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Feb. 23, 2021

#5 | Going Freelance in 11 Steps with Alistair Webster from Freelance Success | The Freelancer Talk

#5 | Going Freelance in 11 Steps with Alistair Webster from Freelance Success | The Freelancer Talk

Have you ever thought about quitting your payroll job and going freelance?
Freelancers are slowly taking over the world and the future truly is freelance. The current worldwide pandemic has only contributed to this statement and even sped this process up.
With unemployment numbers going through the roof, it’s no surprise that many people sign themselves up to platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. Essentially, it doesn’t matter whether you are thinking of quitting your job and going freelance or if you are unemployed and want to start your own freelance business. In both cases, you’re going to need a plan!

For this week’s episode of The Freelancer Talk podcast, we’ve invited Alistair Webster from Freelance Success to share with us his 11 Steps to becoming a Freelancer guide!
Alistair Webster is a freelancer and creative consultant from the UK. He specializes in creating websites that use strategy and storytelling to help small businesses boost sales. He is also the founder of Freelance Success – an online platform that teaches freelancers everything they need to know to succeed and achieve their dream freelance lifestyle.

Get the ‘Get Freelancing in 11 Steps’ guide here!

From signing in your business and getting the right software for your bookkeeping to thinking about your branding and setting up a business bank account. In this week’s episode, we are discussing how you go from 0 to freelance in 11 steps, created by Alistair!
If you are seriously thinking of going freelance or if you just started out and feel like you need a quick checklist to see if you’ve set yourself up for success… this week’s episode is going to be your best friend!

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Wouter: Hello, are you freelancers? Welcome back to the freelancer talk podcast. I am your host Wouter Vertogen. And over the past few months, I have been dropping a lot of podcasts on all kinds of aspects of a freelancer and what you are as a freelancer and what you need to do as a freelancer and how to be a freelancer.

But I've never really done a podcast, how to become a freelancer, how you go from being not a freelancer to. Being a freelancer. So today I am going to be talking about going. To become a freelancer together with Allister from my freelance success from freelance success. I don't know how to really say it again.

Freelance success, right? 

Alistair: If freelance success for Instagram is my freelance succes.

Wouter: Oh, okay. That's why I mixed it up. But thank you so much for taking the time and making the time available to be on the podcast. I, you are a business consultant and you are a. Freelancer for a very long time. And I'm curious, when did you become a freelancer and why did you become a freelancer?

Alistair: Yeah, thanks for having me. It's really great to be here. So I became a freelance, a, it was about 10 years ago. I went straight into freelancing after I'd finished my university degree. I studied journalism at the time. But my girlfriend back then, she was a Spanish teacher and she wanted to live in Spain and I thought that sounded good.

You know, it's a lot so new in Spain than it is in the UK. So I thought, yeah, how do I make that happen? Because I don't speak a word of Spanish. So the best way to do that seemed to be for me to use my writing and go freelance. So I set up as freelance and that way I could work with clients in the UK and.

Yeah, it worked well. I could, I could work out there and live out there for a year and a half. And, and enough money, well being freelance. 

Wouter: And since then, you have never returned to, to being a let's say a normal employee worker you've always been freelancing. 

Alistair: So I did that for about five years, and then I actually got a job in a marketing team.

I worked for visit Nottingham, which do the. So I followed the travel theme again, I worked with it's the tourist board for nutting him. Okay. Okay. That is that there was a lot of working with Robin hood, that kind of thing there. Yeah. So I worked there and I still did some freelancing on the side, which is something I think more people are doing as well.

Even if they have normal jobs, they're starting to realize they can make a little extra money in the evenings or weekends. Yeah. So I did that for a couple of years. And then I did some consulting. I got offered a consulting contract, which was about a year long at the university of Oxford. Yeah. At that point, I quit that job and I was, I was back into freelancing and I had the book again, you know, so I I've been, I've been freelance ever since then.

Wouter: And then you now recently started your freelance success training platform, which is also how I got to know you, how I found you online as your Instagram was my freelance success. And I was like, Reading all your blog posts and really thinking like, wow, this is an incredible platform, but why did you create this platform?

What was the urge behind it? 

Alistair: Yes, I think as you said, there's a lot of, there's a lot of resources out there for people who are already freelance and who have been freelancing for a long time. But there's not really anything to help you if you're coming in new to it. If you're thinking about maybe making that leap and it's, it's a big, it's a big life change to become freelance, you know, I'm sure, you know, being freelance, it takes over your life.

It's personal, you know, it's, you want to put everything into it. But so that, that was the idea behind it, really to offer some guidance and help. And some of my experience and experience that I've encountered over the 10 years I've been doing freelancing because. I mean, I've made plenty of mistakes along the way.

So if I can help. Yeah. If I can help a few people avoid making those mistakes and setting up their business with a strong, solid foundation, so they can go forward with confidence and live the lifestyle they want to live, then that's great. So that was, that's the idea behind it, really? 

Wouter: So, yeah, I think. For everybody. If you guys are interested into Alistair's freelance success platform, then you will find the link down below in the show notes. And I was also wondering. No, I wasn't wondering, I actually stumbled upon your checklist of 11 steps to become a freelancer. But before I actually went to debts, I saw that you posted a while inside that checklist, you wrote like, this is the time to go freelance and diff freelance is the future.

I just. I was wondering if you could enlighten me a little bit on that or enrich me a little bit in that way of thinking why you think it is the perfect time right now to go freelance. 

