'Going alone' can be a daunting prospect, but for many professionals freelancing is a way to turn skills and knowledge into an income generator on a full or part time basis. Generally a freelancer will have a skill set that an individual or business requires, but that doesn't want to employ a member of staff to do.
Freelancers may work on a project by project basis, or have a regular contract working X number of day's or hours a week for a client. It provides flexibility for the freelancer and their clients.
Here are some common questions someone might have when they are thinking of starting out:
'I'm only a freelancer, does that make me a business?'
Often there is a perception that being a freelancer isn't the same as being in business. However, essentially it still means that you are working for yourself and you must still comply with the HMRC rules around self employment.
'Where will I find my clients?'
The same principles apply to finding your clients as a freelancer as they do with any other business. You must network to connect. This can be done on or off line depending on your industry. You will generally be plugging a skills gap for them so think about the types of businesses/people who would benefit from your offering.
'How do I know what to charge?'
Pricing is always a difficult thing when starting out and will vary on industry and for the individual. Like with any business you need to assess how much of your time will be taken up by the piece of work and start there. Is there a general hourly rate for your skill set? What would be the 'going rate' in terms of a day rate that someone else in your industry would charge? You also need to consider the type of business you are working with and what they have as a budget to work with.
'Will I have a contract?'
This is the type of thing that will vary from client to client. Everyone is different. It is essential that you have some 'terms of business' as standard practice. Working with a regular client may leave you feeling like part of the team, but ultimately without an employment contract you have very little rights. It is essential that you have the conversation from the outset about what the time commitment is and what the job role entails. Set the boundaries around rate of pay, and invoicing process. Always seek legal advice around terms of business. Once you have them, it's well worth the investment.
'Do I need insurance?'
Yes! Always speak to an insurance broker when starting out any type of self employment venture to get advice of what type of insurance you will need. (Our friends over at Mitchell Charlesworth can offer a full insurance brokerage service if you are looking for a new or existing quote.)
Fresh Books, a cloud based accounting company over in Canada recently contacted us and offered this great Infographic to share with our network and we think it's brilliant! Some great hints and tips for managing as a freelancer.
The Women's Organisation can support you if you are thinking of freelancing and can help you to plan it properly to help avoid pitfalls. Contact our team for more information on our FREE Enterprise Hub Programme via firstname.lastname@example.org or 0151 706 8111.
By Business Adviser Jo Mountfort