According to some of the latest figures over here in the UK, there are nearly five million people listed as working freelance or self-employed. So if you’re thinking about joining their ranks, or taking your side hustle work to the next level, then you’re not alone in working for yourself; it could be one of the most rewarding things that you’ll ever do. And the good news is that it works for anyone and everyone. You could have a career already but just want to work for yourself, or you could be a fresh graduate from University. All you need is to have an idea about what you want to do, and have a passion and drive that will see you though. Because as nice as working for yourself sounds, it can be some long hours; so you need to love what you do.
Getting the ball rolling and actually taking the leap to be the only one that pays your wages can feel quite daunting. Even if you’ve got a plan in mind, you need to know that it is going to be enough to see you through and actually enable you to make enough money for you to live and not need to get another job. So if this sounds like you, then it could be time for a reality check.
You need to think about the responsibilities that you have in life and some of the non-negotiable things that you have in your life. Adding in a dose of reality can be much needed to make sure that you’re making the right decision, as your lifestyle and circumstances are going to determine what you’re able to do. Think about family commitments or things like personal health, for example. As someone that is self-employed, you won’t have the same coverage for things like maternity or paternity pay, or even sick pay, that you would if someone else was employing you. So if you have health issues, for example, could you afford to take any days off when working for yourself?
Financial and family responsibilities are the main things; what do you owe each month? If you have a mortgage and bills to pay (who doesn’t), then you need to make sure that you’ll be earning enough to pay it all each month, or at least your share. Do you have childcare fees or trivial things like gym memberships? Of course, you can cancel them. But do you want to sacrifice these kinds of thing? All things to think about.
There is no doubt about it; you need to do plenty of research before you take the leap to becoming a freelancer. You need to know the ins and outs of what to expect, as well as things you might not have thought about before, such as getting insurance for your work. So the first step is to make a plan. How are you going to get clients or earn money? Do you plan to expand things quite quickly and work with a team (albeit virtually)? If so, then looking up tips for leading virtual teams or getting qualified in other ways may help you to take things to the next level. Set goals for how you are going to make money and get clients. How much time will you dedicate to it in the first instance, and how many clients will you need to make what you are doing worth it? Do you know how much you would even charge for what you are doing right now? Stick to a routine, make a plan, and do your research, and you’ll be able to start your freelance life off on the right foot.
In order to check that you are going to be working a viable business, then you need to figure out what you are going to charge. In many instances, this is going to be one of the most important aspects of working as a freelancer. If you’re not charging enough, you may end up taking on more work than you can handle just to get by. But if you charge too much, then it could limit the number of clients that are going to hire you. So there is a fine line and it is a good idea to focus on getting it right.
A lot of the time it will be on a case by case basis, as it is likely that no two jobs are going to be the same. But it is a good idea to have an idea of a rough day rate or hourly rate in your head. Then when quoting for jobs, you have got a pretty rough idea of what to charge. Doing some market research into costs and fees can be a good idea, with freelancer groups on social media, or even enquiring freelancers directly.
Make it Legal
In order to be operating legally, you need to make sure that you’re registered with HMRC for tax purposes. There really isn’t an excuse when it comes to this kind of thing; you simply have to do it. Then you’ll need to make a tax return at the end of each financial year, so recording all expenditure and expenses and keeping records is not only important, but actually a legal requirement. So get yourself organised with your paperwork and bills.
The good news when it comes to all of this kind of thing is that it does mean that some of your expenses will be tax deductible. If you travel for client meetings, for example, you can claim some mileage back. As you’re working from home, you can also claim a certain percentage of things like your broadband, phone, and electricity bills too. So look into all of the legal ramifications before you make a start too. You’ll really benefit from it if you do.
Are you ready to take the leap to working as a freelancer? It would be great to hear what you think.