An American Editor

December 23, 2020

On the Basics — End-of-year thoughts

Filed under: Editorial Matters — An American Editor @ 10:21 am

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Owner
An American Editor

Hard to believe that the year is almost over! This year, it’s probably a huge relief for many, if not most, of us. Here are a few random thoughts to take you into the new year.

• Worried about balancing work and family throughout the holiday season? I put some thoughts together for my member blog of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE) last year that might still be useful now:

Both freelance and in-house editors (and other communications professionals) might benefit from these perspectives. I hope they help!

• I’ve been wrapping up my year by clearing out some of my bookshelves again, including paper copies of my short story, “Sometimes You Save the Cat …” I’m donating half of every December 2020 sale to the Humane Society of Missouri in honor of my lovely cat, Skitter. Contact me at for information about getting your copy (it’s only $5, including postage/shipping).

I’m also offering my “Get Paid to Write! Getting Started as a Freelance Writer” booklet at $5 off the usual $20 price through December. Again, contact me by e-mail for details.

• And, of course, it’s time to start thinking about tax filing for this crazy year. Among the many resources for end-of-year tax planning, the Freelancers Union has updates on various important aspects, including a new form for freelancers/independent contractors:

Best tip: 2019 brought a new simplified process for deducting a home office — if you aren’t sure of the percentage of your home of the space you use for working at home, you can use $5/square foot. 2020 will bring a new tax form for freelancers/independent contractors, so be prepared.

From my tax consultant, Roberg Tax Solutions:

Best tip: Delay invoicing until January. Every year, a lot of freelancers ask about how to handle payments that we billed in December but don’t come through until January. These usually go in your current year’s tax reporting, especially if the client includes them in your 1099 for the year, even if the money doesn’t reach you until the new one. If you can afford to hold off billing for December work or need to reduce income for the current year, you solve that problem.

• I’m not going to bore colleagues with new year’s resolutions, but I will suggest one thing worth doing to start the year on an upbeat note: Take some time during the holiday lull to update your résumé, website, membership and online profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook groups, etc.), and any other promotional material that you use. Even if you work in-house, these are important elements of your professional persona, and you never know when you’ll need current versions of them. Work tends to slow down for most of us in December, which makes it an ideal time to focus on this kind of project — and it could give you a fresh perspective on the new year.

For those who are freelancers (or thinking about becoming freelancers), this is also a good time to think about how you plan to manage your business in the new year. If you’ve never had a business plan, consider putting one together. It doesn’t have to be very complicated or even especially detailed; it could just be a list of goals — number of queries to send out and new clients to gain, amount of income to earn, organizations to join, events to attend (even if only virtually!), skills to develop, tools to acquire and learn, etc. Setting goals makes it more likely to achieve those new aspects of a business. And yes — even those who see themselves as creative types are in business, and need to think in those terms to succeed.

• We’re starting to plan for Communication Central/NAIWE’s 2021 “Be a Better Freelancer”® conference (which will include useful info for in-house editorial workers as well). If we can gather in person in the new year, it will be held in St. Louis — and since it’s always in the fall, that is at least possible.

Here’s to a healthy, happy, productive and profitable new year for all of us. Stay safe!

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