Who couldn’t use some extra money these days? I’m guessing you have a skill that people would pay you for, and freelancing can be a great way to earn some extra cash.
What work can you do as a freelancer? Take into account what you like to do in your spare time. Do you love yard work and wouldn’t mind offering your services to people in your neighborhood? Do you sew well? You could market that skill and take on projects when you have extra time.
One of my relatives has a sideline where she pairs people’s pictures with music using a movie-making computer program. She scans the pictures provided by the client, adds songs, and finally burns the completed project to DVD. Her clients use these movies to mark a wedding, anniversary or other special occasion. She does this out of her home in her spare time during the evenings and weekends.
Another friend became a freelancer after her son was born. She now stays home and edits manuscripts for her former employer while her child is at school.
Save money while working from home: The great part about basing your freelancing work out of your home is that you can save some money on some job-related expenses. If your work is based out of your home, you won’t need to use the car or dress yourself in nice work clothes, except on the rare occasion when you meet a client. If you have business-related expenses, you may be able to write them off on your taxes.
Speaking of taxes, there are other tax benefits to working from home. As mentioned, you may be able to write off some expenses, such as utilities, for the part of your house you use solely for business. If you do need to drive your car, you may be able to write off mileage that is directly related to your work. Check with your tax preparer for more specific information or visit the Internal Revenue Services’ website.
You can also save money with childcare. If you are able to fit your extra freelancing work into the times when your children are at school or sleeping, you can be there for when they are home and awake instead of hiring someone else to take care of your kids.
Market yourself: Many times freelancing can start as an offshoot for what you already do. My freelancing work started after I had a baby and decided to stay home. My former employer hired me to do some of their extra work at my home. Eventually, word of mouth increased my business further. However, because of the tight economy, I’ve had to be a more aggressive to secure new clients.
One of the best ways to market yourself is with a business card. You can share these with people you meet who may benefit from your skills or post the cards on bulletin boards in appropriate spots around town. There are many online printers who offer great deals to first-time customers. Online printers will often offer inexpensive design services or already-created designs to help you create your business card and then mail the completed card directly to your home.
A small poster highlighting your business can be inexpensively printed and posted around town as well. Tear-off strips with your name, business name and phone number will allow people to take your information so they can call you later.
Classified advertising can be another cheap alternative for advertising. Many newspapers have a section where you can advertise a few lines about your business for an inexpensive price. Craigslist can also be a good, free alternative, although the sheer number of listings may make hard to people to focus on your posting.
Other things to consider: If you are already working for someone else and will be freelancing in addition to that job, make sure your employer would be OK with your freelancing choice. Some employers frown on the practice, especially if you will directly compete with their business.
Do I need a business license? Some states or cities require a business license for certain types of work. My city, for instance, requires a business license for hairdressers and food preparers.
Make sure you are claiming your freelance income on your taxes as required by law. Again, the Internal Revenue’s website has some helpful information for freelancers: http://www.irs.gov/
Unfortunately, you won’t have access to the same support network while working from home as you do at a regular out-of-home job. My work, for instance, must be done on a computer, so I am the one who has to troubleshoot problems or hire someone to help me. I miss the computer techs I had access to when I worked in an office.
Be careful out there: If you are looking at the work-at-home websites for a boost in income, be very careful. While there may be some legitimate websites, use caution nevertheless. You should never have to pay a fee to get hired for a job.
Be careful with your personal information. You may want to use a post office box if you need to receive mail for your freelancing business and keep your home address off your marketing information.
Remember, if an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true.