Rosalind Kent shares her top 5 tips for freelance parents
If you are on a career break as a stay-at-home parent, you may be thinking about returning to work as your children get older. Taking that step back into employment can be daunting, and finding a job that you can fit in around your family life is not always an easy task.
I was faced with this precise dilemma. When my daughter started pre-school I wanted to make use of the time I had free during the day, but couldn’t find a job that would let me work the hours I needed to fit in with caring for my daughter. There are not many jobs that let you drift in at 9.30 and leave at 3 to pick up your child!
After a fruitless few months, I decided to try my hand at freelancing and, after much hunting around, found work as a freelance writer.
Anyone who has stepped into the world of freelancing will know that searching for work is a huge part of the job, and many spend more time looking for work than actually doing it! This can make the idea of becoming a freelancer daunting for many people.
As well as being a daunting prospect it can also be a great fit for a parent. Being able to work flexibly and on your own terms means you can fit your work commitments around you family life, which is very appealing for a busy mum or dad!
If you decide to try freelancing then take a look at my top tips to give yourself the best chance of success in your field.
1) How to find work
Obviously a key part of being a freelancer is finding people who need to employ you! If you are just starting out and don’t have contacts to rely, then what can you do? There are various websites around that can help you find freelance work, and once you start making a name for yourself hopefully the work will come rolling in.
Many are based in the US, so look for a UK based one if you are looking for more local work!
2) Don’t undervalue yourself
Many people make the mistake of thinking freelance means ‘free’ – or at least cheap! But good companies are willing to pay decent money for talented individuals. If using a site where you have to bid for jobs, do not undersell yourself! Employers do not always go for the cheapest option. Many are looking for professionals with many years of experience and are prepared to pay for those skills!
3) Do your research
If you are new to freelancing then make sure you identify your competition. You can do this using local directories then searching for them online – many will have websites and blogs. From these you can get an idea of the level of service expected, and it can give you pointers as to how to pitch yourself and the going rate for your kind of work.
4) Presentation is everything
Whatever line of work you decide to try your hand at, it’s a great idea to have an online presence. You could decide to pay for a professional website, but an alternative is to create your own blog. This can be done quickly, easily and, most importantly, for free from a website like WordPress and is a great way of advertising your business and showing potential customers exactly what you have to offer. If you would prefer a website to a blog then try a platform like Create. It is easy to use and you can create a great website with minimal IT knowledge! This costs £2.99 a month for a basic package.
5) Don’t get caught out!
Whilst legal and tax requirements can at first seem a little daunting it is well worth getting a handle on them early on. The last thing you need is a threatening letter from HMRC about your tax status! Many freelancers mistakenly believe that you do not need to register as self-employed unless you are earning over your personal allowance (basic is currently £8,105).In fact, whether you have earned £100 or £100,000 in a year you do need to complete a Self Assessment for the tax man or you could face a fine! They are easy to complete and can be done online. Visit www.hmrc.gov.uk for further information.
And remember, as a parent taking a break from your career you probably have a lot of experience and expertise to offer. A quick straw poll of mothers at my school gate revealed a diverse array of professionals, such as lawyers, graphic designers, marketers, journalists and secretaries to name but a few! Local businesses are glad to tap into this market of highly qualified professionals – so take the plunge and get freelancing!
Rosalind Kent, an ex-lawyer, current parent and freelance journalist, is the owner of Freelance Parents Network. Visit www.freelanceparentsnetwork.com to read all about the website and to sign up as either a freelancer or hire a freelancer to help your company out! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 6, 2012