Artisan Blog

Tax Time Checklist for Freelancers

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 418th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

According to 2016 statistics, freelancers make up 35% of the American workforce, contributing around $1 trillion to the economy. If you belong to this freelancer economy, you freelance because you want to, not for a lack of other options. This doesn’t mean you can’t use a little help with your taxes.

If you have not started working on your 2016 taxes, or you are running behind, now is the best time to get started. Check off these steps and you’ll be squared up with Uncle Sam in no time.

Determine what kind of return you need to file. Are you a freelance business as an LLC, or are you an independent contractor? Or did you work as a W2 with staffing agencies like Artisan Creative? Make sure you find the correct forms to file based on your business, as well as corresponding state and local forms.

Know the tax rules that apply to freelancers. First of all, and somewhat confusingly, you need to pay both income tax and self-employment tax. If you are new to freelancing, you may be surprised to find that you are essentially taxed twice, once as yourself, and once as a 1099 contractor. However, half of your self-employment tax is deductible as a business expense. If you haven’t set aside enough money to cover the cost of your taxes, start saving immediately so you can pay off at least some of your bill.

If you made more than $600 from any client, make sure you get a 1099. If you earn $600 or more from any one client, you need to report that income on your tax return. You should receive a 1099-MISC Form from each client by February 2. If not received, you may contact them and request one.

Research tax breaks. The IRS offers a substantial number of tax breaks which give freelancers a wonderful chance to get some additional deductions they’ve spent on their business. Deductions change from year to year, so research your deductible expenses. For example, if you work from home, you can deduct the cost of your internet bill, as it’s used to generate income. The IRS and Lifehacker have good information to review.

Organize receipts and expenses. To help maximize tax deductions and keep the IRS happy, it’s best to stay organized and keep updated records of receipts, expenses, and payments. Have all these things stored and easily accessible to reduce the stress of filing. For instance, if you’re creating a digital archive, Shoeboxed is a great app for storing, processing, and organizing pictures of receipts on your phone.

Stay on schedule. Do not wait until the week before April 15 to file your taxes - if you haven’t filed as a freelancer before, you may not expect it to be so intense! Use calendars - from Google to iCal there are plenty of choose from. Set aside enough time to complete a set of tasks, such as determining deductions or adding up your total income or expenses from 2016. Filing taxes is never exactly fun, but it’s less stressful if you’re prepared.

If you need more time, you can apply for an extension of time to file using Form 4868

Get help from a seasoned tax professional. Since tax deductions change so often, it may be best to hire a CPA to help so you can take advantage and save money. NerdWallet is an excellent educational blog to help you make smarter financial decisions and can tell you which tax breaks you’re qualified for.

Set yourself up for next year’s success. After you’ve filed, be sure to rest, hydrate, and celebrate capping off a year of hard work and accomplishment. If you find that this year’s filing has been stressful, be better prepared for next year! You may want to create a separate bank account for your business and pay any business expenses such as insurance and tech maintenance through that account. Then use your organization system to keep track of receipts, as well as how much you think you’ll need to set aside to pay next year’s taxes.

If you’re struggling with the stress of running your own shop, other members of your local freelance community may be able to help, or at least commiserate. You can find professional guidance and peer support through freelancer meetups in your area, or by talking to a representative at Artisan Creative. If you work for yourself, don’t do it alone!


5 Signs You Are an Artrepreneur

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 410th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Are you trying to connect the dots between what you’re passionate about creating and what people want?

Do you want to turn your passion into a career and use your ideas to enrich the lives of others?

If so, you might be an artrepreneur.

We’re all creative. It’s part of being alive. Yet, not every artist is an artrepreneur.

Artrepreneurs work hard, as hard as any other professionals. They’re generous and love to collaborate. They can thrive in the right creative environment, as part of the right team.

