10 things to know before you start freelancing

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Freelancing has become increasingly popular, particularly within the last few years since the pandemic hit back in 2020. It has seen a rise since working from home became the new norm, and has given people the option of gradually going back to work or perhaps starting their own business through freelancing. These 10 things are everything you need to know before you start your freelancing journey.

1. Plan! Plan! Plan!

This is one of the most important aspects when beginning your freelancing career. Having a business and marketing plan is essential to keeping on track to achieve your goals and objectives. By having a business plan, it gives you a chance to tell your company’s story and what values it possesses. Furthermore, a plan helps you define your target audience, allowing you to understand what services you provide as well as what your client needs.

2. Networking

Networking could potentially make or break the beginning of your career as a freelancer. Making connections with other freelancers, and with those in areas of interest who are relevant to you or clients is a healthy way of starting your business and also for future opportunities. You can build your client base and stay in contact for future jobs using professional social networks such as LinkedIn. Attending work related events will also help you learn about trends, meet influential speakers in the industry and more.

Link with mentors to guide you through the learning process and stay connected!

3. Forms and contracts

As a freelancer you will become your own HR department, creating and dealing with forms and contracts while working. There are a variety of contracts depending on the type of work you do; perhaps a letter of agreement signalling a simple, informal contract describing what you and the client both require will suffice. Other times a more formal contract might be necessary. A formal freelancing contract should include every detail and expectation that both parties hold including but not limited to: pay rates, holiday days, work and delivery expectations and a service level agreement.

There are free templates available online to guide you.

4. Work/life balance

Prioritising your work-life balance is something that freelancers are in control of, as freelancing provides the opportunity to work on short/long term contracts which fit around your schedule. Ensuring the client agrees to working timings that suit you is great for maintaining a balanced life. Make sure to schedule your work accordingly as some weeks will be busier than others, some even having no work.

5. Set-up a workspace

Setting up a workspace at home is perfect if you are looking to roll out of bed at 9am. But whether you are renting out an office space, building an area in your back garden or using your dining table as a desk, there are many ways to set-up your own work area. Good lighting and space are key things to consider as you set-up.

This will give you a dedicated area to show your creative flare and also have an organised approach to your work.

6. Time and motivation

When starting your freelancing career, you will need to build your business. This is why networking can be really beneficial. Put time into listening to the people you meet, taking on board advice and learning new skills. Motivation is key throughout this whole process, especially as rejection from clients can happen when you start out. Motivate yourself to keep going and overcome any challenges you face along the way.

Take time to get your business plan in order, grow connections and establish what you want to achieve.

7. Learn

Whether you’ve been a freelancer for 10 minutes or 10 years, there is always room to learn and improve your skillset. Make use of the tools available and take the time to improve your portfolio, it will beneficial to both you and the client.

Dust up on techniques and skills relevant to your area of expertise to have an advantage over your competitors. There are both free and paid courses available for the majority of skills, to take so find the right one for you.

8. Being a lone wolf

In previous jobs, you may have worked in a large or small team; as a freelancer you will most likely work alone. Being a lone wolf can be just as fun and enjoyable as working in a team but can also be hard work. Be prepared to have days where you may feel disconnected from others, this may partially be due to different working schedules or even childcare commitments.

9. Money management

Money management is an important aspect of starting freelancing, especially in the first few months. You will need to pay attention and work out cost efficient prices if buying products, as well as working out how much to charge your clients. As you are a new business, you do not want to charge extortionate prices as that can lead to rejection; you can always increase this as you grow your business. On the other side of money management, you will need to organise pay slips, taxes and invoices.

A top tip would be to keep your personal and business finances separate, and perhaps save a few months before venturing into freelance too.

10. Sell yourself

Nobody is going to have heard of you or your business before so you are going to have to sell yourself! This is where your marketing strategy comes in, which channels will you use to promote yourself?

Will your market yourself on social media? Through directories such as Freelance Directory, and newspapers? Or even radio? Creating your own website is also a useful way to have all your information in one place where clients can find you and can also give you the ability to expand your services.

Find out more about how to brand yourself as a freelancer here.

It can be hard knowing where to begin in a new career, what you do or don’t need. By following these 10 things, you will be on the right track to start freelancing with all the successful tools and guides.

Find out more about how to start up a freelance business here.

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