Saturday, June 16, 2018

5 Common Mistakes Made by Freelancer Newbies


An ever increasing number of people are turning to freelancing with each passing year. If you are embarking on professional life as a freelancer, you likely have established some solid objectives. What you may not have closely focused on are mistakes that are made by new freelancers with some regularity. Indeed, there are five common mistakes routinely made by freelancer newbies.

Treat Income Like Profit

One of the most common mistakes by new freelancers is treating income like profit. A new freelancer likely had a job before embarking on freelancing. That may be your situation as well. As a result, you are used to receiving a regular paycheck at specific times.

As a freelancer, you are responsible for taxes and a myriad over overhead or operation expenses. You must make sure that you set aside money each month to cover these expenses in advance of allocating money to yourself as your "pay." If you don't engage in this practice, you can end up with a freelancing business in debt, and ultimately financially dysfunctional.

Although the amount of money set aside for expenses depends on the type of freelancing business you launch. With that said, a good estimate is to put aside about 30 percent of your income each month for taxes and other expenses.

If you utilize a payment service like PayPal to receive payments from your clients, you might want to consider using it to coordinate your own "pay." For example, you might want to consider paying yourself a salary or wage twice a month via your payment service account. In other words, you can pay yourself twice a month via PayPal or a similar service.

Let Clients Set Price

Another major mistake that a new freelancer oftentimes is make is letting clients set the prices or fees for services. Although it is true that deciding what to charge in the way of fees can be challenging at the outset, you cannot let your clients take advantage of your status as a new freelancer.

In your own like, you do not go to service providers and name the price for their professional services. In the same way, your own clients should not be in the position to set your fees. You are a professional service provider and need to be treated as such.

As part your efforts in advance of launching your freelance business, establish a fee schedule. Over time, you will be able to determine how and when your initial fees need to be adjusted, one way or another. In addition, you can reach out to other freelancers who provide services in your area. They likely will be willing to assist you in determining your fees for services.

Delegate Routine Tasks

Many new freelancers fail to delegate routine tasks that do not require their professional expertise. For example, tasks like bookkeeping and accounting can be delegated to a professional. You do not need to waste your valuable time engaged in tasks that can be undertaken by someone else.

Other types of tasks that can be delegated in many cases include invoicing, taxes, and managing social media. (Social media can be vital to a freelancer. However, you run the risk of squandering an unnecessary amount of time on social media.)

Spread Yourself Too Thin

Yet another common mistake associated with a new freelancer is becoming spread too thin. By this it is meant that you offer too broad an array of services. Your initial inclination in starting a freelance endeavor is that you will be better served by offering your clients a wide spectrum of services.

You enhance your prospects for freelancing success by focusing your services. Develop a specific niche of a particular service, or a few services, through which you ultimately can be recognized as an expert.

Say Yes to Everything

On a related note, another mistake a new freelancer makes is to accept every offer or request for assistance received. Not all proposed jobs, gigs, or projects are the same. You must be selective about the projects you select. You must learn to say "no." Saying no and setting boundaries are vital to freelancing success in the short and long term.

Make sure that projects you select from prospective clients are a good fit as far as your interests and abilities are concerned. You will also want to select projects that you will have a better chance of enjoying. Nothing is worse than being a new freelancer faced with projects you do not like to undertake.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Enhance Your Home's Value with Solar Panels


There are a variety of benefits to be derived from installing solar panels at your residence. These include lowering energy costs and lessening the environmental impact your residence has on the surrounding world.

If you elect to install solar panels at your home, you are likely to enjoy another significant benefit. Solar panels will nearly always increase the market value of your residence.

Research by United States Department of Energy

The United States Department of Energy has overseen a recent research study that examines how sustainable features increase the value of a home. These sustainable features include rooftop solar panels. The end result of this study is that appraisers need to include solar panels into an overall calculation of home value.

The research study was conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. The study examined sales data from approximately 23,000 homes in eight states. The study covered a time period from 2002 to 2013. Of the residences included in the study, about 4,000 of the homes had solar photovoltaic systems. Of these systems, all of them owned as opposed to being leased through some sort of solar energy enterprise.

