Finding work and managing money as a freelancer
I’ve been freelancing this time around for just over a year, but in total, I’ve been self employed for over 4. I think that having been self employed on 2 separate occasions has given me an interesting perspective on what works and what doesn’t. This is a round-up of how I find new work and how I manage the money side of things.
I have 3 regular clients that give me 90% of my work. All of these clients are people that have I have worked with closely in the past. Luckily, this has meant that I haven’t had to ‘go out’ and find more work.
However this tells me that I need to build up more long-term relationships with people, if I want a hope of getting new clients in the future.
Networking with a small ‘n’
I don’t like the term networking. I went to some proper Networking things when I first started out. The organiser actually said the word “Synergy” so I never went back.
Even though Networking (with a capital N) sucks, in reality though, you do need to network.
Blog, speak at meet-ups, help people on Twitter who ask for help. Doing all these things can help grow your network of contacts, and people will then help you in return. Just share what you know, don’t worry about being an expert.
Work hard. Don’t be an asshole. Share what you know.
— Brad Frost
When you first go self employed, tell as many people as you can. Tweet about it, share it on Facebook, tell your Nan. You never know where work will come from… and in my experience, people like to help you out when you are just starting.
Love thy client
I try to work really hard for my clients. Not only do I want to do a good job for them. But I want them to recommend me to other potential clients. Given that it can be hard to get new clients… hang on to the good ones that you have. Find ways to show them that you care about their business.
Go out and find work
- Tweet that you are looking for work
- Ask local agencies if you can pop in for a coffee (don’t give them the hard sell)
- Working Nomads
Money, business, tax etc.
Being self employed
Registering as self employed is very easy and you can do it via The HMRC website. One day, I intend to go VAT registered and become a Limited Company, but for now self employment suits me fine.
Hang on to paperwork
If you have just left your job, hang on to your pay slips and P45. In fact, just keep every bit of paper from now on.
Saving for your tax bill
Every month, I aim to ‘pay myself’ a regular amount of money. In reality this means transferring money from my business account into my personal account. I then keep a portion of this aside in a savings account, ready for my tax bill.
Having a separate bank account is a really good idea. I found that using Lloyds (because I do my personal banking with them) was the quickest and easiest was to setup a business account.
Most business accounts tend to have a ‘free banking’ period (around 12 months) where they won’t charge you for transactions.
FreeAgent is a simple accounting tool that helps you to track your time, send invoices, log expenses and fill out your tax return. I can’t recommend it enough.
What to charge
I used the handy UK Freelance Rates Calculator by Cole Henley.
Get business insurance
Having business insurance helps me to sleep at night. I used Insurance by Jack to sort my policy.
Record all your expenses. In most cases, I receive invoices via email (for Adobe Creative Cloud, FreeAgent, hosting etc.) which are easy to save for later. If you are buying things when out and about, make sure you keep the receipt (you can claim expenses on things you pay for using cash and personal cards too). Keep a note of mileage, travel costs and house bills too.
I hope this helps with some of the questions that you may have about going freelance. If you have questions… feel free to tweet me.