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The Do’s and Don’ts of Freelancing

The Do’s and Don’ts of Freelancing

Posted on 16 June 2022 by

The Do’s and Don’ts of Freelancing

The world of freelancing is full of obstacles, challenges and choc-full of opportunity. Even freelancers who have been in the game for years report experiencing regular highs and lows, just like in any role. But when you’re going it alone, the lows can be crashing, overwhelming and anxiety-ridden.

While a freelance career comes with a certain level of uncertainty by nature, there are ways that you can save yourself from many a headache, work like a well-oiled machine and set yourself up for success.

Whether you’re brand new to freelancing or have been self-employed for a while, we’re on hand to give our top tips for freelancers, advice for a successful freelance career and our top do’s and don’ts to make sure you’re profitable, organised and most importantly, happy.

DO: Make Sure You’re Insured

Depending on the kind of work you carry out for your clients, you may need professional indemnity insurance, public liability, product liability insurance or a combination of the three.

UK (and international) business law changes often, so it’s a good idea to seek legal counsel if you’re not too sure what kind of insurance is absolutely necessary for your work and keep you protected at all times if any accidents happen.

DON’T: Work for Free

You see it all over social media; influencers asking businesses to be paid in exposure. Businesses won’t put up with it and you shouldn’t either. As a freelancer, it may be tempting to spend hours working for good PR and brand awareness, but exposure doesn’t pay your bills and has no guarantee of a return on investment. You naturally gain exposure when you work with paying clients, so don’t be fooled into thinking this is a good trade off.

On very limited occasions, you can consider reducing your rates, such as working for charities or an industry you really want to break into, but don’t make it a habit, or you’ll end up spending the majority of your working week working for pennies.

DO: Communicate, Often

The biggest misgivings and concerns businesses may have about working with freelancers is all about communication. If you think about it, this is the only real difference to having a permanent employee; you have a clear route to communication between a set number of hours. By ensuring that you communicate regularly with your clients, you prove that you’re just as available, present and involved in the business as any full-time member of staff.

DON’T: Work Without a Contract

Although it’s likely that 99% of clients you work with are reliable, honest and genuine, there’s always that 1% chance that something could go wrong, even if the client doesn’t intend to cause harm or disruption.

Unfortunately, working on the basis of good faith isn’t enough. You must treat your business as a business, leaving no room for error and having a client contract in place before commencing work is a great way to do this. This also helps you weed out which clients are serious about working with you and which ones are going to cause issues later on down the line.

DO: Network

The freelance life doesn’t need to be one of solitude, there are tonnes of networking groups and events that take place across the country that will allow you to meet with fellow freelancers and gain valuable contacts.

Although there are plenty of ‘official’ networking events, you can network by simply visiting co-working spaces, hot-desking, spending the day at coffee shops or even joining virtual networking groups from the safety of your own home.

Not only does networking make you feel less isolated, it has the added benefit of drumming up potential business and putting you in touch with people who can help you advance your career.

DON’T: Forget to Budget

Freelancers need to budget to ensure smooth sailing with as few bumps in the road as possible. When transitioning into self-employed life, it’s key to set up a business bank account and if possible, a separate pot for taxes.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s great practice to put away at least 25-35% of all your earnings to ensure you have enough to cover your tax return every April (and the more you put in, the bigger a bonus you can pay yourself after HMRC get paid).

DO: Work with Recruiters

While recruiters manage a lot of permanent roles, don’t rule out working with one to help you secure work and put you in touch with potential clients. As more and more professionals decide to take their skills freelance, more recruiters offer support with finding projects.

At next level Recruitment, we’re passionate about freelancer welfare and have a dedicated division, committed to work only with reliable businesses who treat freelancers fairly. We are a one-stop shop for freelancers, ensuring that they are paid exactly what they deserve, on time every time.

DON’T: Forget to enjoy it

It’s all too easy to slip into ‘freelancer mode’, which involves constant work and no play.

The initial draw of freelancing; the freedom, flexibility and fun, can sometimes give way to feast or famine mode, working longer hours and more days a week than you would if in full-time employment.

The worst thing a freelancer can do for their career is burn out. Downtime is essential to producing effective work and as your own boss, you need to treat yourself as an employee, which means rewarding yourself regularly and being responsible for looking after your own wellbeing.

Have we missed any big ones? We’d love to hear from you what some other vital do’s and don’ts are of freelancing. Join in the conversation on our LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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