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Quit Pining Away For Normal! We Have a Better Alternative!

Quit Pining Away For Normal! We Have a Better Alternative! 594 434 Alicia East

It’s 2021 and people are craving normalcy. They want to see the inside of restaurants again. They want to get massages and go to the gym. They want to hug their grandparents. What they may not want to do again? Wear pants with zippers or wait in security lines to travel for a meeting they could accomplish on Zoom.

COVID-19 has laid bare the weaknesses we didn’t know we had and the impossibilities we would be forced to make possible. Anytime we face a challenge, we have a choice. Do we pine away for what once was or do we create what could be?

What Will You Run Toward?

Instead of running away from a year that pushed us to our collective brink, let’s shift the conversation toward what we can run toward. Toward opportunities to make our systems more effective and adaptable. Toward ways we can serve our customers and clients better. Toward filling the gaps we’ve become so painfully aware of. We’ve always heard that necessity is the mother of invention. In a year with so much necessity, what will you invent?

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COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Can Expect For Business & Travel

COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Can Expect For Business & Travel 2560 1707 Alicia East

The first doses of the approved COVID-19 vaccine have now been administered, and Dr. Fauci said, “We could really turn this thing around” by the end of 2021. So what can you expect in the coming months?

Here’s what you can expect for business and travel as the vaccine rollout continues

Business: Employers don’t usually have authority over employees’ health decisions, but because this virus is deemed a direct threat, they do have a leg to stand on legally if they want to implement a mandatory vaccine policy. That said, it’s still a tricky subject, especially in these early stages, while the vaccine is approved under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Some may lean more towards encouraging the vaccine rather than requiring it while also allowing exceptions in certain cases. Similar to the flu vaccine, some industries (i.e. healthcare) will be more likely to implement stricter policies. Get the full rundown here.

Travel: Many travelers have indefinitely hit pause on non-essential travel plans but may be itching to get out and see the world–or their families–again soon. Some destinations may require vaccinations in order to visit, and some airlines have floated the idea of requiring them to fly. This post says the industry is unlikely to change much in the short term. Even as the vaccine rolls out and becomes more common, you can expect strict mask guidelines to continue, for example. Check the State DepartmentCDC, and International Air Transport Association to verify you’re meeting requirements.

Bottom Line

2020 may be coming to a close, but its effects will last well into 2021. Virtual meetings and events are still the name of the game.

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2020 Gift Guide With Something For Everyone

2020 Gift Guide With Something For Everyone 800 533 Alicia East

As 2020 is about to get a swift kick in the butt by a weary world, we can now look to all the tech, entertainment, and experiences we’d like to gift or have for ourselves while we wait for our respective phases of the vaccine rollout. Here’s our curated list for just about everyone in your life–from the tech junkies to the minimalists!

For when your loved one is ready to give a farewell toast to 2020

Get a wine / beer club membership or a home-brewing kit if they’re extra adventurous.

For your family/quarancrew

If you’re gonna spend the better part of another 6 months with the same people, you may as well have some fun together.

For the crunchy folks

This Wellness Mama list is for the granola-bar making mamas looking for an environmentally friendly/healthy option for everyone from their kids to the grandparents.

For the tech enthusiast

45 of the best ear buds, home theater accessories, and WIFI boosters for the gamers, gear junkies, and media fans in your life.

For the minimalist

Minimalists don’t want things…at least not things they didn’t thoughtfully consider before allowing into their lives. So for people who want nothing, you’re better off either getting something very personal or sticking with experiences. Yep, it’s harder to think of ideas for that than just to grab a mug with the person’s initial on it at Target, but this list of ideas will help. 2020 may have made even average people who don’t consider themselves minimalists reconsider the amount of stuff in their homes.

For the travel lover

This might be the perfect time to buy something for travelers itching to get back out to see the planet. This list sticks to gift cards because, while those living on the edge might be ready to book a nonrefundable option, most people will probably still feel a little safer with flexible options.

Bottom Line

2020 is about to get the hindsight treatment. It’s been fun and all, but I miss hugging Grandma. If you can figure out how to wrap up a sanitized hug for shipment, please let us all know.

