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Are any of you guys freelancers? How did you start? I am a little nervous that I might find myself without work! Also how does it work with regard to paying tax etc? Is there anything else I should know?
Also, last but definitely not least, I need to know how much to charge. I know this is the ultimate question but what do other people here - particularly those in the UK - charge?
Any advice would be appreciated. Also, are there any online guides out there on this type of thing?
I've always made a distinction between freelancing and running a business. I know that technically and legally there's really no difference, but here's what I mean:
If you are a freelancer, then you will be contracting yourself out to perform a certain task. You might work for other design firms or for a company with an in-house web team that you'd interface with. You don't have any plans beyond being a one-woman show and supporting yourself by trading your time for money.
I look at running a business as being consultant paid to produce a certain result. It involves being able to understand and solve a client's bottom line business issues, using your expertise in web technology and internet marketing. The typical client would be businesses, corporations and non-profits who have no in-house web resources available to them. The ultimate goal would be to eventually hire freelancers (like above) to replace yourself, in order to work on your business rather than in it.
I think this is important to know, not only to determine who your target client will be, but also to establish future goals, write a business plan, etc.
No matter which path you take, you'll have to figure out how to find and be found by your clients (marketing) and how to reach an agreement to do business with those client (selling). Personally, I feel that learning how to market and sell is more crucial if you are pursing the "business" concept rather than freelancing.
Here's a couple of resources that might be helpful:
The Web Design Business Kit
A great resource for either freelancing or becoming a business person.
I highly recommend this if you're looking to pursue the business model and need to learn how to sell your services to decision makers.
Hope that helps.
[edited by: stuntdubl at 9:50 pm (utc) on June 16, 2004]
[edit reason] No urls, thanks. See TOS [webmasterworld.com] [/edit]
And one OTHER "separationist" thing: do not EVER EVER mix business finances with personal and vice-versa. VERY BAD IDEA.
I'm not sure why this is a problem. I don't even keep track of my personal items in QB, I just pay the taxes on the net profit. If I do buy something on my personal account (which is hardly ever), I reimburse it with my business money.
Can you please explain how this is a bad idea? Everyone has to pay their bills with the money they make.
Let's say you made $50,000 last year. You have $30,000 in business expenses. $10,000 you used for personal expenses. You would be taxed on $20,000 because that is your net profit even though you have only $10,000 in your bank account.
The best thing to do is contact an accountant to set up quarterly payments to the IRS so you don't have to send a huge chunk of money every year. They would also be able to answer any questions you might have regarding taxes.