Why You Might Not Get A 1099-MISC From Your Clients

You’re probably (hopefully!) aware that if your business is a sole proprietorship or LLC and a client has paid you more than $600 in non-employee Tax formcompensation, they’re required to send you a 1099-MISC form for the just-completed tax year.

 

But did you know clients who pay you through PayPal or credit card aren’t required to issue you a 1099?

 

The Burden Of Reporting Electronic Payments Made To Solopreneurs Doesn’t Fall On Their Clients

That’s right. Starting in 2011, the IRS put the responsibility of reporting electronic payments on PayPal and the credit card companies. They are required to issue a 1099-K form—but only if you received $20,000 or more. Which means you might not get a 1099 at all.

 

Honestly, up until yesterday, I wasn’t aware that clients who make electronic payments to me through PayPal weren’t on the hook for sending 1099-MISC. One of my clients who pays by PayPal monthly discovered it when he went to process his 1099s for vendors.

 

I’m figuring other independent workers AND companies who do business with them aren’t in the know about this either.

 

Cause For Keeping Insanely Accurate Accounting Records

With not all clients realizing they don’t need to send 1099-MISC forms if they paid you electronically, you could end up with 1099s from them anyway. That raises the concern of both PayPal or credit card companies AND your client reporting your income (i.e., your income from that client could potentially be reported twice to the IRS). Moral of the story: KEEP ACCURATE INCOME RECORDS. It’s your best defense if discrepancies arise.

 

For more on this topic and 1099s in general, check out these helpful articles:

 

Must You Send 1099 Forms to Contractors Paid Via PayPal or Credit Card? via Small Biz Trends

Fast Answers About 1099 Forms for Independent Workers – UPDATED for 2015 via Small Biz Trends

General FAQs on Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions via the IRS website

Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income via the IRS website

What Is the IRS Form 1099-MISC? via the Intuit TurboTax website

 

Disclaimer: All that I write on this blog is for your reading pleasure and informational (and sometimes entertainment) purposes only. It is not meant to serve as professional advice. Readers absorb and take information from this blog at their own discretion and risk. Please use responsibly.

Why Your Small Business Needs a Freelance Writer’s Help

Anything and everything you write in representing your business makes an impression. Your ability to project your capabilities and competence can either build Freelance writercustomer confidence or tear it down.

 

How well do you represent your business in your written communications?

Are you…

  • Interesting and engaging?
  • Professional, yet approachable?
  • Clear and concise?
  • Consistent with your messaging in all your communications?
  • Able to create new content at a pace that keeps up with your competition?

Answering “no” to any of the above might indicate you could benefit from contracting a freelance writer to help you.

But don’t worry; you’re not alone.

According to a 2013 Content Marketing Institute study:

  • Fifty-four percent of small businesses said producing the kind of content that engages is a challenge. Twenty-one percent said that’s their biggest challenge.
  • Sixty-four percent of small businesses said producing enough content is a challenge. Twenty-six percent said that’s their biggest challenge.

Note that “content” can mean more than the published written word, but almost all forms of content need good writing as their foundation.

How Could A Freelance Writer Help You?

Your small business relies on the written word more than you probably realize.

Let’s take inventory.

  • Website pages
  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Social media profiles
  • E-newsletters
  • Video scripts
  • Radio commercial scripts
  • Brochures
  • Direct mail postcards
  • Newspaper ads
  • Product and services descriptions
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Powerpoint presentations
  • Magazine articles
  • Text for Infographics
  • Customer service emails
  • Sales letters
  • Marketing emails
  • Newsletters
  • Press releases
  • Follow-up emails to contact form inquiries

I could go on and on and on!

You Haven’t Worked With A Freelance Writer? What’s Stopping You?

As a freelance writer, I know well the arguments against using one.

Fear Of Cutting The Cord

What keeps a lot of small business owners from tapping the talent and know-how of freelance writers is concern over handing their communications over to an outsider. How could a writer possibly know where to begin and how to convey what’s important in a way that sounds like the business?

