The Games industry is an exciting and fast-paced industry. It’s also predominantly a project-based industry- this means that freelancing is something the majority of us in the industry will be pretty familiar with.
Freelancing can be intimidating, but heading into the freelancer life with a good understanding of the basics and a belief in your own abilities can get you ahead. And of course, a support network can be invaluable.
But first- how do you actually do it? Why am I so stressed just thinking about it? Here are the basics:
- Get yourself an ABN
An ABN is just a number provided by the Australian Business Register used to identify you. This probably the fastest, least painful government process you’ll ever experience, and it’s free! Go to abr.gov.au and register yourself for an ABN as a sole trader.
In New Zealand, you’ll simply need to tell Inland Revenue you’ve become a sole trader. You can also get a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) at nzbn.govt.nz. Although this isn’t legally necessary, using it will speed up your interactions with government, suppliers and customers, and other businesses when sharing invoicing and if you’re a sole trader, it’s free!
- I invoice, therefore I am
Without an invoice, you don’t get paid. Luckily, invoices are pretty easy to make- Microsoft Word of Google Docs can whip up a beautiful invoice template real quick. The invoice is how you can make a lasting impression- repeat clients are the best clients. Make it cute! Use a colour scheme! Maybe even add a little logo! This is your brand, make it memorable.
Some organisations will have very specific invoice requirements, but as a general rule you will need to include the following:
-Your name, phone number, address & ABN
-The date of invoice, and the date payment is due (30 days is standard, but many companies have strict payment schedules)
-Your bank details for payment, or any other payment methods discussed with the client
-The client (company), and any relevant details you have — it’s best to ask them for their invoice information where possible
-A short description of the work you’ve completed for them (e.g. Logo Design for Handbook)
-Your fee (lump sum) OR your hourly rate and the number of hours worked
-A unique invoice number
- Pricing your work
The area that most juniors struggle in freelancing is valuing their work. It can be difficult to set your own prices- and it’s really common for young people to undervalue their work and ask for less money. As a freelancer, you are your biggest advocate- don’t be afraid to back yourself!
Figuring out your rates may take some time, and you might get it wrong a couple of times before you settle on the rate that’s right for you. Ask other freelancers what their rates they are, shop around, and speak to your mentor for help.
How can you be sure your rate is enough? Sometimes, the best thing to do is listen to your gut:
1. Are you happy to hear from the client when they call? If you aren’t, you’re probably not charging enough! 2. Would you hand the gig over to a friend at the price the client says they’ll pay?Derek Lieu, Editor
Having a flat rate can work, but freelancing is like a box of chocolates- you never know what you’re going to get:
This is the basic formula for figuring out your day rate: (expenses) / (231) = day rate. But this isn’t the whole story, because you also need revision, hourly, rush job, per asset, and asshole rates.Xavier Coelho-Kostolny, Character Artist
Super is boring to think about (that’s a future me problem!) but it’s also super important. Contract work can still require employers to make super contributions, but don’t depend on that. It’s a very good idea to make your own contributions. Protect your future!
- Finding Clients
Being a freelancer means not only being a programmer, or a writer, or an artist, but also your own brand manager and marketeer. You are your best cheerleader! Make yourself and your work easy to find online- social media is great for this (a necessary evil, if you will).
Being visible is the best way to find clients. But remember- finding a client is the start of a journey, not the end. The only thing better than finding a client is finding a client that wants to work with you again and again because you’re just so gosh darn wonderful to work with.
- Your Work Environment
Understanding how you work in different environments is key to succeeding as a freelancer. Wearing pj’s all day and working on the couch sounds cozy and chill, but is that where you get the best work done? If it is- congratulations. You have won the lottery of life. But for many people, it just leads to lots of naps and daytime talk shows.
Mix up your environments to see what works best for you. Sometimes that may mean working remotely, other times that could mean working on site. This freedom is the gift of freelancing!
information has been gathered from the Working Lunch handbook, 2019