On the blog Millennial Type, Declan Wilson defines an artrepreneur as "anyone with a desire to better others through their art but still have the business savvy to make it a sustainable venture. In most cases, artrepreneurs are artists like painters and musicians. This concept can apply to a much larger group of people who might not view themselves as artists. Today, many people online are artrepreneuring via blogging, podcasting, writing, and content-creating."

If that sounds familiar, you may be ready to take the artrepreneurial leap and start mixing work and play.

Here at Artisan Creative, we work with artrepreneurs every day, and we’ve found that they have a few things in common. Here are five signs you may be an artrepreneur.

1. You create to connect

You believe your work creates value by improving someone’s life. You want a larger audience because it means you can help more people. When you brainstorm new ideas, you think of desires and needs that aren't being served. You know you've succeeded when you've helped others get what they want, or better yet, helped them shed light on what they didn't even know they wanted.

2. You are interested in human behavior

You’re intrigued by others and are curious about why they do what they do. You love learning about the psychology behind marketing campaigns, purchasing decisions, and consumer motivation. You approach the creative business from a place of empathy with a desire to understand the perspectives of others.

3. You know that being independent doesn't mean being alone

You know your best work never happens in a vacuum. Your sharpest thinking happens when you break out of isolation. When you find the right team, you contribute your strengths, learn from people with different skills, and generate work that is more powerful than what anyone could have pulled off alone. You appreciate the bigger picture and thrive when you participate in a larger process.

4. You are the master of your ego

You’re not defined by any one project, rather the integrity and spirit you bring to your work defines you better. For you, life and work are processes of continuous improvement. Although you’re not afraid to defend your ideas, you embrace constructive feedback. Critique is an opportunity to see your work from a different angle and make improvements you may not have known were possible. Every person has a different piece of the puzzle, and opening yourself to the ideas of others, empowers you to succeed.

5. You think like a pro

You agree with the famed screenwriter Steven Pressfield, who writes in The War of Art that “the most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”

While others are trying to catch lightning in a bottle or waiting for inspiration to strike as they binge on Netflix, you show up and do the work, every day. You cultivate a practice, hone your skills, and keep producing and shipping work, with no excuses. When you do get inspired, or your dream project finally hits your inbox, you’ll be ready.

Are you an artrepreneur? Please share your thoughts, and join our community of other artrepreneurs!


Boost Your Productivity by Managing Digital Clutter

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 409th issue of our weekly a.blog.

2017 started off with one mission in mind: manage my clutter, specifically digital clutter.

Somehow digital clutter crept up without me realizing it (or more likely ignoring it). My computer and I were slowly being taken over by multi-version documents and needless copies of files from years back. Digital clutter was leading to distraction and reduced productivity.

An (un)fortunate laptop mishap led to losing all my data. This newly-clean-and-devoid-of-any-files-laptop had an unexpected silver lining causing a fresh start.

A “de-cluttered” digital life became a priority, and I needed a plan to start with.

Duplicate Files

If you aren’t already using proper naming conventions, start now. It’s too easy to get bogged down with multiple file versions with slightly different names. Choose a file naming convention process and stick with it. Whether you start with the name or date, stay true to it and implement it across your team or department.

If things have gotten out of hand, a manual intervention may not be possible. In this case, duplicate file management apps like Gemini or a variety of version control options such as Git will solve your problem. If you are a creative use Adobe Bridge or DAM to manage those assets on an ongoing basis.

Backup and Delete

Once your files are organized, then back them up to the cloud, or to a drive. Back it up and have the peace of mind that you can always find that one elusive file. Delete all non-current files as well.

Say Goodbye

Unsubscribing from emails and newsletters that are overflowing your inbox will give some breathing space. Whether you change the frequency of newsletters or divert them to their own folder, change this flow of digital noise to something that is both manageable and realistic for you. You can use Unroll.me to batch unsubscribe and remove email subscriptions you no longer need.

Unfollow Posts

 Information overload from social media adds to digital clutter. Unfollow any pages that you no longer care about and turn off notifications. Not only do they add to digital clutter, they expand digital noise pollution too.

