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How to Get Into Freelancing

By: Lisa Koning - Updated: 29 Nov 2014 | comments*Discuss
Freelancer Freelancing Contract Work

Many people dream of being their own boss, but for some the thought of setting up their own business can seem to be a step too far. However, there is another option – becoming a freelancer or contractor can give you many of freedoms you crave without the responsibility of having people work for you.

How To Get Into Freelancing Or Independent Consultancy

It can be tempting, when looking at job vacancies sites, to consider temporary or contract work, especially when you do the calculations and it seems that you could earn potentially much more. But when doing your sums, you do need to take into consideration the following:
  • As a freelancer or independent consultant you may not be working 100% of the time. The market can change quickly and finding you next work opportunity may take time.
  • Freelancers do not get any perks, such as healthcare or car allowances.
  • There are other expenses, such as using an accountant and self-marketing costs to take into consideration.
  • Freelancers are responsible for their own training and ensuring their skills are up-to-date.

Here are some of the typical skills needed for freelancing...

Skills That Are In Demand

To be a successful freelancer you most likely need to work for a reasonable percentage of the year. A freelancer is highly dependent on the market, and those that get the most work are those that have skills that are in high demand and that have a lot of experience. Before you make the leap, do your research. Are there many jobs advertised and do you think you could reasonably expect enough work?

Independent Worker

Freelancing can be a lonely occupation, particularly if you work from home. If you regularly do short-term contract work, the freelancer does not get the opportunity to get to know work colleagues well, and at Christmas time the annual party can seem rather boring when it’s just you!

As a freelancer, you also need to be very self-sufficient.

Flexible And Accommodating

Freelancers need to be flexible to meet the needs of potential employers. An in-demand freelancer is one that listens to their client’s requirements and is accommodating to their needs. There is no place in the freelancing world for prima donnas and egos.

Able to Sell Yourself

As an independent consultant, you need to be proactive in finding work and selling your skills. It’s very easy for an employee to terminate the contract with a freelancer, so you need to perform at your best all the time.

Recommended Training To Prepare For The Role Of Freelancer

  • Presentation skills
  • Running a small business
  • Communication skills

Considerations for Becoming a Freelancer

Here are a few of the things you'll need to think about before starting out as a freelance worker:
  • Does your financial situation allow you to be out of work for a period of time without adversely affecting you and/or your family?
  • Freelancers can often find that work comes in peaks and troughs. Unlike regular employment, the freelancer can often be exceptionally busy for some months and then have no work for other months. Some people may find this uncertainty unsettling.
  • Freelancing is definitely more high risk than regular employment and this is typically why the freelancer earns more. High risk can need more stress.
  • Do you have existing contacts, who may be useful for potential employment opportunities or recommendations?

Freelancer: A Case Study

Neil had worked as an IT Systems Engineer for 20 years and found himself in the unwanted situation of being made redundant. While there were other potential full-time employment opportunities available, he decided to use his redundancy payout to set himself up to work as a freelancer.

Before he became unemployed, Neil contacted some of the vendors and suppliers that he’d worked with over the years and told them of his upcoming freelancing. One in particular was keen to continue working with Neil, and although it was only initially for a three-month period, it was enough to get him started.

Neil also invested some money in seeking advice from an accountant on how to set up himself as a freelancer. This was over two years ago and Neil has managed to work 75% of his available working time. He has earned more than he did in full-time employment but with changes in the market place he does find freelancing more stressful and time-consuming, in having to constantly look for future work.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
@Debo. Why not take a look at some of the articles in the Self Employed Section on this site. There's a lot of information there. Spread the word via your existing customers to start with, so you can get an idea of whether it is likely to work for you.
ACareerChange - 3-Dec-14 @ 10:16 AM
I am a 48 visual stylist (vm) and would like to become a freelance visual stylist, how do I go aboutit.
Debo - 29-Nov-14 @ 11:12 AM
im 31 and want to start working for myself,freelance but have no idea where or how to start,could you help?
farmer - 22-May-12 @ 12:21 PM
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