Specific Research Study Findings

The researchers learned that home buyers were willing to pay a premium for a residence that came complete with a solar energy system. The average premium as about $15,000 for a residence that has an average-size solar photovoltaic system. An average system is defined as 3.6 kilowatts, or 3,600 watts. This breaks down to a price increase on the value of a home of about $4 for every watt of energy generated through a solar system.

This particular study involved more sales of homes with solar systems than did previous research. This study is considered to be particularly "robust" in regard to the number of homes involved in it.

Increase in the Number of Home Solar Systems

Over the course of the past 10 years, the number of residences in which solar panels have been installed has been on the increase. This is significantly a result of the fact that the costs associated with residential solar systems has been dropping. Currently, over 500,000 U.S. residences have solar systems in place.

Real Estate Professionals and Home Solar Systems

Despite the results of this research study, and related data, real estate professionals have been somewhat behind the curb in appreciating how solar systems increase the inherent value of a residence. This includes agents, brokers, appraisers, and lenders.

Fannie Mae and Residential Solar Energy Systems

Fannie Mae, a major player in the home mortgage market, has been relatively proactive when it comes to the impact solar energy systems have on residential property. Fannie Mae issued guidelines specifying how an appraiser needs to analyze a solar system in light of the prevailing real estate market.

The Fannie Mae guidelines are described as having "critical verbiage: designed to provide specific guidance regarding addressing the impact solar panels have on the overall value of residential real estate.

Leased Residential Solar Energy Systems

As referenced previously, this particular study addressed only residential solar energy systems that are owned by the homeowner. The study excluded leased systems from the mix.

The recommendation from this initial research is that further research on the impact of leased systems needs to be conducted. The thought is that even a leased system that is not owned outright by a homeowner does contribute in some manner to the market value of a home.

There are a number of factors to bear in mind when it comes to a leased system. First, some of these systems are designed with the ultimate objective of transferring ownership to the homeowner at the end of a specific lease term. Second, in other scenarios, the lease continues indefinitely with the exiting homeowner. The issue in both situations (when the lease is active) is does the property interest transfer to a new homeowner. There are differences in this regard among different agreements.

Residential Solar System Trends

Most industry analysts predict that an ever increasing number of residences in the United States will feature rooftop solar panels and associated solar energy systems. One of the primary reasons this trend is expected to continue into the future is because the coasts associated with these systems is expected to continue to drop.

A second reason why these systems are expected to become even more prevalent arises from the fact that more and more homeowners are becoming interested in "green homes." Installing a solar energy system represents one of the surest ways that a homeowner can have a more positive impact on the environment.

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Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Federal Steel Supply, Inc., a leading steel tubing suppliers of carbon, alloy and stainless steel pipe, tubes, fittings and flanges

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

4 Essential Personal Branding Tips

The importance of branding cannot be understated. If you are a professional, if you are an entrepreneur or otherwise in business for yourself, you need to develop your own personal brand. Once you create a personal brand, you need to develop strategies to maintain it and enhance it as time goes on. Appreciating what is involved in personal branding, there are four essential tips that you need to bear in mind.

What is a Personal Brand?

A personal brand is a mechanism through which people remember you. A personal brand is more than a logo, trademark, or some other type of designed embellishment. Rather, a personal brand is the sum total of how you personally present yourself in a business or professional setting. Your business, or one with which you are associated, has its own brand. You personal brand builds you and your business. Despite this duality, your personal brand always focuses on your as an individual.

Stand Out

When considering your personal brand, you need to keep your eyes and mind focused on coming up with concepts that make you stand out. By indicating that you need to come up with a brand concept that permits you to stand out, you don't want the final result to be branding that is garish or overpowering. Thus, when working on your personal branding ideas, when you think of stand out, consider that to mean stand apart.
No matter the underlying motivation or necessity for a personal brand, the fact is that a prime reason for pursuing this type of branding is to obtain an edge over the competition, both for yourself and your business. Thus, while you can consider what other individuals similarly situated to you are doing in regard to personal branding, you must not mimic the concepts pursued by others. Indeed, in doing comparison research, you need to make note of what not to do in light of what others are doing.  
On a related note, when it comes to developing a personal brand that stands out, you are not only attempting to distinguish yourself among competitors. Rather, your personal brand is also intended to aid you in standing out among people within your business as well (assuming that you are not the owner).

