Why Every Freelance Writer Needs an Accountant on Your Side

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I didn’t work with an account the first time I went freelance.

Back then, I made a quarter of what I do now, so I figured I couldn’t afford one. I assumed hiring an accountant was a luxury I wasn’t quite ready for.

On the contrary, an accountant is a freelancing staple you can’t afford not to have.

Hiring an accountant should be the first investment you make as a freelancer. I promise it will save you time, money and sanity.

Whether you’re just starting out or trying to play catch up, you’ll be so grateful to hand this hurdle off to a pro.

Freelancers’ tax situations “Can be pretty complicated,” says Sophia Bera of Gen Y Planning. Hiring an account helps us learn “About what we need to track on an ongoing basis and what we should deduct.”

Even if you love numbers and paperwork, a professional ensures you’re doing things legally and with the most money left on your table.

Accountants save freelancers time

Why spend precious billable hours wondering what boxes to tick and whether you did your math right? Most accountants take care of everything — the right way — in just a few hours. It’s especially true for us creatives who hate numbers or simply have a full schedule.

Personally, when I spend too much time on work I hate, the work I love suffers. On days I try to research tax questions, I don’t have the energy to write great copy or manage my client load.

And since that’s the work I charge most for, I want to spend all my available hours doing that work.

Everyone has their own process, but here’s how I save time on my taxes:Les

  1. My assistant inputs invoices and expenses into FreshBooks (sort of what I might hire a bookkeeper for, but on a much smaller scale).
  2. I scan and upload tax forms (Think: 1099s) into my Dropbox “tax” folder throughout the year.
  3. Then, in March, I send everything to my accountant so he can take care of the rest.

Accountants help freelancers keep more money

Some folks think filing their own Schedule C isn’t particularly complicated. I am not one of those people.

But the most important reason to hire an accountant is because they help you keep more money. Most freelancers forget to account for many legitimate business expenses and end up paying more taxes because of it.

For example, my husband and I used TurboTax last year. The deeper we went, the more complicated it got. We were recently married, were renting out a room on Airbnb and I had recently started taking on freelance gigs on top of my full-time job.

We got about $2,000 back in our refund. Score!

But a few months later, after deciding to move to Europe, we hired an accountant to help with the international transition. She discovered that, through TurboTax, we’d missed out on an extra $1,000 in our refund. A thousand dollars.

Yes, she cost $500, but that’s still an extra $500 in our pockets because we hired her.

Accountants teach freelancers how to handle money

They’re not called your “most trusted advisor” for nothing. An accountant not only knows the ins and outs of your freelance business, but is familiar with the nitty gritty details of your life.

Working with an accountant has been invaluable to me as a general adult human. My first accountant provided me with general coaching on how to document my expenses to protect me should the IRS ever audit my return.

Your partnership “Can also allow you to understand what qualifies as a business expense and familiarize yourself with the rules to maximize your deductions,” says CPA Dan Hodgin. Who knew a percentage of my rent counted as a business expense?!

How to choose the right accountant

Not every accountant is right for you. Case in point: The first accountant I worked with was great for freelancers, but not so much for expats. When I got to Germany, the first accountant I interviewed had a ton of fancy experience, but wasn’t particularly friendly. The one I did hire is patient and happy to answer my endless questions.

Choose an account who speaks your language

Whatever your experience, you need an accountant who can be clear about what they need from you.

Yes, you want someone with experience (more on that below), but if you’re like me, sometimes it’s more important to work with someone who doesn’t make you feel stupid.

My first accountant had a ton of experience, but seemed to expect I knew everything about freelance taxes. Since this was my first time doing this, I needed someone who could hold my hand. It took months to find a young, friendly accountant who would answer my questions without doing a virtual eye roll every time I emailed. I’m so glad I did the research to find him.

Choose an account familiar with your situation

Experience definitely matters, but not all experience is created equal. An accountant who specializes in freelancers might not be right for startup owners. Or expats. Or luddites.

“Accounting” is such a broad term and you want someone who’s familiar with your exact situation. Right now, I have two accountants: One specializes in expat German taxes, the other works with many freelancers abroad.

“You need to find someone who’s willing to educate you about your tax situation,” added Bera, “So you can make sure you’re taking advantage of the deductions and tax credits available to you.”

It may sound too nitty-gritty —and most accountants have several specialities — but this granularity is worth investigating.

Ask for recommendations

Accounting isn’t just about filing your taxes each year. Do you also need bookkeeping help? Estate planning?

By talking to other freelancers in your area and industry, you can get a feel for who might be the best fit.

And size matters. Many freelancers want to build a relationship with someone long-term, so a huge accounting firm might not be the best choice. But small firms don’t offer every service under the sun, so consider your needs and act accordingly.

