The Freelancer’s Checklist

Overwhelmed, Because You Don’t Know Where to Start?

Freelancers checklist PDF

I have been successfully freelancing for 8 years and want to support you in starting your own business. 

This checklist will take you through the different areas you need to consider when starting as a freelancer.
 
Areas you will need to research and make decisions on are; your products/services, admin, accounts, marketing, legal and finding clients.

 

Admin

→ Decide how you are going to run your business e.g. Self-employed, partnership, or limited company(Ltd)/ LLC.

→ Are you going to use your own name or are you going to create a completely new business?

→ Work out your offers and prices.

→ Are you charging per hour, per project, do you have a special package offer? If project-based how are you splitting the price, upfront, and at the end or monthly amounts?

→ Do you have monthly costs such as any software subscriptions or travel? If so, factor this in your price proposal.

→ Freelancing can be financially frustrating – if clients delay payment can you manage? How can you get a recurring monthly payment?

→ Time management, decide your hours at the start and remember to keep hours for admin and networking

→ Set aside sometime each week to learn, whether it is related to running a business or about your products/services.

→ Write your freelance goals. What would a successful business look like to you? How much do you earn per client or per month? How many hours do you work? When do you want to reach these goals?

Research

→ Take a look at your competitors. What are their prices, offers, and/or services? How do they package their offers?

→ This is only for reference, there is no need to copy their offers, but it makes sense to research what your audience is seeing when searching.

→  Keyword research – how do clients do their research? What words do they use? Once you know the phrases they are looking for you can write your copy using these words. Some great tools are: Ubersuggest, keywordtool.io

→ Is there any software that you may need? What are the prices and do they have trial offers? When will you need to activate the software trial period?

 

Working with Clients

→ Statement of Work (SoW) – This is a document routinely employed in the field of project management. It is the description of a project’s work requirement. It defines project-specific activities, deliverables, and timelines for a vendor providing services to the client. If you aren’t planning on using an official SOW at least have the discussion and confirm it in an email.

→ Discuss the hours you will work. Will you have any uncontactable times? Include this in the SOW or in a separate email.

→ Discuss and document any deadlines you will have such as monthly reports due by the 5th of the month or a project to be completed by a certain date.

→ Create and agree on templates for reports if necessary. Have some templates ready in case your client doesn’t have anything in place.

 

Accounting

→ If you are in the UK you will need to declare yourself as Self-employed – https://www.gov.uk/working-for-yourself.

→ A question I get asked often is, can you be employed and self-employed at the same time? Yes, you can, as long as you declare both income streams on your tax forms. Check out the link above for more detail.

→ Look into accounting software to make this task easier to manage. In the UK we have Quickbooks and Freeagent. In the US there is Freshbooks

→ If not using accounting software, you will need to set up an invoice template.  I use Excel’s template for my invoices and once they are finalised I save them as PDFs and email them to my clients.

→ On the invoice you will need to add:

  •  Your address
  • Client address
  •  Date
  •  Invoice number
  •  Any purchase order numbers from your client
  •  If VAT registered, you will need to show your VAT number
  •  In the main section – a detailed outline of the work carried out and on which days. On the right, the amount for each task/day worked
  •  A total at the bottom including any VAT or Taxes required.
  •  Bank account and sort code, with information for accounts payable

→ Set up a simple spreadsheet to record the invoice numbers, dates, clients, and amounts. On a separate tab record your expenses such as subscriptions, travel, a portion of your internet bill or mobile phone bill. For UK advice on this visit the government website.

→ Create a separate business bank account – although not necessary it does make things easier.

→ As a freelancer you are in charge of your taxes, ensure you keep a portion of your income aside for when the tax bill is due.

 

Legal

→ Do your due diligence and check the requirements for setting up your freelance business. e.g. what is the recommended insurance you should have to cover your type of work?

→ If you don’t have access to legal advice for contracts, you can download, and fill in a free freelancing contract (UK) or this freelance contract for those in the US.

→ Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA). Have an NDA ready for any potential clients to put their minds at rest with the thought of sharing information.

 

Marketing

→ Do you need a website? If yes, there are free websites such as wix.com, or you can pay for a domain name and hosting through companies such as Bluehost and set up a Squarespace or WordPress website.

→ Set up social media accounts – Linked In,  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts to help spread the word. If you can keep the same name and profile images it will help with brand consistency. More Brand Help here

→ Create a Portfolio/Case studies – If you are working within a creative industry you will need to show your work with a portfolio. Case studies, testimonials, or a resume with referees and details of projects you have worked will also help potential clients know your work better.

→ Use your keyword research to make sure your pages contain the most relevant keywords that your customers are using to find the services you offer.

 

Finding Clients

→ Get active in your industry on Linked In.

→ Research any networking groups, conferences, meetups online, or in person, social media groups you can join.

→ Email your contacts list to let them know you are going freelance. They may need your services or know someone that can hire you. A recommendation is worth so much more than running an advert. As leads convert at different times getting as much exposure as possible is important to get a full client list.

→ Sign up to freelancer websites such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com

→ Watch our video taking you through the basics of getting clients.

 
This is also available in a PDF format here: The Freelancer’s Checklist