Being your own boss, taking holidays whenever you like, working with some of your favourite brands… I get it – going freelance sounds like every grad’s dream. But getting there requires knowing where to start, not to mention the not-so-insignificant matter of irregular income.
Luckily for you, I’ve been there. I started freelancing six months after graduation as a translator and digital content writer. A year later, I can count Cosmopolitan and The Independent amongst my feature commissions. Here’s what I learned.
1. GAIN PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE HOWEVER YOU CAN
This doesn’t have to mean spending your hard-earned cash slogging it out on unpaid placements in London. Brainstorm other ways you could gain professional experience. After graduation, I could only afford to move back home to South Wales, so I got a Marketing and Translation internship at a local translation company. The placement may not be your dream role, but think of it as a first stepping stone on your freelance journey – They could even end up being your first client!
2. LEARN HOW TO MARKET YOUR SKILLS
Instead of claiming you can ‘do everything’ (which is tempting in the beginning), demonstrate how you can add value to that specific client. Think about packaging your skillset as a full service. For example, I have digital marketing and translation experience, so now I target Italian and Spanish-speaking brands looking to break into the UK market with exciting digital content. Find your niche and run with it.
3. WIN OVER ONE RELIABLE CLIENT
You know that one person you dated who was super dependable but, in the end, just a little bit boring? This is the first – and most important – client you need to win over as a freelancer! Having a reliable, regular client will help build your experience and, crucially, ensure you can actually pay your rent. You’ll then have the freedom to work on exciting side projects that are more aligned with your career goals.
4. REGISTER AS SELF-EMPLOYED
If you're a sole trader with income from your work of over £1,000, you’ll need to register as self-employed with HMRC. It’s a good idea to set up a business bank account tailored for freelancers as soon as you can – there are plenty of great options out there. You should begin putting aside between 25%-30% of your income for your personal tax bill (this one’s important!) and ensure you know which records you need to keep in order to fill out your self-assessment tax return.
By Sofia Lewis
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