More people than ever are turning their hand to freelancing and self-employment. However, running a freelance business takes a lot of effort! We’ve compiled these resources for freelancers to help.
Most of them are free – or very cheap – and all will help you run a smooth business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new freelancer or have been doing it for years! There’s something here for every experience level.
- Freelancing books
- Self-employed forums
- Online learning
- Business skills workshops
- Unions and guilds
- Freelance job boards
- More useful freelance resources
There are hundreds of freelancing books out there – so how do you know which ones to read first?!
Look for ones either relevant to your industry niche, or those that offer business advice such as marketing and finance tips. If you don’t have time to read, look for the audio versions of books instead – you can listen while you do the housework!
We suggest reading these books to get you started:
Survival Skills for Freelancers – Sarah Townsend
A brand-new book launched on National Freelancer’s Day, 18th June 2020, this is a great read for new and experienced freelancers alike. Running your own business is exhausting and often freelancers tend to neglect themselves. This book has all sorts of tips about making your freelance venture successful without burnout.
The Freelance Bible – Alison Grade
Another new book release for 2020, this does exactly what the title promises. It’s a full guide for new freelancers looking to escape their day job – and current freelancers will find helpful reminders about staying on track, too.
Starting and Running a Business All-in-One for Dummies – Colin Barrow
The ‘For Dummies’ series is renowned for delivering no-nonsense, easy to follow information on any subject. This book lays it all out, from choosing your business niche to marketing to managing finances.
One of the best ways to get started – and then, keep your morale up – is to connect with other freelancers. Sharing your experiences and asking questions to the community is a great way to learn as you go along, and build a great network, too.
Forums are specific communities where you can connect with others to discuss any topics related to freelancing, self-employment, or just general life! It’s different from social media platforms, as forum members need to sign up to participate. That means you’re a LOT less likely to come across trolls – and you can ask your questions in a safe space, rather than for the entire public to read.
Designed by a freelancer, for freelancers. This was born from a private Slack group created by people who regularly got in touch every week for a Twitter chat. There was so much interest – and so many frequent questions – that Dave Smyth created Work Notes.
It’s full of useful articles to help freelancers at any stage of their career. There’s also a job board and a forum. Find the forum here – and use the Freelance Pricing Guide to work out your chargeable rates, too!
The MoneyMagpie Messageboard
We couldn’t talk about forums and not mention this! Our free community is full of potential and experienced freelancers, contractors, and self-employed business owners.
Ask your questions, share your thoughts, and get involved in conversations with like-minded entrepreneurs! Join the MoneyMagpie team, vetted experts, and your fellow Magpies on the freelance forum here.
We can’t talk about freelancing without discussing social media. Even if you hate it, you’ll need at least one social platform for your business. You can’t get away from it these days!
There are plenty of freelance groups, such as Freelance Heroes on Facebook, that are full of fun, interesting, and helpful entrepreneurs.
You might also find Twitter chats, too. These happen at the same time each week, and use a specific hashtag. Look for local ones to get to know other business owners in your area. Try searching for ‘bizhour’ in the hashtag – such as #OxfordBizHour, #BathSmallBiz, or similar. A host will run the online chat, using this hashtag, and they’ll often ask questions for people to answer, or give you a platform to tell others about your work.
LinkedIn is one of the strangest social media platforms. It’s supposed to be about networking and connecting, but in recent years it’s expanded to become a blogging platform for business people, too.
Join groups relevant to your industry or freelancing, and get involved in the discussions. You can also write articles on LinkedIn and share them for others to see. This is far more a ‘professional’ platform designed for business networking – so feel free to promote yourself more than on other social media!
Thanks to lockdown, there’s now numerous online training platforms and courses available to freelancers! However, there are very few free courses that deliver helpful content. Paid courses often provide greater insights, and come with additional help like one-to-one mentorship. Remember, fees for professional development related to your business can be written off on your tax return.
Of all the myriad free courses available online, these have the best reputation for providing useful content in easy-to-digest formats.
The Open University
OpenLearn is a part of the Open University offering. It’s entirely free, and you can study courses at home, at your own pace.
Learn everything you need to start a business, or discover more about a niche sector related to your freelancing. For example, try the Writing a SWOT Analysis course to help create a solid business plan to build your foundations upon. Or, learn a new language – like Welsh – to help your relationships with other businesses and customers in your field.
With hundreds of free courses available, from this highly reputable institution, you’re bound to find ones to help develop your freelance skills.
Another well-known and respected online resource, Alison courses offer a wide range of learning opportunities.
Some are short modules to help hone skills like bookkeeping, while others are longer diplomas to cover subjects in depth.
