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How to go freelance in 2021

How to go freelance in 2021

Posted 05th January, 2021 by Sarah

If you’ve been thinking of freelancing - 2021 could be the year to stop dreaming about it and start doing it.

If there is one shining silver lining to take from the best-forgotten year, 2020, it has to be the wider acceptance and understanding of remote working. Businesses have been forced to accept that not everyone has to be under the same roof at the same time, to work collaboratively and effectively.

WFH is the new normal

More and more businesses are adapting to the whole WFH (working from home) culture. Global Workplace Analytics reports that, according to their research, the new normal will see 25 to 30 per cent of the entire workforce working at home, at least for part of the week, by the end of 2021.

This is great news for freelancers, who often work from home.

One thing to bear in mind about building up a freelance career is that it doesn’t have to be either/or … Either I work for an employer or I freelance. No, you test the freelance water and do both.

The Independent newspaper reported that 40 per cent of workers have a ‘side hustle’ and the number is growing. Freelancing is one of the simplest ways you can monetise your spare time and, if it goes well, you could easily slide over into full-time freelancing.

If you have a skill that others will pay you for, you may want to consider going freelance. Your skill could be an extension of a job you’ve had, or it could be a development of a hobby. What has to be certain is that it’s something you enjoy and are passionate about.

How to find freelance work

When you set yourself up as a freelancer, it’s helpful to network with your existing contacts and let them know that you’re available to work with them.

You can do this by contacting your network, through word-of-mouth and, of course, through your social media channels.

But, you can also tap into a range of freelance platforms out there.

There are the big players, such as Upwork,, People Per Hour, Guru and Fiverr.

Then, there are more specific options available, depending on what services you offer. If you’re a content writer, you could look at Contently. If you work in journalism, there’s the self-explanatory If you’re a web designer or graphic designer, look to 99Designs. If you’re a management consultant, you could consult Expert Powerhouse.

The choice is virtually endless. Obviously, do your due diligence, ask around your contacts or in relevant communities, such as Reddit, whether they have experience of using a particular site and consider it to be legit and worth your effort.

For some inspiration about the realities of launching yourself on a freelancing adventure, you could check out the interview we did with Sarah Townsend, best-selling author of the book ‘Survival Skills for Freelancers’. Sarah has been her own boss for more than 20 years, so she understands all of the pleasures and pains of living without the safety net of a regular wage.

One of the things she offers particular advice on is how to charge for what you do.

How much to charge for freelancing

As Sarah says, “Being unsure of how much to charge when you start self-employment is one of the most daunting things about going it alone. It’s also one of the most common concerns. Even the most experienced freelancers have ongoing anxiety when it comes to charging.”

If you’re just starting out as a freelancer and don’t yet have that portfolio of great jobs to show people, then you may wish to be modest in your pricing.

That said, it is not unusual for freelancers to under-value their own work. Forbes has found that sole traders (self-employed people are often a one-person band) can earn a third less than their employed counterparts. Part of this comes down to people pricing their work too modestly.

But, if you think about it, the reason your client is outsourcing their work to you is (at least in part) because it is cheaper than employing their own staff to do it. Hiring you saves them all the additional costs of employing staff - such as holiday pay, sick pay, pension and tax.

The thing is - you, as a freelancer, have to shoulder those costs yourself. So, you should bear all that in mind - along with your own production costs, such as energy bills, purchasing materials, licensing software, etc - when you are calculating what your work is worth.

Do you freelance for free?

When you’re a freelancer, ‘no’ seems to be the hardest word.

A freelancer’s natural instinct is to say ‘yes’ to every question. “Can you do this for me?” the client asks. “Yes,” you reply, whilst Googling the thing they’ve asked for, to see what it actually is.

After all, you love what you do, right? Learning how to do more of it is fun. The thing is, canny clients know freelancers tend to enjoy their work. So, at some point, every freelancer hears the old “if you work for free we can give you exposure” offer.

As a professional, you shouldn't really consider working for free. However, if you’re starting out, or building your reputation and portfolio, you may well think that doing a particular job for a particular client is in your long-term best interest.

If they’re a well-known or prestigious client and if having their logo on your website as a previous happy customer is going to benefit you, then you should certainly consider their proposal. So, that’s a judgement call only you can make, really.

And what happens if a paying client comes along at the same time? Which job do you take? You’re a freelancer - you take both. Who needs sleep, anyway?

What does 2021 hold in store for your freelance journey?

If you’ve recently gone freelance or you’re a hardened trooper with many years of freelance success behind you, we’d love you to come and share your stories and expertise with the community on our Facebook group, The Digital Marketing Tribe.

Categories: Small Businesses

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