As of 2021, there were 1.9 million registered freelancers in the UK alone and over 70,000 of them used our own platform to find the latest opportunities. With more people choosing to create a work/life balance and manage their own workloads, we’ve put together 7 tips shared by fellow freelancers to help maximise the many benefits freelancing brings and make sure everyone, from newbies to well-seasoned freelancers can adopt some new rules!
1. Treat your freelance self as a business!
The first and arguably most important tip as a freelancer is to treat yourself as a business. What this means in simple terms is factoring in time for admin, contacting clients, raising invoices and keeping track of work, alongside the paid work you’ve agreed to. It also means working out your budgets and living costs and ensuring your day rates reflect this.
This great tip came from an interview we conducted with fellow freelance UX and UI designer, Gökhun Güneyhan, who shares that “thinking like a business owner”is key to running a successful freelance business;
Thinking like a business owner also helps with understanding how your clients think which puts you one step ahead of others.
Making sure to approach freelancing as a business means not only giving yourself time to invest in further skills whilst earning enough to cover for those quieter days, it will help expand your business.
2. Review Your Rates Regularly
The second tip comes straight from the great advice of the first- review your rates and make sure it covers your living costs first. With a rise in VAT, national insurance and general living costs, businesses naturally review their budgets and pricing. This should also apply to you as a freelancer as keeping up with costs is essential to surviving those quieter periods.
We work hard to release the annual day rate report to help both veteran and fresher freelancers set their day rates according to their peers in the industry. Regularly reviewing your day rate, once or twice a year, will mean your business evolves to meet industry expectations whilst reflecting your own career progression — just like a pay rise or bonus for employed workers!
Don’t ever feel bad about increasing your prices for regular clients, you’re running a business and with the cost of living going up, your business has to be competitive too. Making sure your day rate is reviewed will help keep your business running and profitable.
3. Be Eager To Learn On The Job
Be open to learning new skills as you go when running a freelance business. Unlike working in a team or full-time for a company, you’ll need to be open to investing in new skills and learning on the job.
You may even discover a love for something completely different to the discipline you started your business in and change how you work accordingly. Freelancing brings plenty of new opportunities to learn and develop skills — some you don’t even realise you’ve gained!
Many of the freelancers we’ve spoken to share the new skills they’ve developed whilst running their business such as design skills for copywriters and coding for designers as they’ve found their roles evolving as they go.
4. Don’t say yes to everything…
When you’re solely responsible for finding your next project or regular work contract, it can feel like a lot of pressure which often leads to freelancers saying yes to everything they’re offered. Whilst this works for freelancers like video editor John Gutteridge, who admitted he still falls into this “I still work on every project, no matter how small, as you never know where it may lead!”
It’s really important to remember that when a project or offer comes in but doesn’t feel quite right, you can just say no.
Likewise, if you’re already fully booked but your favourite client comes calling, saying no helps set boundaries and means when you do have capacity again, you’ll do a great job.
Rushing work or saying yes to everything means you’ll be really busy and find yourself burning out.
5. Keep on top of your time
This next tip is an essential part of time management and freelancers need to be great at clock-watching and charging correctly for their time.
As a freelancer, your time is your money, so make sure you’re spending it wisely! Don’t give too much of your creativity away in emails or over impromptu meetings and don’t do ‘favours’ for free. Your knowledge and skills haven’t just developed overnight and making sure you’re paid correctly will play an important role in running a successful freelance business.
If you charge by the hour, make sure you don’t run over that and likewise, before you give an estimate of time to a client or agree on hours for a project, make sure you’ve defined what a day’s worth of time looks like for your business as it will be essential or helping you manage time.
6. Look after your health
Freelancers often skip holidays, work through weekends or work when they’re feeling under the weather as there’s no paid leave to fall back on. It’s vital to take rest days, actually have time off and make time for things that help you feel recharged and relaxed — without the guilt.
If you’re new to freelancing, try to take a four-day week once a month, or book a few days' leave and enjoy some time away from your job. You’ll feel so much better for it and despite what many think, your clients won’t fall apart without you!
Having good mental health is integral to running a great business so be mindful of looking after your health and take those half days regularly. Freelance burnout is something we’ve touched on before and our CEO Shib is passionate about looking after freelancers as they can often neglect their own health for the sake of taking on more work.
So, remove emails from your phone, don’t take your laptop on holiday with you and create some easy but essential boundaries to help you feel rested too.
7. Set Boundaries That Suit You
Remember, freelancing is about flexibility and having autonomy over working hours so if you’re new to freelancing, set your boundaries and work out what works best for you — not clients. Work in the evenings, work on the weekends, choose to do 4-day weeks- the choice is entirely yours.
When we spoke to freelance Marketing Manager, Charlie Price, he emphasised the importance of boundaries when it comes to those ‘quick email chats’ or the video calls that quickly add up. Your time isn’t free, nor are your ideas so making sure to have billable hours outlined before agreeing to join calls will make sure you don’t lose out.
Make sure you outline these boundaries before agreeing to work. You’ll probably find it won’t matter when you work, as long as the tasks are done.
If you’re new to freelancing, why sign up here today and find your next project with us!