Your tips on freelancing

We asked the Museum Freelance community for tips on freelancing they’d like to share. We used 24 in our advent calendar on Twitter and LinkedIn but here is the complete set – thanks to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts.

  • Working in/as a team

“Work with people you enjoy working with - you are a freelancer, you can make your own team.” (Claire Adler, Heritage Consultant: Learning, Community, Development. @cladle

“Buddy up with others - do joint projects together, share ideas, give mutual support; Be generous to other freelancers - recommend people, forward on briefs, lift others up; (V hard but) try not to compare yourself to other freelancers - everyone’s journey is different.” (Laura Crossley @lfcrossley)

“Of the 4.8m freelancers in the UK, the best support comes from the other 4.799999m. So get out there and build your support network of trusted freelancers in your area.” (Ed Goodman @edagoodman)

“Team up with others. Find a partner in crime to hustle with - and to share the highs and the hard times. We feel stronger when we say ‘we’.” (, Participatory Arts Projects @mckeemaura)

“The #1 piece of advice I’d give is stolen from @edagoodman: ‘no freelancer is an island’. @FHChat and @DIFTK are amazing communities for freelancers! I’ve been a freelance web designer for little over five years and wrote about this recently:” (Dave Smyth)

  • Your elevator pitch and marketing

“Become famous in your niche. Blog, write for magazines, tweet prolifically, podcast and speak at conferences. It’s much easier to win work when you’re known as an expert in that space.” (Jim Richardson, @museumjim)

“Work out an elevator pitch. It doesn't have to be fancy. A client raced over to me after I said "I ❤ words" at a networking event.” (Helen Reynolds, freelance copywriter and web content writer. Other tips here: @InkGardener)

“Freelancers are people, not big blue chip companies. Trade honestly on your personal qualities and real-life experiences, rather than meaningless marketing waffle.”  (Steve Slack, Twitter: @steveslack, Instagram: @museumofsteve, Web:

“A freelancer's business should be in the middle of something they love, are good at, and makes money. If it isn't, it needs changing until it is so it can thrive.” (Ed Goodman @edagoodman)

“Invest in a simple online presence. It’s your shop window. No need for anything too fancy, but it’s worthwhile making yourself known.” (Steve Slack, Twitter: @steveslack, Instagram: @museumofsteve, Web:

“Learn to sell your skills. No one will do it better than you, once you have the confidence to pick up the phone or meet prospective customers face to face. No sales, no business. So learn to sell your skills.” (Ed Goodman @edagoodman)

  • Money and tax

“Keep three months money in the bank as a buffer for the hard times. This was the best bit of advice that was given to me before I became freelance 15 years ago 👍 Accredited conservator, LF Conservation and Preservation.” (Lorraine Finch @conserve_lfcp)

“Set aside time to deal with money. I do Money Monday on the last Monday of the month - chase invoices, pay myself, sort receipts. Really eases the tax return panic.” (Kate Rodenhurst @katerodenhurst)

“This is basic but keep a detailed spreadsheet of dates, invoices submitted and remittances. Makes you feel super smug when it’s time for your tax return 😎.” (Freelance conservator @zoecooksandsews)

“Get paid upfront - at least a deposit. And avoid these clients if you want to get paid:” (@KreativCopy)

“Invoice promptly and chase debts regularly.” (@stuartramsay)

“Don't forget to do your tax return! It's costly if you forget... and you won't be able to afford costly things!” (@DrNadiaSRandle)

“Always put aside tax money as you go! I move 25% of everything I get in across to a separate bank account for my tax bill. That way there are no nasty surprises!” (Jemma Pentney, Freelance Graphic Designer. @JemmaDesign)

Your approach and attitude

“Learn how to say no gracefully & constructively when your capacity is stretched, & always send your profile for future opportunities. Forward the brief to other freelancers - everyone benefits 😊.” (Carolyn Lloyd Brown @heritageangel)

“Being passionate about what you do is vital ... but remember, first and foremost, you’re running a BUSINESS.” (Caroline Newns @CarolineNewns)

“Pace yourself and don’t worry about keeping up with others. Particularly if you're relatively new to freelancing (like me). I liken it to running a marathon.” (Adam Pearson, @pearsoninsight)

“Be a fox, not a hedgehog. Don't over specialise, offer a range of services. The hedgehog does one thing really well (a specialist), whereas the fox can do many things well enough (a generalist).” (@BenjaminGammon)

“Don't be afraid to be a specialist and focus on your strengths. Following the @museumfreelance conference in March I realised I was being too generalist in a world of highly skilled, experienced specialists. I've since refined my offer and going back to uni to hone my skills.” (Stephen Miller, @stephen_history)