Alistair: Yeah, of course. So that, that checklist that you mentioned that was, that was the start of freelance success. Really? I sort of woke up one morning and wrote it up out of the blue with no warning.

Cause it was, I mean, last summer it was the first COVID lockdown in the UK. So yeah, it was everywhere. You looked, people were. At home, they were trapped inside. They were on furlough. There was a lot of people they didn't know if they'd have a job to go back to. I mean, we're still in that situation really aren't we?

Yeah. You could also see that things that things were changing around us. I mean, everyone was getting used to remote working and. The technological things that may be freelancers are more used to. So, I mean, we, we're used to using zoom and talking over the internet and using marketing software, that kind of thing.

But now everyone's having to do that. And I mean, if you'd said to me that my, my Gran would be using zoom in 2020 out of, out of life that, you know, but she's, she's on zoom and WhatsApp and everything now. So I think the technological changes were already happening, but COVID, and the, the effects of that have really fast-forwarded.

That, that situation, you know, and but a lot of people, it was a very uncertain time for a lot of people, especially people in more traditional jobs. And I think they have a lack of control. They feel like they have a lack of control over their own lives. Cause it's, there's this huge virus and all these economic warnings that are really affecting a lot of people.

And one of the big things about freelancing for me is that it, it gives you control over your own life, you know? I mean, there's nobody else to blame apart from you, you know, you have all on your it's on your shoulders. 

Yeah. It's also a lot of pressure, but it is all on you. So you had a responsible one.

Wouter: Yeah. Yeah. 

Alistair: Yeah. And that's part of the thrill of it. Isn't it? It's, it's personal and it's down to you, you know? So I brought the checklist to see how I could help some more people try and get that control. And. Enjoy going freelance. And, you know, people talk about these opportunities that they wish they'd taken, like investing in Tesla stocks or Apple or Bitcoin or whatever it is.

I think, I think this is one really, because the technological changes of all this software that can help you with freelancing and the video technology and being able to work remotely that was already happening before COVID. Yeah. And I think people. We'll look back in five or 10 years and see that this was a big opportunity that we're in one of those moments now.

I mean, obviously COVID is terrible what it's happened, but. The change on society and the way people do business and work is huge. 

Wouter: I agree with you. Yeah. I think also what you said is that the technological developments are making it also just easier and more accessible for people to. Become freelancers because there is, you know, like automated management tools or automated bookkeeping software.

So it doesn't even need to be so hard anymore. I think there is just a lot of different tools out there that you can get to make your life also easier that, you know, to set yourself up for. 

Alistair: Yeah. And I think it's happening so fast as well. It's the changes. I mean, The bookkeeping, like you say, it's because as a freelancer, you have to do so many different things.

Don't you? And there's only one, one of you. Yeah. Even 10 years ago, some of the software, like the email marketing that you can set up to send specific emails to different people who display different behaviors and. So, yeah, that's a really huge potential and it's improving every, every year new software comes out that makes, makes life easier.

Wouter: Yeah. So I created this, this podcast in a very early beginning stage for freelance artists and freelance dancers and actors and singers because many of us working in the field. In the arts, let's say they, they become very quickly or freelance because there's only so many places in real companies let's say, but I feel like my thing was always that I was like, yeah, we are not educated enough on these topics as how to do your own marketing or how to do your own bookkeeping and all that kind of stuff.

But also very often a lot of schools and educations, they don't really offer. This checklists that you are actually offering right now. If I had this checklist four or five years ago, I'd have been like, Oh wow. That that would have saved a lot of time. And the thing, that's why this is going to be very interesting too.

I think we were going to just talk about your checklist, what you made. And just to talk a little bit about like, from each step. I think if you guys want to download the checklist, you'll find the link down below in the show notes, because she can just go to his website and then download it and read it for yourself.

Cause when I re read it, I was like, Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. And I was five years ago. I didn't follow these steps in this, like this order. It was a bit like all over the place. 

Alistair: Yeah, that's good. That's good to hear. Cause that, that was the aim really just to try and make it as simple as possible. And there's some very boring steps in there, but it's things that you have to do and yeah.

Yeah. And it doesn't take long to do. It's not that intimidating as it, when you look at it in a list form. So yeah, but getting started is the hardest thing. 

Wouter: Yeah, exactly. And I think also when you do follow these steps, then you also have a more structured way of perceiving your own freelance business because you do, you do go through these various stages of like, okay, this is the texting.

Okay. This is the financial part. This is this part. This is that part. So then you are ready to go and get your first job. Hopefully you get your first gig, you know? So. What would the first step be for being, you know, like when you want to become a freelancer, what is the first thing that you should be doing?

Alistair: So this is, this is how I see it in my, obviously other people will do it in a different way, but I think the first thing you really need to think about is how you want to be set up. So different countries have different structures for this as well, of course, but in the UK, for example, you can choose to be a sole trader, which is what I think most creative freelancers and the people that we're probably talking to on your podcast will go for because it's, you don't have to set up a.

A company, a physical company, you can just be yourself. You are the business. And that's the easiest way to get set up for many people. And yeah. It's not expensive. It's easy to do you just click a link on, on the website and yeah, you can get set up. So I think that's the first step, really. And then I'd go on to say, you want to think about your name and how you want to present yourself because a lot of freelancers spend a lot of time thinking, well, Hey, what should I set my name up as is they want to try and represent themselves as a big company almost which I'm not sure is the best approach for most freelancers, because.

