Key tips for becoming a successful freelancer

If you are looking to join the growing ranks of freelance professionals, you need to have your research done on what it means to make a success of your new career. As a budding freelancer, you are not alone in your ambitions. There are 53 million people undertaking such work in the US, constituting 34 per cent of the total workforce. The UK numbers are at the 1.4 million mark.

Some of the most important tips on making a successful transition to freelance work include:

Create a portfolio

When it comes to pitching a prospective client, they will, in many cases, want to see proof of previous projects. Putting together a portfolio is essential, and you should do this before you go freelance. You may even have to do some work for free to build up your portfolio, though such projects should ideally be limited to high-profile clients. Projects done for free might seem counterintuitive, especially if your finances are under strain, but they are something to add to your portfolio and they can result in referrals and additional paid work.

Treat clients well

Self-employment is as much about personal reputation as it is about the quality of your work, so be personable and professional when dealing with clients. At the same time, do not compromise on your own values or self-worth. Avoid the nightmare client because they are too great a strain on your resources.

Watch those contracts

Ensure that contracts have been signed before you commence a project. Limit the number of changes that can be made to a contract, bearing in mind that some flexibility is essential. Set terms of payment for due on delivery rather than for when the work goes “live” because these dates might be far apart. If upfront payment of a certain percentage is available, take it because the money can help maintain your cash flow.

Consider co-working

Taking up a space in a co-working environment means that you are part of a community that can provide both support and work opportunities. It will also look more professional to prospective clients. If co-working is not an option, maintain contact with colleagues by joining a relevant professional organisation or networking group. The growth of remote networking via such social media platforms as LinkedIn makes keeping in touch and the exchange of ideas easier than it has ever been.

Use an umbrella company

As a full-time employee, you take being paid for granted, so the transition to successful freelance work can be fraught with financial challenges. This is where an umbrella company can help, as they act as an employer to contractors. A majority of contracts are fixed-term, so the contractor is deemed employed for the duration. An umbrella company will accept payment from a client or recruitment agent on your behalf and pass it on to you. In addition, the company will look after your deductible business expenses, helping to ease an administrative burden that can take up precious time.

A final and very important tip is to be disciplined. Successful freelancing is a challenge, and there will be hard times, but remain focused on what you want to achieve, deliver on what you promise to clients, and the rewards can be yours.

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