How to Write a Better Blog Post in Half the Time

Do you have a full-time day job like I Do? Then you probably need to find ways to write faster too.

Dina’ s guest post at Mostly Blogging gives some great advice on how to make this happen.

I’m going to give it a go. How about you?

https://www.mostlyblogging.com/better-blog-post-half-time/

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Should You Write Every Day? A Close Look at the Oldest Piece of Writing Advice

This is interesting. Nathaniel gives us food for thought on the reasons why or why not to write every day. 

It really is a personal preference. Take a look and decide for yourself. 

The writer’s life is not always an easy path, but if you live it “your way,” it can be a fun and lucrative one!

https://wp.me/p2ZHlF-qG

Tax Tips Every Freelance Writer Should Follow

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The tax deadline is closing in. Check out my re-post for some tips that every freelancer can use.


Whether you’re new to freelancing or a seasoned entrepreneur, tax season may have you breaking out in a cold sweat. Understanding the tax laws relating to business expenses can be a little intimidating, so here are a few tips I’ve assembled to help you determine what you may be able to claim:

Documentation

Keeping track of your income and expenses throughout the year is critical if you’re going to avoid the last-minute rush to file on time.

I’ll admit that I’m much better with words than I am with numbers, so I hire an accountant to prepare my taxes. Of course, his calculations are only as good as the information I provide, so it’s important that I keep good business records.

There are a variety of methods you can use to record your earnings and expenditures. Here are two I’ve used with great success:

Microsoft Excel—I paid for this software that was included with my Microsoft Office suite. It uses a spreadsheet format that you can customize to fit your business model. I set up two pages—one for income and one for expenses.

While many of your writing jobs may be through just a few companies that will provide a W-2 or 1099 at the end of January, I like to keep a running record of every job I do and my earnings. I generally compare my Excel income statement to the tax forms I receive, including my PayPal statement that identifies every payment transaction. This gives me peace-of-mind that I’m reporting all my earnings and haven’t missed any.

The Expenses tab is used to note everything you’ve spent throughout the year to keep your business running. I’ll break down what those items are in a minute. I categorize like items in separate columns and set formulas to total them, so my accountant can quickly find what he needs to fill out the Federal and State tax forms.

QuickBooks—This powerful software program makes documentation a breeze. Created by accounting professionals at Intuit, it intuitively and accurately tracks your business expenses all year to make sure you get every deduction you’re entitled to at tax time.

This is also a fee-based service, but they offer a free trial to help you get started. It syncs all your entries across all devices, so you’ll never miss a charge when you’re away from your office. 

You can easily record every purchase (even online transactions) manually or download them directly into QuickBooks. Even attach receipt images to the specific expense for future reference. It’s the perfect program at tax time too. All expenses are organized into categories such as Marketing and advertising, Travel and entertainment, or Office expenses and utilities; so your accountant will have everything needed to prepare your tax returns.

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Deductions

The IRS allows numerous expenses for running a business that you may never have thought of, so let me give you a list of items you need to start assembling now:

  • Software programs (especially those used to track your income and expenses like Excel or QuickBooks.)
  • Education—whether you attend seminars, take some online classes or attend a traditional classroom setting, you can take the tuition or fees as a deduction.
  • Cell phone data charges—if you use your smartphone to access the internet, communicate with clients or even write articles, you can expense a portion of your cell phone data charges.
  • Printer ink cartridges—if you’re like me, you print out your work for proofreading and red-lining before submitting to your client. Those ink cartridges are pricey but luckily, they’re also deductible.
  • Stationery supplies—the same goes for the paper, pens, planner and any other office supplies you need to perform your work.
  • Books—whether you need them to improve your craft or for reference materials, you can claim them.
  • PayPal fees—I do some business with clients who reside outside of the U.S. PayPal charges fees to exchange the foreign currency to USD, so I was able to claim those fees as a business expense.
  • Mileage and transportation—while I generally don’t travel for business, many freelancers do to meet with clients, do interviews or collaborate with a team. The mileage and transportation costs are deductible.
  • Office equipment—did you buy a laptop, desk, desk chair, lamp, cordless phone, filing cabinet, bookshelf or other assets for your business? Yep, you can deduct them too.

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Home Office

Now, this may come as a surprise, but if you have a room set aside in your home where you perform your freelance writing work (not just a corner of the kitchen table), you can claim it as a home office. To qualify, it should be a dedicated space with a desk, a chair, a filing cabinet and a computer.

