How To Become A Freelancer In Australia: A Complete Guide

Students want to know how they can become freelancers in Australia.

 

People are attracted to freelancing for many reasons. The lifestyle offers immense benefits - autonomy and flexibility to choose the projects, work hours, workplace, and build employment stability.


However, building a freelance career comes with its own set of challenges. Finding clients, self-promotion, and competing with other professionals to win projects can be difficult.


Luckily, some strategies can assist in finding clients to build up your freelancing business, grabbing the benefits of this exciting career.

 

This blog discusses the freelancing career and frequently asked questions, including how you can become a freelancer in Australia.

 

 

1. What Are Freelancers?


Freelancers are self-employed professionals who usually complete contract work for businesses that recruit them for specialized tasks or services. Companies refer to them as contractors instead of employees.

 

Freelancers work on short-term and long-term contracts in various fields under predetermined terms on an hourly, daily, or fixed project rate.

 

They provide, produce, or sell their work to various organizations rather than working for a single business. The profession gives freedom to select the projects to complete and the employers they wish to work for.

 


2. The Pros And Cons Of Being A Freelancer


Before you consider becoming a freelancer, weigh up the ups and downs of taking freelance work.

 

 

Benefits

 

  • Additional income

  • Flexibility to work anywhere and as per your convenience

  • Being your boss

  • Freedom to work on projects that interest you

  • A great way to develop new career options

 

 

Challenges

 

  • Not much certainty of regular work and income

  • You have to market and find work on your own

  • Doing freelancing as a side business may be challenging meeting deadlines and managing client expectations for both jobs at once

  • Filing taxes as a self-employed person

  • You don't get paid holiday, sick leave, Medicare, and other benefits.

  • Your payments are paid on per hour or project basis.

 

 

3. How Does Freelancing Work?


Freelancing gives the freedom and flexibility to choose who you want to work for and when and where you complete the work. 


A freelancer can set their prices for services rendered. Pairing freelancer needs with client needs can help generate a sustainable income.

 

Here are the things you must specify when taking up freelancing in Australia:

 

  • Services offered

  • Industry or clients to target

  • Number of working hours

  • Number of projects you can handle 

  • Strategic hourly rates

  • Business pitch


 

4. What Do You Need To Freelance In Australia?


Are you planning to take the first step on the path to self-employment?

 

Here is what you need to succeed in a freelancer role:

 

 

Soft Skills

 

  • Entrepreneurial nature

  • Passionate

  • Self-driven

  • Persistent

  • Patient

  • Organized

  • Skilled at managing time and projects

  • Productive 

  • Resilient 

  • Creativity (to brainstorm project ideas while meeting a client's expectations and requirements)

  • Good Communicator and Negotiator

  • Able to work to deadlines

  • Good Interpersonal skills to build long-term relations with clients

  • Empathy (particularly for freelancers working as Human Resource consultants to deal with sensitive issues while working with numerous employees.)

 

 

Technical Skills

 

  • Subject matter expertise

  • Industry knowledge

  • Marketing skills (particularly for freelancers within the marketing field to help their clients develop reputable brands)

  • Writing and research skills (particularly for content writers, copywriters and bloggers, creating meaningful, unique, and interesting content.

  • Networking skills to build professional connections and promote their talent.

  • Web development skills such as using advanced technology and apps to develop and code the website 

  • Social media skills to create attention-grabbing visual content that drives people to the client's social media page while staying updated on social media trends.

  • Freelancers working in data science in retail, hospitality, manufacturing, marketing or finance sectors must have expert data analysis skills to collect, interpret and evaluate a company's data such as sales, target audience, and marketing campaigns to improve business efficiency and sales.

  • Knowledge of using time tracker tools to track the time spent on projects

  • The knowledge of software and applications the work demands – accounting and bookkeeping software, website development and content management software, tutoring software, social media content scheduling apps like Hootsuite, web design/graphic designing software, etc. 

  • Knowledge of using meeting and collaboration tools like Skype, Teams etc. to consult with clients on project ideas

  • Able to work with project management software to handle various projects simultaneously. This tool helps track deadlines, prioritise, and stay organized, proactive, and goal-oriented. 

 

Along with the skills, you also need to have a reliable computer, internet access, and necessary software to perform the job. You may also need some money to pay for online courses and computer programs to get started.

 

Additionally, since freelancers must take care of everything, including assessing jobs, delivering projects within deadlines, and getting taxes right, they need to regulate the workload to avoid exhaustion.

 

 

5. How To Become A Freelancer For Beginners In Australia?


Follow the simple steps below to start working and earning on popular freelancing platforms:

 

 

Step 1: Check Your Employment Contract

 

Check the employment contract of your primary employer regarding freelancing.

