No One is Prepared for Freelancing: How to start anyway

When you’re gearing up to become a freelancer, the reality can very far away. When you have the security of a full-time salary it can be easy to put off going solo until you feel ‘comfortable’. So, you read another article on ‘how to go freelance’. You follow more freelancers on Twitter to see how they do it. And you put off actually becoming a freelancer for another day.

We say, stop. Diving into freelancing is sometimes the only way to get over the fear of doing it, so here are some tips on how to stop dipping in those toes, head to the top diving board and Tom Daley-style dive right into freelancing.

Stop looking for quick fixes

Once you stop going to blogs and looking for a quick fix for all your freelancing fears, you’ll be able to face up to the reality of working for yourself.

Articles can easily skim over the tough parts and describe the basics of freelancing, but no matter how many articles you read very few of them will relate to your own real-life experience of freelancing.

Becoming a part of a freelance community is a good way to gain some perspective of working for yourself, but that doesn’t mean you should listen to their every word. Make sure you create your own experiences and stop looking for that one blog post that will fix everything.

Make your business plan

A very real step towards becoming a freelancer is to make your business plan. You may have a rough idea of the area you want to work in and the line of business you wish to follow, but before you quit your full-time job, you should sketch out your exact plans.

This includes the amount you will charge, the number of clients you’ll be capable of having, what you hope to earn in your first year as well as outlining potential obstacles that may get in your way.

This will help you be more prepared than you were, although you can never really be fully prepared for the bizarre transition from working for a built up company to sitting at home with a brew and a laptop, working for yourself.

Get taxes and accounts ready

Next is the meaty stuff. Get your tax and accounts sorted and you’ll be ready to start freelancing immediately (providing you’re registered with HMRC as a sole trader).

Recording income and expenses is a vital part of functioning as an independent business. Failing to do so won’t just mess up your finances, it could plonk you right in the middle of a HMRC investigation.

You should keep records either on a spreadsheet or through cloud bookkeeping software. Both ways will allow you to track your expenses and produce an accurate Self Assessment.

Create a workspace

The creation of a workspace will depend on when and where you do your work. Some may prefer the opportunity to network with other freelancers by making the most of a co-working space. However if your work requires intense concentration you may prefer to work in your own workshop or home office.

The most successful workspaces are often set away from home and leisure activities. If you’re considering an office it might be worth turning that spare bedroom into a workspace rather than turning the kitchen table into your desk.

However you prefer to work, it should ideally be set up before you start doing any freelance work to ensure you’re able to be comfortable and at your most ready for working.

Go live

Now it’s time to press the big red button.

Going live may be different for each freelancer depending on their industry and who they expect their clients to be. For example, if you’re a graphic designer putting your work live may mean  putting your portfolio on your website. Or if you’re an IT consultant, going live may mean simply advertising your services through social media channels.

Once you’ve gone live you should actively look for ways to market your business and services. From here you’ll be well into the freelancing lifestyle and be able to see if all those blogs you read were true!

Feeling unprepared for freelancing? Or did you have a great start to your freelancing career? Leave your thoughts, comments and experiences in the comment section below!


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