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Author Topic: Help with maintaining the freelance life
Dan Forgione
Member # 3433

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I am hoping some of you out there can help me out. I have been freelancing for a few years now, but not until recently has it really become a fulltime thing. (Before I had taken on jobs while at school, and on top of a regular work load at a studio.)

Now that its a regular thing, and I am building up my client list, I am making a fairly steady income, however most of it is pretax.
I know I can make quarterly payments to the IRS and all, but how much from each check do I set aside for taxes, what if I don't receive 1040s from clients?

I am tryin to keep the business side of my work as clean an organized as possible, so any tips would be great.

Also, by any chance, does anyone use File Maker pro for client/job tracking? I have started using it, but I can't seem to figure out how to make a database that is customizable for each job easily. For example some jobs pay hourly, other daily. Some clients want detailed invoices others not so much. I know I can just type one out in Word or excel, but I feel like it would be so much easier keeping track of my income, billed/paid invoices, and contacts if it were all in a relatable database.

Thanks in advance...


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Member # 7

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The best place to go for the advice you're looking for Dan is an accountant. That way there's no ifs ands or buts about what to do regarding your taxes in your situation, especially in consideration of the positive professional activity that you're experiencing and you can be sure that what you're being told is exactly what you need to do and what you need to be aware of.


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Dennis Woodyard
IE # 81
Member # 2314

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Head to your local book store, look in the graghic arts section and business section, there are several books out there about maintaining the business side of freelance work. I seem to remember the Graphic Artist Guild price guide book covers the subject pretty well.

One thing I would recommend, if you haven't done it already is register a DBA (doing business as) name, you see the notices listed in the classified ads section of local papers everyday. It just tell the world your doing business under your own name, "John Doe" or another name of your choice, even "John Doe Studios". Most local papers have ads about registering business names. It's an easy process. This lets you open a separate business account at the bank among other thing. (Using my business name Dragonfly Entertainment got me into E3, two year in a row, before they down sized it). It really what your doing already as a "sole proprietor" in tax terms, it just gives that business side of you a proper name. I'd also recommend a separate, 2 line, business phone, if you work at home with a family.

Good luck, and here's wishing you much success.

The Gods that smiled when you were born are Laughing now - My Favorite Fortune Cookie Saying

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IE # 36
Member # 56

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also off the top of my head, a good rule of thumb I always did, was set aside 1/3 of my freelance gross earnings for taxes if paying quarterly. Remember to keep a good accurate and up to date account of expenses too, art supplies, etc. Your car payment could possibly be used as a part write off, and your home office, if it's used solely for business - could be taken into consideration, like 1/4 the rent or mortgage. Keep receipts all year and keep an up to date tally of things spent. You'd be surprised how much you spend by the end of the year!! I'd just get a income/expense tablet or something at Staples and write in all the stuff you spend, buy, bill for. Have invoices printed up in your company's name for billing, etc.

I wouldn't know exactly which program to use like Excel, but I hear that's a good one for this kind of thing. Quicken makes several programs exactly for this kind of thing. Small businesses.

Ask your artist friends which accountants do they use. There are some good ones that really know the artist's world these days.

Good luck.

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Dan Forgione
Member # 3433

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Thanks guys for the advice!!

I really appreciate it.

All the best

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