Tips for newbie freelancers
If you’ve got small children at home, if you have a disability that makes certain aspects of office life difficult, or if you are concerned about the effect your commute, or the practices of the large company you work for are having on the environment then you may well consider setting up a freelance business.
And there isn’t a better time to start out on your own. If you have a skill set that could offer something innovative to the business community then you could start your freelancing consultancy now.
The internet provides great possibilities; the remote working tools, online collaborations, outsourcing and the various strands of social media available can all work together to provide you with everything you need to succeed as a freelancer.
Do You Have A Freelancing Niche?
Make a list of all the skills you have that somebody else could use. Categorise these into primary and secondary skills; are you a touch-typist who is also a whizz at digital transcription, or a graphic designer who’s great at building websites? Perhaps you can proof-read and also copy-edit?
Don’t make the mistake of underselling yourself, but ensure you don’t oversell either. Be honest about what you can offer.
Do Your Research
You can utilise Google to find freelance agencies and bidding sites. Make sure you read their terms and conditions carefully, and that you have a thorough understanding of how and when they pay before you commit to anything. Does the site take any commission if you win a job? If you can make contact with other freelancers, check how they’ve been getting on with the site.
You will have the opportunity to write a profile of yourself on each freelance site; make sure you make it as professional as possible, and emphasise the value a potential client would be getting from you.
Again, have a look at other people on the site who are getting regular work to see how they are portraying themselves and their skills. Some will keep it light-hearted and chatty, others will take a more serious tone. It will depend entirely on the business they are in. iHubbub’s map [www.ihubbub.com] lists people who are freelancing in your area or industry. You can pin your own freelance consultancy to the map for others to find you easily.
Understand The Legal Side
There are a lot of things to think about if you are considering becoming self-employed. Are you going to become a limited company, or operate as a sole trader? Will you do your own accounts, or will you need to find somebody to do that for you? Read up about tax and National Insurance to ensure you are paying the correct amount.
Sorting these details out before you get going will mean you aren’t panicking as the end of the tax year comes around.
When you find a prospective client it’s important to ask the right questions. What will you be doing for them? What is the timescale of the project, and when will you get paid afterwards?
You are entitled to ask them for references, or you might be able to find other freelancers that have done work for them in the past who you could speak to before you agree to the work.
The internet has a plethora of ways for you to advertise your skills as a freelance contractor; a lively presence on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest can get you noticed, or you might want to start and maintain a well-written blog to gain people’s interest in you.
But don’t just sit there once you have registered on a site; join discussions, retweet interesting articles and generally keep your presence felt. Keep your followers up-to-date with what you’re doing and promote your availability. Remember that SEO and optimisation is not all about your own website, it is about getting well-optimised content out into various parts of the internet, that’s why I started up iHubbub’s – to give freelancers like myself a new way to find new clients!
Good luck with your freelancing business!
By Paula Wynne
Paula is a long-time freelancer and now bestselling author and Co Founder of iHubbub’s home business community believes there are many reasons why you might want to step out of a 9-5 office job and strike out on your own as a freelancer.