Trying to figure out what gift to get the freelancer in your life for the holidays? Take it from me: The self-employed set doesn’t want mugs that say “girl boss,” or shirts with the words “world’s best business owner” across the front. And an especially big “no thanks” to any listings for full-time, “real” jobs.
To help you figure out what they would truly appreciate, here’s your gift guide for what freelancers really want for the holidays:
A Vacation Fund
You know Honeyfund, where in lieu of a traditional wedding gift, you have the option to help newlyweds pay for their honeymoon? If only there were a similar online platform where people could help fund a freelancer’s vacation or sick time.
Since we’re our own bosses, it’s not uncommon for freelancers to struggle with having an emergency fund, let alone a designated “time off fund.” Ideally, we solopreneurs should have enough socked away to take anywhere from two weeks to a month off. But that’s not always the case. Instead of buying the freelancer you know that knickknack or plant for their home office, consider offering a cash gift so they can take a proper vacation.
Someone to Handle Our Taxes
If only there were a magical way for our tax returns to be filed without us needing to put in any effort. This is probably anybody’s wish, but between paying estimated taxes and filing multiple returns, freelancers tend to have a much longer list of tax-related tasks each year than their 9 to 5 counterparts.
Seriously, though. If anything, freelancers should set some time aside to do end-of-year tax prep. That means checking in with your accountant to make sure your books are balanced, and you’ve got your receipts for business expenses in order – the whole kit and caboodle.
If you’ve hired independent contractors this year and paid them at least $600, then you’ll need to report payments to the IRS by filing a Form 1099.
Another thing: Did you moved in the past year? If so, make sure your clients are clued in. Otherwise, those W-2 and 1099 tax forms might get lost in the mail.
To Be Recognized as Business Owners
I can’t count the number of times I’ve told someone that I’m a freelancer and they’ve implied that I should get a real job. They think we don’t take what we do seriously or are simply freelancing because we’re in between jobs. While there are some freelancers who do it out of necessity, others have chosen this path.
Most people don’t understand that not only is being a solopreneur a “real job,” but it takes a lot of work and gusto to pull it off. The reality is that many of us work really hard at building and running our businesses. We strategize, map out our goals for the next year, and try to keep the long-term goals in mind.
And when it comes to legal and financial matters, we are in every right small business owners. We’re responsible for our own insurance, self-employment taxes, and business-related expenses.
For freelancers, additional responsibilities and expenses are par for the course. We’re far more concerned about landing enough steady work to live on, and of course, getting paid for the work we do.
With that in mind, one of the most valuable “gifts” we can receive from our friends, family, and colleagues is a job lead. When I transitioned to freelancing full-time, the majority of the work that came my way was through referrals. So if you come across an opportunity that could be a solid fit for the freelancer in your life, reach out to them to see if it’s something they might be interested in.
Referrals for Business Credit Cards
This might come across as weird or hokey to some, but those refer-a-business promos can be the sweet meat of running a freelance business. I’m elated when a colleague is considering a certain card and asks if anyone has a referral code.
When one of my writing colleagues asked me if I had a referral code for a business credit card they were signing up for, it was like an early Christmas for me. I scored enough points from that one referral for $200 in travel. What’s more, those points can be used toward cash back, which I can reinvest into my freelancing business.
I know. Freelancers get a bad rap for being lone wolves. Some of us are meetings-averse and keep the phone calls to a minimum. But among things to be missed about the 9 to 5, company holiday parties rank right up there alongside watercooler talk and the occasional bout of office gossip.
There are sometimes holiday mixers thrown by freelancing groups: Freelancers Union Spark, Working Not Working, and local chapters of professional associations for creatives (such as writers and designers) are all places to check.
But what about organizing a gathering for one’s nearest-and-dearest colleagues who also reside in your stomping grounds? Consider renting a room at a co-working space or convening at a nearby bar.
Getting a gift for a freelancer might not be as easy as checking out their Amazon wish list or buying them a giant wall calendar. Instead, finding out what would really bolster their business of one could be the most meaningful present of all.