How to Start Freelancing as a Market Researcher

Amanda Osenton
August, 2016

Beginning your journey…Stage 1

Here are the top ten tips from freelancers in the market research and intelligence industry:

1. Make a business plan – gauge what the income-stream will be like – are you going to work part time; from home; how much will you need to earn to cover your expenses etc; how much holiday do you plan to take (if any) whilst on an assignment, and between assignments? If you’re going to do significant business working from home, think about building your own office.

2. Work out your day rate by using a day rate calculator (There are lots of tools online).

3.  Talk to people in your network – Finding work can be tricky – speak to professionals in the industry – both previous colleagues and potential new ones at industry events – and make friends with other freelancers. When there are large projects they’ll often need 5-10 of you, they’ll give you more tips and leads on where is good to work.

4. Accept those words “For exposure”. At the beginning take almost any position offered in the industry, if it can help get your name out there and build your reputation as trusted freelancer. Clients, agencies and recruiters alike won’t forget you if you’re good at what you do.

5. How you’re going to structure your business. – Decide whether you are going to become a contractor, sole trader or a Limited Company.

6. Budget – remember if you’re self employed, you’ll need to keep a running tab of how much NI and tax you’ll need to pay for your Self Assessment, and ensure this money is kept safely untouched.

7. Record keeping is a must! – If you’re not partnered with anyone, get ready for some additional admin you hadn’t thought about – Remember your deadlines e.g. If you’re self-employed you’ll need to submit your Self Assessment, or if you’re a Limited Company – your annual tax return. We always recommend keeping track of your holiday pay, time-sheets, and any new employment law i.e. you’ll need to find out if IR35 legislation applies to you, otherwise you may be liable for a fine or alternatively you may find you’re not getting what you deserve.

8. Consider setting up a Pension scheme if you haven’t already. There are additional opportunities to save tax efficiently if you are self-employed so it’s worth looking into.

9. Think about how you’re going to do your accounting – it may be worth setting up a separate bank account to keep your income and expenses tidy. And remember, it’s definitely worth doing you research and speaking to a professional about whether you should be a contractor or self-employed as you may be entitled to certain tax benefits.

10. Do what you do best and research – do your homework! You need to be able to hit the ground running to become a successful freelancer.

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