There are only two things I miss about working in a regular office job (besides regular interaction with the rest of the working world, of course).
1) IT – Tech Support. I can’t even count the number of hours I’ve spent tearing my hair out over some computer problem that an IT department could fix in minutes. Or how many hours I’ve spent on the phone with obnoxious “help” desks that are horribly misnamed. My own personal IT department is number one on my freelance wish list.
2) HR. Granted, HR departments can be a big pain in the ass, but generally, they help you get paid, on time, and work out all those little details like taxes, benefits, vacation time, and personal/medical leave. I had a baby last May, and I just assumed that because I work for myself, I wasn’t entitled to any kind of maternity or other medical benefits, even though I pay hefty self-employment taxes. Turns out freelancers do qualify for maternity benefits under the Paid Family Leave program (part of State Disability). Only hitch is that you have to pay for related but separate California’s Disability Insurance Elective Coverage. (Essentially, you pay in a certain percentage based on what you make, and if you go on leave, you get back a certain percentage of what you would be making if you were working. The rates are pretty reasonable and the benefit certainly seems worth it.)
I have no idea how I was supposed to know this. It’s not like I could sit down and have a meeting with myself about the benefits available to me as a freelancer. I suppose when I became self-employed I should have done more research about what was available to me and what wasn’t. But mostly I was just trying to get PAID (and keep my equipment running.)
Now I know. And hopefully someone else can benefit from my lack of foresight.
I’m trying to figure out how this site can best serve freelancers. My original idea was to create a go-to place for people looking for freelancers in various fields. They could come to the site, scroll through the links on the right, find the freelancer that best meets their needs, and contact the freelancer directly.
The other option is to make this site an overall resource for freelancers – using the lists on the right to link to resources for each field – how to sites, pitching and pricing guidelines, funding and awards opportunities, legal advice, inspiration, etc.
mediabistro.com and others are already doing this, though you definitely have to do a bit of searching to find the information you’re looking for. I would like this site to be more straightforward.
Ultimately, I would love to include both links to freelancers and links for freelancers, but I fear that would be too much information for one page.
We had our first official workshop Tuesday night – a tax presentation and Q & A with freelance CPA Jason Stallcup. It wasn’t a huge crowd – about 15 people – but I have to say I’m thrilled with how it went. Jason did a fantastic job of presenting tax information in an interesting, informative, and accessible way. The workshop attendees were totally engaged, asking lots of questions. And the location – Sandbox Suites (owned and run by another freelancer on the list) was perfect. But most importantly it was an example of the Freelance Cafe group working. It was a presentation for freelancers, by a freelancer, hosted at a co-working space owned by a freelancer. Love it. I hope this will be the first of many events like this one.
And if you need help with your taxes – call Jason!
Jason Stallcup, CPA
Also, if you’re looking for a workspace, check these guys out.
123 10th Street, SF
For those of you who saw the old freelancecafe.org website, you’ll understand why I made this change. I know there are better options than a blogger blog for a website, but this is what I know and I’m sticking with it for now. If anyone feels like kicking down about $10k for a real website, let me know.
In the meantime, I’m hoping to make this site as useful for freelance folks as I can, so feel free to send me links to useful resource sites or your own websites/blogs and I’ll add it this site.