Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...

Freelancers – how much does your work cost you?

Just how much does your work cost you?

I know it should all be earn, earn, earn – but when you think about it, is there any kind of business that doesn’t demand ‘speculation for accumulation’?

Most people with an internet business need a computer and connection, amongst other things.  If a freelancer doesn’t rely on the internet for business, perhaps tools and transport need to be in situ before trading can begin.

I’ve spent the last week or two weighing up not just the commercial standing and prospects of my business but the financial ones as well.  Although I realise employed workers still have to fill their car’s fuel tanks with petrol, it could be their only outlay.  Freelancers are expected to have everything at their disposal.

Swings and Roundabouts

Tax breaks offer an incentive to be fully equipped but I was a little perturbed to see, in black and white, just how much my costs were, even when cutting back.  I realise that I could work from home and having an office (albeit, soon to be a much smaller one) was a luxury.  This conundrum being the subject of one of my previous posts, I still believe having a base off-site is a necessity for me personally – mainly due to getting more work done in half the time, being able to close the door on it and not having paperwork spread all over my house – plus the thought that I’d still need to heat my house if I was working in it.  All this, when added up, means that having a separate working area is a large part of my business.  Unfortunately, it’s also a large part of my costs!  Can’t have it both ways, I suppose.

It led me to thinking whether freelancers have a raw deal in this respect.  Does it cost us more to work?  Do we make more money than employed workers in general to compensate for this?

This thought was further compounded when I visited a friend of mine.  I don’t get to see her as much as I like and it was therefore news to me that her husband had been made redundant two months ago.  She admitted that she worried about their immediate future as her part-time wage went nowhere near paying the bills.  Her husband had tried to find a job similar to his last one but, as everyone knows, there are few around.

Now, I know her husband is a trained web designer, even though he’d been made redundant from a sales role.  I think he even used to work for himself many moons ago so I asked my friend if he’d thought of looking into doing that again.

The cupboard was bare…

“We can’t afford to buy a new computer; our last one stopped working and we never bothered to mend it,” she told me.  Apparently, any web surfing they needed to do was done in her husband’s lunch hour on his previous company’s computers.  “We can’t afford business cards or any advertising either.”

I was about to suggest he use the free facilities at their local library – after all, he could build and design his own website for free.  But something stopped me.  I didn’t want to give too much hope that this would solve all their problems and that the money would roll in.  No doubt her husband could build up a business in his spare time but to suggest this would be an immediate, adequate income stream may have been offering false optimism.  I also didn’t want them to borrow for a new computer without the knowledge that they would earn the money to pay it back.  After all, I had only hours before been sighing to myself just how much I needed to earn each month before I started moving into ‘profit’.  I wasn’t sure I could inflict this on my friend.

Was I right?  After all, I could have given him an idea that would have been a step towards some money coming into the house.  If he secured employment at the same time, he may have been able to supplement his earnings through what would start off as a ‘spare-time business’.

It led me to wonder if there was any self-employed or freelance opportunity that could be launched without the layout of any money from the outset.

I’m still thinking of one.

With any profession, I’ve come to the conclusion you have to speculate to accumulate.  For any freelancer to get even a small amount of work or contracts it seems that you have to lay out money for something, somewhere.

Perhaps I’m wrong – perhaps you can think of ways to earn money (legitimately, mind!) without parting with a single bean.  Then again, if you knew of any, perhaps you wouldn’t want to share that information.

That’s my challenge to all freelancers this week.  Tell me of a business or freelancing opportunity that my friend’s husband – or indeed anyone, anywhere – could start, with no financial costs to begin with.  I understand that at some point there may be call for investment, but once you’re earning money, this becomes less of a fright.

A business opportunity with no start-up costs.  Can you think of one?

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Written by Editor on January 14, 2011 and filed in Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, Opinion , , , ,

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