Make no mistake. When you get a writer’s assistance, you still need to be actively involved. As a writer, I rely on my clients to:

  • Tell me the features and benefits they want to showcase.
  • Share about their company culture and approach to business (casual, formal, edgy, etc.).
  • Share about their target audience.
  • Explain their goals and expectations for specific projects.
  • Provide examples of past communications pieces.
  • Share informational resources they think I should review before beginning a project.

So you see, you’re not completely abdicating your role in your business communications. You won’t be out of touch.

Doling Out Dollars

You might also shy away from hiring a freelance writer because of the cost involved. Yes, you’ll need to part with some dollars, but that money will be well spent.

The help of a freelance writer can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend writing content. For example, how long does it take you to struggle through a 500-word blog post? While it might take you three or four or five hours to get the job done, a skilled, proficient freelance writer can conquer it in a fraction of the time.

Think about what your time is worth. If you hire a freelance writer, you can spend more of it tending to responsibilities that absolutely need your direct attention.

Plus, many writers will work with you if you need to stay within a certain budget. For example, writers might cut you a break on their hourly or project rates if you’re willing to sign a retainer-type agreement that guarantees them income/work for a period of time.

And know that getting the help of a writer doesn’t require an “all or nothing” arrangement. You can keep your costs down if you can provide a rough draft or key details for inclusion so the writer doesn’t need to do as much—or any— research.

Finding A Really Good, Reliable Freelance Writer For A Fair Rate

The operative word here is “fair.” Fair doesn’t mean “cheap.” You can find plenty of writers who work for next to nothing on platforms like Elance and ODesk, but exercise caution when applying “bargain basement” mentality to finding a writing professional. Reputable writers typically will not write a blog post for $1 or $5 or $10 or $25. Writers’ rates vary depending on a number of factors like years of experience, length of posts, complexity of subject matter, research involved, and others.

So where can you go to find a writer you can trust to project your brand’s value?

LinkedIn – Search for professionals with the terms copywriter, freelance writer, or writer.

Other Social Media – Writers with marketing chops will make efforts to stand out on platforms like Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, etc. Search for “freelance writer,” “copywriter,” or “writer” to find relevant profiles and post an update asking your connections if they know of any great writers within their networks.

Local Networking Groups – Ask your area chambers of commerce and other structured networking organizations to make recommendations.

Other Business Professionals – If you notice that a company has exceptional copy, ask the owner or other manager who does their writing. They might be willing to share the writer’s contact info (assuming it’s not one of their employees).

Job Sites Like Elance, ODesk, and Guru – There are quality writers on these platforms. As I said earlier, don’t confuse cheap with value. Good writers typically won’t work for anything resembling minimum wage.

Keep in mind different writers have different specialties and strengths. A single freelance writer might not be able to serve all of your writing needs so carefully consider the types of communications you’ll need help with. Then seek a writer—or writers—who have demonstrated proficiency and experience with those kinds of projects.

And before you work with a writer, ask to see writing samples and for names of references who can vouch for not only the quality of their work, but also their collaborative nature. Some writers are easier to work with than others. Some are very communicative through the process, while others seem to disappear leaving you without really knowing where your project stands. Some take revision requests personally and become defensive, while others realize it’s part of creative process to craft content that best projects your small business brand.

What To Expect When You Work With A Freelance Writer

All writers have their own M.O. (modus operandi), but generally you can expect a writer to:

  1. Ask questions about the project to determine the scope of work, deadline, who else will be involved, who will be approving the content, methods of communicating about the project details, etc.
  2. Send you a proposal/contract with rates, down payment requirements/billing details, terms, conditions, scope of work, flow of work, deadline, communication methods, etc.
  3. Ask you detailed questions designed to draw out information needed for specific parts of the project.
  4. Send you draft content for your review and feedback.
  5. Send you revised content if you’ve asked for changes.

