I recently started out as a freelance digital designer and to my surprise I had a hard time finding articles that described the start up process.

Here’s a list of things that would help you start out as a freelance digital designer in the UK:

1. Get an accredited accountant
A good accredited accountant (I use an ACCA accredited accountant) is important for any business as they will be able to advice you on how to tackle tax, claims, etc.

2. Get your company registered
Your accountant will advise you on which company option is best for your business. I’m registered as a private limited company. This helps me control my cash flow better as supposed to sole trader. Working as a digital freelancer most recruitment agencies require you work through an umbrella company. I wanted more control so I went with a limited company.
Remember: always have enough capital at the end of the fiscal year to pay your taxes!

3. Open a bank account
This takes longer than you might expect. In my case I ‘just’ needed a sort code and an account number to send invoices. I started out with a secondary bank as I wanted private and business banking with two different banks to physically separate the two. But the ‘adviser’ basically didn’t know what he was doing and after 4 weeks (!!!) with no results I had to go with my private bank. This was up and running in half a day. So sometimes starting with your own bank might be the best solution.
Remember: banking cost money. There is no such thing as ‘free banking’.

4. Get an accounting system
I use Freeagent. This is a online accounting system tailor made for freelance designers. It’s basically all your accounting tools in one place: timesheets, banking, invoicing, contacts, and (very important) keeps track of your taxes. This also keeps tracks of, and numbers your invoices.
Remember: invoice numbers/names need to be unique for every invoice you send.
Everything is online, so should you be unlucky and your machine breaks down or gets stolen, everything can be accessed through a browser.
Remember: keep all your receipts for later claim.

You can use this referral code to get 10% off Freeagent monthly fee.

5. Register with recruitment agencies
It’s a good idea to register with a couple (3-4). Remember to always keep track of where your CV is sent, so you don’t end up having two recruiters sending your details through on the same job. I would recommend (in no particular order):

Cogs Agency
Ecom Recruitment
Source Personnel
Propel London
Profiles Creative
Purple Recruitment

6. Figure out your rate
Figure out what day rate you want to charge. Recruitment agencies are usually quite good regarding advice on this.

7. Invoice, invoice, invoice 🙂

These few steps should help you get off to a good start and help you control you business.

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