How To Go Freelance

Freelance Job Advice and Work Tips for Freelance Writers, Designers and Consultants

Freelance book now available

Freelance Book

I wrote a book about freelancing! It’s called “Freelance in 30 Days” and you can buy it here.

This book aims to get you excited, inspired and absorbing insight into what it takes to go freelance, attracting your first clients, standing out as a high-profile freelancer, and building a valuable pipeline of new business for your freelance consulting business.

I believe you can make it as a freelancer. This freelance book will help you along the way.

Here’s a bit about the book in numbers:

  • 42,562 words
  • 210 pages
  • 100 days to write and publish the whole book
  • 42 chapters
  • 10 interviews with freelancers included in the book
  • 3 convenient formats – PDF (for Mac or PC), EPUB (for iPad, iPhone, Android, and ebook readers), MOBI (for Kindle)
  • 0 spelling errors (according to Amazon)
  • 100% happiness guarantee (if you buy the book)

I’m planning a follow up post to let you know how I went about writing the book and how I’ve found things since the book launched.

I’m also going to add the book to Amazon and a print-on-demand service, but for now you can get the book on this site.

Please do take a look at Freelance in 30 Days and share with any friends or family you think would appreciate a book about freelancing (it would make a fantastic Christmas gift…)

 

 

Today is my birthday, here’s a present for you

Freelance in 30 Days

Today is my 30th birthday.

Yes, I’ve reached the big three-oh.

I can already see wrinkles appearing by the minute…

To celebrate, I’ve been whisked away for a surprise trip and I’m writing this from the cosy bedroom aboard a boat. One of the advantages of freelancing is that you can take a trip whenever suits you and you can work while you’re there, if you’ve set yourself up for mobile working.

I’ll be writing more about travelling as a freelancer and how to make it work in the coming weeks. This year I’ve been to Japan, India, Germany, Spain , and the US, all while still running my freelance consulting business.

While I’m on this particular trip, I’m planning to put the finishing touches to my book, Freelance in 30 Days.

And to celebrate my 30th birthday, I’m giving you a present (that’s how generous a guy I am!)

From now until December 30th, I’m offering 30% off the normal book price. Simply enter the code ‘happybirthday’ when prompted.

That’s 30% off Freelance in 30 Days until the 30th to celebrate my 30th.

That’s a lot of 30s…

The book itself is being published later this week on December 19th, but you can preorder it now. And I’ll be sure to tell you again when the book itself has been published so you can get yourself a copy.

It would be a lovely birthday present if I could sell a few copies of my first book, but an even bigger present for you if you buy the book, follow the advice and then make the transition from employed to self-employed. That would be worth celebrating for me.

Ok, I’m off to open some birthday presents, but don’t forget – it’s 30% off Freelance in 30 Days until the 30th to celebrate my 30th (just use the code ‘happybirthday’).

Get it now!

Freelance HR Consultant Q&A: Soraya Haffar, Love HR

This is the tenth in a series of interviews with freelancers, telling us their stories on how they went freelance. The aim is to help others who are thinking of becoming freelance learn more about what it takes, as well as get advice and inspiration so they can get the confidence and understanding to find out if freelancing is right for them.

If you want to take part in the series, simply head here to tell us your freelance story

Love HR Logo

Name: Soraya Haffar

Freelance area: HR

Freelancing since: August 2014

Website:  lovehr.org.uk

Twitter: @lovehrltd

What made you decide to become a freelance HR consultant?

It was an epiphany moment. I had always been an employee of a company but over the past 5 years took on fixed term roles for a range of different companies from small manufacturing to international media.

The crunch point came when I was offered a permanent (very well paid) job at a global finance organisation and had the lightbulb moment; what if I went it alone? I could potentially work with a range of different companies and cultures and even create my own way of working.

From that moment on I could not stop thinking about my idea, it took over most daily thoughts and I decided that if I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I owed it to myself to give it a shot- if anything to take back control of my sanity!!

What steps did you put in place before you went freelance?

With hindsight, not enough. Once I decided to create my business, which was whilst I was still in employment, I began looking into how to set up a limited company. I was put in touch with Companies House and used useful resources such as the GOV.UK website.

I also visited the local library and read up on business start ups, networking and finance. I also read a lot about entrepreneurs to get the confidence that I could do it too.