Final Thoughts As You Consider Freelance Writing Help For Your Small Business

While working with a freelance writer might be uncharted territory for you, you’ll quickly learn to enjoy the freedom to focus on other things. Not everyone can—or should—write. If your talents lie elsewhere, why spend more time than you have to on something you can so easily outsource.

A freelance writer, although not hired as a company employee, can become a valuable and indispensable member of your team who helps you succeed in communicating what makes your small business brand so special.

 

Over to you: Have you worked with freelance writers in your business? Please share your experience!

 

Oh, and if you’re looking for a freelance writer to help you get and keep the attention of your customers and prospects, let’s talk!

 

By Dawn Mentzer

Why Being A “Solopreneur” Is B.S.

I can already see the angry mob of freelancers and one-person business owners with pitchforks and flaming torches rounding the corner in protest. Solopreneur

 

But before you stick it to me, I hope you’ll stick with me and read on.

 

How Do You Define “Solopreneur”?

Surprisingly, Urban Dictionary has a straightforward, no-nonsense description:

 

“An entrepreneur who works alone, ‘solo,’ running their business single-handedly. They might have contractors for hire, yet have full responsibility for the running of their business.”

 

It’s that second part of the definition and its contrariness to the first part that has me thinking we might sometimes apply the wrong mindset to our solo businesses.

 

We Do Very Little “Solo” as Solopreneurs

The phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child,” applies in some way to us as solopreneurs, too. We’re adults, of course, but our businesses are constantly evolving. They have to or they won’t survive.

 

We’re faced with ever-changing…

  • Technology for communicating, collaborating, and executing administrative tasks.
  • Client needs.
  • Competitive pressures.
  • Economic conditions.
  • Tax and accounting laws.
  • Business regulations.
  • Personal and professional highs and lows.

 

I guess if you’re a super solopreneur you can leap tall buildings and keep up with all of it on your own, but the rest of us need help from a variety of other people and businesses.

 

We learn to do business better with the help of…

 

  • Tax specialists – You might not need a CPA, but a professional tax preparer can ensure you’re following the rules and not missing out on any deduction opportunities.
  •  

  • Lawyers – Tip: I have membership to LegalShield Pre-Paid Legal Services which, for a low monthly fee, gives me access to an attorney whenever I have legal questions. You might want to check it out.
  •  

  • Bookkeeping specialists – While I retain my own books in Quickbooks Online, I had an expert help me set up my company accounts and every few months I schedule time with her for a checkup. She usually finds one or two things I should have entered differently. If you’re keeping your own books, how confident are you that all is correct?
  •  

  • Business advisors – You can save yourself from going down a wrong path by simply tapping into the honesty and experience of other professionals. Whether through a formal mentoring program, mastermind group, or by simply turning to someone you respect and trust, you can get affirmation and avoid pitfalls by sharing your challenges and asking for advice.
  •  

  • Competitors – You heard me correctly. None of us can serve everyone. Not all clients or projects are the right fit for us. I value my relationships with other writers for many reasons. Among them, the ability to refer prospects to someone else who has the capabilities and capacity to take on projects that I cannot.
  •  

  • Project partners – As a freelance writer, I alone can’t always serve a client’s needs. Sometimes they need website design or print design work in addition to the content I produce. You’ve probably encountered similar situations in your business. We sometimes need professionals in complementary fields to fill voids in projects.
  •  

  • An Assistant – I realize not all solopreneurs will either be able to afford one or absolutely need one, but a helping hand can alleviate some administrative pressures. When your amount of billable work for clients has expanded and you find it difficult to keep up with other business tasks, you might consider an independent virtual assistant to help you. My assistant, Rose, has been helping me since March of this year with research, proofreading, and other odds and ends. I don’t know how I managed without her. With her help, I don’t feel pulled in as many directions,  and I’m better able to focus.

 

Striving For Success as a Solopreneur: Don’t Go It Alone

So while you and I call ourselves “solopreneurs,” we depend an awful lot on others. I don’t really believe being a solopreneur is B.S., but we should never lose sight of how much easier we can achieve success if we get help from others.

