Notice the word I use in the title? 

I don’t say thrown into the deep end. I say jump. That implies it’s done voluntarily. It’s done with ownership and accountability. 

Once you make that leap and enter the water — you have zero excuses. You are either a victim or victor to your own ego. 

Nobody threw me in against my will. I threw myself in. I may have well ignored all the advice, all the warning signs…as I know I’m a good swimmer

I’ve always known I’m a good swimmer…

I ain’t saying I’m some kind of Olympian. I ain’t saying I could out-swim a great white either. I’m just saying that when push comes to shove — I’m a pretty confident swimmer. 

So when I made the conscious decision to dive head first into the deep end of a freelance business all those years ago with nothing but a cosy dead end day job behind me and zero business skills — I still didn’t think I was that crazy. 

Fair enough, I will admit it hasn’t been an easy swim. I’ve found myself in some jagged waters and scary currents. 

And the second I panic — I’m a dead man. 

However…I’ve always wondered if I just had a bit more training as a swimmer, a good coach, a little practice in the shallow end first — I may have been far more prepared and ready for these deep, dangerous waters. Hell, I may have been wise enough to avoid them completely.

Business training is fundamental to a freelancer!

Even if it’s just a little training — it’s your life jacket!

I’m not advocating going back to school and doing a 4 year business degree before making the leap into freelancing — nothing of the sort. Same goes for trying to DIY it by reading a heap of books about starting your own business or using YouTube or TikTok as a mentor. Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome videos online but so much clickbait, especially on TikTok, that you’ll be convinced you can become a millionaire within a week! Waste of time if you ask me.

No, I’m advocating for something far simpler and practical — learning the essentials of freelance business. How to position your service to your target audience. Methods to drive clients to your site. Techniques to close a deal and get paid what you’re worth. Most freelancers do these things instinctively and the majority fail to become financially sustainable as a result. 

It could be the best decision you’ll ever make as a freelancer.

I think there should be courses on learning how to do your own taxes and business finances in general. Especially now that there are more job opportunities and, you know, with things like social media the job market isn't what it once was - everyone, more or less, works from home offering different kinds of services and products.  It’s not easy to figure out on your own.

— Jamie, 28, Photographer 

As Jamie states, something as simple as taxes and business finances, and figuring out what kind of setup is best for you can make all the difference. No two freelancers are the same — some may have the resources to acquire the services of an accountant, and others choose to it all on their own, others somewhere in between. 

When I started out and threw myself into the deep end all those years ago, of course, thinking about my income and taxes and all things money never even crossed my mind. When I was an employee working at a company, it’s simply something I did not need to think about  — I just get paid my wages and HMRC and the NHS take their cut. That's it. 

But as soon as I’m out on my own getting paid ad hoc as a sole trader, when tax season came around, I started to panic a little. What the hell do I do? However, as a very resourceful guy who relies heavily on his intuition — I knew there had to be some kind of independent accountant out there who specialises in small business and/or even the self employed too. Hell, to get even more niche...they specialise in working with professional creatives too. 

After lots of research and serious digging, not only did I discover the above dream accountant, but they also offered an incredibly competitive monthly rate for the year. And sure, I get it, all cards on the table, this was a service I was able to afford starting out…and saw it as a ‘speculate to accumulate’ concept. I understand an accountant is not feasible to all freelancers starting out — but with my lack of business and finance training…it was an essential investment. Looking back at my accounts, they actually saved me hundreds of pounds more than I spent on their services. Not only a great return on investment but a lesson in using experts for things I know nothing about! 

I kept on swimming without a lifejacket….but only just. 

Imagine how much easier my life could have been if I also had some basic training in:

  • Raising invoices/an invoice system that prevented me from forgetting to get paid

  • Finding regular and repeatable work so I didn’t have to hustle every week 

  • Pricing, negotiation and sales techniques to get paid my true value

  • Writing a captivating job proposal 

  • Client management/care 

  • Decent communication skills

It’s funny when we invest in physical objects, we always try to justify the purchase in monetary terms. This laptop costs £1,000 but I will use it for my writing and it will make me £30,000 within 12 months. But, when we invest in our own development, we find it much more difficult to justify. Why is that? 

Hey, at least you look good with your new swanky laptop set up though....

Dipping your feet to test the temperature first….

Another thing we all like to do, no matter a swimming pool or the deep blue...is to dip our feet in the water first to test the temperature. 

Jump straight in like I did, and it’s not just a case of how deep the water is…but how cold it might be too. Luckily I had youth on my side when I tool the leap, so there was no major chance of a heart attack.

I think having courses on freelancing specifically would not only help other people view it as a viable [career] option - and that it is a perfectly fine option - but also help educate others that freelancing is a perfectly acceptable way of working. 

— Laura, 24, Artist

I absolutely love and totally cheerlead what Laura is saying here. She bangs the nail right on the head. By defining freelancing and offering a course designed for us we not only empower solopreneurs but help legitimise our craft. 

Before jumping into freelancing, understanding the basics will simply allow the new prospect freelancer to actually weigh up if this world is in fact right for them at all. There are so many myths, stereotypes, stigmas, and of course exciting possibilities associated with being a freelancer (that I’ve discussed in my time at the Freelancer Club) that it’s easy to get  lost in the noise. 

The idea of dipping your feet to test the water before you jump in, and just getting a sense of the wider world of freelancing beforehand, could be even more valuable than learning how to raise an invoice.

A freelancing business course can simply offer you some powerful perspective about your future in general, and to make sure that freelancing is still the right choice for you. 

There is no better swim-buddy than an option…

It was only yesterday when a freelancer had nothing but themselves. There were no options for them. Whether starting out with an advantage or being from an underprivileged background…they’d still have no real choice but to ‘dive right in.’ 

No options for an accountant, no options for getting set up in different ways, no options for some basic business training. Sure, I made the choice to dive head first into the deep end, but at least I had the choice. Think of the freelancers who don’t have that choice. 

Nearing the end of 2023, ladies and gentlemen, we have options galore. There is no better time to be a freelancer with resources and support everywhere — be it in person or online. 

We have far more options today than simply looking at a job board and cold contacting new clients to find work. 

We have options to not only be better at starting a business, but options to also grow, evolve, and become better people. We have options to become a part of a network of like minded individuals, build relationships, create opportunities, start a new friendship. 

Being a freelancer is so much more than just being an individual who has the privilege to be a freelancer. 

This is what the Freelancer Club is all about — community and connection. The best swim buddy you’ll ever have.

Feature: Ge Wang
1) Sebastian Voortman
2) Pexels Kindel Media 
3) Nataliya Vaitkevich
4) Pexels Pexelbay
5) cotton bro studio 
6) Liam Luisao