Freelancing FAQs

Here, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions about freelancing. These questions are not exhaustive and will be added to over time. If you have a question you’d like answering, comment below or get in touch.

What is freelancing?

What fields can I freelance in?

Are freelancers their own boss? 

Where do freelancers work?

How do I find freelance work?

Which is the best freelancing website/platform?

What is the first step to work as freelancer?

Where did the term “freelancing” come from?

How do I win customers?

How do I keep customers happy?

What hours do freelancers work?

How should I plan my work day as a freelancer?

What’s the difference between freelance project-based work and contract-based work?

Should I become a freelancer?

How old do I have to be to freelance?

Can a student become a freelancer?

Do I need a degree to be a freelancer?

Should I tell my employer I’m freelancing?

How do I pay taxes as a freelancer?

How does a freelancer minimise taxes?

What is the best payment method for clients?

What happens if I cancel a project as a freelancer?

What type of laptop is best for freelancers?

How do I write my first freelance sample article?

What do I write when reviewing a great client?

What is freelancing?

Freelancing means that the individual isn’t employed by one specific company in one specific job. They’re often self-employed and work for a variety of clients via a variety of sources. These sources can include freelancing platforms/websites, personal websites, word-of-mouth recommendations, contract work, and more. Clients hire a freelancer to complete a task, project, or service for them. These can be anything from one-off tasks to ongoing work, short contracts, or big projects. Freelancers often work on a range of projects at any one time for various clients, and many freelancers gain work through a variety of sources.

What fields can I freelance in?

There are countless areas you can work in as a freelancer. For example, virtual admin, design, social media, marketing, sales, ICT, accounting, writing, editing, proofreading, translating, audio-transcribing, and many more. Pretty much any job you could do sat in an office at a computer you could also do as a freelancer. There are also freelance contract roles in construction, in the film industry, and as a consultant in various fields.

Are freelancers their own boss?

Freelancers are indeed their own boss, because they are self-employed. They manage their own time, workload, and priorities. They are responsible for paying their own tax and pension, and ensuring they have enough money to cover holidays etc. They make the decisions on when, where, and how to work, and they control their working life. Although they work for and with clients, these clients are not their boss.

Where do freelancers work?

Many freelancers work from home. However, freelancers can also work from freelancing hubs (hot desk spaces) or create spaces for a monthly fee. Some freelancers work from libraries or coffee shops. It’s possible to work from anywhere in the world as a freelancer—as long as you have a laptop and WiFi.

How do I find freelance work?

To find freelance work, you can sign up to freelancing platforms, where there are already plenty of customers looking for freelancers. You can set up a personal website and advertise your services via social media or other methods. You can gain work via word-of-mouth, referrals, and recommendations through your existing network. Many freelancers use a mix of these methods to gain work.

Which is the best freelancing website/platform?

There is no one “best” freelancing site or platform for every freelancer. It’s a personal choice for each individual. Some freelancers prefer certain platforms; some don’t like the platforms at all. Some prefer the bigger, more established sites; others prefer the smaller, newer sites. Some like generalist sites; others prefer industry-specific sites. If you’re trying to decide which is the best site for you, peruse the various sites and figure out what works for you personally.

What is the first step to work as freelancer?

There is no obvious first step for everyone, because the journey to freelancing is different for every individual. For some people, the first step is deciding whether freelancing is right for them personally—whether it suits their personality, aspirations, and mindset. For those who already know this, it’s deciding what their freelance offering will be and business aspects such as where to find customers. For a few, who already know these things, it’s actually trying out freelancing to see whether they enjoy it and whether it feels right for them before committing. For those who have already done all of these things, it’s actually getting set up as a freelancer. You can also check out a guide to getting started.

Where did the term “freelancing” come from?

The term “free lance” originally came from medieval times and referred to a mercenary who wasn’t allied to any particular group. As such, their “lance” was “free” to be hired by the highest bidder, and the mercenary would then fight on the bidder’s behalf.  It was first popularised in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe in 1819. You can find out more on the history of freelancing here.

How do I win customers?

To win customers, you need to apply for jobs or set up a freelance offering where your pitch is compelling. Be friendly, tell the client what you can do for them and what value you’ll add, and show examples of your previous work if possible. Compare your prices and offerings to other freelancers and don’t hugely under- or over-price yourself.

How do I keep customers happy?

To keep customers happy, update them on your progress, do a great job, go the extra mile in terms of quality, meet your deadlines, and tell them you’d be happy to work with them again. This way, you should get great feedback. Generally, the more great reviews you get, the more customers you’ll get, because people know they’re getting quality work.

What hours do freelancers work?

The answer is, it depends on the freelancer. Every freelancer sets their own hours. One of the best parts of freelancing is being able to work the days and hours that suit you, and arranging your day to best fit your working style. Unlike in a traditional job where you’re told the hours you have to work, or get a small amount of “flexible working”, freelancing gives you the flexibility to work when you want.

How should I plan my work day as a freelancer?

However you like! The great thing about being a freelancer is that you’re free to manage and plan your work day however suits you. You’re not restricted to working office hours, so you should figure out what works for you—rather than imposing a plan that suits someone else. If you’re not sure what works for you, then try a few different methods (such as full routine, part-routine, no routine, working early/late) and see how you feel.