I started networking whilst I was still in full time employment as well. I simply googled business networking in my area and found out about some of the most popular events, to see if I could start talking to other companies about the business I was setting up, ahead of time.

How did it feel before you went freelance?

The day before I left full time employment, it felt exhilarating. I practically bounced in to the office on my last day, knowing that from that day on, most things that happened in my career were of my doing and influence.

No other feeling compared to imagining being your own boss.

It was also terrifying – no other feeling is as worrying as being your own boss!

How does it feel now you are a freelance HR consultant?

I would say on the whole I feel very positive. I think in every freelancers career there are highs and lows, particularly when you start out.

You face concerns about where you will get work from, whether your rates are competitive etc but once you start to build up your client base and understand how people like to work, it becomes more interesting and rewarding.

For me, it’s a passion that I can’t flick the ‘off switch’ to. I’m also a perfectionist so can’t rest until I feel like something is as good as it can be, and love that I get the final say in what “perfect” is!

 

What are the positives of freelance life?

Freedom – I can start my day at 6am if I can’t sleep and be done by 2pm to enjoy the rest of the day.

Job satisfaction- you get a real buzz from winning a new client or setting up your own website. Everything you do that you have never done before gives you a kick.

Although at times it can be hard, once you’ve learnt a new skill you feel an immense proudness, it’s a great feeling.

 

What are the negatives of freelance life?

It can get lonely. I’m quite a sociable person and at times I have felt very isolated.

All of a sudden the people that you used to connect with, you don’t seem to make that connection anymore because as an employee, it is difficult to understand how much there is to think about when setting up your own business.

You no longer just do your job, you’re the Finance Director, you’re in charge of marketing, HR, you have to be a jack of all trades and enjoy that.

 

Any advice for others looking to go freelance?

Be kind to yourself and make sure you celebrate the small things. If you’ve just set up your first company Twitter account or written your first article – congratulate yourself because without a team of people around you, you need to make sure you are your own biggest supporter.

Finally, toughen up- people may try to put you off, to take business from you or perhaps put your ideas down but so long as you remain professional, positive and open to feedback, it shouldn’t impact you or your business.

 

Thanks for taking part, Soraya, and for sharing your tips and advice. Make sure to check out her website at lovehr.org.uk and follow her on Twitter at @lovehrltd

If you want to take part in the series, simply head here to tell us your freelance story.

 

Want to get more advice on how to be a happier, confident and successful freelancer? Get tips and ideas delivered straight to your inbox:

 

Free freelance invoice templates and generators

free invoice generators

Presenting yourself as a professional freelance consultant is important and there’s no better chance to give this impression than when invoicing your client, as it’s a great chance to finish your freelance project on a high.

There are loads of free freelance invoice templates and generators out there, but which ones are the best for you?

Do you want a slick, professional looking invoice for your freelance business, but will be encouraged to sign up to other premium freelance services?

Or do you just want to generate a basic looking freelance invoice, using an editable invoice template, without being sold to while you create your freelance invoice?

I’ve looked through the options available online to help you create a professional looking freelance invoice – for free.

(Where possible, I’ve listed if the invoice generators are completely free or if a paid freelance service is behind the site. If I’m wrong in any case, or you’ve spotted one I should add, then let me know!)

Crunch’s free editable PDF invoice templates

Free editable PDF invoice templates

Crunch’s range of sleek, simple invoice templates are created especially for freelancers, contractors and small business owners.

These templates include options for VAT and are even editable in Excel or Google Drive.

If you’re looking for an accountant, I recommend Crunch’s  freelance accounting services as well.

Invoice to me

Invoice to me

One of the free invoice generators that doesn’t seem to be trying to sell you another service, Invoice To Me lets you create and send professional looking PDF invoices online. Plus it automatically calculates taxes and totals for you.

Simple and free, with no advertising or attempts to upgrade you to a paid service, which is quite refreshing after looking through the others.

Invoice At Once

Invoice at once

InvoiceAtOnce.com is a 100% free, no registration needed online invoice generator for freelancers.

You don’t need an account and it comes with added features compared to Invoice To Me. For example, you can upload your company logo, choose currency, types and colours.

Probably the nicest looking freelance invoice template and they’re not trying to upgrade you to another freelance service, although the site does carry advertising.

Invoiced Lite

Invoiced Lite

Invoiced Lite generates quick, attractive invoices that you can print and email, for free.

