Working as a freelancer – that means cool jobs and projects with free time allocation, with selected customers and regardless of the company and any requirements. Many, or at least something similar, imagine working as a freelancer. Not surprisingly, freelancers are often envied for their freedom by both employees and entrepreneurs. But freelancers know that freedom comes with the price of some challenges and uncertainty that salaried employees don’t see or underestimate. Here is the most important information and tips for freelancers and everyone who wants to become one …
Definition: what is a freelancer?
Freelancers are not directly employed by a company as employees, but receive work orders from various companies or clients. Primarily, it is therefore in freelancers to freelancers , which are used for example during a project or assist a company in specific tasks and challenges.
Here are some of the factors especially significant for work as a freelancer:
Freelancers are self-employed.
Orders are received from different companies or clients.
No integration into the company, no wine authorization from the client.
As a rule, free division of working time and place.
Freelancers do not receive a fixed, regular salary. They are paid on a fee basis, flat rate or after hours.
The terms freelancer and freelancer are often used interchangeably and used interchangeably. However, this is not correct because there are important differences between the two. For example, in § 18 paragraph 1 of the Income Tax Act, you can find a complete list of jobs that count as freelancers:
Here it says:
At the freelance work includes independent scientific, artistic, literary, teaching or educational activities, the independent professional activities of physicians, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, notaries, patent agents, surveyors, engineers, architects, commercial chemists, accountants, tax consultants, advisory folk and business economists, sworn accountants, tax officers, naturopaths, dentists, physiotherapists, journalists, image reporters, interpreters, translators, pilots and similar professions.
While freelancers are limited to the group of professions mentioned above, a freelancer can also work in other jobs. There are also tax differences. There is no trade tax for freelancers, while freelancers are subject to trade tax. In the following graphic, we have summarized the characteristics for freelancers again:
Freelancer Definition Jobs Platforms Difference Demarcation German Meaning Freelancer
Therefore, the following applies: A freelancer is not about which job is carried out, but rather the type of employment . Anyone who works as a freelancer is not an employee of the company and is not bound by instructions. Cooperation is usually limited to a certain period of time or a project.
Freelancers can often be found in the IT sector or in the consulting area, but freelancers are also an important addition for companies in the media industry.
Platforms: There are freelancer jobs and projects
One of the most important and difficult tasks for freelancers is the search for new customers and projects . Working as a freelancer can only be successful in the long term if you keep a good order situation. Unfortunately, the reality in the industry is tough: If you can’t win customers, you won’t make any sales and you won’t earn enough money to cover your own costs.
The goal of many freelancers is therefore to establish long-term customer relationships from which follow-up orders arise. However, this is not always possible and freelancers are looking for individual orders and projects. There are now numerous portals on the Internet on which clients and freelancers are brought together.
We present portals for freelancers and show where you can find new orders:
The freelancer portal Gulp describes itself as a personnel service provider for IT, engineering and finance. There you can create your personal profile as a freelancer with your skills and experience and you can also search for suitable orders and tenders yourself.
You can also find suitable orders, projects and customers on freelance maps . The focus is also primarily on the IT area. If you, as a freelancer, create a profile with your skills, you can also directly receive suggestions for current projects by email that correspond to your skills and expectations.
In Freelance several thousand projects and specific job for freelancers simultaneously. At the same time, companies or other clients can search for freelancers and find suitable experts for existing tasks. As a freelancer you can create a profile, score with competencies and strengths and be found.
Anyone who works in the creative and artistic sector will be unable to avoid the eye . No matter whether designer, graphic artist, photographer or freelancer in multimedia and advertising – there is the right job for every creative mind. There is also a job market where permanent jobs can be found.
On the platform Projektwerkstatt be free in beginner rate creates a profile and access all projects for freelancers. If you are interested in a project, you can contact the client directly, submit your documents and evidence and – in the best case – arrange a cooperation.
As with other portals, projects and orders from companies can be placed at Twago that are made accessible to interested freelancers. Payment is made via a so-called trust account – the client pays the payment there and after completion of the project it is forwarded to the freelancer (with deduction of a commission for Twago).
Bloggers and writing freelancers are in good hands on blogger jobs . Here, numerous blogs are looking for experienced bloggers who have a good writing style and can create content for an online page.
Freelancer: Am I suitable for freelance work?
Working as a freelancer has several advantages that employees often envy. Freelancers are usually more flexible in the way they work, for example, they are not tied to their workplace or fixed working hours, and they also have the choice of which projects to accept and which customers to work with.
So much self-determination in the job is appealing and in some industries, freelancers can be very successful. Nevertheless, freelance work is not necessarily made for everyone . It offers less security than a permanent position in the company and can involve a lot more work.
In short: You have to be suitable as a freelancer. Otherwise you do not enjoy the freedom, but suffer from the lack of security and the existing pressure.
If you are thinking of working as a freelancer, you should think carefully beforehand whether you have what you need. The following aspects can help you decide:
Drive and motivation
Do you know why you want to work as a freelancer? Are you really interested in working independently or do you just want to escape your currently boring job? If the latter is the case, the motivation will probably not be sustainable and certainly not sufficient in the long term. You should know your reason and drive for working as a freelancer before starting .
Network and contacts
Qualifications and skills are important, but without the right contacts and a well-developed network you will be missing one thing above all: the customers. Because especially at the beginning they don’t come to you, but have to be actively found and addressed. If you earn a good reputation, you may also be given orders – but that, too, requires an appropriate network. You can and should also create these requirements before and during your start.
