How to make it as a freelancer — choose a work space in Manchester
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How to make it as a freelancer

Author since:
December, 2016
33 blog posts

Before you become a freelancer, I first suggest talking to others that have done it. Ask other freelancers what it is really like. Then, if you think you have a skill that you can make into a career and go it alone, then this is a good start. You will get flexibility, variation, and the chance to choose your work.

However, no work is just going to come to you. The only way to make it as a freelancer, like those using our shared work space in Manchester, is to work harder than you ever believed possible. Are you sure you want to work for you?

Once you have scrutinised your reasons and decided it is right for you, it’s time to look at the positives. It might just give you a happier and more prosperous life, and the opportunity to join an inspiring coworking space like Workplace. What’s to lose?

Below we have outlined a few tips from our members with a dedicated desk in Manchester that helped to get them started:

Plan like a professional

Now you have decided freelancing is for you, get your successful self together, concentrate on the positives and before you quit your job, plan your first month.

During those all important 30 days — while you still have a pay packet — work out what you are able to charge for your work. Decide the minimum work you need to do to scrape a living.

Draft and finalise your business plan, including all the financials. Make sure you have factored in professional fees for setting up your business, insurance you might need and any legal requirements for your business. Keep your eyes open, know your limits and plan accordingly so that you don’t run out of money before you get going.

Learn any tricks of the trade during your planning phase, think about where you will best find your customers, ask for advice and in doing so grow your network.
Interrogate the competition

Take a look at who else out there is offering what you offer. Read blogs, testimonials, web sites. Look first at who is on your door step and who will be your direct competition and understand what they are doing and how they are doing it.

Plan how you can deliver work that is better than anything your competitors are doing by learning from the field. Use the Internet to help you to set up shop to be the best in the high street.

Get yourself a mentor

This might be an ex-boss, a friend-of-a-friend you trust, or an external mentor. Freelancing is very lonely and until you have built up a network.

In Manchester we have the Business Growth Hub which provides mentors to startups and helps launch businesses and keep them on track. For freelancers aged 11 – 30, The Princess Trust provides mentoring and training.

Contact everyone you know

This is a great means of free marketing and getting your message out there. Write an inspirational post on social media about what you are doing and share and pass this on as everywhere as you can.

Anyone that has been in your past contacts, no matter how vaguely, could be a lead so shout it from the rooftops. Do this as soon as possible to advertise your business.

Work on your personal brand

If you are not up with everything that social media has to offer, then you need to be. Don’t think you can be a freelancer and avoid social media; this is going to be your life line in many ways.

Complete your profile with every bit of work information you can, every molecule of experience, interesting snippet, get it on all platforms. Then, look at every web site that offers freelancers in your market work and register with them. Get to as many freelancer and industry meetups and networking events that you can.

Remember that old moto, ‘givers receive’. Everyone you meet in these situation is there for the same reason so if you can pass on a contact or lead that might help they are more likely to remember you.

Be friends with everyone

Don’t burn any bridges; you know the saying, ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’? Nothing can be truer than when you are building a business. If your freelance work is even slightly related to the work that you do now, there is a good chance that future work might come from that source.

This goes for your competitors; you want them to think well of you. Remember people move on, life changes so you really don’t need any enemies or anyone talking badly of you.

Where to base your business

Location is very important to capturing the right business for you. If you can’t yet afford a work space in Manchester, but that is where all your business will come from, then the first place to start is to set up a mailing address.

This can cost as little as £40, allowing you to use a city centre address as your business address. Moving up from that, venues like Workplace in Manchester will also allow flexible use of space, so you could work one day a month and line up all your meeting on that day. For a very low initial cost you have to kudos of a very posh office space.

If isolation gets to you, up your working days in a coworking space to full time, or even to a dedicated desk in Manchester. Not only does this give your business a base but it can also provide a network of inspiration, and potential paid work through the community.

Do good Work

This might be obvious but if you want to get referrals and more business you must produce the goods. This means making sure that you don’t overload yourself It also means keeping your ear to the ground and being agile.

Freelancing will be a life with lows and some huge highs, but it is a life worth living, so live it with everything you have. Read more about our work space in Manchester, to find out if Workplace is the right coworking space to start your business.

Up Next

Why remote working should always be an option

Author since:
December, 2016
33 blog posts

We all have opinions about remote working. There are lots of tips and information about coworking and how find the right dedicated desk. Nothing however, seems to tackle why it is often far better than working in a traditional office.

There are arguments for and against this modern way of working. In some cases, employers think employees will be “shirking” not “working”. If this is the case, however, you probably have the wrong employees.

Obviously coworking is not for everyone, and not every job has the opportunity for remote working, although this might change in the future with robots but that is a whole other story!