Invoiced Lite gives you the ability to save invoices inside of your browser’s local storage, eliminating the need for an account, meaning you generate invoices straight from the landing page.

You can also upgrade to Invoiced.com’s unlimited package, which lets you accept credit card payments online from your customers, using payment processors like Stripe and Paypal.

Freshbooks’ free invoice generator

Freshbooks free invoice generator

Create, download, and send professional invoices with Freshbooks’ free invoice template and get paid hassle-free.

If you’re a freelancer, consultant or small, but growing company, Freshbooks’ invoice generator helps you create professional looking invoices.

Paydirt’s free Invoice Template

Paydirt's free invoice generator

A freelance invoice generator that’s so good, it even makes one of their freelance clients “not hate invoicing”.

Much the same as the other freelance invoice generators, but you can upgrade to the full Paydirt app and it will help you to track payments, accept credit cards, and be automatically notified of late invoices.

A great feature is that Paydirt can create invoices in 47 currencies and 16 languages. Need to send a Rechnung, or a Facture? Paydirt has got you covered.
 
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Managing multiple clients as a freelance consultant

Managing multiple clients as a freelance consultant

Unless you’re a freelancer who has a long-term client relationship, you’re likely going to be managing multiple clients as a freelance consultant.

Working with many different businesses has its plus points, from spreading the risk of losing clients to building up a body of work and knowledge that can be adapted and shared between your separate clients.

But managing numerous customers also comes with its stresses and strains. One minute you have everything under control, the next you get a series of competing client demands that all seem to come at once and that they all need to be delivered right now (or even better, that they want delivered yesterday). It’s easy to see how freelance projects go wrong.

The advice below will be of most relevance to new to freelancing or freelance consultants that have previously been working in-house or have been working at one job for a while.

If you fit this category, my main piece of advice is that you might find this aspect of freelancing tough for a while. It takes time and practice, and mistakes will be made. What’s more important is what you learn and how quickly you can take on board better ways of working that will help you avoid those mistakes in future.

If you’ve come from an agency or service background, you might be used to managing multiple client accounts. If so, the advice below might serve more as a reminder of best practises when working across clients.

But remember, as a freelancer you’ll be less likely to have someone to call on or get advice from when things get tough, so it might event take you a bit longer to get used to juggling client demands as a freelancer.

Whatever your freelance background, these tips and tricks will help you to manage multiple clients as a freelancer with ease.

Make contact every day

I love this rule, which is why I’ve placed it right up front.

There’s no better way to manage your clients well than by regularly keeping in touch with them, ideally on a daily basis.

Not only is this a great way of making your client feel that you’re focused on their projects, it also makes sure you keep on top of the work you’re doing for them as you’ll be consistently pushing that work forward.

Even if it’s simply a link to an article relevant to the project you’re working on, an update on the project status, or notes from a meeting earlier in the week, contacting your client daily will help build up a valuable relationship with them.

Remember who is paying what

With many different clients, you need to remember who gets priority. And there’s no better way of making that clear than by keeping in mind how much each client is paying you.

Sure, there’s one client that’s isn’t paying you as much as the others, but they’re easier to work with, the work is straightforward and you’re keen to avoid the more difficult work and client elsewhere.

This is an easy trap to fall into, but you want to make sure that you’re prioritising the work and your energy around the client who is either paying you the most or who has paid for most of your time.

They may be harder work than the other clients, but they’re your priority as they are your most valuable client at this time. Prioritise towards those clients that are paying.

Different to do lists for different clients

This is basic and related to the above point, but I’ve seen some people who still lump all of their to dos into one long list, no matter how many clients they have.

This makes the work under way impossible to prioritise, leading to important tasks being missed or you running out of time to complete tasks further down the lists.

A better way to manage your tasks is to split each client’s tasks into a separate to do list. This could be as simple as dividing your page into different sections for different clients, or having a new separate page for each client. You could even go as far as having a new notebook for each client, but choose whatever works for you.

Under each task list for each client, prioritise the ordering of the tasks or highlight the most important tasks. Just because you’ve split out your client work, this still means you need to prioritise the most important tasks first.

Even easier than the above is to use an online project management tool. Take a look at my list of 29 essential freelance tools you need to be a productive freelancer.

Different clients work different ways

This is more difficult to implement, but even working out how your different clients work will make your life easier.

Do they prefer to speak on the phone? Make sure you choose to call them over emailing them.

