancer, some of which apply more to freelancers than they do people with any other career. If you’ve been working as a freelancer for any period of time, now, this is probably a fact you know as well as anyone.

With that in mind, we’d like to present you with a list of five things you should do to take better care of yourself as a freelancer. Follow these tips for a career that offers less stress and more enjoyment.

Learn When to Call it a Day

One of the consequences of being able to take your work with you wherever you go is that sometimes it can be hard to really clock out. After a long day’s work, whether you curl up with a book or go out for a night on the town, there’s always that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you should be doing more. Many times, freelancers will give in to that feeling, causing them to work longer hours than they ever did at their traditional job.

Don’t get us wrong – there’s nothing wrong with hard work, and sometimes long hours are exactly what is required to get the job done. However, unless you’re a robot, your body and mind need time off, and when you do take time off you need to be able to enjoy it without constantly worrying about the work you should be doing instead.

One way to get better at knowing when to call it a day is to set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. When the work day ends, clock out just like you would at any other job and set aside your work until tomorrow comes. Escaping a set schedule such as this may have been one of the reasons you chose a freelancing career in the first place, but many times it can be the most beneficial thing for you.

Don’t Keep Such Late Hours

Freelancers have a tendency to keep odd hours. Perhaps it’s the fact that sleeping in is all to easy when no one is expecting you to show up for your job at a set time. And when you sleep in one day, you’ll likely stay up later that night, and thus the cycle continues.

For the morning people among you this may not be the case, but many other freelancers often find themselves burning the midnight oil night after night. However, there’s a good reason why most of mankind has been waking up with the sun since the beginning of time. The truth is that keeping a normal schedule such as this leads to better sleep and improved overall health. If you can avoid the odd hours that freelancers often keep, you’ll likely end up feeling a lot better.

Maintain a Social Life

By nature, freelancing is a very solitary career. There is no office social life that you get to be a part of with freelancing, and freelancers spend most days with just themselves and their computer. For the introverted among us, this may sound like a dream come true. However, it is important to maintain a social life to make up for the lack of socialization that freelancing offers.

Take time out to go out with your friends and family, or fly solo to a local hangout or event. Spending week after week working alone and relaxing alone as well isn’t healthy for anyone.

Learn to Deal with Criticism

Perhaps more than most careers, for many freelancers, their work is also their passion. Think of the designer who pours their heart and soul into their art or the writer for whom their words are an important expression of themselves and their talent. However, as with any career, working as a freelancer is going to entail its fair share of criticism.

While it’s excellent to pride yourself on your work, you shouldn’t be so attached to it that you take it as a personal assault when a client criticizes something that you turn in. Until you realize that you can’t please everyone and that criticism is sometimes inevitable, having your hard work put down can feel like a punch in the gut that may leave you reeling for days.

Instead, learn to accept criticism and deal with it in a positive manner. Start by evaluating if the client who is criticizing your work has a point, and look for ways you can use that criticism to improve. Once you’ve done that, though, push it aside and forget about it. Don’t even give their criticism a second thought. At the end of the day, one person’s condescending comments on your work is not worth your worry.

Take Advantage of the Benefits that Freelancing Offers

One of the best ways to take better care of yourself as a freelancer is to make the most of the many benefits that your job offers.

Think about it: if you want to pack up and travel to a cottage on the lake and work there for a week or two, no one is stopping you. If you want to visit an old friend or a family member for a few days, you don’t even have to take off work to do it.

Likewise, if there is a client you don’t enjoy working for or one who is causing you more stress and trouble then their business is worth, there’s no one forcing you to continue working for them. While giving up on a boss may cost you a traditional career, giving up on one client isn’t likely to cost you your freelancing career.

Consider these benefits as well as the many others that freelancing offers and take advantage of them. You’ll be a lot happier if you do.