Not Even 2020 Can Cancel Gratitude

Not Even 2020 Can Cancel Gratitude 150 150 Alicia East

However you’re spending this holiday, it’s likely different than you expected before the regular old year of 2020 became, well, #2020. Whatever your situation, Thanksgiving is the day we’ve set aside to take a pause to remember what we’re grateful for. P.S. Science says the act of giving thanks gives us more to be thankful for. So whether you’re celebrating alone, gathering in small groups/outdoors, or waiting until next year, there’s plenty to be grateful for.

Here’s some of what makes my 2020 list of gratitude. What makes yours?

Essential workers

Shout out to our healthcare workers, delivery people, and garbage collectors–the unsung heroes who make the world go ’round. Even (especially) during a pandemic.

Friendship, in all its forms

We’ve seen and hugged them less, but they’re still there. We’ve nearly weathered 2020 and 2021 brings the promise of a vaccine and a return to some sense of normalcy. I think we can all agree to (air) high five for that.

Moderna, Pfizer, & Dolly Parton

While 2020 has felt like a decade, the pharmaceutical companies (and Ms. Parton herself) have come through with a vaccine in record time.


Does Thanksgiving have anyone else thinking about potatoes?

Schitt’s Creek

We had a third baby the day the pandemic was declared and the kids’ school shut down the next day. So while everyone else was binge-watching The Great British Bake Off, we were trying to get three meals on the table each day while remembering everybody’s names. It was literally last week that we had our first episode (pun intended) of pandemic-induced TV watching.

More time at home

I know that might be an unpopular one, and I can assure you, it’s been hard for me, too (see that whole 3rd baby/no kid care thing). This has hardly felt like the “slow down” all our friends were learning to love. But not running around all over the place and being together has had its benefits and we will be quicker to take a step back next time we’re tempted to fill our schedules to the brim again.


What makes your 2020 gratitude list?

Filming - Payreel

Need to Film Footage Yourself? You Have Options!

Need to Film Footage Yourself? You Have Options! 2560 1707 Alicia East

Sure, there are as many iPhones as there are stars in the (Samsung) Galaxy. Sure, people are more forgiving about production value right now. And yes, you can send a mountain of footage to an able editor over the wonderful, wacky web. But should you? Are you going to feel good about using what they produce once COVID is in our rearview mirror?

We’ve all found some workarounds for our normal processes, right? In our experience:

  • People are less interested in getting on a plane during a pandemic
  • We are shifting to virtual events and need more content than ever
  • Fully-staffed shoots are not feasible in many cases

There’s so much more to this thing than pointing a high-quality camera (which you carry in your pocket at all times) at your subject.

How The Pros Are Procuring USABLE Self-Recorded Footage

Producing from a distance has become more common. Even shows like Frontline are using this method to get what they need. Ask for a crew that has a process in place for sending you a self-recording kit. Don’t try to wing this one. Without proper planning, it will be frustrating for everyone and you won’t get the results you want.

Who doesn’t love a good kit, amiright?

A crew with the chops to do it right will create and send you a kit and follow a procedure something like the following. You’ve got meal kits, craft kids, Christmas decoration kits. Why not a camera kit? Your crew will send you a package, likely including an HDSLR camera (equipped with a microphone), a lav mic, and detailed instructions on setup. They’ll also include a prepaid UPS or FedEx envelope for the return.

How will I know what to do with it?

Well, cameras can be kind of technical, but the crew will configure the camera in advance to make your job as easy as possible. Once you’ve received it, they’ll do a video chat to work out the bugs and set up the shot. From there, you’ll film a short test shot for the crew to review. They may set up another call to refine the shot as needed.

Then you’ll mail the supplies back to the crew in the packing materials they provide. That’s it! Then you just wait for the post-production magic!

What about cost?

