Your guide to becoming a freelancer in Australia
The life of a freelancer seems super exciting and cool – you get to work for yourself, you can pick and choose your work and you don’t have to work 9-5, in an office or even in the same city as your clients. Pretty awesome, right?
Freelancing can be a hugely rewarding career path if it’s done the right way. However, there are ups and downs along the way, so this guide will help you figure out how to get started and navigate those bumps in the road. Plus, we created a checklist for you to download at the end of this blog, so you can keep on track while getting started.
What is freelancing?
Freelancing is a form of self-employment. Rather than being permanently employed by one company, freelancing gives you the flexibility to choose your clients and projects. Estimates vary, but globally there are approximately 1.5 billion freelancers. That’s a pretty popular way to be employed!
Why do businesses hire freelancers?
Typically businesses look for freelancers because:
- There’s too much work! The team requires an extra pair of hands to help meet finish a big project
- Someone leaves the business. It can take time to find the right replacement, so drafting in a freelancer to help during that period is a great way to plug the gap
- A team member is off sick. It’s Monday morning, there’s an urgent deadline on Friday and Steve, the resident digital guru, has called in sick with the flu.
- The team is light on a particular skill-set. Hiring a freelancer allows a business to tap into specialist skills in an agile way
What are the perks of freelancing?
Freelancing comes with a lot of upside to it. Some of the perks include:
- Flexibility. This is usually the number one reason that people love freelancing. Fancy working for three months, then heading off to Bali, Mexico or Europe for the next two? Freelancing gives you the freedom to do this
- Choice. You may love working in the not-for-profit space or perhaps you’re passionate about sport. Whatever it is, you can choose what industry and workplaces you want to work for
- Variety. One week you’re wireframing a website for an AFL team, the next you’re designing an annual report for a professional services firm. If mixing it up is your thing, then freelancing is a great option
- Broadening your skill-set. If you’ve found yourself stagnating in your permanent role and longing to work somewhere where you can grow, then freelancing can give you exposure to new, challenging projects while collaborating with people who have a wealth of knowledge to pass on
- It can be your side-hustle. You may not feel 100% ready to jump into freelance full-time, and that’s okay. Many people work in permanent positions and take on freelance clients outside of office hours, which is a great way to build a client base with the security of a stable income in place
What’s the downside?
There can be frustrations in the life of a freelancer. Some common ones are:
- Inconsistent work. You’ve spent the last six weeks working for an agency, but the work has dried up – what now? Without some good connections in the recruitment/creative space, you may find yourself without your next project
- Getting paid on time. If you’re working with a client directly, you’ll invoice them for your time. Unfortunately, some clients aren’t great at paying on time and you don’t want to work for free! Being engaged through a recruitment agency will ensure you are paid promptly – here at Creative Natives, the money will be in your account within a few hours of sending your invoice
- Lack of benefits. Not being a part of a company, you won’t receive the same benefits as a permanent employee. Sick and can’t work? You won’t be paid. Annual leave? Go for it, but you won’t be paid.
- Lack of purpose. As you move from business to business, you may feel you lack the purpose that you would normally get when working permanently at a company. At Creative Natives, we have our Freelance for Good initiative – whenever we place a freelancer registered with this initiative, we donate a portion of their placement fee to their choice of our charity partners. You’re literally using your skills for good.
How long does a freelance gig last for?
There’s really no average length of assignment. It could be a few hours or days, or you could find yourself in the same gig for a couple of years. More often than not, if you do a good job, the end date of your agreement may keep getting pushed out.
Got it. How do I get started?
The good news is that it’s not difficult to get going. A few simple things to put in place and you’ll soon be on you’ll be heading off into the big wide world of freelance!
- Set up an Australian Business Number (ABN). This will allow you to keep track of business transactions for tax purposes and quote on invoices. Boring stuff, but very important
- If you don’t already have one, make sure you have a laptop with the latest software. Some businesses will provide you with equipment, but many will expect you to use your own
- Figure out how much to charge. Some projects will pay hourly, whereas others will pay for a day. You don’t want to be too cheap, but not so expensive that people won’t hire you. If you’re unsure about market rates for your skill-set, Creative Natives can chat through insights with you. Also, don’t forget to factor in paying yourself super into your rate
- Put together and host your portfolio on a website to showcase your work and skill-set. This will allow people to see what you can do and contact you when they like what they see
- Network, connect and build your contact list. If you want a steady flow of projects and income coming through, you need to be well connected. Speak to specialist recruiters and stick with the ones you trust – they’ll keep you supplied with regular opportunities.
- Get really active on LinkedIn (and any other social media platform where your potential clients are) and build your personal brand. Engage with leaders, talent acquisition teams and professionals in your space – if they don’t know who you are, they can’t hire you!
- Get recommendations and testimonials from anyone and everyone you’ve worked with. Put them on your portfolio website and LinkedIn to help sell you to potential new clients
- Be sure to keep receipts for tax purposes and have a process in place for tracking invoice payments. An accountant can help with this if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself
And just like that, you’re a freelancer!
Our advice? Go into it with an open mind. Be willing to take on projects that you may not usually do and you will find a world of opportunities, where you get to develop your skills and learn from a variety of different people. More than anything, enjoy it!
Ready to get started? Download our checklist for freelancers ⬇️ and start doing what you love today! If you want to hear more about the freelance world and potential opportunities, get in touch at email@example.com, and if you’re keen to be a part of our Freelance for Good initiative, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.