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A Brief Guide on Getting Started in Freelance

Posted about 3 years ago by Ellie Tibbs
getting started as a freelancer

So you are thinking of entering the wonderful world of freelance? Freelancing can be scary at first as it’s very unpredictable. Unlike working a permanent role where your contract is ongoing until either party ends it, with freelancing you always need to think ahead so that you can plan your next contract.

While at times uncertain, it can also be massively rewarding! As a freelancer, you often earn a higher rate of pay and can work for a whole array of different clients, in different offices/studios and on brands/accounts you’d only dreamed of before.

I get asked all the time about what the freelance market is like, and I say the same thing,  it comes in peaks and troughs. When starting out, it may take time to build your client base, I think it’s rare that you can go straight into freelancing and have job after job. As you start to freelance more and more, you’ll start to build your network and hopefully will start to have periods of time where you’re so busy you are turning down work. There will also be quiet times when you will be in-between roles, just take some time to reconnect with your clients, remind them of your awesome capabilities.

I’d suggest speaking to fellow freelancers, they can advise you on the reality of freelancing, so if you have any connections, reach out to them and ask as many questions you can think of. You can read our #FreelanceLife series, which takes real-life accounts from freelancers we work with. What I often see is freelancers commenting on the job posts I put out on LinkedIn or Twitter, tagging in other freelancers for roles suitable for them; It’s like a community, look after each other and it should be reciprocated, share the love!

So if you feel ready to take the plunge and hand in your notice to start the life, here are the main things you should think about when you get started.

Role type

Are you a specialist in one area or does your professional experience mean you can take on other roles to a competent level? You may be an Account Manager, which also means you’ll have project management experience too, so look out for these roles and don’t limit yourself. You need to remember that you’ll do a role for a contract length, which can be lengthy so it’s no good having dabbled in it. Clients still need to know that you’ve done it to a competent level with proven results.

Day Rate

When you’re just starting out it can be difficult to put a number on yourself. Knowing your worth and not succumbing to ‘imposter syndrome’ is important and the more you freelance the more confident you will get on what you charge for your skills. We have a salary survey to help guide you on the average day rate per role in specific regions of the UK.

From time to time you might be asked if your day rate is flexible due to budgets but rest assured, this doesn’t set a president with the client. Equally, just because one client offers you more than you usually charge doesn’t mean all clients will be able to pay the same. It completely depends on the role type, contract length, experience and job requirements.

People think freelancers are paid a lot more, but you still need to account for your taxes and N.I, plus there is that “risk factor” as a freelancer as your work isn’t always guaranteed. So while day rates are higher that’s often needed to cover those quieter times of work.

At the end of the day you have final say on your day rate, but be realistic.

Location

Freelancing offers you the chance to work in various different locations, offices or from the comfort of your own home. It’s a common misconception that once you become a freelancer you suddenly get to work in your PJs and never leave the house. While home working does happen, at the beginning you are building up your network and clients will want to get you in and have you working onsite. Sometimes the type of work that you do will mean that you are always needed onsite, if you want solely remote work, you are limiting yourself with the roles which you could take.

 

Finance status

The final question I ask freelancers when they first sign up to Pitch is whether they are a sole trader, Limited Company or would go under an umbrella company. As a freelancer, you are going to have to get used to a lot more admin when it comes to finances. If you are thinking of going freelance you should research, if possible, beforehand which option you would like.

There are 2 different ways are:

Limited Company (LTD)
 

Ask your accountant or check out this link.

Umbrella, ella, ella - eh?


OK, so you’re not set up as either of the above, do not panic. There are companies where you register and they will payroll you for a fee. They pay your taxes & national insurance for you so that everything is above board and you’re not going to get a nasty visit from the tax man! With us, you are free to use whichever company you want, but we can also point you in the direction of a great company to use so that that stress is taken care of quickly.

Portfolios

For some of you, your work will require having a portfolio, whether being a creative, PR professional or copywriter, clients will want to see examples of your work! Try and get into the habit of saving copies of your work so that they can be easily added into your portfolio. Obviously, this may require a clients permission first or you’ll have to wait until a project has gone live before using it for your own benefit.

Every now and then, I would recommend reviewing your portfolio to update it and keep it fresh but this doesn’t mean adding everything you’ve ever worked on! Be strategic, take pieces which are the best examples of your skill set and which may have had the most proven success. Keep it snappy, showcase your strengths and read our PR portfolio blog for some tips.

If you have the time and resources to create your own website, I would highly recommend doing one. For a client, just being able to click on a link and BOOM you’re seeing examples of work is so quick and easy. It saves time having to download a file and then reshare.

 

So there you have it. A brief guide on getting started with freelancing and what you should consider. Register to our freelance network to start working with Pitch now.