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More and more people are looking for flexible jobs, and this has contributed to a rise in the popularity of freelancing. Freelancers work for themselves, setting their own schedule and taking control of how much they earn.
If you’re looking for more freedom than your current job offers, or you’re figuring out ways to balance work and raising children or running a household, could freelancing be the best option for you? Here’s a useful guide to help you decide whether to pursue this avenue.
What do you need to be a freelancer?
The options available to freelancers are diversifying all the time, and it’s possible to do almost any job on a freelance basis now. The exact list of things a freelancer requires will depend on the nature of the job, but there are similarities between different occupations.
If you examine the day to day tasks of people who manage their own working schedule, you’ll find at least 5 things every freelancer needs. The most important thing to work on when you first start freelancing is building a network of contacts and starting to grow your business and identify potential clients.
To do this, you’ll need a smartphone, an email address and social media profiles. Professional networks, for example, LinkedIn, are particularly beneficial.
Another must for freelancers is a website. More and more consumers use search engines to look for products and services, and people who are interested in your business will almost certainly check out your website before placing an order or contacting you to find out more about what you do.
Your website should serve as a virtual shop window, advertising the services you offer and explaining how your business could benefit the customer. Make sure the pages are mobile-friendly to cater for the growing mobile market and ensure that written content is broken up with images and video clips.
Include a clear call to action, provide answers to questions and queries and offer customers the chance to contact you online via instant messaging or email, for example.
When you’re thinking about life as a freelancer, it’s also advisable to consider where you’re going to work. Are you going to have a base at home, do you want to rent an office or studio space, or are you going to visit clients in their own home or business premises?
If you do choose to work from home, it’s essential to set aside a suitable space. Many people have a rose-tinted vision of working from home, which involves chilling on the sofa in pyjamas with a laptop balanced on their knee.
In reality, it’s much more practical to create a quiet workspace away from the heart of the home, which enables you to focus and work through your to-do list.
Going freelance can be both exciting and daunting. On the one hand, you have the flexibility to manage your own work arrangements and control your fee, but on the other, you risk losing a stable and steady income.
The best way to get started is to plan ahead as best you can and start setting the wheels in motion as soon as you make the decision. Get in touch with contacts and clients to tell them about your new venture and speak to companies or individuals you’ve worked with in the past. You may find that previous employers are interested in hiring you on a freelance basis.
It’s also important to get your website sorted as a priority and think about ways you’re going to market your services. When you approach clients, they will want to see examples of your work, so create a portfolio that showcases your talents and figure out a pricing strategy.
Finance tips for freelancers
If you’re moving from a salaried job to freelance work, you may have to adjust to a new system in terms of receiving payments. Rather than your bank balance increasing on the same day each month, you’ll be paid as and when you accept or complete jobs.
Freelancing can be more lucrative, but it can also be less secure, as you can’t guarantee work all the time. Many freelancers go through bumper periods followed by quieter spells, and this is why managing your finances is so important.
Budgeting is key when you don’t have a consistent payment schedule, and it’s wise to try and put money aside on a regular basis. This will ensure you have a pot to dip into if you do have a slow month. Another important consideration is tax.
As a freelancer, you’ll be responsible for filing your tax return and paying tax. If you’re new to self-employment, and you don’t know where to start with expenses or liabilities, it’s wise to hire an accountant.
Is freelancing the best option?
Freelancing offers a multitude of benefits, but there are also drawbacks. One of the main reasons going freelance is so popular is the flexibility it gives you. If you work on a freelance basis, you decide your hours and you have control over which projects or jobs you take on. You can also set your own fees, which may mean that you earn more, even if you’re working fewer hours.
Going freelance can also help you achieve a better work-life balance, and it enables people to work around other commitments, for example, looking after children or caring for relatives. The primary drawback for many is the loss of a salary.
If you’ve got bills to pay, children to feed or a mortgage to cover, it can be daunting to think about going through weeks or even months without a substantial pay cheque. If you’re considering freelancing, it’s crucial to weigh up the pros and cons and think about your individual situation before you make a decision.
Freelancing is becoming increasingly popular, as more and more people look for flexible working arrangements. If you’re toying with the idea of going freelance, weigh up the advantages and disadvantages and plan ahead. Use your contacts, expand your network and get your name out there. Good luck!