3 Emerging Ways to Make Freelancing Less Risky

Carol Tice

Make freelancing less risky with these tips.Are you scared to take the plunge into freelance writing, because it feels too risky?

After all, there’s no regular paycheck coming in. No paid sick time. And for those of us in the US and some other places, no healthcare unless we buy some on our own.

I meet a lot of would-be freelance writers who’re still slogging away at the day job they hate, mainly because they worry about whether they’ll be able to pay the bills as a freelancer.

As the world shifts increasingly over to a freelance/solopreneur economy — we’re expected to make up half the economy by 2020 — it would be nice if our governments did more to support independent contractors. But so far, not a lot progress on that front, as Elaine Pofeldt recently pointed out on Forbes.

Fortunately, there are a few emerging ideas that may help make freelancing less risky:

 

1. Income insurance

Financial services startup Even helps you figure out what your average monthly pay is. Then, it sets up an FDIC-insured savings account that socks away any extra money you earn in good months. When you have a down month, your emergency fund is there for you.

Don’t have any money in the savings account? Even gives you an interest- and fee-free advance against your next big earning month. The site charges $3 a month, they’re based in Oakland, Calif., and launched in January. I have to say, I’m intrigued!

Also, if you want, you’re free to withdraw the overage you’ve saved at any point. So if you’re not using it (hopefully income just keeps rising!) and it piles up, you can just cash it in if you like.

Drawbacks: Looks like you’d need to have been freelancing for a few months already, to be able to create an average and start using the program. But knowing you could create a steady monthly income and iron out the bumps-and-lumps has some serious appeal.

Also, Even co-founder Jon Schlossberg tells me they don’t yet support freelancers! For now, it’s for employed workers with irregular hours and paychecks. They’re hoping to roll it out to freelance workers next year…so stay tuned. It would be great to see other companies spring up to offer this sort of service to freelancers, too.

2. Get paid sick days

Getting sick can be a disaster for freelancers. Clients can get pissed off and drop you, and obviously there’s no pay for days you can’t work.

Or is there? The Guardian recently reported on sick-leave options that are emerging for freelancers, including Broodfonds in The Netherlands. There, workers pay into a sick-time pool and can draw out if they become ill.

In the UK, workers can join The Association of Indpendent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), and receive a sick-time insurance policy as a member benefit. Self-employed UK workers can also purchase income protection insurance.

This area is of high interest to me personally, because I tried and failed twice to get a disability insurance policy here in the US — we need more options here!

3. Avoid getting stiffed

Too many freelance writers end up getting stiffed by clients, or waiting ages for payment. In the EU — you lucky ducks — a new law allows you to tack a €40 fee onto bills that are late 60 days or more.

Another option for compelling payment is mutual invoicing societies, such as SMart in Belgium. Now available in eight European countries (but not the UK) at the moment, SMart gives you a large group that can throw its weight behind you and apply pressure for collection of unpaid invoices. If it’s not successful in helping you collect, SMart’s mutual guarantee fund pays you out.

Got to say I *love* this idea — hope to see it come to the US!

Advocate for change

The European Freelancers Movement has formed to try to put the needs of freelance businesses on countries’ political agenda. If you live in this region, you can sign their manifesto, join, and get involved in advocacy. Of course, here in the U.S., there’s also The Freelancers Union.

If you’ve used any of these options, or try them out in future, I’d love to hear from you on Facebook! Let’s hope more ideas like these emerge in the coming months and years, to help people who want to freelance make the leap.

Freelance Business Bootcamp: How to Launch, Earn, and Grow into a Well-Paid Freelancer. By Carol Tice and Neil Tortorella

46 Comments

  1. Krystal C.

    Thanks, Carol. I was actually thinking incorporating first might make it easier to get insurance.

  2. Krystal C.

    Carol, talking about insurance, I’m trying to get off the content mills and into private bidding, but I have to admit I’m getting pretty discouraged right about now.

    I’m a non-fiction freelance writer. My niche has been home and family, but I write about other topics, too. I began to realize that if I was going to bid for the really good jobs, I would need to get errors and omissions insurance against lawsuits. I have the confidence to know that I’m a good writer, but I’m not perfect. I know I could make mistakes. I want to get set up with E&O and liability BEFORE I begin private bidding.

