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Becoming a freelancer is something that crosses a lot of people’s minds, whether it’s consulting, starting your own small business, moonlighting, or just plain old handing in your notice and working for yourself.
A study found that the number of business owners hiring freelancers had increased by 46% and with 4.6 million self-employed people in the UK, the freelance job market seems an exciting and enticing place to be.
However, as with all things in life, it pays to balance out the pros with a few potential cons before you take the leap into self-employment.
Becoming a freelancer is synonymous with great amounts of freedom. Don’t feel like filing your Self Assessment? Fancy going to watch the match down the pub instead of catching up on bookkeeping? Why not? You can always catch up later in the evening.
The freedom of picking and choosing how and when you work can be incredibly refreshing and rewarding. Until, that is, you fancy checking out that new brunch place and realise all your mates are at work on a Tuesday, or you WhatsApp the girls to see if they’re interested in a trip to a local Wednesday farmers market. Oh, surprise – they’re also all busy in an office.
Becoming a freelancer means you’ll spend a great deal of time alone. Perfect if you’re a true introvert at heart, but not so great if you’re even slightly extroverted and enjoy being around other people. Freelancing – unless you form a business partnership – often means working solo.
To counteract feelings of isolation and loneliness, check out a local co-working space. However, you’ll need to have enough positive cashflow to make renting a desk somewhere truly work in your favour.
Another option is to hopscotch across your city’s coffee shop scene. Interact with your local barista or other freelancers – you might even get lucky and pick up more work whilst you’re in conversation. If you’re feeling super business-savvy why not check out a local networking event? These are often a great place to meet new people and grow your business.
Unlike the confines of an office where you actually have to work (or at very least pretend to) for the whole time you’re there, freelancing is slightly different. There will be days when you don’t have any work to do and it feels really weird.
When a project wraps or a contract ends, your days or evenings will suddenly become much freer – especially if you don’t have the next piece of work lined up. Proactive approaches to days when there isn’t a lot going on work-wise include touting for more work, attending a networking event, working on the SEO for your business’ website, or simply just chill out and maintain some work / life balance.
A caveat of having too much spare time is that there will be weeks where you’re completely flat out with no spare time at all. Relish the downtime while you can!
When you’re a freelancer, nobody else is responsible for your success. There isn’t any guidance, mentoring, or coaching from a superior and you certainly don’t receive any encouragement from teammates. If you have a bad day, you only have yourself to blame. That can be a lot of responsibility to take on both emotionally and mentally.
If you’re feeling the strain of freelancing, try going for a walk to clear your mind, partake in some exercise, or visit a local coffee shop and chat to other freelancers. Remember that you’re not alone – there are 4.7 million freelancers in the U.K and many of them will also be having days where they don’t feel so hot.
Many freelancers start out by moonlighting, which in simple terms is working a full-time job and freelancing on the side. Moonlighting is a great way to build contacts, gain experience, and earn some additional income without having to leave your full-time job.
Often, people start off moonlighting because they’re passionate about something – for example knitting, baking, writing, design, or playing an instrument. Eventually, your hobby evolves into becoming your full-time freelancing job and you’ll need to think about what you’ll do in your leisure time to replace what was your hobby.
Money and invoicing is the bane of every freelancer’s life. Last financial year, small businesses wrote off £6 billion in unpaid invoices, and as a freelancer this can have major implications on your cash flow. Money will feel tight at times and when you’re starting out, you’ll feel stressed about it.
It’s worth remembering that when you set your day rate or hourly, you’ll need to factor in that as a freelancer you don’t get paid for days when you’re sick or on holiday. And remember to calculate for weekends, bank holidays, and other times where you won’t be earning any money.
Once you get into the swing of freelancing and understanding how much money comes in during an average month, you can budget and manage your financials a lot easier. If possible it’s always best to keep some of your income in savings – you never know when you might have a quiet spell and need that money to live off.
If you reckon it’s time for a career change and are considering setting up your own business, visit our #GetStarted homepage for free resources and advice on how to make it happen.
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