How To Get Started As A Freelancer
In today’s society more and more people are turning to freelancing to earn a living.
This is due to a combination of factors. Fewer well paid full-time jobs are available in the marketplace. Freelancing offers more flexibility around working hours, holidays, and working for yourself gives you the potential to earn more money than in a conventional career.
If you’re one of the many people thinking of taking the plunge and setting up as a freelancer, you need to become familiar with the rules, best practices, and legal requirements of freelancing.
Below we have listed some support in getting started as a freelancer.
Make a business plan
Yes, freelancing is a business. This means you should make a business plan before launching yourself head first into it. It doesn’t need to be a big or complicated plan, but as a bare minimum, you should do some financial calculations. Ask yourself the following questions to get started:
- How much do you need to earn each month to cover your bills?
- How many hours are you prepared to work each week?
- How much do you need to earn per hour to reach your target?
- How are you going to find clients?
- Is there enough demand for your freelancing services?
- Are you just going to offer one service, or are there multiple skills you can offer?
- What are your outgoings or overheads?
- Do you have a backup plan if things go quiet?
- When do you plan to quit your day job (if you still have one)?
Just answering these questions will give you a good basis for a freelancing plan.
To be a successful freelancer you need to be responsible and self-motivated. You are your own boss as a freelancer, and it’s all too easy to go too easy on yourself. Having said that, don’t go too far the other way and work yourself into a rapid burn-out. Find a happy medium and make sure you work enough hours to reach your weekly and monthly targets.
The best advice is to make and stick to a work schedule. Also, set yourself targets and measure your performance. If you are consistently failing to meet your targets, your targets are either too high or you’re not motivated enough and you will struggle to make a success of your freelancing venture.
One of the most important things for a freelancer to do is market yourself in the right places and promote your services. You will probably need your own website, or at the very least a profile on LinkedIn and a freelancer website such as Upwork.
Wherever you market yourself, make sure you keep an up-to-date work portfolio so potential clients can see the quality of your services.
Register for tax
Don’t forget to register with HMRC. You will probably want to register as a sole-trader and as soon as you earn more than £1000 in a year, you will be required to fill in an end-of-year tax return, which usually becomes due in the first week of April.
We recommend not putting this off until the last minute, as it’s easy to forget and you can get slapped with a hefty fine if you miss tax deadlines.
Allow time in your schedule for networking and prospecting
A decent chunk of your time as a freelancer will be spent finding potential clients, known as leads, and nurturing a relationship with them until they’re ready to hire you.
LinkedIn is a good place to find business clients and do some serious networking. In real-life, there are networking events, or if your freelance service offering is niche to a certain industry or sector there are trade events or conferences you can attend to meet new clients.
Check out the regulations for your freelance service
Finally, you need to do a bit of research into the legal requirements of your chosen freelance service. If you’re working as a freelance graphic designer, digital marketer or software engineer, the chances are you won’t have to worry too much about legislation and rules, other than one’s that apply to everybody – plagiarism laws and filing your taxes for example.
However, if you are doing more hands-on freelancing work such as a massage therapist, yoga instructor, or a tutor for school children, you will need to comply with set regulations.
It’s always worth checking whether a DBS check certificate is required for your freelance line of work. You can apply for a Basic DBS for yourself. Contact us today and we can provide you support with this at firstname.lastname@example.org.