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Freelancing in the UK for Internationals

Francesca Mama-Rudd working on a clay model in the Studio, Alys Tomlinson
  • Written byCareers and Employability
  • Published date 05 July 2022
Francesca Mama-Rudd working on a clay model in the Studio, Alys Tomlinson
Francesca Mama-Rudd working on a clay model in the Studio, Alys Tomlinson

If you missed our talk ‘Freelancing in the UK for Internationals’, don't worry. Here's a recap of the tips Dhruv Krishnaraj, Student Circus’ director and co-founder, had to offer:

The session started with steps for setting yourself up as a freelancer in the UK. It also included tips on professionalism, communication and dealing with the culture shift.

To start with, Krishnaraj established that freelancing has pros and cons. He stated how important it is to understand the culture and the market you want to work in. That way you can identify the correct method of interaction with possible clients. For example, in the UK, it could be said that emails are preferable to impromptu phone calls. The UK is one of the top markets for freelancing due to the fact that the culture allows you to have multiple clients at the same time. Other cultures can frown upon that. It's also a great place to network, with career fairs, events and meet-ups.

Krishnaraj also advised that freelancing can count towards work experience. Freelancing can provide support for your CV but would also help you build a strong portfolio. As a freelancing international student in the UK, you get the advantage of getting a taste of the market as well.

But how do you set yourself up as a freelancer?

There are many ways to start. One of the most important tasks to start with is building a contact list of potential clients.

Think about what brands or organisations you would like to work with. Then research using the companies' websites, LinkedIn and The Dots to find out the right person to contact. Personalise your outreach emails to gain a more favourable response. Think of people who might be able to offer a ‘warm outreach’, as well. A warm outreach is when you have a mid-person to create a connection between you and a target client.

It’s important to be able to deal with rejection, as well as it’s part of the freelancing journey. Networking is a very crucial aspect when you are a freelancer. It can provide unexpected roles and clients. Always follow up a meeting through networking by booking a discovery call or an email. A discovery call, in the UK, is very formal and it allows you to discuss projects, suitability and hours.

The top tip offered for freelancers is to ensure that your terms and conditions are set up before you begin work on a project. For example, if your terms state that you can provide up to 3 revisions, you must stick to that number. If a client tries to ask for more, you can ask for a discussion to adjust the contract. Keep in mind what’s the most suitable way of discussing things with each client. They can all differ in their preferred method of communication.

Finally, your freelance toolkit:

One of the most important aspects of your professional kit is your work portfolio. Check out freelancers you like or follow and see how they have laid out their portfolios. It’s recommended to have a professional website as well. Including testimonials of clients can increase favourability with future clients, as well. You can also include an elevator pitch that introduces you and what you do in a fun, quick way.

‘Google can be your best friend’. - Dhruv Krishnaraj

As you are self-employed when freelancing, it’s important to keep track of things such as invoices. Google can provide you with templates on how to set up your invoice letter. It’s also recommended taking the IP Module to understand how to protect your works as well.

We hope you find these tips helpful. Freelancing can be quite exciting but can also be overwhelming or scary. Check our freelancing resources for further help.