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If you are considering becoming a freelancer, or if you have been made redundant and are finding yourself pushed in this direction, there are a number of reasons why it could be a very good move. Now, we’re not denying there are not a few downsides to freelancing (we promise there are only a few), but lets start with the nicer aspects of being your own boss. Whatever your industry sector, there are numerous advantages to be gained, so we thought it might help to give you the full list of pro’s all in one place:

Financial benefits
The first thing that most people think of is the financial benefits, and these are of course very compelling. For example:

  • An average freelancer rate can easily be double or triple that of a full time employee, or even more.
  • Freelancers are paid higher rates due to the flexible nature of the relationship and the fact that many projects can be relatively short-term, although this isn’t always the case, some contracts/assignments can last for years.
  • Depending on your individual skills and on the state of the industry in which you work (or the market in general) you can command very high rates of pay.
  • As a freelancer, you are paid for every hour that you work, as well as having the opportunity to work overtime at very good rates.
  • You can also work for multiple clients at the same time, on many different projects, which can also increase your pay.
  • If you take professional advice you can, as a freelancer, generally reduce your tax bill significantly.
  • You can offset all of your business expenses against your income to further reduce your tax bill. Visit our Self employed expenses guide for more information.

Flexibility:

  • As a freelancer you are, in effect, your own boss – something which can be very satisfying and extremely enjoyable!
  • Freelancers have the ability to be far more independent than permanent employees.
  • You have the freedom to work when you choose, where you choose (depending on available projects of course) and for however long you like. There is a direct link between work effort and reward which sometimes doesn’t exist as an employee.
  • Freelancers can take as much or as little holiday as they prefer – you sign your own holiday form.
  • The companies you work for are not your employers, but are instead your clients, which puts a whole different flavour on the relationship, you will be treated more as an equal and less as a member of staff.
  • Freelance projects will give you much more flexibility when it comes to agreeing conditions and terms.
  • As a freelancer you also have more flexibility over the payment terms that you can negotiate.
  • You have the opportunity to develop your career in a way that suits your personal circumstances at any given time.

Skills development:

  • As a freelancer you will naturally work in different roles and for many different companies, and this will help you to build a unique range of skills and experience.
  • Working as a freelancer gives you the opportunity to maybe test out other industry sectors to see if you can widen your experience.
  • Freelancers tend to gain a really good insight into different company cultures, processes, operations and structures.
  • Working in many different companies gives you the ability to build up a wide-ranging CV and to establish an extensive list of reference contacts.
  • A good freelancer will become known within their own field for their excellent work and you may even find that your services become sought-after, rather that you having to pitch for new projects or contracts all the time.
  • Carrying out project work in different organisations and environments gives a freelancer the opportunity to develop existing skills and to learn new ones.
  • As a freelancer you will be exposed to many different styles of working, not only in relation to your peers, but also in relation to your clients and your suppliers. This helps you to develop as an individual in more ways that just your core skill set.
  • Depending on the type of freelancer you are, you will gain added experience of different types of products and/or services which will all widen your experience and make you more interesting to future clients.
  • Freelancer’s often come into new businesses as the ‘industry expert’, which is not only a nice position to be in, it also adds to your credibility as an industry professional and widens your experience further
  • Working for different organisations gives you the ability to advance your career and your knowledge without being limited by a single employer’s processes, procedures or business ethos.

Now, no-one likes talking about the downsides of running your own business, however knowing these ahead of starting your business will make you feel a lot more prepared, visit our Disadvantages of becoming a Freelancer page for full details.

So, you’ve decided to set up your own freelance business! Great news! You’ve entered the exciting world of entrepreneurism.

We want to help you get the best start you can so have put together some top tips on how to start out as self employed – have a look round this section for more information.

Whilst being your own boss can be a scary prospect and slightly risky, it’s really not as difficult as people make out. And don’t worry – you don’t have to have been born with some kind of entrepreneurial gene, anyone can be successful at being self employed. However, here’s a few tips to get you started:

Be organised

Sounds like an obvious piece of advice? Well, you’d be surprised at the number of freelancer’s and sole trader’s who walk round without a diary, business bank account or email address. You need to make yourself as available as possible to potential clients so make sure that you’re organised.

Stay small and keep your costs down

Make sure you don’t grow too quickly – keep your company lean and efficient and manage your time effectively. Don’t waste hours perfecting a website or pay vast amounts of money for CRM systems you don’t need. Focus on your clients and make sure you deliver what you promise – word of mouth is the most effective and cheapest way of marketing. If you really want to actively market your business, there are plenty of free ways. Have a look at our finding work pages for advice.

Start now!

Don’t wait until you’ve got everything set up, get started right now. If you’re a freelance copywriter, get some emails out to local businesses asking if they need someone, start writing a blog to showcase your copywriting talents. If you don’t want to go into freelance work all-gins-blazing, work part time to test the water. Whatever industry you work in, get to work!

For more information about how to set up your own business, take a look at our starting a business page for all the top tips.

Find out who your customers are

Don’t try to sell to anyone and everyone, find out who your customers are and tell them about your freelance business. If you’re trying to market your business, pick your target and put messages in front of them that they’ll respond to. For example, if you’re a plumber, target your local area – friends and family who might be interested. Put on some seminars in the local town hall and offer free advice. If those people ever need a plumber, you can be sure they’ll come to you first.

Be informal

Just because you’re starting a business on your own doesn’t mean you have to go all serious and formal. You need to make sure potential clients feel comfortable speaking to you so make your company friendly and approachable.

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