Dreaming of freedom as a freelancer?
Ever wondered if you could escape the monotony of the same desk, the same coffee mug and the same old faces every day? A lot of people like the security of a permanent job, and there are many advantages, but if you’ve found yourself daydreaming of working from the Bahamas, you may well be after something with a little more freedom.
Okay, so the Bahamas may not be possible, but with the opportunities afforded by the internet we’re more connected than ever, and working remotely is becoming much more achievable. Peopleperhour, the renowned site dedicated to finding and hiring freelancers, predicts that self-employment is going to rise by 3.5% over the next five years in the UK. That’s more people than ever working from home, desks-for-hire, coffee shops, and yes, even the Bahamas. If that sounds like something you might like to do, it’s worth asking yourself the following questions:
Does your type of work allow for freelancing?
Writing, marketing, graphic design, project management, teaching and tutoring, web developing, administration assistance and accounting are some common freelancing professions but there are many more so it’s worth doing some research on how you can capitalise on your skills.
Where will you work from?
It may sound obvious, but making sure you have a good work set-up is key to doing a good job and it’s fairly easy to achieve no matter what your budget. Options for working spaces include:
- Home desk
- Local libraries
- Local coffee shops
- Shared working spaces – these are great for networking, but can be expensive
You will need to set yourself up as self-employed (more information about this at https://www.gov.uk/working-for-yourself/what-you-need-to-do) but with this comes the responsibility of handling all of your own admin. You’ll need to be super organised, keeping records of invoices, receipts and everything you do throughout the year in chronological order. You can also hire an accountant if this is something that you’re more comfortable with. It might also be a good idea to consider taking a short professional course to brush up on your business skills. Barnsley College has part-time courses to help people set up a new business, learn bookkeeping and accounting.
Planning and keeping an eye on your finances is absolutely key to being a successful freelancer. You will need to put money aside from your earnings to pay tax, National Insurance and your student loan, and make sure you can pay the bills too. Ensuring you’re well covered, or have some help, for the first couple of months is advisable.
Do you have a strong online presence?
You are in charge of selling yourself and your services now, so you need to make sure your online presence is strong as this is where most prospective employers will look. See what other people in your industry are doing to get inspiration and make sure your LinkedIn profile shouts about your experience and what you can do.
‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. Well it’s actually a healthy mixture of both, but you need to be good at building relationships with your contacts. Write a list of contacts you have and people you’d like to connect with or brands you’d like to work for, to see what your prospects look like and how you could build on them.
Are you adaptable?
Being a freelancer means you’ll be flitting between different jobs, locations and people so you need to be comfortable with adapting much more so than most. If you’re not particularly good with change, it might be worth trying to lock down some ongoing part time work for a bit of stability – this will give you time to get used to the ever changing nature of being a freelancer without feeling like a fish out of water.