Friday, November 28, 2014

How to Keep A Record of Items for Possible Reimbursement (Part 1)

If you write advertising copy, business plans, or feasibility studies for entrepreneurs or grants for fundraisers, you may be required to do research or conduct a market study.

The extent of your research will depend on the scope required by your clients. And more often than not, Google, Wikipedia, and other search engines will prove to be inadequate.

When interviewing people who can lend authority to your reports and feasibility studies, I need not mention that you as a freelancer should fork out a budget to gain access to people and information. So the question "Do reimbursements apply in freelancing, too?" hovers among the heads of many freelancing professionals.

Plan ahead by knowing the right people from whom you can get information, and secure their phone numbers or email addresses. You may have to schedule a couple of days out within the duration of the project to interview all your sources, especially if the project will stretch for several weeks to a month, or even more.

Include a portion in your Freelancer's Contract that your client/s would have to shoulder 30 to 40 percent of the total amount you have incurred for the following:

(1.) Meals

If you'll be out all day, set a budget for lunch and two snacks. One of the perks of being a freelancer is you're entitled to choose from a wide array of diners.

However, keep within certain boundaries. The purpose of your interviews is to enable you to know your target market better. As a general guideline, remember the following:

  • Forego fancy coffee shops that charge three figures for a latte. Never justify whiling your time away and spending money at coffee shops as part of your day out for research.
  • Choose a diner or restaurant and have a reasonably priced meal than ordering at a fast food joint. 

(2.) Transportation

You may need to spend time at a public library, or gain access to an archived collection of documents located somewhere that requires you to use public transportation. 

You have to keep two things in mind: (1.) deciding whether getting to your destination in less time but end up paying more for fare would be worth it or not, and (2.) staying within a budget.

In the Philippines, you can take several rides on a jeepney, or choose the bus, MRT, LRT, or cab. Keep tab of any raise in minimum fare. When you do ride a bus, keep your tickets and have them photocopied and filed later.

If you drive your own car or you have a family member who allows you to drive the family vehicle, decide on what may be better for you in terms of greater ease and reimbursements.

If you use a credit card, opt to charge for your gas instead of using cash. Organize your receipts and have them photocopied and filed later on.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Become A Better Freelancer By Taking Breaks and Yearly Sabbaticals (Part 2)

By now you may have gotten a more clarified view why taking periodical breaks and vacations are crucial to maintain your sanity and keep yourself sharp as a freelancing professional.

Now I'd like to talk about sabbaticals, which simply means a longer period of time where you remove yourself from anything work-related. Remember this basic tip:

(3.) Take no more than two sabbaticals a year. 

I highly recommend taking two consecutive weeks off every year to recharge your mental batteries. Also, two weeks is more than adequate for your body to reap the benefits of easing into relaxation without growing accustomed to total inactivity.

Your sabbaticals could be any random two-week period, like the week before and during your birthday, or the last week of June and the first week of July.

Sabbaticals work best if you'd like to take advantage of taking tours abroad or even locally. There are airlines that charge airfare at horrendously low rates, mainly to promote tourism and make travel increasingly accessible to more and more people. 

It's perfectly all right to take your spouse, a relative or friend, or several friends along with you. However, be very discerning about the way your companions may want to spend their time. Even if a sabbatical is an opportunity to have fun, you need to have some alone time.

Wherever you decide to go and whatever activity you decide to do, never make the mistake of bringing work with you. If you're taking a trip somewhere, it's highly likely that you'll meet people and possibly make new friends. Avoid taking mental notes that you'll later ask for their contact information and talk about your work as a freelancer.

The whole point of this article? When it's time to work, work. And you should work avidly and with all the perseverance you could muster. But when it's time for play, then by all means play with reckless abandon, too.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Become A Better Freelancer by Taking Breaks and Yearly Sabbaticals (Part 1)

In some ways, freelancing professionals work harder and should be better in time management and negotiating than employees on a payroll. There's no denying the fact that a regular cash flow  depends upon a freelancer's ability to act fast on his feet.

But while the majority of us choose to have one day out of the week as a day off, we also need the equivalent of vacation leaves, birthday leaves, and non-working holidays in order to stay focused and maintain our long-term sanity.

You may think that since freelancing, as a career, operates on a no work, no pay basis, it won't be right to justify taking vacations. Take too many, and not only will you find your cash flow slowing down, you'll also discover that you're losing your momentum.

But here's a fact: we all need brief periods of time to rest and recuperate, and longer periods occasionally for reassessment, so that we can end up refreshed and rejuvenated enough to once again face the challenges that freelancing brings.

When it comes to taking periodical breaks, keep the following in mind:

(1.) Allow for more frequent yet shorter vacations. 

What could be better than scheduling a weekend visit at a relative's house, or going on a hiking or fishing trip with a group of friends? Granted, your mini-vacations should be planned ahead, so you may want to make arrangements by getting in touch with anyone who has a spare bedroom in his vacation house.

Another excellent idea would be to sign up for a group tour in places or sites within your city or town with historical or cultural significance. Group tours are usually offered at reduced or discounted rates to attract more people.

Before 2014 ends, obtain one of those inexpensive planners sold at bookstores, and start penciling in any activity you may want to try all throughout the year. 

(2.) Opt for a "stay"-cation. 

A "stay"-cation is a brief period when you abstain from anything work-related and engage in activities that could be done indoors, like inviting some friends over for card or board games, having a movie marathon with your family, or catching up on your reading.

Stay-cations are ideal if reducing costs is your current priority, or you're saving up for something (e.g. computer software, tuition fee for a certificate course, a post-paid mobile phone plan, etc.) that will boost your income in the future.