Newbie Freelancer Questions
I couldn’t think of anything to write about, so I trawled Reddit looking for some questions I could answer.
Here is a guy who has questions on freelancing:
So we have three basic questions.
- With no formal qualifications, what do you do as a freelancer?
- What do you do about freelance platforms taking a cut and the government taking another cut?
- Additional options outside of freelance platforms?
These are pretty universal questions for freelancers (and some for wider business in general.) Let’s look at them in succession and see what we’d do about each.
With No Formal Qualifications, What Do I Do And What’s Available For Me As A Freelancer?
(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.
Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)
Let’s address this in the quickest and sort-of most diplomatic way I can.
Nobody cares about your qualifications.
If you’re a freelancer, then your qualifications don’t matter. If you’re like the guy above and you have a couple of decades’ experience, then that is your qualification.
I say this as a) a successful freelancer and b) someone who is highly-qualified, traditionally speaking.
“But Jamie… aren’t your qualifications helping you?”
I won’t pretend that they have nothing to do with anything. That’d be a) not true and b) bad practice.
If you have qualifications, then absolutely use them as a selling point.
When I was pitching a million people at a time I’d say for every job “I’m super-qualified and super-well-educated… not like these plebs you’re getting pitches from.”
Now… that was never relevant for 99% of any of the companies I was pitching to. It was a selling point. Does a higher education help you write better articles about the coming collapse of the dollar? Absolutely not. Who cares?
For a freelancer, qualifications are an extra selling point.
And you can get a billion qualifications in just about any subject. You can do it for cheap – and in some cases people will pay you to do it if you know what you’re looking for. That’s a subject for another day though.
But in most cases… nobody ever asks. Nobody cares. I don’t think I’ve ever gained a job or lost it based on my qualifications, and nobody has ever asked for them.
Nobody is ever going to say, “Let me see your University transcripts from the University of Geneva because I’m calling them right now to check.”
People only care if you do the job well and if you do that, qualifications are not a problem.
Everyone Wants A Slice
So the taxman takes a cut. Upwork takes a cut. Paypal take a cut.
What are you to do?
The answer is simple.
You find a way around everyone taking a cut if you can.
Note this only works for other private companies. Don’t try this with the taxman unless you absolutely know what you’re doing and have sought help.
Upwork take their cut.
Fine… work without using Upwork. That saves you 20%.
Paypal and other payment processors take their cut… find the best deal you can on that and factor the price into your costs.
If you move to a different payment provider that’ll give you better terms, you save money.
Most people don’t ever try and do this because they aren’t professional and don’t run their stuff like a business.
You want to run your stuff like a business and factor in the costs and plan accordingly.
Now for the tax man.
Don’t try and evade tax. You aren’t going to win and it won’t be pretty.
Pay your taxes. But if you’re this guy above… 40% tax for a freelancer?
This is a high figure. (Obviously this is all location dependent.)
But you need to know what tax you should be paying. If you are paying too much, then go to an accountant who will legally reduce your tax burden. In most civilised countries, this means operating a corporation and taking a salary instead of just taking the leftover as a freelancer.
It might also mean buying yourself more stuff, registering that stuff as a business expense and then you have less money but you’ve got more stuff so it works out ok.
Seek Professional Accounting Help For Taxes If You’re Earning Enough To Justify The Cost.
Where To Work Outside Of Freelance Platforms
There’s a big thing called “the world.”
Freelance platforms are good for getting a start. You build up a client list, move them off the platform and then you provide higher-level services.
This is not where it ends.
You build lead generation systems wherever you can find them.
This might be an authority site or it might be some flyers posted into local business doors. It might be cold calling or going to a local business chamber.
There are countless ways to get business and get clients. The ones you use will be determined by your budget, personality and other intangibles. Generally though:
- Find where your customers are
- Find out what they want
- Pitch what they want to them
- Do the work
That’s about all there is to it… with the obvious caveat that it can be as extensive and complicated or simple and straightforward as you want and need.
When you start in business, everything seems overwhelming.
If you feel overwhelmed, then don’t worry. Everyone has been there.
Understand though, and this is a good thing, that most of your problems are straightforward and have been solved before.
Relax, take a deep breath and then find out what you have to do.
Then do it.
Smile as the pieces fall into place.