Not only do you have to manage the acquisition of new projects, handle all financial requirements and sort out your own schedule – you also have to keep your motivation levels on high at all times.
Particularly if you work from home, keeping focussed and driven can sometimes be tricky.
Here are a few tips I’ve pulled together for the first time freelancer.
Use your connections
Probably sounds quite obvious, but people often underestimate how many contacts they have access to. Whether this is past colleagues, old educational institutions, ex clients or friends of friends – your immediate network is a good place to start when sourcing work. Good recommendations and word of mouth can go a long way when it comes to hiring freelancers. Linkedin.com is an obvious choice for a freelancer looking for work, so make sure you get some positive feedback on your profile as soon as you can.
Websites for freelance workers are becoming more popular. Peopleperhour.com has really taken off and provides a quick and easy way to get relevant jobs delivered to your inbox daily. You can bid for the jobs you think would be suitable and offer your services. Once completed, you get paid securely via the site. This can help avoid chasing payments or finding you’re the victim of a dodgy employer. If you hit the web, you may be able to find more specialist sites for your particular area of expertise. Always make sure the site is reputable and secure before opting to use it though.
Designate and organise
When you first decide to go freelance, make sure you have a designated area for your work. It’s good to get this set up early, as when things start getting busy (hopefully) work may take over a little. Particularly if you work from home, try to have a designated room or area that’s set aside purely for your work. This can help give you some distinction between your home as your ‘office’ and your home as a home. It’s always good to shut the door on your freelancing at the end of the day and give yourself chance to switch off.
Set a schedule
I’ve found it helpful to try and maintain a regular routine when it comes to my freelance work. Of course, different things work for different people. I try to keep a fairly strict morning routine as though I’m heading off to a regular 9-5 workplace. Setting an alarm and getting up and dressed by a set time can help increase your productivity and gets the working day off to a proactive start. Equally, giving yourself a daily deadline is also helpful – even setting an alarm to remind you to finish. Freelancing can end up giving you long working hours that roll well into the evening if you’re not careful.
Insurance might not be top of your ‘to-do’ list when you start out, but it’s good to get this sorted early so you know that you and your work are covered from the offset.
If you work from your house, make sure that you’re not invalidating your home insurance. Most standard home insurance policies will not cover you if you’re using your home for business purposes. Typically, just using a spare room as an office should be fine, but make sure you check with your chosen provider.
Don’t assume that all your work items are automatically covered under your contents insurance. Equipment like laptops and I-pads will normally need to be specified on your policy to ensure they’re fully covered. Also, if you regularly take an item out to meetings/conferences – be sure that your policy will cover any damage that occurs when away from the insured address.
Expect the unexpected
Even if you feel completely confident in the product or service you offer, unfortunately it can’t make you immune to a negligence claim. If you offer a professional skill or knowledge to clients, you might want to consider putting professional indemnity insurance in place.
A claim could take many forms, from a piece of flawed advice you’ve given to a missed critical deadline. Even if it’s a spurious claim, the legal costs involved in defending your reputation could be crippling for your freelance business. This is where professional indemnity insurance could come in useful.