The thing about being freelance is that you can, you are what sets your set yourself, sets your business apart from the competition. So generally I'd just say, use your own name. 

Wouter: Yeah. Sorry. Go on. No, I was going to ask you, so what would you say, just take your own name or yeah. Pretend you're a big company that you're not.

Alistair: I think if you're struggling with the decision, if you don't, if you don't, if you're not drawn to a name for a particular reason, then I just fall back onto using your own name for that reason, really? Because you are your business and people want to do business with you. So they'll associate the business with you.

And also you don't want to mislead a potential client to thinking that you are bigger than and think that working with a company. 

Wouter: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. 

That's true. 

Alistair: A lot of value in working with a freelance. So because obviously you get a more personal service and you'll be the number one priority that the client won't have to work with a big team, whereas they might, if they were working with an agency, for example, So it's a benefit that you are a freelance seven, there'll be working directly with you.

So I think your name is a good way to show that. Yeah, I think a name is also this, you know, your name is you and you are your own business. You're your own brand. So why not hook your name up to that? It's, it's what it is. I think not to not Polish it, some like, like it is not something else, you know? And then after I saw on your list, you had text registration.

Which has more get into the more painful parts now. Yeah. But no, again, this doesn't have to be too, too complicated. I don't think, I mean, again, I'm I can only talk for the UK really with this, but you just need to register with the tax authority that you're going to be freelance and that you're going to fill in a.

And assessment at the end of the year, it's coming up to that time for us in the UK. What you may want to think about a little bit more is whether you want to use an accountant because obviously as a freelancer, you need to track what's coming into your business and what's coming out of your business.

It depends on the individual for this, but I think generally if you, if you can't afford to use an accountant for the first year, I would try and do it just to, because they can set you up with a good system. Yeah. So if you're, if you're serious about being freelance in the longterm, that can be really helpful because it teaches you good habits from the start, but equally you can do it without an account.

And again, we've, we've been talking about software and there's a lot of. Really great software that you can use to keep you on track. Yeah, so it's not an essential use as an accountant and also some accountants will offer a service where they'll just, you do all the work, but they'll check your. They'll check your tax form at the end of the year.

And that's usually quite affordable.  

Wouter: That's for that's. For example, what I have is that I did do a lot of research in, you know, like how to invoice and how, you know, how to save all these things. So then I did it my own, my myself, my first year, and then I just had somebody check it and then actually do my Texas at the end of the, of, you know, like when you do your yearly income tax, that's when, when he stepped in, let's say, but throughout the year, I.

Manage it myself, which was, there were some mistakes which happens. But then he was like, you're fine. It happens to everybody. But that's why I think, you know, if you have like an automatic automated invoice software or program and where you can put in your receipts and that they calculate the tax for you.

Cause I think a lot of people even are just like there, they see numbers and they get so stressed out. But if you have a program like that, it works out better. But yeah, the accountant is a good thing. Always. So that you're a hundred percent sure that you are in the right also, I think, 

Alistair: I think it's really helpful, especially because like you say a lot of freelance, I'm the same.

When I look at the numbers and I start to panic, you know? Yeah. It just, it's just helpful to have someone else cast an eye over it and tell you that you've not, you're not doing anything. That's going to. Put you in prison or anything like that? Yeah, no, exactly. And even the tax authority, if you, if you give them a call, they usually actually very helpful.

So it's nothing to be afraid of. I wouldn't let it hold you back. 

Wouter: I was wondering because you, in your first step, you said how do you want you to set yourself up? And you have to register, register yourself as a business. Doesn't that come for example, here in the Netherlands, it works that you go to the place where you register your business, so your freelance business, but then you get.

Automated automatically a tax registration form on top of that as well. So it's for, I know for a freelancers here and then the, these steps kind of come together almost, but in the UK, it's a different sy tem, I think. 

Alistair: Well, if you want to set up as a company, you'd have to do it slightly different, but if you're, if you wanted to set up as a sole trader, like we were discussing, then yeah.

You're doing it at the same time and you get your, you get your tax number then. 

Wouter: Okay. So kind of works the same. Yeah. Okay, cool. Yeah. What's after you. Okay. So you, you registered yourself, you have your company, you know, your name, which is your own name. You got yourself, an accountant what's next.

Alistair: So next, this is a bit more fun. It's deciding where you're going to work from. So, I mean, your options are a bit more limited at the moment because of the situation, but yeah. So, but I put some thought into how you're, where are you going to do the most of your work? Yeah. So for most people at the moment it's going to be from home.

But obviously you need to, if you work, if you live with other people, then it's worth communicating with those people about your plans and how you're going to be working. Because, I mean, if you have kids, for example, it's. It can be a nightmare trying to work at home. So you need to maybe work, work with your partner and your kids to say, when I'm in this office, then I'm at work, you know?

 But generally when, hopefully when things calm down a little bit, part of the fun of being freelancers, you can work from cafes. You can work from coworking spaces, which is always great. And the one thing I would say is just. A lot of people feel like they have to go out and get an office to feel like a proper business.

And they feel like they have to sign up to a 12 month lease on an office space. Yeah. Whereas I think, I think that's missing the point of being freelance a little bit because it's the flexibility to you can, I can say you can go to cafes. You can go to coworking, you can go to shared offices. So I wouldn't tie yourself into an office straight away.

Yeah. I, so it's funny for me, because for example, I'm a freelance dancer, which is completely something different than what you're doing. So when I would think of like, Oh yeah, where would I be working? I will be working in the studio. Is that I get the jobs for example, but what I always. I was thinking as well, is that I was forgetting in the beginning as, yeah.

