As I start my tenth month of Freelancing, I thought it would be a good time to reflect and share some tips for people who have just taken the plunge, or are thinking about becoming self-employed. If you are an experienced Freelancer, I'd love to know what your top tips are - please add yours in the comments section.
Firstly it's important to research your market. Is there a great demand for freelance work in your area (both geographically and your area of expertise)? Do you know any freelancers currently working in your field? If so, talk to them and see if they can give you an insight into what it's like. If not, search for people on Twitter or LinkedIn and get in touch with them.
If approaching strangers to ask them for advice is too daunting, then reach out to recruiters. Not only will they be a reliable resource in the future for you (when looking for work), but they are in a great position to give you advice about the current state of the freelance market.
You will also need to establish whether being a Sole Trader or a Limited Company is best for you. As I work with big agencies on global accounts, it was a no-brainer that I needed to register my own Limited Company to operate under, to protect both myself and the companies I work with.
Before you get started you also need to work out your day rate. I found a really useful blog post about this which helped me: http://benrmatthews.com/freelance-consultant-rates-how-to-work-out-your-hour-day-or-project-rate/
It's important to start saving about 3-6 months before setting up as a freelancer, to safe-guard yourself for the first few months in case there is a dry period when you can't find work.
LinkedIn is your friend
An active LinkedIn page will make freelance life so much easier - add your CV and a recent professional looking photo, add your recent, relevant experience and make your profile easy to digest.
Accountancy - learn the basics
Whether you are a Sole Trader or a Ltd company, you may need to use an accountant, especially if you have no previous experience in running a business or managing finances. Regardless of whether you do your own books or not, it is important to read up on the basics of Accountancy, so you don't get caught out or end up paying more than you expect in Tax at the end of the company year. When I first hired my accountant I was emailing him everyday, asking as many questions as I could about salaries, expenses, taxes, dividends and everything else you would ever need to know. Almost a year later and I'm much more savvy on the ins and outs of accountancy and running a business.
I'd love to know your top tips for freelancers - please post in the comments below!