Do they like a regular weekly report to track progress? Put it in your diary to make sure you get that report, every week, without fail.

Are they too busy to speak on the phone or reply to your emails? Make sure your communicative, keep in touch, and arrange a face to face meeting every now and then. Even if they’re busy, you still need to be working to their ways.

You don’t have to go as far as remembering their partner’s or kid’s names (though that would help!) but you can see how fitting into your client’s working practices will make working with them much easier for you and build your relationship with them.

The other point to remember here is that if the client’s working practises are unreasonable (I’ve heard of some clients asking for short notice and bizarre requests from people during the weekend) then you should be able to push back on your client. Keep communicating, set clear expectations and you’ll be fine.

Every client is number one

When you are lucky enough to have lots of work on the go for different businesses, there will eventually come a time where there is a clash in what each client needs and what you can deliver – whether in actual work, in being on a call or meeting face to face.

You might feel split three ways or feel pressured to be in two different places at once, but the way you handle these situations can decide your relationship with not just one client, but two or more.

If you have a client conflict, you need to keep in mind that each client will expect to be treated as your number one priority, never mind how much you’re charging them compared to the others.

You can help alleviate the stress of these situations by making sure you communicate clearly with each client, manage expectations well by being clear on when work can be delivered, and if it’s a clash of meetings then try to come to a time and date that suits you and your client – without mentioning that you needing to change the date is due to another client meeting.

Most clients are understanding and are aware that you will be working with other businesses, but following the above advice keeps you in good stead with them. “Managing expectations” may be business jargon, but it’s a useful phrase to remember if you ever find your self in a situation like this.

This is perhaps the most difficult point here, but if you master this then you’ve definitely got the hang of managing multiple clients as a freelance consultant.

 
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Register your freelance consulting business in the UK, quickly, cheaply and legally

register a freelance consulting business in the UK

You’ve got the perfect name for your freelance consulting business. You may have even gone and registered your freelance domain name in a fit of excitement. You may even be lucky enough to have won your first client. It’s time to register your freelance consulting business.

If you’re like me, you may find the idea of going through the detail of finding out the exact process of legally registering a freelance business a little daunting. All that legal speak, acronyms, clauses for certain types of business. It can all get intimidating pretty quickly.

I’ve registered several UK freelance businesses before, getting the process done more quickly and with more confidence each time. Here, I’ll take you through everything you need to know, in plain English. But if I haven’t covered everything you need, leave a question in the comments below and I’ll answer it there.

This is the UK version of registering your freelance consulting business. Get the US version here.

When should I register my freelance consulting business?

If you’re not sure when to register that you are now a freelancer, here’s an easy answer for you: register as soon as you start working and charging for work you do yourself, outside of your day job.

Once you start working for yourself, HMRC classes you as a sole trader – even if you’ve not yet told anyone yet.

Still not sure whether you’ve started working for yourself?

Here’s a list that will help. If you match any of these, you’re a sole trader:

  • run your business for yourself and take responsibility for its success or failure
  • have several customers at the same time
  • can decide how, where and when you do your work
  • can hire other people to do the work for you or help you at your own expense
  • provide the main items of equipment to do your work
  • are responsible for finishing any unsatisfactory work in your own time
  • charge an agreed fixed price for your work
  • sell goods or services to make a profit

Matched any of the above? HMRC says you must register and follow their rules for self-employed tax and National Insurance.

One important thing to note is that you can be both employed and self-employed at the same time.  Working your day job during the day but doing some freelance design work or copywriting in the evening? You still need to register as self-employed for that moonlighting work.

If you’re still not sure and want the official word, take this handy Employment Status Calculator from HRMC and see where you sit legally.

Should I register as a sole trader or as a limited company?

If you plan on just working for yourself and match the criteria in the section above, register as a sole trader.

However, if you’re going to be running your freelance consulting business with someone else, or are going to earn over a certain amount per year, you may want to think about becoming a partner in a business partnership or setting up your own limited company.

With a limited company, responsibility for the maintenance and running of the company (as well as the legal and financial responsibilities) all come down to you.

With a business partnership, responsibility for the running of the company and the legal and financial responsibilities are shared between each member of the company.

You can read more about setting up a business partnership or a limited company on the HMRC website, but for all intents and purposes if you expect to earn less than £81,000 a year (the point at which you have to register for Value Added Tax, or VAT), it will be best to register as a sole trader.