Talk to a few different firms, both large and small to get a feel for what you need.

 

Original: http://thewritelife.com/why-every-freelance-writer-needs-an-accountant/

How to Save Money and Do Online Book Publicity Yourself

A woman working at a computer.

Photo via VisualHunt.com

Note from Jane: Today’s guest post is a book excerpt adapted from the just released Online Marketing for Busy Authors, by author and publicist Fauzia Burke (@FauziaBurke).

 

Origin:https://janefriedman.com/online-book-publicity/


There are two ways to go about getting attention in the media: one is to hire experts to help you reach the media, and the other is to do the legwork yourself.

I’ll be honest: publicity is not rocket science. If you are committed to the process, you can do it yourself. It will take you longer, and you will certainly spend many hours chasing opportunities, but you’ll save money. When you hire a PR expert, you are hiring them for their time, expertise, and contacts. Unfortunately, results are not guaranteed. Trust me—that fact is as frustrating for us in the field as it is for you.

There’s another thing to consider, and this may be difficult to hear: if you are self-publishing your book, you will probably get fewer reviews than if you were published by an established publisher. This is simply the truth. I totally understand the reasons to self-publish, but it’s important to be aware of the implications of that decision on your publicity prospects. It definitely means that you’ll have to focus more time on guest blogging and interviews.

Focus on Online Opportunities

If you decide you want to do the publicity work yourself, focus on the internet. Traditional media (newspapers, magazines, TV, radio) require great contacts and long lead times. It’s easy to make mistakes, and you certainly want to avoid those when it comes to publicity.

For busy authors, online publicity will be a lot more effective. Online publicity, however, is not for everyone. It takes patience and a thick skin, since you may face rejection and silence.

What Online Opportunities Are Best?

Authors often ask me what the top website for generating sales is. It’s a legitimate question, but the answer is not necessarily obvious. In my experience, there is no single site that generates sales for every kind of book. Because the web is so segmented, different sites impact different books, so it all depends on your audience. One of our clients asked us to reach out to sushi sites to help promote his novel. When I asked him why, he said, “Because the main character loves sushi.” Now that may seem reasonable, but have you ever seen a sushi site featuring a novel just because the main character liked sushi? Probably not.

Another client asked us to get his book featured on the homepage of Gap.com. “The Gap.com? The people who make jeans?” I asked, confused. He said, “Yes, because their customer is my demographic.” This may seem like a creative idea, but have you ever seen a book on the homepage of Gap.com? Probably not.

Your time is limited and the internet is vast, so try to manage your expectations. If something has never been done before, it’s probably a long shot.

How to Find the Best Opportunities for Your Book

When authors come to me and say, “I want to reach book bloggers” or “I want to reach mommy bloggers,” I often have to tell them that bloggers have more specific tastes than they may realize. For example, when reaching out to mommy bloggers, it is really important to know the age of their kids. Pitching a teen parenting book to a mommy blogger with a baby won’t get you far. Pitching a sci-fi novel to a blogger who loves historical romances won’t work either. Sending a World War II book to a blogger who covers the Civil War will make for a cranky blogger, and sending a press release to the wrong person may actually get you blacklisted. So if you want to take on this work, please approach it carefully and diligently. A misstep can be damaging for your brand, and unfortunately Google has a long memory.

  • Search for blogs. If you are looking for bloggers to review your book, look for the ones who have already reviewed books. One of the ways you can narrow your search is by doing a Google search for a competing book. If you only search for the name or title, too many things will come up and it will be a chore to figure out which ones are reviews. However, you can do a Google search for the author’s name or book title in quotes and the phrase “book review” or “interview,” and you will get much more refined search results—for example: “Brene Brown” “Daring Greatly” “book review.”
  • Know their beat. The best piece of advice to any author trying to build a relationship with bloggers is to build that relationship through mutual respect, trust, and consistency. Make sure you know the blogger’s focus and area of interest.
  • Work with a range of bloggers. It’s good to know how much traffic a blog has, but don’t dismiss bloggers with less traffic. It is important to look at the full reach of a blogger. Sometimes blog features from smaller blogs can generate more chatter on social networks. It’s a good idea to follow them on Twitter, Like them on Facebook, and check out their social networks, like Goodreads. Some bloggers post reviews on multiple sites, so they can be more valuable for that reason alone.
  • Make things easier. Understanding the needs of bloggers and online editors will help you work with them. Make note of the type of coverage they specialize in. Do they like to interview authors, review books, do raffles, or post guest blogs? Then make sure you send them the materials they need in a timely fashion. If you promise them a review copy of a book, send it quickly.
  • Approach bloggers one at a time. Every time I say that, people either roll their eyes in disbelief or try to sell me on the benefits of mail-merge mass email. But here’s the honest truth: you are better off reaching out to 50 bloggers one at a time than to 500 via a mass email. You’ll actually get better results. Is it time-consuming and labor-intensive? You bet. Is it worth it? Yes!
  • Follow up, but don’t push. Without follow-up nothing will come of your pitching, so you need to find time to follow up and develop skills in asking without being pushy or rude. Every good publicist masters the delicate art of begging.
  • Represent good content. Don’t send out press releases, articles, or op-eds that are not written well. Make sure the content that leaves your hands always looks professional and does not have spelling or grammatical mistakes.

