Thread: Freelancing Board: All Saints / Ship of Fools.

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Posted by Jack the Lass (# 3415) on :
Next month I am going to be reducing my hours at work, with the intention of setting up as a freelancer in a different area of work. It occurred to me that there might be other freelancers here on the Ship, so I'm starting this thread to see if any of the more experienced freelancers would be willing to offer any advice. What do you wish you'd known before you started? What (if any) are the pitfalls you've found in freelancing? And what do you think are the best things about it?

This week I'm on leave and decluttering the spare room in an attempt to make a functioning home office. I'm also already registered for self assessment for tax because I rent out a flat (I'm not, at least initially, expecting an enormous income, so don't need to worry about more complicated tax arrangements). I have a few potential clients. All I need now is the time and space to try and make this work!
Posted by Brenda Clough (# 18061) on :
You live in the UK, right? So unlike American freelancers you do not have to worry about health insurance. I congratulate you; it is the driving issue for most of our professional and financial decisions.
Posted by Pangolin Guerre (# 18686) on :
Well, I'll start off playing So You Want To Be A Freelancer.

I don't know your industry, but in my experience, when I get a contract, the money is really pretty good. And then you don't have a contract. There have been times when I've long stretches of nothing, which can be dispiriting. At those times, it seems like I've spent more time pounding the pavement than actually working. At times I've taken contracts that I would rather not have done, but the money was good enough I couldn't be too picky. It's also about building a freelance portfolio. And then there's networking, which I find painful, but, then, most of my work has been through people I know, or because the person I know told someone I don't know about my work. I don't know about the UK, but in North America LinkedIn is worthwhile. I've yet to get work through it (though, I haven't been actively looking until this month), but it is a good way of getting a sense of your broader network, and notifications for positions that fit your profile.

In summary:
*have an emergency fund
*work as hard at finding work as actually working
*at least initially, don't be too proud about the work you take
*exploit your network

If all that sounds unattractive, it is, but my current contract is also the most fun, stimulating work that I've had in a very long time. On paper I'm not at all qualified for it, but I've been able to exploit a set of skills that the hiring team knew that I had.

Last word. Since you'll be on your own, if you don't have it yet, develop a ruthless self-discipline. Your reputation will depend on it.

Go get 'em, Tiger!
Posted by MaryLouise (# 18697) on :
Following up on what Pangolin Guerre wrote. I’ve freelanced for a decade or so and never regretted getting out of corporate media and publishing.

The first couple of years were the most uncertain before I built up a freelance portfolio and reliable clients, through word-of-mouth recommendations and a few social media networking sites. I didn’t spend anything on inessentials and saved as much as I could, set up a website to market myself for the first year.

Retainers have made me feel reasonably secure because that money comes in every month and I can count on it. The trickier aspect is working out how much work I do for that retainer and making sure I am always available on the phone or Skype for those clients paying retainers. One priority when the bigger payments come in is to upgrade computers, laptops, phones and software.

For most of the last decade I’ve overworked because I didn’t dare let myself take time off in case I missed a deadline. I have learned to be kind to myself if I am ill or tired and call clients to say I am taking a day or a week off and why. Trying to work through a bad bout of flu isn’t worth it. And I am learning to take holidays and not work on weekends.

If clients didn’t pay promptly, I would try to replace them. Delayed payments are a big source of stress and break my trust in clients. Many of the nicest people around are hopeless at paying bills on time and I’ve chosen not to go down the road of threatening letters or lawyers. I let it go and find a new client. This sounds obvious, but it is important never to bad-mouth clients on social media (Facebook or Twitter) or shame them in public into paying. Other clients or potential clients read a posted outburst or rant and wonder if you would do that to them too. I don’t ever discuss clients on social media, or promote projects – I’m not paid to do that.

