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sole trader

A practical guide to becoming a freelancer

The life of a freelancer can be very enticing for entrepreneurs looking for a taste of flexibility and freedom. While there are many challenges to becoming a creative on-the-go, there are also endless benefits, making the art of freelancing an enviable career. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get your freelancing career off the ground.

Step 1: Get an ABN

Most small businesses and sole traders are required to register for an Australian Business Number, commonly referred to as an ABN. This 11-digit number not only identifies you to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), but also confirm your business identity. You will be required to list your ABN on invoicing and ordering forms, and you will also need an ABN when it comes time to register for GST. You can apply for an ABN for free through the ATO website.  

Step 2: Create an invoice template

It won’t be long until you start to win business, so it’s best to have your invoice template ready to go. These days it’s super easy to whip together an invoice. Just make sure it has your business details including your ABN, payment options and due dates, and a brief description of the work and coinciding costs. One of the key pain points of freelancers is chasing unpaid invoices. If you download the QuickBooks mobile app, you can invoice on-the-go from any device, resulting in faster payments.

Step 3: Create a website

If you’re serious about starting your own freelance business, you’ll need to create a website, and the sooner you do, the better. A beautiful website is a great way to gain new customers and also keep your existing customer base up-to-date with any news, projects and pricing. Not only does it give your business a competitive edge, but it’s a great place to showcase your work, your clients and your strengths as a small business owner.

Step 4: Design a portfolio

Eventually, you’ll want to also have a solid portfolio that showcases the very best of your work. While it can be hard at the start to create a portfolio if you are yet to complete any freelance work, it can be a work-in-progress and something you update regularly. An online portfolio is something you can include on your website to show the breadth and depth, and quality of your work. Just remember that once you build up a client base and have plenty of examples, you don’t need to include everything – only the best of the best.

Step 5: Sign up to social media

In addition to a website, it pays to get your business set up on social media. If you’re a visually-based business, such as a graphic designer, animator or photographer, Instagram is wonderful way to showcase your work. Facebook is also a great way to build a community, where existing customers can leave positive reviews, and potential clients can ask questions or enquire for a quote. Other popular social media sites for businesses include Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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