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How to Kick-start a Freelance Career

A Step by Step Guide to Start a Freelance Career_opt

Do you want to be your own boss? Go to the ‘office’ dressed only in your faded Bugs Bunny t-shirt and novelty slippers? If so, you may want to start a freelance career!

According to recent figures, plenty of people would agree with this sentiment. In fact, it’s estimated that there are 1.7 million people in this country who are working freelance at present.

If you’re interested to find out whether working solo would work financially for you, here’s a helpful guide.

A Step by Step Guide to Start a Freelance Career

First Step: Choosing Your Craft

In order to start a freelance career, it’s imperative to select an industry that’s suitable for you. You’ve probably already got a fairly good idea of what your skills are – as you’ve no doubt used them in previous employment.

Remember that certain skills are transferable. For example, if you’ve worked as a graphic designer in the past, your artistic talents could be used for eBook cover illustrations or headers for social media pages. If you were previously an English teacher, you’ve no doubt got some good writing skills.

Whilst it’s not impossible to enter into an entirely new industry, it’s inadvisable – unless you’re prepared to embark on some training first.

Remember, clients still expect a high standard of work, regardless of whether you’re employed by a company or working solo. If you’re completely inexperienced in a certain field, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to provide this.

Second Step: The Benefits that Matter to You

In order to be successful in a career, you need the right motivation, and starting a freelancing career is no different. Work out which benefits would most inspire you to stay on track. Some great benefits to consider include:

1. Flexibility:

When you start a freelance career, you’re effectively able to select how many hours per week, and also when you want to work.

If you have children, this can be invaluable, particularly in the school holidays. If you’ve already  got a part-time job and need extra cash, freelancing easily fits around your existing contracted hours.

2. Control:

When you freelance, you’ll no longer have to take on tasks that don’t appeal to you. You can select which jobs you want to work on, and set a salary that suits your needs (more on prices later).

3. Mastering Personal Finances:

When you’re working for someone else, your knowledge of personal finances probably extends as far as knowing when your pay-cheque is due to land in your account.

Freelancing means you’ll have to manage and control your finances to the last penny – putting you firmly in control of your financial future. That’s actually quite empowering!

If you need help with this, money management apps such as Account Tracker  (free to download, iOS and Android) are really useful to help keep your money in order.

4. Work from Anywhere:

If you’re a restless soul and love to travel, freelancing is ideal for you. There are freelancer writers who regularly work from swish New York cafes, Thai beaches and downtown Egyptian shisha-bars – and their clients have no idea that they’re not sitting in an office back home!

Step Three – Identifying Your Market

An important step to starting a freelance career is to work out exactly who your clients will be. You can adopt one of two approaches here.

You can choose to be a ‘jack-of-all-trades’, offering your services to as many businesses as possible, or you can choose a niche area to specialise in.

Both have their advantages and set-backs. Obviously, the more businesses you’re able to target, the greater your chances of getting regular work.

However, if you don’t present yourself as a specialist, you may not be able to command the prices that other niche freelancers earn. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to targeting wisely – it’s a matter of finding what works for you.

An important step to starting a freelance career is to work out exactly who your clients will be.Click To Tweet

Step Four – Building Your Business

You’ll also need to create a strong online presence if you wish to be taken seriously, which generally means creating a website. It’s preferable to have a professional looking site with a ‘proper’ URL.

However, if you’re just starting out, you can build a free website on Wix or Moonfruit. Of course, the business won’t just fall in your lap once you have a website, you’ll need to get out there and start looking for it!

Sites such as Upwork and Fiverr are useful if you want to locate clients, or alternatively, you can take the more traditional route and market your freelancing business on and offline.

How to Make Your Freelancing Career a Success

Of course, freelancing doesn’t provide the guaranteed salary that a contracted job will; and this can be a powerful deterrent for many people.

However, if approached correctly, you can make a good income from it. In terms of knowing what to charge, it’s good to check out what your competitors are earning, in order to get a feel for the market.

However, it’s also vital to examine your own requirements. Consider how long it would take you to do a certain project – and work out what you would need to be paid per hour to make it worth your while. When you’ve established this hourly rate, don’t go below it!

It’s also important to stay on top of your finances when you freelance. At the very least, create a budget with an Excel spreadsheet, and use it to keep track of every payment you receive and every expenditure you incur.

This is imperative, as you’ll need to file a tax return each year, which can be done online. When you officially start freelancing, you’ll also need to let HMRC know that you’re self-employed. You can find out more information on how to do this here. For more information, check out our handy guide on freelance tax.

Share Your Stories

Are you a freelancer? How have you found the experience of working for yourself? Or are you considering freelancing, but worried about whether it will work for you or not? Share your stories with us today!

 

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9 Comments

  1. I have to say, the few times I have done freelance work (on the side of my full-time job), it was so stressful. It took up a lot of time (but I didn’t manage my time well). Kudos to those who can start those side-hustles while working full-time jobs and paying off debt. It takes so much effort and perseverance! Great tips here!

    1. Absolutely, it can be really difficult combine a full-time job with freelance work. Learning how to manage your time and commitments can well can make it easier and less stressful.

  2. As someone who often works in PJs, I can highly recommend freelancing as a career! It’s very flexible and you can work around the kids if you need to. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to become self-employed and freelance – for me personally, I needed to wait under my finances were a bit better (no debt) for that extra peace of mind.

    1. Full time freelancing is much easier when you have little or no debt; if you must start, we recommend having some emergency fund stashed away for the unexpected.

    1. A new post will be out shortly outlining how to secure your first clients and build relationships. One great tip I was given was to work for free in order to gain relevant experience. This tip has really proved useful as it has helped us in building our reputation.

  3. I’ve freelanced in the digital world and in positions where you still need to be present in person. The biggest thing I’d two a new freelancer is make sure you understand tax implications prior to making the plunge! Will save you a lot of headache and panic further down the line.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. This is a vital aspect most people tend to overlook, as the CEO and CFO of your own business it I important to stay on top of your finances.

  4. The location freedom is the part that seems the most appealing to me as a freelancer. I’m not sure I could ever switch fully to blogging though. Freelancing as a stage manager is stressful enough, trying to balance two different freelance jobs… a little too much right now. I’m happy to leaving blogging to being a side hustle for the time being.

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