First freelance gig? Here are some things to consider

You’re new to freelancing and have just landed your first client. Congrats! Amongst the excitement of it all it’s important to get your ducks in a row. Here are some questions to ask yourself to ensure your project runs as smoothly as possible.

Whose contract are you going to use?

Is your client signing your contract or are you signing theirs? A lot of first-time freelancers skip this step altogether, but it’s important your first gig runs smoothly. Contracts can assist with this.

Not only does it help define boundaries, but it sends your client a clear signal—I may be new to this, but I know what I’m doing. Take me seriously.

Ideally you’d want your client to sign your contract, but if they present theirs then please look out for a couple of things like:

  • What jurisdiction the contract is governed under. Ideally it will be UK law, but international clients may specify their local jurisdiction for dispute resolution. This can complicate matters because—if any disputes do arise—you’re now having to familiarise yourself with foreign law
  • Termination clauses. It’s important to outline what will happen for both parties in the event you no longer want to work together, but make sure your client’s termination clause isn’t one-sided. It has to be favourable for both parties. We want to avoid you feeling ‘stuck’ working on a project that’s turned sour

Contracts are complicated subjects and as insurance brokers we don’t claim to be legal experts. That’s why we refer people to Blackadders for bespoke contract creation or contract reviews.

Whilst it might feel like a bit of an investment when starting out, this is one area you don’t want to cut corners with.

How are you structuring payment?

The beauty of freelancing is that, for the most part, you get to decide what works for you. There’s no right or wrong way to structure payments, but there are things you can do to mitigate the risk of non-payment or being left empty handed after a project falls through.

Generally it’s a good idea to:

  • Accept a deposit. If the project falls through in the early stages you’ve at least secured a % of payment with a non-refundable deposit
  • Work to payment milestones. Instead of billing towards the end of a project, this ensures cashflow is consistent
  • Include a pause clause. This incentivises clients to stay on track. It also ensures you’re not wasting time on a project that may have no intention of concluding

Take some time to figure out what will work for you, but don’t sweat—with each client you’ll learn something new and can adapt and tweak your processes until you find what works for you.

How are you going to handle difficult clients?

We aren’t going to talk about your first freelance gig without highlighting insurance. Some freelancers wait until the problem has already happened before considering insurance. Don’t be that freelancer! Insurance can’t help with pre-existing situations, so get it sorted before you begin work.

Here are some of the common worries our customers have shared:

  • Missing deadlines because the client ghosted
  • Making a mistake and being forced to pay for it
  • Not being paid by a client
  • Failing to spot red flags and ending up in a project with a bad apple

A combination of professional indemnity and legal expenses insurance can be a good place to start to help with the above and will cost < £20/month.

Freelancing can be incredibly rewarding. It can give you the freedom and flexibility you’re unlikely to find in full-time employment, but it’s not without its bumps in the road. The more due diligence you apply when setting up your business, the likelier you are to enjoy long-term success.

We asked ourselves one important question…

What do we want out of an insurance provider?

With Jack is the answer