What information do I need to register my freelance consulting business?

Getting the required information together now will save you from having to go back and get it at a later time when you come to complete your registration – plus it’s also useful to have this information on file in case you need it at a later date.

When you register as a self-employed sole trader, you’ll need to provide the following information.

  • Name
  • Address
  • National Insurance number (If you don’t have one, contact the Jobcentre on 0845 600 0643 or 0845 602 1491 for a Welsh language contact centre)
  • Date of birth (You definitely should have one of these)
  • Phone / Mobile number
  • Email address (can be gmail, hotmail yahoo or whatever – as long as HMRC can reach you)
  • The nature of your business (e.g. what you’ll actually be doing)
  • Start date of self-employment (when you first started working for yourself)
  • Business address (can be the same as your home address)
  • Business telephone number (can be the same as your personal phone  mobile number)

HMRC will walk through your registration with you, so making sure you have this information to hand is important so you can complete the freelance business registration process in one go.

I want to register as a self-employed sole trader and have all my information ready. What do I do now?

Now you’re clear on how you want to legally structure your freelance consulting business, it’s time to register as a self-employed sole trader with HMRC.

This breaks down into three main areas:

  1. Telling  HMRC
  2. Keeping records
  3. Paying tax

Telling HMRC

This is it! The part where you actually register your business – exciting!

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (or HMRC for short) will need to know that you’re now working for yourself to make sure that you pay the correct Income Tax and National Insurance. You’ll need all of the details you got together in the last section.

As a new business, you can register on the HMRC website and create your HMRC online account at the same time (registering online just makes it easier to keep your records updated and see where you are with certain requirements and deadlines).

You can also register by phone or by post (more details on the above link), but it’s much quicker and more convenient to register online.

You can also work out how much Income Tax and National Insurance you should be paying through Self Assessment.

Keeping Records

Most self-employed sole traders use cash basis reporting for their accounting records.

This is the most simple way to report your earnings, as you only record income or expenses when you receive payments from a client or pay a bill for your business. This means you won’t need to pay Income Tax on money you haven’t yet received in your accounting period, which is great for keeping a healthy cash flow going for your business.

As a self-employed sole trader, you’ll need to keep records of:

  • all sales and income
  • all business expenses
  • records of your personal income

You’ll also need to keep proof of those incomes and expenses. The types of proof that you’ll likely have as a freelance and that HMRC accepts include:

  • receipts for equipment or services you’ve paid for
  • bank statements showing income and outgoings
  • sales invoices for work you’ve completed

If you haven’t started keeping records yet but have started working for yourself and earning income as a freelancer, start now. Open up a spreadsheet, set up one tab to record all the work you’ve been paid for and when, then on another tab everything you’ve paid out so far to get your business up and running.

Start recording your incomes and outgoings now if you haven’t started already. You won’t regret it later and don’t want to be playing catch up at a later date, when you’ve got your head down in delivering actual client work.

Paying Tax

As a self-employed sole trader, you’ll also need to pay your tax each year.

HMRC says that this is usually made in 2 payments – on the 31 January and 31 July. Though this may be different and they’ll let you know when you register your freelance business.

For example, if you’re self-employed and the tax due for 2014 to 2015 tax year (1st April 2014 – 31st March 2015) is £3,000. For the 2015 to 2016 tax year(1st April 2015 – 31st March 2016) you make your first payment on account of £1,500 by 31 January 2016 and your second of £1,500 by 31 July 2016.

If the above is confusing, you can make working out how much you’ll like owe easier by using HMRC’s calculator to help you budget for this.

The tax rate varies depending what line of business you’re in, but to keep it simple it’s best to set aside 20% of whatever you earn as a freelancer. Setting aside this cash early before you’ve spent it is important. You don’t want to get stung by a larger than expected tax bill and not have the funds to pay for it.

Make this even easier to keep track of by setting up a separate bank account and putting 20% of whatever you earn from client payments into this account. That keeps is separate, means you won’t be tempted to spend it, and you’ll have the cash ready to go when the taxman comes knocking.

One good thing to note is that when you register your freelance business online, you can visit the HMRC website to see when your next tax return is due for filing. When you do your tax return online, you’ll also be shown a ‘tax calculation’ that tells you the tax due, the next payment amount due, and when these are to be paid.

