When you have a full-time job, you can usually expect to enjoy a number of important benefits. For instance, you can opt to receive health insurance through your job, you can set aside money for your retirement years, and you can take paid days off work when you’re sick. When you’re a freelance writer, it’s easy to assume that none of these benefits apply. After all, you work for yourself—and can you really award these benefits to yourself?
Fortunately, the answer is yes. Freelancers may be self-employed, but they are still employees, and their health and well-being matters. Here’s what you need to know to ensure that you’re able to enjoy the same benefits that you would if you were working full-time for a company.
How Freelancers Should Handle Insurance
Everybody needs health insurance, so making sure that you are fully insured should be one of your top priorities. Since you don’t have an employer to obtain insurance through, you’ll want to spend some time looking at your available options so you can find the best one for your needs. You can get started by looking at HealthCare.gov. You may also want to check out the Freelancers Union, which focuses on providing coverage for self-employed freelancers. Alternatively, some freelancers may opt to obtain an insurance plan through their partner, or through a local business group that they belong to.
Keep in mind that you need dental and vision insurance as well—after all, your dental health affects your well-being in general, and good vision is a must for writers! Whether or not you look for other forms of insurance depends in part on your situation. If you are concerned that health problems may prevent you from working for long periods, you may also want to obtain disability insurance, which helps to protect you from being deprived of income due to health reasons. If you have dependents, you might want to consider getting life insurance.
How Freelancers Should Handle Retirement Savings
Retirement may seem like a long way off, but it’s still important to be prepared for it. You don’t want to have to continue to work well into your senior years, after all. You want to have the financial security necessary to relax and enjoy that time in your life. That’s why you should be sure to think carefully about what kind of retirement plan you want to get. While finding a solid retirement plan is a bit more challenging if you are self-employed, it’s still possible to find a method that will work well for you.
You may want to open an IRA or a Roth IRA account, which you can contribute to annually. Remember to increase your contributions as your annual income grows! An individual 401(k) is another possible route you may want to go for your retirement funds. If you have another career and are not pursuing freelancing on a full-time basis, of course, you may simply want to obtain your retirement plan through your day job. If you’re not certain which option is best suited for you, you may want to speak with a financial adviser before you commit to one.
How Freelancers Should Handle Sick Days
For a freelancer, sick days may sound like a bit of a non-sequitur. After all, most freelance writers don’t work in offices. Can’t you work at home even if you’re sick? While it’s fine to spend an hour or two finishing up a project if you’re simply feeling a little under the weather, you shouldn’t risk your health by forcing yourself to do a full day’s work if you’re genuinely sick. Keep in mind that freelancing is a job like any other—and we all need a break from our jobs once in a while! If you push yourself too hard, you’re likely to get burned out and tired of freelancing.
Here are some steps you can take when you’re not feeling well enough to work:
Get in touch with your current clients.
If you owe any of your clients work, send them an email as soon as possible to inform them that you’re sick. Don’t feel like you have to invent an excuse; being honest and upfront is the best policy. Keep in mind that you’re informing your clients, not asking for permission. In most cases, clients who are worth working with will be understanding about your health situation.
Create an automated email message.
If possible, try to set up an automated message to respond to anyone who will be emailing you while you’re taking time off. Along with helping to ensure that you don’t ignore important messages, this will give you a reason not to keep checking your email even while you’re sick. When you’re feeling well again and are ready to return to work, be sure to read all of those emails you received carefully, so you don’t miss anything important.
Make sure your rates cover your sick time.
When you’re deciding what rates you’re going to charge as a freelance writer, make sure that you are charging enough to cover sick time for yourself. Remember that your rates are effectively your salary, and that you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re not including an employee’s standard benefits in that salary. This is another reason why it’s so critical to ensure that you’re putting a lot of thought into the rates you are charging for your work!
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