Convey Your Story

Another essential element associated with personal branding is the need to convey your story, not the story of your business or professional endeavors. Your business, your professional endeavors represent only part, but certainly not all, of who you are.
Conveying your story has two parts. First, your brand needs to compelling that it captures the interest of others and makes them want to hear and read about your. Second, and perhaps even more importantly, your story needs to be so compelling that it motivates others to share it. In many ways that represents ultimate success in personal branding when other people begin not merely "singing your praises," but begin to relay the sum and substance of your story to others.

Utilize a Core Concept

When you are developing your personal brand, you cannot be diffuse and scattered in that process. You need to recognize a core concept that best recognizes what you want to be at the heart of your personal brand.
For example, if you are an attorney that is developing a personal brand, examples of meaningful core concepts might include honesty, tenacity, fighter, and other traits possessed by a lawyer and of value to a client.

Substance Over Style -- Always

Finally, when developing your own personal brand, you must always put substance over style. For example, the first step you take in developing your personal brand should not be designing a logo. In many cases, an individual embarking on developing a personal brand comes up with a logo as the first step in the process.
The reason this is not typically a proper first step in developing a personal brand is that a logo presented at the outset would lack meaning. A logo at this juncture literally would be style over substance, rather than the other way around.
Once you establish essential substance around your self and brand, you can then embark on creating a meaningful logo. Moreover, once a logo is backed up by substance, it can be used as a means of enhancing your brand. You can even incorporate your logo on items used to present and promote your brand, including items like custom USB flash drives or other items that you can convey to others as tools to remember and recognize you and your personal brand.

Monday, May 7, 2018

5 Common Mistakes Made by Freelancer Newbies

An ever increasing number of people are turning to freelancing with each passing year. If you are embarking on professional life as a freelancer, you likely have established some solid objectives. What you may not have closely focused on are mistakes that are made by new freelancers with some regularity. Indeed, there are five common mistakes routinely made by freelancer newbies.

Treat Income Like Profit

One of the most common mistakes by new freelancers is treating income like profit. A new freelancer likely had a job before embarking on freelancing. That may be your situation as well. As a result, you are used to receiving a regular paycheck at specific times.
As a freelancer, you are responsible for taxes and a myriad over overhead or operation expenses. You must make sure that you set aside money each month to cover these expenses in advance of allocating money to yourself as your “pay.” If you don’t engage in this practice, you can end up with a freelancing business in debt, and ultimately financially dysfunctional.
Although the amount of money set aside for expenses depends on the type of freelancing business you launch. With that said, a good estimate is to put aside about 30 percent of your income each month for taxes and other expenses.
If you utilize a payment service like PayPal to receive payments from your clients, you might want to consider using it to coordinate your own “pay.” For example, you might want to consider paying yourself a salary or wage twice a month via your payment service account. In other words, you can pay yourself twice a month via PayPal or a similar service.

Let Clients Set Price

Another major mistake that a new freelancer oftentimes is make is letting clients set the prices or fees for services. Although it is true that deciding what to charge in the way of fees can be challenging at the outset, you cannot let your clients take advantage of your status as a new freelancer.
In your own like, you do not go to service providers and name the price for their professional services. In the same way, your own clients should not be in the position to set your fees. You are a professional service provider and need to be treated as such.
As part your efforts in advance of launching your freelance business, establish a fee schedule. Over time, you will be able to determine how and when your initial fees need to be adjusted, one way or another. In addition, you can reach out to other freelancers who provide services in your area. They likely will be willing to assist you in determining your fees for services.

Delegate Routine Tasks

Many new freelancers fail to delegate routine tasks that do not require their professional expertise. For example, tasks like bookkeeping and accounting can be delegated to a professional. You do not need to waste your valuable time engaged in tasks that can be undertaken by someone else.
Other types of tasks that can be delegated in many cases include invoicing, taxes, and managing social media. (Social media can be vital to a freelancer. However, you run the risk of squandering an unnecessary amount of time on social media.)

