Today I thought I’d go for the big guns and tackle a subject that I have a love-hate relationship with. Freelancing. Rather than sugarcoat the topic, I thought I’d cover everything from my experience to the realities, the highlights and then some tips and downloadables.
Me, The Freelancer
I fell into freelancing by accident and on purpose. In my final year of University, we studied a whole module about freelancing in fashion and all of the potential pathways that were available to us. The module pretty much came to exist as a result of the whole no-jobs-for-graduates and no-magazines-for-journo-grads thing.
I began to freelance in copywriting, social media consultancy (planning and executing strategies for BAU and campaign work) and editorial both in-house and remotely, meaning I could place my other focuses on Aesthetic and building something else up. I have been both self-employed as a sole trader and dabbled in going with an umbrella company. In January 2014, I decided to put freelancing on the backburner and head to a pretty big company full-time, then in November 2014, I moved to a full-time position in Hong Kong, but my little business is still around.
The Boring Bits
Some top tips from my own freelance experience:
- Know your worth. You’re your own boss, employee, price list and more. Within my own work, I created editorial copy, advertising copy, planned social media strategies and executed projects, worked alongside up to 5 other teams to support their work, heck, I used to design magazine spreads and cover media events, run 8 social media platforms and more in one day! Take some time to add monetary value to these and work out your fees and pricing whether for day rates, project work or for client requirements. You're a pretty big deal if you're a one-man band.
- Accounts. I learnt to do my accounting at University – also where I set my company up – so it is almost second nature to me. Almost. HMRC isn’t as scary as you’d think. Keep your invoices (for money you’re earning) and keep your expenses receipts (travel if applicable, software, gadgets, stationery, etc.). Create a balance sheet and fill it in weekly and be deadly serious about it. After about a month, you’ll be able to see where your money is used work-wise and you can even use this to tweak your fees. This will also be your ticket to #THEGOODLIFE when tax return time rolls round.
- Get strict with yourself. The beauty in freelancing is that you work as you wish. I used my mornings to exercise and run errands or research, took lunch outside of my house, and then I’d be at my desk for 1.30pm to start work. Of course this is dependent on your client requirements, but remember to be strict and make sure you’re being productive with your days. Make a daily and weekly schedule and stick to it.
- Learning your own path. Another odd airy-fairy number from me, but being my own boss meant I could learn, carve and enhance my own path. Each day I’d be able to work out good and bad in how I worked towards a project and this would help my next project for another client. I learnt the skillset that suited me best and also worked out what I wasn't so great at.
- Me-time. When work time is also me-time, then things are good. I find I’m most productive when left to my own devices and even more so when work isn’t a rigid 9-5 thing. Sometimes I’d work from 2pm to 2am but it was still all good in the hood!
- Diversifying the skillset. Another kinda odd thing to pick out, but in freelancing, I completely diversified my skillset. Not only would I be providing services, I could now manage my accounts, organise days by campaign, provide innate research for multiple projects, my time management increased positively.
- Put your all into it. You have to be completely dedicated if you want to go it alone.
- Save like a crazy person before you make the leap. Freelancing is fairly uncertain to begin with.
- Be super strict about your balance sheets.
- Make sure you network and band together with like-minded freelancers.
- Balance Sheet Template
- Weekly Expenses Sheet - good for claiming expenses
- Daily To-Do / Weekly To-Do