    I don’t get it, Carol. I can only find a few companies that advertise that they insure writers. So far I have called 4 of them. 3 told me they don’t insure freelance writers and the 4th wanted to insure on an occurrence basis. Meaning I have to wait till someone accepts my bid and then ask if I can get insurance on that one client. I expect a lot of the jobs I get would be short-term assignments, though. I joined the Freelancers Union hoping I could get insurance there. Their insurance company said they don’t have the products for freelance writers.

    Don’t these people want our money? I am happy to pay for the insurance. Other professions can get it, so why not freelance writers?

    Right now I’m a sole prop, and I already know that I have to incorporate and that will give me some built-in protection, but from what I’ve been reading, there’s still a level of risk when you incorporate as a single owner of your business. I’m not willing to take that risk, because I have more than myself to consider.

    Am I missing something here? Is my only option to start my own blog? At least then I could get blogger’s insurance on my own website. But I really like the idea of bidding to private clients, because I like the variety offered there. Do you have any suggestions for getting over this obstacle? Thanks in advance for anything you can suggest.

    • Carol Tice

      Try asking your home or car insurer — they should be able to refer you. I think mine is with The Hartford — but maybe being an LLC makes them more willing to insure, I’m not sure.

  3. cheryl

    Hi, Carol. This is new for me, and I’m happy I found your site. I’m just beginning to get educated in this freelance idea and I’m really hoping to learn how and be able to make a living at it. I just want to comment after reading the blatantly RUDE comments on here about the healthcare issue and your sons unfortunate health conditions: I’m quite the republican myself (not all republicans are jerks!) and have a very healthy desire for less government. About as much as my desire to become a freelancer : ) I’m currently unemployed and while I’ve been job searching, I have to say I am absolutely DREADING having to go back to an office and a boss. Ugh. I so want out of that environment and work for myself! So…I agree heartily with your comment about freelancers not wanting a “job”. The health care issue is real and scary. BUT, in my opinion, the last thing we need is the “government” getting involved. I’m all for groups forming and pooling together and keeping the governments paws out as much as possible. I’m also considering moving to another country because of it. If you can freelance and make a good living, would you/have you considered that? I’m just thinking about how difficult it is in this country to achieve a high quality/lower stress life, it may be worth serious consideration. What are your thoughts on that and do you know anyone personally that has done this and are they happy? Thanks for any input you’re willing to share!

    • Carol Tice

      Because of my younger kids’ special needs, travel has been difficult, much less relocating to another country! Some countries have public health, but higher tax rates.

      Certainly, I know many people who have moved to cheaper countries for this reason…but then it is more difficult to connect with a pool of local clients. For quite a while, I had 3 Fortune 500 companies who were all based in my own city as clients…so that option is closed to you. So you might earn less. I suspect that for many, it all comes out even in the end.

      But if you want to hobnob with expat writers, I have a ton of them in Freelance Writers Den…living in China, Belgium, you name it.

    • cheryl

      Thank you so much for your comments, I truly appreciate them! I reviewed a bit of the Freelance Writers Den earlier this morning (I believe), which led me to your site here. There’s soooo much to read, I’m already losing track! All the links on sites get out of control : ) I currently have 7 tabs open, some still from early this morning! I’m taking a lot in.

      I haven’t read that much about you personally yet, and maybe you haven’t even posted it, but I was not aware that you have 3 kids with special needs, so I sincerely hope you didn’t think I was being insensitive to suggest you move to another country! I was just genuinely curious since the issue of health care was a topic.

      From what I’ve read today, you sound like a great lady with a fantastic, upbeat personality and plan to read much more of your insights into this foreign field I’m interested in : )

    • cheryl

      *younger kids’ with special needs*. I have no idea where I got “3” from

    • Carol Tice

      I do have 3 kids, but one is grown and out of the house, Cheryl. I write a bit about my personal life here and also here.

      Also here:

  4. Susan B. Bentley

    Thanks so much for this Carol as today I learnt something new! I had no idea there was an EU law around an extra charge for late payments beyond interest. Another carrot to add to my ts&cs!

    • Carol Tice

      I know, isn’t that cool! Wish we had that in the US!

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