Category: Freelance Laws and Taxes

Does Being Young Give You a Disadvantage in the Freelance World?

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For the most part, I’d say no.

Most clients don’t care how old you are; all they care about is that you can do quality work and turn it in on time. That’s why you shouldn’t be scared to pitch your services to potential clients if you are young and new to the freelance world. After all, you have to start somewhere.

Experience Is More Important than Age

That being said, experience does help you get more work and at higher pay rates because you can show potential clients examples of your work and previous success. However, experience does not equal age and most clients understand this. Some people don’t become freelancers until much later in life. At age 25, you could have more experience in the writing field than someone who is 50+.

When you’re young, you should concentration on getting experience so that you can quickly earn more money and find better clients. Building an online portfolio of work is one of the best ways to show your experience to potential clients. Once you have some experience, being young won’t even be on your mind anymore.

When Age Does Matter

The only time age matters in the freelance world is when you meet a client face to face. People automatically get nervous when they see someone who looks too young to be a professional. It’s against the law to discriminate against people for race, religion, gender, or age, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it since there are relatively few ways to prove it actually happened. For example, I experienced some age discrimination when I was 25 and on my first business trip.

I worked for an information design firm on a project basis and was assigned to work on a business proposal that had a tight deadline. The client wanted me to fly out to Pennsylvania to work with the team face to face to make the project move quicker. I had worked for the client several times before the trip without any problems. However, when I got to Pennsylvania and met the client, I instantly lost trust and credibility because of my age. After that, the client started to get nervous about my abilities. Luckily, she turned out happy in the end when I did an awesome job and the project resulted in a three million dollar contract for her company.

This just goes to show that as long as you are confident and can deliver quality work, your age doesn’t matter in the freelance world. You just might have to prove that to your clients if you ever meet them face to face.

Clients Don’t Usually Know How Old You Are

Another thing to consider is that most of your clients will never see you face to face. This means you will be judged on your skills and abilities instead of preconceived ideas about your age. There’s really no reason to bring up your age with a potential client.

Ok, so you might be thinking, “What about online profiles?” Potential clients can see those.

Basically, you don’t want to make your age an issue. For instance, if you’re fresh out of college, I wouldn’t post a picture of yourself on your website that makes you look younger than you are. Make sure you always look professional. If you carefully choose all of your photos on social networks, you can avoid the “too young” scenario.

Have you been discriminated against because of your age in the freelance world? Share your experience in the comments below.

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How the Affordable Care Act Affects Freelancers

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Disclaimer: I am not expressing my opinion about whether I agree with the Affordable Care Act or not. I am simply outlining what it is supposed to do and how this affects freelancers.

Health insurance is important because it protects you from costly hospital bills if you need extensive medical care. Despite this fact, many freelancers have chosen not to get health care coverage because the monthly costs are hard to manage. That is no longer an option since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect on January 1, 2014. All U.S. legal residents are now required under the law to have health care coverage or pay a penalty.

Why the U.S. Was Overdue for Health Care Reform

Before the ACA went into effect, people with health insurance had to pay high premiums to cover health care costs for people who were uninsured. This was partially because the Emergency Treatment and Labor Act prevented hospitals from turning anyone away that needed acute care and hospitals had to recoup the costs somewhere. The ACA attempts to even out the costs among all legal residents and get rid of the distributive injustice. The main goal of the ACA is to give all legal residents access to health care at a fair price.

Of course, the ACA also acknowledges that it is unlawful and unethical to require citizens to purchase something that is unaffordable. This is supported by the U.S. Constitution in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3. Therefore, insurance costs are now based on individual earning levels. This means that if you have a low income, you’ll pay less for health care coverage. This is good news for many freelancers.

What Changes Are Made to Health Care Under the ACA?

The ACA doesn’t just make health care coverage affordable for everyone; there are several other significant changes. For instance, insurance companies are no longer able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and no maximum annual or lifetime limit can be placed on health insurance. There are also clauses that make preventative care free and allow people under the age of 26 to remain on their parents’ health insurance. These are just the highlights; you can read about the other changes on Healthcare.gov.

What Does the ACA Mean for Freelancers?

The ACA attempts to put freelancers, and all legal residents, back in charge of their health care. It does this by giving access to health care exchanges where everyone can purchase affordable health care coverage. There are HMO options and many other cost-saving options. Whether freelancers like it or not, they are required to get health care coverage.

People who are uninsured in 2014 are subject to a penalty. It is currently set at $95 for each adult or one percent of a family’s income, whichever is higher. Additionally, the penalty will go up every year. However, freelancers are eligible for a special tax credit if their income is under 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. This helps many freelancers who were previously uninsured.

The ACA has been the cause of a lot of debate, but everyone must comply since it is now law. As a freelancer, do you think the ACA helps you or hurts you? Leave a comment below.

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What to Do When Someone Steals Your Online Content: Dealing with Copyright Infringement

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If you write online content, someone is going to steal it sooner or later…

There are a lot of dishonest people on the Internet who want to make money from a website without putting in the work to create original articles themselves — they are called, “content scrapers.” Someone might reproduce a few of your paragraphs without citation or even scrape one of your articles in its entirety without your permission. This has happened to me more times than I can count. It’s a real problem in the freelance and blogging world.

I hate when my content gets stolen, especially when parts are reworded poorly and my name is left as the author. When your content gets scraped, it can be damaging to your online reputation. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to try and get the offending articles taken down.

1. Write an Email to the Website Owner Explaining the Situation

The first thing you should try is to politely ask the website owner to remove your scraped content. Simply explain that it is against the law and you don’t want either of you to suffer the consequences. Be careful not to be rude in your email because that’s a quick way to get ignored. Some people truly do not understand copyright law and they will remove your content if you ask nicely.

Carol Tice has a nice copyright infringement email template I like.

2. Send a Second Email to the Website Owner Threatening Legal Action

After you’ve sent the first email, wait a few days for a response. If the website owner is willing to take down your scraped content, great! If you get no response, you can try sending a second email that is a little more strongly worded than the first. Make sure you point out the specifics of copyright law for online content and threaten to take legal action against the website. Sometimes the threat is enough to scare the website owner into complying with your wishes. I also find it helpful to leave a comment on the scraped article requesting it be removed.

3. Report the Copyright Infringement to the Website’s Host

If you can’t find an email or contact information anywhere on the website, your next step is to contact the website’s host. You can (hopefully) find this by doing a WhoIs Lookup. Most hosting companies have policies against plagiarism and copyright infringement and can get the offending website taken down. They may even have an easy DMCA form you can fill out. Of course, the website you report typically has to get several reports before any action is taken.

4. Just Forget About It

If you’ve completed steps 1-3 without success, you should just forget about it. I hate telling people to give up, but sometimes it is the only way to save your sanity. It isn’t truly worth your time or money to hire a copyright lawyer over one article because you won’t recoup your costs.

Keep in mind that most websites that scrape content don’t get very much traffic and many go out of business quickly. This is because search engines are now smart enough to recognize these websites (duplicate content penalty) and take them out of the search results. So, the problem might solve itself if you wait it out.

Has your content ever been stolen? What did you do? Leave a comment below.

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