Want to live the freelance life? Freelancing is a dream for most artists because it paves the way to more opportunities, and of course, career growth. But before spreading your wings, it’s important to prepare yourself for a smooth transition before searching for clients.
Apart from building a killer portfolio, here are essential things that you need to take care of before living the freelance life:
Freelancing is a financial risk and there will be times when money’s tight. Think of saving up as a safety net in case you get a bumpy start. Even if you have several projects lined up, you still need to save up in case things don’t happen the way you expected.
Saving up will help you get through those early days as a freelance artist. Having money in the bank gives you peace of mind knowing that you won’t starve while waiting to get paid by new clients. We suggest saving enough cash to get you through three months with no money coming in.
Make it Official
Since you are no longer an employee, you have to register as an independent contractor or as a sole proprietor.
Unlike regular employees, independent contractors do not have income taxes withheld so you will file your own taxes. Not fun but totally necessary. If in the future your business grows or you forged partnerships with other artists, update your business structure accordingly.
Set Up a Work Station
For most freelance artists, home is the perfect place to set up an office. All you need is a work desk and certain equipment to get started. A home office is a great setup regardless if you are freelancing for full time or for part-time because 1) your “office” is literally a few feet away and 2) you can create a flexible and comfortable space that suit your specific needs.
Of course, there are artists who prefer to get out of the house to complete a project. If that’s the case for you then you could look for co-working spaces near your place. This is a terrific option if you want to take on more projects or if you simply crave structure. Because you are likely to work side by side other artists, renting co-working spaces could expand your network too.
Record Your Earnings and Expenses
Now that you are settled in your work desk, it’s time to record your expenses and earnings so when the tax season rolls in, filing your taxes becomes much easier for you. Do not wait until the last second to do this otherwise; you might end up creating a not-so-accurate record of your self-assessment return! By dutifully recording your income and outgoings, you’ll know exactly how much of your expenses could be offset against tax.
If you have the budget for it, you could also hire an accountant to handle tax-related tasks for you. If you have a good idea what you’ll earn in the first year as an independent contractor and you are unlikely to rack up many expenses along the way then taking care of your own tax shouldn’t be that hard. But if you are expecting your business to grow quickly then it makes sense to hire a local accountant.
Look for Clients
It’s never a good idea to bet all your money on something that’s you’re unsure of. Don’t make the leap unless you are sure that there is work waiting for you. Before giving the freelance life a try, you must have a set of clients ready to hire you. Work up a list of preferred clients, get in touch with them then work out a deal. If these clients are old ones, they’ll probably know what to expect from you.
For new clients, give the full briefing. Let them know what you can do for them, when you’ll be available, and so on. Once you are sure that you have clients waiting then that’s the right time to make the leap to freelancing.
Boost Your Social Media Presence
It’s great that we live at a time when anyone could market themselves online. Online marketing is key to attracting prospective clients so go out there and promote your business. You might have personal accounts on popular social media platforms but if you’d like to keep the personal and business sides separate, set up accounts specifically to promote your freelance career.
Of course, switching between accounts can be a hassle sometimes but if you want to present your business in the most professional manner possible then it will be worth the hassle.
Update Your Portfolio
Your portfolio may have been sorted out way before you started accepting freelancing gigs but if you are serious about being a successful independent artist then your portfolio should reflect that. It is no longer enough to dump all your work on Behance to get more freelancing work.
Update your portfolio to create a strong body of work. Choose a template that puts your work front and center. Describe what you do in an engaging manner, tell your story and let prospective clients know exactly why they should hire you. The texts should be succinct to get the message across efficiently. Getting the right training is also a great way to attract more clients so be sure to outline all the online courses or art workshops you’ve taken in the past.
The freelance life has its perks but important things must be taken care of first to make the transition as smooth as possible! Be sure that the things we’ve outlined above have been sorted before a huge change in your career.