Exhibit & sell your work
Find out how to exhibit and sell your work, including opportunities to exhibit with Careers and Employability and guidance on selling work.
Once you have set yourself up as a freelancer you will need to plan your business or service, pitch to clients to get contract work and consider collaborating with others. Here you will find step-by-step guidance and useful downloads.
You can work independently, from home or in your own studio or desk space. This kind of work might be project-based, working for a client to design a logo or branding. An advantage to working this way is that you can work for clients across the UK and internationally.
You can work for an agency and this might be based in their office or from home, depending on the work and their requirements. It could be for a short period to contribute to a specialist job or for longer contracted periods.
You can work as a freelancer at the same time as working part-time as an employee. In legal terms, you will likely be classified as self-employed, unless you earn over £65K a year, at which point it becomes advisable to become a limited company.
A business plan is essential if you want to get help from a bank or funder. It demonstrates that you'll use the money wisely and can pay it back.
Most banks and funders have their own business plan template, so check with them to see what information they will want.
Even if you don’t need any additional money, it can be very useful to create a business plan. It will help you put your thoughts on paper and think through what you want to do and how.
A good plan can help you evaluate your progress, prioritise your workload and make better decisions.
Your business plan doesn’t need to be long and boring. All you need when you are starting out are a couple of pages with some clear financial and marketing goals for the next year, a short explanation of your business idea and market and a budget.
It is important that your business plan is well researched and regularly updated. Every month, go through your business plan and evaluate how you are doing against the goals you set yourself. See what is working and what needs improvement. It will then be your road map to a successful business.
When you are setting your goals it is a good idea to start with what you want to achieve in one or two years time.
Set yourself some SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals for your finances and marketing, for example: “I want to earn £12K from my design work with 20 projects this year”, or “I want to get eight illustration commissions this year, earning me £10K.”
Funders and banks have their own business plan requirements and templates and they often provide guides to writing a business plan too.
After you have written your business plan, it is always good to get feedback from a business adviser or ask a more experienced business owner.
Once you have gained interest from a client you might need to pitch an idea or your service. This could be in the form of a presentation or might be through prototypes, depending on the industry.
Preparation, practice and presentation are the key to a successful pitch.
There are two key times when you will need negotiation skills:
Here are some of the key skills you can develop to help you make the most of negotiations.
The first step in any negotiation is preparation. The more you know about the situation, the better you are able to negotiate. Find out all you can about the person and organisation you will be negotiating with,. Be clear about what you want to achieve and find out what the other party wants out of it.
Some of the things you will need to consider in your preparation are:
Provide the above information to the client and make sure you ask for information from them, such as the client’s expectations and any limitations they are bound by. A good exchange of information can help avoid confrontations and misunderstandings.
The negotiation itself and can take the form of a face-to-face meeting, an email or phone call.
It is important to close a negotiation with an agreement. Repeat back to the client what your understanding of the agreement is, and consider whether you need to create a contract for clarity and protection.
There are many benefits to collaborating with others.
But, when you’re used to working on your own individual projects it can take time to get used to other ways of working and different viewpoints. A group of creative people working together need to consider not just what they will do (the idea) but also how they will get things done (the process).
A real benefit of collaboration is working with people that think differently and have a complementary skill set to yours.
But collaboration isn’t always smooth-running, as different personality types get used to working with each other. In fact, most groups go through the team development process developed by TUCKMAN:
For this reason, collaboration can feel quite uncomfortable at the start but often leads to the most innovative ideas.
Communication is at the heart of good collaboration. All collaborators should be open and honest about what they want to get out of the project.
Doing personal reviews before you start means you can share your reasons for getting involved, identify what skills and resources each person is offering and what they want to achieve.
Other principles that make for good collaboration are: trust, commitment and shared goals.