I have found that as a freelancer, I’m inevitably out of the loop of office dynamics. Usually the freelancer is the last to be told about changes or delays in the production schedule, the last to be fully briefed or told the background to a project. There are no colleagues on hand for shared perceptions, no office gossip, no shared feedback on how I’m doing. It can get lonely and I’ve felt out of touch at times. Inevitably, clients get used to working with you and take what you do for granted. The workload tends to creep up. I’ve learned to speak up and take a break from time to time so the client has a chance to remember why they liked you. I’m also getting better at recognising when the client’s expectations are unrealistic and I won’t be able to meet them however hard I try. Competent freelancers are sometimes seen as miracle workers and that kind of reputation helps nobody.

Setting boundaries at home has been another challenge. Family, friends and neighbours assume I’m sitting at home all day with nothing to do, lucky thing, so they pop in for coffee or to give me a break from whatever I might be doing. I’ve spent considerable time discouraging people who pop in. On the other hand, online community has come to mean a lot to me, conversations on supportive forums, emails between friends. It is important not to isolate, especially when the work flow is going badly.

The plus side of freelancing has been the choice and autonomy, getting to work with really great, creative people on my own terms. Not having to attend planning or production meetings several times a week, manage staff or deal with ongoing workplace conflicts. I’ve become calmer, established a flexible working routine and feel I’m now less stressed by difficult interpersonal dynamics and able to focus on doing what I do best.

Good luck, JtL!
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
Look into co-working or shared working space. You might find it is worth paying money for a better space than your kitchen table.
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
In addition to what's already been said, and in addition to being good at what you do, I'd add that you need to be good at, and reserve time for, administration, book-keeping, and so on.

There's no point in being the best freelancer in the world if you forget to bill people, or if you confuse turnover with profit.

I'd also encourage you to meet up, if at all possible, with other freelancers in the same line of work. It may feel uncomfortable as they are potential competitors, but the networking effect outweighs this drawback in my experience.

Don't under-rate or under-price yourself. Doing so can leave you trapped in a cycle of too much work and no time to look for better-paid work. Also, beware of scammers. If it flatters your ego and/or seems too good to be true, beware.
Posted by Pangolin Guerre (# 18686) on :
Building on two points Mary Louise made: Years ago I had a semi-regular gig with a reputable magazine. It didn't pay a princely sum, but I enjoyed the work, it gave me time to work on other projects, and got on wonderfully with my editor, who was the one who hired me. When I invoiced, if my expenses were above the normal, I cleared it with her assistant before I submitted the invoice. Then she went on maternity leave, and was replaced by a fellow well respected within the industry, and whom I'd met on a couple occasions. I was soon getting emails from him complaining about the size of my invoices. I fought back, as they were not out of line. Then, instead of the usual two-three week turn-around, they were soon three months in arrears on three or four invoices. When I told him that he was in no position to complain, given how much they owed me, he said about his complaint that he was feeling like the supply teacher of whom the students take advantage and complained about the crimes of the other freelancers, and as to the delay, there was, erm, a delay because of a bug in the new accounting system. I reminded him that the other freelancers and the accounting system were his problems, and that a similarly reputable newspaper for which I also did work had no problem being prompt.

*keep a close eye on the calendar, invoice promptly, and note those who don't pay promptly
*as ML notes, you are out of the office loop - I suspect that I would not have had such an abrasive relationship with the second editor had I been in the office; I would more quickly felt the tug upon the web.
*in tandem, they highlight the importance of building a good relationship with good clients.
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
If you are in the US, you might want to consider joining the freelancer union

In the UK there is a new freelancers union launching in June with various things which might be useful like legal advice and invoicing service (ie you get paid immediately, they invoice the client and take a percentage).

Seems like a pretty good idea to me.
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
various things which might be useful like legal advice

Your UK mileage may vary, but I have found the equivalent service in my translators' union worse than useless. The only decent legal advice is the paid-for kind.
and invoicing service (ie you get paid immediately, they invoice the client and take a percentage).
Also doesn't suit me (unless you are absolutely hopeless at admin, which I don't think is necessarily a good thing when freelancing anyway). You can't expect an invoicing service to be taking a close interest in your bills, clients, mistakes, and bad debts. You are just another case file for them and all they want is your money.

