While it’s definitely true that going freelance is one of the cheapest ways to start a business, that doesn’t mean it costs nothing.
The good thing about freelancing is that you can start off free if you want and see how it is before investing. You could simply set up a free website with WordPress and email lots of potential clients. However, in order to compete and find clients, you’re probably going to have to spend some money.
The problem with the free option
If you’re not willing to invest in your business, then expect to be left behind. The most successful freelancers have their own website, not just a free one. They have professional tools and plugins and office equipment. There’s only so far you can compete with them before you realise that you might need to invest.
It always helps to have a domain and hosting. This means you’ll have your own URL which looks more professional and makes your site easier to find. Paying for your website to be hosted means that you’ll have more control and ownership over your site. You’ll also be able to personalise it more and make it look less like a free, basic template.
If you want to go all out, then hire a designer to make your website look a bit flashier. You could even help out a fellow freelancer by hiring them. However, design work is usually pretty expensive. Your next option is to simply buy a theme or a page builder.
There are also plugins to consider which will help your website run or convert better. There are plenty of free ones but you might want others that you’ll have to pay for.
The cheapest option is of course working from home, so if that’s possible then it’s definitely worth doing. However, even this might not be cost free. If you haven’t got a decent work station set up then you could be looking at computer and software costs as well as a desk, ergonomic chair and any other office accessories you’ll need.
If a home office is out of the question then alternatives include using a co-working space, working in libraries, coffee shops or renting out your own office space but these will cost you more.
Marketing yourself is essential. The cost of doing this largely depends on how you do it. If you just send emails or LinkedIn messages to people hoping for a response, then this isn’t going to cost you anything except your time.
One way marketing could cost money is if you need a social media management tool. Fortunately, there are free versions like Hootsuite but if you want something with more features, you’re probably going to have to pay. If you want to go into paid adverts on Google or social media, then this will end up costing a lot if you do it regularly.
If you make freelancing work you might get to a position where you’re both busy and well paid. In these instances you might want to outsource some of your tasks to another freelancer to take the load off your daily work. Alternatively, you could raise your price. Some of your clients will drop out but you can replace them with the increase in income.
You’ll be responsible for paying your own taxes and National insurance. In order to cover them you’ll have to set aside around 30% of everything you make just for this. It’s better doing it this way rather than waiting for a huge tax bill at the end of the year.
If you’re struggling to manage your accounts, then you might find it useful to hire an accountant. In order to save money here, you could go with an online accountant who will usually charge less.
After setting aside money for income tax and national insurance contributions, the next thing you should think about is putting savings aside for emergencies.
Freelancing is an unpredictable way to make a living. You could be busy one month and have nothing in the next. This means that you’ve got to have some cash handy in case these dry months make it hard to pay your bills.
How to deal with these costs
So how do you end up making money after all these costs? First of all, you need to be charging enough, more than you probably think in order to cover all your expenses and the tax you’ll need to pay.
It’s important that you build a sustainable and stable business, this means making sure there’s a steady stream of clients coming in. To do this you have to make marketing part of your daily routine.
You should also make sure that you’re claiming your expenses for tax deductions which will save you some money.
Are you thinking about going freelance? What do you think is going to be your biggest expense? Let us know your thoughts.