This blog was contributed by Reanne Brian.

Over the last decade, a massive trend has seen more and more people taking their work into their own hands as a freelancer. It’s becoming much easier to monetize your skills on a private basis. This sort of work can be extremely rewarding, and it’s a great way to build a career with more control. But, you need to make sure you have a few things in order before you can start working. This post will go through a few of the things you need to be aware of to get started.

You have to declare your taxes, regardless of where you work. You need to be able to store and collect all of the payments that you receive throughout the year. When it comes to paying taxes, you have to be accountable and accurate. If you fail to do this correctly, it could result in fines or serious legal repercussions.

Whenever you work for someone, they will have their own idea of how the work should be done. And, so will you. Both parties will have expectations that need to be met. To clarify this, you need to use a contract. A contract makes it very hard for people to get out of paying you for your work. And, of course, provides you with accountability as well. Having a contract gives you a solid foundation to advocate for yourself and, it can be the best evidence you have if your payment terms are not met.

As a freelancer, you’ll be in charge of pursuing your own fees with an invoice. In most places, an invoice isn’t a legally binding document. This means that you have a lot of freedom with it. There are many templates online, which can be used to create a professional invoice with all the necessary information. Always triple-check your invoice document. It’s a poor professional reflection on you if it’s wrong.

Because you’ll be dealing with financial information, it can be best to use software to help you keep accurate records. You could start with a spreadsheet but as your business grows and your finances become more complicated you’ll need a more advanced system. Using accounting software makes sense. It will automatically calculate the tax that you owe, and could even prepare the documents you need. This type of system is used by large and small companies, and it’s worth a look for your business.

Because you work for yourself it’s even more important to have the look of a professional and established business. This is particularly important with customer communication. Some customers will want to send you snail mail communication. But, since your mailing address is also your home address this can look unprofessional. You can consider a service like physicaladdress.com to create a virtual business address. They will forward mail to any address and your customers won’t know any differently. This is an option for telephone numbers, too.

Your website is also a top priority for looking professional. Having a platform to share your work and garner new customers can be invaluable to a freelancer. If you don’t have a website, it can be hard to find your product or services. But, if your website is difficult to navigate or poorly designed, you may have difficulty attracting and keeping customers on your site. It’s worth seeking help from a professional web designer to have the best possible site to represent you and your business well.
Hopefully, this will give you some initial strategies to begin your freelance career. Starting out on your own can be demanding but, in the end, it’s an investment in yourself and your business. It can be incredibly satisfying to be your own boss!