Covering a wide range of sectors, from IT and Business to Health, Science to Marketing, and Lifestyle to Languages, there’s tons to choose from. You can opt to filter your course search by ‘Academic’, ‘Workplace’, and ‘Personal Development’, too, depending on why you want to study.
Udemy is an online academy with a wide range of subjects covered. Some courses are paid, while others are free.
The free Udemy courses cover topics like coding, time management, photography, and personal confidence or development skills. Anyone can create and upload a course to Udemy, but the ones in the free section here have been collated together by the Udemy team to help new freelancers and career changers in a post-COVID environment.
You get what you pay for – so free courses are great for general education and getting started as a freelancer.
However, if you want to develop your skills further, consider a paid course. Many offer one-to-one business mentorship or coaching as part of the package, too. This hands-on approach means you’ll get more out of the course than a free one.
When things start reopening after the pandemic, check with your local authority: they’ll often run local evening adult learning workshops for a low price.
Your local college and university are the next places to look. These course fees will be higher, but you’ll get a more traditional lecture-style education from them. Remember you can offset any course fees related to your freelance business from your tax return.
When you’re starting out, the amount of things you’ll have to tackle as a freelancer can seem overwhelming. You become a marketer, accountant, salesperson, doer-of-the-actual-thing, debt chaser, website and social media manager… everything!
That’s why many local authorities and business hubs offer a range of cheap or free business skills workshops.
For example, Wrexham Enterprise Hub offers free co-working space AND regular free events for its members. To sign up, you need to be in the early stages of running your business – and it means you get to share your days with other new freelancers, too.
The best way to find local events like this is to Google “Your area + free business workshops”. Or a similar variation!
Freelancers often get the hard end of the deal in business. Many companies try to haggle on price, for example, just because they don’t want to pay as much – even though they have the budget.
Or, they’ll agree to a project and then once it’s completed they simply… disappear. Your invoices go unpaid, and you need legal support to chase late payments.
Joining a union or guild is a good way to add some extra support to your business. Many memberships come with things like legal assistance for debt recovery, template contracts, and even business insurance packages. They’ll also run events on a local and national level – which is a great way to build your network.
Look for your local chapters of the Federation of Small Businesses and your Chamber of Commerce as a starting point. Also, it’s worth checking out IPSE – which is for all self-employed people, rather than industry-specific.
Most professions have some form of guild or union. For example, journalists have the National Union of Journalists – but could also join the Society of Authors or the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain. Whatever your niche freelance industry, search for “Your Industry + union” to find the most relevant one for you.
Finding work is a constant cycle for every freelancer. Even if you’re currently fully-booked for the month, never stop that search for the next client. Work can easily dry up if you’re too focused ‘in the moment’ rather than looking ahead to confirm future income streams.
Once you’re established, this process is easier. You can use word-of-mouth referrals from clients, repeat custom, and can cold pitch with your portfolio. However, when you’re first starting out, job boards are a good source of work opportunities.
Traditional job boards
Typical job boards, like Indeed, Reed, and Monster, do sometimes have freelance opportunities. Use ‘remote’, ‘freelance’, or ‘contract’ in your search terms. However, these job boards have extremely high traffic and your chances of success against the sheer volume is low.
Freelance job boards
Some job hubs are specifically designed for people looking to hire freelancers. This means the job description will be focused on the freelance model – i.e., you’re working flexible hours, often remotely, or on a short contract basis.
There are some job boards to avoid: namely, Upwork. The rates here are often a ‘race to the bottom’ and you can spend a LOT of time pitching without success. In addition, the platform charges you, the freelancer, a percentage commission from the project. Other job boards charge the business to post their advert – not take money from your earnings.
So, this list is ONLY job boards – not pitch platforms like Guru or UpWork.
Ideal for web developers, app developers, marketers, and designers, Remotive lists lots of remote jobs you can do from anywhere.
Mostly used by marketing, writing, and sales freelancers, ProBlogger is a very popular job board. You may have to sift through a lot of low-paying adverts first, but there can be some hidden gems in there.
For designers and developers, GitHub is a respectable job board listing both full time remote and freelance job opportunities.
The Angel Jobs website specialises in remote jobs for a wide range of sectors with startups and small businesses. It says it’s the “largest job marketplace for remote work”, and offers both freelance and full-time remote opportunities.
We’re building more and more content for freelancers and contractors of all experience levels. Recent events in 2020 means there’s a huge shift towards remote working that looks set to stay. That, combined with the financial benefits of hiring freelancers, means the freelance economy is set to boom.
Check out these articles to find out more about freelancing – and don’t forget to visit our freelance messageboard on the forum!