Freelancing is one of the cheapest businesses to set up. It’s possible to do it for free and if you do it alongside your job, there’s very minimal risk.

All you really need is the internet and assuming you have that anyway, it’s not really a business investment. If you’re adamant about not spending any more money, you could set up a free website and market it through social media.

However, if you want to build up a solid, professional presence with authority and respect, then the costs are probably more than you might think.

Here are some of the basic expenses that many freelancers end up paying for:


Initial expenses

Freelance HQ

One great thing about freelancing is that you can do it remotely. However, it’s always good to have a permanent base, let’s call it freelance HQ.

You might already have a computer and maybe a desk. If not, you need both. The computer is your business hub. It needs to be reliable and have decent specifications, as well as any other hardware that you need.

Think about investing in an ergonomic chair and workstation to avoid any strain or injury from long hours sitting in front of the computer.


Website expenses

Before you start wondering whether you really need a website, you do, you just do.

Having an online presence is important because that’s where everyone is. Think about it like a marketplace. If you’re not in the marketplace, how do you expect to sell anything?

Competition is higher than ever so this means your web presence should be professional, trustworthy and valuable to your audience. This is where free websites let you down. Free websites will have unprofessional domains and you’ll have minimal control over the look and functionality of your website.


Here are some things to consider investing in to build a professional website:


Having your own domain looks more professional, trustworthy and established. You should try and prioritise buying your domain before someone else takes the name that you want.

Check the name hasn’t already been taken by another business and is available across social media platforms, or something similar is at least.



If your website is independently hosted you have more control and opportunity to customise your website and make it truly yours. Hosting is probably cheaper than you think and there are lots of competitive options out there.

If you use a free website service without self-hosting it can be difficult to make money from your website. It’s usually impossible to add eCommerce functions or paid ads.


Designs and themes

There are plenty of free themes out there but if you’ve got the money, you’re better off getting a paid for one instead. Paid for themes will be updated more frequently, be better for mobile devices and will have more options for customisation.

If you don’t want to get into design, you could always hire someone to do it for you. A designer can make your site look professional and functional without the hassle of learning how to do it all yourself.


Ongoing expenses

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you can throw money at your website and then sit back and watch the money come rolling back in. Running a business requires a lot of work and regular business expenses.

While your expenses will depend on what industry you’re working in, the most basic ones are:

Basic expenses

  • Internet and phone connections
  • Domain renewal & hosting
  • Social media management tools, plugins, themes
  • Office supplies
  • Software – MS Office, image editing, bookkeeping and invoicing software
  • Payment system – If you use Paypal to receive payments then you’ll need to set up a business account which you’ll have to pay for.



  • Paid for ads
  • Any outsourced marketing/SEO work
  • Business cards or other printed marketing materials
  • Quality stock photos and graphics for website/blog



  • Accountant – saves you a lot of time and stress
  • Virtual assistant – admin, website management
  • Freelance Marketing/Organic SEO services


While you’re starting out it’s unlikely that you’ll need to pay for all these things. It’s just good to have an idea of what you might have to end up paying in the long run. While freelancing is cheap, it’s probably more expensive than people think. Keep costs down wherever you can but don’t be too afraid to invest in anything.


Keep track of all your expenses because you can get tax relief on more things than you probably think. This is something your accountant can give you guidance on should you decide to hire one.

Anything else you’d like to add? How much did you/do you plan to invest in your freelance business? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


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