Born Freelance?Monday 10 June 2013, by The Media Team
Do you have a talent? Fancy making some cash from that talent? Are you thinking of setting up your own business but uneasy about where your customers will come from? Are you sick of that weird bloke who sits at the desk next to you wearing ‘comedy’ ties?
If the answer to any or all of these questions is a big, fat ‘YES’, then maybe freelance work is for you. Check out our Jobs section, where you’ll find thousands of great positions. Before you know it, you could be making a living doing something you love. No more Comedy Tie Bloke.
In the meantime, here are a few top tips to help you on your way.
Be clear about what you are
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But a precise description of what you do can help to find the work that’s absolutely right for you. And it can help potential customers to find you more easily.
If, for example, you’re a graphic designer, what kind of graphic designer are you? Do you specialise in particular areas? Where do your strengths lie and what type of graphic design best demonstrates those strengths?
Be your own marketing machine
No-one else is going to do it for you. It’s down to you to find customers, then to please them with the work you do and, hopefully, to keep them coming back for more.
Ask yourself questions like: Where are my customers? How can I most effectively reach those people? What do I need to say to them to convince them to hire me? How do I best demonstrate the value I can bring?
And, remember. There’s no more powerful form of advertising than word of mouth. When you do something brilliant for someone, get that person to tell his/her mates.
Make it work for you…
One of the most attractive aspects of freelance work is that it’s on your own terms. Develop a set of ‘rules’ for yourself: when you’re prepared to work, how far you’ll travel, minimum fees you’ll accept, types of company you will and won’t work with etc.
What’s the point in being your own boss if you can’t set the agenda? That said…
Especially when you’re starting out. Show willing, take the time to understand a customer’s needs, go that extra mile to over-deliver, do everything on time and to budget. It will all help to give the right impression and make your customers feel good about hiring you. Good karma that will, hopefully, come back to you in the form of more work.
As Gumtree’s Auntie Mabel was fond of saying: “It’s nice to be nice.”
Know your tax status
Not the stuff of great pub conversation, admittedly, but vital for anyone managing his/her own income. You should familiarise yourself with the rules governing self-employed workers and make sure you’re paying the right amount of tax. You might also want to seek advice on how to set up a business.
As good a place as any to start is the government’s website – they’re the ones who make the rules up, after all.
If you think you’d be spending a disproportionate amount of time keeping your books, why not look into getting an accountant? Unless you already are one, in which case it’ll just be a bit of extra (unpaid) work for you.
And finally…an interesting fact
Well, a fact at least. The term ‘free-lance’ was first used by Sir Walter Scott in Ivanhoe, meaning a mercenary warrior whose lance was not sworn to any particular lord. There you go. You can use that one at dinner parties.