Only today I had a client issue me a PO for the job ex-VAT instead of including VAT; clients have also been known to pay twice or the wrong amount. Keeping your own handle on all this gives you a better sense of who your good and incompetent clients are. It's time-consuming, but you keep control of your business.
Posted by Schroedinger's cat (# 64) on :
I was a freelancer some years ago. I would offer the following thoughts (echoing what others have said):

1. Your "job" is getting work. That takes a lot of time, especially as you also have to do the work you get.

2. Sort your admin. There is a lot of admin, and you need to get it done. Don't get the officials on your back.

3. Don't be proud. If there is work you can do, and there are not ethical or moral reasons against it, take it. It may not be the best work ever or the most exciting, but it is work. You are the freelancer, so you are liable to be used for work that others don't want. Tough - that is why you are paid for.

4. Sometimes you have work, sometimes you don't. When there is work, life is great, you are far too busy, earning lots. When there is none, you work all hours trying to search for something, and you get paid diddly squat for it. That sucks.

5. I really hope it goes well for you! It is a good life but not easy.
Posted by Doc Tor (# 9748) on :
Kind of freelance here. I lurch from one big contract to the next, which may take a year or so to complete, depending on the word count.

If I have any advice at all it's this: this is your livelihood now. Resist all siren calls to give your work away for nothing. Only do work you're going to get paid for. Don't undercut yourself. Work out the market rate by talking to other professionals.

(Networking is also seriously, seriously advised - even a filthy shut-in like me has picked up good (paying) gigs and worthwhile contacts by going to conferences and conventions.)
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Also doesn't suit me (unless you are absolutely hopeless at admin, which I don't think is necessarily a good thing when freelancing anyway). You can't expect an invoicing service to be taking a close interest in your bills, clients, mistakes, and bad debts. You are just another case file for them and all they want is your money.

It's a specific service called invoice factoring - see the wikipedia page:

In fact they do take an interest in your bad debt because they're taking it on and your client is then dealing with a larger financial organisation which owns the debt rather than little-old-you.

I appreciate it isn't something that is relevant for everyone, but for those who are being screwed around by clients who don't pay or pay extremely late, it is useful.

Only today I had a client issue me a PO for the job ex-VAT instead of including VAT; clients have also been known to pay twice or the wrong amount. Keeping your own handle on all this gives you a better sense of who your good and incompetent clients are. It's time-consuming, but you keep control of your business.
In my brief sojourn into freelancing, I had repeated clients who didn't pay at all.

With factoring, that doesn't happen and if it does it is someone else's problem.

Again, quite possibly not relevant to you, but if someone has worked for months on a very large client, then someone dicking about paying may be enough to upset cashflow, so paying for a factoring service might be worthwhile.

And fwi, union (in this case it is the Community union providing it) legal advice is often excellent, so I believe it will be a real boon to British freelancers who often experience crappy conditions and clients who mess them about.

In all these things YMMV.

[ 11. May 2017, 19:44: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]
Posted by Leorning Cniht (# 17564) on :
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
It's a specific service called invoice factoring - see the wikipedia page:

In fact they do take an interest in your bad debt because they're taking it on and your client is then dealing with a larger financial organisation which owns the debt rather than little-old-you.

And one risk attached to doing this is that the behaviour of the large financial organization now affects your reputation. How important is repeat business to you, and how much do you trust the people you sold your invoice to?
Posted by MaryLouise (# 18697) on :
This thread is bringing up all kinds of aspects of freelance life I haven’t thought about in a while.

Someone suggested to me when I first went freelance that I need to look at my home and designated spaces quite differently. I converted a spare bedroom (also known as the unofficial dumping ground for clutter) into a study with a filing cabinet and bookshelves for reference works, a big table with two monitors, laptop, landline, etc. A quiet small room with a pleasant but not distracting view. It is a permanent workspace and that is now the only purpose for that room. If I had to meet with clients regularly on my premises, I would rent an office. If I feel ‘cabin-bound’ after days of working at home on deadline, I take a laptop down to a coffee shop and work there for an hour or so.