Spread Yourself Too Thin

Yet another common mistake associated with a new freelancer is becoming spread too thin. By this it is meant that you offer too broad an array of services. Your initial inclination in starting a freelance endeavor is that you will be better served by offering your clients a wide spectrum of services.
You enhance your prospects for freelancing success by focusing your services. Develop a specific niche of a particular service, or a few services, through which you ultimately can be recognized as an expert.

Say Yes to Everything

On a related note, another mistake a new freelancer makes is to accept every offer or request for assistance received. Not all proposed jobs, gigs, or projects are the same. You must be selective about the projects you select. You must learn to say “no.” Saying no and setting boundaries are vital to freelancing success in the short and long term.
Make sure that projects you select from prospective clients are a good fit as far as your interests and abilities are concerned. You will also want to select projects that you will have a better chance of enjoying. Nothing is worse than being a new freelancer faced with projects you do not like to undertake.

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Faxage a leading company that provides Internet fax service for individuals and businesses.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

7 Part Time Business Ideas You Can Start in Your Spare Time


If you are like many people, you may have an interest in earning more money. As a result, you may be pondering what you might be able to do in the way of a part time business you can start in your spare time.

As an aside, you may also have an interest in starting a part time business in your spare time that is capable of growing into something larger. Noting these possible objectives, there are seven part time business ideas you can start in your spare time.

Social Media Posts for Businesses

Businesses of all types have come to understand the important of developing a social media presence. The reality is that many businesses don't have the time or an understanding of what to do to launch and maintain an effective social media endeavor.

One business you can launch and run on a part time basis in your spare time is creating social media posts for businesses. You may find that there is a decent number of businesses that are interested in your services. Over time, you may end up with more clients that desire this type of assistance than you ever imagined.

Personal Assistant

A second part time business idea that you can launch in your spare time is that of a personal assistant. A growing number of entrepreneurs are turning to virtual personal assistants as a means of getting help and support for at least some of the tasks they need to undertake as part of running their enterprises.

You certainly can be a real world personal assistant on a part time basis. However, you might also want to take the virtual approach. This makes working as a personal assistant a more convenient proposition. This particularly is helpful when you want to undertake this on a part time basis, in your spare time.

Pet Services

A majority of people have pets. A majority of people work. The combination of these two realities renders it challenging for a pet owner to tend to everything that must be done for their companion animals.

One part time business idea that you can launch in your spare time is providing some type of pet services. There is a myriad of different types of pet services that you can consider. They range from everything from dog walking to pet sitting to "poop" removal.

Baking or Cooking

If you have a flare for baking or cooking, this is a skillset that you can turn into a part time business you can start and then run in your spare time. As is the case with pet services, there are a variety of different options to you when it comes to baking or cooking.

Returning to the reality that many people have hectic lives, and little time to tend to the affairs of the home, hiring someone to prepare meals on a regular basis can prove to be a godsend. This is one area in which you can find a nice in this particular area of the marketplace. Other baking and cooking possibilities include baked goods, health food items, and similar products.

You might also consider catering in a small scale, part time basis. A smaller catering operation allows you to get your foot in the door should you elect to do something more substantial in the future.

Freelance Writing

Thousands of people across the United States engage in freelance writing on a part time basis and in their spare time. If you have solid writing skills, this is another avenue you might want to pursue when you are interesting in starting a part time business venture in your spare time.

Tutor

Many people, in all levels of school, require additional assistance when it comes to getting a handle on their coursework. A part time business that you can start in your free time is tutoring. Odds are that there is a particular subject matter that you have an aptitude. In addition, there is also likely an educational level that you have a stronger desire to tutor. By focusing on these considerations, you can develop a select tutoring niche and being working with students, even online.

Personal Trainer

A final idea that you might want to consider as a part time business you can start in your spare time is becoming a personal trainer. You must have the proper skillset for this type of business, of course. If that exists, you actually have a considerable amount of flexibility in working as a personal trainer.