Keep Detailed Notes on What Happens

All of these tips are fine, but unless you keep track of your research they’ll be difficult to implement. At my firm, we have several fields in our custom-designed database that help us develop relationships with bloggers. We record when the contact was added, by whom, and any notes about their likes and dislikes. We also keep track of all the books sent to every blogger and which bloggers then featured our books. This practice allows us to learn more about the blogger with every interaction and send them only the books they would be inclined to cover. You can use a spreadsheet or database to keep track of your PR work. It’s a good idea to keep thorough notes so you don’t get confused about whom you’ve contacted and what the results were.

If you are doing your own publicity, consider developing an ongoing dialogue and relationship with the bloggers. Share their information and be generous. Everyone appreciates a digital nod these days. Help them before you need their help.

Craft Personalized Pitches, Wait, Follow Up, Repeat

I know it’s counterintuitive, but I hate press releases. They never really work for my publicity firm. I find that having a conversation is a much better way to get the attention of the person on the other end. If you have done your research, it will be a lot easier to pitch the blogger and editor with something specific. It’s better to pitch fewer people individually than to pitch hundreds of people in one mass email.

Once you have searched for bloggers and pitched your book, you will need to wait for responses. If editors/bloggers request the book, your pitch is working. If not, you’ll have to use another pitch. Try connecting your book to something in the news or a new study. When you do get a response, pounce on it. Attention is fleeting, and you don’t want to wait. If the editor/blogger asks for a book or an interview, accommodate them right away.

Then in a couple of weeks follow up and make sure they got the book and ask if there is anything you can do to help. That’s the cycle. It’s not difficult. It’s not rocket science. However, it requires lots of time and patience. Contacts with the media are worth so much because a publicist’s relationship with an editor will boost your chances of getting a feature. If you are willing to put in the work, you can build the same contacts and relationships within your niche. It will just take some time.

Research Tools and Other Resources

If you’re having a difficult time identifying the right blogs or websites for your pitch, here are some research tools that my firm uses. New tools show up all the time, and if I find a cool new one I will post it at FauziaBurke.com.

  • Social Mention. This site allows you to search an author, company, or topic across the web. You can get results from 100 social media sites in one place. My favorite part is that it gives you sentiment (positive, neutral, or negative) of the mentions all over the web, along with top keywords and top hashtags. It’s handy.
  • TweetReach. This is one of my favorite sites. It allows you to search a topic, author, handle, or name and see how many people were reached by those tweets. You can also see who sent the tweets and how many followers they have. This is a helpful tool to search for people who have influence.
  • Twitter Counter. I love this site. It allows you to see the Twitter stats for any handle. You can see if the trend is for gaining followers or losing them. It also shows you how many tweets are made every day by any handle. TwitterCounter is useful for research and for monitoring the success of your Twitter feeds, especially if you have multiple accounts.
  • Google Trends. If you are working on a news topic, this is an excellent source because it gives you insights into the amount of traffic and geographic visit patterns.
  • Twazzup. This site allows you to filter news from live Twitter content. It’s helpful to see trending topics and influencers for a given subject. It’s better for searching topics than for searching for an author’s name.
  • Klout. One of the most popular Twitter research tools, Klout measures influence rather than just the number of followers. It’s not without controversy, however, since many believe its metrics aren’t accurate.
  • Alltop. This site has top stories and blogs on every topic imaginable. Pick the topics that relate to your book and check out curated information.
  • PR Daily from Ragan’s. They have a great newsletter called PR Daily with tips and ideas.
  • Cover for Online Marketing for Busy Authors by Fauzia BurkeHARO. Help a Reporter Out connects journalists on deadline with expert sources. It’s a good idea to sign up for the free newsletter and then pounce on any opportunities you can. We have gotten some good hits from it.

Early Reading and Writing Development

By Froma P. Roth, Ph.D, CCC-SLP and Diane R. Paul, Ph.D, CCC-SLP

Children start to learn language from the day they are born. As they grow and develop, their speech and language skills become increasingly more complex. They learn to understand and use language to express their ideas, thoughts, and feelings, and to communicate with others. During early speech and language development, children learn skills that are important to the development of literacy (reading and writing). This stage, known as emergent literacy, begins at birth and continues through the preschool years.

