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Become a freelancer – the do’s and don’ts

The Freelancer Club have helped develop over 35,000 creative freelancers over the past two years.

Matt Dowling
22nd March 2016
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We’re privy to both sides of the recruitment fence and have a unique insight into what works and what doesn’t. Here, we share their insider tips on becoming a successful freelancer.

The number one reason freelancers fail is due to a lack of business know­how. It’s not realistic to expect a new freelancer to be an expert in all the areas one needs for a business to flourish but there is most definitely a right and wrong way to approach freelancing. Here’s our freelancer checklist.

DO write out a business plan to see if your freelance business is going to work in the first place. Just because others are working in your industry doesn’t mean that your business will. Everyone has different life costs and expectations. It’s not an exact science and your business plan will change as you grow, but it is a great way to see what you have to achieve in order to survive and thrive.

DO NOT jump straight into freelancing. Whether you’ve taken a course, have a degree or are self taught, freelancing is no different to setting up a small business so make a plan, set out a strategy and pick a date to launch only when you’re ready.

DO register your business with HMRC once you’re up and running. If you’re 100% sure you are in this for the long haul, choose whether you want to set up as a sole trader or a limited company and make it official.

DO NOT register your business if you’re just testing the waters. It’s best to wait and see whether you’re able to sell your service first. HMRC allows a few months of trading before you have to register. You’ll have to declare all earnings of course but if it doesn’t work, you’ll save yourself a whole lot of paperwork.

DO build a professional website AND email address. Ensure that you’ve worked on your brand (and brand name) first, purchase a domain name and link your email to the site. There’s nothing worse than a professional freelancer sending an email from their old personal Hotmail account. It’s unprofessional and makes a bad impression.

DO NOT try and build your site using a ‘free’ site building tool if you don’t know what you’re doing. First of all the sites are normally only free if you use their URL (e.g. and some require you to have their logo or social links on your site too. To get a professional domain, email and remove the logo will cost between £50 ­ £200 per year depending on who you use.

DO take a few short courses on the business areas you struggle with. The majority of the time you will not be providing your service (chargeable hours). In fact you’ll be running your business, searching for jobs, doing admin, accounts, customer service, tax etc. round 60% of the time in your first year.

DO NOT presume that just because you’ve used social media for the last 10 years that you’re an online marketing expert. Generating leads, sales and exposure from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest takes skill, experience and consideration.


The Freelancer Club specialises in supporting freelancers of all levels. They have just launched their new Freelance Academy, online short courses in freelance business. Check out their courses and get ahead in freelance business HERE.

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