A freelance worker is self-employed, providing services to various companies or individuals. Traditionally, freelancing involved creating intellectual property before selling the rights to relevant buyers. Today the term is also used to describe independent contractors, who tackle projects according to a client’s specification.
Unsurprisingly, competition is fierce. However, there is work out there for the determined freelancer. This is especially true for those working in the creative and media industries, including musicians, designers, journalists and editors. Fields such as event planning and website development are also popular freelancing fields.
Often, freelancing means working remotely. This means that a worker is not restricted to the office. Many freelancers create home offices or benefit from the ability to travel or move overseas. The main costs and benefits of telecommuting are as follows:
ˇ Flexibility over working hours
- Ability to work overseas
- Time saving – avoiding daily commute
- Lower carbon footprint
- Control over workload
- Irregular income
- Unpredictable working hours
- Less social working environment
- Lack of sick pay and other employee benefits
- Less distinction between work and home life
One of the major benefits of freelance work is flexibility. For freelancers working remotely, moving abroad need not entail starting your career from scratch. Of course, where in the world you plan to travel will affect your chances of finding additional freelance work. In general, well-known cities such as Paris and Rome are difficult for freelancers without the right contacts and experience.
Lesser-known countries or those with expanding economies, such as China, often provide more opportune settings.
Before the big move, organise your contacts in the UK and inform foreign editors and relevant parties where you will be based. Networking and making work contacts in your new home is essential. This process can begin before you move overseas, with emails and online applications. Be sure to research the tax policy of the country, which varies enormously and often depends on the duration of your
If you are planning to freelance overseas, factor in your knowledge of the language and culture. English may be a widely used international language, but it is far from gaining a monopoly. Learning the local lingo will help you settle into the new surroundings and make important business contacts.
Since freelancing provides a notoriously unreliable source of earnings, freelancers overseas often supplement their income with part-time work. In many countries being a native English speaker can work to your advantage. There are opportunities to teach English as a foreign language, especially for those with TEFL training. Since language qualifications provide a more reliable fall-back for the
out-of-work freelancer abroad, many people invest in courses before moving. A preliminary foreign language course for beginners is also advisable to help with day-to-day practicalities. There are many language schools in the UK geared towards English speakers moving abroad, such as St George International in London (http://www.stgeorges.co.uk). Freelance work involves a great deal of patience and
the ability to pitch effectively in a business environment. Because of this, a business English course is sometimes useful even if you’re moving overseas.
Many freelancers find contracts via agencies. Online freelance agencies, such as People per Hour, connect companies with freelancers using large databases of advertisements.
Agencies can be useful for finding freelance work and provide added security. Clients place deposits in advance and transactions are made through the agency to ensure payment. The cost of this service is a percentage deducted from freelance earnings.
Payment and Practicalities
Freelance workers can be vulnerable, since they are not on the company’s payroll as an employee. Most clients will strive to act professionally when fees are due, but should you experience delays with payment, be sure to act sooner rather than later. Email the client a copy of your invoice and retain a copy for future reference.
If payment is not received within thirty days of the agreed date, then you may be entitled to a compensation fee under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Act. Maintaining amicable relations with companies will ensure a more constant work flow in the future, but keep records of all transactions to protect yourself in the rare case that delays occur.