You’re a freelancer. You work when you want, where you want, and for a rate you set all by yourself. You count in all the costs of your day to day life, and you decide your hourly rate for any projects compared to the budget a client is showing you, and then you get to work for a very comfortable figure. All in all, it’s a nice way to make money, and it makes sure you’re always your own boss with all the say in how you’re going to build your business up and take it further.
But when examining this idea a little closer, it’s not quite such a straightforward matter. After all, you’re not going to be making big bucks immediately, and the work flowing your way can be wildly inconsistent. It’s a world that’s filled to the brim with people trying to make a business out of their freelance skills and lifestyle, and you’ve got to make sure you know what you’re doing.
So let’s focus on that money aspect now, and have a think below about what the money opportunities are really like in the freelance world.
Your niche will very much dictate the amount of money you make on a project by project basis. This is because the more of an expert you are in one area, the more work is going to come your way, and the more reliable a stream of networking contacts you’ll have on your side as well. So being able to determine the topical areas you know best, or the images you can design to a better standard than any others, will help you to guarantee the best money opportunities on the market.
If you’re a freelancer, you establish the amount of money you earn on a project by project basis. Or at least, in theory you do. A lot of people with a freelance career will have an hourly or daily rate for every single bit of work that comes their way, and in practice, that’s a terrible way to run your career. After all, a lot of projects will take wildly different times to complete, and you never know how many revisions or redesigns a client will ask you to go through. And if you’re still asking for only £7 or £8 (a.k.a., minimum wage) an hour for something that takes you a full 10-12 hours a day to get done, you’re selling yourself wildly short.
And that means you need to work on your maths skills a little, and have a full picture of the work you’re going to need to do for the next project you’ve agreed to take on. You need to know roughly how long it’s going to take, how many hours you can realistically allocate to it day by day, and how you’re going to be able to pay your bills according to this schedule. Only then should you calculate your rates.
Tax is something a lot of people looking to start freelancing take as a warning sign, and as a result, don’t jump in and make the career they want out of life. But getting to grips with the tax matters is all apart of the freelancing experience, no matter if you’re an illustrator or writer. And thankfully, coping with taxes and filing them away expertly year by year is getting made easier and easier.
Tax advice should only ever come from an accountant or a government official, but there’s some general rules here to remember. Paying tax depends on how much you earn year by year, and depending on the year you’re filing by, you have a different personal allowance. Of course you’ll have to factor in national insurance contributions as well, but when you can count on many software companies out there making tax digital, you can very easily calculate all these costs all at once. And then you can set them neatly out into a spreadsheet that was made with you, and only you, in mind.
So, if you’re a freelancer, either after only a few years of operating as one or just starting out as one now, then you should get to know the score out there. There’s plenty of well paying money opportunities, but only after you’ve sifted through the content mills and low paying clients who like you to work ‘for exposure’.