 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ Post

 

My Solopreneur Sanity Saver: Help At Last!

My last post focused on what solopreneurs should consider when exploring bringing on a freelance assistant to help them keep up – and keep sane! So it seems appropriate to take a moment to introduce my new freelance assistant, Rose Boettinger. Even before we started working together, Rose took the initiative to demonstrate her value by pointing out (tactfully of course!) a sneaky typo that previously eluded detection on my website. As you’ll read later in this post, Rose found me via the Lancaster Chamber website and proactively reached out to me via email. I instantly admired her go-getter attitude. And, as fate would have it, I was in the throes of several “at capacity” weeks where I struggled to find time to catch my breath. Long story short: This was meant to be!

I hope you’ll join me in welcoming Rose! She will be assisting me with some research, proofreading, and administrative responsibilities. Note that Rose is seeking a full-time or part-time position that will put her exceptional writing and proofreading talents to work. If your company or one that you know is seeking someone with her skills, I encourage you to reach out to her on Linkedin, or you can ask me for an introduction.

Anyways, enough from me! Without further ado…

Here’s a note from Rose Boettinger, freelance writer/personal assistant, to tell you a bit more about herself and her aspirations…

I found Dawn on the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce website while searching for potential job opportunities. Rose Boettinger - freelance writer, proofreaderWhen I came across her information, I took it upon myself to check out her website. As a less experienced freelance writer, I thought it well worth my time to explore the ins and outs of a more established and professional freelancer. While reading her biography, I learned just how involved in and dedicated to her work she is and I felt the need to contact her firsthand. I wanted to see if I could do anything for her to lighten her load, tedious work so that she could spend more time collaborating with clients, giving them even more time and attention they deserve.

I was surprised at just how casual and friendly her response was. It’s often difficult to get a grasp of someone’s personality or how they mean to interact with you, especially over the internet. Not with Dawn. Ever since the first email I received, it has been easy to tell that she puts her heart into every word she writes. She is incredibly down-to-earth and such an easy woman to talk to.

Before I began freelance writing, I attended Millersville University of Pennsylvania where I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Concentration in Writing Studies. While attending the university, I worked at the campus writing center, assisting students with the many steps of the writing process—brainstorming, thesis development, proofreading, etc. That was by far my favorite experience while furthering my education. During the last semester of my senior year, I was an intern at an internet marketing company where my eyes were first introduced to the world of SEO. I spent much of my time there filing client information, proofreading, and blogging.

 In the future, I plan to find a company that will allow me to use my experience with writing and proofreading to help expand the business and create more satisfied clients. I will also publish a best seller.

I’m very excited to have the opportunity to assist Dawn, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us. – Rose

______________________

By Dawn Mentzer

Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ Post

I’m a Solopreneur and I Need HELP: How to Prepare to Outsource Tasks to an Independent Contractor

It’s a tricky spot to be in. You’re a solopreneur – an independent contractor to your clients – and now YOU are at capacitySolopreneurs sometimes need help and turn to independent contractors as personal assistants with your work and need to outsource some responsibilities. Whether you’re bringing in a virtual assistant or someone in your field who does some of the things you do on a freelance basis, you’ll want to prepare for the new working arrangement.

Before you hire an Independent Contractor consider having these things in place before you start working together:

A list of tasks/responsibilities you will delegate – While you might not have specific assignments determined, at least know and communicate the types of tasks you’ll be outsourcing. For example, a few of the things I’m getting assistance with include: research for blog posts, proofreading, and keeping record of my business mileage. You’ll want to discuss your needs with your independent contractor to make sure the work is in line with their expectations and capabilities.

Independent contracting agreement – Having one of these puts it in black and white that the person helping you is NOT an employee. That’s extremely important because they are responsible for submitting all applicable federal, state, and local income taxes, and you’re not responsible for providing health insurance or other benefits. Besides that, you can define the type of work the independent contractor will do and the compensation rate, which will confirm you mutually agree on those points.

