Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Freelancing and finances

I just heard from one of the 60 Percenters who said she was told that if you earn less than $200,000 a year, it's not worth it to set your business up as an S Corp.

I spoke to another colleague a couple weeks ago who did not know what a SEP IRA is, nor was she aware of many of the write-offs we can take for home offices.

I also admit I am guilty of not having the best system for accounting and invoicing. QuickBooks is supposed to be a good program, and I would love to have a demo before buying -- would you?

I'm beginning to think there's a huge need for a confab about freelancing and finances. For the record, my accountant says if your profits are at least about $20,000 a year, an S-Corp can save you THOUSANDS on taxes. And a SEP IRA is for self-employed people, like us, and contributing to one can also ease that tax burden while helping you plan a comfortable future.

Please respond here or e-mail me at if you would be interested in attending a panel discussion with a financial advisor, an accountant and freelancers who can share their best practices. Also include best days/times -- do weekends work or are weekday evenings better? -- and let me know if you'll be willing to pay a nominal fee if you aren't an SPJ member. I'll try to find a central location.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Debra Utacia Krol is the bomb

If you don't know Debra, you're missing out. She's one of the most inspiring people I know. And this is proof:

If you are an SPJ member, this article is also in this month's print Quill that hit mailboxes recently.

By the way, Debra is a tireless SPJ board member who is invaluable to our organization. If you get involved with SPJ, you'll meet folks like Debra and others who are not only good professional contacts, but also good souls who make the world a better place. Who doesn't need more of those people in their lives? Visit http://www.spjchapters.arizona. 

Our regional conference last weekend was the bomb, too, by the way. 

Job posting

(Thanks again to Joan for this:)

KTVK- 3TV is accepting applications for the position of News Producer.

Responsible for the hands-on production of Good Morning Arizona- select material, layout, writing and visualization.  Provide news research. Produce regular news inserts, live/location remotes and non-scheduled news bulletins.  Check wire stories and network feeds for up-to-date and breaking news.  Bring creative story ideas to the newsroom meetings on a regular basis.  Responsible for general content and flow of the daily newscast. 
Minimum one-year newsroom experience or related broadcasting degree required.  Strong writing abilities with excellent grammatical skills.  Proven news and production judgment required. Must be capable of writing news copy to synchronize with videotape, timing each segment and coordinating the activities of others assisting in production of the newscast. Ability to field produce preferred.  Must be familiar with live microwave and satellite technology.   Excellent verbal and written communication skills.  Ability to work well under pressure while meeting strong deadlines.  Ability to work well as a team, as well as independently.  Excellent computer and typing skills.  Basic journalistic skills and editorial judgement for writing scripts. 
Schedule may include early morning, nights and weekends. 
Resumes to: KTVK, Executive Producer, 5555 N. 7th Ave.PhoenixAZ 85013. or fax- (602) 207-3336.  EEO.
No Calls Please.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hear Jana's secrets

Hey everyone: Joan sent me this notice below about Jana Bommersbach speaking on her "secret writing tips" on April 18. I urge everyone to go and learn something.

If you aren't familiar with Bommersbach's work, you should be. Whether you agree with her politics and viewpoints or not, she is a valuable role model for any reporter in town, and particularly female reporters. She is strong, smart, savvy and infinitely talented. She has a monthly column in Phoenix Magazine, and her career spans decades in the Phoenix media. Over that time, she has collected a boatload of well-deserved awards. 

Read more at, including info on her book "Bones in the Desert," about the Loretta Bowersock murder.

Jana Bommersbach is speaker April 18
for Arizona Press Women meeting
            Arizona author and Phoenix Magazine columnist Jana Bommersbach will speak on “My Secret Writing Tips” from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 18, an event sponsored by Arizona Press Women and open to the public in the banquet room of the Doubletree Inn, 320 N. 44th St. (at Van Buren), Phoenix.
The event is free for members, $10 cash admission for non-members, and includes rolls and coffee or tea. To reserve a seat, call Brenda Warneka, 480-778-8776, or write to . After the talk, those attending may order independently from the lunch menu.  
Bommersbach will talk about how she deals with writer’s block, organizes research and makes complicated stories compelling.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Is it so bad to give 60 Percent?

Is it so bad to give 60 Percent? 

As I walked through Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport last time I flew to San Francisco, the Southwest Airlines credit card hawkers were there, as usual. 

I already have a Southwest card, but this one saleswoman was particularly persuasive. Not only was she going to let me sign up for a business card, but she assured me that my business name would appear on the card. (And I got a free T-shirt, X-large, which made a great pajama top for the hubby.) 
As a restaurant critic, I always hope the server is too rushed to notice the name on my credit card. I never looked at the names on cards when I waited tables. But it's always something that bugs me.
I dutifully filled out the application using "60 Percent Enterprises" as my business name. And I was disappointed but not terribly surprised to find that the business name doesn't actually appear on the card. 

Meanwhile, hubby was critical of my choice of business name. His take is that calling my business 60 Percent Enterprises makes me sound like a slacker. Um, guilty, to a certain extent.

On the other hand, is it so bad to give 60 percent? I give my all to every job I take. Everything I write has my 100 percent guarantee that I've given my best. It's just that I don't want work to get in the way of that precious other 40 percent of my life, which includes, yes, taking care of hubby and all the things he can't do because he's too busy with his job. 

Don't get me wrong -- that 40 percent also includes spa days, weekend trips, Tuesday night happy hours, Spanish lessons and long hikes. I'm not slaving away here. But I take care of the mail, the bills, the pool, the house, the shopping, the laundry, the yard, the cats and anything that must be contracted because it is outside my scope of work or skill level, including painting, heavy landscaping and car repair.

We came to an understanding on this. I agree that some people might misunderstand the concept of 60 Percenters, and he is OK with the fact that I probably don't want to work for anyone who would judge me harshly before hearing me out on it.

Any thoughts?

Free tips on finding work; also, the dreaded kill fee

We know times are rough, and not everyone can afford the fees for pay-to-play freelance job web sites. So thank you to Slim Smith, who passed along this FREE site:

Also, Ann Videan found a helpful site with writing tips, editing services and contests:; contact John Clausen, editor:

Some of us also use, and, but those all have annual fees.

FYI, I'm reading on FLX (Freelance Success for short) that many of the big-name mags are folding and thus not paying for work filed. 

And: One area freelancer recently signed a contract with a local magazine that stipulated it would "pay on publication" and got burned because the upcoming annual issue was scrapped. She was told they'll use the articles the next year, but thinks other writers might not be so lucky. That's a couple grand that she won't collect for another several months or year.

Many of us sign or have signed "pay on publication" contracts and haven't had a problem. The Arizona Republic, for instance, pays on publication, and always does (though it can be a little slow sometimes, as previous blog posts have noted). 

Most contracts include a "kill fee," but it's only 20 or 30 percent -- what's the point? Thankfully, this only happened to me once so far (besides the time West Valley Magazine just stiffed me). I wrote a profile of a high-ranking person and before it published, she left the state for another job. It wasn't anyone's fault, but a contract is a contract, and I lost out. It wasn't a huge article and I wasn't crying in my beer (or wine, as the case is with me), but if you're doing a major article with a lot of research and sources, be careful out there!