Your Introductory Guide to Freelancing
The good news is that being a freelancer can be a fun, stimulating, potentially lucrative and a great way to see how different businesses and teams operate.
You can get involved in a variety of projects, gradually build your portfolio of experience and develop connections and friends with people you otherwise may never have met. The more in demand your skills, the easier it will be to secure consistent work.
Freelancers who have a steady flow of clients have fostered their contacts over time. They attend networking events and meetups, take the time to market themselves and keep busy getting their name out into the market. They’re not getting paid for all this work, but it’s an essential part of the job.
“attend networking events and meetups”
As a freelancer, it can be useful to think of yourself as a business. It’s important you keep contact with your network during projects so that you have a new job when it finishes. Time management and prioritisation are valuable skills for career freelancers.
You provide a service to clients because they have a problem; usually due to maternity cover, support with an imminent project or perhaps someone is ill, away or leaving. Clients look for freelancers to solve this challenge.
The key to being a successful freelancer is building strong relationships with the right people, being clear about what you can offer and what skills you want to develop. You will need to stay positive, be productive and sometimes adopt traditional British stoicism - keep calm and carry on. Clients need someone who:
- Can hit the ground running and understand process, systems and culture day one
- Collaborate well within teams and be easy to work alongside
- Be proactive and productive and help to solve challenges
- Can be sensitive to the possible political or emotional goings-on within a team
Tips for New Freelancers
- Connect with recruiters who understand your market and are specialists in hiring people with your job title
- Decide how you will invoice ahead of time (i.e. ltd company/umbrella/PAYE) – few companies these days can accommodate sole traders. Some won’t accept your services unless you have a limited company; it depends on the client so you’ll need to be flexible
- Keep your contacts up to date with your availability/day rate/holidays/potential bookings/CV/portfolio - make sure they understand who you help and what service you can provide
- When agreeing a contract make sure all parties are clear on the hours of work – it’s good practice to set expectations early
- Connect with other freelancers – they’ve been there before and are often very happy to lend an ear and offer guidance; there’s plenty of communities who can support you
The life of a freelancer can be too uncertain for some. But if you thrive from variety, have an entrepreneurial spirit and want more flexibility, freelancing can be a great way to gain a better work-life balance that fits around you.