Undertaking a freelance career can prove very rewarding for the ambitious professional, but before you go down that road, you should educate yourself on the steps you need to take to ensure the journey is a fruitful one.
Why consider freelancing? A key benefit that immediately springs to mind is flexibility, meaning the ability to choose jobs when you want to do them and with the organisations you want to work for. If you are looking for experience in a new sector, contract work is a great way of feeling your way in. It also means being able to achieve a greater work-life balance for those with families and responsibilities or interests outside of work.
It is important to remember that contract work does not come as easily as sitting in a home office and waiting for the work to flow in through the computer screen.
Tips that can make your move to freelancing easier include:
Use your contacts: Get in contact with every single person you know and tell them you are available for work. If they are not in a position to give you work, they might know someone who is. Ask former colleagues and employers if they will provide references.
Take baby steps: Let people know well in advance that you are going freelance, because it will take time to build up a client base. Consider taking on small contracts side by side with your current employment. The more work you have to show potential new clients the better.
Plan a routine: In a traditional workplace, your routine is typically planned for you. As a self-employed person, it is vital that you structure your day. Set aside time for administrative tasks, separate to the core work you have to do. That is not to say you cannot break your routine occasionally.
Cultivate a personal brand: A brand is what a client or prospective client thinks of when they hear your name. There is a factual element to a brand and an emotional one, and it is important to cultivate both. Working for yourself, you are your own personal brand, so if people do not like you on a personal basis they are not going to want your services. Make yourself easy to find – and that includes online – and make yourself easy to remember.
Use an umbrella company: An umbrella company, such as Atlantic Umbrella, is one that assumes the role of employer of agency contractors. The umbrella company issues invoices to the recruitment agency or client. When payment of the invoice is made, the funds can be passed onto the contractor, using, in the case of the UK, the PAYE system. A key benefit from a freelancer’s point of view is that day-to-day administrative tasks are done for them. Financially, the chief benefit is that the umbrella company offsets business expenses against tax, making this part of your income non-taxable.
Equipped with persistence and patience, as well as the best advice, you can be ready to make the jump to a successful and satisfying freelance career.