8 top tips for beginner freelancers

Freelancing sounds like the dream, doesn’t it? Being your own boss, getting up when you want, going on holiday whenever you please…

Freelance life may not be as rosy as it seems for some and can be difficult to keep on track. It’s quite easy to ‘accidentally’ binge on Rick & Morty until 6pm. Trust me, I’ve done it. If you’re thinking of taking the freelance plunge, these tips will make sure you get off on the right foot…

Set a routine

While you might want to become freelance in order to have that Monday morning lie-in you’ve been craving for the last 10 years, it’s a good idea to set yourself a routine. I find that running as close to 10-6 or 11-7 works best for me as it gives me time to look at what I need to do before I start my day, but gives me the flexibility away from a mundane 9-5. It’s important to try and peel yourself away from your desk at a similar time each day so you don’t run yourself in to the ground.

While it’s important to try and set a routine, there will occasionally be times where you need to work out-of-routine hours, so it’s also important to recognise that freelance life comes with this flexibility.

Separate your work and personal life

So, your commission deadline is tomorrow at 9am but you’re still glued to your laptop at 3am tapping away. We’ve all been there, but it’s important to make sure you give yourself the time to switch off on an evening.  It’s normal to work over your allotted working hours every now and then (particularly in the creative or music sectors) but try not to make it a habit.

Struggling to separate the two?

It can be difficult to separate your work and personal life at the start. What works for me is having a designated working area (i.e. a home office, desk somewhere in the house) and that’s the only area my laptop stays during my routine hours. If you’re really struggling, you can set up a separate profile on your computer for work, and switch across to a personal profile with no access to work emails or accounts once you’ve finished. I know freelancers who have a separate smartphone for work with all of their work accounts on, this is the ultimate switch-off tactic.

Work on your brand

As a freelancer, you are now your brand. Work on your social media, clean up any tweets you wouldn’t want any potential clients to see and make sure your LinkedIn is up to date. Once the work starts to roll in, look in to setting up a professional website where you can flaunt your skills and attract more work.

Don’t devalue yourself

You’ve obviously taken the freelance plunge because you feel confident enough in your own work to earn from it, so make sure you’re earning your worth. It may be tempting, but don’t write for copywriting websites that pay pennies. Now you’re freelance you should value your time as money, so why should you accept as little as £3.50 for a 500 word article?

Get out of the house where possible

Don’t become victim of cabin fever. While your desk – or bed! – may seem like a great option for the day, the local cafe or hotdesking hub is likely to be a better one. Staying in the house for days can lead to a downward spiral of complacency and a sudden urge to watch all 7 series of Game of Thrones.

Keep on top of paperwork

One of the most important things any freelancer can do is keep on top of their paperwork. When it comes to submitting your tax return, you’ll need all the details of your ins and outs. To begin with, print off all invoices, keep all receipts and regularly update a spreadsheet. Once you start to accept more work, you may want to look in to accountancy software like Quickbooks for Self Employed (I use this), or hire an accountant to look after your finances.

Look after your health

Make sure you’re eating properly, drinking enough water and taking regular breaks throughout the day. One of the most important things you can do is to allow yourself the time to recover from a heavy commission period with some down time. After all, you may as well take advantage of some of the benefits…

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