PPP success story: How one freelance writer got the PPP loan

Written by: Kaili Killpack

In this 5-minute read:

  • What led me to apply for the PPP loan
  • How the PPP application process went
  • What I did with my PPP funding
  • Applying for PPP loan forgiveness

I’ve been writing articles about the Paycheck Protection Program since the CARES Act was announced. During the first round of the program, I thought it totally made sense who was able to get the loan—and it never occurred to me that I might fit into that category. I don’t feel like I have an official “business,” or even a business name for that matter. I just write articles as a freelancer. 

But as I continued to learn more about the PPP loan and as a greater emphasis was placed on independent contractors with this second round in 2021, I realized this program was meant for me too. 

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What led me to apply for the PPP loan

I began freelance writing again in the fall of 2019, so my “business” started just a little while before the pandemic began and the CARES Act was signed into law. At that time, my job became heavily centered around the PPP loan and learning everything I could about it. This allowed me to write informative articles that would help other small business owners and self-employed individuals learn about this awesome program. And then they could use these funds to help keep their business operations moving forward during this financially difficult time. 

As I mentioned, during that first year it never occurred to me that I might fit into the category of people eligible for PPP loans. But as I learned more about the program in regards to independent contractors, I realized that I was potentially able to benefit from this funding. 

Freelance writing has pretty much zero overhead, but with finances being tighter during the pandemic, everyone can use the extra help. When you’re paying your own taxes and still trying to plan for your future in an uncertain economy, every little bit helps. So I began my search for a lender. 

How the PPP application process went

My traditional financial institution isn’t an SBA-approved lender for the PPP loan, so I had to call around to a couple of different places. I wanted to find a lender that had enough experience with the PPP loan, but that was also small enough that I had a good chance of getting my application in quickly. After three or four calls to different lenders, I found the right one for me. 

Before applying for the loan through my lender, I asked several questions to make sure that I was indeed eligible and would definitely qualify for loan forgiveness. I didn’t want to be in debt. My lender confidently stated that there should be no problem with me qualifying for full loan forgiveness, and that in their experience the only businesses that didn’t qualify were those who had laid off employees. Fortunately for me, I don’t have that to worry about. 

So I decided to apply. And the process went very smoothly. I was able to do everything online or remotely. (Most lenders now have systems in place to facilitate online or app-based applications.) My lender emailed me the application to fill out, which I printed out to sign and then scanned back into them (I actually took a picture of it with my phone because my scanner wasn’t working—so don’t let that hold you back). I used my 1040 Schedule C to complete the application and sent that over to my lender with my completed application to verify the amount I applied for. 

Over the next couple of days, my lender sent back a document to sign electronically and then sent my application off to the SBA. 

Now, during that same time that I was applying, I also had to set up a bank account with this lender since they couldn’t transfer the funds directly to my current bank. That process was super quick and easy too. I just made a call into the bank, asked to set up an account, and did the rest online. 

About a week later, I received an email notification that my loan was approved, and a day or so later, the funds were in my account. 

This timeline is not the same for every borrower and every lender, but for me it was a relatively painless process and I’m glad I applied.

What I did with the PPP money

In order to receive loan forgiveness, there are certain rules you have to follow when spending your PPP funds. At least 60% must go towards payroll costs, and the other 40% can be spent on authorized business expenses. 

As a freelance writer/independent contractor who doesn’t have any employees, I was able to put 100% of the loan towards my own income (also my payroll). And that’s exactly what I did, especially since I really don’t have any other business expenses. 

I wanted to make sure I did everything right, so I asked my lender what the best method would be for me to transfer my funds into my main bank account. Did I need to transfer it over in amounts similar to my weekly invoices? Could I transfer it all over in one lump sum?

He told me just to take out a cashier’s check for the full amount of the loan and deposit that into my bank account. So I drove over, got my cashier’s check, and deposited the funds. From there, it just became my income to do with what I wanted. 

Applying for PPP loan forgiveness

Now, I’m not at the end of my covered loan period yet, so I haven’t been able to submit my application for loan forgiveness. But from what I’ve heard and seen, and with the small amount I received compared to other small businesses, I’m pretty confident that I won’t have any problems receiving loan forgiveness. 

At the end of my covered period, my lender will send over the appropriate forgiveness application via email, I’ll fill it out, and they’ll send that over to the SBA. Just a few more weeks and I’ll have a fully forgiven loan that is helping to provide relief for my family as we continue to navigate through this, shall we say… interesting time. 

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