Making the move to freelancing? Here's what you need to know

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Freelancing has very particular requirements, like great time-management, client networking and financial planning, among others.
Freelancing has very particular requirements, like great time-management, client networking and financial planning, among others.
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Finding and keeping a job has never been harder.

The country’s official unemployment figures having been soaring since the pandemic begun.

Today’s figures can only be worse, which means South Africans have to get creative when it comes to earning a living.

Whether you’re without work or employed and looking for a side hustle, it may be time to explore other avenues to ease your workload, not to mention your finances. So, instead of looking at company ads, perhaps you could work for yourself.

Being your own boss may sound ideal, but if it was that easy, we’d all be doing it. DRUM explores a few things to consider before deciding to become a freelancer.

Read more | 5 ways to make extra cash during the Covid-19 pandemic

Getting started

The world is quickly shifting to a pro side-hustle or gig economy, which means more people are choosing to take on freelancing every year.

It can be a daunting decision, so it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.

Freelancing has very particular requirements, like great time-management, client networking and financial planning, among others.

It’s also important to note that when you become a full-time freelancer company benefits, such as medical aid, retirement or pension funds, leave of any sort, go out the window. They will be coming out of your purse now.

Although that might sound terrifying, freelancing also has great benefits like flexible working schedules and reduced working hours to suit your lifestyle.

In order to make it work for you, there are some admin measures you need to put in place.

What makes a good contract?

Most freelancers need to send and sign contracts.

A number of websites, like Jot Form, have open source contracts available to customise.

Ensure your contract includes the scope of work you are required to complete, fees, deadlines and the duration of the professional relationship.

Read more | Do you need a helping hand in your career? This is why you need a mentor

How do I bill for my services?

How much money you charge for your work is one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make as a freelancer.

One way to approach this is by looking at the workload and the time and resources needed to complete the job. This will help you determine how many zeros to add to the end of your quote.

“The biggest lesson I've learned is that not every potential client should become a client,” founder and freelance publicist at Fascinate Media, Dara Avenius tells Refinery29. “As a woman, I think many of us struggle with this — freelancer or not — so another lesson I've also learned is to value my work and charge appropriately.”

Do freelancers pay tax?

Unlike full-time employees, freelancers don’t receive pay slips with an already deducted tax amount – they must register for this themselves.

Registration and tax deductions are just two of the many admin issues freelancers need to tackle, says creative legal agency, Legalese.

“As per the SARS guide on provisional tax, an individual must file a provisional tax return if you earn income from running a business,” it says.

“Freelance work that is not subject to PAYE would count as running a business for the purposes of provisional tax,” tax consultant at Mazars Daniel Baines tells BusinessDay. “Even if your income from freelancing is under R30 000, you still need to file provisional tax returns.”

Read more | All you need to know about micro-scheduling – and why you should try it

Where can I look for gigs?

As a freelancer, your livelihood will depend on your ability to get work from clients. One or two regular gigs might not be enough to cover your monthly expenses and you’ll need to continuously work on finding your next one.

Check out these platforms for possible opportunities:

1.       NoSweat connects freelancers with available jobs via the platform (both on-site and off). Its services include assistance with matters such as paying tax to SARS.

2.       NomadNow is a recruitment network that allows independent professionals to create and display detailed professional profiles and make them visible to their employer base.

Remember, if you have multiple gigs, you’ll end up with multiple people to report to, so organisation is key to keeping on top of everything.

Where can I find more info?

The Internet has a lot of freelancing advice but visit reliable sites, such as Legalese, United Association of SA and The South African Freelancer’s Association.

And listen to stories from others already in the game – that’s where you’ll hear the home truths.

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