Children see and interact with print (e.g., books, magazines, grocery lists) in everyday situations (e.g., home, in preschool, and at daycare) well before they start elementary school. Parents can see their child’s growing appreciation and enjoyment of print as he or she begins to recognize words that rhyme, scribble with crayons, point out logos and street signs, and name some letters of the alphabet. Gradually, children combine what they know about speaking and listening with what they know about print and become ready to learn to read and write.

Are Spoken Language and Literacy Connected?

Yes. The experiences with talking and listening gained during the preschool period prepare children to learn to read and ite during the early elementary school years. This means that children who enter school with weaker verbal abilities are much more likely to experience difficulties learning literacy skills than those who do not.

One spoken language skill that is strongly connected to early reading and writing is phonological awareness — the recognition that words are made up of separate speech sounds, for example, that the word dog is composed of three sounds: /d/, /o/, /g/. There are a variety of oral language activities that show children’s natural development of phonological awareness, including rhyming (e.g., “cat-hat”) and alliteration (e.g., “big bears bounce on beds”), and isolating sounds (“Mom, /f/ is the first sound in the word fish”).

As children playfully engage in sound play, they eventually learn to segment words into their separate sounds, and “map” sounds onto printed letters, which allows them to begin to learn to read and write. Children who perform well on sound awareness tasks become successful readers and writers, while children who struggle with such tasks often do not.

Who is at Risk?

There are some early signs that may place a child at risk for the acquisition of literacy skills. Preschool children with speech and language disorders often experience problems learning to read and write when they enter school. Other factors include physical or medical conditions (e.g., preterm birth requiring placement in a neonatal intensive care unit, chronic ear infections, fetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy), developmental disorders (e.g., mental retardation, autism spectrum), poverty, home literacy environment, and family history of language or literacy disabilities.

Early Warning Signs

Signs that may indicate later reading and writing and learning problems include persistent baby talk, absence of interest in or appreciation for nursery rhymes or shared book reading, difficulty understanding simple directions, difficulty learning (or remembering) names of letters, failure to recognize or identify letters in the child’s own name.

Role of the Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have a key role in promoting the emergent literacy skills of all children, and especially those with known or suspected literacy-related learning difficulties. The SLP may help to prevent such problems, identify children at risk for reading and writing difficulties, and provide intervention to remediate literacy-related difficulties. Prevention efforts involve working in collaboration with families, other caregivers, and teachers to ensure that young children have high quality and ample opportunities to participate in emergent literacy activities both at home and in daycare and preschool environments. SLPs also help older children or those with developmental delays who have missed such opportunities. Children who have difficulty grasping emergent literacy games and activities may be referred for further assessment so that intervention can begin as early as possible to foster growth in needed areas and increase the likelihood of successful learning and academic achievement.

Early Intervention Is Critical

Emergent literacy instruction is most beneficial when it begins early in the preschool period because these difficulties are persistent and often affect children’s further language and literacy learning throughout the school years. Promoting literacy development, however, is not confined to young children. Older children, particularly those with speech and language impairments, may be functioning in the emergent literacy stage and require intervention aimed at establishing and strengthening these skills that are essential to learning to read and write.

What Parents Can Do

You can help your child develop literacy skills during regular activities without adding extra time to your day. There also are things you can do during planned play and reading times. Show your children that reading and writing are a part of everyday life and can be fun and enjoyable. Activities for preschool children include the following:

  • Talk to your child and name objects, people, and events in the everyday environment.
  • Repeat your child’s strings of sounds (e.g., “dadadada, bababa”) and add to them.
  • Talk to your child during daily routine activities such as bath or mealtime and respond to his or her questions.
  • Draw your child’s attention to print in everyday settings such as traffic signs, store logos, and food containers.
  • Introduce new vocabulary words during holidays and special activities such as outings to the zoo, the park, and so on.
  • Engage your child in singing, rhyming games, and nursery rhymes.
  • Read picture and story books that focus on sounds, rhymes, and alliteration (words that start with the same sound, as found in Dr. Seuss books).
  • Reread your child’s favorite book(s).
  • Focus your child’s attention on books by pointing to words and pictures as you read.
  • Provide a variety of materials to encourage drawing and scribbling (e.g., crayons, paper, markers, finger paints).
  • Encourage your child to describe or tell a story about his/her drawing and write down the words.

Click here for original post:http://www.getreadytoread.org/early-learning-childhood-basics/early-literacy/early-reading-and-writing-development