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Successful Freelancing Tips

Last week we held a Breakfast Session on ‘Being a Successful Freelancer’  and invited a panel of experts- Elliot Taylor (Raison), Izzy Crouch (IZC Marketing) Gareth Williams (LoneWolfWilliams) and Paul Silver (Silver Web Services Ltd) – to share their knowledge about freelancing and answer questions.

Spaces for the event were in high demand so, in case you missed out, we want to share as much of the conversation as possible. Below are the key points from the session:

[caption id="attachment_6103" align="alignright" width="218"]SketchNote courtesy of M.I.SCRIBE. SketchNote courtesy of M.I.SCRIBE.[/caption]

Business development

  • Find your niche.  Don’t spread yourself too thinly – identify your specialism and most importantly do what you enjoy.
  • Company name/trading name – brand reputation and recognition are important, so build a consistent and believable story.
  • Consider whether you’ll work in house or remotely – think about the clients that you work with; some clients prefer to employ an individual, others a business.
  • ‘Process-ify’ everything you do and, where possible, batch jobs together. Remember your time is money, so spend it well.
  • Building a product or service takes time, but can be a great way of cultivating another source of revenue.
  • Keep in touch with old clients and remind them who you are and what you’ve been working on lately.
  • Don’t view other freelancers as competition - network and build a support group around you.

Dealing with clients

  • Act professionally and you’ll be respected - set contactable hours and strict T &Cs.
  • Don’t apply to emails at the weekend or late at night – clients will come to expect it and you’ll appear disorganised.
  • Learn to spot nightmare clients early on and avoid them! – They’re not worth the drain on your time and emotions.
  • Have a contingency in place for what you’ll do if your offered too much work.
  • If you need to turn down work get into the habit of offering clients some advice or a recommendation of who else they can contact. They will appreciate it and this might lead to more work in the future
  • Use the ‘good, fast, cheap’ mantra.  If a client wants something good and fast, it’s not going to be cheap. For longer deadlines you could offer a cheaper quote – negotiate.
  • Always remember that negotiation is a two way street.  What can a client give you in order to achieve the budget they want?
  • You don’t have to pitch for free. If you know you’re going to spend a few days preparing for a pitch, ask the client if they have a budget to pay for your time.
  • If it’s a big job suggest they include a contingency budget – if people expect they might need to pay a little more it will be easier to get them to agree to if it’s needed.


  • Get your contract signed before you start any work.
  • Terms and conditions: stipulate everything.  Research other freelancers’ T&Cs, lay out expectations and set the tone for the working relationship you want to avoid disputes down the line.
  • State your payment terms as being “due on the delivery of your completed work to the client” and not when your client’s project goes live – as these dates will often be very far apart!
  • Limit changes to work in your contract.  Set maybe 2-3 rounds of revisions and include a price for additional changes after that point.  – This will help clients to realise that when they’re speaking to you it’s costing them money, so they will value your time more.
  • A “Kill Fee” or upfront payment (perhaps 1/3rd upfront with the rest on completion) can help you to manage your cashflow.


  • Remember to charge for your work – you’re worth it!
  • Log your time and keep timesheets - this will help you to quote more accurately in the future.
  • Deciding what to charge is an art form– there are a number of online calculators (e.g. UK Freelance Rates Calculator, Your Rate and BeeWits' Hourly Rate Calculator) to help you out, but to calculate it yourself you need to factor in; what your living costs are, how many days of the year you’ll be working, if you’re going to give yourself holiday (you should!), the risk/reward ratio for being freelance and spend time researching your market.
  • Make sure you’re accounting for the extras (answering emails, raising invoices etc) and communicate clearly with your client if you’re going under/over the agreed amount – they won’t always realise.
  • It’s advisable to set money aside for tax (20% for Limited Company, 30% for a Sole Trader) every time you get paid.
  • Get an accountant - they will pay for themselves in the money you’ll save.
  • Send invoices from a separate email address(e.g. to keep your working relationship and finances separate. Additionally, online accounting software such as Xero and FreshBooks can automate these processes for you.
  • Include T&Cs from the outset in your quote– they’re a business standard and will not be seen as back-covering. Make sure to outline payment terms to avoid trouble with late payments, and have different payment terms for different types of clients if necessary.
  • If someone owes you money pick up the phone and chase them – a phone call is much harder to ignore than an email!
  • It costs around £30 to go to the Small Claims Court .
  • Some law firms will send standard payment demand letters to non paying clients for just £10.


  • Coworking just makes sense - you’ll be more productive than working from home, appear more professional when meeting clients and you’ll be part of a community that can support you. *If you’re interested in coworking take a look at our workspace board or The Skiff.


  • When networking be friendly and genuine - you don’t always need to give the hard sell.
  • Network with people who have complementary skills and even competitors, all contacts can potentially lead to new work.
  • If you make valuable connections face-to-face, follow up with a friendly and well-crafted email.


Feel free to share your thoughts, feedback or other freelancing by tweeting us @WiredSussex using #WiredBrekkie.

You can check out upcoming Breakfast Sessions here.

About the author

Kieron Cropper

Hi, I'm Head of Member Services at Wired Sussex. I help our members get the most from their membership, whether that’s the benefits of joining or you’re an existing member in need of advice.

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