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To Freelance or Not to Freelance, that is the question!

Last night myself (@JulieDawson47) and Maryanna Constanti (@maryanna_con90) went to the Ladies that UX event at the Albion offices, located in the landmark Tea Building in the heart of Shoreditch. The event was called ‘Manage your Finances as a Freelancer‘ and we were relieved to know that the topic of money and finance was considered an ‘awkward’ topic for the rest of the ladies attending too!

finance 6

Mercedes Gozalbo-Morgrega, an experienced UX designer both in the permanent and freelance markets kickstarted the evening with a very useful presentation on her tips for freelancing. As someone who has been a Head of UX within an agency, Mercedes described what it is they specifically look for in a potential candidate. She listed the ideal qualities that a UX designer should have if they want to start contracting:

– Self starter

– Willingness to do the ‘dirty work’ when required

– Ability to take on feedback quickly

– Good listener

Mercedes then gave some great advice on both the pros and cons of freelancing as a UX Consultant.

Benefits of freelancing

1) Money, money, money: day rates can be very impressive

2) Flexibility with time off to travel, study or sit exams

3) Variety of UX projects in different sectors

4) Loyalty to the end product as you are not involved with the office politics

Negatives of freelancing

1) Money: as you won’t be receiving a fixed income, this can result in financial worries and no ‘peace of mind‘. Contract lengths can vary, from as short as 3 day roles. Mercedes recommends having some savings as a back up before you consider freelancing.

2) Career progression: you won’t be in a hierarchical position and therefore chances of progressing into more Senior UX positions are less likely.

3) Lack of influence: it is the permanent UX designers that will have more influence within the company.

4) Junior UXers: if you are too junior you won’t receive a good day rate that reflects the work and efforts you are putting in.

 

After a quick survey across the room, we learned that the Ladies attending the event were a mix of freelancers, permanent and a few ladies about to make the jump into contracting. Mercedes explained the two options for managing finances in a freelance role: using an umbrella company or a limited company. She personally wouldn’t advise using an umbrella due to the delayed payment process, the percentage taken by the umbrella company and also the risk of some companies (including banks) not accepting some of the umbrella companies through their stringent employee checks. While setting up a Limited company is a better option in her opinion, her main piece of advice to all freelancers is to:

Get an accountant!

Many thanks to Mercedes for the fantastic advice in another successful Ladies that UX meet up! I look forward to the next meet up on the 18th November! Here is a great sketch note summary of the evening tweeted by @megdesign:

finance 8

 

Has this advice been useful to you in deciding if you want to start freelancing or do you prefer the permanent UX market?

I am happy to chat with you if you are preparing to jump on board the freelancing wagon and you want some more advice, you can get in touch either by email to julie@zebrapeople.com or call 07808 795 751.

@zebrapeople @juliedawson47

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3 responses to “To Freelance or Not to Freelance, that is the question!”

  1. Helen Evans says:

    To freelance! It is not the question anymore) It gives you freedom – from office, annoying colleges, smart clothes, timetable… It’s great!

  2. Berry says:

    Not to freelance! It is a student freetime activity. It is not a good alternative when you have to maintain family and plan your budget. Today you have lots of orders (you’re lucky this month) and the other day you have none. Besides, freelancing doesn’t give you enough social interaction and social benefits. Freelancing is popular because it does not require strict discipline. I think this fashion for freelance will not be long-lasting

  3. Elena says:

    Freelancing is really unstable business, you know. Besides, there’s lot of cheating, once the customer even didn’t pay me and I had nobody to complain. Don’t know how it is organized in your country, but in Ukraine freelancers do not get any social benefits and there’s no strict law as to freelancers. It’s half legally)) So freelancing is great when you have your customers, in which you are confident)

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