You need to do your Texas. Yeah. You need to create your content and your side and all of that kind of stuff. So I did create my own workspace in my house where I was always like, okay, then I do decide of my freelance business. I take care of all of that and I just have my own office. Say or, or XD did do it in coworking offices, which I always find very enjoyable.

I enjoy it a lot. Cause she would just network a bit. But it's, it's fun because as a dancer you just get hired somewhere and then yeah, you just got to go to that country and you just are in that studio and then in a hotel let's say almost, but yeah. Yeah. So, but I think that's also, it belongs even to what you said, like you have to think, you have to take that into account, I guess.

Yeah, I know. I guess it depends what, what freelance work you're doing. Like you say for you, the decisions made really isn't it, you go through where the work is for people who work on their laptops or whatever, it's, it's, it's worth thinking about at the start, because especially if you do work from home and especially at the moment when you can't really go out very much at all it can help to kind of mentally separate your work life from your.

From your relaxing times, because if you just leave your laptop on the kitchen table, for example, you can be constantly checking your emails on a Friday night, you know? So it just helps to, to put some separation in there 

Wouter: yeah. To, to take. You know, to leave it when it, when it must be left, like, okay, now I have my evening time.

Now I do my own things. Like I'm not going to open my computer. I think right now I have that problem that I just opened my phone and my email just constantly. And there is no separation from when I'm not doing something that's related to the freelance or dark or when I'm just. Doing life. I dunno. It's like a bit of a mush at the moment.

Alistair: Yeah. So a strange time for that everything's merging together. 

Wouter: Yeah. It's like all these lockdowns and curfews, I don't know in anymore, it's like a bit too much, but your next thing was create branding on your list. And that's something that I've been talking about a lot here on the freelancer. Talk with a lot of people especially regarding social media.

And I think that's such an important step too. To do create your branding, but I think, what do you think if you start freelancing, do you need to get your brand ready right at the start? Or do you give it some time and some development? So 

Alistair: again, I'd say it depends on your specific circumstances. So. For example, if you, if you have clients lined up already, maybe you're, you're going freelance for that reason.

Cause somebody wants to work with you and you probably don't need to worry about so much straight away. But if you're just, if you're just going freelance and then you need to find work, then I think it is a priority to get your branding sorted early on and to maybe, maybe even invest some money in it.

Or if you, if you don't have any money to invest in it, you could. Get to it yourself, but who does branding? Yeah. Do it yourself or get somebody yeah. Swap your skills with somebody. Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you can do it yourself these days easier than. Before. I mean, there's a lot of free design software, isn't there, but if you can, I'd encourage you to get a professional to do it just because it's important because that's what people associate with your brand.

And obviously, like you say, you'll feel it will go down for your social media. It will be your website. It'll be your email signature. So that's why I think it's really important and just. Being consistent as a freelancer. So branding helps you be consistent and get a consistent message across to the people you want to work with.

So that's why I think it's, that's why I put it on this list for something you should think 

Wouter: about earlier. I think you're 100% right. To put that on the list, because I think also branding just also gives you a little sense of like, okay, that's what I send out to people send out into the universe.

This is my energy that I represent, or this is the, I don't know the, the statements that I represent or beliefs. I dunno, whatever belongs to your branding, but then very often you have people, they communicate one way on Facebook and one way on Instagram and it's like, doesn't match. And then you're like, Oh, okay.

That's cause then also people get, you know, they, they don't understand you. So I, I do think it's important too, to have a little bit of that branding, branding X. Aspect into it as well. 

Alistair: Yeah, I think, I think again, it helps because so much of freelancing you're in, you're in your own head because it's just you working and it helps you.

You feel like you're a real business because a lot of people get freelancing. They sort of, they do a couple of jobs for friends, maybe. And then they get a bit of money and it's kind of a, it's a slow transition. And they still feel like it's not real. Like, it's like, they're cheating. It's not a real business.

Whereas if you have, if you, if you get your branding sorted and it looks professional, then you start to view yourself as a, as a proper business as well. So one thing I sometimes say is because I did this as well. If you get some, you can get your branding printed on t-shirts and things and a hoodie, for example.

Yeah. And you can, you can, you can Google it and it's quite cheap to do. And and it sounds a bit silly, but it actually, it helps you just view your business as a real thing. And equally if you're wearing it, a lot of people, a lot of freelancers are a little reluctant to talk about their business. At first, they were a bit embarrassed about it.

So, if you turn up to a friend's house with your hoodie on that has your business name across the front, then you're going to have to talk about it, you know? 

Wouter: Yeah. Oh, that would be really fun. It's like, okay. Yeah. Just, just create your own shirt and then you just go. Yeah. 

Alistair: Yes. If you're a little reluctant to talk about your business, it's a good way to make sure you have to put 

Wouter: yourself out there.

Yeah. And also in a fun way, make it fun. Make it for yourself. Fun to talk about your own business, you know, like don't hide it. You, you did it for a reason. I know it's, you know, some people do it for a reasons because they get fired from jobs, but then they start something on themselves or, but then.

Anyway, you made the decision to start your own company, so let's get it out there, right? Yeah. Yeah. Branding helps. 

Alistair: Yeah. Yeah, I think that's, that's another step on the checklist for that. The final step is to get yourself out there. So because obviously as a freelance CEO, it's up to you to do everything.

