People are attracted to freelancing for many reasons. The lifestyle offers immense benefits - autonomy and flexibility to choose the projects, work hours, and 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 challenging.
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 to 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 specialised 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 organisations 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 the ups and downs of freelancing:
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
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.
You receive hourly payments or per project.
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.
Freelancer can set their prices for services rendered. Pairing freelancer needs with client needs can generate a sustainable income.
Here are the things you must specify when taking up freelancing in Australia:
Industry or clients to target
Number of working hours
Number of projects you can handle
Strategic hourly rates
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:
Skilled at managing time and projects
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.)
Subject matter expertise
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 exciting 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 organised, proactive, and goal-oriented.
Along with the skills, you also need to have a reliable computer, internet access, and the 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 must regulate the workload to avoid exhaustion.
5. Steps 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. In contrast, others restrict them from working for their competitors, their employer's clients, or within the same industry.
Step 2: Prepare A Business Plan
To become a freelancer, you first need 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 your talent and sell your services is to develop a 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 an excellent 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
You are ready to spread the word about your freelancing venture when the above steps are complete. You can use social media, your group of former colleagues and teammates, including 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. Consider joining courses to develop or refine those skills.
Get as much information about the industry as before you start 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 of your project capabilities.
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 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 job openings.
Some clients look for experienced freelancers, while others look for the lowest rates. As a beginner freelancer, you may need 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 expenses, you must 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, organise your financial accounts, and supervise your income.
9. How Do Different Freelancing Platforms Charge Taxes?
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.
In the case of Fiverr, it doesn't withhold any tax from the freelancer's income in most countries. It implies that freelancers are 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.
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 must learn how to create an invoice for billable hours or a fixed fee before commencing the work. You can find various invoice templates online that you can personalise 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 compensation varies based on the area of specialisation, years of experience, expertise, the complexity of the work, the employer, and your place of work.
Sydney and Melbourne are the top two paying cities for freelancers, which pay around $29.70 per hour and $25.00 per hour.
Estimated Salary Based on Job Categories in Australia:
Freelance Writer: $37.44 per hour
Freelance Designer: $42.15 per hour
Freelance Content Writer: $70,546 per year
Freelance Social Media Specialist: $79,107 per year
Freelance Tutor: $32.47 per hour
Freelance Translator: $427 per day
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 companies)
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 specialisation. Some of these are:
Interpreter (In All Languages)
Content Writer / SEO Content Writer - Contract / Freelance
Freelance UX/UI Designer
Freelance Creative Sales Consultant
Casual and Freelance Interior Stylists
Freelance Digital/Finished Artist - Retail Marketing
Freelance Mechanical Draftsperson
Recruitment Consultant - Contract and Freelance Specialist
Freelance Hairstylist/Freelance Hairdresser
Graphic Designer / Digital Designer /Multi-Media Designer/ Artworker Jobs
Body Piercer - Freelance Or Casual
Real Estate Photographer
Freelance Social Media Specialist
13. What Are The Best Freelance Platforms For Beginners?
You can find plenty of freelancing platforms that serve as collaboration platforms 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.
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 you want 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 full-time and part-time freelance jobs to supplement their earnings, some employers prohibit their staff from freelancing.
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 companies. It will help you file your freelancer taxes in Australia if your income exceeds the threshold 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. You should also register a business name to promote yourself as a small business.
17. Tips For Beginners On How To Become A Freelancer Online
Present yourself professionally and customise 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 communicate 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. Refrain from 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 give your 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:
You will need this visa if you wish to freelance for a short period.
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 recognised Australian institution. During this time, they can learn 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.
Freelance work is acceptable for a person who immigrates to Australia with their 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.
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.
There are different self-employment visas categories:
Based on your needs and eligibility requirements, you can apply for any of the above types of visas.
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: