How to become a freelancer in the UK

Work from HomeWant to become a freelancer? Great, and congratulations!  You’ll find helpful resources here to guide you through the process.

It’s a beautiful thing to be in charge of your own schedule and who you work with. You’re your own boss and get to call the shots in your life!


Here’s what you have to do to become a freelancer in the UK


First things first, to get started, you must register as a sole trader with HMRC.


Do your own Taxes

When you become self-employed, you’ll have to take care of your own finances/taxes. The tax year starts on 6th April, and you must file your tax return by 31st January every year for the previous tax year (ending 5th April).

If you need help, Business Gateway offers free workshops in basic finance, and the HMRC website is full of support.  FreeAgent, an Edinburgh-based company offering accountancy software, sometimes offers webinars where you can ask your questions about doing your own accounting. You can even try their software for a month for free.

Don’t fret about your taxes though, as you can always hire an accountant to give you a hand. To make things easier, keep your paperwork in order and always keep receipts – paper and digital.


Claim your business expenses

Claim Business Expenses

You can claim some items necessary for your business and you will get tax relief on these. You may have to justify what the business purpose was.

Example of items included:

  • food (coffee or lunch meetings)
  • travel (train/bus/plane tickets)
  • work material (e.g a new laptop or software programme you need for work)

How much you should charge

Make sure you’re paid enough for the work you put in. Have a look at your competitors and see how much they charge per hour and make sure to be over the minimum wage. People will try to ask you to work for them for free. DO NOT WORK FOR FREE. Your time is valuable and even if you’re not as confident with your work just yet, you need to earn money to survive. If you’re not very experienced, charge for the final product rather than per hour so you can take as much time as you want to do the job.

Where to find work:

You can also build your own website, build your brand and get found on Google by improving your SEO.


Use a good free website that helps your build your invoices. Make sure you date them and give them a number. It will be easier to trace which invoice was for which month.

Networking and using coworking spaces

Most contracts are obtained by word of mouth, so networking might come in handy. You can kill two birds with one stone by working in coworking spaces. You’ll be able to meet people and work at the same time!


Here are some of the coworking spaces available in Edinburgh:

Venture English also organises activities throughout the year that would help you network, so stay tuned to see what’s coming up next by subscribing to our newsletter! Become a freelancer on your own terms!


The Freelancer Association might also be of some help to protect your rights.

Business Gateway is a great resource to help you train you to be in charge of your own personal company. Their workshops are completely FREE and are perfect to network.

Written by Judith Bellemare, Venture English

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