You can find samples and templates of agreements online to use as a starting point, or perhaps one of your professional contacts might be willing to share their format with you. Here’s one on docracy.com that appears rather straightforward and customizable. When I created my independent contracting agreement, I was fortunate to have a template available to me via Gosmallbiz.com, a membership-based resource for small business owners. Having subscribed to pre-paid legal services through LegalShield, I also gained the benefit of membership to Gosmallbiz.com. After I tweaked the agreement template to include the particulars of my situation, I emailed the document for review to the law office assigned to me via LegalShield. I then made adjustments based on my attorney’s advice and forwarded the agreement to my new assistant.

Confidentiality agreement – While we’d all like to think the people we work with will respect our confidential and proprietary information, it doesn’t hurt to ask them to agree to it in writing. A confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement will state that the independent contractor will not share the  information you disclose to them with third parties or the public without your permission. Of course, any information already in the public domain or that is common knowledge doesn’t apply. This agreement is to get acknowledgement that your independent contractor isn’t going to share your financial info, business plans, client info, private emails, etc. with anyone without your O.K.

As with independent contracting agreements, you can also find plenty of sources of confidentiality agreement templates online (like this one on nolo.com for example). I found one through Gosmallbiz.com and added a non-compete clause.

I’ve also seen some examples of combined independent contracting and confidentiality agreements. Regardless, it’s advisable to have an attorney review any agreements you plan to use or sign.

A system for working together – The success of your working relationship will depend on how well you communicate and define how you’ll work together.

  • How will you exchange information?
  • How often will you meet or talk by phone?
  • When are tasks due?
  • Where will you store digital files that you both need to access?
  • How – and how often – will the contractor track and report her time?
  • What tools will you use to manage projects?

And prepare to have to write out processes for certain assignments. While they might be second nature to you because you’re so familiar with them, your independent contractor may need step-by-step instructions.

Going from doing everything yourself as a solopreneur to delegating tasks to another person is a big leap. Not only is it not easy to admit you can’t do it all effectively by yourself, but it can be difficult to put your trust in someone else. And you might question, will it be worth it?

There’s one way to find out.

Have you used an  independent contractor as a personal assistant in your solo business? What tips do you have to share with other solopreneurs?

(Please note that the content of this post is for informational purposes only and in now way should be considered legal advice.)

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

Have you subscribed to my blog yet? RSS or email – the choice is yours! 

 

 

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do Unto Vendors – Being a Good Customer

It’s Not Right to Not Treat Vendors RightShaking hands

Treating customers right is a no-brainer, but being a good customer doesn’t always come as naturally.

As solopreneurs and small business owners, we want things done. We want things done now. We want things done right. We want things done at the right price.

Yes, we can be a demanding lot!

While we tend to at times bend over backwards to please our clients, we can be tough in equal proportion on those who provide us with services and products. It’s not wrong to expect quality, punctuality, and value, but it is wrong to treat vendors with a lack of respect and unreasonable demands.

How to Be a Good Customer

Are you the kind of customer you would welcome with open arms?

  • Are you courteous…freely using “please” and “thank you”?
  • Do you provide enough detailed information so vendors can do what they need to do effectively?
  • Do you pay attention to the work vendors have completed and let them know early on in a project if you’ll need any adjustments?
  • Do you have reasonable expectations for when a project should be completed?
  • Do you respond promptly to vendors’ questions?
  • Do you have a clear vision about what you want before you ask vendors to do work for you?
  • Are you willing to pay a fair price for expertise and quality work?
  • Are you understanding of delays due to unforeseen circumstances that are out of your vendors’ control?
  • Do you show interest in and work toward forging ongoing professional relationships with vendors?
  • Do you freely show appreciation of the work your vendors do for you?
  • Do you write recommendations on Linkedin?
  • Do you refer colleagues to your vendors?

Why Do Unto Vendors?

