If you are looking to start up as a freelancer in any field, there are a few things that you first need to determine.
While starting a freelance career is not impossible, it is not nearly as easy as many may think. You will first have to consider what you are planning to do. There are many different freelance opportunities from photography to writing, web design and several others. Think about your talents and what you really want to do regarding your career.
Once you have done this, there are a few steps that you need to take before you can quit your day job.
• Have a Safety Net
While it is perfectly possible for you to have a freelance career that can pays the bills, you are not likely to receive a great income straight away. It will take some time to network, secure contracts and get your name known.
Therefore, you have to plan for a few months of income just in case your freelancing does not take off immediately. Plan your month’s expenses and put at least one month away; so if your total monthly outgoings, including mortgage/rent, utility bills and food, equate to around £1,000, put this away before you go solo.
Having around 10% put away in savings as a safety net gives you some peace of mind that the expenses are covered for the mean time. This means that you can spend time getting started, without worrying where your next meal will come from.
• Market Yourself
You are also not likely to begin making money straight away, unless people know that you exist. Marketing yourself is first and foremost when it comes to freelancing.
You have to let people know about your talents and your experience and give them the opportunity to hire you. This may be the most difficult part of freelancing but it is a step that simply cannot be overlooked.
You have to be prepared to sell your services and the freelance market can be very competitive. Take time to determine what you have that is unique and use that as your selling point. There are a number of places where you can market yourself such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter; and learning about these places is essential in getting your name in the pool of possibilities when clients are looking to hire.
Here are some contractor guides to utilising social media, and there are also dedicated freelancer websites that you can use to advertise yourself like Text Broker, Elance and Freelancers.net.
• Finding Contacts
Now that you’re on the market, it is essential that you make contacts and retain a few clients. Referrals are the best way to get future clients, so if you know anyone that could potentially use your services, contact them.
Contact everyone that may know someone who could use you. Friends, neighbours, family members and even business associates should all become part of your contact pool for future clients.
LinkedIn really is the best platform for networking and finding contacts. Join freelance groups, speak to other contractors, and get your name known. What networking events are going on near you?
Once you have formed these relations, keep on top of them. Send them an email regularly or give them a call to ask how they are doing. By staying at the forefront of their mind, when work arises, you’ll be the first person that they contact.
Some freelancers start up while they are still working for their full time day job, just to ensure that they have a bit of security while they are building their client base. This is an excellent idea if you can stand to keep your job a bit longer.
Starting up as a freelancer may be a lengthy and often difficult process but it is certainly one that is worth the effort in the long run.
• But there is one more important job…
Once you have done all of these times, and you find that your freelancing career is proving successful, you then need to make sure your tax affairs are in order. Marketing yourself, finding contacts and scoring work is great however if you don’t have the best business structure, you haven’t registered with the taxman and you aren’t paying your taxes properly, you could find yourself in serious trouble.
There are various business structures to choose from including a limited company, a sole trader or a partnership. Find out which one is right for you.
For more information on the financial side of being self-employed, make sure you check out HM Revenue and Customs.
This article was provided by Nixon Williams, the UK’s leading freelancer accountants serving contractors, interim managers and consultants. Visit them to learn more about going solo and unlock your potential today.