If you’re like many of us, you’re a freelance court reporter. That means you’re setting your own schedule and implementing processes to best serve your clients. It can be overwhelming especially if you’re balancing multiple clients and deadlines. Setting up your business, getting organized, and using available resources can save you time and money, making you more productive.
As a freelancer, we recommend talking to a tax professional about the type of business structure that is best for your business. As you get started you may just need to establish a business bank account, track income and expenses, and file a Schedule C with your personal taxes. As you grow, you may want to establish a more formal structure like an LLC to protect your personal assets and the business. We’re not the tax experts and we don’t know your situation so please check with them!
You will likely be issued 1099s from clients or the agency rather than the W-2 you would receive from an employer. That means you’re responsible for paying taxes. If you think you can avoid it, think again and stay ahead of tax issues.
Not sure about which expenses you can write off? Check with your tax professional who should be well-versed in small business expenses.
Now that you’ve set up your business in a way that benefits you and keeps you out of the watchful eye of the IRS, let’s talk about other tasks.
When you’re first getting started you may find it helpful to do your own bookkeeping and accounting. Track the amount of time you’re spending and multiply by your hourly rate to determine how much it’s really costing you to do it yourself. As business gets busier and/or expands, it may be time to find a trusted professional to help you.
For many non-reporter freelancers there is a need for marketing and social media to grow their business. For court reporters, you may be working with an agency, like Milestone, who matches you with clients so the need for marketing is less than for others.
While you may not need to be marketing, consider having a professional presence on social media. We recommend this for two reasons. The first is to share your knowledge and experience with other court reporters and those considering entering the field. The second reason is to look the part of the professional we know you already are.
- Complete a LinkedIn profile.
- Post and share content to LinkedIn relevant to court reporting.
- Join and participate in groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.
The reason we encourage a social media presence is because we’re trending toward a court reporter shortage. The more we can each do to expand the audience who understands we’re not just in courtrooms, the more likely we are to fill court reporting classes.
The business of court reporting includes making sure you’re on time, if not early, to your Orlando appointments. Google calendar or iCal sync to your phone and laptop so you’re never out of touch of where you need to be. We recommend reviewing the next day’s tasks and appointments the night before so you can make sure you’ve left enough drive and/or tech check time.
There’s more to business but we think these are a good starting point to helping you be successful in your court reporting business!