I have been working as a freelance copywriter for an agency since 2013, and have been blogging since 2012, so have a few years as a freelancer behind me. This past year has just shown to so many people that working from home can be possible, and taking things freelance could very well be an option, rather than working for someone else. I love the freedom that it gives to me, allowing me to raise my children and be there for the school run and for trips, plays, and all of that other stuff.
I know freelance work isn’t just for parents, though, as the flexibility and being your own boss is something that will appeal to a lot of people. You can choose how much work you take on, the hours that you work, and so on. If you fancy working four long days a week and having a three-day weekend each week, then as longs you meet your client deadlines, you could very well do that.
As with everything, it isn’t all rose; there are definitely some challenges to working as a freelancer. Nothing is guaranteed, and there is no steady rate of income. One month you could earn very little, but the next you could earn a large amount. So with that in mind, here are some things to bear in mind, if you fancy freelance life, or are going to be starting out as a freelancer in the new year.
Calculate Your Living Costs
As has been mentioned, the amount that you earn each month can really vary. But to start off with, you need to know the minimum that you will need each month. Then, even if it is a quieter month, you will know how close you are to covering your costs or not. When you freelance you also set your own rates. You can charge whatever you like, essentially, but there are definitely ‘going rates’ for certain kinds of work. So depending on your level of expertise, knowing the base rate of income that you need each month can help you to decide what to charge.
Work Out Tax Each Time You’re Paid
When you work as a self-employed freelancer, you are the one that needs to work out your tax return. Of course, there are certain elements of tax-free allowance before you pay tax, but it is best to work out what the tax is for each project, so that you can set aside the money in a separate savings account, for the tax return at the end of the year. Use a program that caters specifically to your working situation such as TurboTax Self-Employed. You don’t want to get caught out and actually owe a really large bill!
If you have a home or dependants, then getting life insurance is something that is important anyway. But it is also a consideration for working as a freelancer. Life insurance offers you something called income protection, which is where there is a percentage of your salary that is paid out, if you’re unable to work because of sickness or an injury. It can vary from policy to policy, but can be anywhere from 50% to 100% of your income. It is a protection that gets forgotten about, but no matter your circumstances, could be super helpful, especially as a freelancer who doesn’t have an employer to cover things like sickness pay.
Set Your Working Hours
Although having some flexibility is really great, and that should be used when you need it to, I have found that it is so important to set yourself working hours. When you’re at home and the laptop is right there, it can be so tempting to just check in and see what emails you have, or do a little bit more work. That can be fine sometimes, but if it happens all of the time, it can really impact your work and life balance. So although there can be times when you need some more flexibility, have a guideline of the hours that you will work each day, and then don’t deviate, unless you really need to to get something done.
You might have contacts from previous employment, or get signed up with an agency in order to find some work. But for me, social media is a massive part of what I do, and in many cases, has been where I have got work from. So be social. Connect with would-be clients, as well as get in contact with other freelancers doing what you do; it can really help.
Good luck on your freelancer journey. The freedom is great, but you do need to make sure that you’re organised and on-top of things, especially finances.