If you decide to become a freelancer, it's probably because working for yourself offers you certain advantages. Perhaps you want more freedom or you hope to increase your income. But working for yourself doesn't only bring in the money, it can also involve quite some expense. In this blog post we aim to answer the question: “what do you need to become a freelance web designer?”.
What will you come up against as a freelancer?
As a freelancer, you will encounter various costs, which may be a one-off, an investment, recurrent or mandatory. Not all the items discussed in this blog are mandatory (in fact, there is very little that you actually have to do), but most of them are still “wise to do”.
How much exactly it will cost you to become a freelancer is obviously impossible for us to say. Nevertheless, in this blog post we point out the most common issues that you will encounter as a freelancer. By determining for yourself the elements you need to consider and how much that will cost for your unique situation, your “to do list” for becoming a freelancer will be a lot clearer.
Registration with the chamber of commerce
It starts with the expense item common to all freelancers: Registration with the Chamber of Commerce. This is mandatory for anyone starting their own business and costs 50 euros. When you register as a sole proprietor there are no additional costs, However, if you wish to found a business with a different legal form, you will need a notary. Of course, he or she will also charge for his or her services.
An accounting programme and/or an accountant
Once you have started out on your own you will also need to keep a record of your hours, send invoices, calculate VAT, pay tax and carry out all kinds of other fun administrative tasks. Make life easier from day one and use an online accounting programme that you can also use to create invoices. This will save you a great deal of time fiddling about in Excel and will make life an awful lot easier when you have to submit your tax declaration! If you would also like everything to be checked and for your tax declaration to be done for you, you can choose to hire an accountant.
Insurance policies and your pension
As an entrepreneur, suddenly you no longer get paid when you're sick, you don't automatically build up a pension and you are personally responsible for the mistakes that you make. Although it isn't mandatory, we advise every freelancer to take out liability insurance. After all, you might just knock something over at your client's office or make a small mistake which leads to great expense for your client. While you may not envisage such a situation right now, if you wait until it actually occurs it will already be too late.
As a freelancer you don't automatically accrue a pension. Therefore, you will need to make monthly pension arrangements to ensure that you have enough in the bank to live on once you reach retirement.
Another type of insurance which is certainly no luxury is legal expenses insurance. This insurance will enable you to quickly contact a lawyer for legal advice and you'll have somewhere to turn in the event of a business conflict. Some insurers even offer a debt recovery service to their clients. This can be very useful, since as a freelancer you’re sure to encounter non-payers.
Finally, you should put money aside for holiday periods or in case you get sick. As an entrepreneur, there is no financial difference between the impact of these days: In both cases you aren't working and therefore you don't get paid. You can take out insurance to cover sickness; however, holiday cover is entirely down to you to arrange!
A computer, printer and other hardware
If you're planning to work for yourself, you will obviously need some kind of office. Some freelancers will only need a laptop, while others will have to purchase everything from computer to printer and office furniture. You may already have some of the things you need, but you will often find you need to buy one thing or another before you can really get started. Consider, for example, business cards, stationery etc.
As a web designer you probably use various Adobe products. Nowadays you're likely to choose the monthly creative cloud subscription that gives you access to the very latest versions of all the Adobe apps. Perhaps you also use things such as Dropbox, WeTransfer and project management tools or note-taking apps. While these may only cost a small amount each month, when added together your software costs can become quite considerable.
Nevertheless, do make sure you actually buy your software! Piracy is never a good idea of course, but as a professional you really can't be running your business using stolen software.
Contracts and general conditions
You are not obliged, of course, to have a standard contract and general conditions drawn up by a lawyer. However, an arrangement such as “Mr X will pay at some point in the future” will be of little use to you if Mr X turns out to be a resolute non-payer. Everyone has their own field of specialism and Dutch law is a lawyer's domain. Therefore, a lawyer is the perfect person to help you devise the right general conditions and a standard contract. You will then be protected in the event of a business conflict and you will know exactly what is written in your legal documents. If you encounter a non-payer or another conflict, you can fall back on these documents to retrieve your money or win your case.
Training and network meetings
While in the past you learned from other (senior) colleagues or through training organised by your employer, you will now have to arrange and pay for this yourself. Participation in conferences and network meetings will also have to be paid for from your own (business) pocket. Because both of these are extremely important for your business, you would be wise to set aside a fixed amount each month, so that you build up an annual budget for “training and networking”. For some entrepreneurs this will help prevent them from attending one event after the other on the pretext that it's “good for the business”, while for others it will encourage them to get out and about and extend their networks (after all, they have the budget for it).
Online and offline advertising
A final expense item is that of online and offline advertising. Obviously, you would love to have a thriving business that relies solely on free advertising by word of mouth. But unfortunately, this doesn't happen automatically for all entrepreneurs. Therefore, many put their faith in the power of online and offline advertising. So, put aside a monthly amount to create a marketing budget that you can use for advertising. You can always increase and decrease this budget as required.
Are you a freelance web designer looking for your next assignment? Then we'd love to hear from you; our advice is always free!