Currently, there are 1.4 million freelance workers in the UK, which is 14% more than there were 10 years ago. Life as a freelancer is looking ever more attractive among university graduates and 78% of people think that going freelance would improve your work/life balance.
Being a freelancer might give you more control over the hours you work, but it does carry its own challenges with it. Here’s our advice on how to thrive as a freelancer.
If you’re a freelancer and you don’t have tonnes of Excel spreadsheets on the go, then what are you doing? Keep track of your earnings as you go, otherwise you’re really going to struggle when that tax return rolls around. It will also help you keep track of who has paid up, and who still owes you money.
It’s also worth keeping a record of clients, both potential and actual. Make a list of everyone you’d like to pitch your services to, and update it regularly, keeping track of what contact you’ve had with the people on your list.
Maintain office hours
When you’re working for yourself, you often forget to clock out. You can find yourself doing bits of work on the weekend, which probably isn’t how you envisaged your life of self-employed freedom.
Not having a good work/life balance can really affect your mood, and lead to you resenting your freelance work. So make sure that you protect your ‘me’ time.
Don’t neglect marketing
Showcase your work with a website and a social media presence. Self-promotion might feel crass, but it’s necessary. Even when you have a decent client base, it can never hurt to promote your services. Freelance work is unreliable, and if you don’t start doing any marketing until you’re in the middle of a dry spell then you’re in trouble.
Recruiters can help you
Recruitment consultancies don’t only do permanent and temporary roles. We, for example, recruit freelance designers, copywriters, arts and heritage workers and more. Pitching for work takes up a lot of your freelance time, but if you can find a recruiter who will source work for you, then you’ll find that you have a lot more time on your hands for doing billable work.
Recruiters can’t do it all for you, though. You’re still going to have to work on your own client base. But registering with a recruiter is quick, and could well lead to a rather lucrative contract or two.
Get out and see people
Arranging face-to-face meetings with clients that you’ve perhaps only dealt with via email is good for both your sanity and your business. Building relationships with the people who keep your business afloat is always a good use of time.
But even if you’re just popping out to meet a friend for coffee, it’s still a useful break to have. You’ll return to your desk fresher, and perhaps you’ll even have a solution to the problem that had been bugging you all morning.
Don’t dismiss in-house work
Some larger companies might want freelance work to be conducted within their office, particularly if it deals with sensitive information. Yes, it will mean you have to get back into the daily commute for a while, but it can also be a very welcome change of scene, and a chance to work in a new way.
Learn to say no
The unreliable nature of freelance work means that freelancers are conditioned to never say no to work. That’s leaving money on the table! It’s madness!
But your work will be judged by its quality, and you will be judged by your ability to deliver on time. If you’re so overworked that you can’t keep up the quality and promptness of your work, then learn to say no. You might miss out on one piece of work, but it’s better than losing a client over your slipping standards.