Since we’ve already taken the plunge to go freelance and have a few years of experience under our belt, we are in the perfect position we think to give you some advice about going freelance.
It can be really exciting to think about being self-employed and not relying on anyone else to determine how much you are paid. Sure, the ball is in your court but there are crucial things to bear in mind before you take the plunge. And even after you begin working for yourself, there are even more that you can do to give yourself some peace of mind.
Consider going part-time before totally going freelance
When we decided to give up our full-time teaching jobs to work for ourselves, we had to really consider a lot of options. One of the best decisions that we made was to go from working 5 days per week, down to three and then to two.
This helped us to see what we could accomplish for ourselves on the days when we weren’t in paid employment. Not only that, but we completely took over the health of our minds and bodies by deciding when to do what, etc.
Going part-time gives you an opportunity to adjust your budget so that you don’t take on additional expenses that you will not be able to afford.
It has truly been one of the best moves we’ve made since adulthood.
Decide on what type of work you want to do
Some people are skilled with their hands and have perfected the art of making a living from it. People like carpenters, builders, dressmakers and artists, fall into this category. It is not a matter of having to learn a new skill but just a new way of working so that your skill pays you your wages.
Others may be skilled in other ways and can offer their services to those who are willing to pay. Think childminding, analyzing and preparing forms, writing, social media management, and virtual assistance.
There are also ways to turn to hobby into a money-making freelance business too. My friend who plays football for his local team has been approached by so many parents to train their little ones that this is now his full-time job when he himself is not playing. There are also hobbies such as balloon art, floral decorating, playing the piano or another musical instrument, crocheting, painting, knitting, and other crafts that can easily be monetized.
The possibilities are endless and moreover, some of these are so relaxing to do, it might be seen as laughable to think that you can make a living from it.
Protect your income
Don’t fool yourself, however. Sometimes things do happen and you want to make sure that you protect yourself and your livelihood should something happen to do and you are out of work.
What we would strongly suggest is that you take out some form of income protection. You decide what percentage of your income you would be able to live on if you were unable to work for a while. In our case, 70% of our usual income is fine to survive on for a few months especially as our children are grown.
You really need to decide what is best for you, depending on your circumstances.
Set up your system for paying taxes
Remember that when you work as a freelancer that you are basically running your own taxable business. So you need to keep accurate records of all your income and expenditure. It is also a good idea to set aside 20% to 30% of all earnings so that you have it ready when it is time to file your taxes.
Set yourself up for Self-Assessment so that you pay the correct amount of taxes and on time too.
If you are unsure of how to handle it, as it can be a little tricky when you just start out, just make sure to keep accurate records of everything which you would then need to pass it over to an accountant who will file on your behalf.
It is a good business practice to ‘give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar’, so don’t consider skipping this part. You certainly definitely don’t want the taxman coming after you for unpaid taxes.
Get yourself into a good routine and enjoy the good life
One of the best pieces of advice we were given when we were about to consider going freelance was to make sure that we set up a good routine. For sure, you will need to make adjustments as you see what works well and what doesn’t. But once things are smooth, take note and stick to it.
Thankfully, you will know what works best for you in terms of things like what time to start working, what times to take breaks, setting your rates, accepting and refusing work, etc.
Your time is now yours and it is precious so don’t waste it. Decide how much an hour of your time is worth (you could compare it to when you were in paid employment) so that you don’t take on anything which is time-consuming but which pays very little.
Also, employ systems that help you to maximise the use of your time. We use the Pomodoro Technique when we have writing jobs to do. Not only does it help us to keep track of time and to be as productive as possible during set sessions, but it also gives us the opportunity to take valued breaks too.
We also suggest that you value your time and worth so much that you take it seriously enough to make a good income for yourself and your family.
When you have set all of your systems in place, you will feel freer and less stressed about life. You can take holiday breaks when you want, and in some cases, you can even move to a totally new area as you are not dependent on an employer who is location dependent.
The world is your oyster when you go freelance so give it your best and you won’t regret it.
Enjoy it and all the very best.