Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Business Bit.

First, I wanted to send you to John Scalzi's post, Advice to New Writers About Money. (Thanks, Angie, for the link.) Smart words. And damn, I shoulda married a guy with health insurance. Well, I love DH anyway. What can you do?

I wouldn't exactly call myself an expert on freelancing and money. I would say that I've learned a whole lot the hard way, LOL.

First up, the spouse with health insurance is probably the number one thing I wish I had, at the moment. No, no, no, I don't want to trade in my spouse, and I don't want him to change his lifestyle. Just sayin'. Health insurance and dental insurance would be awesome.

The second thing I've learned the hard way, this year in fact, is that there are only two directions for a business: growing or shrinking. Maintaining the optimal work/life balance is near impossible, because you must account for people not paying, for people paying you way late, for expected incomes to fall through.

So I'm learning I always need to take more work than the budget needs, in order to account for the above.

Just because you're turning away work by the droves one month, doesn't mean that six months later they'll still be calling.  Six months later, you might discover you want/need more, and no one's calling.

To a certain extant, take all the work you can, when you can get it. If there's a balance, I haven't found it.

Third, do not have a person with a business degree manage the finances. I learned this one the hard way, too. They think too theoretically. They think, "we're supposed to get X amount this month, and pay out Y amount this month."  Problem is, cash flow never works that way.

You just can't count on the money coming when it's expected to come.

And finally, as a writer, you're probably a creative person. Applying that creativity and imagination to finding ways to make money "outside the box" will help tremendously.

That's one of the things I've always loved most about working for myself. Unlike punching a clock and putting in time, working for myself means I'm making money.  I'm not limited by a salary. I can always find new ways to bring in more income.

Speaking of bringing in more income, I've got a story to write and a root canal to pay for ...

12 bonus scribbles:

Kate S 2/17/2008 10:38:00 PM  

Ok, I hate him. :) He made 150K on his writing last year? Yeah, I really hate him. :)

Now, off to find a rich spouse... ;)

Erica Orloff 2/18/2008 06:43:00 AM  

Hi Spy:
I make what he makes. But I can tell you, with six people in my family . . .

the checks NEVER come when you need them to. Ever. I had an amazing month last month. I am STILL waiting for an advance check that is horribly delayed and driving my agent nuts. However, it's not like I can tell my mortgage company . . . "Sorry, the Chicago office where they cut the paychecks has had two assistants in the royalty division out on maternity." No one gives a sh*t. It's a stressful way to earn a living.

But I still love it.

lainey bancroft 2/18/2008 09:48:00 AM  

LOL. Love #3 marry or shack up with someone who has a real job.

Guess I really blew that.

Have nothing to add, Spy. You summed it up perfectly. Working for yourself can be almost as depressing as it is delightful. It'll get a lot more delightful if I can get somewhere close to earning that kind of money with my writing, though. =P

Edie 2/18/2008 10:07:00 AM  

Great blog! As for dental insurance, I've spent way too much time arguing with them about things they were supposed to pay but always found an excuse to either not pay or to delay payment. (One was because they had my birth date one day off -- their mistake but it took months for them to correct it! During which time they didn't pay anything.) I'm beginning to think they take more money than they pay out, and it's not worth it.

spyscribbler 2/18/2008 10:25:00 AM  

LOL, Kate. I dream about a rich spouse now and then, myself. Okay, I really wish my spouse would win the lottery. That'd be perfect!

spyscribbler 2/18/2008 10:29:00 AM  

LOL, Erica. It's true. The numbers sound so big, but when you work for yourself and add in taxes and expenses, the numbers really aren't as big as they sound.

Add in six people? Yikes!

I hear you about the checks. My husband and I are like dogs. We can hear the mailtruck, I kid you not, two blocks away. We don't even hear any other cars. Just the mailtruck. We're trained.

spyscribbler 2/18/2008 10:30:00 AM  

No, Lainey, YOU summed it up perfectly! It IS as depressing as it is delightful. That's perfect. That's exactly it.

spyscribbler 2/18/2008 10:32:00 AM  

Edie, you have a great point. I've lived the last nine or so years without health or dental insurance, and I've saved THOUSANDS of dollars by not having it. Even two years ago, I spent $5,000 on it, and it was cheaper than health insurance.

The problem is, if I could afford health insurance, I'd be able to afford the medical emergencies. And the root canals, LOL ...

Erica Orloff 2/18/2008 11:57:00 AM  

I just laughed out loud. I hear that mail truck a mile off.


Barrie 2/19/2008 12:49:00 PM  

I am obviously not too trainable. I do not hear the mail truck. I do, however, hear the click of my mail box opening. That counts for something, right?

Great post!

Ello 2/19/2008 06:45:00 PM  

Luckily for me, my hubby works for the federal government, so our benefits are terrific. Our lifestyles have significantly changed and tightened with my leaving private practice and teaching at a college instead, but I have the luxury of being home to pick up the kids and being around for them, and having more time to write then ever before. But one day I hope I'll actually get a paycheck for writing.

spyscribbler 2/19/2008 07:03:00 PM  

Barrie, you hear the click? Wow! You have super-duper dog ears!

Ello, I'm so jealous of those benefits! And all the money in the world isn't worth the time you get to spend with your kids.

I hope you get a paycheck for writing, too!