So you need to put yourself out there and, and, you know, spread the word about what you do and how you can help people. Yeah. 

Wouter: Network build your community, build your network, talk to people. Yeah, we did skip a few steps. I think I do have your list down here below, so then I can really, because otherwise, otherwise I keep I keep losing it, but yeah, yeah.

Get yourself out there. What's your, your last step on the checklist. And prior to that, a couple of steps before you have one step that. Actually two steps that I think a lot of freelancers forget when they are starting their business. Number one is get an insurance or get insurance and the ones you need, because there's a lot of different insurances out there.

And then the other thing is, start thinking about your pension. And this is the thing that so many people who I know who are freelancers for five years or six years. And they're like, I have never. Put any pension apart or never, you know, applied for a pension or anything. So I think it's really good as you put these on there because people forget what types of insurances do you need.

Alistair: So it depends on the business that you are. I would stress. I'm not, I'm not an expert at this foot for most freelancers. I think you need professional indemnity insurance, which basically. Covers you, if, if things go wrong with your client work, for example. So if you're a graphic designer and you, you create a a magazine, for example, for a company, and then there's an error with the printing.

So that could be. They could print a hundred thousand copies of that magazine and then there's an error in there. So if that company then wants to blame you and you don't have insurance, you could find yourself in a difficult situation because you might need some legal help or you might because as a sole trader you are your business, then you can end up being personally responsible for these things financially.

Yeah. So having the insurance just gives you that peace of mind. You'll probably, you'll probably never have to use it, but it's just. In that, in that situation where you do need to use it, you'll be, you'll be grateful that you have it. And I've only claimed once. And that was for a new laptop when mine broke all of a sudden when I was traveling and I couldn't do the work without a laptop.

So I had to go and buy a new one. Yeah. But again, even then it was really helpful to have. And the other kind of insurance is if you're working in public a lot. So if you're, if you're painting murals, if you're an artist, for example, and there's a danger, you might. Hurt somebody in public or some kind of accident involving public.

I think you need insurance for that as well. 

Wouter: Yeah, I think what I've heard, I talked to some some, another guest, his name was below on the show and he was part of a union for artists and freelance artists. And he was also saying that it's good to also get an insurance for, you know, when you get sick yourself or are you, or when you are yourself unable to work because that also happens.

Because actually we only get, we only get money when you do your job. If you cannot do your job, you cannot, you know, you cannot invoice nobody because they will not pay. So it's good to, but those insurances are very expensive here in the Netherlands. And I think a lot of us are like, okay, I might not do this, but I do think it's a good thing to, to look into that.

Alistair: Yeah. You need to have some kind of a plan B I think so. I mean, if you've, if you've got some savings that can help, but I think, yeah, it's definitely worth looking into insurance and the more basic ones are cheaper obviously, but yeah, it's worth having a look into it. It doesn't need to be too expensive.

Some of them. 

Wouter: You mean in the Netherlands? I mean, and then, yeah, I think that one, but not all, not all insurances are expensive, so it's, it's all right. I think it's doable. It also, of course depends how much revenue you're making as a freelance. So, you know, if you are earning a lot, then this might not be so expensive.

If you don't earn a lot, this might be expensive. I think it's retro in retrospect of, yeah, of that pension. I think this is something that nobody wants to talk about it, and everybody wants to forget about, but as a freelancer, you have to fix your pension guys. How, how, how did you do it? And when did you start actually pay, like, you know, thinking about pension?

Was it already early on or. Did that came after a couple of 

Alistair: years. Last thing on your mind when you're starting a business and trying to get up and running, isn't it? It's the last thing you want to think about? Yeah. And I think, I think even the statistics now say about, it's only about 30% of freelancers and self-employed people are paying into a pension of any kind crazy.

Yeah, but it, I mean, it's, it's scary to think about what the future, because people are gonna have to work for. Until the 70 or however long, you know, people are living longer. But again, I think this is, this is an area that I wouldn't actually say you need to do this immediately. I think, I think I put it in the checklist because it's important to think about.

And. Consider at this point, I'd maybe put, maybe put a date six months later in your diary to say, okay, now I'm going to start my pension out. So it gives you some breathing room to work and get yourself set up and feel, make sure freelancing is for you and get comfortable. Yeah. But yeah, definitely try and try and get it sorted out.

And I'm not saying this of course. I mean, I made plenty of mistakes when I started up. So I only started my pension at recently. And again, this is, this is something that I think technology is making a bit more easy. So I, I used something in the UK called pension. It's kind of an app based service and they take, so I had a small pension from that job.

I mentioned, well, it worked full time. Yeah. And they take that pension and they merge it with. What I have now where I can just set a monthly amount to pay in. But yeah, it's worth doing your own research again. I'm not, I'm not an expert in the specific pension you should get, but the key thing to remember with pensions is that the government will usually top it up with some money.

So that's essentially free money, even though you're not getting it now, you'll get it later. And also as well as that there's. There's the fact that the earlier you start the more benefits. I mean, there's, again, I don't like numbers. I don't like figures, but there's something called compounding interest.

Apparently that's basically yeah. The amount of interest. So the earlier you start with the pension makes a massive difference. So even if you're not putting a lot in, at this point, it's definitely helpful to get it set up and start contributing as early as you can.

Wouter: Yeah. I think. For, for my experience speaking is that I also didn't understand that.