Besides the simple fact that treating others well is the right thing to do, treating vendors well has its business perks as well . By being a great customer, you build goodwill, trust and loyalty. Just as those things are important with your customers, they can lead to unexpected benefits when developed with vendors. You might find that your vendors will give you extras at either discounted rates or for free. You might gain new business through referrals from your vendors. You might find that vendors are more willing and able to accommodate the occasional rush order when you’re faced with an emergency need.

And on top of it all, word gets around. Vendors are part of the business community as a whole, which means they talk with other business owners and professionals about their experiences with other business owners and professionals. What would you want those conversations to sound like when your name enters the discussion?

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

6 Ways to Make the Most of Working with a Freelance Writer on your Marketing Projects

Not everyone has the time or the talent to write their own marketing content for their businesses. When you’re running aPen and notebook small business, you’ve got multiple other tasks to tend to that aren’t quite as easy to outsource. And honestly, unless you really have the chops to write content yourself, it will pay you in the long run to farm your writing out to someone who does.

Working with a freelance writer can save the day, and it can save you a ton of time. But before you outsource your marketing content writing, here are some things you need to think about and do to make sure you’ll get the most for your money – and give freelance writers what they need to do the best job possible for you…

  • Have a grip on your brand personality and your value proposition.
    If you’re not in tune with your brand’s value and what’s unique about it, now might not be the best time to bring in a freelance writer to help you with your projects. Some writers might have enough marketing experience to help you find your way, but not all are equipped to – or will want to – serve as your marketing strategist. If you’re struggling with your overall marketing strategy, there are free resources (like SCORE) and for-hire marketing consultants out there who can help you get on firm ground. After you’ve planted your feet is when you’ll be able to give a writer better insight into what  should be highlighted in your marketing messaging.
  • Share what you know about your customers.
    The more info you can share about your target market, the better your writer will be able to tailor the messages – and call to actions – to your audience.
  • Share what you want to accomplish.
    Though your writer will most likely not be the person managing and tracking the results of a marketing project or campaign, the more you can share with them about your goals, the better able they will be to craft a particular marketing piece so that it will fit into your master strategy.
  • Plan ahead and set a realistic deadline.
    Keep in mind that established and reputable writers will have multiple clients, and that means they probably can’t drop everything to work on a project that you didn’t plan far enough in advance for. If you’ve got a marketing project in mind, contact your writer as soon as possible to get a quote and make a commitment so you can get on their radar and their project calendar. Note that some writers will take on eleventh hour work, but prepare to pay extra for it.
  • Share any specific details that you want to include in the content.
    Tell writers if there are particulars that absolutely need to appear in the content. Don’t assume that a writer will just know what’s most important to you and your brand. Point them to web links with relevant info, email them a list of bullet points, and email them documents that give them the details they’ll need. And be sure that writers know (in advance of quoting you a rate and signing a contract) which pieces of info you’ll be providing directly to them and what elements they’ll need to research. Writers factor research time into their project quotes, so it’s important to be clear about what you can provide to them and what you’re expecting them to round up.
  • Provide timely feedback and communicate it clearly – via email
    To keep your project moving, try to review draft content and provide feedback as promptly as possible. Some writers will only honor revisions up to a certain amount of days after they submitted their initial draft to you. And some will commit to a limited number of revisions. To avoid extra cost and to address changes when your project is fresh in everyone’s mind, get back to your writer as quickly as you can and communicate change requests as clearly as possible so the next draft will be the final one (or very close to it!). And communicate changes in writing via email. Having a “paper trail” of what you discussed makes things easier for all!

By paying mind to these things, not only will you get the most for your outsourcing dollars, but you’ll also be setting the stage for a professional relationship that will give you great marketing content – and streamline your efforts – as it progresses. The more writers work with you, the greater their understanding of your business and your brand – which means they’ll consistently produce content that’s the right fit, and they’ll need less and less supervisory time from you on projects.

And now for what you think! If you’ve worked with freelance marketing writers, what other tips can you share to make the most of those relationships?

