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Making The Decision To Start Freelancing

This guest article has been contributed by our friends at PeoplePerHour

Being Your Own Boss

A lot has to be said for rolling out of bed in the morning to a leisurely cup of tea before taking a short stroll to the office in the spare room. It certainly beats the daily grind of gridlocked traffic and chasing that elusive parking space. And the extra time saved can be ploughed straight back into your business or used for well earned relaxation: the time is all yours; the choice is all yours.

Being your own boss means you can tailor your workload around your other commitments, whether that involves a young family, a busy social calendar or studying for a university degree. Being your own boss creates the perfect opportunity to dictate your personal work-life balance. As freelance web designer, Phillip Lovelace stated in an interview in March 2010, “I do prefer being able to set my own hours”.


It isn’t just the practical issues that appeal to would be freelance web designers; it is often the creative elements. Many want to break free of bureaucracies that flourish all too often in regular employment. But more than this, freelancers aspire to do their own thing. How much better it is to be rewarded with praise for a good job done and be empowered to see that job through from beginning to end. Working for yourself enables you to achieve just that, or sub-contract out the parts you don’t particularly enjoy yourself.

The overriding seller for many freelance web designers is being able to create without intrusion, without your boss pulling the plug on your project and ultimately being empowered to complete the transference of the image in your head to the blank web page you are designing. As blogger and freelance web designer, Luke van de Paverd attested in an interview in February 2010, “I feel a lot of freelancers are creative types first and business people second”.

For other freelance web designers, the motivation comes from a combination of creativity and work-life balance. It simply enables you to take complete control over all aspects of your life.


So if going freelance is so wonderful, why doesn’t everybody take the plunge? For many of us, going it alone is a pretty frightening thought.

Suddenly there is no-one to turn to if you have a problem. There is a deadline looming with no respect for the fact that you have the flu. There are piles of administrative chores to face from writing contracts to chasing payment, from bookkeeping to filing self assessment tax forms.

Despite the glamour of freelance, the tedious elements are unavoidable. Just as a business has to work hard to succeed, so does a freelancer web designer. But if you are prepared to put in the groundwork and are not above tackling the more menial stuff, freelancing can work for you. Perhaps most importantly, whilst clients will have deadlines and specific requirements, the strategic agenda is yours and no-one else’s.

Further Reading

It can be a daunting decision to take the leap in to the freelance world. Luckily, there are many articles and resources written by freelancers who have taken the risk and are prepared to share they advice. Be sure to bookmark and read the following articles:

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  1. I’ve been working at my freelance web design business for about a year now. For me it’s a lot of work because I’m learning the technical aspects as I’m going along. Then there’s the ‘where do i find clients’ conversation going on in my head…

  2. I remember becoming a freelancer for the first time. It is a rather big step with plenty of things to worry about.

    My main concerns were:
    doing my own TAX return every year and what if i got it wrong.
    and will i be able to get any work.

    I found that it was easier working for a bunch of different companies and helping them with there projects, i think i was frelancing for about 3 different companies at one point before going off on my own and starting up my own company.

    But if you dont want to be a free lancer for ever if you do the odd bits here and there for companies then there is a grater chance that they will look towards you when they need to take someone on full time

  3. I have just been made redundant from a job in teaching web design, so I’ve decided to “go it alone”. Luckily I’ve got a little bit of a nest egg to support me until I get on my feet, so the “risks” will be mitigated to a point. Like the comments above, tax is my main concern, so I’ll be looking to get an accountant to help me out the first time through and then see how it goes from there.

  4. I went self employed a number of years ago and within the space of three years i went from a room in my house to an office employing another two people. was it hard? hell yeah but if you stick at it, do the “boring” bits well then you will be on your way.

  5. I am trying to prepare myself for joining the freelance world. I already work on many projects while simultaneously maintaining a 9-5. One of the things I am finding useful and a bit comforting as I prepare to take this plunge is networking and using the resources around me. I will be freelancing albeit with a partner so we can take on more jobs and his strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa. Additionally, I am hiring an accountant for my taxes. True, he is my cousin and there for a bottle of whiskey is payment enough, but I think it is important to look around you and see how you can utilize, or even trade services, of others.

  6. Being a Freelance web designer sounds like a good decision if i was still at university. Because i could do projects when it was suitable for me, but i would not go into freelancing as a career.
    The reasons why I wouldn’t consider going into freelance at the moment is the job security. Theres no guarantee of work and therefore you wont be getting any money, also after reading your post there seems to be a lot of paper work involved which means freelancers would work longer hours.

  7. Very intresting post and comments. I am a new website designer, though I came from an unrelated field, but decided that web design was for me.

    I spent a year gainning skills in HTML Photoshop etc before taking the jump (sometimes I think head first) and starting up my own business.

    Haveing 3 clients atm I find the hardest thing (apart from getting new clients) is finding the time to work on my own site, as Im never happy with it.

    And yes TAX is a worry too

  8. If you’re going to go freelance, then there are a couple of things you should do.

    1. Set your working hours and stick to them. Resist the temptation to “just finish this little job”. You can easily end up over working and running yourself down. There must be a clear distinction between work and play hours.

    2. Get yourself a savvy accountant. At the end of the year, you dont want to be worrying about additional paperwork and calculations. A decent accountant will tell you well ahead of time what they will need from you. Additionally, the will also advise you on what you can claim tax back on. Things like transport, electricity, heating, hardware and even software will lighten those bills.

    3. It may be worth your while registering as a limited company. Your accountant bill will be higher, but in the long run if you make a decent amount of money you will save on the amount of tax you will end up paying as a company. You also then have limited liability if anything goes desperately wrong.

  9. Hi there, for me being a freelance web developer is good. Because you can work any time you want, no dress codes, no company rules, you can do whatever you want. But there is one problem for a freelancer, there is no tax deducted in your income. Aside from that, being freelancer is good.

  10. I’m a freelance Web Designer too. I can relate to your article. I think it’s a great way to go if you have the drive and commitment to your work. I’ve been freelance for 5 years now and yes there are twists and turns but you’ll find that they all level out in the end.

  11. To succeed as a freelancer you really need to become a ‘jack of all trades’, having to constantly be thinking of ways to generate sales, meeting and presenting to clients, designing, developing, looking after accounts and chasing payments… You soon forget about the idea of being able to enjoy an extra half hour in bed before wandering through to the spare room!

  12. It takes a lot of self discipline to be a self-employed freelancer but if you can dedicate your time to it, it can be a very successful venture and well worth the time. I started building websites for friends and family and earnt quite a bit just from that so decided it was probably time to take to the road and start designing and optimizing websites.

    You have a great blog by the way.

  13. Free lance work / starting your own business in the web design industry is exciting, fulfilling and the rewards can be great.

    My tips would be to always continue learning, especially in this industry, work hard, keep your eyes open for the latest trends

  14. Free-lancing sounds like a good option, as long as you have the discipline to work consistently at it, being able to set your own hours is a big point in it’s favour, thanks for highlighting the risks to instead of just painting an unrealistic picture.

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