You know, when you are invoicing your projects and other people and companies for your work, actually within that invoice within that number, you should take out your your taxes. You have your social securities and your insurances that you have to pay from it. You have your pension that you have to pay from it.

All of this is being done. If you work a fixed job somewhere, you know, like if you work on the contract somewhere, they do it automatically for you, but it's a freedom that you have to do that. And. I think if you, from the beginning already start to understand what your, what your worth, like, what the number you are charging includes.

I think it might be easier to start thinking about a pension earlier on, and I think that's where it goes wrong with a little freelancers, because in the beginning they're like really busy with just setting their business up and then kind of like breaking even, or just having enough profit to, to go through life.

But. Yeah, dead profit is also already pension and all of that kind of stuff, but it's good. It's good that it's in the checklist as a reminder of yes. You're going to have to organize that. Yeah. 

Alistair: It's just get it in your mind now. You don't have to do it today, but at some point soon. Yeah. And the earlier you do it the better, but yeah.

I mean, there's so many things that when we, when we're pricing our services, you sort of look at your rent and you look at. What you like to spend money on, and it's very easy to underestimate how much you should charge because you miss out a lot of things like pension that, you know, like you say, an employer would pay and insurance and equipment costs, you know, have subscriptions to things.

So there's this. And holidays, like you were talking about earlier, like, just because you were freelance, it doesn't mean you shouldn't get holiday break, you know? So you need to factor things like that into your pricing as well. 

Wouter: Yeah. Your 13 months, your your extra holiday pay your five percentage bonus.

I don't know everything you should think about everything. Do it for yourself, make your life easier at the end of the day. But at the end of the day, Oh, no, sorry. Anyway, I think at the end of the day, when you do your pricing and you calculate all of these things in that yeah. When you understand all of these things, then.

You're going to make your life also a bit easier and you're going to give yourself a little bit more and it depends also when your business starts to grow, when you're going to get more revenue, of course you can change the percentages from everything. But even if it's like a Euro a month that you pay in a pension right now, it's just at least that Euro.


Alistair: Something rather than nothing. Yeah. And that, and that's a really good technique when you're, when you feel like you're sometimes when you praise a project, you might feel guilty about the price you're saying, or you might try and undercharge. Well, I think if you just take five minutes to write down all the expenses that you're paying, like.

That most people wouldn't or that company, if they tried to use, if it tried to use an employee to do it, they'd be paying help health insurance. They might be paying pension, you know, holiday pay, sick pay. You're covering all that for yourself. So you need, you need to factor that into every, every quote that you give out to a potential client.

It's very easy to forget these things. Yeah. 

Wouter: Yeah. If any of you are interested in getting to know a little bit more what your financial plan should be and what it should all include. I read a really interesting book for freelancers a while ago, and it was the financial money plan for freelancers and stuff.

Self-employed so I will list that one down below the name of the book and the writers, because I wrote, I read that in September last year and it was the first time in my life that I had more financial clarity on my job or my life as a freelancer. I think that's how I understood that all of that comes into play.

So if you guys are interested in reading that book, I will list it down below in the show notes as well. Moving on, you wrote down. Make start a or yeah, create a business bank accounts. I think that comes back also to the financial side of it. Yeah. Why, why did, why did you create your own business accounts?

Alistair: So I think just even though you, technically you are your own business, it really helps to keep the two things set for your personal money and your business money. Yeah. Like it's, like you say, you have to, you have to handle your own money as a freelance. So you have to put pups aside for taxes or whatever.

So keeping everything separate would just make it so much easier to handle your tax return at the end of the year and keep track of where you are, where you're making money, where you're losing money. Just simplifies the process so much, like, like we were saying really that again with the technological stuff, a lot of, so in the past, the business accounts were very old fashioned and you'd have to pay a monthly fee for them.

And. It's just, he didn't didn't get much value out of them really. Whereas there's a lot of new black banks coming through. I don't know if I don't know if they're available internationally, but there's one in the UK that I use, which is called coconut. And it's specifically designed for. Sole trader freelancers who are doing the kinds of things we're talking about.

Cool. So when you get, when you get here, it's good. When you get a payment that comes in it automatically can split it up into parts for you. So it'll take, it'll tell you how much tax you're going to owe at the end of the year, and it will, it will categorize your expenses for you and just makes the whole process so much easier.

Wow. Yeah, it's great 

Wouter: coconuts. Oh, I'm going to look it up. I'm going to look into this one because that sounds really incredible. It makes it, I mean, it makes your life a lot easier, especially if you don't like numbers. 

Alistair: Yeah, exactly. I think most of us don't like numbers. Really? No, but I mean, you can invoice from it as well as invoice directly from it and the money just gets straight into your account and gets split up.

So it's perfect. It makes everything so much easier. 

Wouter: Incredible. And I think, especially as this. As freelancers, we don't want to spend so much time on the financial side, on, on all these other sides. Like you just want to do your job and you just want to make your money. But yeah, these kinds of things like coconut, what you said that makes your life a lot easier.

Thank God technology. I think at the end of the day of this book has. Yeah. I'm always 

Alistair: seeing this, these techno technologies and softwares that almost like having extra members of your team, you know, it's almost like employing people they're so complicated and they do their jobs so well now that you just, it frees you up to do more of the work that actually makes you money or that you enjoy.

Wouter: Yeah, all this AI stuff. It does actually feel that you do have employees working for you. That's cool. And well, we have talked about this now already a lot, and that is your last thing on your checklist is consider your equipment and subscriptions that you need. I think we have talked a little bit about the software, what you're going to need to automate things or your bank all that kind of stuff.

