Freelance designers are often seen to have all the fun – they get paid well, work flexibly, and go on holiday when they want. Digit guides you through the pleasures and pitfalls of going it alone.

 border=0 /> </div><p>Image by Anthony Burrill
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The world of the freelance creative is a tantalizing prospect for many jaded full-timers. After all, freelancers earn more money and work less hours, don’t they? 
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Freelancers get to work on projects that are more interesting, get proper credit for their work, and get to work with a different group of fantastic people every week, right?
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For some people this is the reality – but if you misjudge the situation, or if you’re unlucky, going freelance can mean working longer hours for less money, not working at all, or being treated like a skivvy. 
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There are no cast-iron guarantees, but a bit of thought and a lot of forward planning can help you decide whether freelancing is the life for you, and if it is, how to make the best of it.
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In some industries – TV production, for instance – most people are freelancers, whether they like it or not. In others, like graphic design, the perception of freelancers isn’t always very complimentary. Again, nothing guarantees success or failure.
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Whatever field you work in though, there are reasons to be cheerful if you possess highly specialist skills and your name is well known. If you already combine a full-time job with a steady supply of freelance work, then the transition will be much easier, too. 
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Think twice, however, if you’re a junior (with less than two years’ experience – you’ll need even more in some fields), or if you just happen to hate your current full-time job. 
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This is because your working methods aren’t the only things that will need to change if you decide to go freelance. “Freelance is a mindset as much as anything else,” says Brian Cantwell, general manager at Soho Editors. 
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The life – and income – of a freelancer is unpredictable. “You’ve got to be prepared for gaps where you’re not going to get any work,” he says. “Use the time off: use it for development [of your skills], catch up with paperwork – or go on holiday.”
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<h2>Freelance pay cheques</h2>
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THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES ARE BECOMING MORE RELIANT ON FREELANCERS AND THERE IS WORK OUT THERE FOR PEOPLE WHO TAKE THE TROUBLE TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY’RE UP TO THE JOB.

 border=0 /><p>Image by Richard Guest
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Top 10 tips to freelancing
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1. Know your specific industry – and make sure you’ve got enough experience and contacts before you quit your job. Also, ensure you have enough cash to sustain you.
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2. Ask yourself whether you’ll be able to handle all that time to yourself – will you get any work done? Will you maintain a social life?
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3. Don’t oversell what you can do – you’ll get found out. Instead, make sure you’ve got skills in as many areas as possible – you never know what your next job will be.
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4. Get kitted out with all the hardware and software you’re going to need – and be prepared to fix it yourself if it plays up.
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5. Be prepared – both mentally and financially – for spells of time without work. It will happen.
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6. Get an accountant – or make sure you’ve got the skills to balance the books, sort out tax, and ensure you get paid on time.
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7. Give clients a quote and agree a contract so you don’t get stung with twice the work you expected.
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8. Be nice – the key to getting clients to come back to you is getting them to like your personality, as well as delivering the work, of course.
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9. Keep your portfolio up to date and in pristine condition, and use it to demonstrate what you have done and what you can do.
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10. Operate like a proper business – don’t go freelance thinking you can wing it. 
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