You might be thinking you’ll save mountains of cash by filming yourself, but kit prep/shipping, collaboration between producers/DPs/and interviewees, plus the time it takes to pull this off will still be a big job for the crew.  Even so, it’s almost always less than the cost of travel to produce something comparable. Be assured that they’ll make it as easy as possible for you and you’ll be happy with the result–something you’ll be proud to use post-COVID!
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Less Obvious Etiquette For Video Calls

Less Obvious Etiquette For Video Calls 2560 1709 Alicia East

If you don’t know why we’re revisiting this, well, bless you. But sometimes the things you think go without saying need to be said. I guess? But really. We’ve gathered some resources to help you be your best self on your work calls and there are probably a few things you haven’t thought of.  


Treat video calls like in-person meetings

You wouldn’t eat or do your laundry or stare at yourself in the mirror during an in-person meeting. So give your full attention to your call and look at the camera, not the screen (i.e. yourself). We all understand that there can be additional challenges and distractions when you’re working from home and I say this as someone whose kids have walked through my calls. But if you can be ready to offer a thoughtful response when your name is called and you can make arrangements to keep the time kid-free, you’ll stand apart. It’s a way to show your commitment. And even if no one else knows you’re folding laundry, I guarantee your inattention will show up at some point and in some way. 

Spend a little time setting up the shot

This isn’t about vanity. It’s more about looking alive and not being a distraction. An external camera allows you to look straight ahead, which is more natural, and more flattering, too. Sit close enough to the camera that participants see more of you than your room. It’s been an interesting phenomenon to see colleagues’ and celebrities’ and politicians’ homes, no doubt. But it’s a better experience for your co-participants if you’re the main attraction. 

Consider lighting. You can go so far as to set up a nice selfie ring if you want. At a minimum, make sure you’re not right in front of a window and position yourself to avoid a halo from your can lights. I’ll be reworking my own lighting situation for the sake of my meeting mates. 

Bottom Line

Don’t pull a Toobin. We shouldn’t have to list every single thing you shouldn’t do on camera or when you might possibly be on camera. You can invest in a camera cover or you can simply use a piece of tape. Use a post-it note if you must. Even if you think you’re muted. Even if you think you’re hidden or your camera is covered. If you wouldn’t do it in the office, don’t do it on a call. If you don’t want your mom or your kid reading about it on social media, don’t do it on a video call.  Think of it this way: When you’re on a work call, you’re at work. 

Sunset - Payreel

How to Thrive Through the 💩Storm of 2020

How to Thrive Through the 💩Storm of 2020 967 725 Alicia East

Over a period of 4 years, the Brown farm faced a devastating blizzard and a series of hailstorms that destroyed their 100% of their crops. Gabe Brown’s neighbors were eyeing his 1,760 acres of farmland–ready to pounce on his failure. This, Brown said, was the best thing that ever happened to him. It forced him to adapt.

Leaders See The Opportunity

At its worst, COVID is causing businesses to shut down. At best, it’s forcing an evolution in how and where we work. Everyone is being forced to adapt, whether we want to or not. In this, you can either see an opportunity or you can abandon ship.  

If you want to not just survive, but thrive through these challenges, you’ll recognize the giant opportunity we all have right now. You’ll hunker down, strengthen teams and make business run more effectively. You’ll take a true inventory of what works in your business and what might need to be adjusted or turned on its head completely. 

For Gabe Brown, the farming practice he’d been trained in was not going to work after those 4 years. He had no money for inputs (nutrients) to help his crops grow. But, as he said, “Gabe Brown was not going to fail.” So he abandoned the industrial tilling, planting, and fertilizing model he’d been trained in and started reading Thomas Jefferson’s journals. Yep. He hadn’t used inputs. How did his farm work? As he dug into the long-lost art of regenerative farming, Brown reinvented his practice and 20 years in, he’s more profitable than all his neighbors. Not only that, but he’s teaching the art of regenerative farming–with General Mills footing the bill to boot!

Thriving Through Change

I realize managing through change is uncertain, exhausting work. Give this technique a try. Take a deep breath, and then divide the change process into small, tangible, manageable steps. Brown identified four principles of regenerative farming and began implementing them. No doubt it was a little rocky at first. But he’s refined the process and now operates a highly-profitable farm that serves as an example to other farms, too. He has no desire–or need–to accept government subsidies.

