I am a starving artist. I am engaged to a starving artist, who also works in the real world. In October of 2010 I quit my job and started writing full time. I had already been a part time online freelance writer for 4 years, and was a professional writer for 10. It was a bold move, but it was something I had to do for me. I was unhappy in my job and I knew the only way I’d be happy would be to work for myself. Now I run The Torn Dress Publishing & Art House and I am about to get a DBA (assumed name) for my business. I am not only a freelance writer, but I am also a published book author, a photographer, a crafter and an artist. I do this all under the TTD name.
Throughout my experience of working for myself on a full time basis for this past year I have learned many things. I have learned things about money, about time management and about being my own boss. These are all very important things when it comes to being self employed.
It’s all about the money
When you are in business for yourself you can not reply on anyone else to keep track of the money coming in and the money going out. Yes, you can hire an accountant that will help with that, but you still need to track what you are making and spending. Hold on to every receipt, including your utilities bills and receipts from gassing up your car. There are many deductions you can take when tax time comes around. Save your receipts and it will make it easier for your tax preparer to get you the maximum refund (or the least payment). And speaking of tax time, it is wise to put away about 20% of everything you make (if you aren’t paying in throughout the year) so that you have the money to pay if you need to. Windows Excel has become a dear friend of mine since I started working at home. I keep spreadsheets for each month tracking what I’ve made, from whom and if there was anything taken out of it (like seller fees from Etsy and PayPal fees).
Time keeps ticking away
Working for yourself, and especially from home, can be difficult for some people. Time slips away if you don’t learn to schedule yourself. Pretend someone else is paying you to work (hey, your income comes from somewhere) and set a specific schedule. Write down your schedule and adhere to it. Set your alarm, get up, get ready for work, relax and then get to it. I notice, even working from my own couch, that when I get dressed and do my makeup I tend to get more work done. Since I am a writer, an author and an artist in my own living room I really need to schedule what to do when. I also go to school, so I need to work around that. And, since I am at home I get distracted by housework, television, the dog and more. This means it’s important to allow for breaks throughout the work day. But, it also means you need to get right back to work after break is over. I like to make lists that include what I want to get done for the day, in order and keep them by me throughout my work day.
Be the boss
You need to keep busy, get your work done on time and be responsible for yourself. When you are your own boss it’s sometimes easy to get off track. Don’t get too off track or you’ll be losing money. If you don’t get the work done, who will?