Whether you’re a veteran or you’re embarking on your first solo adventure, there’s never a bad time to get some freelancing advice. This year, more of us need to start looking towards alternative forms of marketing. Much to my camera-shy dismay, that means getting in on the rise of YouTube.
Freelancing advice isn’t all about marketing and getting yourself out there, though. I’m a massive proponent of taking a holistic approach to your work; especially when it’s a side-hustle, you’re a parent, or you’re using it to finance your studies.
On that note, here are my five pearls of freelancing advice for 2018:
Ultimate freelancing advice: Now’s the time to get in on the rise of YouTube
According to the gurus over at Wordstream, 45% of people watch over an hour of videos online each week. Even scarier still, 87% of marketing experts use video marketing to propel their clients forward.
If you’re in charge of your marketing, this means some of the best freelancing advice I can give you means need to get in on the rise of YouTube too. As it appears the almighty users of the big bad Internet love to see us on screen, there’s no hiding from this one. If you’re camera-shy, as I am, having a few test runs may make the process less daunting.
Fortunately, social media engagement still follows video marketing as a close second. So, if you’re not ready to get your face in front of the camera yet, carry on Tweeting and Posting. Otherwise, Podcasts also act as a reliable alternative. Fewer people are using them compared with video marketing, but that means it’s a less saturated marketing tool for you to seize.
Make sure your taxes are in order
When you enter the world of freelancing, it isn’t unreasonable to feel as though you’re embarking on a liberating existence that allows you to live life on your terms. While that is true, working as a freelancer doesn’t mean you don’t have to dance to HMRC’s tune.
If you’re just starting out, some of the most crucial freelancing advice I can give you is to register with HMRC. Doing so allows you to file your self-assessment online each year. Failing to do so is tantamount to tax avoidance, and not filing your taxes on time means all of your hard earned freelancing dosh goes into the taxman’s pocket in the shape of a fine.
Whether you have a home office or you like to work cross-legged on the couch like me, find somewhere to stick the tax filing deadlines. To make matters simple, you can set an alert on your Google calendar; ideally for a week or so before so you can file accurately.
If you start earning beyond a certain amount, you’ll need to register for VAT too. Again, doing so promptly avoids trouble with the taxman, making your freelance adventure smooth sailing. It’s also worth making yourself aware of what your tax-deductible expenses are, especially if you’re not yet making enough to justify hiring an accountant.
Finally, if freelancing is your side-hustle alongside another job, familiarise yourself with tax codes and ensure your employer is aware. Doing so ensures you don’t receive any nasty stings; such as emergency tax rates. At the end of each tax year, it’s also worth checking the codes’ accuracy to see if you can grab a rebate.
Go against the grain and be yourself
If you’re anything like me, you’re freelancing because you know it’s an excellent opportunity to work with your passion. The Internet is brimming with tools that allow you to take whatever it is you love and turn it into a business. For example:
- Fiverr; You won’t make much money at first, but Fiverr’s model has expanded to allow you to maximize your earnings through packages and add ons.
- Etsy; Seriously, you can sell just about anything on Etsy. Whether you’re collecting antiques or making crystal healing bracelets, there’s a category for it. You’ll need to put effort in on the marketing front, but it’s worthwhile.
- Kindle; If there’s a topic you love and you feel as though you can write about it, try using Kindle as a means of revenue.
- Blogging; Again, if you have a topic you love and you’re not afraid to write boldly about it, start a blog and get going. Always remember that nothing ever starts perfect; as long as you start and develop gradually, you’ll find success.
- Facebook stores; Did you know that Facebook has a stores function now? If you have a blog or a business site already, you can add products to the Facebook stores functions. Providing you’re prepared to put in a little investment on the advertising front; you can increase your product/service revenue.
- Sites such as Upwork; A lot of freelancers decry Upwork; especially those of us who are freelance writers. However, I’ve snagged a fair few well-paying clients through there. Plus, the ability to make money from your skill is almost limitless.
Now, I believe that being yourself is central to standing out in 2018. As this article from Advance states, self-employment is on the rise. By May last year, freelancers represented 15% of the UK workforce. I’d imagine statistics in other countries vary, but are also quite similar. As such, encouraging you to be your true self is some of the simplest freelancing advice I can give you.
As such, being yourself ensures you slot into a niche nicely. Mimicking others only means you’ll throw yourself into a full pool. Whatever your approach to your freelancing area is, there are businesses and people out there who want it. If you don’t believe me, try reading “The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck.” Even with her breathtakingly unique tone, this author scores well on the freelance writing front.
