Careers Adviser Amanda Norman shares her top tips for starting a freelance career
Name: Amanda Norman
Role: Careers Adviser
Specialisms: Publishing, Teaching, Marketing, Journalism, and more…
Before you start anything, make sure you plan ahead and have enough work to go self-employed. Line up a couple of projects before you quit your day job so you are not wasting time in your first couple of months as a freelancer.
Before biting the bullet, you should set some money aside. Going freelance can be stressful and having a couple of months of financial protection really helps.
Inject some personality into your business! Building a brand for yourself is key to staying unique in the marketplace. Identify your best qualities and promote them.
Although it may seem the easiest way to beat competition, it is very important not to undercharge. When you price too low, you attract the ‘wrong’ type of customer who may try to strike unfair deals with you.
It is important to remember that a portion of your income needs be put aside for taxes. Remember to calculate this while you are working or else you may be in for a surprise when you come around to filing your tax return! Initially, you may want to get an accountant for advice on how to claim for your business expenses.
Go to events to network with other local freelancers. Don’t just focus on your specialty – embrace every opportunity available to make useful contacts! Often the best ice breaker is giving a talk at an event. People will come and speak with you afterwards and ask questions. Engaging people on LinkedIn or Gradlink can also be a great source of leads.
When moving on from a completed job, it’s important not to burn any bridges. Previous employers can be a great source of future income. They know you already and know the quality of work you can produce.
If you find yourself with more projects than you can manage, refer some of these to your new freelancer friends (see tip 6!). Then, when they are busy, they will refer work back to you! Often you can work out a referral fee or agreement.
Your work may not always be in demand, through no fault of your own. Over the winter period business can get pretty slow and things might not pick up until after February or March. Make sure you save enough for this drop in demand!