Do you, what else kind of equipment and subscriptions do you think a standard freelancers should have. 

Alistair: Yeah, again, it depends on what you do. Exactly, really, but I mean, for example, graphic designers, photo photographers, they're gonna, they're going to need some Adobe software. Most likely they'll need the creative cloud subscriptions or Photoshop or whatever writers they might need Grammarly or something like that, which can help you.

Spiders that you might miss. So, I mean, it depends what exactly you do, but there's lots of, I mean, we keep talking about the technology don't we and the subscriptions. So, so I'm a big advocate of saying if, if something's going to help you do do a job quicker, then. It's gonna, it's going to pay for itself over the long run.

So, I mean, I, I do a lot of graphic design in my day-to-day work. And a lot of what I do in that is, is cutting out pictures. You know, a lot of like social media stuff, you cutting out. Yeah. Cutting out images and figures. But I, I found this app the other day, which it's just, it's a one-click thing.

You click on a photo and then it just cuts out the person for you. And I mean, it's, it's probably saving me 30 seconds each time I use it, but over time it adds up, it saves me money, you know? And as a freelancer, your time is. Is such a valuable thing, especially because you're spinning all these different plates and doing all these different jobs and handling your finances and handling your marketing.

And then you've got to do the client work as well. So any advantage that software can give you or equipment or subscriptions. I I'm tempted to go for it, but obviously you need to look at your finances and work out if it 

Wouter: works for you. I kind of like tend to go also for everything that I think, Oh, that's can make my life easier.

I'm just so quick with buying things all the time. I'm like, okay, that's going to Duke. That's going to make my life easier. I'm going to need it. I'm going to need it. But what you said is, yeah. You know, these things will pay, pay itself back in time, if you become a successful freelancer. Hopefully. But I mean, that's, I 

Alistair: mean, I mean, there's, yeah, there's definitely a limit.

I think you can go too far that way. I mean, if you, if you shiny object syndrome where you try and get the new, the new version of everything. Yeah. I mean, if it's, so you need to think about it and if it's genuinely going to help you, I think you have a rule with books and business books, like you were talking about a book earlier.

I think. Generally, if I see a book that I think will be useful, I'll just buy it without even thinking, because the amount of value you'll get out of reading that book and learning the lessons, you know, as a freelancer, you're responsible for educating yourself and developing. So I think if you see a book that is going to offer you value and your interest in it, then just go for it without thinking really.

Wouter: Which is, I think I completely do the same. I, when I see a book and I'm like, okay, this is gonna bring me so much value and I'm gonna get out of this knowing so much more, more, and it's worth my time and worth my money. Then I'm like, yes, I see it as like an educational investment almost. And I think that is something that most of us freelancers do have to keep in mind that because we are doing everything by ourselves.

We. Also in our own field, but it doesn't matter what type of freelancer you are, but you have to also stay on, check on track with the latest developments and the latest trends doesn't matter where you are, what you do. The world keeps moving. So I think that. Part a little bit part of this consider a subscription or something.

I think, you know, follow a newsletter or sign up for a magazine or sign up for an I don't know, a website where you get details from in your branch or fields. I think that that kind of subscription also is good for, in the long run to keep refreshing your information and. Yeah. What do you think about that?

Do you follow a lot of newsletters? 

Alistair: I think it's always, like you say, I think because it's up to you to keep developing and then. Like we keep talking, we'll be talking about technology again, but it's the speed of things is moving so fast that if you don't, if you don't keep up, you'll, you'll get left behind by the people who are keeping up with this kind of thing.

So, yeah. I mean, wherever I can really have been books, subscriptions, you know, I mean, podcasts, I really love listening to podcasts. They're great for freelancers. I think lean like, like your, like your own one. It's just because I financing can feel a bit lonely at times as well. That's one of the other downsides of being freelance.

And, but even just a podcast can help, can show you that there's other people out there who are doing well, who are struggling, you know, you can get advice. It's just great, great community. And there's something special about a podcast. It's just, it feels like a friend talking to you. Doesn't they all, you can listen to a conversation.

So yeah, I really liked podcasts for that as well. 

Wouter: Yeah, me too. And there's, there's so many great podcasts out there. And you feel like, especially what you say, like so many freelancers feel lonely and feel like they're, they're doing this by themselves, but you know, there was so many freelancers out there.

So you are not by yourself, listen to a podcast and you will feel less lonely, man. Maybe that's the thing, but yes, you do your last thing. We talked a little bit about this already. Like get yourself out there, do your networking, build your community and show that you are there, I think is very important to do as a freelance.

And we did talk about this already a little bit before, but I was wondering. If you had any advice for a freelancer this year for 2020? Yeah. 2021 advice as a freelancer. 

Alistair: Yeah, 2021. I mean, it's, it's a strange year, isn't it survive for some people? It is a case of that, isn't it? That you need to just do what you can to survive.

I think for freelance, fortunately, a lot of us were in a bit better position than people in more traditional jobs were because a lot of us could kind of, we were already used to working on, on our laptops or, I mean, not everyone, obviously. I mean, you're a freelance dancer. So you mentioned that has some challenges to.

Working like that, but yeah, but even there, I mean, there's opportunities. I mean, what you're doing with the, with the podcast and I mean, you can teach online and all kinds of things. So I think, but my main, my main piece of advice I think would be to kind of take the time to step back from your business as much as you can and do this, like make a routine of where you would step back from your business and actually make sure that you're doing.