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Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who focuses on personal finance and other money matters. She currently writes for Checkworks.com, where you can get personal checks and business checks.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Improve Your Life By Using Your Money


There’s a movement toward redefining money: instead of accumulating money for what it can buy, more of us want to use money to live the best life possible with what we have––a concept known as Return on Life™ (ROL).

With ROL, money becomes a tool to help you live the life you want. Accumulating as much wealth as possible is no longer the primary objective of your financial plan.

The traditional path to saving and investing has been to focus on the future (retirement) and rely solely on numbers and return on investment (ROI). However, this approach often can be misleading because it doesn’t consider your individual circumstances. “Beating the market” is often an artificial objective because it is not likely to have a substantive impact on your unique situation. Consider this: what does beating the market by one percent less (or more) mean to how you live your life? Do market returns have an impact on how you live your life?

What is relevant is developing a financial plan that considers the following:

  • How much do you currently have invested?
  • What is your current cash flow?
  • What transitions are you currently experiencing, or expect to experience (examples include paying down debt, divorce, concern about illness, job loss, retirement, purchasing a home, providing financial assistance to a family member)?
  • Do I feel comfortable with my level of financial obligations (examples include housing expenses, leisure activities, and healthcare expenses)?

By incorporating these factors into your planning, we can begin to understand what needs to change (or not change) in order to live the best life possible without overextending yourself. You may even be pleasantly surprised to learn you can enjoy the fruits of your labors sooner than expected!

Money does not exist for its own sake. Money exists as a utility that we use to improve our lives.  How your returns compare to any index, fund, investment category, or another person are less consequential than whether you are meeting your own ROL goals. Measure your success against your objectives, not someone else’s. You don’t need to keep up with the Jones’—or anyone else.

In order to enjoy ROL, you need to understand where all your money is coming from and where all your money is going––and why.

Understanding the “why” enables us to create a plan that works for you and your individual circumstances. You may be living above your means and need to make changes to your lifestyle. Or you may already have enough and be able to take a trip or enjoy another experience you have been putting off.

Together we can address the following questions:

  • What challenges and opportunities are you currently facing?
  • What key transitions are looming on the horizon?

Your answers to these questions will determine the inflow and outflow of money, as well as your financial progress or decline. Knowing your age, and how long you expect to live isn’t enough to develop a financial plan that works.

With ROL, you don’t give up the best of life or the best parts of yourself just to get money. The money is there to serve you, not vice versa. Instead of focusing on someone else’s definition of success, write our own. ROL puts quality before quantity by managing your assets in a way that improves your life and provides peace of mind.

In traditional financial planning, the primary components include asset, risk, and debt management, as well as tax, estate, and income planning. All of these areas are essential and necessary for a strong financial plan, but there is more to developing a strong financial plan than numbers.

We all have different values and principles regarding money. Each of us has a history, present circumstances, and future hopes that are unique. By focusing only on numbers, we miss enjoying life now and in the future because we only concentrate on accumulating wealth. A financial plan designed with ROL as its foundation is designed to build freedom, relieve the pressure of ROI-focused planning, and ensure your plan meets your goals.

There is no greater freedom, and no greater wealth, than living the best life you can with the money you have.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Savings: Does Your Desire to Save Match Your Reality?

That piggy bank we remember from childhood wasn’t just a place to store our birthday money and spare change: it was a lesson, a way our parents encouraged us to get into the habit of saving. Many parents even go so far as to deposit half of any monetary gifts their children receive directly into a savings account, just to drive the point home. Adults who took that lesson to heart might set up automatic deposits into long-term savings or retirement accounts from their paychecks every month – a modern mechanism for implementing this age-old lesson. It’s important to have financial goals and committing to a regular savings plan is good first step towards achieving them. But if you treat your long-term financial planning as just a series of targets to hit, or numbers you have to drive up as much as possible, your return on investment is going to be a lot higher than your Return on Life – the feelings of happiness and fulfillment that your financial planning should provide you.  Visit us at www.kjhfinancialservices.com to learn more.