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


  1. Kaitlin Morrison

    Yikes. I think some of the commenters here may not fully understand insurance. When I pay for health insurance, I’m taking my own money and paying for someone else’s care, so that when I’m sick, I’ll be covered also.

    And, I’ll gladly pay for someone else’s care now, just in case. Because I’d rather not go bankrupt if I ever had it happen to me. I’m ok with my tax money doing the same. It’s how insurance works, pure and simple.

  2. Cat Johnson

    Thanks for the post, Carol

    There’s an interesting article on Fast Company today, written by Sara Horowitz of Freelancers Union, about the need for government to catch up with the rapidly-growing freelance movement.

    In it, she argues that “a lot of the problems that affect independent workers are issues that can only truly be solved by changes in policy.”

    Here’s the link: http://www.fastcompany.com/3047238/why-policy-makers-need-to-pay-attention-to-the-freelance-movement?utm_source

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks for sharing this resource, Cat! And I agree with that — we need to advocate and raise consciousness in government about how business WORKS now, and that freelancers need access to the same benefits workers enjoy — disability and sick pay. We need more programs that will insure us.

  3. William Mortensen Vaughan

    I want a job; that’s why I’m here, and joined your Den. Some governors, such as Reagan (may he R.I.P.) understood/understand freelancing. What other governors don’t understand is that, as Margaret Thatcher (may she also R.I.P.) said, “The problem with socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.”

    P.S.: I’m glad the government used the hundred dollars they took out of my tax return for a worthy cause, but please tell your son he’s not welcome. I’d rather he and others got jobs and gave me back my hundred dollars.

    Is he not doing as well as you are with the whole making a living writing thing?

    • Carol Tice

      Perhaps you’ve never self-insured and had someone in your family have a major illness, William. There are high deductibles and it’s pretty burdensome.

      If you want a J O B, my blog and Den may not be the best resource for you, as our emphasis is on freelancing.

      And it’s not my son’s fault that most jobs no longer come with healthcare. That would be a move Republicans encouraged and enabled, with their support of big business doing as it pleases, and not feeling any sense of responsibility towards its employees.

    • William Mortensen Vaughan

      So you make six figures while I make less than $25,000 a year, and I’m supposed to be happy about subsidizing your son’s health care?

      Yes, I’ve self-insured. Yes, I watched my father die of a cerebral hemorrhage, bleeding from his eyes, ears, and mouth like a poisoned dog. But we pulled our own weight. We didn’t go around with our hands out like the world owed us something.

      Who voted for Obama, mama? Who voted for Obama, mama?


  4. William Mortensen Vaughan

    “[T]he best social program is a job.”
    –Ronald Reagan

    Taxes and regulations, of which Democrats tend to be more fond than Republicans, are what kill jobs.

    Whether they realize it or not, everyone is a T.E.A. Party-er at heart. Unless you send the I.R.S. and/or your tax collectors more money than you owe, or ask for a smaller refund, and unless you just want to pay more fees, fill out more forms, and jump through more hoops, you’re a T.E.A. Party-er at heart – TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY!

    As for ObamaCare, it was passed more than five years and two months ago, and all it has done for me is take about a hundred dollars out of my tax return.

    • Carol Tice

      But we don’t *want* jobs, William. You completely prove my point — the government doesn’t understand freelancing. Government understands “you should get a job.” It doesn’t yet understand that that era is over, and a thriving economy will need to be geared to help freelancers flourish.

      P.S. My starving student son uses Obamacare, and as he has ulcerative colitis, at this point we might be bankrupt and he might be dead, if he hadn’t been able to be on this healthcare program.


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