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How to make freelancing a success for you

Private View, Show 2 © Vic Philips
  • Written byCareers and Employability
  • Published date 19 June 2023
Private View, Show 2 © Vic Philips
Private View, Show 2 © Vic Philips

If you're thinking about diving into the exciting world of freelancing, then you’ve come to the right place. Did you know that 23% of all roles advertised on Creative Opportunities in 2021/22 were freelance? Compared to other industries, the creative sector boasts a higher percentage of freelancers. However, many freelancers face burn out as they juggle multiple jobs out of fear of missing out on payment. To illustrate the point, let's consider two different freelancer scenarios.

Imagine Freelancer A, the hard worker. They're putting in over 50 hours a week to meet those looming deadlines. They just scrape by, but they forget to plan for additional edits or changes. They're grateful for the jobs they've managed to score, always striving to stand out from the crowd. But alas, finding time to grow their business, network, and market their skills seem like an impossible dream. It’s a hustle!

Now let's meet Freelancer B, the champion of work-life balance who works around 35 hours a week. They occasionally work late nights but can flexibly take time off to meet friends. Recently, they completed a major project where their work was chosen by a hotel chain for their interior designs. Freelancer B negotiated a contract that allowed the client to license the artwork for a year, rather than buying all rights, receiving payment based on the square footage used across 60 buildings. This resulted in a high five-figure fee! Now that's some serious cash to cover living expenses and even hire another freelancer for marketing magic.

So, what sets Freelancer A and Freelancer B apart? It's not just about their mindset—it's all about knowing the tricks of the trade. Freelancer A sees themselves as a worker or an employee, constantly pushing themselves to their limits. They hope for recurring jobs from employers and may even lower their fees to secure work. They constantly worry about timely payment, as it affects their ability to pay rent.

On the other hand, Freelancer B sees themselves as a boss and entrepreneur. They don't work for "employers"; they collaborate and partner with clients. Their mission? Not to create the best artwork in the universe, but to fulfil their clients' needs. They've dived into the nitty-gritty of business, exploring intellectual property, licensing to scale their success and let their work, or ‘assets’, generate passive or repeat income. They've attended exciting seminars, connected with financial mentors, and even armed themselves with legal knowledge to create contracts that ensure timely payments (with extra fees for

the tardy ones!). Finally, they always make time to network in person. Who knows where those small conversations may lead?

If you’re a freelancer stuck working many hours and feeling demotivated, take a step back and consider the following:

· If you are currently struggling with a project, where does this piece of work fit into your portfolio? Is it helping you attract the clients or pay you would like in the future?

· Who are your dream clients? When was the last time you showed your portfolio to them?

· Do you understand how to scale your business such as licensing your work?

· Do you have any completed work which could be used to set up a passive income stream?

· Evaluate how you decide who to work with. Is it income based, or passion based?

· What do you do if you don't understand the terms and intellectual property rights of a contract?

· How do you negotiate a contract fee you are not satisfied with? Have you thought about negotiating the conditions required you are not happy with?

If you are looking for a freelance job, or want to see what kind of opportunities are out there, why not check out UAL’s jobs board, Creative Opportunities? Run by Careers and Employability, it is the go-to hub for creative students and graduates. You can find jobs, paid internships, competitions, and volunteering roles. If you are studying an art, design, communications, or a performance course or have recently graduated, then this is the place for you! Our goal is to help you achieve your ambitions and make a living doing what you love.

Need further advice on freelancing? UAL students can access tailored one-to-one careers support for up to 2 years after you graduate. Our online advisors will support you by discussing your career ideas and options and providing advice on applications. Email or book a one-to-one appointment to get started.