Image courtesy of maya picture / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why Small Biz Owners Need to Make It Personal

Using social media to market a business requires a lot of time (no news flash there!) – particularly if you’re serious about Social Media Interactionmaking your efforts pay off. And it’s no secret that small business owners struggle with maintaining the consistency needed to really do social media well, so some delegate or outsource their posting and engagement to some degree.

While there’s no shame in getting a little help with your social media, it’s important that you, as the business owner, never ever divest yourself completely of being engaged. Even with someone managing your accounts, you personally need to stay in tune with what’s happening on your pages – and make it known that you are personally interested in interacting with others in your online business community.

So how do you show some love to other entrepreneurs and customers so you’re generating a steady supply of goodwill and stay in good standing?

Make sure that you – via your personal social media accounts – follow, like, circle, pin and connect with the same organizations and businesses your business social media accounts are connected with. And then follow through and interact with them as your own personal self.

And that’s important why?

You’re an ambassador for your brand.
As a small business owner, most people probably recognize you as the lead spokesperson for your brand. When you generate goodwill by interacting with other businesses, you’re projecting that goodwill on your brand as well.

You won’t overload your brands’ followers’ and fans’ news feeds with likes and comments on posts that may not be interesting to them.
This is particularly true with Facebook! I’ve already unliked Facebook business pages because they littered my news feed with that stuff. Friends of your personal Facebook profile, however, will likely have a higher tolerance for seeing your likes and comments. After all, most of their other friends are liking and commenting on posts in abundance as well.

Your personal endorsement means something.
Because businesses recognize that not all business owners are doing their own social media posting, a like, +1, or comment directly from you is more easily identified as genuine and real. The fact that you, the small business owner, took the time to personally interact demonstrates that you care. And that can facilitate stronger relationships online and offline.

Certainly, it does require some time to take inventory of the key companies and organizations your business accounts are connected with on your social media channels, but after some initial effort to align your personal accounts with them, keeping on top of it won’t be quite so bad. If you’re strapped for time – as so many small business owners are – identifying those connections is something that can very easily be delegated or outsourced. But from there, you’ll need to let your own personal sense of social savvy be your guide. There’s no satisfactory substitute for you and your voice when it comes reinforcing your personal commitment to building relationships for your small business in the professional community.

Your turn? What brand benefits have you discovered by connecting personally with other business on social media?

Image courtesy of AdamR / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Help Wanted! When It’s Time for Solopreneurs to Outsource

Professional services solopreneurs know the term “outsource” intimately. We’re generally the folks who certain projectsHelp Wanted or responsibilities are outsourced to. But sometimes the tables need to turn and WE need to do some outsourcing of our own.

In our familiarity with performing as our own “one man/woman show,” the thought of handing over business tasks to an outsider can cause some uneasiness (and even queasiness!). Delegating isn’t always one of our strongest skill sets as solopreneurs.

But not letting go of responsibilities when the time is ripe for change can wreak havoc on you and your business in a number of ways. Holding onto tasks that would be better done by someone else will…

  • Limit the time you have to grow your business (i.e. networking and business development to generate leads).
  • Result in errors if you just don’t have the mindset, skills or time to accurately tend to certain areas of business (e.g. bookkeeping).
  • Drain your energy and adversely affect the quality of your billable work.
  • Push your stress level through the roof.

How do you know it’s time to start outsourcing?

  • If you’re ineffective in a particular area of your operations, it might be a good time to outsource.
  • If you genuinely despise tackling a task, it might be a good time to outsource.
  • If you need to get out of your office and get your feet on the street to nurture leads and give more sales presentations, it might be a good time to outsource.
  • If you have an abundant client base and more billable work than you can shake a stick at, it might be a good time to outsource.
  • If you can’t find downtime and carve out adequate time to enjoy family and friends, it might be a good time to outsource.

If you’ve come to the realization that you really should consider outsourcing, now you’re probably wondering, “But what duties should I outsource?” Great question!

Here are some ideas to help you get your solo-brain thinking about where you might gain some efficiency – and time to do what you love to do best – by entrusting work to another professional.

