How to Have a Successful Freelance Career

Below is a piece from Bill Greenwood a Creative Artworker, Retoucher and Project Manager who recently, after a long and hugely successful permanent career, has decided to take the plunge into the world of .

In Bill’s words: “I’ve written a couple of things, hope this all helps. This link is a small piece I wrote a while back about setting up as a Limited company. You may find it interesting.


A great portfolio is a good way to showcase the skills you have. It’s an idea to be able to have a before and after version if you can. Concept drawings to final creations are always nice to see too. Remember, as a freelancer getting a portfolio of your work can be quite tricky. Companies often do not allow their own staff or freelancers to publish material that they have created or manipulated. So even if the showcase work is for dummy companies, it is better to have something to show than nothing. When working through an agency it is good practice to have this online so a recruitment representative can show this off to your potential bookers

A multi-faceted skill-set

The work of a freelancer can be varied. You may get booked to do a project that the account manager or maybe creative director thinks needs to be carried out in one application, and the truth is that use of three or more is needed. An expertise in only a small area will limit the projects you can take on, as well as limit what you can offer on site. A broad knowledge and skill set will make your freelance life easier. You may choose only to work within a particular area of your skills, but the more skills and knowledge you have, the better the choice you’ve got.

Online presence

Like all Brands, a freelancer benefits from an online identity. In my case I set up a website, listed myself on Linkedin, I’m a Twitter user and of course I have a Facebook page for my business. Any one of these can bring in a lead, can help connect with potential clients or you may even find a posting on Twitter requesting the skills you have. For a freelancer the online and social media world can open up opportunities. Without Linkedin and Twitter I would not have got in contact with Paul Kirwan from Source Personnel and today not be writing this post.

Putting the client first

You are only as good as your last job and as a freelancer, every job could be your last job. You are after repeat bookings; you would like your name to be the first on the lips of the team who make the decision to hire a freelancer. So with this in mind, staying on the extra hour to get a project finished; being flexible to the needs of the project and understanding if things do not always pan out are traits that will go towards you being booked again when the next project comes in.  Freelance is often bought in when a company is facing a difficult project that cannot be carried out by their own staff or they are under pressure to deliver a project. Being positive and helpful to the firms hiring you is only a benefit to both parties. Nobody is going to hire a freelance they don’t like or is difficult to work with.

Cash flow and accounting – a major consideration

Keeping on top of money matters is essential. This is usually the major headache for most freelancers and businesses too – especially in the beginning. If it is not their key skill then bad management of finances can cause major problems with your ability to carry on trading as a freelancer. Bad cash flow management may force you to become or go back to being a full time wage-slave or you could even have issues with HMRC regarding VAT or Tax.

There are a few different ways of trading as a freelancer; through PAYE, using an umbrella company or setting yourself up as a Limited company (with you as the sole Director). The latter was my decision.

Thank you to Bill Greenwood for this great advice on how to have a successful freelance career.