Words on a Page Writings about writing

Services you should pay for

Stacks of coins beside a calculator

When I started my career as a freelance writer in the late 1980s, my expenses were quite simple and quite low. All of my spending related to writing involved buying typewriter ribbons, paper, pens and notebooks, envelopes, and postage.

As the years progressed, that changed. I found myself forking out for software, web hosting, 3.5 inch floppy disks (yes, really!), subscriptions to web applications, and business cards. How times change …

Every freelance writer I know tries to keep his or her costs down. They do that by cutting out any unnecessary spending, only buying new hardware and software if they need it, and take the do-it-yourself route as often as they can.

There are services that that you should be willing to pay for. Why? You might not have the skills or the time to do certain things yourself. Those services can either help you make money or make your freelancing life a bit easier.

Let’s look at a few services you should be willing to pay for, and pay a good price for if necessary.

Web hosting

Just about every writer out there has a website. It’s a combination of your business card and your portfolio.

Websites don’t appear out of nowhere. That’s where a hosting company comes in. A good web hosting company not only gives you a place to put your website, but it also offers email services, the option to install other software (like a blog), and more.

The better web hosting services out there will charge you anywhere from a few dollars to $10 or more a month, but it’s worth it if only for ease of use.

Design

That could mean designing your website, creating logos and business cards, or even designing WordPress themes. And I only know a couple of writers who have the chops to do any of that.

Unless you want to spend the time and the effort to pick up design skills, it’s better if you farm them out. By choosing the right designer, you’ll get a polished, professional digital appearance. And that designer will do the job faster than you can on your own.

Professional accounting

If you’re lucky, any number crunching you need to do is straightforward and you’re able to do it with a simple spreadsheet. If you’re lucky, your taxes are straightforward and you can do them yourself — either by hand or using tax software.

For many of freelance writers, figuring out income, expenses, and taxes isn’t straightforward. There are deductions and credits and more that we just don’t understand or know about. That’s where a good accountant comes in.

A small business accountant can quickly walk you through the maze of your finances, and can determine what you owe or are owed. A good accountant can also help you find ways to trim expenses and to keep more money in your business. That’s definitely something worth paying for.

Online storage and backup

What happens if your computer’s hard drive fails? What happens if your device gets stolen? Unless you’ve saved your work somewhere else, it’s lost forever.

A good, secure online storage or backup service is worth paying for, if only for peace of mind. It’s also worth having and paying for so you can get to your work no matter what device or computer you’re using.

Is that it?

Definitely not. There are many, many other services that are worth paying for. Services like:

  • Professional editing and proofreading
  • Various web applications
  • Subscriptions to publications

And more. I’m sure you can add to the list.

While paying for services is money that moves out of your bank account, in the long run laying out that cash can save you time and money. Time that you can devote to writing and building your business. That makes that expense worthwhile.

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