  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Competitive research
  • Blog writing
  • Sending thank you notes or Christmas cards
  • Proofreading of important communications and collateral
  • House cleaning (not necessarily a business task, but it will buy you back some much needed time)
  • Social media assistance
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Logging data into spreadsheets
  • Website updates
  • Event planning

Really, the options are nearly limitless because you’ll find virtual assistants and other solopreneurs who offer an array of services to accomplish whatever tasks you decide are better left to someone who has the dedicated time and specific talent for doing them.

Of course, the rub is that you will need to relinquish some of your hard-earned dollars in the process. Ouch! Though your situation will be different from another solopreneur’s, the odds are that you’ll find what you pay to outsource the work will be worth it. Until you factor in what your time is worth and that it probably takes you much longer to accomplish the tasks than it will for your contractor to handle it, outsourcing will likely make good financial sense. Be sure, however, to compare rates, expertise, and references of your potential candidates before committing. First and foremost, you want to find someone who is not only capable of handling the tasks given to them with little or no oversight, but who is also committed to your success as a solopreneur.

I’d love to hear from you about your outsourcing successes – and about any advice that you’re willing to give if you’ve had less-than-stellar experiences with contracting work out to others. Please comment and share! 

5 Things a Freelance Writer Can Do to Make You Look Better in 2012

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Occasionally, I run into a blank stare when I tell someone I’m a freelance writer. And in all fairness to the folks doing theHow a freelance writer can make you look good in 2012 staring, the job title is rather vague. It’s not always easy to determine what value hiring a freelance writer might provide. Sometimes professionals need a freelance writer and don’t even realize it.

So, how can a freelance writer make you look better in 2012?

Add Polish to Your Profiles on Social Media Networks and Online Directories

Sometimes prospective clients will find you on your social media networks before they visit your website. The first impression you make on Linkedin, your Facebook page, Google +, Twitter, Manta, Hot Frog and other online spaces can draw people in or push them away. A freelance writer can tweak and tune your profile content to make it interesting, professional, and consistent across all your online points of presence.

Give your Resume a Facelift

If your resume isn’t using the right power words and putting enough emphasis on your career highlights and accomplishments, it may be getting lost in the shuffle. A freelance writer can bring out your professional best and help get you noticed by prospective employers.

Refresh Your Web Content

Some freelance writers have experience in writing website content that’s reader-friendly and helps improve how your site ranks in searches. Make sure you hire one who has some experience in web-writing – it’s different than writing for print publications.

Ghostwrite or Edit Your Blog articles, Newsletters and White Papers

I’ve met positively brilliant professionals who are enviable experts in their fields, but they don’t quite have a knack for communicating their know-how clearly to others. If that sounds like you, a freelance writer can help by taking either your bullet-pointed notes or rough draft and editing it so it flows smoothly, and captures and keeps the attention of your readers.

Fine-tuning High Profile Emails and Letters

When you’ve got an important message to deliver to key prospects, employees or customers, setting the right tone is nearly as important as the message itself. A freelance writer can help you by writing, editing and proofreading your communications so that they evoke acceptance and understanding from your readers.

And the list goes on….

If you decide to seek a freelance writer, keep in mind that they all have unique strengths and capabilities. Here are some things to consider during your search for the right writer:

  • Ask to see samples of their work; most credible writers will have websites that have a portfolio page available for review.
  • Rates can vary considerably from one writer to the next depending on skill level, demand and experience. As would any other professional services provider, freelance writers should provide you with a proposal that details the scope of work, agreed upon deadline (if applicable), rates and payment terms.
  • Protect your proprietary info with a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement. If the terms and conditions are reasonable, no legitimate writer will have a problem with signing one.

In what ways have you used freelance writers in the past? Do you intend to hire one in 2012?

 

More relevant reading:

Ten Reasons Why You Should Hire a Professional Writer

The Benefits of Hiring a Freelance Writer

Hiring a Writer from a Freelance Site – Tips!

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