So you’ve taken the leap and gone freelance. What next? You need a great looking website – which shouldn’t pose a problem! You’ll probably want to get up to speed on marketing and branding your services. And you need to build up a client base.
But have you thought about your all-important finances? It’s good to have a system in place for when the first invoices are paid and money starts coming in.
First things first, set up a separate bank account for your business income and expenses. That way there’s a very clear division between your personal and professional accounts.
And then get to thinking about how you want to pay yourself a salary as a freelance web designer by asking yourself the following questions:
How Much Money Am I Making?
Keeping careful track of your invoices and income is freelancer 101. You need to be able to work out your average income per week or per month.
If the figures are disappointing, think about what you can do differently. Could you be working any harder? Could you raise your rates and find better quality projects? You need to be making a profit if your business is to be viable long term.
How Much Money Does Running My Freelance Business Cost?
If you’re working from a home office, it might be that running your freelance business costs very little. But you need to factor in any and all expenses.
That could include the cost of software or equipment, utilities, web hosting and perhaps even a rented desk space. It’s important to make a note of both regular and one off costs and then divide a year’s worth of costs by 12 to get a monthly figure.
Does My Business Need Reinvestment?
Maybe you need some new equipment? Or you’d like to start renting a desk? Perhaps you want to attend a training course? Or some advertising is required to take your business to the next level?
Business reinvestment requirements need to be factored into any salary decisions you make. Putting the right amount of money back into the business will allow your company to grow. This, as a result, means a bigger salary further down the line.
So think about which areas of your business need a cash injection and get accurate costings.
How Much Money Do I Need for Living Expenses?
Now that you know how much money is necessary to keep your business running, focus on your non-business related payments. Consider using a budget planner to track all your personal living expenses. Include rent or your mortgage payments, utilities, groceries – all the regular costs that go out of your account each month.
Your freelance salary needs to be able to cover all of this. If it doesn’t, you need to take a serious look at where costs can be cut.
How Reliable Is My Income?
All freelancers go through dry patches. If you have months where profits go through the roof and then months where you barely make a penny, you need to think carefully about how you want to organise your cash.
Don’t set up a regular payment from your business to your personal bank account unless you know you’re going to be able to fulfil that payment each month. And on the months when finances are looking good, don’t be tempted to just pay yourself more.
Decide to keep a certain amount of income in your business account (or in a business savings account) so you have a financial cushion for slower months.
What Should I Do When Naming My Price?
Once you have established your expenses, you know more or less how much money your freelance web design gigs have to bring you. Now, it is time to communicate that to your clients. However, while you do that, be sure to remember a few important things that will make the entire process less-stressful and more professional.
First of all, before you name your price for a particular project, be sure to research this project as thoroughly as possible. Ask the clients for all the details they can provide so you can best estimate how long the project is going to take you, and how much money you will want in return. Perhaps your have worked on a very similar job before? If so, change your price according to what your experience tells you. If not, research similar projects online. You might even ask other freelancers for their suggestions. The point of all this is to give your client a negotiable price that won’t as high as to scare them away, but will not be as low as to make you look desperate (and inexperienced) either.
When you name your price and the client agrees, be sure to write a contract. It’s safer for you if a legal document like that exists. If you encounter additional things that require your work during the project, you can always ask the client for additional payment to fix those.
Finally, if it is a client you don’t know well and you didn’t previously work with, it might be a wise decision to ask for an up-front deposit (unless you use a service that secures payments).
When it comes to working out how to pay yourself a salary as a freelance web designer, you need to ask yourself all of these questions. And then look at how your answers fit together.
If you’re making enough money to cover your basic living expenses and running costs, then think about how you want to spend the surplus – upping your salary, reinvesting in the business, making completely new investments , or maybe just saving for a rainy day.
If reinvestment is a priority, take a salary cut to cover the cost. And if you’re struggling to make the figures work, think about where changes can be made.
You might need to reduce your personal or business expenses or think about ways to boost your income until you’ve built up more of a client base and have a steadier stream of income.