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More on a budget than ever, how should a new free-lance writer be equipped?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Johnny Dangerously, Aug 16, 2008.

  1. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Active Member

    This might turn into one of those sticky threads out of necessity, with more and more of us suddenly becoming free-lancers, at least temporarily to have some money coming in. Looking for advice from longtime practitioners, and from anyone with experience with the latest high-tech gadgetry.

    If someone went from full-time to free-lance overnight, what would be the best gear for him or her?

    -- Type of cell phone and phone plan?
    -- Type of wireless?
    -- Laptop model and software musts?
    -- Dump the land line to save money?
    -- Create an IRS-approved office in the home for tax purposes?
    -- Is a land line required for the previous item?
    -- Other suggestions?

    I could be wrong, but it seems like this could be a well-read and informative thread, especially for folks like me who rely upon IT to hand us stuff and fix it when it's broken. Those days may be numbered for many of us.
     
  2. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I pretty much went from full-time to freelance overnight. You've covered most of my adjustments. My wife and I had already ditched a land line and for work I increased my cell minutes to 2000 per month, which covers my needs for phone interviews. And I still use a basic cell phone, that's my personal preference (once I get a Crackberry I know I'll never go back). I'm on my second cheap laptop (a Toshiba), as I'm not techno enough to need much more than interwebs, word and wi-fi. I use external hard drives to back-up stuff.

    Like you said, establish a home office and start thinking of everything for IRS purposes. I recommend an accountant just so you're not missing anything.
     
  3. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    JD, Talk to an accountant, but a lot of people are really careful with the home office deduction. A lot of accountants think it isn't worth it, because it is a notorious IRS flag. You can deduct everything around the office, such as a portion of your electricity bill, but conventional wisdom is that taking a percentage off for the home office might be an audit trigger. Obviously save every receipt related to anything, because it is a possible deduction. Books, magazines, etc. can be biggies. Any cab or public transportation you take, in addition to car mileage and depreciation. Any fees for organizations you belong to. It's actually more straightforward than a lot of IRS BS.
     
  4. PaperDoll

    PaperDoll Well-Known Member

    I know your question asked about technology, but...

    Have you considered starting up your freelance business while you still have a full-time job? Establishing a client base will certainly soften the blow if you are unexpectedly laid off -- or even planning to take a buyout.

    That might also help you figure out your tech needs. If you're working primarily for people who have Mac offices, maybe a new Mac would be better than a PC. Or go for the MacBook and install both operating systems. If you're going to be in the field a lot, invest in a wireless card (and the corresponding phone plan). You could even try out different Internet service providers and find the most reliable option with the best deal.

    Good luck!
     
  5. derwood

    derwood Active Member

    Blackberry is a must. You can use it as a modem for your laptop, connects via blue-tooth hence no wires.

    Set up an account with one of online backup services like Mozy.
     
  6. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Yeah, make sure you have great cell phone reception. I had to switch plans to make it work for me.
     
  7. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

  8. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    You need a point-and-shoot camera that also takes video.
     
  9. BigJim5190

    BigJim5190 Member

    Really? I had no idea they could do that. One of the reasons I haven't picked up an air card yet is that I'd have to foot the $30/month or whatever for the plan - even if I only use it three times a year. Of course, I was out covering something on deadline earlier this week and they didn't have any wireless - or even a phone line to send a story.

    With a Crackberry, if I could just get a wireless signal from there, that would save me a lot of hassle, as I'm in the market for a new cell phone anyway.
     
  10. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    You don't have to have a blackberry to send through your cell phone. Any cell phone with bluetooth capabilities can be set up to give you a wireless connection with your laptop.

    It won't necessarily be fast, but it won't be that slow either. A writer in my old shop sent all of his stories that way and a photographer at that same shop sent all of his photos that way.

    It is a handy-dandy thing to have.
     
  11. Wow, had no idea a Blackberry could get connectivity for a computer. Please explain how to do this (and with apologies for the threadjacking..)?

    As for other issues, and as a freelancer, sounds like you have most things covered. I use a regular cell phone with Verizon; no land line; and Comcast wi-fi is the best in my area. I mostly use a macbook (absolutely bomber) but sometimes must use the PC (pure shyte) provided by a client in order to get onto their network. Client also provides a Crackberry, with data service only, which has proven to be quite the useful and handy device (despite not really knowing how to use it, or what it can ultimately be used for!). Otherwise, it took me a while to get all the office products I might ever need (stapler, paper clips, printer (and cartridges) and paper, pens and pencils, bulletin board, push pins, postie notes, note pads, etc.) in order to eliminate regular, procrastination-driven trips to the office supplier....
     
  12. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    As I said in the post above, any phone that has blue tooth capabilities can be used like an air card.

    You just set your phone next to your laptop or have it in your pocket and voila, you are online.
     
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