 

Some companies permit their employees to take on freelance work, while others restrict them from working for their competitors, their employer's clients, or within the same industry.

 

 

Step 2: Prepare A Business Plan

 

The first thing you need to know when becoming a freelancer on Fiverr is to craft a business plan that helps you better identify what clients you will serve, how you plan to progress, and what things you should look out for.

 

 

Step 3: Develop A Marketing Plan

 

Develop a marketing plan where you list your business summary, target market, marketing strategy, marketing budget, and marketing channels. It will keep you on track and help you see the bigger picture.

 

Find low-budget ways to market yourself and attract business. It is necessary if you want a steady flow of freelance income. Some of these ways could be:

 

  • Build and maintain an online portfolio on free platforms like Weebly

  • Write a blog to showcase your knowledge and talent.

  • Conduct local seminars or training for free

  • Volunteer on projects to develop professional contacts, skills, and portfolio pieces

  • Join social media and community forums and participate in free workshops to network with other freelancers to partner.

 

 

Step 4: Create An Amazing Work Portfolio

 

To become a freelancer on Upwork or other similar platforms, you need a stunning portfolio with varied work samples. It will give a great idea to potential employers about your expertise and talent in your field of work.

 

The best way to showcase and promote your talent and sell your services is to develop your website using free content management tools like WordPress and upload your portfolio with your services and pricing details. 

 

It also helps boost your credibility, gives a competitive edge, and creates a good first impression on prospective employers.

 

 

Step 5: Get An ABN Number 

 

Apply for an ABN number and register your business in online business directories.

 

 

Step 6: Spread The Word

 

Once the above steps are complete, you are ready to spread the word about your freelancing venture on social media, your group of former colleagues and teammates, including on job portals like LinkedIn.

 

Create your profile on freelance content marketplaces like Freelancer, Flex Jobs, People Per Hour, etc. Consider attending local business meetup groups and running targeted online ads such as Facebook Ads if it suits your budget.

 

 

6. Can You Be A Freelancer With No Experience?


Many aspiring freelancers want to know how they can start working as a freelancer.

 

To work as a freelancer, you need to have subject matter expertise, relevant skills, and industry knowledge. Regardless of which industry or craft you wish to pursue, the following steps will place you in the right direction to make a successful freelancing career.

 

  • Identify skills that will help you stand out and land clients. You can consider joining courses to develop or refine those skills. 

  • Get as much information about the industry before you jump into a freelance career.

  • Build a portfolio as most employers want to see your work before they hire you. A strong and diverse portfolio will assure clients about your capabilities to undertake the project.

  • Build a website to display your completed projects and skills and list how much you will charge per hour or project basis.   

  • Join industry forums, social media groups, and online communities to build a professional network. It is necessary at the initial phase of your freelancing career as recommendations from your professional network can help you get your foot in the door.

  • Create a job profile at the right places to find clients. You can find various legitimate job boards and websites, such as Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, Flex Jobs, and People Per Hour, where freelancers can apply for and find freelance jobs. Regularly track these websites to stay updated about the job openings. 

  • Some clients look for experienced freelancers, while others look for the lowest rates. So, as a beginner freelancer, you may require to work at a lower rate to build your portfolio and experience. 

 

Once you complete your first assignment successfully, getting hired again is easier the next time. Good work, ratings, and testimonials will help you attract more jobs.

 

 

7. How Much Tax Do You Pay As A Freelancer?


Freelancers are considered self-employed by the tax department. Thus, your tax obligations will be different from professionals with a salary. You should know how much of your freelance income must be set aside for tax purposes.

 

Sole traders or partnership freelancers qualify for a tax-free threshold in Australia. In the 2019-20 financial year, the threshold was $18,200. The amount of tax payable depends on the amount that exceeds the tax-free threshold.

 

As opposed to individual freelancers, companies do not get a tax-free threshold and must pay for each dollar they earn. Presently, companies that aren't base-rate entities are entitled to pay a tax rate of 30%. They can file their tax returns as separate legal entities.

 

You may also need to pay GST if you make over $75,000 a year from your freelance gig. You will have to register for GST and pay for it at the Australian Tax Office's Business Portal, via your tax agent, or over the phone. Once registered, you will receive a letter from the Tax Office that mentions your registration details.

 


8. Freelance Tax Deductions

 

Freelancers can deduct their freelance expenses from their tax when expenses qualify under" business expenses". To claim the deductible expenses, it is necessary to ensure that your freelance office doesn't share resources with your home and is used only for work purposes.

 

The most common deductions for Freelancer Tax in Australia:

 

  • Office equipment costs up to $1000 every year.

