At some point in your career you may have considered making the leap to freelancing, perhaps the thought of being your own boss, working with multiple clients and meeting new people and being paid handsomely for your time are all appealing. However, there is always the worry that you won’t find enough work.
At Blue Skies, we have a four strong freelance team and with our collective years working within freelance, we’ve listed some points to consider before making the leap…
THE MOTIVATION TO FREELANCE
Is it to earn more money, work on different types of work, meet more people etc? Then figure out whether there a buoyant market for your line of work in your area. Speak to freelancers working in your business, colleagues or friends who have made the leap and also our freelance team who would be happy to give you an overview of the market. It’s important to plan and do your research before handing in your notice!
BEST TIME TO START
This is important as there are certain times of the year that are less buoyant than others, so don’t hand your notice in and start freelancing at a quieter time of year as it may take longer to get started than you planned. These quieter times of the year tend to be December, January and August. There is still work around, but where possible, I would avoid launching your freelance career in these months.
SETTING YOUR RATES
Work out an hourly or daily rate that is right for your skill set and area (if you can travel to London, then working rates in London are generally higher). Have a bottom line that you won’t go below and a rate that you would ideally like and work within those parameters. When you first start out, you may wish to offer an introductory rate for the first week or month of bookings which would then revert to your usual rate. This can work well as long as the time frame is set out and your potential clients are aware of when your rate will increase.
CONTACT THE PAST
Contact previous employers to see if they would use you on a freelance basis. People who know you and the quality of work that you can deliver are always the best place to start. Make sure though not to go too low on your rates for people that you know. A small discount can work well but don’t go below your market value.
TIME FOR A NEW CV
Make sure that you have a CV and portfolio (if you are a creative) that works for freelance. You don’t need an in-depth CV for freelancing, you need to focus more on your skill-set, clients worked upon and disciplines within the market place so that a potential client can see instantly how you would add value. You don’t need to go into too much detail under each job worked either but do make it easy to see what skills, software knowledge and types of work you have worked upon. For creative candidates it works well to add portfolio samples at the bottom of your CV, even if you have a website showcasing your work, as it’s helpful to immediately see some examples.
LISTEN TO YOURSELF
Do remember that everyone will give you advice when you first start out, but make sure that you do what feels most right for you and showcases the full extent of your expertise.
GET FINANCIAL ADVICE
Are you going to start out as a sole trader or a LTD company? Ask around for recommendations on a good accountant who works with contractors, the law changes each year and it’s important to have a good accountant who is up to speed with all the important laws that affect contractors and can advise you on how much to put aside for tax purposes.
Before making the leap to freelance I would always suggest having some cash reserves, at least 3 months’ salary put by as a buffer. You may have constant work from the minute you start but many companies have payment terms which are 60 or even 90 days to pay invoices, some as quick as 14 days, so do set your own payment terms. Some clients however won’t adhere to your terms and you will have to adhere to theirs, so do ensure before you accept any work that you know when you will get paid for your hard work.
If you do decide to make the leap into freelancing, it’s an exciting world with lots of benefits but potential pit falls, so ensure that you’ve done your homework and given yourself the best possible start to a new career path.
Author: Emma Head