Surviving as an IT contractor: Making the transition to freelance

Making the decision to move away from the relative security and familiarity of a full-time, permanent role into the less predictable world of freelancing can naturally be a little daunting. The rewards, however, can be huge, not only in terms of financial compensation but also with regard to the freedom to manage oneself with far greater flexibility.

Web design and development is one industry in which many professionals choose to freelance. People with this sort of experience and skill-set are often in demand on a project basis and can apply their abilities to a wide range of sectors.

Making the transition

It is not only the perceived lack of security associated with a move into freelancing that is daunting. There is also a large and complex range of issues to consider to ensure the notably different lifestyle can be properly managed.

These are a few of the most important considerations and some tips about how best to manage them.


  • Finance and administration. Being one’s own boss is appealing; however, this means having to take care of the sort of administration that an organization would typically manage, which many permanent employees tend to take for granted. One of the simplest and most effective ways of addressing these challenges, which allows the individual to get on with web design and development, is to employ an umbrella company. Such companies will manage critical but occasionally onerous jobs including, most importantly, how a freelancer gets paid.


  • Winning business. A web design and development freelancer, such as any other freelancer, must effectively manage himself or herself as a company, meaning it is their responsibility to win new business as well as design and develop online capabilities. As a result, it is crucial to devote sufficient time and attention to generating publicity through a variety of channels. The best approach to take here is to consider the channels most likely to be seen by prospective clients and target publicity accordingly.


  • Maintaining contacts. Perhaps the most effective way of winning new business is to make the most of existing contacts. Developing and building a large professional network through industry events, such as web design conferences or training courses, is one way of achieving this. This then provides an instant means by which services can be promoted, marketed, and backed up with recommendations and testimonials from respected individuals.


Freedom and flexibility

While working in a permanent role has a number of benefits that freelancing cannot provide, the vast majority of freelancers do not regret their decision and rarely make the move back into permanent employment. They cite reasons such as significantly better financial rewards and the flexibility to manage one’s own time, as the sort of advantages that are simply irreplaceable.

The transition to this way of life can seem like a risky and difficult journey to undertake, but with some detailed planning and careful consideration of all the issues, it is invariably a journey worth taking.

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