Thinking about freelancing – tips from a former QM student

Freelancers sell their work or services by the hour /  day / project and can have a number of different clients, rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer. This style of working suits certain industries such as the arts and the media. Example roles include writer, performer, TV producer and interpreter.

Here are some top tips on going freelance from former QM student, Basil Ballhatchet, who now works as a freelance translator.

  1. The timing is dependent on the specific individual – if you have just graduated and have conceived an original idea for a business, you may want to start straight way.  However, you may want to wait until you have built up experience in a specific area before you start on your own.
  2. Make sure that you have savings that will allow you to survive for at least six months without earning any income. You may find it takes time to find clients or to set up a business/accounts or to receive your first revenues from clients.
  3. Try to have a couple of clients lined up when you go freelance. You may even be able to start while you are still in permanent employment. Make sure you keep a record of additional income and pay tax on it. You don’t want tax issues at a later date.
  4. Before you go freelance (if you don’t have any potential clients), research the market properly to understand whether there really is any demand for your services and how best to market such services.
  5. Find a good accountant, preferably through family or friends and have a chat with them soon after you start, so that you understand how to deal with taxing your income and keeping accounts on a regular basis.
  6. Plan your finances: try to save at least 40% of your income each month. You will need to pay for your first year of tax and the following nine months in one go, so you have to plan ahead.
  7. Plan your work and if possible build a network with other people offering similar services. You may find in some cases that you are unable to take on all the work that you manage to attract and you can refer the client to another supplier like yourself.
  8. ALWAYS be honest with clients if you cannot take on all the work and propose such alternatives. If the client agrees to the alternative supplier, you have managed to both demonstrate your reliability to a key client and have also helped out another freelancer. You will find out in time that other freelancers will also generate work for you.

For further information read our handout on  Entrepreneurship: Self-Employment, Franchising and Freelancing.

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