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Freelancing can offer real flexibility and autonomy. After all, who wouldn’t want to be their own boss, choose their hours, and work from a cosy coffee shop or sandy beach somewhere?

But like most things, successful freelancing requires discipline, strategic planning and more than a little resilience. Here we look more at the specifics of freelancing and how you can make it work for you.

Is freelancing the same as contracting?

Freelancing and contracting are quite similar, and the terms are often used interchangeably but there are subtle differences between the two. Freelancers typically work on a project or task basis, often with multiple clients at the same time. Contracting usually involves working for a single client for the job’s duration.

The terms don’t infer a legal structure, so both freelancers and contractors can choose what type of business structure they use for their activities. That said, it’s very common for freelancers to operate as self-employed sole traders, whereas contractors can be more varied.

How do I find work as a freelancer?

The prospect of finding work can be daunting, especially if you’re brand new to becoming a freelancer. Platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr are often a good place for freelancers to start, helping you connect prospective clients looking for help directly to your portfolio and profile.

Depending on your industry you might also create a website, use social media platforms, or even attend in-person networking events. Joining online communities and forums can also help you to connect with other freelancers and potential customers.

It’s also often worth reaching out to local businesses directly or advertising on freelance job boards specific to your target area. Make sure your portfolio is polished, and your pricing is competitive too. Building a diverse and reliable network, combined with a proactive approach to marketing your services should increase your chances of finding regular, reliable work.

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Can I have clients overseas?

Yes, freelancers based in the UK can have clients in other countries. That’s the beauty of the internet!

Many freelancers these days carry out their work online, providing services to clients around the world without the need for physical proximity. This means the world is your oyster, allowing you to diversify your client base even more.

Yes, you’ll need to think about things like tax regulations if you work across borders as well as currency exchange, but it’s all doable with planning.

How much do freelancers charge?

Setting your fees as a freelancer depends on various things like your skills, experience, industry norms, and the value you bring to clients. Take time to research market rates for your specific niche whilst also considering your expertise level. Don’t forget to factor in overhead costs (some of which may be allowable business expenses that can reduce your tax bill).

The trick is to strike a balance between competitiveness and pricing your time and skills fairly. Regularly review and adjust your rates based on market trends and your growing expertise, making sure to maintain a sustainable income while staying competitive.

Can I freelance at the same time as being employed?

Lots of people work for an employer and freelance on the side in their spare time. It can be a good way to earn extra income, or even build up your freelancing career into something that you do full-time. Just be aware of what your freelance side-hustle means for your tax bill!

What taxes do freelancers pay?

The type of tax return you must submit (and the tax that you pay as a result) depends on what sort of legal structure you choose when you register as a business. Lots of freelancers carry out their work as a sole trader, so will register for Self Assessment and pay income tax and National Insurance on the profits they make. The type of National Insurance contributions you make as a self-employed person is paid on your profits, and is separate to any NI you pay as an employee.

Keeping good records of all the transactions in your business, known as bookkeeping, is crucial. You’ll need this information to complete your tax return accurately, and to claim any tax relief on expenses that you’re entitled to – so don’t miss out!

Managing your work/life balance

Achieving a healthy work/life balance as a freelancer involves establishing clear boundaries and routines. You need to look after your mental health when you’re self-employed, just as much as your physical health.

Start by setting dedicated work hours and creating a designated workspace to separate your work life from your home life. Prioritise tasks, set realistic goals, and avoid overcommitting to projects.

Be sure to let your clients know what your availability is and establish clear expectations to avoid last-minute rushes. Finally, use any productivity or time management tools you can, and create a realistic schedule that includes regular down time to avoid burnout whilst helping you stay productive.

Can I go travelling whilst freelancing?

Of course! One of the biggest draws of freelancing is that – depending on the services you’re offering – you can work from pretty much anywhere with an internet connection.

Two good things to check are time zones – so will you be available if/when your clients need to speak to you? Also, will you still be able to meet deadlines and maintain your high standards of work whilst you’re away?

This means checking your destination has a reliable internet connection and you have everything with you that you need. If you can confidently say yes to both of these, then travelling whilst freelancing should work well.

Is it worth investing in professional development as a freelancer?

Absolutely! It’s the best way to establish long-term success and career growth. Continuous learning, for example through courses or webinars, not only enhances your skills and expertise but also keeps you competitive in a rapidly evolving market.

It helps you to adapt to industry trends, broaden the services you offer, and attract a diverse client base. Staying up to date with the latest tools, technologies and best practices not only increases your efficiency but also builds credibility and trust with clients.

Learn more about our online accounting services for businesses. Call 020 3355 4047 to chat to the team, and get an instant online quote.

About The Author

Stephanie Whalley

Serial snacker, compulsive cocktail sipper and full time wordsmith with a penchant for alliteration, all things marketing and pineapple on pizza.

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