Taking steps to work on your business rather than just getting lost in it, because it's very easy to get stuck in the day-to-day of things when you're doing client work. So I often use the metaphor of, of a compass when it comes to freelancing because. Freelancers need to have a vision of where they want to go to.

They need to have some kind of value driving them. I mean, if it's the love of what you do or helping people or just being creative so you need to have a vision that you're heading towards and you need to regularly check to make sure you're not drifting too far away from that vision. So, I mean, think of an airplane that heading to an airport that which could be hundreds of miles away.

So the pilots constantly checking the compass to make sure it's still. On track. Cause even if you drift a couple of degrees off from that over the course of a, a plane journey, 500 miles, that can, that can lead to you, be in a different country, you know, when you arrive, if you don't check. So it's all about checking for these little drifts away from where you want to be going and, and correcting them.

And the best way to do that is to. Is to set up a weekly, weekly block of time where you look at your business and make sure that you're still heading in the right direction. If maybe you're, you've let your marketing slip, you can address it. You know, you can make a little correction. So that's probably one of the main themes that I'm, I'm trying to tell a lot of people this year.

Also something quite practical and specific that I found recently is don't, don't be afraid to use tools like Google. Google has a Google my business tool and I I'd sort of ignored it from it for. A few years, but I went back to it a few months ago and I updated it and put, put my new details in there.

And I've actually found, I'm getting quite a lot of inquiries through that from local people. So there's obviously, I mean, look for opportunities where there are opportunities again, that puts you on Google maps and things. And then even though we're talking, we're talking that you can work remotely from wherever you are in the world.

Still a lot of people like to work with local people. So putting yourself on that Google that has free it's free and it puts you on Google maps and it's, it can be a great opportunity. 

Wouter: You are from the UK, but you are now in Cypress Bay. So have you changed your Google, my business to Cyprus or you left it in the UK?

Alistair: So it's still in the UK for now. Yeah, because that's where my business is registered. Yeah, 

You have to, it has to connect with where you are where your business is registered, right? 

 And they, they send you a little postcard and you have yeah. You put in the code. Yeah. But I mean, I mean, I couldn't see anyone in person at the moment anyway, because we're locked down, but anyway, and like a huge amount of difference.

Wouter: No, exactly. Yeah. Where is the freelance success? Your freelance success. Where is it headed? What do you want to do with it later? Or what is your vision for it? 

Alistair: Yes. I mean, we just want to keep it growing really now because I mean, it's had a really great response to this checklist. And this clearly.

A lot of freelancers are hungry for this kind of information, because like you say, it's, it can be hard to gather the information. I mean, it's all out there, but having it in one place is really helpful. So we want to help people set up a business that is sustainable in the longterm that has the kind of business fundamentals, some of which we've talked about today, like the strategy and the finances.

So we want to help you sort that out. Really. So one of the main things I'm working on at the moment is some point in a cost together, which will be it's called freelance bootcamp. And that will be. A 30 day course online where we just go through everything from getting started, going into more details of some of the things on the checklist.

Then we get into the practical things of being freelance. We cover sales and marketing, that kind of thing. And, but also there's a big section on your mindset because I think that's a really important part of being a freelancer. We've talked about him staying confident and staying true to what you want to do and making the most of being freelance, because I mean, It's great being freelance.

You can, you can take control of your life. You can live your own dream. You can do work. That means a lot to you. So I think as more people who can do it successfully the better. So that's what we're trying to do really, to help more people do that. 

Wouter: I think that's. Incredible. And if anybody is interested again, you'll find their website down below, and you have a blog as well, where you just, you offer a lot of great insights and tools.

And I'm really curious to see, I will keep following you. And I'm really curious to see where you're going to take your freelance success. I mean, now your freelance, dear freelance success.  Where are you going to take it to? And I think this checklist was really incredible to just go over these basics once in a podcast together with you so that people can listen.

Okay. Yes. Oh, if I, if I want to start over again, or if I think back, or if I want to start now, then follow these. These checkpoints actually. And you actually created into when, when you download a PDF file on your side, it's actually a checklist. Like you actually can check it off. So yes, this was the 11 checklist from Alister Webster of going freelance.

Thank you so much for being on the podcast. I, I am enriched with a lot of new information, so thank you for, for all of this. And Yeah. Well, thank you. And thank you for making the time. 

Alistair: No, thanks for having me,  really good to tell it to you and keep, keep the podcast going because. Like I say, I love listening to podcasts like yours, and it's great for the freelances. So keep doing what you're doing. 

Wouter: Exactly. And I think that's also the whole reason why I created this podcast is to do a little bit what you're doing, but then in an audio form, kind of in, in a certain way. Thank you everybody for listening to this episode. Of course, you'll find all the links down. We know down below in the show notes.

Don't forget to. Leave a rating of the podcast on Apple podcasts or any other platform where you can rate the podcast. I would also love to hear what you guys are thinking. So make sure you also leave a review or just send me your feedback through Instagram, Facebook, or wherever it's everywhere called The Freelancer Talk but you guys know that by now. I think thank you guys so much and I'll talk to you guys next week. Ciao.


Alistair Webster


Alistair Webster is a freelancer and creative consultant from the UK. He specializes in creating websites that use strategy and storytelling to help small businesses boost sales. He is also the founder of Freelance Success – an online platform that teaches freelancers everything they need to know to succeed and achieve their dream freelance lifestyle.