When you first register online, make a note of the dates and put reminders in your diary – plus reminders for the month or two before to remind yourself to get your books in order.

I still have questions or am not confident I can register my freelance business properly, what do I do?

If you still have questions and are worried that you might not set up your business properly, then it may be best to hire a specialist to complete your business set up for you.

A good accountant will handle your freelance business registration for you and it will save you time and stress at a key period in your freelance career. Time saved here can be spent finding and winning clients.

It’s also a good idea to contact an accountant if you have a complicated financial setup, or will be freelancing in a sector with special rules or regulations (e.g. construction, childminding or taxi driving). Getting it right now will save you hassle in the long run.

Congratulations,  you are now officially a freelance business

Follow the steps above and you’ll be the proud owner of a freelance consulting business in the UK – nice work!

Now the real work of finding freelance jobs, networking as a freelancerkeeping clients, and delivering high quality work begins. Luckily I’ve got plenty of freelance consultant guides for you to get started with.

Did I miss anything out or do you still have questions? Let me know in the comments.
 
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Find freelance work quickly as a new freelance consultant

find freelance work quickly

Last week, I posted a shout out for National Freelancers Day, inviting anyone to get in touch with any questions they had about the business of freelancing.

The idea came from the emails I sometimes get from readers who are looking for advice on how to go freelance or improve their current freelancing business. Like the email from Laura, who was looking for advice on negotiating freelance rates with clients.

Following my call for questions, I got an email from Andy who was looking to find freelance work quickly as a new freelance consultant.

Here is Andy’s situation as he explained it to me:

“Until this week, I was running social media for a big brand retailer.

Unfortunately, things didn’t end well and I’ve found myself without a job and nothing in the pipeline. Needless to say, I wasn’t prepared for this outcome.

I’ve been seriously considering starting out as a freelance social media consultant for a while now, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to do so.

However, I’m concerned that I don’t have anything lined up, and I can’t approach my previous employer for freelance work.

I wondered if you had any advice for how to get up and running quickly and how to generate some business without relying on a former employer?”

How I find freelance work quickly

Here’s my advice to Andy:

Update your online profiles: Before you start looking for work, take the time to get your CV in order, update your LinkedIn, Twitter bio, etc, to reflect your new situation. Make sure to add details on what you achieved at the role you just left, emphasising the results you achieved, not just what you did.

Approach similar companies and agencies: Google around for PR / Digital / Marketing / Social agencies that represent the big  brand retailers and send them your CV, making sure to add a highly personalised cover note targeted at them. Say you’re freelance and can offer social media support, for retail brands and other consumer brands (don’t want to pigeon-hole yourself too much). They might have some opportunities for you there and then, but more likely they’ll keep in touch with you. Some of them may even have permanent roles going.

Contact freelance recruiters in your area: Recruiters will have jobs readily available for you, whether short-term or long-term contracts. I’ve had a great experience with the guys at VMA Group (tell them I sent you), but also check out Cloud Nine Recruitment. There are also plenty of freelance jobs going on sites like The Guardian and Indeed.

Reach out to freelancer communities: I’d also post a message to the following Facebook groups, saying you’re looking for work if anyone has any roles going:

There’s a lot of people who are members of more than one of these groups, so make sure to make your post to each group personalised.

Try freelancing remotely: Sites like Freelancer.com, People Per Hour and Elance are full of people looking to hire social media freelancers. Although the pay might be lower than what you’re used to, they can help plug a gap in your income and you can quickly build up a reputation for yourself on these sites and start to command higher fees. Take a look at these tips for how to make the most of these freelance job sites.

So, a brief exchange but hopefully a valuable one to Andy– and to other freelancers who find themselves in this situation.

How others find freelance work quickly

Although Andy may be looking to find freelance work quickly, there can be a downside to this approach, as Carol Tice points out:

Here’s the basic problem with the “quickly” mentality: In freelancing, as with any startup business, when you take the quick fast buck, it robs you of the time you need to find the big-money assignments and to do those better gigs.

So where do you find those better gigs? Natalie Brandweiner recommends digging up those old but existing relationships:

Take a look back through your inbox and spot any potential clients that you may not have thought of before – perhaps you did some freelance work for a company two years ago, or there was that job you never got but built a good relationship with the person that interviewed you. Be imaginative with your client ‘hit list’ and don’t leave any avenue unexplored.

