Freelancing

Stop. Look. Jump, at your own pace

It’s been an emotional year for me so far, a year that is currently flying by for one reason or the other but one of the main reasons was this was the year I decided to start to join the freelance world.

To give you a bit of background, I have been a developer at local authorities for a number of years where I was able to use a wide range of skills from creating new online services to setting up a brand new online presence but after years of developing in a set structure I felt the time was ready to take the jump; so I started HeX Productions.

Now the decision to go freelance wasn’t a case of get up and go; there are several big things to consider but they are also things that you don’t have to worry in silence about.

1. The Tax Man

Sorting out anything to do with taxes was one of the things I was really worried about before going freelance. It was something fellow freelancers told me to concentrate on and I would definitely pass on that advice to others in the same situation. You certainly don’t want to get in trouble and being on top of things such as tax also helps you to become more organised so here are a couple of tips…

Register online at HMRC. It will only take a few minutes but one of those essential tasks that you have to do.

Get organised – you will need to keep a very good track of your ins and outs so treat yourself to a folder to keep all of your invoices stored. There are also a wealth of good websites to help you with your organisation, try something like FreeAgent. I would also try and find an accountant, keep it local as they will always help. Let them make your first year nice and stress-free and you can move on from there. Don’t try and do everything yourself as it could drive you over the edge and make you lose your focus on your work.

2. What’s Your Market?

Not the easiest of questions. From a business mind you just want to make as much money as possible and you can make beautiful websites no matter what the subject but a large number of customers won’t see it that way. Let me put it this way, if a non-designer was looking for a wedding website would you employ someone that has done a few heavy metal band websites? Chances are no.
What you can do it tailor your portfolio. If you are networking or demonstrating your work make sure you know what the customer is after.

As a new business I am tailoring my work for local businesses and start-ups. This has allowed me to design a broader range of websites and still maintain a nice tight client base.

3. Network, chat and drink

I’m rubbish in networking situations but attending these get togethers has really helped me move forward. My advice is to be bold and introduce yourself at events and conferences, pop along to local networking events or go and have a few drinks with fellow designers to see how things are going with them.

Don’t forget about the social world! The one thing I love about the world we work in is that everyone is so helpful, they may not be in our field but they will offer their advice and suggestions so ask the questions, see what people think, read the blogs and the debates and discussions will help you develop.

If you are more of a listener than a reader, then you should keep an ear out for some amazing podcasts such as Unfinished Business, Boagworld, The East Wing and The Freelance Web. You have to remember that these podcasts are people that have made it in the freelance world and offer some fantastic tips and tricks.

4. Aim big, start small

As mentioned earlier I’m a firm believer in starting small and helping local businesses. By doing this I am slowly building up a positive, reliable brand for HeX Productions. I feel that this is a good method when starting out as a freelancer; start and build your brand then you can move to grow. Of course there are always very lucky ones out there who get the big gigs at the start and that really is fantastic but sadly it is a rarity.

All in all it is an amazing thing you are doing, take your time, enjoy what you are doing, learn from any mistakes you make and you will be fantastic!

  • It’s always interesting to hear how other people got into freelancing. Most say take your time, consider it and only do it when you’re ready, but it’s not for every one. I was pushed into freelancing two years ago when I lost my job; if I still had my job today I would probably still be “umm”-ing and “arr”-ing about going freelance like I was then. But I’m glad I did. I’m happier, earning more, and I’ve worked with some amazing clients.

  • Rich Smith

    Good article mate. I do recently joined the ranks for the freelancer! I’m almost finished working my notice at the full time job and business has already doubled for me in the last 2 weeks. Making the jump definitely drives you a whole lot more for success – because you have to!

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