Five Tips for First-Year Freelancers

Today’s guest post comes from Mark James at Crunch Accounting, a UK based online accountancy firm. Thanks, Mark, for providing such sage advice for beginning freelancers and small business owners!

If YOU have any advice, please share in the comments below. Enjoy Career Pioneers…

Contrary to popular opinion – that we’re late risers, work little and work solely in our underwear – in reality a freelancer’s life can be pretty tough. Especially early on.

Many lack clients, contacts and jobs… at least that’s how it was for me, thrust into freelancing following University. It took me lots of time, patience and effort to carve out a freelancing career and whilst in time things did get easier – one client leading to another as my reputation and portfolio grew – there were times when I felt like throwing the towel in.

Speak to freelancers across the board and they’ll have probably felt the same, especially starting out. So, if you’re an aspiring freelancer eager for a bit of advice, or a novice new to freelancing, here’s an array of tips to see you through that (often) difficult first year…

First things first, get professional

As a freelancer, you’re effectively your very own small business, and as such, you should act like one.

With this in mind, get yourself a website, get business cards and get networking, exuding professionalism in everything you do. Business tends to be a little more forthcoming to freelancers with a professional exterior, so establish this and you should start to cultivate a client list.

Endeavour to go the extra mile

A professional image is useless unless you’re backing it up, so pour all your energies into creating the best product you can.

If you consistently do great work, clients will be keener to keep you on the payroll and will most likely recommend you elsewhere. Put as much effort into projects as you can and do whatever it takes to help your clients, always going the extra mile to meet their needs.

Be adaptable

Freelancing is a hugely competitive arena, ‘survival of the fittest’ in the truest sense, so you’ll need to be willing to adapt and change directions – don’t limit yourself solely to one field of work.

Instead, as you explore freelancing and win your first few jobs, respond to the work that is available and consider how to serve the clients you can find, rather than obsessing over the clients that you can’t.
Be Persistent

Searching for freelance work can be hugely demoralizing. Especially when you’re competing against far flung freelancers, capable of charging a fraction of your fees.

If you keep at it though, even when things look bleak, you will succeed. You’ll make some mistakes along the way, worry about money and think about quitting, but if you consistently produce excellent work, maintain a professional image and continually demonstrate your abilities, you will succeed.

Finally, Be Prepared To Fuel Your Freelancing

Last but not least, if your freelancing career is proving slow to take off, consider taking on some temporary work.

With funds running low during one particularly tough patch, I took on a part-time filing job. This freed up enough funds to fuel my freelancing and get it back on track. Never view picking up unrelated work as a failure – see this as fueling your persistence.

About the Guest Author: A former freelancer, Mark James now writes in-house at Crunch Accounting, a UK based online accountancy firm aimed at freelancers, contractors and small businesses. He specializes in business and finance, but dips into soccer and travel outside of work – two of his biggest passions.



  • Fresh Start Solutions

    Sounds a great tips, I find it useful!