Inbox Zero

 It’s liberating, it’s invigorating and it’s hard to start, however, once you achieve inbox zero, you’ll never want to go back. A few easy steps can get you organized and help build a workflow so you can get to inbox zero. Tools like Sanebox help manage all those LinkedIn invites, or Basecamp notifications.

2017 is already looking better!

What best practices can you share to managing digital clutter?

How to Invest in Your Team

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 403rd issue of our weekly a.blog.

In the 20+ years of meeting and interviewing talent, we’ve learned that a primary reason people are looking for a career change is often growth opportunity—and growth opportunity does not necessarily mean salary increase.

We hear from talent willing to make a financial lateral move when there is an opportunity for advancement, additional responsibility, learning, and overall personal and career development.

Here are 3 tips to help nurture your existing talent so they are more likely to stay and grow as your organization grows.

Continued Education

Continued education classes are a win-win for both employer and employee. Courses from Lynda.com or General Assembly foster new skills and improve work performance, while giving employees an opportunity to learn and grow. Consider flex time to attend classes or subsidizing a course cost.

Develop Careers From Within

Ongoing training, frequent touch points and an extended on-boarding program helps to start your employees on the right track, and when done regularly, will keep them motivated and better engaged over time.

Encourage opportunities to spearhead a task team, lead a project or mentor a new employee.

Invest in leadership training, management courses and mentorship opportunities with senior level talent.

Encourage lateral movement so employees can formally apply to new positions within the organization.

Invest in Your Employees’ Well-being

Large companies have the luxury of access to features and benefits that small to midsize firms dream of.

If your company is an entrepreneurial boutique firm like Artisan Creative, you will have to be more creative here. Some examples of non-work related investments are subsidizing gym memberships or a wellness program, paying for and rallying around a passionate cause your team believes in, journaling or vision boarding classes.

Another option is to host Lunch & Learn quarterly in the office where you can bring in a subject matter expert on a variety of topics such as Nutrition, Health or even Mindfulness.

At Artisan we wanted to learn how to play to our team member’s strengths and brought in a Strengths Finder facilitator for the day. Not only was this great for personal development and growth, it was also a powerful team bonding and communication experience.

We also offer our an annual stipend to our internal a.team to be used for heath and wellness or personal development. Our team has taken advantage of this stipend for fitness or art classes, Toastmasters, second language courses and personal interest seminars. We also hold an annual vision boarding session to share and focus on non-work related goals and aspirations.

If done right and with purpose, engaged employees have a higher retention rate than those who stare out the window wondering what else is out there and eventually leave for an opportunity to grow personally and professionally elsewhere.

What tools or tips can you share to increase employee engagement and retention?


Reasons for Being Grateful

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you.

 

This is the time of the year to reflect on the past year and look forward to new opportunities and adventures ahead.

As Shawn Achor states in his popular Ted Talk and best-selling book “The Happiness Advantage” one of the ways to create happiness and positive mental change is to express gratitude on a daily basis.

Here at Artisan Creative, we are grateful for so many things and wanted to share a few with you.

We are:

  • Grateful to celebrate 20 years of creative staffing & recruitment.
  • Grateful for the incredible, dynamic a.team. Always giving, always striving to be at their best.
  • Grateful for our amazing talent who continuously push the creative envelope.
  • Grateful for our long lasting client relationships and for the opportunity to help grow their teams.
  • Grateful for our furry 4-legged friends who keep us company at work.
  • Grateful for the opportunity to write the 400th issue of our weekly a.blog today.

Below are additional gratitudes from our a. team:

Laura
  • Grateful for my family and their health, support and love.
  • Grateful to work for a company I love.
  • Grateful that I get to spend every day with my husband.

Stephanie

Grateful that I live in Los Angeles. I'm grateful for my health, home, and to have worked with a great company for 10 years.

