What To Expect When Working Freelance
For many people working in marketing, advertising or design, freelancing sounds like a dream come true. You get to be your own boss, work your own hours, and wear whatever you want.
Sounds great, right? It certainly can be, however, freelancing isn’t for everyone. While some freelancers thrive on the added responsibility, others discover that they prefer working for a company.
Spoke to a number of established freelancers about what it’s like to work in this environment. So before you take the plunge, consider what to expect when working freelance to see if it is your cup of tea. – Totaljobs.
1. Being your own boss has advantage and disadvantages:
Alice Stansfield, Managing Director of Chameleon Films, says:
“Sleep at a reasonable time is often not an option for a freelancer. Working freelance comes with all sorts of time schedules that are often inconsistent.
When making the choice to become a freelancer you must balance up this decision of a change in timescale with your lifestyle. Some days, not working 9-5 is brilliant as it may mean you are working 2-6 and have the best lie-in you’ve ever had.
Other days you’ve booked to work 9-11 and have the rest of the day off. Freelance work is often very flexible as it needs to fit the client’s needs, and you do not have a boss to report to, other than yourself.
However, there are downsides to this flexibility. Sometimes it could mean less sleep as you are working for a client at whatever time is suitable for them.
For example, I had one client who worked all day and was only available after their late shift at 1 a.m. on a Saturday morning. This is when we would conduct phone calls and emails.
My company is all about adapting to the client and I feel this is a quality that all freelancers need to incorporate in some way into their business style. How you adapt to this timescale is your decision. If you take control you can make this work perfectly for you.
You can have holidays when needed, book a busy working week when you want to and manage your business how you want to. Make sure you have control of your schedule and are able to adjust to it in a healthy way.”
Shane Hurt, Integrated Creative and designer of the ‘One job. Three worlds.’ game says:
“A popular misconception of freelancing is the notion of freedom. You might be able to pick your work hours day by day, but you will struggle to manage your weekends, holidays; any of the more important things in life.
Fear of the repercussions of saying ‘No’ will leave you at the whim of your major earners.”
2. You’ll need to deal with clients:
Al Boardman, freelance motiongraphic designer, says:
“One of the most important aspects of being a freelancer is being able to communicate efficiently with your clients. Taking time to properly understand a brief, agree a schedule and a fee beforehand is paramount.
Don’t underestimate the importance of getting these things lined up before beginning any work.
Most clients will expect to provide you with a brief and maybe a budget. They’ll be open to discussing it in order for you to understand the scope of the work and they’ll expect you to communicate well throughout the whole process.
Other clients may not be completely familiar with the process of commissioning work from a freelancer, therefore may require some additional help and hand-holding throughout the process.
A large part of being a sole-trader or a freelancer that is often overlooked, is the amount of time spent dealing with the administration side of running a small business.
Producing quotes and contracts, sending and replying to emails, maintaining a website and social media, handling a schedule and accounting are all things that take time and need to be effectively managed.
It’s your job to ensure all of these things are taken care of, as well as doing the job you get paid to do.
Clients love working with people who are excellent at communicating, deliver on time and within budget. It doesn’t matter how good a freelancer you are, clients won’t use you again if you’re not providing them with a slick, professional service.”
3. Selling your skills is key:
Matheus Toscano, of 8bitfootball.com, says:
“When freelancing, you know every detail of your work and skills, but you cannot expect your potential customer to feel the same way.
You need to take him or her by the hand and walk the path of what you have created and what you can create.
It is important to show why other customers have chosen you among everyone out there. And only you can do that.”
Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour, says:
“Freelancing is undoubtedly a different world to employment. You have to find your own motivation both to win new work and get that work completed to deadlines and to a high standard, not to mention the invoice creation and chasing!
You have to wear a multitude of different hats as a freelancer, and one that is perhaps the most difficult is ‘Marketer’. Unless marketing is your day job, it’s likely you’ve not had experience in marketing yourself.
It’s not a skill required for the average employee, save for perhaps the initial covering letter and CV when applying for the role in the first instance. Whereas marketing yourself really is a crucial task daily for freelancers.
You will always be on the lookout for the next contract, so networking meetings, platforms like LinkedIn and freelancing sites will become lifelines for you.
A few tips when marketing yourself:
1. Never say no to an opportunity to network. Yes, there will be days you don’t feel like it and the idea of walking into a room where you don’t know anyone and making small talk is unappealing but do it! You never know who you might meet.
2. Networking isn’t just a one way street. Where you can, make connections for others, facilitate introductions and the good karma will surely make its way back to you.
3. Make sure you reach out every now and then to old clients and contacts on LinkedIn or via email. It’s good to stay in touch and you may just jog their memory about an upcoming project and land yourself some more work.
4. Freelancing platforms provide a great tool to reach a whole new global audience. But you get out what you put in. Make sure you’re using them properly, not just signing up. Contact possible clients, get your bid in early, follow up and respond quickly.
5. It’s all about showcasing what you can do. Make sure you include a portfolio, recent client testimonials and a great, but succinct, summary of your expertise on your profiles – whether that’s PeoplePerHour or LinkedIn.”
4. Accountability is crucial:
Ben Matthews, Director at Montfort, says:
“I think that being accountable means being honest and communicative in your dealings with a client.
Long-term trust beats any short-term wins you may get from manipulating the truth or being less than 100% accountable for your work. Communicating often with your client can help keep you both accountable.
Being consistent and avoiding surprises goes hand in hand with being open and honest.
If you say you are going to deliver work at a certain time, stick to it. If you’ve outlined how much a project will cost, stick to it. Don’t add hidden fees or extra costs at a later date.
You are accountable for making sure the client has all the information they need and is aware of what is going on at any time. If something has come up that may affect the project they’re working on, communicate well and keep clients in the loop.
No one likes surprises, whether in time or money, so sticking to the basics and delivering what you said you would, when you would, at the price you said you would is highly valued.”
5. Don’t neglect financial management
Darren Langley, Founder & Creative Director of Darren Langley Web Design, says
“As a freelancer it is easy to forget that you’re running a business and not just getting paid for what you do. As such it’s vital, as with any business, that plans are made and processes put in place.
The planning side should include strategic forecasts of what you expect from your business (how much it will make, where the costs are, how much work can be sourced and completed) and a vision of how the plans will be achieved.
Regarding the processes, this includes lots of the – let’s face it – boring aspects of running a business such as book keeping and invoicing (including the process for chasing payments).
Unless your business is that of a freelance book-keeper, no one starts there own business with a passion for raising invoices, chasing payments and entering numbers into the book-keeping software.
It is easy to overlook this aspect but, as a business owner, all freelancers need to understand this aspect of running a business or they risk running aground.
On the subject of taxes, it is important to keep an eye on your turnover with relation to VAT registration, and know how close to mandatory registration you might be.
Whilst the mandatory threshold is quite high these days (£82,000 during a 12 month period), it should be in the back of any freelancers mind.
In addition, having a good accountant is vital and for anyone who isn’t financially minded the first step for any freelancer setting up is to meet with as many accountants as they can to find the right person/company for them.”
By Martin Hofschroer
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