If you’ve decided to take the leap from being an employee to being a freelancer, you’ll no doubt be on the hunt for tips to make it a success.
The first year is probably the most difficult as you’ll be focused on winning new clients and also making the transition from employee to business owner. It’s a difficult journey but it is worthwhile. Here’s how to make sure your first year as a freelancer is a success.
You might find that by working alone you’re going to have to act like your very own admin department, sorting out paperwork, contracts, invoices, meetings and so on.
In the early days, you’re probably not going to want to outsource admin tasks due to the cost.
So with only so many hours in the day you’re going to need to manage your time effectively, balancing these tasks alongside client work while also having enough time left over for sleeping and eating.
Look for the most time efficient ways of doing things, for example, bulk scheduling social media posts or query emails.
Put money aside for taxes
If you’re not already financial savvy, it’s time to get learning fast because it’s not something you can ignore, even if you have an accountant on board to help.
When you’re self-employed you need to save enough money to pay income tax and National Insurance which can catch a lot of newbie freelancers off guard, particularly if they’re so used to having this money coming out of their wage automatically.
Ideally you need to be saving around 30% of your income. The best way to do this is to automatically take it out of anything you earn and set it aside so you don’t accidentally spend it.
If you think you need help with taxes then hiring an online accountant can be a cost effect, less stressful method to keeping on track.
Keep on top of expenses (even the little ones)
Keep a track of everything you buy for your business. This could mean office equipment, software, accountancy fees or business-related travel in the form of receipts, email invoices and bank statements.
These costs should be deducted from your profit figure as any money you spend back on the business isn’t technically profit. With a lower profit figure, the percentage of tax you will owe will also be lower, therefore saving you some money.
Remain firm on prices
You’re almost certainly going to come across people who want you to work for free or for less than you’re worth. Unfortunately, the word freelancer is still not taken seriously by some clients.
In these cases, it’s important that you remain firm on your price because if you can get talked down once, it can happen again. You can pretty much wave goodbye to any well-paid regular work from this client in the future if they know they can get it for free.
However, some freelancers do work for free in the beginning to build up a portfolio and get some testimonials. Whether you do this is entirely up to you but it’s certainly not a habit you want to keep up for long.
If the thought of marketing yourself sounds a little embarrassing, you wouldn’t be alone. It can be a little awkward in the beginning, but it’s also vital that you market well if you want clients to find you.
This means getting onto social media, starting a blog if possible and building your website so that it’s search engine friendly. Clients won’t just arrive at your website ready to hire you, you have to go out to them with pitches offering your services.
You’ll get a lot of rejection in the beginning but it’s important to keep at it and refine your pitches as you go. The more experience and recommendations under your belt, the easier this part will become.
Set working hours
Plenty of people dream about working from home and escaping the confines of an office. However, the reality is that unless you set strict working hours for yourself, you’ll struggle to work and grow at a healthy rate.
Many freelancers find that having a typical working day structure, with lunch and break times scheduled is the easiest way to stay on track.
Procrastination and distractions are productivity killers that you need to address when working from home. You’ll need to identify and avoid your biggest distractions and set up a system or routine that helps you work at your best.
What are you doing to ensure a successful start? If you need any help with accounts you can get a free quote here. Please leave any other questions or thoughts in the comments below.