The Secrets to Success as a Freelancer
Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the number of people making the leap from employment to self-employment. With coronavirus creating uncertainty among businesses and unsettling the traditional ways of working, now might be the time to consider freelancing. Steph Gubas, from our Accounts Department talks through the best way of approaching it.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the self-employed sector now represents 14% of the UK workforce, reaching record highs year-on-year. Freelancing is a type of self-employment that typically involves working on projects on a flexible ad-hoc basis. There are many potential reasons for people choosing to go freelance, including more autonomy, increased income and the ability to choose the projects they want to work on. With the coronavirus pandemic driving thousands of professionals into unemployment – and with fewer employers currently hiring permanent employees – freelancing may be considered a possible alternative.
Freelancing can be incredibly rewarding, although it requires a strong mindset and more often than not, a lot of hours. Here are some tips on how to kickstart your career as a freelancer:
Start off in your own time
Most successful freelancers start off working in the evenings alongside their full-time job for months, if not years, before they get enough work to make it full-time. Taking on projects in the evenings is a great way to find out if freelancing is for you, and it will help you make important contacts if you choose to go full time.
Choose something you're good at and manage expectations
Putting a business plan together can help you to focus your attention on what you're good at and how you can help to provide a solution to your client's problems. This is the time you can spend writing down exactly what projects you want to take on and how many hours a week you are able to dedicate towards freelancing.
Once you're up and running, it is important that both you and your clients are clear on the timescale of the work and keep in regular contact. If you confront a problem during the project, be sure to keep your client informed and be realistic about what you can deliver.
In the digital age, ensuring that you get found online is crucial to winning clients. The good news is that most digital marketing tools are free. You will need to think through who your target market is and what platform works best in appealing to them. For example,
if your work can be advertised visually, consider running an Instagram page or creating a website portfolio. Facebook has plenty of groups for people looking for local freelancers, so it may be worth advertising your services there. Regardless as to which platforms you choose, in order to attract plenty of new clients, it is recommended that you update your social media and websites weekly at a minimum. If you want to build more formal professional relationships, creating and engaging with posts on LinkedIn can help significantly in finding new clients.
Work out how much you should charge
Usually in freelancing there are two main ways of getting paid, either by the hour or as a fixed fee. There is a usually a lot of competition, so it is definitely worth doing research on the fees and pricing strategies that your competitors are using. There are many freelancing sites that can help you with finding work from around the world. These sites can be very useful, but there are some considerations to make.
If you don't know the client personally, it might help to use freelancing sites, as they may offer you protection if your client doesn't pay the bill. Before setting your rate, however, it is important to bear in mind that many of these sites take a cut out of the amount you charge. When it comes to billing your clients, we recommend that you use secure software such as Xero or QuickBooks, as it will help to ensure that you get paid on time. Your accountant will be able to advise on the best software options.
Get your admin organised (taxes, insurance, HMRC)
Throughout your freelancing career, it is important to keep track of your expenses and forms of income. Whether it's buying a new computer to start working on, fuel to visit a client or a paid invoice, you should keep a receipt for any transaction that is involved with your work. If you or your accountant fail to keep track of these, you may be liable to more tax than you need to pay or potentially receive fines for non-compliance.
A trusted chartered accountant will be able to advise on an affordable and easy-to-use piece of accounting software, allowing you to keep track of the amount that you are owed and the amount you are liable for. Your accountant will be able to help advise you on how much you need to set aside for taxes, politely chase unpaid invoices and ensure that you are operating in the most tax-efficient and HMRC-compliant manner. In most cases, an accountant will end up saving you money in the long run.
At Page Kirk, we have a long history of working alongside the self-employed. If you would like to discuss anything in this article and how it might apply to you, please contact a member of the team by calling on 0115 955 5500 or emailing email@example.com