As Schroedinger’s cat and others said, admin is really important, but too much admin can be soul destroying, especially when it has to do with resubmitting invoices and sorting out hidden expenses. I do it midweek for two consecutive afternoons and reward myself with a little chocolate afterwards. In the same vein, it’s important to be ready to fight for better rates or demand a fuller brief but fraught arguments can be utterly demoralising. I pick my battles and let things go at times. That invoice factoring sounds brilliant, I must see if I can get it out here.

It helps to know if you’re a morning person or a night owl after years of working 9—5 in an office environment. I get up early and work while it’s very quiet, draft out chapters and articles, deal with correspondence, sit and think. Later in the day when I'm less energetic, I do editing and revision, admin, fact-checking. A friend of mine begins work at 11pm and goes to bed at 6am, only surfaces at 11am and will murder anyone who knocks on her door before then. The sedentary desk-bound life is hell on the back so I get up as often as I can without breaking concentration and go for a walk or join someone for coffee down the road. It helps to stay away from the fridge or snack cupboard.

Energy levels again. Some people are energized by the workplace, having others around, the buzz of phones ringing, interruptions, teamwork, togetherness, competitive interactions. Some of us aren’t and come away from ‘brainstorming sessions’, conferences or workshops feeling drained and exhausted. It’s not that cut-and-dried: I like some interaction with clients and it is great to feel part of a team, but I work most productively when I’m left alone to get on with it. I network selectively and should do it more.

In recent years with steadier work, I’ve begun to use the times of plenty (bigger regular payments for work that is not wildly interesting or demanding in itself) to take risks on smaller uncommercial writing, editing or translation projects that aren’t going to bring in much of a profit (if any) but that excite me and help me acquire new learning skills. These are clients I know personally and where I feel we ‘match’ as readers and writers. Most publishers hate to pay for manuscript development because it is so vague and unresolved a phase but that is when editing can be most helpful and new authors need that. Getting in steady payment also gives me time to work on my own fiction pieces -- experimental, obscure and barely publishable -- without feeling I’m wasting valuable time.
Posted by Jane R (# 331) on :
Boundaries. Boundaries are important. Otherwise you will find that the work takes over your entire life when you have a lot, and you'll spend all your time worrying about not having any when you don't.

Oddly enough I found it easier to stick to regular working hours when I was working on my dining room table; because it was so much effort to set the workstation up, once it was up I felt like I had to get as much use out of it as possible. And it *had* to be packed away at the end of the working day, otherwise we didn't have anywhere to eat, and once it was packed away I didn't have to think about it.

Now I have an office with my work computer permanently set up there, I can just walk out and shut the door when I've finished work. But if I've got a lot of work to do or a deadline looming it takes a real effort of will to walk *past* the door after the end of the working day/week.

You won't have this problem immediately if you're just starting up, but once you are established you may find yourself being offered several jobs at once and have more work than you can manage comfortably. Remember, you're in charge of managing your workflow; if you don't think you can do a good job in the time available because you have too many other projects on the go, say so.

And what everyone else has said.

Indexer here. Reconciling the Seemingly Disparate since 2005.
Posted by Brenda Clough (# 18061) on :
In the US, depending on where you are, you can designate a space in your home as your office, and the tax people reckon the taxes differently on that percentage of your home. You can also do tax things with your 'work equipment', your desk, computers, etc. You should find a tax pro to help you on this, because it is cruelly complex and may vary from state to state.
And, if you're in the US especially, get into the habit of keeping receipts. All of them! Scan them or photograph them with your cell phone and file the images; sort them regularly into categories. Especially if you do the tax things with your desk, etc., you'll be depreciating the value of it over the 'life' of the equipment and will need to prove its original value.
Posted by Jack the Lass (# 3415) on :
Thank you everyone for your input, this is really interesting and very helpful! Most of what has been mentioned I've thought about, thankfully (I've not had any 'argh, how could I not have thought about that before?' moments on reading the thread!), but it's really important to hear 'from the coal face' about all the ins and outs and implications, not all of which I've thought about in much depth. So thank you so much for sharing your experience, I really appreciate it!

