Are you looking to start out as a freelancer? Or have you already made the leap into self-employment?
Starting out as a freelancer in any field is both scary and exciting! It’s a whole new rollercoaster of learning, but living the laptop lifestyle might just be the best thing you do.
I’ve been a freelance social media manager and a freelance writer for a few months now, and I am seriously in love with my job. I get to work from anywhere – yes there have been some glorious work shifts on the beach – and I can set my own hours, which is so incredible to be able to do when you have children.
Being your own boss is fab, but it can take a little while to get on your feet in the beginning. If you’re just getting started, check out my 5 tips for new freelancers:
1. Network And Pitch
Work doesn’t just always land in your inbox. Promoting your skills online in some format is a great start. I promote myself across social media, via my blog and by using Linked In. But most of my jobs have actually come from networking and pitching and not through online promotion.
I am both a freelance social media manager and a writer, and I have experience in both fields from previous jobs. But oddly, most of my work so far, has come from pitching to clients I have worked with through my blog.
E-mailing off clients I have worked with through Life Unexpected has been so beneficial. Just a quick message to your contacts, telling them the services you offer now, in addition to blogging can actually bag you some amazing opportunities.
People love to work with people they know and trust. If you’ve worked with them before, or you’ve worked with someone they know then they’re more likely to employ you.
Another great way to get work, is through networking online and at events. Check out your local area for any Networking events. You might be surprised at how many there are! Just don’t forget your business cards.
2. Register As Self-Employed
I put off registering for a few weeks because I was afraid of not making any money and having to go back into employment. I also put off registering because I thought it would be a real lengthy process.
It literally takes five minutes to register as self employed online. Then it’s just a waiting game as all your documents arrive in the post.
It’s a good idea to put all of your documents in a specific folder so it doesn’t become a headache when it’s time to do your tax returns. It’s also an idea to keep your tax reference numbers in a handy place for invoices, and to give to potential employees.
Whether you’re a blogger, a writer, a graphic designer or a social media executive; if you’re making any kind of money through your services, then legally you need to be registered as self-employed.
3. Speak To Other People In Your Field
Freelancing can be lonely. Whether you work from home or from an office type space, you will spend a lot of hours on your own. Making friends in your field online can be such a saviour.
There are hundreds of groups on Facebook you can join. Whatever your niche, start looking for a few groups that might suit you.
I’m in groups with other bloggers, groups with freelance social media managers and groups with freelance writers. Every group I am in is beyond helpful. I’ve made friends, sought advice and even given other people tips myself.
People are really friendly and supportive. You might not necessarily gain work from being in these groups, but they give you a confidence boost, and it feels like you always have colleagues on hand to speak to.
4. Update Your Linked In
I recently got rejected from a course to better my skills, because they’d hopped onto my Linked In and didn’t think I was as experienced as I said I was.
I haven’t updated my Linked In in about three years. I also made my profile on a whim and it wasn’t nearly as informative or accurate as it should be.
Linked In is amazing for freelancers. It’s essentially an online CV, so having it up to date and showcasing who you are and what you can do, is so important. It doesn’t take long to fill in, but make sure you write down exactly what you’ve done, what you’re doing and what you can do.
Grow your contacts! You’ll be surprised at what your friends from school, college, University and people you’ve worked with in previous jobs, are doing now. If they see you’re now a freelancer, they might have some work for you.
Connect your Linked In account to your e-mail address book and Facebook, to see if anyone you know is using the platform. Feel free to connect with me on Linked In here too!
5. Work Out Your Fees
Working out how much to charge per hour is hard! Especially when you’re new to freelancing. Even if you’ve worked for years in your niche for a bigger company, working out what you should charge clients as an individual, takes some getting used to and involves a lot of constant negotiation.
I’ve recently made a blunder where I’ve gone in too high with a company and almost lost an amazing opportunity. But there is also the risk of going in too low which isn’t good, because it could potentially lower the rate for all freelancers in your niche.
When you’re starting out, set yourself an hourly rate, but understand that this is likely to change per client as you negotiate. Just remember that you won’t necessarily use your hourly rate for large scale projects. You might want to discount your fee, or just give a one off figure.
Then there is long, on-going projects with clients. Here you might need to set monthly fees rather than hourly or one off.
Get a good idea of what you want to charge in your head, and don’t be afraid to talk to other freelancers about fees! Obviously don’t ask them about what they charge, because it’s personal. But most freelancers are more than happy to help you work out what you should charge and what you’re worth.
Keep an eye out for more tips on being a freelancer on Life Unexpected. If you’re a mum, be sure to check out my new series for Mumpreneur’s and if you’re a blogger, check out all my helpful blog tips here!
Are you a freelancer? Do you agree with this list? What tips would you give to new freelancers? Let us know in the comments below.