“Always remain positive and upbeat while with the full time staff of the organisation.  In fact do this with anyone connected to the organisation.” (@andrewsugars andrew martyn sugars, freelance facilitator)

“Freelancing isn’t a job. It’s a way of life. Embrace the freedom of not having a boss, and make the most of the opportunities that it offers.” (Steve Slack, Twitter: @steveslack, Instagram: @museumofsteve, Web:

“Learn to multi-task and love it, you could be working on multiple jobs in the same day. Be curious, do research and be interested in clients as people not just contracts.” (Pamela Johnson, @pfrodo)

“Always say thank you to the team you’re working with-2 little words but they mean a great deal. Many people in the places I work in don’t hear them too often...” (Stephanie Lavery - Living History Interpreter - education and historical tour developer @TSlivinghistory)

“Don't get stuck in a rut, even if you specialise you could branch out to work with different types of clients, be open about revising the way you do things, keep learning from each commission and person you work with.” (Emma Parsons @emmajaneparsons)

“You can always learn something from ‘failed’ bids. Some of mine have really helped me on future projects. They are never a waste of time!” (@MaireadO)

“Develop a review process, I do every quarter an in depth process, where I review things like went (not) well, money (not) well spent, time management, client work and adjust goals for the upcoming quarter. And another thing, learn to charge for extra services and be a good negotiator on your behalf. Don't be afraid to renegotiate an offer.” (@anabelroro)

“Don't forget your own professional development and learning - read stuff, go to events and (if you can) try and work with interesting and inspirational people to keep you motivated and excited by the work you do. And think about your transferable skills, especially when starting out.” (@sarah_boiling)

"Don't stop until you're proud; for the day, for the project, etc. Your business is YOU!” (Ellie Reynolds, marketing and communications, @elliedreynolds)

“Trick your brain into thinking you love focused work! Follow a small routine (water, music, scent) before you start working and do it everytime before you need to work to create a productivity habit that you will stick to. And reward yourself at the end if you've focused!” (@amandaappiagyei)

“Become more self aware about your intentions. Whether you are working on a document or talking to a client, think ‘what gear am I in?’” (@RHBDaveHowlett)

  • Network

“Chat to anyone & everyone at events, openings, coffee breaks. You never know what work might come up from seemingly random contacts!” (Briony Hudson: exhibitions, research & strategy @brionyhudson2)

“Network, network, network. You cannot buy too many cups of coffee - you never know which one might pay off in the future.” (Steve Slack, Twitter: @steveslack, Instagram: @museumofsteve, Web:

  • Time management

“Don’t allocate all your working hours to clients. You need time set aside for your own admin/marketing/cpd. When I started I was advised to do 3/5 client to 1/5 admin and 1/5 development. That worked well for me.” (Lyndsey Clark; exhibitions, interpretation, engagement. @ltclarkuk)

“Don’t underestimate the time to write up reports.” (@shakesjetty)

  • Self-belief

“Remember your initial courage! It takes courage to go it alone, takes courage to sell your ideas/tenders, takes courage to chase up unpaid invoices, takes courage to not compare your work to others, takes courage to stand in front of an audience and do what we do.” (Stephanie Lavery - Living History Interpreter - education and historical tour developer @TSlivinghistory)

“Ditch the inner critic! Listen to client feedback, especially positive feedback (learn from the negative too, but don’t hold onto it). I’ve framed my favourite positive feedback on my office wall to remind me of my strengths and fend off imposter syndrome.” (@mirrielou Miranda Ellis Consultancy, fundraising, training, evaluation, project management

“Believe in yourself and your product... try not to fall prey to ‘imposter syndrome’! Take the compliments and really listen to other people and take on board what they say.” (@TokayNicola)

  • Well-being

“Start the day with a walk outdoors when you can manage it. It really helps you think through what's ahead of you and reminds you why being freelance can be great. I need to remind myself to do this more often!” (Participation, learning, facilitation @quartosisters)

“Do not forget to schedule breaks, holidays, time off. Just because you might work for yourself doesn't mean you have to work all of the time. Look after yourself and rest!” (@DearFreelance)

“Try to find time for a fresh air break most days and allow your mind to wander. Being tied to a desk/laptop isn't conducive to creativity. Outdoor daydreaming is when I find solutions and my best ideas.” (Emma Parsons @emmajaneparsons)

“For your own sanity take your [work] email off your phone. Even better: anything related to work. Better than that: give up your phone.” (Mike Ellis @m1ke_ellis)