Here’s What You Need To Know For Succeeding As A Freelancer
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While freelancing is a lot easier than it used to be, mainly because technology has made it simpler than ever to access jobs and get paid for your work, there are still challenges to face and overcome
So, before you quit your day-to-day role and decide to go it alone, here are eight tips you need to know to prevent problems and maximize your opportunity.
1. How do you start as a freelancer?
It's unlikely you'll be able to resign from your main job and start freelancing straightaway. You won't have the income you're used to. If you want to venture into freelancing, start small by looking for freelance jobs in your field and starting with people you know.
There are a number of websites which you can join (like Freeeup), some will test your skills but most will allow you to register at a basic level. Over time, doing small jobs after work and during the weekends will give you the confidence and experience to put a decent portfolio together, and those clients can end up being referrals.
The key to start is simply taking action, starting small, and building up over time.
2. Don't undersell yourself
If you're just starting out, you only need a handful of examples of your work to show prospective clients. Don’t work for peanuts too long, thinking you will raise your profile.
It’s OK to charge less than you would like for the first few gigs (better to make something instead of nothing), to get the all-important positive feedback, but you need to reach a point where you're confident asking clients for what you're worth.
Ideally, the only low paying work you do is for non-profit causes so your work has additional value than the payment you receive.
3. Narrow it down to what you know well
Especially at the beginning, tailor your service offering to what you can produce and deliver at a high standard. The quality of the work expected of you will still be high. Being a freelancer does not change that, and you don’t want to be asked for a refund because of poor work. Once you've mastered your skills, expand your services and keep your work fresh and exciting.
4. Research, research, research
Research the industry and check out where to go to get noticed and generate new work. This planning effort will help you with the next step. You will also come across as more professional and aware of what is going on in the industry you choose to work within.
5. Look and act professionally
Make sure that, when you go live as a freelancer, all your social media looks and feels professional. Ensure your logo, profile and images are appropriate to your industry. This might be your own website, or it might be a portfolio linked to another site. Remember, how you present yourself publicly is the expectation of the quality you’ll deliver on your work. Make sure it matches.
6. Network Online
Explore Facebook, Twitter, and the abundance of internet sites that you love, and explore the problems they’re facing and how you’re solution can uniquely solve them. Even if you receive no response or are rejected on the first submissions, it will raise your profile and eventually lead to more income. An abundance of activity is key to financial success.
7. Insurance for the self-employed
If you're covered by insurance when you work for a company, why would you not cover yourself when self-employed as a freelancer?
There are a number of insurance options for self-employed freelance workers. It's worth taking up a policy to safeguard yourself in the event of sickness or any other impediment for you to deliver the work you are contracted to do. This is a crucial step which will give you peace of mind.
Mitigate your risk and protect your income with strong insurance coverage.
8. Don’t forget the tax!
Whether you receive direct payments or you invoice clients, you'll be expected to pay tax. So, It’s a good idea to:
- Track your orders and payments received on a spreadsheet, so you have a ‘running’ total of tax due as you earn.
- Set up a separate bank account where you can transfer 20% of what you earn, as you earn it
- Download a free accounting app: some of them even have a facility to create and send invoices
- Don’t forget to file your tax return!
Path of the Freelancer recommends using Harpoon to managing your income, expenses, and make it easy to send invoices and receive payment
So, there you have it. 8 Tips for what you need to know to build a long-lasting foundation for flourishing as a freelancer. Go make freelancing happen!