Top tips for freelancers starting out
Since lockdown, there has been a rise in the number of people who have decided to go freelance. If this is you, don’t fear. Here are some top tips from those who have been around for a long time, compiled by Freelance Corner's Editor, Jessica Hayden.
We often say freelancing is an adventure, but romantic notions aside, we know you can sometimes feel like a solo explorer at the base of Mount Everest, with little equipment. That’s why Freelance Corner started. We were launched by the non-profit trade body for the UK’s self-employed, IPSE (The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), and we are here to offer you the protection, support, and guidance you need on your freelance journey. If you are new to this way of working, here are some tips from those who have been around the block before.
1. Let's start with the obvious: Delete those drunken snaps from your public social media.
Your website and social channels are the windows on your professional life. Keep them clean.— Jonathan Wilcock Freelance Copywriter (@Jonathan50Wh4t1) June 8, 2020
2. Freelance doesn't equal free work.
Be reliable. Deliver what you said you would, on time, on budget. Don't allow clients to bulldoze you. Don't work for free. Never work "for the exposure". Understand how to chase for late payment. Get good advice from people you trust.— Matt Searle (@oraclematt) June 9, 2020
Enjoy the lifestyle - you've earned it.
3. Prioritise your mental health
Make your mental health a critical part of your business plan. Just like you put aside % of your income for tax, put aside % of your time for your own wellbeing each day. Join a community of support: you're working for yourself, not by yourself.— Leapers (@LeapersCo) June 8, 2020
4. You may be able to find work closer to home
Go through all contacts on your mobile, social media & emails, even people you haven’t seen or spoken to in years, but had a positive relationship with. Make sure you’re 100% clear on what they do, & pitch to those where you feel theres a mutually beneficial work opportunity.— Tom Gayle (@Tom_Gayle) June 8, 2020
5. Have a unique selling point (USP) and stick to it
Know you USP, your value, and stick to the few, rather than the many!— sonyabarlowuk (@sonyabarlowuk) June 8, 2020
6. Overnight success isn't real - be patient.
Don't get despondent if it takes longer than you expect to get your first clients. There's no such thing as overnight success - the people you see doing well have worked hard for a long time, even if you've only just noticed them. Just keep at it!— Annie Thorpe (@Annie_Writes_) June 8, 2020
7. Save yourself from procrastination
Look up the Pomodero technique - Set a timer to 25 minutes and really focus on your chosen activity for that amount of time. Use a physical ticking timer or an app like Study Bunny to help avoid the temptations to make yourself a cup of coffee or do something around the house.— Lucille Whiting (@goldfingerprint) June 8, 2020
8. Times are hard for all right now, keep going and stay positive
Stay positive. There’s a lot of uncertainty in freelance life, but you don’t have to let it hold you back. Believe you can make a living, set goals, and focus on the steps you need to take to make it happen!— Grace Olivia Parry (@GraceOliviaP) June 8, 2020
9. Set your boundaries early on
Schedule time off and time out. Create very clear boundaries otherwise you will never stop working.— Jassy Earl (@jassyearl) June 8, 2020
10. Know your worth
Know your value, don’t be afraid, kindness is an asset & be an open networker, which you can still do through social media— Sangeeta Waldron (@SangeetaWaldron) June 8, 2020
11. Plan, but don't overplan
Have a plan but know that your business will likely change direction and evolve over time – so try not to obsess over the detail or get stuck in 'analysis paralysis'. Through getting out there and 'doing', you'll start to get the clarity you need.— Alison Hadley (@AHadley_Bristol) June 8, 2020
12. Remember to account for tax, pension contributions and more, not just your time.
Don't undersell yourself - your day rate should accommodate tax, pension, essential business costs. Save 20-30% of each invoice for tax. Set yourself clear boundaries about your working day - breaks/switch off time are important. NETWORK - freelancer loneliness is real!— The Doers (@thedoersUK) June 9, 2020
13. Set aside cash for your training, or take advantage of free online courses
Make the effort to learn more with online webinars and courses that will enable you to upskill. It's all about backing yourself and believing in your ability!— Jessica Hodkinson (@jesshods) June 8, 2020
14. You didn't sign up to be your own accountant, but you are now
File your receipts properly! And have a proper invoicing system set up before you start. Oh, also, file your tax return as early as possible, so you know what you're going to owe at the end of the year and can prepare. Can you tell which bit I've found most stressful?!— Rebecca Woollard (@FoodEditorBecks) June 8, 2020
15. You will want to retire, one day
Don’t forget you’ll need a pension. You really will.— Duncan Hess (@TheRealMrHess) June 8, 2020
16. For those who haven't made the jump yet
Don’t go freelance unless you have some warm leads / relationships with potential clients— Lucy Woods (@lucywoodz) June 8, 2020
17. If possible, keep work and home life separate
It depends on the layout of your home, but try and keep work space and living space completely separate. Otherwise it gets very difficult to switch off.— Julien Speed (@GODSPEED99) June 8, 2020
This one isn't appropriate to everyone. If you cannot have a separate workspace at home, try something as simple as putting away your laptop, notebooks, and any other work-related things in a cupboard at the end of the day. Out of sight, out of mind.
18. Don't undervalue your work
Content mills and race-to-the-bottom freelance boards are scams that harm the whole industry, avoid them!— Jess Amy 🌈😺☕🖋 (@JessAmyWrites) June 8, 2020
19. Don't take rejection personally
It may take a while to build your client base. Don't take it personally if pitches aren't successful, there are many factors companies consider. Stay positive.— Nicola Webster (@_njwebster) June 8, 2020
20. Protect yourself
A Freelance Corner pack reduces the risk to you and your business, giving you perks similar to employees with the flexibility of freelancing. Buy one today and get access to business tools, tax and legal helplines, up to £10,000 if a client goes into administration (subject to T&Cs) plus so much more.