What not to do when starting out as a freelancer
An individual going into business for him or herself needs to be aware of the potential pitfalls of freelance work. There are plenty of people who try and who do not succeed but this is mainly due to poor preparation, lack of awareness of the marketplace and impossibly high expectations. As a freelancer a person is putting himself or herself into a completely different environment, one where they need to make all the decisions and take responsibility for everything that happens.
Potential pitfalls of freelancing
Freelancing is not simply a question of going out, finding a client, earning the money and putting it into the bank. The freelancer needs to be aware of the taxation implications, and if necessary to get the right advice. It is a very good idea to speak to a qualified accountant and find out more about how to register as self-employed and what will be involved. It may be that the best option is to register as a limited company but others may find it more beneficial to be recognised as a sole trader.
Lack of organisation is another point that causes problems. When working on a freelance basis the one person is responsible for all company administration and paperwork and this can seem to be an endless task, and can become overwhelming. It can be very easy to spend a lot of time dealing with paperwork and not actually doing any work that brings in the money. There needs to be some balance between the two.
Some freelancers are tempted to take any work when they start out even if it is beyond their skill set. It is important not to tell potential clients that something can be done if it is not possible, as this just means that the job will not be completed to the customer’s satisfaction and the contractor will get a bad reputation.
Essentials for freelancers starting out
It can be a good idea for a freelancer starting out to consider using the services of an umbrella company. This is a system that allows the freelancer to choose what work they do, and when, but they are officially employed by the company, so that tax and National Insurance is dealt with via PAYE. This is becoming an increasingly popular option for those who want to make the transition to self-employment. Issues such as ir35 are then not relevant to the freelancer and there is no self-assessment form to complete at the end of the financial year.
When advertising for clients online it is a good idea to have a complete profile for them to look at. Give details of any work that has been previously completed, and ensure that it is clear about what type of work can and cannot be done. Add a photo, as this helps potential clients to see exactly who they are dealing with.
A professional approach is a must for any freelancer. If the client senses that the contractor is unsure about his work, or is not dealing with issues properly, they are unlikely to offer more work in the future. It is important to plan the schedule properly and always arrive on time at the right place to create the right impression from day one.