Are you thinking of going freelance?
I originally wrote this article in January 2017. Quite a lot happened in my life between then and now (including losing all my content on the website!) so I thought it would be a good opportunity to revisit this article & update a few points.
I’ve been self employed for 11 years this year as a freelance digital marketer, trainer, blogger & general wheeler dealer. I took the plunge after becoming increasingly frustrated by office politics and red tape. I just wanted to create awesome campaigns, learn new skills and make my employers a tonne of money. So when a freelancing opportunity came up, I made the leap and never looked back.
- you can drop everything at a moments notice. While there’s a certain amount of flexibility (I set my own holidays, and do both ends of the school run four days a week), when you have clients that work standard office hours, you need to make yourself available within those hours too.
- That it’s the easy option. People think I work part time. In reality, I work more hours than I did when employed, it’s just spread around more
- You make loads per hour. Compared to a salary hourly rate it seems high, in reality it needs to cover sickness, holidays & sometimes people just don’t pay up not to mention those quiet months (it’s often feast or famine.)
why do i do this
- I’m my own boss, in control of my destiny & can drive my career in the direction I want.
- I love working from home. My dogs are my constant companion and I get to spend quality time with my daughter.
- Work life balance – this is something I’ve tried really hard to get right, and have to keep working at. For me, freelancing does sometimes mean working early mornings, late evenings and a few hours at weekends and you need to have your family onboard with that
- Variety is the spice of life. I don’t have a single income stream, I have several so if one dries up, it won’t be a total disaster.
- I’m always learning. For me, this has always been my biggest motivator.
what I’m currently working on
I currently offer paid search or ppc marketing (mainly Google Ads) to a variety of organisations.
I also write for a couple of blogs, including this one, sell vintage toys and collectibles (with my husband). When I wrote this piece last year, I did plan to start another couple of businesses but life intervened and it took me a while to find my mojo again. Things have changed since 2017, I’ve found a different client set to work for, some clients have moved on and I’ve reduced the number of hours I work due to reaching nearly burn out just before Christmas.
It’s really common for freelancers to have several income streams and it’s not as complex as it seems.
It’s key to keep learning and developing your skill set, especially professional qualifications. It is a cost you need to suck up, but I know it keeps my income streams constant and drives me to try new things which I can then advise my clients on too.
what i’m looking forward to in the next 12 months
- Increasing my community – I’ve met a lot of creative bloggers and makers in the past 12 months and look to continue this via workshops, meetups and photowalks.
- Networking – I used to do this when I first started out, but have kind of gotten of the habit & I really need to start again as it can be a great support network as well as a source of referrals
- Improving my content – I’ve not spent as much time writing as I would like
- Video editing – learning a new skill so I can add a different dimension to my blogging.
what my aims are
- To help other people understand online marketing and build their brand online.
- Build my own brand online.
- Keep learning new skills
- Maintain work life balance
- Develop my spiritual side – focusing more on meditation & nature has been a natural de-stress this year
the scary bits
- The lean months
- The late payers
- The non payers
- Getting cash flow sorted out
- Your first big tax bill!
top tips to becoming a freelancer
- Have a nest egg ready for those lean months and emergencies. Ideally 3-6 months salary – it sounds a lot, but it’s better than credit card debt, believe me.
- You don’t have to have a business bank account, it costs you money unnecessarily
- Don’t under price your services – it’s much better to offer market rate & negotiate than undervalue your service & try to ask for a rate rise later
- Make friends with other freelancers in your field – they are not your competition. I’ve made some fantastic friends via freelancing. We support each other, help each other out and refer each other for jobs.
- Put 25% of your income away each month for tax. This is likely to be more than enough but gives you something else to fall back on in lean months.
- Keep on top of your hours, accounts and invoicing. I do this daily.
- Keep on top of tasks and deadlines. Even if you don’t have clients, you are your own client and need to book in self development and marketing time
- Keep on top of your inbox and communications – don’t be that person with 5 million unopened emails and never returns calls (your freelance work will dry up very quickly!)
- You don’t need an accountant to do your tax return but it helps in the beginning. A good accountant will save you more money than they cost.
- You can say no. Don’t accept every bit of work you’re offered because you’re worried you might not get work in the future. If it doesn’t feel right, turn it down.
- Set ground rules. Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean friends and family can phone or pop round when they feel like it.
- Some people will never understand what you do and ask when you’re getting a proper job. Just let it roll over you, they’ll never understand!
Question: are you a freelancer or are you thinking of taking the leap? If you have any questions, I’d love to help, just comment below.