How to Start a Freelance Career
The appeal of going freelance for many people is the idea of being your own boss, working in the comfort of your home.
22:18 15 August 2018
No commuting, no fixed hours, working as much or as little as you like, and not having to answer to any bosses, sounds like a great way to earn a living. It can indeed be rewarding and enjoyable, but it’s not a license to spend your days watching TV or playing video games. You need self-discipline, a strong work ethic, determination, and drive to succeed as a freelancer. You also need to be able to deal with a degree of social isolation, as you’ll be spending a hefty chunk of your time on your own. If you think you’ve got what it takes, how do you get started?
Decide what you want to do
The options for freelance work are numerous, and with the technological capabilities of Internet services, more and more opportunities are becoming available. Typical roles include being a writer, programmer, IT specialist, personal assistant or administrator, and telesales. You could also set up as a sole trader running your own online store, or adopting a drop-ship model in partnership with a large company such as Amazon. Whatever you wish to do, you need to make sure you can do it well enough to make a living from it. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get started before quitting your regular job, making enquiries and applications, sending pitches, registering with agencies, and promoting yourself in your spare time. You may find you don’t enjoy it as much as you thought you would, or you could discover you excel in a particular niche that is not exactly what you set out to do.
Practical aspects of freelancing
If you’re a freelancer, you are self-employed. That means you get paid to work as an outside agent rather than being employed by a specific organisation and receiving the entitlements of employed workers. This means you are responsible for keeping records of your income and expenditure as it relates to your work so that you can submit an accurate tax return to the tax authorities. If you don’t feel confident completing this yourself, you could hire an accountant to help you out, or there are specialist tax accountancy services who will complete your tax return for you at a reasonable cost. As well as keeping your figures in order and up-to-date, you also need to create a dedicated workspace that will enable you to work efficiently. It should be somewhere quiet and comfortable that is warm in winter and cool in summer. You need to have all your computing equipment, stationery, and supplies to hand in a well-organised, clutter-free environment where you won’t be subjected to disturbances.
There are many benefits to becoming a freelancer, but you need to be sure before you take the plunge that this is a mode of working that suits you, and that you have the abilities and temperament to make it work.