How to get started in freelancing

If the prospect of working from yourself sounds appealing, but you don’t want to be the boss of an entire business, then you may find freelancing appealing.

Music, web design, copywriting, computer programming, SEO, voiceover, translating, transcribing, graphic design… there are many niches you can explore in the world of freelance. It is just a question of taking the right online courses and knowing how to get started.

Before you get started you need to consider the type of freelancer you want to be. There are five types:

  • Independent contractor – this type of freelancer works on a project by project basis and works solely as a freelancer. It is quite common for independent contractors to work in-house during the project and for them to get re-occurring work.
    NOTE: 40% of freelancers are independent contractors;
  • Diversified workers – these make up 18% of the freelance workforce and specialise in doing many various jobs. They also tend to do one-off gigs, work part-time AND perform freelance tasks;
  • Moonlighters – for this group, freelance is something that they do to supplement their regular income. The projects they do are small and done during the evenings or at the weekend;
  • Temporary workers – this covers those who take on temporary employment when it becomes available. Their mission isn’t to do it long term, but cover their income while looking for a more permanent position;
  • Freelance Business Owners – these are usually independent contractors who find they’ve got enough work to take on employees and create their own small business;

Once you’ve determined the type of freelancer you want to be, your next step is to plan. You see, work won’t always fall at your feet. There will be times where you’ll have to hunt for it, bid against other freelancers (who may be more experienced than you) and deal with periods of no work.

In these instances, you need to be prepared which is why we recommend that you do the following:

STEP ONE: Be real and honest with yourself – before you quit your current job, you need to make sure that you are financially secure enough to handle days/weeks of no work. This may mean that you reduce your current hours to part time at first so that you’ve got a steady income but have still got time to build up your new business.  You also need to question whether you can handle not having a regular paycheque – have you got enough to pay your bills? Have you got savings, a pension and insurance to protect yourself?

STEP TWO: Organisation – to be a freelancer you need to be disciplined as there will be no one around to push you or make sure that you get your work done on time/monitor your progress. As such, you will need to set your own rules/goals to ensure that you stay on top of your work and keep money coming in.

STEP THREE: Determine your own worth – it is possible to make a lot of money from freelance. However, in the beginning you’ll need to be mindful of how much you charge until you’ve built up a strong enough reputation to increase it. We recommend doing some research and seeing what others in your industry with your experience level are requesting. With this knowledge, you can structure your payments to match your skills.

STEP FOUR: How will you be paid – before you take on any work you need to decide how you will charge your customers? Will it be an hourly rate or will you charge them a flat fee for the whole project? Next, you need to determine how you will be paid and will they pay you via an invoicing platform, or will you create invoices asking them to pay directly into your bank account? If you’re not sure, then doing an online business management course will help you to plan it out carefully.

STEP FIVE: Focus on building a strong reputation – your reputation is everything in the freelance world, so it is important to get referrals and acquire positive reviews from your clients. With a strong enough reputation, you’ll quickly find that you’ve got regular clients who keep on coming back for more.

STEP SIX: Self-assessment – a big part of being self-employed is managing your own taxes and NI contributions. Typically 20% of your earnings will become income tax so we recommend setting at least 20% of payments aside so you’ve got plenty to pay you self-assessment. At the same time, you can enrol onto some online bookkeeping/accounting courses so you’ll be able to confidently fill in this form.

Becoming a freelancer can be incredibly rewarding, however it also requires careful planning. To learn more about how to become a freelancer and be your own boss, visit our website.

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