Initially I'm only going to be doing a day a week freelancing (so organising my time is going to be something I need to be really on top of), going up to a bit more from September when my daughter has a couple more nursery sessions. I had requested to go down to 1 day a week at work, but they were only prepared to reduce to 2 days, and as it's important to me to both keep my continuous service and associated benefits there (I work in the NHS), and also to keep up my professional registration, that is what I'll be doing for now. My boss was hopeful that after Christmas there may be the opportunity to get moved to another health centre which may only need another day's worth of work; we'll have to see. Once my daughter starts school (August next year) then I'll be able to increase further the hours available for freelancing, and I'm lucky that being in clinical practice there's always ad hoc work available somewhere if I'm having a bit of a lean time freelance-wise. It does mean that if freelancing does take a while to build up, I do still have an income without having to resort to flipping burgers.

This week has been all about sorting out the work space (our spare room). There's still a way to go with that, but I've made a lot of progress so am happy with that. I still need to sort out some of the equipment I need (I will be doing transcription and proofreading, primarily), but that will be easy enough to sort out.

Thank you again for all your input and suggestions and experiences - it's all very very helpful!
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
Hmmm ... It's easy to get distracted and to spend time aboard Ship and other places in cyberspace if you're freelance. Watch that ...

Also, when work was more plentiful I got into voluntary stuff like the town council and running a local arts group as I thought that would go keep me in 'work-mode' in between jobs. Trouble was, that then took over and I've ended up juggling unpaid work with unpaid ...

I would tackle that differently if I were starting over again. Currently my work has shrunk to one regular monthly project plus bits and pieces that come in irregularly. As I've tended to get work from consultants rather than directly from the end-client, I've also become virtually invisible in the sector I was in and am having to rethink.

My wife has cancer and has finished work through ill-health so part of me feels I ought to treat this time as semi-retirement - but I can't stop working entirely.

I did quite well financially for one year of my 7 years freelancing, the rest of the time I've earned a fraction of what I was earning when I was working for an employer. This didn't matter too much as my wife became the main breadwinner by default - but now ...

We've paid off the mortgage - huge sigh of relief - so we don't have that to worry about and we have savings as we were careful and thrifty in the past.

But I'm so glad we don't live in the US. Cancer and the US don't mix ...

I do have some plans afoot to diversify what I do but can't see myself making oodles of cash. But then, I'm not a city-slicker, as long as I can get by ...
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
Oh, and beware your tax-bill in the first year (in the UK) - it'll be big because they take the tax for the previous year and also big chunk of the next.

Save as much as you can, spend as little as you can get away with. At least until you've had the first tax bill.
Posted by Offeiriad (# 14031) on :
Mr Cheesy, surely you can pay UK tax and NI as you go now, and avoid a huge lump-sum tax bill each year?

My son is a freelancer, and has found membership of the Federation of Small Businesses a worthwhile expense, but would warn against joining too many 'professional bodies' or paying for too many training courses in the hope of looking more employable.

He has been self-employed for about five years now, and seems to have made a real success of the transition.
Posted by Gamaliel (# 812) on :
Good to see you again, Offeriad.

Yes, you can pay as you go with tax and NI, but that sort of kicks in after the first year. As mr cheesy says, it's the first year where you get the hefty bill because of the way they collect the tax then. Thereafter it can be spread out more and yes, they do allow you to spread and stagger the payments.

Some years I've ended up paying very little tax or even none at all. I had a tax rebate last year as I was below the threshold. It all depends. It varies.

A lot depends on what you actually do. A bloke who lives near me was telling me how consultants who work on contracts for the local authority he works for earn three times as much as he does. Well, they're contact engineers, that's why.

People who work as proof-readers or hairdressers, musicians or couriers or small-holders don't do so well.

It depends on what your trade happens to be and in what industry.
Posted by Gee D (# 13815) on :
My tax after my first year at the Bar was horrendous, as I had to pay tax on the previous year plus an estimate of tax for the forthcoming one - provisional tax. After then I've just paid the provisional, but that can be nasty sometimes if my income has been higher than expected.

Otherwise, it's probably correct to say that I've freelanced since going to the Bar. Self-employed of course, and for most of the time with a secretary. Not working full-time at home probably makes it easier to keep distance between home and work.