Your tax accountant can give you a clearer understanding of how this works, but a percentage of these house expenses can be deducted and depreciated based on the size of your office as it relates to the overall house square footage.

These are the details I provided so my accountant could complete the proper tax forms:

  • Overall square footage of my home
  • Square footage of my office
  • Age of home
  • Purchase price
  • Annual utility costs—gas, electric and water
  • Annual homeowner’s insurance cost
  • Annual internet cost

You may be more adept at tax preparation than I, but my accountant (the amazing number man) did an itemized breakdown of all my business earnings and expenses plus depreciation for a home office to calculate my freelance writing business taxable income.

My Advice

Who knew that running your own small business could be so complicated?

I was unsure (and a little nervous) the first time I had to pull all of my business tax information together. It was amazing to actually earn money from my writing skills, but then I remembered that Uncle Sam always wants a portion of it. You’ll want to keep as much of your hard-earned money as possible. In order to do that, you’ll need to keep detailed records.

Luckily, I had some really smart people help me compile the information in my first year. They wisely suggested that I track everything from January 1st so I wouldn’t have panic attacks the following April 15th.

Obviously, if you didn’t document all of these details in 2016, things are going to be a little challenging for this tax season. Don’t let it get you down. Print out a copy of this post and start compiling the information. 

Once you’ve got 2016 closed out, get started on tracking information for 2017. Don’t forget to keep all your receipts. Why not give Excel or QuickBooks a try?

You’ll be really glad you did!

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So, was this helpful? Did I miss anything or do you have extra tips that may be helpful to other freelance writers? I’d like to hear your thoughts. Just click “Comments” below.


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5 Most Effective Ways to Run a Business While Working a 9-to-5

Nicole Duggan has touched on some real solutions to a problem I have encountered myself. Working a day job and a night job (freelancing) doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

If you struggle with being in two or three or more places at once, I think you’ll find this post helpful.

http://startupmindset.com/5-most-effectively-ways-run-a-part-time-business-while-still-working-9-to-5/

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47 Unusual But Effective Blogging Tips You’ll Love

Janice Wald at Mostly Blogging has done it again, captured my attention with a new take on an old subject.

I highly recommend checking out her interesting tips. They’re all FREE and some will even make you laugh…Get a plant anyone?! (Yep, it’s in there.)

https://www.mostlyblogging.com/blogger-tricks/

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How to Be Successful Bloggers: 6 Warning Signs That Your Mindset Needs Improving

Ryan Biddulph hits the nail on the head with his post on why bloggers are unsuccessful. 

It’s all about commitment for me (and sooo many other bloggers.)

Isn’t it time to make a change toward improving your future?

https://www.mostlyblogging.com/successful-bloggers/

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What to Do When You Have Too Many Story Ideas

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While too many ideas may not seem like a problem if you’re a writer, but staying focused enough to settle on one idea can be tough if there’s too much to sift through.

Kate Colby provides some excellent tips on how to narrow down the best ideas and keep writing. Give them a try and never run out of ideas to write about again.

What to Do When You Have Too Many Story Ideas


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6 Positive Mindsets That Give Your Dream Its Best Chance To Soar

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Kathy Caprino, from Women@Forbes, provides amazing insight into why women don’t pursue their career dreams with the same vigor and drive as men. 

It’s critical to incorporate these positive mindsets into your daily routine. Only then will your path be clear to moving onward and upward.

6 Positive Mindsets That Give Your Dream Its Best Chance To Soar


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Why Women Entrepreneurs Hold All the Aces

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Kerry Hannon hit the nail on the head with her post on the advantages 50+ women entrepreneurs have over those younger business owners.

She makes some excellent points:

  1. They have more time and energy in midlife.
  2. They have no special obstacles.
  3. They have more working capital of their own.
  4. They often have experience working in a male-dominated field.
  5. They have confidence in their own abilities.

If you’ve been waiting on the sidelines because you think you’re too old to start a new business, take a look at Kerry’s post, and then, take the leap.

Why Women Entrepreneurs Over 50 Hold the Aces

 

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How to Avoid Plagiarism-Especially For New Writers

Janice Wald tackles a tricky topic and provides some great insight into this age-old issue.

Thanks, Janice, for helping writers keep their work “honest.”

https://www.mostlyblogging.com/avoid-plagiarism/amp/

“Giving your Vision a Voice” DebbieDeyWrites