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The 411 on Freelancing for Artists

The 411 on Freelancing for Artists

Make it as a freelance artist.

Hamsa Ramesha | ArtBistro

Cubicle life just isn’t for you, is it? You’re not alone. There are a lot of freelance artists out there — approximately 63% of artists work as freelancers.

Life as a freelancer sure sounds glamorous — the free time, the independence, and the flexibility are all yours for the taking. But there are also scary aspects too, like falling prey to procrastination, taking care of your own health insurance, filing for taxes, and making sure you actually get paid!

Freelancing is hard work, that’s for sure. But in return, you get to be your own boss. Considering becoming a freelancer full-time? Make sure you’ve covered these key areas:


Health insurance? 401k? Worker’s compensation? You may get to work for yourself, but that means no employer-subsidized health plan for you. It’s your responsibility to handle all of the insurance concerns and employee benefits that a human resource professional would normally take care of. You may not have all the bells and whistles of a company health plan, but you do have some options:

Freelancers Union
Joining the Freelancers Union gets you access to a health insurance plan at a group rate. Your company gets health insurance at a cheaper rate because it buys it for all its employees. Similarly, freelancers can get health insurance at a discount rate by joining this group. This isn’t available in all states, so check the website for more information.

NASE (National Association for the Self-Employed)
Benefit plans through NASE come with an Association 105 Health Reimbursement Arrangement. This means all of your health insurance premiums and medical expenses (that are non-insured) are also 100% tax deductible.

Chamber of Commerce
Your local Chamber of Commerce often supports small businesses and freelancers in the area. Freelancers can make use of the CoC’s individual health insurance plans. Details vary, but you do have options if you go this route.

COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation)
Cobra plans allow ex-employees to keep their company health benefits if they resign or are fired under most circumstances. Of course, you’ll have to pay the difference for whatever your employer previously covered, but it’s health insurance that works. Too pricey? Downgrade your plan to a level that you can afford Remember — Cobra has you covered for only 18 months after you leave the company, which makes this option a great start for beginning freelancers.

As with the Freelancers Union, look for industry-specific groups that offer health insurance plans at a discount. For example, there’s the National Writers Union for writers and the Washington Artists Health Insurance Project (WAHIP) for artists across all disciplines.

Next: How to Get Paid >>

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