When are you ready to freelance?

There is a very quick answer to the question of when you are ready to freelance – as soon as you have a marketable skill.  There is a little more to consider however, and this third article in the series ‘Become a Better Freelancer’ will explore the basic requirements you’ll need in place before you embark on your freelance career.

Naturally you need something to ‘sell’ – and I’ll examine some of the methods you can employ to gauge your potential markets in the next article.

The good news is that anyone with a marketable and desirable skill can enter the world of freelancing with little or no upfront investment. Naturally you will need to be contactable – both electronically and by telephone – although I’m confident that in this highly connected world, there will be few budding freelancers that will struggle with a connectivity hurdle.

“The good news is that anyone with a marketable and desirable skill can enter the world of freelancing with little or no upfront investment”

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So, assuming your phone is capable of receiving incoming calls and your inbox is poised like a coiled spring, you need to be ‘findable’.  A great place to start plying your trade is through the myriad of third-party agencies and online market places; which we’ll discuss in future articles.  But let’s consider your very own ‘shop window’ – a dedicated website.

Websites need not be expensive (although there is undoubtedly a correlation between price and functionality) – and with a minimal outlay you can secure a domain name and unlimited email accounts.  Applications like Word Press can be installed for free – as can many highly effective templates that are simple to use and easy to modify to suit your needs.  If your budget extends to it, then consider hiring in a web developer (often the difference between a good website and a great one).  Again – this is cheaper than you may have imagined.

A great benefit of a professional website is that it is a one-stop shop and repository for your CV and portfolio of work.  You will also need to consider how you drive traffic to your site (see Social Media and the Freelancer)  – but that can come later.

Before you start to trade as a freelancer, you will need to be cognisant of the taxation and company registration requirements for your locale.  If you are ‘dipping your toes’ into the freelance waters whilst still being employed this may have a significant impact on your liabilities.  As always – take the time to speak to an accountant; who can guide you through the many options available to you in order to maximise benefits and reduce unnecessary liabilities.

The last administrative item you will need in place is insurance.  As a ‘permie’ this is naturally taken care of for you; but as a freelancer you will need to hold sufficient liability insurance as well as indemnifying your clients from risk.  The amount and cost of cover will vary across  disciplines and industries – but speak to current freelancers in your domain and get some online quotes to give you an idea of cost.

I am aware of freelancers who may have opted to be economical with the truth when it comes to insurances in order to lower premiums – DO NOT FOLLOW SUIT!  To me this is shear madness – you only get one shot at this; and such myopic decisions will have terminal consequences for your company in the event of a claim.

So – what have I missed?  What else can you suggest as a ‘must have’ for the future freelancer?  Let everyone know in the comments section below.

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