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Have been offered some freelance work... Now what do I do?!

(6 Posts)
BayLeaves Mon 22-Aug-16 18:49:40

I wasn't seeking it out, but through a recommendation, someone has approached me with some freelance design work they need doing.

I have NO idea what prices to set, how to create a professional quote, time tracking, invoicing, tax etc. I really want to do the work but I want this to be a formal arrangement.

Do you need to create a contract for the client to sign?

I'm confident I can do the work itself, I just feel really out of my depth in terms of all the admin stuff. Have done lots of Googling but it all seems very US centric.

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MrsMargoLeadbetter Tue 23-Aug-16 08:18:09


At the least you need to register as being self-employed: You need to complete an annual return for HMRC. Which means keeping a track of earnings & related expenses. You can be self-employed and employed as long as your employer (assuming you are employed here) doesn't have a clause in your contract which says you cannot. It is worth noting that you have one tax allowance, so if you are already using it on your employed work, then it is likely that everything you earn as self-employed will be taxed, as opposed to being able to earn a certain amount (is around £10K at the mo) before paying tax if it is your only income. So when doing your calculations for rates etc, think about that.

You can set up a company, but that might not be right for you at this stage. An account would be able to guide you.

Ideally you'd have a contract and offer a proposal so everyone is clear what you are offering in return for £xxx.

I have paid designers anything from £15 ph to £75ph.

Setting up as self-employed takes a little work, but it is worth it (and legally required if you are being paid for self-employed work) if this is going to be something you do beyond this one contract.

Some other helpful links:

GrumpyOldBag Tue 23-Aug-16 18:21:03

Well done Bayleaves. I was in your position a few years ago, started as a sole trader (simpler) now I have my own Limited Company (more tax efficient once your earnings start to rise).

To build on Margo's excellent advice...

I have not always had a contract with clients - in fact rarely get asked for one. However I always do a formal proposal which explains exactly what work I would do and what I will charge them. I then don't start the work until I have an email stating they agree to accept my proposal.

I use Toggl for time tracking which is OK, not the best tool but not the worst. It's pretty simple but you do have to remember to turn it on & off.

Invoices are simple. Lots of templates online. In the beginning I just used my own company letterhead - as a designer you should be able to create something - include Client's name/address, Invoice Number, date, brief description of job, time worked, total amount due, payment terms (30 days or whatever) and bank account details.

Hard to know what to charge, as Margo says it can vary enormously for designers, but my advice is do not undersell yourself or underestimate the time you will take. If you come in with a high quote they can always negotiate down.

You also need to decide whether to register for VAT. I didn't in the beginning, but did when I became a Limited Company.

The other thing to think about is professional indemnity insurance (for peace of mind, & some clients require it).

Good Luck!

BayLeaves Tue 23-Aug-16 22:11:41

Thanks for the advice, so helpful! I was worried I might not get any responses on here.

Yes I am also employed by a large company. I need to make sure this does not conflict with that work. I feel like that complicates things.

I worked out my hourly wage in my normal job comes nearer the bottom of that range you mention, MrsMargo. I wonder if I should base my quote on that, maybe adding say £10 pounds to that hourly rate, to cover cost of software licenses and so on. It's hard to estimate how long things will take me as usually in my employed work I've never really had to keep track!

Argh this all feels so stressful and complicated but I really want to do the work!

OP’s posts: |
MrsMargoLeadbetter Tue 23-Aug-16 23:06:13

Bay I know this is easy for me to say, but don't think low, think how much can I charge!

You don't actually cost your co £20 ph (as an eg), as there are oncosts (employers NI, training, equipment etc). And most companies accept you pay more for a freelancer as they are just a 'supplier' which they can choose to stop working with etc.

It is going to be a hassle for you - setting up as SE, working in leisure time. Don't give that away too easily.

I would suggest £30-50ph is about average.Remember you will lose 20% of it to tax.

I think there is something about looking serious, if you charge a decent rate.

Unfortunately, they could be banking on you being unaware of your value etc..And if they want to pay £10ph, I'd suggest they aren't the client for you...

Are they looking for a fixed price? Make sure you are clear how many revisions that includes. I am sure you know that revisions add up.

I use Paymo to track my time, I think it is only paid for now. Start using a tracker at work to get sense of how long things take.

If you are good there will be other opps. So be brave and charge your value.

Good luck.

BayLeaves Thu 25-Aug-16 13:06:51

Thanks. Yes it's got to be worth my while otherwise I might as well just do extra hours in my day job! In the end I decided to go for set prices for each item they want making. Some things will take me longer and some will hopefully be really fast, so I'm hoping overall it'll work out as a good hourly rate for me as long as I dont end up getting carried away with some little detail.

I have specified that only minor revisions will be included in the cost if they tell me promptly. Revisions at a later date will be charged for... Especially these days with design software having a monthly subscription!

Thanks so much for your help. I'm over the first hurdle as I've submitted my quote to them now so let's see what happens next.

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