What would you do in this situation? How do you find freelance work quickly?  What other sites out there are good for finding freelance work?

And don’t forget – I’m here if you want advice on any of your freelance challenges. Just get in touch and I’ll see if I can help.

 
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National Freelancers Day 2014: Ask me anything! #NFD2014

national-freelancers-day

Wednesday 19 November 2014 marks the sixth National Freelancers Day (here in the UK anyway).

Over the last six years National Freelancers Day has been celebrating the rise of freelancing and cultivating a nurturing environment for freelancers.  According to IPSE, the organisers behind the day, there are now almost five million self-employed people working in the UK which means 15% of the workforce are now choosing to earn their living as freelancers.

This year their headline event takes place in London, right in the heart of Tech City. Manchester and Edinburgh will also play host to celebrations of their own, while on the website they will be hosting live streams and interactive discussions throughout the day.

You can also follow along with National Freelancers Day by  using the hashtag #NFD2014, so there’s plenty of ways to get involved.

To join in with  National Freelancers Day, I thought I’d take inspiration from Reddit’s famous Ask Me Anything feature, where everyone from Barack Obama to Bill Murray has invited people to ask them anything.

I really love getting question from readers, so would enjoy helping out even more by answering questions that any of you might have.

For example, Laura and I got into a discussion on negotiating freelance rates with clients and tips to get your best fee.

What challenges are you experiencing this National Freelancers Day?

Let me know. I’d love to lend a hand!

If you’d like, you can leave a comment on this post and your questions will go straight to me.

Or you can email me directly using the contact details here.

It’d be great to hear your unique experience and questions on freelancing. I’ll do my best to put together some ideas for you, via a blog post here or through email.

I’m excited to help out the best I can this National Freelancers Day!

 

Negotiating freelance rates with clients: tips to get your best fee

Negotiating freelance rates with clients

Negotiating freelance rates with clients can be notoriously difficult. There have been several times recently where I’ve had to discuss my day rate against the project the client is offering, trying to find ground where we’re both happy with the rate.

So when I received this email from Laura, we got into a great discussion about how best to negotiate your rates as a freelancer.

Here’s Laura’s story:

“I am writing to you with a specific question. I have been working on a relatively long term freelance innovation strategy project. During the first phase, which was 12 days, I had negotiated a day rate of 320 – down from 350 a day. The next phase was comprised of about 20 days at the same rate.

After the first phase of 12 days completed, my client requested that I work for 60 days at a reduced rate. We ended up at a figure out 280 per day, approximately 17,000 for 60 days, which has meant 3 months full time.

On one level, I’m quite pleased that I could count on this bulk of work to financially plan. On the other hand, I resent the lower rate. I also think that I could have negotiated fewer days for the same fee, more or less. However, that is done.

My client now seems to want me to work extra days on this project. My question to you is: do I charge him my normal day rate of 350, the initial reduced rate of 320, or the last rate of 280?

I can argue for each rate: this is a new phase, and it will be fewer days, and thus, a higher rate; or it should be at the same last rate because its extra work in this last phase.

I’ve been feeling kind of annoyed at myself for negotiating down so much.  Do you really think that is ok, 280 per day?”

How I negotiate freelance rates with clients

Here’s my reply to Laura:

“It sounds like you’ve had a great project, and looking at the fee over 60 days that’s pretty good.

Yes, it is annoying when you are negotiated down, but I think it balances out in the long run. Giving some leeway to your client means they’ll come back for repeat business – and that is extremely valuable compared to the amount of time and expense it takes in finding new freelance work yourself.

However, I’d argue that you should go back to the top rate. This is a “new” project  outside of the and you’re working over and above the original project.

You could easily explain to your client that the 350 rate is a 50% discount compared to your top rate, so they are getting fantastic value already.

Plus, you’re REALLY BUSY and have other SO MUCH work on, so you need to charge the appropriate amount ;)

I find this really hard too – charging my top rate where possible is ideal, but the actual negotiating towards that is difficult.

The other consideration is how hard will these extra days be? If they’ll be straightforward, then that may be less stress on being negotiated down and you won’t have to go around looking for new business – which costs time and money.

In the future, it can be best to switch across to value-based pricing in these situations – if the value of the project to the client is £xx, then you should be charging that rather than sticking to a time-based billing model. More on pricing your freelance consultant rates here.

Be confident, charge what you’re worth and ask for your top rate – they can always come back with another offer.”