Take a lesson from Brown and identify your goal, then give your team members a series of things they can control. Make them active participants in the process. No matter how minor these steps seem relative to the end result, empowering people during a time of uncertainty will automatically change attitudes, and might even make them welcome the change.

OK that might be pushing it. But wouldn’t you feel better about entering a strange, dark room if at least you had a plan for finding the light switch?

The Bottom Line

A trip to the business section at your local bookstore (yes, they still exist) or Googling “change management” will equip you with endless tips on effective listening, good communication, patience, and a variety of other touchy-feely techniques. But you’ll also need to get your hands in the dirt and just try some things. Even in normal times, change in the workplace is inevitable. But there’s no need to lose your farm over it. 2020 may not have been the best business year, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be the best year for your business.

There are enough variables in your business you can’t control, but PayReel at least helps you manage the ones you can. Let us take care of your contractor payroll so you can get your hands dirty in the real, life-changing work this year requires.

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How Project-Based Work Could Lead to Long-Term Prospects

How Project-Based Work Could Lead to Long-Term Prospects 1350 900 Alicia East

If you’re happy with your job and lucky enough to still have it, this is not the post for you. On the other hand, if your position has been a victim to COVID-19 or you just feel like you need a change, read on. Maybe you’ve thought about taking the leap to contract work but are concerned about the long-term effects on your future prospects.

It’s time to think differently. Here are four ways project-based work could boost your career in the long run:

Get paid to find—or sharpen—your passion

People pay a boatload of money to refine their skills at college. Freelancers get paid to do it! In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell shares the theory that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. We can’t vouch for this particular number, but it is a tried-and-true, oft-repeated principle that practice makes perfect. Once you’re established, you get to bid for/accept jobs that seem exciting to you and decline ones that don’t. As you go, you’ll find your lane and have the freedom to develop it to the point of mastery. Then you can either keep running in that lane as a freelancer or take those finely tuned skills you’ve developed to your next full-time job. Highly-skilled workers with a shorter learning curve have a leg up on the competition.

It’s like a paid audition

Freelancing gets your foot in the door at multiple companies without any commitment. If you love a business’s culture or brand, you may want to make their next project a priority. If you don’t like the experience, you don’t even have to put yourself in the running for the job the next time around. You get to develop your clientele with companies and people you enjoy and then have a built-in connection for future opportunities. If you do well enough on your audition, you’ll get job offers—either for more freelance work or for full-time work. From there, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to accept an opportunity or keep working for yourself. The power is in your hands.

Build your network

Once you’ve achieved mastery in an area, the world opens up. People talk about you. Talented freelancers organically build a robust network that includes both decision makers and people in related fields who will send work their way.

P.S. There are tax benefits

So maybe it’s not a direct boost to your long-term career options, but the tax benefits are a pretty enticing bonus. There are mountains of deductions available to independent contractors (home office, business miles, office supplies, and more). You just need to make sure you keep careful records in order to take advantage of them.  Keep in mind, though, that freelancers are on the hook for their own self-employment tax, health insurance, vacation days, and retirement plans.

The bottom line

Many factors determine whether freelancing is the right fit for your life. Managing your own schedule, finances, and other complex aspects of your career is not for everyone. On the other hand, it may be exactly the thing that allows you to live the life you want to live while doing work you love. For others, it might be the right thing, but only for a season. After a foray into freelance, you may want to take all your experience back into a company job. Whether freelancing is a stepping stone to your full-time dream position or the long-term career path you didn’t even know you wanted, there’s never been a better time to go for it.  COVID-19 is a challenge, sure. But times of transition are a great time to reinvent or redirect your life. 

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Would your company benefit from an Employer of Record?

Would your company benefit from an Employer of Record? 2560 1710 Alicia East

Employer of record (noun):

a) a company or organization that is legally responsible for paying employees, including dealing with employee taxes, benefits, insurance, etc.

b) your secret weapon for eliminating red tape for hiring and keeping you out of court

While you’re not going to find that second definition in the dictionary, it’s one of the top benefits of partnering with an Employer of Record (EOR). For companies that need to hire a lot of freelancers without making hiring freelancers their main business, hiring and EOR can make a lot of sense. That’s because they don’t have time to deal with the administrative problems and mountains of paperwork that come with hiring, paying, and insuring so many workers. If devoting the time to it right simply isn’t feasible, they often have a hard time keeping their workforce happy because they can’t pay quickly enough. They also risk unwanted attention from the IRS because the laws are always changing. Without airtight systems and processes, audits, fines, and penalties follow.

