Top Tips – Working for Yourself

There were so many fantastic tips and skills shared at the Fashion, Textiles and 3D Working for Yourself employability events. A big thank you to our speakers!


I’ve complied some tips and advice from everyone below:




  • Working alone can be isolating – remember our peers are your support network
  • Be nosey – make friends, ask questions
  • It can take a few meetings for you to know specifically what the client needs from you/your role
  • You can never have an off day – you always have to be on the ball and give your best
  • Always be polite and professional
  • It is a small world – everyone knows somebody, so if you are rude, difficult or unprofessional it will follow you
  • Grow your network and knowledge by asking others with more experience for advice over a cup of tea
  • Network up, down and backwards – you get out what you put in so always remember to give back
  • Make a database and keep it updated
  • Set clear boundaries




  • Don’t take on every job that is offered to you – you will be overwhelmed and underpaid before you know it
  • If you are offered work you don’t want to do, respond with something along the lines “thank you for thinking of me, but unfortunately my book is closed at the present time”. Always reply and be polite
  • Never give a knee jerk reaction, always allow yourself time to think over the pros and cons, “thank you for thinking of me, I am currently on a job today, can I get back to you within ….”
  • Use lists to help manage your time and multiple priorities
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – diversify your income
  • Having a part time PAYE role when you are starting out helps you to take time to build your freelance career or business
  • Use your greatest asset to fulfil your potential
  • Never stop learning
  • There is no such thing as finished or complete, but you will need to be able to identify the point at which a contract is concluded
  • You are always changing and developing – you are allowed to change trajectories
  • Things lead from one thing to another, mundane jobs lead to more interesting ones




  • Different sectors have different rates of pay/expectations of pay
  • Know your worth, this works both ways – if the client doesn’t want to pay your rate then you can part with no hard feelings
  • If you are not sure what to charge, ask around, there are lots of freelancers in the industry who will be glad give you an idea of what is a reasonable rate
  • Remember to include things such as travel (both cost and time) in your fee and/or expenses
  • Always agree on a price and payment terms before taking on a job
  • If it smells like a poor deal it probably is
  • Never over promise on what you can deliver – think hard about what you can realistically do within a certain timeframe, clients will always push for more than what’s realistic
  • You are only as good as your last job




  • Contracts come in different shapes and sizes
  • Contracts enable you to manage your client’s expectations
  • Contracts are important as they set out clear expectation, terms of engagement, any work schedules or deliverables, an exit strategy, your fee and expenses (if applicable) and payment/invoicing schedule
  • Where possible, keep contracts and agreements simple
  • Always read the contract or letter of agreement before signing it
  • There’s always room for questions and negotiations – if you aren’t sure, ask for clarification
  • Remember that payment schedules link to your cashflow and therefore your personal financial survival




  • Understand your own capabilities – use your strengths and get support with your weaknesses
  • You do not need to be an expert in everything
  • Recognise when you need help
  • Employing an expert/building a team will save you time and money in the long run
  • Use your networks and eyes/ears to find collaborators
  • Always put any terms of engagement in writing so that everyone is clear up front what the expectation of each team member is (in terms of tasks, timeframes, fees etc)




  • Be confident with figures
  • Put your tax in a savings account and move a minimum of 25% of each invoice into it as soon as the invoice is paid
  • Make a cashflow and track your income and expenditure regularly
  • Always invoice on time
  • Larger/corporate clients can take longer to pay invoices which will impact you cashflow
  • Set up a good filing system for receipts
  • Even the most hardened professionals have problems getting paid – you will always encounter this, so be prepared
  • You don’t get paid for sick days so put money aside as a contingency fund
  • As a freelancer holidays cost at least double as you don’t get paid for taking time off, so when you get paid put some cash aside at the same time you put your tax money away
  • Don’t live beyond your means
  • Expensive doesn’t always mean best




  • Remember to register with HMRC (sole trader) / Company’s House and HMRC (Ltd company)
  • An accountant will save you time, money and heartache/headaches and you have to have one if you are a limited company
  • The first year you pay tax is an expensive one, so budget for this
  • You will pay tax, national insurance and student loan repayments through your Self Assessment tax return
  • The Self Assessment tax return is one year behind (2019/20 tax return was submitted on 31stJan 2021), although you pay be asked to pay on account (i.e. some of the following years tax)




  • You are responsible for Health & Safety
  • Insurance is essential protection if you are doing anything in the public realm (professional indemnity and Public liability)
  • Sometimes having certain insurance with certain levels of cover is a requirement of your contract
  • An Insurance Broker can offer advice
  • Learn how to write and understand a risk assessment




  • Be confident – believe in yourself and your products/services
  • It can take time to find your voice and style of working
  • Tend to your ego – remember it isn’t always on your side!
  • We all feel imposter syndrome
  • Don’t take things personally
  • Don’t be embarrassed of being business minded
  • Use what you have rather than what you want
  • Trust your instincts


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