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Mastering life as a freelancer

Mastering life as a freelancer

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With the job market becoming more cutthroat, freelancing is becoming more of an appealing option for budding journalists. Jordan Platt gives advice on how to make a success of being self-employed and in full-time education…

With unpaid internships becoming the norm, and work experience being a necessity for any aspiring journalist, the stereotype of the broke student is very real. Although, we are getting savvy. We’re realising that, as millennials, we have skills that the traditional journalist does not. We’ve been raised in the era of the internet, and there’s a tonne of pros that come along with that.

We’ve mastered every platform thrown our way. Just look at Vine, it may be gone now, but we owned it during its short but very successful existence. Your everyday teen became a mini-social media star overnight, and they made a sh*t tonne of money from it. Now I’m not saying that you should go and shine your personality online (although, it’s not a bad idea), but you can make brands shine.

You can use your skillset to make money. Working freelance allows you to assist brands (especially small enterprises that may just need an extra pair of hands) in everything from handling their social media platforms, to analysing their online presence to simple copywriting/editing for their websites. Easy work, that every millennial can do, that pays. And that provides great experience for any student looking to build their CV. It’s win-win.

Intrigued? Good. Because you’d be stupid not to be. If you’re thinking about how you’d work freelance, how to land gigs or just how to manage a workload that depends solely on your own motivation, here’s a list of everything you need to know to master life as a freelancer:

1. The icky admin stuff

You have to register as self-employed, which means you will have to fill in your own tax returns, which means you’ll probably turn to alcohol, which means you probably won’t fill in your tax return. It’s a vicious cycle.

Just register (you can do so here), do your taxes when asked and then get drunk to forget about it. Easy.

2. Contracts – be smart

In all seriousness, even if you whip it off of Google and call it your own, get. a. contract. Oh dear lord, get a contract. Without one, any work you produce for a client isn’t legally binding. Meaning they could take your work without paying you for it. And that is so not a situation you want to find yourself in, believe me.

3. Be pushy. Like, annoyingly pushy

You can apply for freelance gigs through various different sites (just do a quick Google search and bam, there you go), but with 28% of UK journalists now identifying as self-employed, competition is stiff. Being pushy will help. Don’t undermine your skills, but remember that you may need to negotiate pay, workload and your offerings in order to beat off more experienced freelancers.

4. Help a sister out

You’ve become an insanely sought after freelancer overnight? Or, more realistically, you’ve just taken on too much – then share. Nothing makes for better karma than lifting other people up with you. Have a friend that has the same skill-set as you and needs money? You have a potential client that you don’t quite have the time for? Introduce them to each other. Honestly, what goes around comes around. Karma doesn’t always have to be a bitch.

5. Keep yourself motivated

The most difficult part of working freelance? Staying motivated. It’s hard. Especially when you’re workload is solely dependent on yourself. It’s stressful, and if you’re anything like me, then stress makes you want to nap. Or drink. Don’t do either. Instead, find something productive that keeps you inspired, and therefore motivated. Get outside, go for a walk, grab a coffee, just find what keeps you motivated, and do it.

6. Find a space, and make it work

So, another way to stay motivated? Find a work space. London has hundreds of amazing spaces made especially for freelancers. You don’t even need to spend any money. The stereotype of writers working out of coffee shops didn’t come from nowhere, and London has amazing places you can head to. From a Starbucks on every corner, to The British Museum to stunning parks (obvs, not in the winter).

7. Organisation is key

Keeping organised will not only help with motivation (are you starting to understand how important starting motivated is?) but it will keep you sane. One of the hardest parts of working freelance is stopping yourself from falling into a stress-related coma, and keeping organised and staying on top of your workload helps… a lot.

8. Get that freakin’ cheque

Being paid is the most important part, especially for us students. It’s the whole reason we work freelance. Make sure you set out your payment requirements. Get a deposit up front. My advice, if the project is under £500, you want 50% of the total amount before you even start work. It provides security. Now, go get that freakin’ cheque.

Jordan Platt

21. 2nd year Multimedia Journalism student @ LSBU. Site Editor at journalism.london.

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