James Chartrand, half of the dynamic duo at Men With Pens and The Freelance Parent team, Lorna and Tamara, have recently been engaging in a friendly debate about the true start up costs of a freelance writing business. When I started freelancing full-time, I was pretty desperate financially, but I already had most of my business essentials: phone service, computer, Internet connection, virus protection, printer/fax, desk, chair and even a growing collection of writer's books to reference. This made it so much easier for me to just jump in and swim.
The Financial Reality of Your Business Start-up
As you run your business, you soon realize that you must continuously spend money to accomplish certain goals. Money is necessary to:
Purchase domain names for your website/blogs
Pay for website hosting monthly or yearly
Pay for graphic design services for a new or improved website/blog or logo/banner
Add another phone line for your business phone or fax
Pay membership dues for any associations and groups you may belong to
Take any writing, computer or business courses you may need to keep your skills on point.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it all keeps adding up, doesn't it? But the beauty of an online business is that you can start small and grow slowly as time and funds allow. Start with the necessities, build a client base and work from there. Don't worry so much about what the next writer is doing, but do reach out to the community for help and advice when you need it. I'm happy to say there are a lot of really knowledgeable, helpful veteran writers out there willing to answer newbie questions. Don't be shy.
Business on a Budget
If you have the basics like I did, you can get by on a shoestring budget to start:
I used my cell phone for business. Business calls are the only calls I receive, and I make sure the voice mail is professional.
I own an all in one printer/fax machine, but I also use an online fax service called MyFax.com for $10 a month. It even gives me a local fax number and there is no extra cost for long distance faxes.
Quickbooks has a free accounting software freelance writers can download from their site to use until they are able to "trade up" to the more comprehensive Quickbooks products.
I recently used Ewisoft Website Builder free template to build a very simple website. It's super-easy to use.
There are also lots of toll free services available online that can give your business a "big business" feel. Perform a Google search and see what's out there.
Don't go broke trying to make a living as a freelance writer, but understand that you will need to make investments from time to time. Get your basics into place and then upgrade slowly as your business grows.