Margaret

Thankful for my family and friends, my wonderful husband and my "a" recruiting team who comes ready to work every day and is so dedicated.

Jen

  • Grateful for a supportive and passionate team that pushes me to my full potential every day.
  • Grateful for the ability to work from home.
  • Grateful for my husband who caters to my every pregnancy craving and mood swing.

Regina

I'm so grateful for my job! I am so happy every day.

Ana

I am grateful for my family that supports each other through thick and thin, for my long time friends that are like extended family, for my employers that provide an environment to live a balanced life and for my excellent health!

Cammy
  • I am thankful for the privilege of becoming a new aunt to my amazing nephew.
  • Also my family, everyone's health, and good food!

Jamie

  • Working with a dynamic and committed team on a daily basis for over 20 years.
  • The opportunity to learn something new every day.
  • Simplicity in life and communication.

Katty

  • Grateful for the amazing a. team.
  • Grateful for family, friends, health and love.
  • Grateful to learn and grow every day.

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

 

 




Creating and Nurturing Company Culture

Wednesday, November 09, 2016


 

At Artisan Creative, we believe in creating long lasting relationships—with our talent, with our clients and most definitely with our team.

Engaging in an integrated life-work philosophy and staying true to our core values has always been how we conduct business and have maintained our culture here at Artisan. We believe this is one of the reasons for our success over our past 20 years in this business.

We also believe that culture must be nurtured, cultivated and cared for.

As our California-based company has been virtual for over 7 years, we’ve learned to do things a little differently that allow us to continue to build a strong culture for our team members who all work remotely.

Many of our client companies have offices in multiple locations, and the tips we employ with our virtual staff can easily be applied to teams in remote locations as well as virtual teams.

Below are 5 tips for creating and nurturing company culture in a virtual work environment.

 

  1. Befriend Technology! Use Slack, Yammer or any other team communication or collaboration tool to stay connected. We hold scheduled daily Zoom video huddles to brainstorm and share ideas, and use Slack to review assignments and execute our search plans. A good CRM system keeps track of communications, meetings, appointments and client and talent information.

  2. Communicate metrics and expectations clearly— review them daily/weekly. Communicate the vital short-term goals.

  3. Create a transparent environment so people understand their value and contribution.

  4. Come together often. We have in-person team meetings once a month, and team members meet up for talent interviews and client site visits throughout the month.

  5. Meet socially! We have team activities ranging from potlucks, paint nights, bowling and dinners out. We include spouses and partners in the social outings.

Please share any best practices for growing culture within your team.

 


Career Path Objectives

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

 

Career growth and having a clear path to expand your skills is important. No matter where you’re working, or whether there is a formal succession plan in place, it’s important to have an open dialog with your manager. Learn about the company’s objectives and share your career goals to see the synergy between the two. Here’s how to start a conversation with your manager about your career goals:


Prepare and research. Think about the things you do well in your position, and how you can perform successfully in the next role within your company. What are your key accomplishments? What do you have to offer the organization? How can you be more instrumental to create impact? Be prepared so you can be strategic in reviewing your achievements! If there are openings on the team, express your interest.

Have a purpose. When you talk to your manager, start with an objective: “I’d like to talk about growth opportunities within this company. I really like this organization and would like to know how to grow with it”.  Share your vision of where you fit in the future and go into the meeting with clarity to help guide the meeting.

Think of ideas that benefit the greater good. Being a part of a company means contributing ideas to solve problems and make an impact for the team. Discuss your ideas and show your boss you’re willing to take initiative and create a plan of action.

Listen to feedback. Your boss probably has some valuable advice to share with you, so hear what they say. Whether it’s constructive criticism on your performance, ways to improve and grow, or how to get through a tough situation, they are there to help you. For example, if you need to learn additional skills or specific programs for your next role, then you can plan for it accordingly.

Discuss your growth vs just asking for a raise. If your true objective is growth, more responsibility, leadership development and learning new skills, then focus on that conversation. With more responsibility there will be an opportunity to discuss a higher compensation.

