As online technologies have become popularised, so has the work from home business model. Many current media and communication students, including myself, have begun undertaking creative work projects as freelancers as a means of building professional experience.

While the Internet is filled with relevant tips for current freelancers, people are often confused and left on their own before they actually set up their own business. This articles covers the basics on how to prep yourself to start freelancing in the Real World!

Before You Commence…

Before you consider starting a freelancing career, you must remember that you’re ultimately employing yourself; and you’ll have to map out your own work schedule, decide on your own earnings, find your own clients and do your own taxes. Doing your own admin work can be quite taxing at times (no pun intended). In my eyes this is all worthwhile. Being a freelancer opens you up to a whole world of interesting projects and freedom of creativity. This is perfect if you’re the kind of person who enjoys a bit of variety in your life.

The Boring but Required Stuff: Getting an ABN & Registering for GST

The most important thing to do before you start your career is to get an Australian Business Number (ABN). Without this, you’ll be a lot less likely to secure work.

There are two main ways to go about getting an ABN. The cheapest way to go is to lodge your own forms to the Australian Business Registrar and wait up to 3-4 weeks for everything to be processed. Alternatively, you can pay around $40-60 to professionals who will submit the documents on your behalf and get back to you with an ABN within a day. I personally opted for the latter since I was impatient and paranoid that I’d stuff it up if I did it on my own. I got my ABN less than an hour after I sent payment, so I’d say it was worth it

After you get your ABN, you’ll have the option of registering for General Services Tax (GST). This isn’t compulsory unless you expect your annual turnover to go over $75000AUD, but you must carefully consider the pros and cons of registering. If you choose not to register you’d be able to offer your services for 10% cheaper than your GST-registered competitors (or charge the same amount and earn a bit more profit!), but you won’t be able to claim back the GST on your work-related expenses. Your clients may also prefer to hire GST-registered freelancers just for the sake of credibility (& claiming back their taxes).

Cha-Ching: General Taxes & Invoicing

Unfortunately, being a freelancer means you have to do your own taxes regardless of whether or not you register for GST. The easiest way to issue your own invoices and receipts is to use a pre-made template on Microsoft Word. All of the required information is already indicated on those so you likely won’t stuff up unless you drastically change anything on it. You won’t be thinking this step is so tedious and boring when the $$$ start rolling in.

Some Final Tips…

Once you’ve covered the basics, you’re pretty much ready to start undertaking freelancing gigs! You’ll now be able to find work on online freelancing platforms such as Freelancer or Upwork, apply for contractor positions, or ask friends and family if they know of anyone who might need your services. Freelancing is an excellent opportunity to showcase your creativity, work by your own rules and create something truly unique.

by Saki Abe