It is estimated that by 2027 a massive 50% of the US working population will be freelance. Although the life of a freelancer can be full of ups and downs, this kind of working life can bring a lot more flexibility, making it much more appealing to workers. A study by the University of Phoenix polled 1600 adults under 30 and found that 63% of them wanted to own their own business. However, setting up on your own and making it a success can take a lot. Here we look at how to set up as a freelancer and what you need to consider before you do.
Working freelance can be a very volatile life, especially in the beginning. Your debtors, unfortunately, won’t wait around for you to establish yourself and make money. The stress of having to pay bills when you’re starting out can be enough to make you want to give up; it’s for this reason that it’s always a good idea to keep your day job, or at least have a part-time job on the side. Having at least some kind of reliable income from month to month in the beginning will bring you peace of mind and help you justify spending so much time on establishing yourself as a freelancer.
Before you even begin, it’s a good idea to ask yourself this all-important question: why do I want to be a freelancer? Are you choosing to go down this route because you’re sick of your manager, tired of being told what to do and fed up with commuting to work? If so, it’s important to remember that life as a freelancer isn’t going to be total freedom from all that. You will still likely need to commute to visit clients on occasion and answer to clients’ demands. Identify your goals as a freelancer and why you want to pursue this way of life; this will not only give your career some direction but also remind you why you’re doing it when times get hard.
Once you have identified your goals, it can be helpful to create a mood board. A mood board is a collage of ideas where you can pin inspiration for your business, mind maps, forecasts, logo ideas etc. A mood board is a great way to focus your ideas, build a plan for the future of your company and keep you inspired.
Carving a niche for yourself as a developer is a great way to set yourself apart from the crowd. Establishing yourself as an expert in one area for a particular industry will make you much more likely to stand out and receive word of mouth recommendations. Establishing yourself as an expert makes it easier to charge yourself out based on quality rather than based on a need to stand out from the crowd somehow – which often leads to accepting a lot less than you’re worth.
Whether you’re working under your own name or a company name, you will want to build a brand around that name. Your brand should include your logo, your online identity and your social media accounts among others. A clean and well-established brand will showcase what your business is about as well as your professionalism.
Your portfolio should act as a highlight reel of your work as a developer. A strong portfolio will show clients what you’re capable of, the kind of brands you’ve worked with in the past and the diversity of your skills. This will help sell you to clients and let them know quickly if you’re what they’re looking for, saving anyone’s time being wasted.
So, you’re almost there. You have your branding sorted, your goals and plans laid out and a portfolio curated … time to start earning money? Not just yet. You will want to make sure you have officially registered as self-employed with the government to make sure that you are working within the law and collecting tax where necessary. The last thing you want is to get pulled up for operating illegally. Officially register your business, set up proper accounting records and now you’re good to go.