Take ownership of your career. It’s your career, so be invested in it.

Looking for creative jobs? We have tons of job listings for all kinds of creatives in Los Angeles and San Francisco! ~Nadia Osman for Artisan Creative

When Bad Habits Creep Back In

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

bad-habits

How many times have you started a new project or committed to an important change in your life, only to fall back on things you were going to "stop doing", overwhelming those good habits you were developing?

Our brains are sometimes just like that garage above. We simultaneously store a lot of valuable information and junk that we will someday want to use. When we feel stuck, or have too much on our minds, we commit to clearing that garage out. And we've all been to many a garage sale in our lives!

To change any habit it takes a minimum of 90 days. At the 45-day mark, we are halfway to where the opportunity for real change is just starting to take hold. At the same time, this is when many of us feel that transition is just not going to happen, so we slowly let our old road/mental blocks creep back in again.

Here are a few things to work on to become aware of what I call " the slide back 45".

Keep a brief journal. Then take a look back to see where you’ve come from, what progress you’ve made, and look forward to where your commitments still lie.

When the slide back starts to take over, recognize it and squash it!

If need be, go back to the basics and start over.

Some basics:

Decide on what you’re going to stop doing before you start doing anything new.

Find an accountability partner other than yourself.

Develop a flexible blueprint, then commit to a plan and live by it.

Take small steps first, then build momentum.

Be patient with yourself.

Know that you have to want to do this, even more than you need to do it.

Celebrate your successes along the way. Use these moments to raise the platform for your next move, one that will be up and away from where you used to be.

Keep in mind that on average it takes about 90 days for good habits to take hold, (after all, you’ve spent several years building up the bad habits in the first place!)

 What pointers to stop bad habits from creeping back in can you share?

 Jamie is the founder of Life Work Integration, a process that integrates passion with purpose and vision. You can reach him at jamie@lifeworkintegration.com & via Twitter @jdouraghy


Knowing Where You're Going

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

 

On a trip to Washington DC, I noticed this group of sailors walking up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a sense of purpose. I could see this with the pace they were walking at and they way they were speaking to one another. Clearly their destination had lot to do with it, as did their proximity to their goal for the morning. 

Once inside, what had started as animated conversations quickly turned to hushed voices, combined with thoughtful reflection. Their short journey up the stairs was complete and they could now fully take in and appreciate the moment in front of them.

 

 A few thoughts on the importance of knowing your way every day:

     Know your purpose, you'll know what direction to head in and WHY
    When you know your WHY, you'll know your WAY
    A plan will put you on the right path
    You'll spend less time waiting and more time doing

As the baseball sage Yogi Berra once said:

"If you don't know where  you're going, you'll end up somewhere else!"

Do you know where you are going  and how you're going to get there?

 Jamie Douraghy - Artisan Founder

Reflection in Your Day

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Recently I found my days slipping away far too fast and at the end of each day wondering "where the time went". I wasn't sure how to mentally slow things down. At least with our body, we can be intentional in controlling our tempo by adjusting to what we need to be doing at any given time: like the difference in pace between sprinting and running a marathon. I found that slowing my (at times very active) brain was not as easy.

 

Often we push our body to a point where we hit a peak and then allow for recovery time. If we don't listen to our body, it has a way of reminding us the next day, and now we have to slow things down a bit to adjust. After thinking about this for a while, what came to light was the importance of taking a similar mental break from a busy day through reflecting. By taking short breaks and using that time to reflect on what is important and giving the mind a chance to recalibrate, I end up having more mental energy for what I am going to do next, (like finishing this blog in a timely manner).

 

The few core areas I choose to reflect on:

  • What I just completed
  • Did it bring me closer to my goals
  • What I am most thankful for right now
  • What's the one small thing I can do today to help someone else succeed


How much time do you spend reflecting and how do you feel after that break?

 

Jamie Douraghy - Founder at Artisan Creative


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