Freelance writers are among the throng of creative people who often find themselves in a cash crunch; after all, when you don’t know where your next paycheck is coming form (or when), it’s hard to develop a budget. To compensate, we often go through panic-mode and start setting deadlines that would make a workaholic weep with fatigue. Our savings accounts dwindle into obscurity, and that much-craved-for new writing book wiggles further from our reach.
It’s time to take a step back, and look at ways we can save money from the get-go. Save about twenty bucks, and you could finally enroll in that e-course you’ve been eyeing the last six months. A few well-made decisions and the writing conference you never thought you’d be able to afford might be just within reach. Seriously, there are things we do as writers every day that add up to cost hundreds of dollars.
So, 5 Money-Saving Tips for Writers – or, How We Can Save Our Financial Sanity While Satisfying Our Creative UrgesÃ¢Â?Â¦
Tip One: Nix the Fax Machine
Whether you opted for the stand-alone version or splurged on an all-in-one model, fax machines cost a lot of money. To make matters even more straining, once you’ve purchased the equipment you get to pay extra money every month when your phone bill arrives.
Enter a free alternative, Interpage Network Service’s free fax service (http://www.interpage.net/sub-wwwfax.html). Using their “Free Fax” service, you can send a fax – for free – to any US or Canada-based fax machine. Delivery takes place in less than a minute after you finish typing your fax.
To send your fax, you just enter the 10-digit fax number and then copy-paste or type out your message, hit send, and kick back (and, probably, start your eBay listing to sell the old fax machine and free up desk space).
Most writers only send faxes, not receive them. However, if you want the full-service solution you can still save a ton of money by sticking with this service. Instead of the extra cash and tax tacked onto your phone bill, Interpage’s service costs about $10 per month and you can choose from 9 different packages.
Tip Two: Trade It
One of the most difficult things about being a freelance writer is that there are always dozens of publications that you’d love to get published in, but you can’t afford the subscriptions. It is so important to study the writing style of a publication before you submit work, that if you haven’t done so it will show up in your submissions and earn you dozens of rejection letters.
With the popularity of the Internet, we actually have several options to work with, the most popular one being the Magazine Trade. Use a free classified ad service like LiveDeal.com, InetGiant.com, or FreeClassifieds.com to list your advertisement stating that you have a certain number of what issues of magazines, and you’re willing to trade them for a certain number of what other magazines. There are tons of other writers out there who would love to get their hands on what you’re reading, just as much as you need what they have.
Another option along this vein is to check out the free magazine subscriptions (usually 1-year subscriptions) available at TradePub.com; they offer nothing but trade publications, but will send them to you for a full year at no cost.
Tip Three: Utilize the Library
I’m one of the worst about buying novels. I mean, I’m bad; I will purchase dozens of books each month, of all types. The unfortunate thing about those of us with book-buying-binge habits is that very few remain in our bookcases.
Save yourself a few bucks and visit the library before you buy. Check out the books you’re interested in, and if you think that they’re as indispensable after you read them as you did before, you’ve got some extra cash to go out and buy it.
Tip Four: Ditch the Snail-Mail
More and more, even your writing submissions can be made either online or via email. If you can do most of your correspondence (including the obligatory letters to friends) through email, you’re going to save a lot of money instantly. After all, how much are you shelling out each month in postage, paper, and envelopes? Keep it digital, and you’ll have more cash for the submissions you have to snail-mail in.
Tip Five: Gas Pains
The cost of gas, as we all know, is skyrocketing. Those daily trips to the post office, library, and stationary supply store add up; not only in gas money, but in time.
Come up with a weekly “schedule”, and set aside one day as errand day. Then, before the day arrives, create a list of things you need to do and purchase. You’ll have more time freed up for writing, and a few extra bucks freed up for more pleasant pursuits.
Oh, and another final thought? While you’re going about making a to-do list, make sure that anything needing to be snail-mailed is mailed ahead of time. If you think ahead, you’ll be able to send your work in at regular mail rates, instead of waiting to the last minute and paying the overnight delivery charges.