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Do You Need To Incorporate Your Writing Business?

Q&A for WritersDear Ms. Wayman:

I’m a freelance writer based in Connecticut and I’ve been a subscriber to your “About Freelance Writing” for some time now. The resources and advice you provide are invaluable. I’m so glad you do what you do.

Although I’m certainly not new to writing, I am slow in developing a web presence. Short of getting a dedicated domain name, for the time being I’m working up a website on “Google Sites” as Goggle calls it.

One question I have, though, about hanging out a shingle like that is whether I should establish as an LLC (Limited Liability Company).

I’m wondering if you have this designation and whether you might have any advice to offer concerning it. I know Legalzoom.com, among others, offers this.


Thank you, Ms. Wayman, in advance for any reply you can offer. Again, I really appreciate all you do.

Sincerely,

DGM

Hi DGM,

Glad you find the site helpful.

I have not incorporated my freelance writing business for the simple reason that they guy who does my taxes tells me I don’t need to. He’s an Enrolled Agent and I’ve found his advice works well for me.

Which says nothing about what you should do! I don’t know a thing about your freelance writing business and even if I did I don’t have the knowledge of law or taxes to do anything but suggest you talk with your accountant or lawyer.


What I can tell you though is if you plan to stay in the freelance writing game for any length of time you need to buy your own domain name and build a website or blog that will let clients find you easily.

You included your google site url and it’s awful! You couldn’t fit it on a business card and even if you could I’d have a horrid time typing it in. You can’t say it easily on the phone and again, your listener probably wouldn’t get it right even if they tried.

It’s simply not that expensive or difficult to buy a domain name and some hosting. I’m quite please with BlueHost and their one button WordPress install is great. They also sell domain names but you get one free when you sign up – something like $60 a year – dirt cheap. Way less that it would cost you to incorporate I think. There are other hosts that are good too.

Find a domain name using your name or initials that’s easy to say and easy to spell and go for it.

Do you have questions about freelance writing? Email me with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll do my best to answer it here.

[sig]

Image:ย Attribution Some rights reserved by Horia Varlan


{ 8 comments… add one }
  • I’d like to chime in and agree with you on BlueHost. I’ve used it for years, ALWAYS felt like the price was right, and the ONE time I ever had a problem it turned out to be a Wordpress issue and not a BlueHost issue – and the customer service guy STILL helped me figure it out! I love BlueHost ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Nice to hear Alicia… I’m liking them more and more.

  • Count me among the pro-LLC crowd. At least in Arizona, it’s an inexpensive and relatively painless task. For me, it wasn’t about liability; I wanted the official business name, along with an EIN (rather than SSN) and separate bank account, because it was important for me psychologically. For 2012, I’m going to be able to contribute $16,500 on my wife’s behalf (she’s a member of the LLC) to my Solo 401(k), so that is a plus that I wouldn’t have w/o the LLC. But everyone is different, and has their reasoning for doing it or not.

    Important note: Even having a registered LLC does *not* give you a federal trademark on the name. I found that out the hard way back in ’07. (Hmmm. Anne, maybe that saga would be a good guest post follow-up to the one you’ve written here?)
    Jake P recently posted..5 things you need to know about writing for freelance writing companiesMy Profile

    • Jake, different strokes for sure. And yeah, a followup with your saga would be nifty.

  • I’m with you on this one for sure, Anne. I’ve been writing professionally for better than 20 years and have yet to find a need to incorporate. You are also correct about the web presence issue. I’ve had reasonable success with a Facebook fan page, and am currently working with a consultant to redesigna and re-launch my webpage. I can honestly say that one of the best things I did regarding marketing opportunities was buy the domain name that includes my own name. It’s not live at the moment, but I own and have regularly maintained JamieBeckett.com as my web presence. I’m very much looking forward to re-launching the pages shortly. Until then, Facebook is a good stopgap option (and your reader might like the fact that Facebook is free).

    • Jamie, I finally moved my professional site into wordpress because it’s so darn easy to update that way. Let us know when your site is live.

  • Thank you Anne for answering this question. I have been scratching my head on whether or not I needed an LLC for liability claims for freelancing. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Mary the WAHM recently posted..WAHM Success Story: Rae Hoffman-Dolan of Sugarrae, Inc.My Profile

    • Sure made it easy when I asked my tax guy and he said no – haven’t thought about it much since.

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