  • Cost of asset or tools depreciation if it exceeds $1000 per year

  • Office space rent or mortgage

  • Office utility bills, including internet, water, and electricity

 

Different countries have different tax seasons and types and methods of tax calculation. You can use the Australian Self-Employed Tax Calculator to calculate how much tax you will need to pay working as a freelancer in Australia.

 

The state authorities of the country declare the Freelance Tax payment. You must file your tax returns by 31 October for every financial year in Australia. It runs from 1 July to 30 June.

 

You can do it when logging into your "myGov account" and linking it to the ATO online account. Failing to pay the tax within the specified period might result in penalties.

 

As most freelancers find it stressful to do tax filing and accounting, they can hire a specialist for the same. YouTube videos and tax blogs are good sources for understanding accounting and taxes.

 

You can learn to set up a basic bookkeeping system to track your expenses, plan tax payments, organize your financial accounts, and supervise your income.

 


9. How Do Different Freelancing Platforms Charge Taxes?

 


Upwork

 

Upwork charges sales tax only in those states where it has to, as each country has its regulations. It also charges Value Added Tax to freelancers from specific countries who meet the requirements.

 

 

Fiverr

 

In the case of Fiverr, it doesn't withhold any tax from the freelancer income in most countries. It implies that freelancers are themselves responsible for paying their taxes.

 

However, the platform can issue a yearly statement of the earnings made by the user in a financial year. In Australia, Fiverr accumulates taxes from the buyers and sends them to the government under purchase tax.

 


Airtasker

 

This platform also follows the regulations and lowers the tax amount from the Freelancer's earnings based on their country.

 


10. How To Invoice As A Freelancer?


Freelancers need to learn how to create an invoice either for billable hours or a fixed fee decided before commencing the work. You can find various invoice templates online that you can personalize with a message or logo based on your needs.

 

Here are the most common things that all invoices should include:

 

  • Your Full Name

  • Your 11-digit ABN

  • Your Contact details

  • The name of the employer for which you work and their contact details

  • A description of the work finished

  • The hourly rate or fixed fee and number of hours worked (plus GST if required)

  • An invoice number and date

  • Your bank details

  • Payment schedule – usually 30 days, but a company might have a set more or less than this payment schedule 

 


11. How Much Do Freelancers Make In Australia?


According to Indeed.com, the average freelancer's salary is $67.59 per hour in Australia. The salary most vary based on the area of specialization, years of experience, expertise, the complexity of the work, employer, and your place of work.

 

Sydney and Melbourne are the top two paying cities for freelancers that pay around $29.70 per hour and $25.00 per hour.

 

Estimated Salary Based on Job Categories in Australia:

 

 

 

12. What Are The Best Freelance Jobs In Australia?


The freelance economy is thriving in Australia and worldwide. As the employment landscape continues to evolve, freelancing provides a convenient way to address new demands.

 

Freelancers can find a wide range of job opportunities in niche sectors on freelance websites such as:

 

  • Journalism (find editing opportunities in newspaper, media, or magazine company) 

  • Graphic or web design (find graphic design opportunities in social media management and website design companies)

  • Web Development and Project management (find website development jobs posted by people and businesses)

  • Writing (find article writing, blog writing, technical writing, academic writing, novel writing, and many more writing jobs) 

  • Marketing (find social media marketing and copywriting jobs for business promotion and improved sales and revenue generation)  

  • Social media management (Post content regularly on social media handles of people and businesses and manage them) 

  • Bookkeeping (Assist businesses in managing the account books and offering expert assistance)

  • Teaching (Find online tutoring opportunities to teach students diverse topics from all across the world) 

  • Styling (find fashion styling, interior styling, and visual merchandising jobs on Instagram and LinkedIn).

 

 

If you are a freelancer, you can find the following freelance jobs on SEEK based on your specialization. Some of these are:

 

 

 

13. What Are The Best Freelance Platforms For Beginners?


You can find plenty of freelancing platforms that serve as a collaboration platform for job seekers and employers. They help employers find the right candidate based on the specific skills required for their projects.


Some platforms offer courses and assistance, making them a perfect medium for entrepreneurs to transition from their typical 9 to 5 job. If you are a beginner in freelancing, consider the following freelance markets places for your job search:

 

 


14. What Are The Key Freelancing Tools For Any Freelancer?


Regardless of your work area, various freelancing apps, software, podcasts, and tools help you execute your tasks quickly, conveniently, and efficiently.

 

For those serious about starting a freelance career, it is worth knowing about the below tools to enhance your work efficiency and performance.