I have a couple of solicitors who work at home. They say that they have quite separate parts of the house for living and working, and that they go to work just as much as if they were going to an office in their local centre - by a set time in the morning they have gone through the door. Clients are seen in the office part of the house, never in the home part. I do much the same. I normally work another day over the weekend, spread over the 2 days, usually at home these days but before it was normally in chambers. I have a strict rule that I never see clients at home.

Madame has set days of the week when she works at home, and she's done so since Dlet started senior school. We kept his nanny on full time until he was 12, and then only after school in afternoon until he turned 14 or 15. She had told us years before that she'd want that sort of arrangement, with special plans during holidays.
Posted by L'organist (# 17338) on :
Advice for a freelancer:

1. Get a good accountant before you take the final decision to strike out on your own.

2. Most important is to fix your hourly or daily rate sensibly: I'd offer the following formula

3. Make sure you understand the position vis-a-vis NI, etc. Similarly, you need to reckon on paying at least half as much again into your pension scheme - no employer's contribution, remember!

4. You should have critical illness cover.

Good luck!
Posted by Sioni Sais (# 5713) on :
IANAL but if you even remotely need it, get some kind of Public Liability/Professional Indemnity Insurance, to protect you should something go horribly wrong. AFAIK "It wasn't my fault" isn't a defence in a civil court.
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
Originally posted by Offeiriad:
Mr Cheesy, surely you can pay UK tax and NI as you go now, and avoid a huge lump-sum tax bill each year?

I wouldn't take my knowledge as gospel, what you need in this situation is some proper advice either from an accountant (they'll usually offer a half-hour initial consultation free to understand your situation) or from some other body who are set up to help new businesses like Business Link.

FWIW, I think you can pay NI on a monthly basis but for most freelancers it is pretty small amount. I'm not sure if you can do that with income tax - I doubt you can for the first year, because they use your declared income in the first year to calculate how much you owe for the second (which is a reason to keep your income down in the first year if you can at all help it).

But again, don't rely on what I vaguely remember, get some proper advice (not just from Mumsnet..)

My son is a freelancer, and has found membership of the Federation of Small Businesses a worthwhile expense, but would warn against joining too many 'professional bodies' or paying for too many training courses in the hope of looking more employable.

He has been self-employed for about five years now, and seems to have made a real success of the transition.

Unfortunately for many of these things it is impossible to tell how useful professional bodies are until you join them. Ask your colleagues. Some are essential, some are just paying money for old rope. Buyer beware.
Posted by Jane R (# 331) on :
Class 2 contributions (which I believe are being phased out) can be paid as you go. Class 4 contributions are calculated on your yearly profits - if you have a good idea of what these will be you can pay them as you go, but most self-employed people pay two lump sums yearly, one in January and one in July. In your first year of business it is usually impossible to know what your annual profit will be, but it might be worth setting aside money for the tax bill every time you have a job, into an account that you don't use for anything else.

Here is the latest info from the horse's mouth.

BTW some of the people who contribute to Mumsnet are highly educated freelancers who will have exactly the experience Jack the Lass is looking for in an adviser.

[ 15. May 2017, 08:14: Message edited by: Jane R ]
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
Income tax and NI are different.

I'm not disparaging Mumsnet, but clearly for a detailed understanding of your personal situation, you need a professional not a bulletin board.

People have frequently in the past come unstuck when attempting to avoid accountant fees because they've misread or misunderstood something they've seen online. And if you do your tax return wrong, you're quite likely to get a fine.
Posted by Jane R (# 331) on :
Income tax and NI are different, yes, but NI class 4 contributions are paid twice yearly with your income tax if you're self employed, unless you have some kind of special arrangement in place.

There is a difference between class 2 contributions (about to be phased out) and class 4 contributions. This is it.
Posted by Jane R (# 331) on :
(sorry for the double post: time to edit expired)

12 years of doing my own tax return: not had any problems yet. The accountant I consulted when I started up said it wasn't worth her time to do my accounts, but my business is very straightforward.

