5 things I wish I knew about being freelance before I took the plunge...

Being freelance has its advantages. It can be an exciting life with regular changes to your work environment, new challenges and opportunities to be creative in different ways. However, like all jobs, being a freelancer takes practice. You may be good technically and creatively but alongside that you need to deal with the day to day business of being in business. Here are 5 things that most freelancers will tell you they wish they either knew at the start or they knew but didn’t really do enough about.

Saving for a rainy day. One of the mistakes new freelancers make is living high off the hog on those early contracts. When you have 6 months of well paid work visible it seems like a long way to the end. It isn’t though. In fact not only is it not a long time but then you may need to go hunting for work afterwards. 6 months on contract quickly turns into 6 months off. Be sensible and invest some of your hard earned cash to see you through rainy days.

The Taxperson cometh. In all fairness, H.M.R.C. is much more open and friendly these days but, make no mistake, they are coming. You need to either do company return or self-assessment at some point in the year and there is no escaping it. Tax, and for some people V.A.T. returns, are a legal requirement and you need to do them. We can help you with this one. Give us a call and we will be happy to talk about looking after your tax for you.

Livin’ La Vida loca. When you are putting in the long hours it’s easy to fall into the trap of releasing the tensions of the day by hitting the high spots. A little R&R is needed, have fun and go wild now and again, you earned it. Just make sure you listen to your body and slow down as well. Too much excitement and too much high living will not help your career and turning up at a job with a hangover or sleep deprived is never acceptable.

You can’t do everything. There are a hundred things you could do yourself but you need to offset this against the time taken to do them. You could for example design your own business cards but a designer will do it faster and better. You could negotiate your own contract but we could do that for you with a little more insight while you get on with other things. The list is endless so learn to delegate and buy in skills. It will often provide a better return on investment than doing it yourself.

Diary, Diary, Diary. Get a routine, follow it and project manage. You need to make sure you do the job on time but there are other things to consider. Make time in your day to do things like you are doing now. Read the blogs, keep up with the industry, check your social media or just chat to someone in the kitchen. And always stay on top of technical or industrial developments.

Being freelance is a great way to work if you make sure you are working right. The people who succeed tend to be the ones who know that and avoid some or all of the pitfalls.