Making money freelancing can be a challenge – but going freelance can also be one of the most rewarding choices you’ll ever make.
Ensuring that you can make ends meet can be difficult when you’re starting out, so we’ve compiled a list of top tips to help you make money freelancing, whatever industry you’re working in.
You probably already know the trade or industry you’d like to freelance in, but it’s also important that you find a niche within it. For example, if you’re a designer, what kind of design do you specialise in? If you’re a writer, what kind of writer are you – are you a journalist, a copywriter, or a ghostwriter? By specialising in the area you’re best at, you can make sure that you do one thing very well – and hopefully, you’ll become the go-to person when clients need that work.
It’s vital that you have a place to showcase your work, regardless of the industry that you’re working in. It’s now easier than ever to build a great website using tools like Squarespace or WordPress, but you might also want to build a portfolio on some of the industry-specific recruitment websites that now exist. For example, if you’re an advertising creative, check out The Dots; if you’re a journalist, try Contently or MuckRack.
Pricing is one of the most important considerations when you're trying to make money as a freelancer. Price yourself too low and you will attract low quality clients; price yourself too high and you might not attract clients at all. Start by getting a feel for what other freelancers are charging in your industry. If you’re looking for agency work, especially in the creative industries, remember the principle of weighting: middleweight copywriters, for example, will be paid less than seniors.
You can’t hope to make money freelancing if you’re not on top of the invoicing process. It’s vital that you get bookkeeping software. Most of the packages on offer will enable you to create and send invoices from within the software, and much of it is based in the cloud. Remember that you’ll also need certified bookkeeping software if you are to stay on the right side of the government’s new Making Tax Digital proposals.
While the goal is obviously to work as much of the year as you can (or, rather, as much as you would like to), at least in the early stages you will definitely have some quieter periods. It’s important that you build these into your financial planning, and that you have a ‘slush fund’ set aside for when you’re out of work. Also, if you’re freelancing full-time, you should remember that you won’t be paid for holiday or sick leave, so make sure you build this in too.
Many new freelancers are averse to networking, but if you do it in the right places it can be a great way to find paying jobs. If you’re going freelance in an industry in which you’ve previously worked, try to build on your existing contacts within the business. If you’re striking out in a new area, try trade fairs and online communities relevant to your work.
Finally, it’s important to remember that you are your own best form of advertising. Make sure that you are selling yourself properly wherever possible, and don’t do yourself down if you’re just starting out. You might not have as much experience in the freelance world as your competitors, but that doesn’t mean you’re not as talented. Think about what makes you unique, and shout it from the rafters.
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