 

 

Project Management

 

  • Trello

  • AndCo

  • Harpoon

  • Bonsai

  • nTask

  • Reply

  • Google Apps

  • Dropbox

  • FunctionFox

  • Docracy

  • Cushionapp

  • BaseCamp

  • Project Bubble

  • Contract Killer

  • LiquidPlanner

 

 

Invoicing

 

  • Xero

  • Invoice

  • Bench

  • Freshbooks

  • Stripe

  • Hiveage

  • Myob

 

 

Time Tracking

 

  • Toggl

  • Chrometa

  • Time Doctor

  • Harvest

  • Actitime

 

 

15. Free Freelancing Guide


These are some of the best learning sources to explore how a beginner can start freelancing.

 

 

 

16. Can I Do Freelance Work While Employed In Australia?

 

Yes. You can be employed and freelance at the same time. You have the right to do whatever in your free time. However, checking your existing employment contract's terms and conditions before entering a freelancing contract is necessary.

 

Though several freelancers manage both a full-time job and a part-time freelance job to supplement their earnings, some employers prohibit their staff from freelancing on the side.

 

To avoid risking your primary job, you must let your employer know about your intentions to do freelancing work. Also, it is a good practice to read your employment contract before considering freelancing.

 

If your employer allows you to do so, you must set up an 11-digit Australian Business Number for your freelancing business. The Australian Business Register provides this number to distinguish you from other businesses. It will help you file your freelancer taxes in Australia if your income exceeds the threshold as specified by the ATO.

 

The process of applying for an ABN is simple and free. All you need is to visit abr.gov.au and answer a few questions about the type of entity you are and why you need an ABN.

 

Next, meet the eligibility criteria, and fill out a form that asks you for your name, tax file number, address, and reason for application. After finishing the process, you will instantly get your ABN online. If you plan to market yourself as a small business instead of a sole trader, you should register a business name.

 


17. Tips For Beginners On How To Become A Freelancer Online

 

  • Present yourself professionally and customize your resume as per the project requirements

  • Build your digital presence

  • Set competitive prices and adjust as required

  • Accept only that much work you can complete without compromising quality. Taking more projects to earn more can cause burnout and hurt your reputation on the site.

  • Be accessible and available even when you are away from the workstation. Install the Mobile Application so you can still stay in communication with your clients on the go.

  • Always record your time to create accurate invoices if you are working on a fixed-fee project. This way, it will also help you precisely estimate how much time you will need in future jobs.

  • Be realistic about what and when you can deliver. Do not over-promising to get a job and deliver what you promise.

  • Regularly update your clients on your work progress. Manage expectations as you go. Tell them if the work is taking longer than expected.

  • Keep all your communications and payments within the platform you are working like Upwork.com. It assures you of the best possible protection in the case of a dispute.

  • Go the extra mile and try giving the best in all your projects. If you provide quality work, clients will keep returning to you, and your client base will get bigger in no time.

  • Don't hesitate to request referrals.

  • Revisit your goals periodically. Keep assessing whether your job is profitable, enjoyable, and worthwhile.

 

 

18. What Freelance Visa In Australia Do You Need?


Working as a freelancer in Australia can be challenging, but it gets easier once you understand the regulations. You need to meet eligibility requirements and get a work visa. Here we have mentioned a few visa types that cater to freelance workers in Australia:

 

 

Work And Holiday Visa

 

You would need this visa if you wish to freelance for a short period.

 

 

Student Visa


It is another visa that allows you to do freelancing in Australia. However, to obtain it, applicants must plan to study for a minimum of three months at a recognized Australian institution. During this time, they can study and work as a freelancer.

 

If they plan to continue their studies, they can renew their visa and keep studying and working for longer. However, there are limitations on the number of hours a student can work weekly.

 

 

Spouse Visa


Freelance work is acceptable for a person who immigrates to Australia with his/her spouse. In this case, if your spouse holds a work visa and is working and living in Australia, you can also apply for a spouse visa. With a spouse visa, you will have no limitations on the work you can do.

 

 

Self-Employment Visa


You can also apply for a self-employment visa to work for yourself and freelance in Australia. However, there are strict requirements for obtaining this visa.

 

Self-employment visas are divided into two categories:

 

 

Based on your needs and eligibility requirements, you can apply for any of the above types of visas.

 

 

19. Conclusion

 

Freelancing offers a lifestyle that every working person would dream of - better hours, additional income, and job satisfaction.

 

Further, there are communities of like-minded freelancers out there that prepare for a move from a 9-5 job in a company to a full-time freelancer role to make their dream come true.


With some perseverance, you will find the right way to freelance that suits your lifestyle and goals.

 

Useful Links to Explore:



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