I can’t tell you how excited I am to write this post. If you’re dreaming about dropping out of the hamster-cage-daily-grind, I’ve written this article for you.
On a cold, September morning, I slinked into the office. I’d been doing this, at 9 am, every day, for five years. On this day, I looked around at my other peers. I didn’t relate to any of them. I knew I was different. Most worked furiously on their laptops, stimulated. Others were lifeless & dreaming of a different life. Deep down, I realised I was in the wrong place.
There are gazillions of articles out there telling you how to earn money without holding down a so-called “real job”. From an ex-permanent employee, I want to give you an honest guide to freelancing without the bull. I’ll go through the emotional truth including dealing with doubt, lack of motivation and the implications on your social life.
Bare in mind that I wholeheartedly endorse this life decision. It’s been a dream so far, and I would encourage any potential entrepreneur who has the passion, capacity and capability to do it.
Should you take the leap?
Honest question. Do you love what you do? Do you wake up in the morning, invigorated or do you wake up with fear & terror?
If it’s the latter, then I have a quote for you, “there’s no reason to do sh*t you hate. None.”
Freelancing isn’t for everyone. You need to be smart, have great work ethic & real passion. You need the motivation & emotional drive to push you to achieve your dreams.
Okay, so I would love to tell you to pack up your stuff, tell your boss that you’re off, throw your papers in the air, fist-pump your colleagues and quit today. I highly recommend that you save a significant amount of money before you do. Every business needs capital. You need backup funds to pay for periods of the unknown. Sell everything you have. I’m deadly serious. My friends make fun of me because I eBay everything but excess possessions are counterproductive in a risky lifestyle. There are a million handbags in the world; life-changing experiences happen once. Make a cuppa, sit down & write down the costs of your outgoings and how much you’ll need to make each month.
One of the major disadvantages of not working for an organisation is not having any company benefits – eek! I miss my discounts so much but let’s talk about the important stuff. As you will no longer have health and life insurance (which we take for granted, but it’s worth a lot), I would suggest setting up your own. Vitality is a good one because it rewards you with discounts for being healthy and you get subsided gym membership with Virgin Active. Otherwise, there’s Aviva which is pricier, but the critical illness cover is comprehensive because it protects you & your family. Otherwise, you’re covered with LV, and it’s a great value.
Tax & Pensions
You’ll need to register as self-employed with HMRC. Once registered, you’ll receive your unique tax payers reference number. HMRC will nudge you to submit your tax return each year. You can file it yourself or hire an accountant. It’s my first one this year, and I’m hoping that I won’t find it too taxing (hehe, get it?). Keep all of your invoices, remittances & receipts as you can offset and expense any payments like travel & website costs from your earnings.
Transfer your company pension into a self-employed pension. Otherwise, if you withdraw it, you will lose the value that the government put in. My pension is currently with NEST, as I am my boss, I top up and pay myself. When I top up my pension, the government tops it up too!
Where to find freelance work?
Depending on the field that you want to enter, the most successful freelancers are represented by an agency. You have dedicated agents finding work for you on a regular basis.
Alternatively, freelance recruitment agencies can find contracts for you. Contractors can earn a minimum of £250 – 1k a day. If you set up a limited company, you can pay less tax (I think it’s 12.5% but do not quote me on this) on earnings.
Otherwise, you’ll need to build up your client base directly. The best sites for freelancers are PeoplePerHour, Upwork & Fiverr. Every highest earner from those sites has a story on Forbes. Read and be inspired by their stories.
Doing all three at the same time is possible.
Doubt, motivation & social life
To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to have the confidence to take risks. The old saying goes, “If you don’t ask, you do not receive”. Your most powerful asset will be fear. It will present you with the commitment that you need to succeed. My post on improving your confidence is here.
You already have the motivation to wake up and go to work every day. With freelancing, there is no safety blanket. If you don’t work, you don’t earn. The harder I work, the more I profit, instantly. That’s the beauty of it.
The disadvantage is working crazy, unsociable hours. Your friends will want to meet up weekday evenings and weekends, lols, that never works on a freelance schedule. Freelancers don’t get paid leave. I can’t plan holidays anymore because a job could come up the day before. This will annoy some of the people in your life. You will become flakey AF.
I quit my secure, permanent job late last year. I want to reassure you that it’s okay to want change. Initially, I was angry. I desperately wanted to fall head over heels in love with the corporate life. As a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a ‘business lady’ at a big company.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve loved some of the permanent jobs I’ve had. I’ve learnt so much from each role. Who knows? Maybe I’ll change my mind about freelancing. At this present time, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I’ll love to hear your experiences and whether you’re looking to take the plunge. Either option, I’ll be with you all the way.
And if you’re a freelancer, my butterfly, what does it feel like to be free?
Location: Holland Park, London