Trust that there is someone out there who wants your version of the services that thousands are offering. Don’t be bland, and do throw yourself into a niche.
Make sure you bring stability to your freelancing lifestyle
Many people enter the world of freelancing because they want to escape the daily grind. But, between scoring clients, advertising your services, and completing the work your customers are paying for, you can soon spiral into a world of stress, and that life of freedom you pictured fades into the background. So, here’s some freelancing advice that involves bringing that stability back.
Taking breaks is ridiculously important
If you spend hours laboring at a task, your brain will eventually decide it’s had enough and give in to you. Okay, so I don’t mean it will stop, as that would result in death. But, your capacity for remaining inspired will diminish rapidly, making you less productive.
Stepping away from your work allows you to return to it with a fresh mind and a new outlook. You regain your motivation, and you avoid something called ‘decision fatigue,’ which is a state of paralysis where you can’t make decisions about your freelancing business. Here are some ways you can take a break and enhance your productivity:
- Get outside for a walk, fill your lungs with fresh air, and give your liver some Vitamin D to store. In the long term, doing this reduces your risk of depression. Short term, you won’t get cabin fever.
- Go and do your work in a new environment. Although I love my cross-legged on the sofa routine, I do know that nipping into Cafe Nero and hogging their WiFi somehow makes me more creative.
- Have a quick power nap, but only before three PM. Such naps should last for 30 minutes maximum. I’m a big fan of sleep hygiene, so make sure you stick to those rules.
- Set a timer and spend some time meditating or daydreaming. Personally, I prefer the meditating approach. Spotify is full of tracks that range from energizing to relaxing, so choose one and meditate as a prophylactic stress-reduction measure.
Build an emergency reserve fund
All freelancers will find that their industry has periods of feast and famine. For example, as a freelance writer I’ve discovered that the months leading up to Christmas are incredible, then after that everything goes a little quiet.
Take some advice from Monica Geller’s dad and place fifteen-percent of your earnings into a savings account. Find one with a fantastic interest rate; if you can. That way, you’ll have an emergency reserve fund for when work is slow, you’re unwell, or an actual disaster hits.
Depending on the area of freelancing you work in, there are periods of feast and famine. As a freelance writer, I have found that the three months preceding Christmas are excellent. In fact, I am practically pushing clients away.
In contrast, January and February are dire. It took me a short while to realize this, hence the slow approach to building that emergency fund. If you’re living in the UK, I’d recommend using an ISA. Yes, the interest rates are still crap, but unless you’re a whizz at stocks and shares accounts, they’re also your best bet. Finances may constitute some of the more boring aspects of freelancing advice, but they’re also necessary.
Learn when to delegate
For a semi-control freak such as myself, learning when to delegate is hella hard. I can probably count the number of times I’ve done it on the one hand in seven years, and that is how long I have been working as a freelance writer in the UK.
But, if you don’t start to recognize when your freelancing life is getting too much, failing to delegate leads to burnout and breakdowns. Providing you can find an alternative freelancer you trust, there’s no harm in doing this. For ethics’ sake, I would also recommend telling your client that this is what you’re doing. Otherwise, they will notice the change in tone or they may feel as though you’re somehow breaching their confidentiality.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself
I’ll let you in on a sad little secret here. Before I started my pre-placement writing this morning, I struggled to force myself out of bed. So, I began emailing counselors, because I know now is the time for some professional help on the self-care front.
Around 70-million working days are lost in the UK due to inadequate attention to mental health. We’re rubbish at taking care of ourselves and employers are equally bad at helping us too, even though they have a duty of care. One in four of us suffer from a mental health condition; or will do at some point in our lives. It’s a real issue that few of us are taking charge of, or feel able to.
Please don’t ignore meditation etc. as self-care
Self-care isn’t always about tackling a problem when it rears its ugly head. Prophylactic measures are just as important, and that is where meditation comes in.
One study has revealed how meditation heightens your attention throughout the day and regulates your autonomic nervous system. Your autonomic nervous system takes control of breathing, your heartbeat, and how you digest food. All of these functions also dictate how you feel physically and emotionally, so add meditation to your life for a dose of wellness as a freelancer.
Remember, freelancing is a chance to take control of your life, not to add more stress to it
Finally, don’t forget that you delved into/are in the process of delving into freelancing to take control of your life. While it will never be absent of stresses, you are abandoning having a boss, determining when you can take sick breaks, and booking those last-minute holidays that having to beg for annual leave would prevent. If freelancing starts to feel too stressful, take a step back and analyse why then make some changes