In a competitive job market, more and more people are deciding to strike out on their own. Becoming a freelancer is just another way of saying you’re self-employed – you take responsibility for how much work you, when you do it and what type of work it is. Because you’re essentially running the smallest business possible, you’ll need to balance completing your workload with expanding your opportunities, all the while ensuring you’ve got the administrative side of things covered. Here are three tips for making sure your freelance career runs smoothly.
Know your tax obligations
Between the stresses of worrying where the work is going to come from and juggling all your new-found responsibilities, tax considerations are probably far from your mind. But it’s best to sort out your dealings with the HMRC as soon as possible. First, register yourself as self-employed as soon as you start earning. You won’t have to pay any tax on your earnings until the end of the financial year (5 April 2014) when you submit your tax return. Keep track of your earnings and try to sort out invoices/expenditure on a monthly basis. Don’t forget about National Insurance payments too – not paying them can drastically lower your state pension pot. You may or may not need an accountant depending on your competencies, but they can be a source of invaluable knowledge. They know what tax breaks are available, from allowances for office equipment to offsetting for petrol costs, and what you can or cannot claim tax back on. Contact local accountants to find out about tax advice for Manchester Freelancers.
Network, Network, Network
If you’re not a big fan of socialising, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and get out there as a freelancer. The more you put yourself on peoples’ radar in your industry the more work you are likely to get. You should attend as many industry-related events as possible and not just those in your particular city – when work dries up go further afield, abroad if necessary and tap into new markets. You don’t have to put yourself in a room full of people all the time: you can use the internet to network too. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is looking professional and inviting, and connect with important people within your industry. Use Twitter to engage with people and try to post about important industry-related news. There are also many guides out there that can help to lift your confidence, especially if this is your first time undertaking any networking.
Though it will be difficult at first, you’ll need to come to terms with the fact that you won’t always have creative control. Unless you’re the one setting the briefs, you’ll often be at the whim of clients and you have to accept that when the time comes. Give feedback by all means but make sure you maintain a professional reputation by not forcing the fact that you know your market or niche better than they do. The client isn’t always right but they are paying your wages. Be as flexible as you can with your working hours as well, because you’re not confined to a 9-5 working day, you might be expected to work weekends and/or evenings.