The link I provided is to the website, the service which replaced Business Link.
Posted by mr cheesy (# 3330) on :
Well again, the success or otherwise of filling in your own tax return might be irrelevant to anyone else. It is perfectly believable that someone who has a very small number of invoices and small number of outgoings might indeed be able to do it themselves.

Someone with a more complex situation involving many more invoices, debts or allowances might quickly get into trouble.

I'm not at all suggesting it is impossible, just advocating for sensible planning and getting advice. As you did - even if that advice is that you can do the tax form yourself.
Posted by Jack the Lass (# 3415) on :
Forgive me for resurrecting this thread from the depths, but I just wanted to say thank you again to everyone for your advice, it's been really helpful.

Yesterday was my first major milestone - I sent off my first invoice! (sadly it was only for half an hour's work, so I won't be retiring on it, but it was a big psychological boost! And the person for whom I did the work has said there is more work in the pipeline, so hopefully it will have paid off beyond the value of the miniscule first job).

A number of people have suggested (given the nature of what I'm doing) that I join LinkedIn, so the next job is figuring that out. I have avoided all invitations up till now as so many people had moaned about it constantly emailing them with reminders, but I suspect if I can get it right it could be useful enough that I can overlook the annoyance.
Posted by Jane R (# 331) on :
Congratulations! Hope everything continues to go well for you.

The first (paid) job is a big step - IME new clients are usually interested in what you've done before, who your other clients are, etc., to get an idea of the quality of your work (if you're allowed to tell them, that is, and not bound by client confidentiality). And clients you have done a good job for tend to recommend you to other people - I've had quite a few jobs by that route.

[Axe murder]

[ 13. July 2017, 12:01: Message edited by: Jane R ]
Posted by Brenda Clough (# 18061) on :
I too am thinking of making a big leap into freelance life, by starting a Patreon account.
Posted by no prophet's flag is set so... (# 15560) on :
Good luck and hope it goes well.

I did this starting almost 30 years ago. The biggest thing in those days was talking to people, and most business came from people talking to others and sending them my way. It is better to start parttime.

You do have to gain some comfort with taking risks and this includes the risk of failure and reverting to employment. You also have to give up on security. My risk management, and stress management, required me to get a partner to work with, so we could cover for each other, and when business rolled in, it wasn't necessary to work 80 hours some weeks to keep up. A partner doesn't have to be a formal business partner, rather someone that you can trust to share the load and pass referrals between.

I do agree with putting aside a nest egg, and keep doing it. If you have dependants, some form of disability insurance is needed if you go fulltime. I had two preschool children and my wife returned to school herself at the time I went on my own, which led me to learn that I was quite comfortable with risk. Looking back over the years, working fulltime for yourself means you will work more hours than employed people, usually 50-60 hours a week. Because there's the work itself, and then there's all the time spent thinking and talking to others, and managing all the little niggling adminstrative bits.
Posted by whitebait (# 7740) on :
A lot of really good advice here.

I'd particularly agree with the comments on boundaries. It is useful to be able to compartmentalise workspace in the home, so that you can shut the door on work at some point, otherwise work can take over. I'm also very poor at saying 'no' to work, but there comes a time when you have to, otherwise the quality of work suffers for all your other customers (and your own stress levels hit the roof).

I was fortunate to be able to attend a government subsidised 'Businesslink' start-up course when I made the break from being an employee eighteen years ago. The four days of course covered legal aspects and insurance, banking and accounts, marketing, and business planning. They were really useful, and the opportunity to bounce ideas off other participants also helped. I'm not sure if anything like this still exists (I think cutbacks have curtailed it).

Number one item was the business plan, seeing whether the income from your proposals were actually going to pay their way. My initial plans would never have given me enough income, and forced me to rethink and reconsider fees too. I've thankfully lasted this long and am now busier than ever, though had a really thin period for 3-4 years after the 2008 recession. As others have pointed out, a nest egg and plan B are valuable to have in these circumstances.

Best wishes with your freelancing!
Posted by Piglet (# 11803) on :
Good on you, JtL, and may the clients keep rolling in! [Yipee]

eta: ... and the invoices rolling out. [Big Grin]

[ 13. July 2017, 19:42: Message edited by: Piglet ]

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