If you have been made redundant from your job or have simply become bored with nine to five employment and have ambitions to work for yourself, then working as a freelancer may be exactly what you are looking for in terms of career progress. There can be many advantages to setting up as a freelancer, but there are also challenges, and you need to be both patient and disciplined to make working as a freelancer succeed.
The first issue to consider is determining whether there is a viable market for your services. Many organizations and companies have taken to hiring contract workers to fill skills shortages in the workplace or to cover themselves for specific projects, but the marketplace for such services can be competitive, and even if you have worked in the general field of ICT, for instance, you might not necessarily have the exact skills or the experience that clients are seeking.
Another key consideration in setting up as a freelancer is that if you are going to operate as an independent business then you had better start acting like one. Decide upfront what sort of structure would suit you best – sole trader, partnership with others, or limited company. Choose a business name that is easy for clients to remember and that is inoffensive. The same goes for your email address and website – a professional email address is essential and not a personal or supposedly witty one. As a freelancer you will be responsible for your taxes and other similar regulatory requirements, so familiarize yourself with those obligations and have a good accountant to hand to help you meet them.
If you know existing freelancers in your field, ask them how they started. Networking is essential, so join local networking groups or find them online. Jobs will not always flow naturally, but keep your profile out there and pitch for future projects even as you work on current ones.
Of course, getting paid is a vital issue for freelancers. Getting automatically paid at the end of the month is something that can no longer be relied upon, and as a freelancer you will be responsible for ensuring your own cash flow, which is a challenge to some. The good news is that contractor pay can be outsourced, so you do not have to administer the pay side of your own business and can focus instead on pitching to and working for clients. An umbrella services company will handle your tax and national security requirements. Essentially, you will be employed by the agency while working on different temporary contracts, giving you the flexibility to work between projects and clients while ensuring that your rights are protected and you are in compliance with taxation requirements.
Working for yourself as a freelancer can be enormously rewarding – from the variety of projects you work on and the different types of organizations you work in to the knowledge that you are gaining the monetary reward for yourself for all the hard work you put in. Nonetheless, it is sensible to determine if you really have what it takes in terms of willpower to succeed on your own as a freelancer.