14 pro steps for setting up a student freelance practice

Also, know your limits and be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Set aside a third of your income
Wherever you live, it’s a good idea to put a quarter to a third of your freelance income aside. Think about what you’re selling
There are two main things to consider: your abilities and your time. Find out more from the IRS website – (students, and small businesses and self-employed). 09. Get straight on tax
As soon as you receive money from freelancing, you have to tell the tax man. Savvy students can gain valuable experience, cash and contacts by taking on freelance projects well before finishing formal education. 08. Clients won’t think badly of you – it will make you look professional. It may include a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement (NDA), read this carefully if so to avoid inadvertently tweeting something that breaks it, for instance. It’s also a good idea to include a payment deadline, and don’t forget your bank details so the client knows how to pay you. The UK tax year starts on 6 April and you have to fill in a tax return, and pay anything you owe, the following January. Use a dedicated sketchbook for freelance work rather than mixing it up with your studies. In the UK, you must tell HMRC you’re self-employed within three months of your first freelance payment. 04. Words: Anne Wollenberg     Opening illustration: Lewis Bartlett
This article first appeared in Computer Arts issue 232, a design education special packed with insight, inspiration and behind-the-scenes access to the world’s most exciting creative minds. You’ll earn some money, too. Make sure you stay on top of invoicing – that way your clients can stay on top of paying you. 03. 11. Draw up a comprehensive invoice
You’ll probably invoice by email, but you must include your postal address and phone number, and your clients’, to meet HMRC regulations, plus an invoice date, project details, completion date and monies owed. 06. 14. If you agree something on the phone, send an email confirming it. Think about self-promo
Business cards are also worth having. You’ll be working solo, but you don’t have to handle everything alone. You don’t need to wait until you graduate to grow your client list. From the moment you start your freelance career, think about assembling a support network, starting with fellow students and tutors. 10. Write down some objectives, like the types of clients you’d like to work for and the kind of experience you hope to get. Check out some contract templates
Try looking at contract templates – AIGA’s standard agreement is a good list of things to cover, although it’s geared towards the US. That ideally means having a contract in place to cover the essentials: payment (how much, when and on whose sign-off, including any deposit or instalments); the scope of the job (brief, deliverables, and provisions for client amends); the timescale; copyright (you always want this to remain with you until you’ve been paid); and what happens if things go wrong, such as the project being delayed or cancelled. From the start, keep track of how much you earn, when you get paid and any money you spend on your business, and hold onto receipts and invoices. 13. You’ll have to pay tax on your earnings, but only if you go over your personal tax allowance, which is currently £10,000 in the UK. HMRC provides information about working freelance and your college or university may also have resources relating to this. Identify your goals
Whatever your schedule, you can only spend so much time freelancing – so it helps to know exactly why you’re doing it. Stay on top of your accounts
You’ll need to spend some of your time on tedious pursuits like accounts. Watch out for anything relating to payment for cancelled projects, or if the client decides not to use the creative. Go about it the right way and you’ll gain new design and business skills, make contacts and add real-world commercial experience to your CV. Ideally you should set up a portfolio site that shows off your best work. In the first of two instalments (you can get the second instalment in Computer Arts issue 233), Anne Wollenberg guides you through the basics, from essential equipment to clients, taxes and contracts. Draw up a contract
Freelancing is a business, so treat it like one. You’ll need regular access to email for communicating with clients, somewhere private and quiet to work, and a way of backing up files in the Cloud and/or on a physical device. It happens. In the US, you have to pay self-employment taxes including FICA and Medicare if you earn over $400 from self-employment. Consider what skills you have to offer and what you most want to demonstrate, because successful freelance projects will be tangible proof of what you can do. 05. If you know any other freelancers, ask if they’re willing to show you the ones they use. Reduce stress by gathering information as you go.

Updated: 12.11.2014 — 00:07