What’s the difference between freelance project-based work and contract-based work?

Many freelancers do project-based work, which means working on multiple projects for multiple clients at any time—most often remotely. Contract-based work is more akin to a traditional role in that the freelancer works for one client at a time on a contract basis, which may be for several months, but they are still self-employed. Often, freelance contract roles take place in the client’s workplace, rather than remotely. Commonly, freelance contract roles are seen in the IT industry.

Should I become a freelancer?

If you like to work independently, want to control your own life, are comfortable with a level of risk, and have a strong sense of initiative—then the freelance lifestyle may be great for you. If you prefer to work in a team, like having a boss, and don’t like having control over decisions, then you’ll probably won’t enjoy freelancing. The freelance life isn’t for everyone, and it really depends on your personality and how you like to work.

How old do I have to be to freelance?

This depends on your home country. In the UK, you have to be 18 to legally sign contracts with somebody else, which is often part of being a freelancer. However, under 18 you may be able to do voluntary work. It’s best to check the government website for your home country to find out the legal age at which you can become a freelancer.

Can a student become a freelancer?

They can indeed! In fact, it’s a great time to start freelancing, as you can earn an income alongside your studies. An area that many students are good at is writing, since you most likely do this day in, day out, though you can freelance in many areas. You’ll develop specific skills and transferrable skills that are useful in the workplace, and experience that will help when you graduate—whether you apply for jobs or decide to become a full-time freelancer. You can also start building a network of contacts that might come in handy when you graduate.

Do I need a degree to be a freelancer?

No, because there are no job requirements to become a freelancer. You need skills and knowledge in your chosen area, but this doesn’t mean you need to have gained them through a degree. What clients want to know and see is that you can do the job. Of course, some freelancing jobs will require a degree, but many more don’t.

Should I tell my employer I’m freelancing?

If you freelance alongside an employed job, you should ask for permission from your employer before starting. There may be rules to adhere to, such as not competing against your employer, not working for their competitors, not working too many hours, and taking sufficient breaks between your job and freelancing. Not telling your employer you’re freelancing is risky, and if they find out, you might be in breach of your contract.

How do I pay taxes as a freelancer?

How you pay taxes depends what country you live in. Each country has different rules and processes regarding self-employed tax. This means differences in how much you pay and how you pay it. For example, self-employed tax in the USA is very different to in the UK. To find out the rules and processes for your country, take a look at your government’s official website or call an accountant, as they’ll help you understand what you need to do and how to pay your tax.

How does a freelancer minimise taxes?

As a freelancer, many of the costs you incur to run the business are “tax-deductible”, meaning these costs are deducted from your taxable income, and therefore you pay less tax. In the UK, costs such as petrol, stationery, your accountant, and so on are tax-deductible. You need to keep records of all earnings and costs associated with the business in order to calculate your tax. You can also see which costs are tax-deductible on your government website, but I highly recommend hiring an accountant, as they are the experts and will save you money in the long term.

What is the best payment method for clients?

If you work through freelancing platforms, most offer their own payment services, with deposit and escrow facilities, multi-currency wallets, currency conversion options, and free withdrawals to a bank account. Outside freelancing platforms, the best option is bank transfer, which is free as long as your client lives in the same country. If the client is based overseas, there’s a fee for bank transfers and sites such as PayPal, which can be quite expensive. However, you may be able to invite them to the freelancing platform with no fees.

What happens if I cancel a project as a freelancer?

It depends on whether you’re using a freelancing platform, and which one. On some platforms, when you accept a project, the client pays the money into an escrow account and it’s not released to you until you complete the project. If you cancel the project before, then the money is sent back to the client. There may be a fee involved depending on why the money was refunded. The best way to find this out is by reading the T&Cs of the specific platform, as each site operates differently. Outside of freelancing platforms, you will need to manually refund the customer’s deposit via whatever method they paid you.

What type of laptop is best for freelancers?

The best laptop for you depends on what you do as a freelancer. However, one big benefit of freelancing is being able to work outside, so I’d recommend laptops that have anti-glare screens. This comparison checker is really useful, as you can set your requirements and it shows you laptops that match what you’re looking for: https://www.productchart.co.uk/laptops/sets/1.

How do I write my first freelance sample article?

Start by choosing the publication or website you’re going to apply for. Research the type of articles they publish. Identify what they’re looking for in terms of content, writing style, structure, etc. Check their submission guidelines. Decide what you’re going to write about—ideally on a subject that interests you and you’re passionate about. Write a plan for your article—with a clear structure. Write the article. Leave the article for a few days, then re-read it and edit it. Proofread it or have someone proofread it for you.

What do I write when reviewing a great client?

When you’re reviewing clients at the end of a project, think about the information that would be useful for other freelancers to know. For example, you could talk about the client’s communication skills, friendliness, professionalism, ease of working with them, and so on. For example, if they were particular clear in their requirements and the brief, you could say this. If you’d be happy to work with them again, tell them. If you’d recommend them to other freelancers, tell them. Basically, whatever was great about working with them.