Freelancing can be a great outlet for someone who is ready and eager to share their talents with the world and doesn’t want to be restricted by the traditional 9-5 office job. There are people and companies all over who are ready and willing hire you for your unique abilities.
Whether you are a great writer, a graphic design wiz, or you have some serious computer programming savvy, freelancing allows you to set your own hours, be your own boss, do the work you love and have the flexibility to do it from virtually anywhere in the world.
Along with all the excitement and adventure that freelancing has to offer, there is also a certain degree of uncertainty that comes with being your own boss. Don’t let this be a deterrent to following your globe-trotting, blog-writing, computer programming dreams. Here are a few legal tips that will give you the confidence and peace of mind to make your freelancing dream a reality.
Every great adventure starts with a great idea. Once you have thought of a way to use your talents and take off on your own, the first thing you are going to need to do is draft a proposal for your potential clients. This proposal will outline what you want to do, when you will have it done, and how much you will charge for your services. Along with the proposal, it is a good idea to complete a confidentiality agreement to insure that your potential client doesn’t take your great idea for their own.
Once you have pitched your proposal to your client and they have shown interest, the next step will be putting down an agreement in writing. It is a good idea that you work together to draft a consulting agreement. This will serve to set the terms of your professional relationship. More specifically this kind of agreement addresses what work you will do, how long you will do it for, what happens if either of you break the contract, how much and how often you expect to get paid, and what expenses are covered.
Signing this kind of agreement will protect you and your client. Remember though that this is a legally binding document so it is important to make sure you fully understand the terms before your sign the agreement. In some cases it might even be a good idea to get in touch with an attorney for clarification on anything you are unsure about.
Once you have successfully maneuvered through your first couple of freelance jobs you might be considering making this a long term gig. After all, writing articles on the beach in Bali or designing a website in a Parisian cafe really isn’t a bad way to spend your days.
Unfortunately one of the downsides of being a freelancer is that potential clients will sometimes not take you seriously and are not willing to compensate you fairly for the work that you do. One way to gain credibility and guarantee fair pay is to incorporate your freelance business. There are a number of options for business structure that you can explore.
In addition to giving you credibility in your field and ensuring fair compensation, incorporating your business can give you legal protection. Say you are writing code in Croatia and your client back in the States tries to sue you for breach of contract, your personal assets would be on the line. However, in that same scenario if you had incorporated your freelance business, only your company’s assets would be at stake.
Some final things to consider as you continue on this journey as a professional freelancer are the kind of taxes you have to pay and the potential tax deductions that you qualify for. If you are an independent contractor or if you are in business for yourself you may be entitled to a number of tax write-offs and deductions that could be helpful for your budding freelance business.
Once you’ve taken care of these legal details, you’ll be all set to enjoy your new lifestyle. And if you need help navigating the legal issues when you’re traveling, check out these 5 legal tips for traveling overseas.
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