Whether you’ve been stuck in an uninspiring job, have a brilliant idea or just looking for a new challenge, you may be considering whether the freelance world is right for you. The independence of going freelance may appear an attractive option, with varied work, flexible working hours and the chance to be your own boss. But there are other considerations which might help to provide a balanced view.
Finding your way as a freelancer may appear to be a mine field and you’ll need to consider how to stand apart from the crowd. This first step can be the most difficult as it means you will have to answer several tricky questions about your business objectives and requirements to develop your brand fully.
There are many steps along this road but the key points to consider are defining your business goals and defining your target audience. Who are your customers and why do they want to choose you? Once these have been fully developed, you can move onto how your business will look, such as its logo, website and literature, as well as the ways you are going to target potential clients and expand in the future. Once you have a clear idea of your brand and how you can use it to appeal to your demographic, you can start to target clients and build your business from there – the sky’s the limit.
Create an online portfolio
In today’s world of technology, every freelancer needs an online portfolio to showcase their talents and skill set to potential clients. Building a portfolio is a simple task once you have work to showcase, the more important part is making it unique because your portfolio will transform visitors into clients.
An online portfolio could be anything and really depends on your work. You could showcase in the form of a blog, website or more dedicated solution tailored to your business. There are plenty of clever tools to help you build an online portfolio yourself without huge costs. Many more seasoned freelancers choose to employ a dedicated marketing team to improve their brand and its reach, and you may consider this to be a valuable investment once you are up and running.
When you first become a freelancer, one of the most important tasks is getting yourself noticed; even with a unique selling point, an excellent portfolio and a great brand it might not be easy to find clients. A great place to start is with all the usual social media platforms, networking events and getting your brand recognition on a high level so people know who to turn to. Turn to your personal contacts and do some research – there really is no substitute for hard work and relationship building.
Manage your time
No matter how you prefer to do it, managing your time is a vital aspect of being a freelancer. Whether you prefer to use one of the many pieces of available time tracking software or a notepad and pen, you must keep track in order to hit deadlines and keep your clients satisfied. Your reputation hangs on your ability to deliver results and especially at the beginning, you will need to adjust to balancing your priorities and manage your projects appropriately. It’s important to review your task lists on a daily basis as your workload and priorities will change that regularly.
Manage your finances
Working for yourself as a freelancer can mean that life can be one of feast or famine. You need to keep adequate reserves to fall back on if your cash flow becomes tight and it is sensible to engage a good accountant to assist with chasing payments and invoicing. Producing accounts can be a cumbersome paperwork exercise as understanding legal and financial requirements can mean that you spend more time working on financials and business administration than doing the work you enjoy and that can disrupt your motivation and workflow. Appointing an accountant with experience in the freelance market such as Green Lantern to help you navigate through the financial details can ease this burden and ensure that you do not miss any important financial milestones.
Keep on top of your paperwork
The same applies to paperwork as to finances – HM Revenue & Customs lays down requirements for sole traders to ensure they can submit a valid tax return for each financial year, and if you’re running a company you have Companies House to contend with too. Tax returns are not as scary as they sound and are usually pretty simple to complete – as long as you keep on top of your paperwork. If you do decide to work through a limited company, you will also need to submit your annual company accounts, though a good accountant will be able to take care of this for you.
Keeping invoices, supplier bills, bank statements, receipts from payments that you may not have an invoice for, and other such documents safe and organised (so that they are easy to find should the tax man come calling) is a vital part of freelance work. Your accountant may be able to help with this record keeping too – it’s part of the service we here at Green Lantern provide.
Get the price right
Pitching the perfect price is something that will come with time as many clients have a set budget for projects, taking price negotiations out of the equation and giving you a better idea of the going rate for your services. When you get started you may realise that your quoted price is too high or too low – experience and time will assist you with this.
Learn when to say ‘no’
This goes han in hand with time management – taking too much work on could mean the quality of your work could suffer, so it’s important to turn down work if you are feeling swamped. It’s also important to have a clear idea of the sort of work you want to do and try to stick to this wherever possible so you build on your area of expertise and build more contacts in your chosen field. You also need to make sure you have a good work life balance – if you don’t keep time for your personal priorities you may well end up resenting your freelancing choice.
Find your perfect work place
Whether it’s the garden shed, kitchen table or a rented office, finding the perfect place of work will boost your productivity as a freelancer. Although most freelancers often start off using their home as a business base, it can be a good idea to rent an office and share the space with other freelancers to expand your network of contacts and help you better manage your time. It all comes down to how you prefer to work and your individual tastes.
Find a trusted circle of freelancers
Working solo as a freelancer can, at times, be a lonely business, so make sure you network with fellow freelancers and build a trusted circle of contacts. These contacts have likely been through exactly where you are now and can help you as you launch and grow your business by offering ideas and advice, referring prospective business, problem solving, and offering encouragement.
As long as you have the right attitude, an aptitude for hard work and the ability to deliver, freelancing can be a great career choice. Green Lantern can be here to offer support all the way through – if you need any advice give us a call today on 0207 164 2116.