Ed note: Do what you love, and make money doing it, may sound too cliché to be true. However, for some writers, the freelance market means they can pen posts about subjects they’re passionate about and be paid a nice price. The trick just might be getting started.
The Internet as we know it today is driven by content. Videos, lists, photos and blog posts provide readers with actionable information that can be shared through social streams and ultimately serve an end goal. The average reader may rarely think, “Hey… who writes this stuff anyway?”
Well, I do write this stuff, and there’s money to be made doing it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers pulled in a median hourly rate of nearly $28 in 2013, and that figure is only going up. I’ve worked my way up from the bottom, and you can too. Here’s how to start:
1. Find Your Niche
You can only write about what you know. People will want to pay you to create content that provides genuine insight on a subject. That’s not to say you can’t learn new things on the fly when required for a given assignment. But it’s wise to focus on topics you’re comfortable writing about. Keep in mind when choosing a focus that people have hobbies, passions and interests that they want to read about and ultimately spend money on.
2. Write For Free
Why work for free? You may think you’re a great writer, but why would any random editor trust you purely on word? I had this mentality starting off, and it undoubtedly held me back. Once you’ve found your niche, reach out to some mid-level blogs (ideally ones you’ve consistently read yourself), pitch some ideas and offer to write for free if they’ll let you leave a by-line at the end of the article with contact information. This way, when you ultimately pitch for professional jobs, the hiring manager will have active references available to gauge your quality of work. Then you get paid!
3. Build Contacts
There is no substitute for building a good network. When you write and communicate well, people remember you. This generally leads to rehiring, ongoing projects or being recommended to others for outside freelance jobs. You’d be surprised how quickly editors within blogging communities recognize high quality material. Before you know it, you’ll actually be turning down work. To jumpstart your network, I’d recommend these resources.
This is a bare bones reddit community dedicated to hiring mostly freelance workers. Although you’ll find a mix of programming, web development, and graphic design work, there are lots of writing jobs to be had here too.
Contently is a free writing portfolio management site that connects professional writers with companies/ publications looking for new content. It will typically dish out jobs to more seasoned writers, but not always. Within two months of consistently posting my work on the site, I received a fairly lucrative offer to write for a credit union network. There’s nothing to lose here.
Help a reporter out (or HARO) is a networking tool that brings together reporters writing articles and potential resources. This is a good way to get quoted in legitimate publications, build your personal brand, and connect with other writers.
Breaking into the world of freelance writing is by no means an easy task. As goes with anything worthwhile, it takes time, effort, persistence and probably a little luck. But if you produce consistent, value-conveying content, the money will follow.
If someone isn’t a U.S. citizen, they may be classified in three different ways under immigration law:
- An immigrant
- A nonimmigrant
- An undocumented immigrant
But when it comes to tax time, the IRS is only concerned about whether they are a resident alien or nonresident alien. Resident aliens are taxed in the same manner as U.S. citizens. Nonresident aliens are taxed according to special rules. And, here’s where it gets tricky, the rules for determining residency have nothing to do with an individual’s immigration status. So a person could be an undocumented immigrant and owe taxes the same way any U.S. citizen would, if they are a resident alien for tax purposes.
Follow all that? If not, here’s a handy breakdown to determine when and how various immigrants pay U.S. taxes.
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Ed note: It’s easy to say you should save for retirement. It’s even easier to keep putting off that saving because retirement is so far away. So what happens if you move the finish line – say you’ll retire at 50 instead? According to David Ning, a lot.
I always tell people to strive for early retirement even if they love their jobs, because the goal will drive them to save more for the future. There are simply too many benefits to having money in the bank even if they never want to quit. For instance:
Having money in the bank is comforting even if you don’t need the cash.
I used to always worry about every little expense, because I didn’t have much to cushion any setbacks. I’m sure I drove everyone around me nuts, but I couldn’t help worrying about the what-ifs. I’m by no means swimming in money now, but thanks to the saving habits brought on by trying to retire early, I’m no longer as worried about the little expenses. I’m a more pleasant person to hang around with now, and I probably look better too because I’m less stressed out.
You might change your mind and want to retire early one day.
Anything can happen in a 40-year work-life journey. Passion can fade, economic needs for that job can fluctuate and the skill set required to perform the work will change. Many people wake up one day and don’t want to work anymore, but they continue to do so because they need that paycheck. Others may even be forced to quit early. Pursuing early retirement now will give you options later.
You can choose to put in fewer hours even if you want to keep working.
Wouldn’t you want to go in the office a couple days a week, get the social and mental benefits of working while having time for leisure activities? Most people think cutting back hours is only an option for a select few, but a surprising number of employers will allow you to cut back as long as you are a good performer. The real hiccup for pretty much everybody is the need for full time income. Start saving today, and you won’t be one of them.
Financial emergencies are no longer pressing matters.
In fact, you may not even think they are emergencies at all. Far too many Americans declare bankruptcy because of past due medical bills, but most people in the country don’t think twice before seeing a doctor because they have adequate health insurance. A sizable nest egg is like insurance that works for every emergency. And as you grow the pile, you are creating a better coverage for yourself.
You have more flexibility in major career moves.
I remember wanting to expand my skill set by jumping into a sales position earlier in my career, but my boss told me I’d have to take a pay cut until I had proven myself. I still took the offer and ended up significantly increasing my salary by the time I left to start my own business. What made this possible was my pursuit to retire early, because I was already saving a big chunk of my salary. By taking the pay cut, I was simply saving a bit less. Otherwise, reality would get in the way of me taking the initial cut since I would need every penny of my former paycheck.
Having the option to quit earlier than standard retirement age is always comforting even if you plan to work forever. For those who want to have this comfort, work towards that goal by saving more.
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