Six months into my freelance journey and business is booming. I’ve successfully managed to hone and promote my digital marketing skills to help a number of brands reach their online marketing goals. I’ve loved every minute and now I know I’m in it for the long run 🙋🏻
My post today is freelancer tips based on my experiences so far and how I got started. Including how to organise yourself like an absolute ninja. I’ve tried to make the tips practical and actionable, so grab your favourite notepad and a brew and let’s get started!
Know you want it
I know how scary it is to quit your job. I actually quit mine to travel, and it was whilst travelling I realised I wanted to have a go at freelancing. So when I got back, I started to look for my own work rather than applying for jobs. I had 3 years’ food blogging behind me, so had built relationships with brands through that. This gave me a good start as some of them are now my clients. So it pays to try it out a little before you start, and build some relationships whilst you’re still working.
Know your stuff
Once that initial (fear-inducing) decision’s been made, seek as much advise as possible! This is your business now, your future, so you have to know whats-what 100 percent of the time. I opted for the sole-trader route and set up with the HMRC. I got an accountant by asking a friend who’s a self-employed hairdresser. A mutual friend of ours is an accountant, so I got a good deal and someone I trust. Advice from an accountant has also helped me learn so much about being a business owner, too.
Tackle the how-much-do-I-charge conundrum
This has to be the step that stressed me out the most. I spoke to my freelance friend and she told me how she figured it out. Based on her work experience as a social media manager, she split her key offerings into how many hours they take. She then did research on average, reasonable freelance rates and came up with a ballpark of £20 per hour. I used her theory, but bulked my offerings into days and came up with a day-rate that I thought fair and flexible. Which leads me to the importance of…
Value your work
This topic came up inDigique’s Twitter chat last week. Thankfully, my clients are happy with my day-rate, but at first, some did try to negotiate it down. A good way to deal with this is: agree to a discounted rate, but on the invoice show the actual rate with the discount on a separate line. Then when it comes to renegotiating (after a month or so) you can ask to switch to your normal rate. This tactic worked for me, as it gave me chance to prove myself and made the renegotiation straight-forward, as it didn’t later seem like I was ‘increasing’ my prices.
Get your shiz together
I’m blessed with OCD-level organisation skills when it comes to workload, probably because of my time as a project manager. But if you’re not, you can get into simple habits that help. I have a weekly timesheet spreadsheet which runs from Mon-Sun. My clients are down the far left column, then across, by day, I fill in the hours I’ve worked. It subtotals each day, and does a subtotal by client, with daily (but brief) notes to jog my memory. Sound excessive? It might be, but it makes monthly invoicing a dream (said no one ever) and you never know when you might need to call upon that extra info.
Agree those terms
Contracts might seem like a faff but they do protect you and I like to have a contract in place for all my client relationships. Working with a professional, collaborative hub of freelancers like Digique means all the contracts and paperwork are always sorted for me, which is amazing. I also like to kick things off with a mini-proposal, too. If you’re serious about freelancing, then setting up an operational way of working means that you’ll have the processes in place to make sure things run smoothly, especially if your business grows!
Remember, you’re a FREElancer
Lastly, I thought it was apt at the end of the post to write some advice not just for you guys, but for me too. Building my own business over the last six months has been one of the most intense and rewarding things I’ve ever done. But sometimes you forget what puts the free in freelance. I took the leap because I wanted to take control of my working life, have more flexibility, and zero commute! But too many weeks I’ve spent chained to my desk working 9 hour days. Taking regular breaks, heading out to the gym or for a walk, or working from a coffee shop all work wonders for productivity and creativity.
So remember to get out and about and strive for that work-life balance you deserve!