Everyone is a freelancer
If you're looking for a job, you're a freelancer. You may not know it yet and you may not want to be a freelancer, but by default you are and it's a good thing.
Because whilst you're looking for a job you have the perfect opportunity to gain valuable experience, boost your CV, and earn some extra cash by doing temporary, freelance work.
If you've just graduated, you're between roles, or you're studying or working part time, there is absolutely nothing to stop you marketing yourself as a freelancer. "Going freelance" used to be considered a big decision, which required careful planning and organisation but these days it takes nothing more than a few clicks in the right places.
As discussed in our post about the changing world of work, working as a freelancer, or on a short-term contract, is the best way to find out if you like working in an industry and the best way to learn 'on the job'.
For example, If you're wondering if you might like a job in media it would be a great idea to get a freelance gig at a magazine or newspaper for a month or two. Volunteer if you have to (only if you have to) but get your foot in the door. You'll soon be able to tell if it is the right career for you. Keep experimenting in different industries until you find one you like which gets you excited about going to work in the morning! Then, and only then, once you KNOW what it is you want to do, should you start applying for full time roles.
You'll learn so much from a few freelance stints that once you apply for a full time role, not only will you have the experience you need to actually get an interview you will also have the professional experience, the understanding of the industry and hopefully have developed the passion you need to excel in your chosen industry. These are the key ingredients that employers look for when conducting interviews.
Going freelance is a simple as making a few clicks!
At Elevator Cafe we want everyone who shares our values to join us on our mission to make the world a better place. So we've made it super easy for job seekers to market themselves as freelancers whilst they are looking for work. Once you register as a job seeker you can make a freelancer profile which will show up on the freelancers listing page. Simply set your hourly rate and your availability and our members will be able to contact you or book you for work in just a few clicks. It really is that easy! And if you land a job sooner than expected you can easily set your profile to 'unavailable' until the next time you fancy some freelance work.
But what about the b***** TAX man?
The taxman does want to know if you do freelance work but you don't need to worry about that straight away. There is nothing to stop you making a freelance profile and marketing yourself right now. Only once you have started doing freelance work and your combined earnings (from your freelance work and any other employment) exceed your personal tax-free allowance (which for the tax year 2013/14 is £9,440 for those born after 5 April 1948) you should register with HMRC by filling in this form. HMRC recommends that you let them know as soon as you start trading, which in reality means once you have landed and are working on a contract for which you will definitely be paid.
It's better to be a potential freelancer than simply unemployed
If you're worried about promoting yourself as a freelancer you should ask yourself "what do I have to lose?" The chances are the answer is "nothing". Don't worry about what services you can offer, or about setting your hourly rate, creating your freelance profile is simple and you can edit it at any time. Simply describe the things you like to do, the things you can do and want to do and pick a rate you'd be happy to earn. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by making your rate too low, pick a figure you'd be proud to earn that reflects the value you think you can deliver.
Employers often take on full time staff after they have employed them as freelancers, so creating a freelance profile is also a great way to get spotted for full time roles. The last thing you want is for an employer to see that you are prepared to work for £5/hour if you're applying for a £30k/year role so stick to your guns on your hourly rate.
You really do have nothing to lose.