So, a brief exchange but hopefully a valuable one to Laura – and to other freelancers who find themselves in this situation.

How others handle negotiating freelance rates with their clients

Looking at around at what others have said about negotiating freelance rates, the always brilliant Brennan Dunn has the following advice:

“Never negotiate on rate. Negotiate on scope (i.e., what you’re going to do.) If the math doesn’t work out with what they want to do and the budget they have to do it, do less. Never let your client dictate the scope and the cost of an engagement.”

Simon Horton from Freelance Advice has this, err, advice:

“You should be the first person to mention a figure and you should start as high as you can justify, and have your reasoning to back it up. Why should you be the first? Because it means you set the reference points. You will get a better end result if you negotiate down from £100 per hour than if you go from £50 upwards.”

What would you do in this situation? How do you best negotiate freelance rates with clients?

 
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The wrong time to go freelance

wrong time to go freelance

You might feel that you’re ready right now, but there is definitely a wrong time to go freelance and a right time to go freelance. Make the move at the wrong time and you could find yourself regretting your decision and wishing you’d thought through your decision more.

Here are the reasons I think make it the wrong time for you to quit your job and go freelance. They aren’t intended to put you off from ever going freelance, but I hope they’ll give you food for thought and a surer footing before making the leap into freelance life.

And don’t worry, I’ll follow up with my run down of the right time to quit your job and go freelance.

When you don’t have a plan

Yes, even the best laid plans go to waste, but having an idea of what service you’ll offer, how to find clients, where you’ll work from and what you’ll do if things go wrong are the bare minimum of a plan you need to have in place before you go freelance. Take a look at my freelance checklist to help you get ready to make the jump.

When you’re angry

If you don’t get on well with your boss or you’re fed up with your job, freelancing can feel like an attractive option. But building a successful freelance career is difficult and not for everyone. Are there ways that you can improve your current job or work at building a better relationship with your boss? That may be a better option.

When you’re in debt

If you’re looking for a way to make some quick money, freelancing is not it. Finding clients, finishing projects and getting paid takes time. Freelancing isn’t your best option here. Get professional advice from a financial or debt advisor.

When you read a single book on freelancing

You might suddenly get inspired to go freelance when reading around about how others have gone freelance. But much if what is written out there just skims the surface of what it takes – my writing included. While it is a great idea to read more about the day to day of freelance life, try to read between the lines and sort the signal from the noise.

When you get your first client “on the side”

Congratulations! You me won your first client while still in your job and are earning extra money on the side. This may make you feel like a big shot, but the reality is that this is just one client. That first project will unlikely bring in the same amount of income as your current job, the project will inevitably come to an end and you’ll have to find more clients. Make a plan first.

When you’re fresh out of school

You may think you know it all, but you certainly don’t. I’m many, many years out of school and have been freelancing for several years now, but am learning every day. It may be better to get a job at a company or agency in a relevant industry to learn the ropes of the job first, build your network and get a name for yourself. You’ll be in a better position to go freelance in a few years time. And once you are freelance, never stop developing your skills.

You have too much else going on in your life

Freelancing is a full time job – and mostly even more so. Not only do you have to deliver on client work and projects, but you have to find those clients, market yourself, do the finances and bookkeeping and deal with the other myriad tasks and challenges that come with being a freelancer. If you have too much going on in your life – a house move, a new arrival in the family, a long holiday – then it would be wise to wait until a better time comes along.

You see being a freelancer as an easy way to live

It’s not. There are lots of challenges, many of them unexpected. You have to work hard to keep your clients happy, to finish your work to a high standard and to run your business well. It takes time, dedication and hard graft.

You don’t know your market

Do you know what your clients are looking for? Not just in services you can offer, but the value they take away from that work? Do you know where they look for freelancers, or if they even work with freelancers at all? Do you know what the going freelance rate is in your industry? Do you have a strong industry network, that can give you advice and refer you work? Make sure you can answer these questions confidently before you go freelance.

You fear failure

Even if you do go freelance and get off to a strong start, things can go wrong. In fact, many freelancers fail after just 18 months of being in business according to The Freelancer Club. If freelancing doesn’t work out for you and you fail, would that be ok for you? would you know what to do next or have other income and opportunities to fall back on?
 
Want more advice on how to be a happier, confident and successful freelancer? Get tips and ideas delivered straight to your inbox:


 

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