Want to be your own boss and make a living writing?
If you’ve got solid writing skills and even a little marketing savvy, you’re already ahead of the game.
But there’s more to freelance writing and running your own business than being a great writer and smart marketer.
For a lot of writers, it’s the how-to-run-a-business stuff that makes you go cross-eyed, causes your palms to sweat, or ignites a firestorm of anxiety and self-doubt. Sound familiar?
You might be a great writer, but how much do you know about attorneys, taxes, business licenses, and insurance?
It’s a rhetorical question. But if you’re already feeling a knot forming in the pit of your stomach, there’s a good chance you could benefit from a little help to be your own boss.
Fortunately, help is available. And if you know where to look it’s free or available at a low-cost to help you build your freelance writing business, move up and earn more.
Want to be your own boss? Check out these free business resources for writers:
In business to be your own boss…
If you’re a freelance writer, you need to know a little about how to run a business. But if you’re a little in the dark about all that suit-and-tie-kind-of stuff, don’t worry.
Help is just a few clicks away from a source you might not expect—your federal and local governments. All across the U.S. and throughout the world, publicly-funded programs are in place to help small business owners (and freelance writers) like you. And they’re free.
Whether you’re a new freelance writer who’s trying to get your business started or an experienced writer looking to take it to the next level, check out what your government has to offer.
Here’s a list of the kinds of things you can get help with to be your own boss and build your freelance writing business:
- Legal information to walk you through the steps of establishing yourself as a business. Don’t be intimidated—for freelancers in most countries, the process is very simple.
- Tax forms and guidance to save you from nasty surprises at the end of the year when you’ve got a pile of independent contractor forms to file for reporting your income and expenses.
- Financing and loans for starting or growing your business. The startup expenses for most freelance writers are delightfully low. But if you need extra capital for training, outsourcing tasks, or office rental, some resources offer grants or low-interest loans to offset these costs.
- Classes, support, and information on many aspects of running your business. Depending on where you’re located, this might include everything from a telephone support line to a blog to free, real-time classes and trainings about how to be your own boss, run a business, manage your money, etc.
- Extras like mentoring, coaching, networking opportunities, and access to contacts or databases you might not find on your own. Show up to a business networking meeting, introduce yourself, and you might find your next client.
Business resources for freelance writers
On the list below, you’ll find links to government agencies in the largest English-speaking countries, beginning with the U.S. first. Use it as a starting point, then do your own research to see what else is available where you live.
The main government website, includes an extensive small business section where you can search information about self-employed taxes, financing, and more.
Small business development centers work with universities to provide free training and consulting.
The Service Corps of Retired Executives offers one-on-one mentoring with experienced business owners.
CanadaBusiness, the main government website for business owners, includes information on starting a business, taxes, licenses, and grants. The government-sponsored Business Development Bank of Canada offers business loans and financial advice. And the Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada provides financing and research tools.
Enterprise Ireland, the government’s official business website, helps Irish businesses start, grow, and compete globally. The site includes information on funding and links to local Enterprise offices. You can also check out Supporting SMEs, a search tool to help you track down the government programs that best fit your business.
The Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises is your go-to source for information about government programs. The Small Industrial Development Bank of India may also be a useful resource, if you’re considering a loan to launch or grow your freelance writing business.
The government’s official business web page includes business plan templates, financing information, and plenty of tips and advice. New Zealand’s Support for Small Businesses is an eight-page PDF overview of government resources.
The business section of the gov.uk website has a wealth of information for new and seasoned freelancers, including a page for people who share the goal to be self-employed.” If you’re in the U.K., the government-run Business Support Helpline is a free resource that allows you to talk to a real business professionals on the phone.
Local and regional business resources for freelance writers
Most states, provinces or regions within a country have their own small-business resources. They’re often more personal and user-friendly than national agencies.
The internet is your best source for tracking down what’s available in your area. Search your state or region, plus “small business resources.” Outside the US, search your region plus “SME [small and medium-sized enterprises] support.”
Here are a few other ways to track down local government-funded resources:
- Ask other business owners what’s available. Check with your fellow freelance writers, but don’t stop there. Also ask colleagues who run other types of businesses.
- Check out your local chamber of commerce. Even if you don’t join, you might connect with people who can steer you toward government-sponsored business development programs. Or help you grow your network and land new clients.
- Contact local colleges, universities, and trade schools. Many schools sponsor trainings or other programs to help business owners with planning, money management, marketing, compliance, and more.
- Explore regional associations, online groups, and networking events for business owners or entrepreneurs. Someone in these groups may know of a resource that you overlooked.
Build your freelance writing business
There’s more to freelance writing than blog posts, articles, case studies, white papers, landing pages, and email marketing campaigns. If you really want to be successful, you need to treat freelance writing like a business. These resources will point you in the right direction, if you make use of them by doing the following:
- Verify all information. Most governments aren’t known for their efficiency. Some have multiple business websites. Double-check that the information you find online is up-to-date and accurate. This is especially important when it comes to filing taxes or jumping through legal hoops.
- Take advantage of programs for special populations. If you’re disabled, a veteran, a woman, or a member of a minority or indigenous group, there may be additional government-sponsored programs to help you launch and grow your freelance writing business.
- Ask for what you need. The people who work in government small-business support programs are there to help you succeed. If you’re looking for workspace, access to a database for contacting prospects, website help, or something else, let them know. They may be able to point you to exactly the right resource.
Maria Veres is an Oklahoma-based freelance writer and Make a Living Writing contributor. She’s also used local and national programs to grow her business.