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starting freelance, where to begin?!?


Senior Member

I am currently working seasonal full time employment outside of designing. after this season i want to start freelance designing, i have a portfolio which is growing and i am working on a website, i have money saved in case it hits the fan, and i have some money to invest in myself (new mac, programs etc.).

i have asked a few people now these questions and got very different and very contradicting answers, i haven't yet asked a freelance designer this...

...if i want to be a freelance designer, who do i need to tell, what do i need to do to register? i have a name i want to design under, do i need to trademark this to use it? can i use my own accounts or do i need a separate account for everything that goes in or out for work?

although the answer may seem obvious, i have gotten so many different answers im completely confused. one person told me its safest to go ltd, another told me i wont be able to, i have been told to just do cash, i have been told to apply as a sole trader, i need an accountant, i dont need one, so many things i have been told,

at the end of the day i want to be a freelance designer working under a name. i want to be legit, but i also don't want to pay too much tax, (who does?)

any advice would be truly appreciated.



Senior Member
The reason there are so many, seemingly conflicting responses is because everyone finds their own way of doing things. You have to find the correct way for yourself.
My advice, for what it's worth would be to sort out the following things first:
- Decide on your trading name. (not necessarily the name to market yourself under!)
- Let the tax man know you are becoming self employed, (you have to notify the inland revenue within three months of starting up, or you will be fined.) Go to you local tax office and sit down with someone for clarification on a number of issues.
- You don't NEED an accountant until you have accounts! As long as you set up a simple record of your in/outs, collect receipts etc, you can hand it all over to an accountant at the end of the year and they can straighten it all out for the tax man. Of course you may decide to do your own tax return.
- I don't know anything about the advantages of being a Ltd company, but an accountant would be able to tell you this.
- Depending on your expected turnover you won't have to worry about registering for VAT. Not sure what the threshold is for that at the mo, maybe someone else will be able to help on that one.
- As for the guy that told you to do it all for cash, I advise that you ignore them. Too much trouble is waiting for you at the end of that particular road.

Hope this helps, if it doesn't here are a link that might:

HM Revenue & Customs: Self Employed


Senior Member
thanks for that, definitley helped. thanks for the link as well, cleared alot up.

i noticed on your website you use your name and then brand yourself, i like that. im guessing thats what u meant with regards to what you said above, about creating a trading name, then you can market yourself however you like. would you recomend this option? i was considering using a name like "real designs" (for example) and then being the person behind that? does that then limit me?




Senior Member
By trading name and company name I meant you could call yourself... KR Corp, and trade as Ken Reynolds design, for example. That's not what I do though. The name I use for my business is all I am, so I keep it simple.

As for me trading under my name, there are endless debates on that subject, I'm sure we've had a thread or two on that here if you do a bit of digging around the forums. Again it's a personal choice, and depends on a number of factors.

At the moment my business is very small, and I'm the only one that does anything to manage it. So it makes sense to market myself under my own name, because if someone employs me, that's what they are getting, it's also what I'm selling. Some say it's a little risky, as it's easy to get a bad name and the business might suffer, but it's up to me to make sure my name is reputable, thus my company will be.


Senior Member
cheers for the links, im thinking registering as self employed is the way forward. with regards to the 3 months you have to do it, is this before you start? or can i register then sell a design tomorrow?

thanks to all who replied, very helpful.