Freelancing is becoming an attractive option to graduates and more experienced people alike. The rise in freelancing is directly proportional to the increase in start-ups. Countries across the world are seeing a boom in start-up numbers, whether that is because of inflated valuations or small start-ups who aim to fill the local gap in the market. Either way, these start-ups and even SMEs depend on freelancers when they try a new process or want to do something different.
Freelancers provide a company with an alternative to making big commitments financially. Even Career Geek as a start-up depends on freelancers when it comes to design and other areas of running the blog. In this post we will share 5 resources to start and run your own freelance business.
1. Freelancers are self employed, keep the tax man happy.
Before you advertise your skills and start providing your freelance services, you need to register with your local tax authority as a self-employed person. In the UK, you can get all the information about registering as self-employed from HMRC. This is important because your clients will ask you for invoices (as they are a registered business and will need an invoice to reference in their accounts) and you can only provide invoices if you are registered with the tax man.
And don’t worry, there isn’t actually a lot of bureaucracy when you register as self-employed. So this is the first step towards starting your own freelance business.
2. Where do I find freelancing opportunities?
Ok, so now that you have registered and started off, it’s time to get some paid gigs in. And for this you have to put some time aside because freelancing is very competitive. You need to price your services right. For a start you can start visiting sites like:
- Freelancer.co.uk (offers very good rates)
- Microlancer.com (tailored towards IT, social media, marketing, design)
- Fiverr.com (very competitive rates, good for offering a taster to the full service).
There are other websites where you can list your services; you’ll just need to do some research to find the best option for you. The service you choose also depends on the freelance service you’re offering. If you are doing website design or providing content creation services, you can be based anywhere and your clients can access your service. But if you are providing local services, then focusing on local newspapers and dropping into businesses or attending local meetings/conferences would be a good idea.
3. Time to put yourself online – let others find your freelance services
At Career Geek, we put a lot of trust in those freelancers who we can find online. However, we still do some research before deciding to work with someone. For example, if you are a social media consultant and don’t have a page online where I can see all your social media channels and read about something exciting you did, then I will be hesitant trusting you with online digital media.
It’s human nature (now) to expect freelancers or any other type of business to be online. And you know, putting up a website isn’t expensive anymore. You can buy a domain name (url) for less than $15/year, hosting space for $5/month, install WordPress for free, and you will have a site up and running in an hour. Career Geek runs on WordPress, so believe us when I write that.
By having a site up, you are running your freelance business online and with the right effort you can start coming up in search results for people to hire you. It also gives you a place to store your work and showcase examples of your work with your clients. This will attract potential clients. After all, seeing is believing.
4. Accounting is boring, but important
Once you start getting paid gigs, it is time to start proper accountancy. A common mistake is to rely on Excel spreadsheets to do your accounts. Now, let me be clear; your focus should be on providing your expertise and service to your clients. Your time shouldn’t be split between spending time on boring Excel spreadsheets.
So get yourself signed up with one of the many account keeping websites online. One of my favourites is freeagent.com. It is really powerful and simple to use. There are a host of other sites you can use as well. The good things about using these sites is they offer the full deal:
- You can create, email and track invoices to your clients;
- Bills, expenses, incomes – tracked and stored on the cloud;
- You don’t have to worry about the formulas, all you do is enter the numbers;
- Less hassle than Excel sheets and some services connect directly to your bank account, making the process seamless.
Accounting is important and that is why I suggest you run your freelance business without hassle and stick to using one of these websites.
5. Marketing and Social Media
Thankfully, this does not have to cost a bomb. As a freelancer you need to leverage social media channels and build your client list from it. There are so many ways that it helps to be on social media. Every time Career Geek has a new assignment, it seeks out freelancers on social media. A simple call of help will be followed by lots of freelancers offering their services. So it definitely works.
With regards to marketing, if you are trying to offer a local service, then getting some business cards or flyers printed will be worth it. It shouldn’t stop you from seeking opportunities online, but a handy card will be remembered more easily than a Twitter handle or a Facebook page.
With these 5 resources, you should be able to start and run your own freelance business. You can even do freelancing on the side before you take to it full-time, so there is no pressure to go at it in full flow.
As start-ups increase, the need for freelancers is growing, too. Just taking our case; we do rely on freelancers and we expect a professional image and service from our freelancers. There is no substitute for hard work and good image, whether that is freelancing or something else.
If you do start your freelancing business or already have one, do comment below. It would be nice to know if there is anyone we can get help from when we need it.