What are some of the top benefits of having an EOR?

An EOR serves as the employer and takes on all related responsibilities and liabilities while employees work for another company. An EOR does some or all of the following:

  • Makes hiring new workers easier and faster
  • Covers payroll management for freelancers
  • Maintains current headcount
  • Guarantees on-time payment
  • Handles all compliance issues
  • Provides workers’ comp and all necessary insurance for contractors
  • Conducts background checks and drug screenings
  • Turns a mountain of hiring paperwork (certificates of insurance, I-9s, E-verify forms, and so on) into a mole hill
  • Terminates employees, administers benefits, and handles some worker issues

Who needs an EOR?

We find that clients with a lot of freelance hiring needs on tight deadlines benefit greatly from partnering with an EOR because it makes onboarding–often one of the most painful parts of the process–a nonissue. They also love that outsourcing many of these services helps eliminate or at least reduce the need for an internal HR department. Since we specialize in these services, we have systems in place to make everything as efficient and smooth as possible. Sometimes, it’s the difference between staffing and finishing projects on time and tanking a project before it really even gets off the ground.

Bottom line

Not every company needs an EOR, but for those who do, it’s a game changer. If you think you might be in the latter category, reach out to PayReel and we’ll talk through solutions for your unique situation. Your life is about to get a whole lot easier.

Do Something Great - Payreel

How to set yourself up as an independent contractor

How to set yourself up as an independent contractor 2560 1707 Alicia East

If you’re ready to take the leap into working for yourself, you can save some hassle down the line by setting your business up the right way from the beginning. First things first: If you’re confused about whether you are/want to be an independent contractor or a gig worker, we define the difference here. If you’re sure it’s the independent contractor world you want to explore it’s a simple process if you know the steps. 

How Set Yourself Up as an Independent Contractor 


  • Choose a name and decide on the best form of business ownership (e.g. LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp, etc.) for your situation. This will impact many things including taxes and your personal liability. For more info, visit
    • Most states have unique license and permit requirements for business registration. This information is readily available online by searching “register a business in <your state>.”
    • No matter where you do business, you need to apply for a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can do so here

STEP TWO: Protect yourself and your business with insurance. Talk to your agent about the following policies:

  • General Liability – protects against claims for personal injury, property damage, associated legal fees, etc.
  • Worker’s Comp – this insurance pays for you and your employees’ medical expenses if they’re injured while working. The amount of insurance required varies by state. Even if you don’t have employees, many companies require their vendors to carry this coverage.

STEP THREE: Banking 

  • It will make your life eleventy billion times easier if you keep your business and personal finances separate. Set up your bank account and get any credit cards you need in your company name. 

STEP FOUR: Marketing 

  • A great way to market your business is through a nice looking, informative website.
  •  For more info, visit www.godaddy.com

STEP FIVE: Equip your business 

  • Independent contractors typically don’t use their clients’ equipment. You may already own everything you need. If not, consider leasing your equipment. 

STEP SIX: Manage your business 

  • Develop an Independent Contractor Agreement. Your larger clients will most likely require you to sign their own such document, but it never hurts to have your own. Either way, this is an important document. Click on the following link to order a state-specific agreement, or do an online search for “independent contractor agreement example” at www.uslegalforms.com
    • Set-up an accounting system for invoicing and receivables tracking. Many independent contractors use Quickbooks or another DIY software but you can also hire an accountant to do it for you
    • Pay yourself and pay your self-employment taxes.

STEP SEVEN: Do something great

  • You did it. You’re in business. Now you can get busy contributing to the world in the ways only you can. 

Still have questions? 

Let us help you. Call PayReel at 303.526.4900 or email info@payreel.com.