Services and product
You should be able to name your services and products clearly and unambiguously . Avoid making the mistake of comparing yourself to the competition. For example, if you constantly compare yourself to other freelancers on your homepage, you will feel insecure and cannot develop your own profile. Instead, focus on your strengths and unique selling points . If you know and can represent what distinguishes you, you can also convince customers.
Resilience and organization
Quite a few freelancers work beyond the classic eight-hour day. Stress and strain can be part of everyday life to meet deadlines and satisfy customers. As a freelancer, you must have the appropriate resilience .
Good organization and self-management are equally important . With several clients and parallel projects in particular, you need to keep an overview, limit the flood of work and work efficiently.
In addition, we have compiled the eight most important tips for jobs and activities as freelancers. You can download this HERE as a free PDF .
Tips for freelancers: How to make your job safer
The positive side for freelancers is primarily opposed to uncertainty . There is simply no employment contract that is as permanent as possible and that could prevent dismissal.
On the other hand, if the orders suddenly fail to appear, freelancers face major problems. Just in demand as a freelancer in several projects, you will be left without a job and thus income after the cooperation has ended. On the other hand, it helps to stabilize the foundation and thus gain more security. With these tips and ways it can work:
Broaden customer base
In the financial world it is called diversification : the intention to minimize the risk of loss through diversification. Diversification is equally desirable for a freelancer.
If you have a single – well-known and well-off – client behind you, you have everything in principle: good money, references, reputation, exciting tasks. But dependence is inevitably increased – on this one company, on the market, on economic changes.
If the customer breaks away, your personal business model is in question. It is not uncommon for the solo customer to be exposed to arbitrariness . Do you really dare to face contradictions in view of your own dependency, to exercise substantive criticism?
From an economic point of view it makes sense: distribute the load over several shoulders. Broaden the customer base – through systematic acquisition work .
Mix order forms
Optimally, you have many customers instead of just one. Even better if your order portfolio is also a hybrid. On the one hand, long-term orders, which you process every month – for example, as a permanent customer . They can be fixed with framework contracts. On the other hand, customers for whom you work on a project basis – almost on demand.
The financial advantage: You can count on a fixed basic amount per month – and increase this through fee orders.
And another advantage of a large, mixed customer base: a customer provides you with a top fee, fantastic references for your CV, lots of valuable contacts or lots of fun at work. But rarely everything together. It is conceivable, but unlikely that a single customer will cover all freelancer needs at the same time. If you mix cleverly, you get everything – just from different sources.
Do further training
Continuous further training is even more important for freelancers than for employees, since they are directly dependent on their competence and specialist knowledge as a basis for their livelihood . You can even receive financial support through the education bonus (further information can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research ).
But even if you have to pay for further training yourself, the investment is worthwhile. With know-how and expert knowledge you secure orders and become a sought-after freelancer in your area.
The earnings of a freelancer fluctuate from month to month and are often unpredictable. Then there is the summer vacation that you would really like to spend in the south and you cannot count on new orders in the Christmas season. Taxes are added! After all, the tax authorities would like to receive regular advance payments.
What you could do: Open two Giro accounts (if possible free of charge) – one for professional cash receipts, the other private. Now you pay yourself a salary, so you transfer part of your earnings from account A to account B each month. You live on the money in account B.
Leave the rest on account A – or invest it sensibly. This makes financial sense and also gives you a better overview of your earnings situation.
And the certainty of being able to access reserves in an emergency is extremely reassuring.
The right pricing for freelancers
A point that many freelancers deal with too little or too late: What can and must I ask for as a freelancer for my work?
One thing always applies: Never sell yourself below value! Lowering prices is easier than raising them. Even if customers and clients try to haggle: Quality should have and keep its price. Avarice is by no means cool. You’d rather have a few extras negotiated instead of cutting the price. Unless that is absolutely not competitive.
You have different options when it comes to pricing, as there are different ways to calculate the prices of your services :
Daily or hourly rates
One option is to consider yourself like an employee: ask yourself what the gross salary of an employee in your industry and position is. Of course, it is not enough to simply count this salary down to working hours . As a freelancer you are responsible for your social security contributions, sick days, vacation days and old-age provision, you must also include these.
In some industries, it is common for the freelancer to make advance payments. In the creative field in particular, customers often want to see a few ideas first. Sketches, drafts or entire concepts do work that is initially not paid for. Do not see this point as a cost factor, but as an investment .
But set clear limits here in terms of scope and time. Of course there is always the risk that your concept will be well received, but that the order will be given to someone else. That is just entrepreneurial risk. The only help here is to include such smaller defeats in the prices.
If you decide to offer fixed prices for individual projects, you should think carefully about what services are included in the offer and how long it takes. In doing so, you should calculate as realistically as possible.
Of course, you want to implement the order for your customer (and also for yourself) as quickly as possible, but if the project gets out of hand and you have to spend considerably more time than expected, this means considerable losses for you.
Especially if the customer always has special requests that are not included in your schedule, you should speak to them in advance , possibly exclude them from the fixed price and have them paid accordingly.
Warning sign for freelancers: Not with these customers!
Finally, one last important point: There can and will always be customers who cause significantly more work than they are worth . Such customers are not only uncomfortable, they can cause real problems.
The spectrum ranges from outrageously high demands , far too short-term additional requests to legal steps that some customers take against freelancers. The easiest way to avoid such problems is to avoid contact with the relevant customers . Our warning signs will help you with this.
However, always remember: Individual warning signs do not in themselves constitute gruesome customers. However, as soon as you find three or more warning signs at a customer, you should be on your guard and refrain from working together .