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  • Writer's pictureMélissa Delhaye

Setting Up as a Freelancer in Time of COVID-19

Miyabee Translation was born at the beginning of 2021, so right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting a new business in such crazy times may sound like a mad idea. But is it really?

A call for change

A year after the pandemic was officially declared in most countries, the picture is striking: recession, new lockdowns and curfews, rising unemployment… Many businesses were forced to close and work life has been heavily impacted for all.

Yet, in this bizarre context, the number of people who have started freelancing or are considering doing so in the near future has increased significantly.

Because of lockdown, people have found themselves with time to reflect on their situation and aspirations. If there’s one thing that the pandemic has shown the world, it’s that many businesses are able to keep running with all of their employees working from home… even in their pyjamas, with a cat on their lap and children in the next room! For many people, this has sparked a call for change. Whether they were made redundant, furloughed, or felt the need to change their situation, many people have made the decision to become their own boss. And this is exactly what happened for us.

Administrative challenges

When the pandemic started, we were living in England and, for different reasons, we had decided to leave the UK and move to Germany. We saw it as an excellent opportunity to start freelancing and have a new start. We didn’t imagine that the second wave of the pandemic would strike just as we were moving and shake up our plans.

We had to stop our journey in France, and we decided to start the formalities to become freelancers here. Now, no matter where you’re based or how intricate your country’s administration is, the idea is always the same: you need to register as a freelancer with the dedicated office and get in touch with the tax office, and usually you’ll need to get insurance.

In the context of COVID-19 though, it’s not possible to have face-to-face appointments with most administrative offices. You need to be prepared to spend quite some time on the phone, to send many emails and to try not to get too frustrated if answers are slow to come. It’s a good idea to get as much information as you can beforehand, so you know what documents to gather, what to expect, and most importantly what questions you want to ask.

In any case, but particularly during the pandemic, it’s always very helpful to get some insight and opinions from friends, relatives, teachers, colleagues, already established freelancers… whoever in your social circle is available and willing to help you, even just for moral support. We are very grateful to my family who welcomed us when we had to stay in France instead of settling in Germany, and we can’t thank our friends enough (some of them fellow freelancers) for their advice and support.

Advantages of freelancing

When you’re all set up, you’ll see the advantages of working freelance are numerous. Depending on your activity, it can be especially true during the pandemic since you can basically work from anywhere, on your own terms.

The autonomy you get when you become a freelancer can be quite liberating for some people. You are now your own boss, which means that you make all the decisions for your business to make it your own. Of course this means you have to assume different roles: you’ll be a director, a project manager, an accountant, IT support, a marketer, an operator all at once! Not always easy, but definitely gratifying - don’t be surprised to see that newly registered freelancers keep talking about their business!

This autonomy and decision-making aspect applies to your actual work too, which means you need to create a personal organisation for your activities and manage your time in a way that is best for you. You can decide when you want to work and adapt your schedule to your own productivity and biological rhythm. This requires an organisation that is all yours and doesn’t necessarily fit the traditional 9 to 5. Not an early bird? Start your day a bit later. You need to take your child to their club on Wednesday? Work longer on Tuesday. You’re more productive in the morning? Prioritise your tasks so your afternoons are lighter. As long as your job is done and your clients are satisfied, just do it your way.

And of course, one of the main appeals of a freelancing work life is that you can work from virtually anywhere. You won’t have issues finding a new job or asking for a transfer if you decide to move to another place. If, like us, all you need to work is a laptop, then you can do so anywhere that has an Internet connection, even at the airport. Well, it is true that now your options are limited because of the pandemic and are more likely to be: living room, bathroom or balcony... But if you miss social interaction, you can also decide to go to a coworking space where you can meet other freelancers, have a coffee break and chat about your latest project.

Is the freelance adventure something you would consider? If you’ve started freelancing already, what has it been like for you during the pandemic?

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