Over the last five years, remote working has come under much scrutiny with renowned companies such as Yahoo pulling employees back to the office in a bid to “improve worker collaboration and communication”. I am not sure that this revolutionised the company fortunes, however, as most of Yahoo was sold off last year. It also sounds as though it’s policy has been relaxed again in the past few years.

Another struggling company that has spent years giving us the tools to work remotely is IBM. They have recently pulled the plug on remote workers. Sceptics believe that this is to cut payroll not improve the company, but there is little evidence now to prove that this has worked.

The Virgin Group, on the other hand, thinks this is archaic. In today’s workplace our culture has completely changed and most families have two working parents. Richard Branson believes that the policy of no remote working puts pressure on families and limits opportunities for parents. Where it is possible and practical it should be encouraged.

It is, however, a massive culture change. I still find myself a bit uncomfortable at times with remote working and sometimes revert to a traditional mindset that says we all must be in and showing we are committed to the cause. But this is preventing some companies from performing as well as they could.

Simon Sinek taught me to ‘Start with Why’ of a situation, so here we go:

Why do so few UK companies embrace remote working?

On the website of Flexi Jobs, they have the top 125 companies for remote working in the US and… the top 6 companies for remote working in the UK!

It is estimated that over 85% of the workforce still makes the daily trudge into an office and if you add up the costs of transport and time doing this there is your first big ‘why’. Cost saving is one huge big reason.

In a recent interview, American company Hubstaff described how its has added up about $100K per year of cost savings through office leases, in-house IT, utilities, and other expenses. If you look at American Express, who report annual saving of between $10-15 million thanks to remote workers, then you have a ‘why’ that needs take you no further!

Ctrip, China’s largest travel agent, took up a 6-month trial of remote working and allowed employees to work from anywhere they wished; home, a coffee shop, a dedicated desk in a coworking venue, either some or all of the time, and then monitored the results. It found that it saved $1900 per employee over the 6 months and that the remote workers had 13.5% more productivity than office workers. Along with this there were fewer sick days and shorter breaks, it all adds up to a good story.

Why enable productivity?

We have all heard the rumour that remote workers get it easy, that it is a way to work nearer to home and having no direct supervision or a dedicated desk means they are off doing other things rather than working.

A Stanford research paper, however, says the opposite. They studied 16,000 remote workers and found that productivity increased by 13%. When you stop and think about it, it is more distracting in the office. How many times have you got to the end of the day to discover you have done none of the work you intended today because you are so accessible. Someone is always coming to your desk for a chat, asking your opinion on something or dragging you to a meeting or getting you to come and join in someone’s leaving celebrations. It’s no surprise remote working is more productive than being in a distracting environment.

In Jason Fried’s TED talk, he gets to the point on this by saying that M&Ms are the issue; managers, and meetings. If you are working remotely, either at home or in a coworking venue, you are very unlikely to encounter any of these distractions. It is strange that the very people who try to prevent remote working because they say it is not productive are often the people who prevent productivity in an office environment.

Why entice the best talent?

If everyone must drag themselves into the office you have either a very limited catchment area to get your talent from, or people must move to be nearer work which moves them away from other important factors in their lives such as family and friends, or their favourite pub! This can often make people unhappy at work which is unproductive. Anyone who embraces remote working also embraces the huge possibilities for a much larger talent pool to choose from. It is also often cheaper to hire the best people if they can work remotely. In a recent Harvard and Princeton survey, 68% of millennial job seekers said they would take less pay for the opportunity to work remotely. This report states that this pay fall is as much an 8%. It also states the 24% of workers in traditional offices say they love their job while 45% of people working remotely said they love their job. More love means more productivity.

Remote working is certainly a debate to be had but overall, it seems that the more modern and forward-thinking companies are embracing it and being successful in cost savings, employing the best people and having a happier more productive workforce.

At Workplace’s coworking space in Manchester we are getting more enquiries from employees of large companies who are able to work from ‘a desk near you’. It seems we’re not far from the FTSE company that does away with the huge HQ office and uses a ‘desk near you’ policy for all workers if they get the job done. They can then meet up as and when needed, maybe in a great serviced office environment that does not have permanent and costly overheads.

In all the studies though, the one thing that came out very strongly is that remote working and coworking is not necessarily for everyone. In the Ctrip trial, 50% of the employees allowed to work from anywhere opted to go back to the office environment because they wanted to work alongside other employees every day. This shows that it is choice that we crave, and this might be home, a coworking space, the office or the ultimate scenario; a mixture of both.

Why not try it?

The ‘whys’ do seem to fall in favour of coworking for many reasons. There are many varied places to work from, it doesn’t just have to be a dedicated desk or home office.

So, why not see if remote working makes a difference to you and your businesses life and productivity? Read more about our dedicated desks and coworking space in Manchester to see if remote working might be right for you.

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