Six tips for first-time freelancers

Thinking of going freelance? Here are six tips to help you get started.

The promise of complete professional freedom and flexible working hours are just two of the reasons why many workers decide to make the switch from working as an employee to becoming fully self-employed. 

It’s a big and often scary leap to make if you’re new to it all. If you’ve been thinking about making the switch but aren’t sure if it’s for you, then here are some first time tips for making work as a freelancer a complete success in 2020 and beyond. 

1) Set up a professional virtual office

It goes without saying that as a freelancer these days you need to have a strong online presence. Making sure you’re visible on social media and freelancers’ sites is imperative if you want to get consistent work.

Tools like these are essential as your shop window to promote your skills and expertise and give people an insight into how you communicate. If you’re not on social media, or LinkedIn, now is the time to join and start making those valuable connections.  

2) Examine your finances 

There’s no getting away from the fact that freelancing is an unpredictable lifestyle, for all its other attractions. It can often take time to build up any sort of realistic income at first.

It makes sense to plan ahead and put together a savings account before you make the switch from full time to freelancer and start to add funds to it straight away. You should aim to get at least twelve weeks salary in there to begin with. 

3) Network as much as you can

Even though you’ll be working online and from home, you need to make sure that you attend networking events in your field so you can continue to make ‘real life’ work connections that will stand you in good stead in the future.

You can get help and tips from other freelancers in the same position as you, and networking events offer a superb learning experience that can help inspire you.

4) Set up a website and utilise software tools

No freelancer should even contemplate becoming self-employed without having a website these days. A professional looking online presence is essential, as is making sure it is kept up to date regularly too.

Investing in and using task management software and tools is a must to make sure you keep on top of all your work, as well as know where you’re up to with every client you deal with. A strong portfolio makes a freelancer look professional and trustworthy.  

5) Make contracts with clients

One essential point to make is that it’s necessary to make contracts with clients, especially those you may not have worked with before.

It’s a fact that at some stage, every freelancer will be messed around by someone they work with and so having everything written down means that in the event of any disputes, you can stand your ground. This helps both the freelancerand client know what they’re undertaking. 

6) Make sure you don’t become isolated

Freelancers can sometimes feel isolated as a result of working from home. Attending networking events can help with this, but at some point during every working day it’s important to leave the house even for half an hour or so, to get fresh air, exercise and interact with others. Even working from a coffee shop or library once or twice a week can help. 

Photo by Trent Szmolnik