The dictionary definition of a freelancer is ‘self-employed and hired to work for different companies on particular assignments.’ A freelance florist is someone who works for other florists and floral companies on specific jobs.
As our current working situation changes coming out of the pandemic we thought we’d put together a few important points to consider if you are thinking of either working as a freelancer or hiring one.
Freelancing as a job
Being a successful and professional freelancer is job which is full of great aspects but it does require a specific skill set. It is great fun, full of potential opportunities and involves admin too as you will be self employed.
Preparing to freelance
- As a freelancer you will need to be responsible for your own tax and national insurance contributions. You will also need to consider what to do about a pension. You will need a tax code from HMRC which you will then use each year to submit a tax return (you can do a tax return yourself or pay an accountant/book keeper to do it for you)
- A good way to keep track of your wages and be prepared to pay your tax is to set up 2 bank accounts. One for all your earnings to come into and another to transfer your owed tax into. Then you can pay yourself monthly from your earnings account and avoid getting into a confusing mess or not having the tax money put aside when it is time to pay.
- Think about your speciality, Freelancers generally tend to cover many skill sets and are adaptable but you’ll find people slot into what they do best. Do you excel at sales? are you good at retail and merchandising? Do you know your way around weddings and events? Are you a dab hand at funeral work?. Prepare a little 1 min ‘talk’ about what you enjoy and what you do best. That way when someone asks you you can confidently tell them without stumbling.
- Prepare a C.V. Look at different templates and styles. Our industry is creative so be professional and different. Even if you just use interesting paper (Yes paper!) Mail out your C.V to who you would love to work with and include a cover letter explaining you are available for freelance work. A Professional letter will get peoples attention and you can then follow up with an email and/or maybe a phone call introduce yourself. Make yourself known, but don’t hound people. Your best way forwards is to create a great friendly network around you.
- Decide how you will invoice employers and set up a template to use for ease. Think about your payment terms too. Do you want invoices to be paid after 7, 14 days or give people a 30 day term. Be aware you may need to negotiate on this point.
- How will you record where you are working, when you have worked and what hours you did. Jumping from one location to the next with irregular days can be confusing if you don’t set up a good system to deal with it.
- What will be your hourly rate? or will you charge a day rate? Freelancers do not earn holiday or sick pay so the rate reflects that. It’s different regionally too. Try to stick to your guns but also be flexible if you go outside your geographical region you might need to compromise.
- Get a tool box ready. Some places you will be able to use their tools but others will expect you to have your own so get one prepped with all your basic materials and have it ready to go when you need it.
- Get out and about. If you can, go to industry events, get involved in everything you can. Word of mouth is priceless. The more people you know, the more options and opportunities will present themselves.
- If you get booked to freelance for the first time, research the style of the florist, read their mission statement or about us page and try to be as clued up about them as you can be.
- Be easily contactable and always reply in a timely manner. If you don’t they will find someone else.
- Don’t let people down last minute. Being a freelancer does not mean you don’t have a responsibility to the employer. You don’t want a reputation for unreliability.
- What will you wear? make sure you have comfortable and appropriate clothing.
- Insurance. Investigate business insurance for your vehicle and insurance for yourself.
- Be prepared that some people may offer you permanent work if you fit in really well. Consider all your options if this happens and what you want from your career.
Discussion with an employer for the first time
- Is there a freelance contract to sign? Employers might want you to sign a document which lays out the terms of your employment. It could include intellectual property regarding design ideas, A non disclosure element so that you can not discuss the business with any competitors and also cancellation terms and conditions.
- What dates are you being booked in for? It’s a good idea to ask for email confirmation so that all your dates are in one location. If its spread out over insta, email and text it can get messy.
- What hours are you expected to work? People hire freelancers because thy are busy so your day is rarely set in stone. However some companies have set rota shifts or a set break time so you’ll need to check before hand what is the expectation.
- Is there anywhere to buy food near by or do you need to take food with you?
- If you have time restrictions then make that clear from the start. Never turn up for work and then say you have to leave early because that will put the rest of the team under strain.
- Travel. Will you turn up and stay there for the day or will you meet someone on site? Will you be traveling in the employers vehicles? Just find out what will be expected so you are prepared.
We have asked employers and freelancers around the UK to contribute to this list so that it is well rounded from everyones point of view.
- Think about how you act. If you are new to this it is a totally different to ‘full time work’
- Be on time and record your start and end times. Your phone calendar is a great way to do this.
- Listen. Do what is asked of you. Never change a design or omit flowers from a design because you think it looks better. You are there to create an assist that business so do so respectfully.
- Be friendly and try to engage with everyone. You’ll make great friends. It can be intense spending a few long hour days together but then you might not see those people again for a month or two so being upbeat is important.
- Work well with your time and work hard. Show people you are worth having back.
- Initiative. You need it but you need to be aware that If you encounter a problem you should ask what they would like you to do. Even better if you have a solution to suggest but ask if it is ok to do that.
- Don’t be offended if someone asks you to do something in a different way to how you would have done it. At the end of the day, it’s their business, do what ever it is how they like it to be done. This builds trust too.
- Never promote yourself to their customers or clients. If you are off site and someone asks you who you work for be prepared to big up the company who you are there with and point their potential client to them.
- If you are asked a question by their customers don’t be afraid to say you freelance and then either get the answer they need or point them to a regular member of staff. Remember you are there as part of their team so help to make them look good and professional.
- Make yourself some notes after working. Never share with anyone else but you can refer to them if you are asked back to work in a few months time. Things like how they like the bouquets wrapped, do they like their containers foamed up in a certain way? Whilst you wont be expected to remember everything, if you hit the ground running on your return they will appreciate that you remembered.
- When the work is done you’ll be the first to go home so your day might be really long or shorter than expected. This is an aspect that might take getting used to and its not everyones cup of tea but you can learn to love the variety it really rewarding.
Freelancing from an employers perspective
- Firstly, Its important not to try to hire a freelancer on a regular basis such as every Monday or a set number of days a week for a long period of time. If you need someone to do this you should advertise a part time job or offer the freelancer a zero hours contract and be responsible for their PAYE contributions. If someone is a regular worker then its only right to offer them the same benefits as your other employees.
- Tell a freelancer if you expect them to come to work in certain colour clothes or if they will be expected to wear any of your branded Aprons/Jackets or shirts. Most freelancers will wear appropriate clothing.
- Understand that freelance florists work for their wage and as such pay their invoices on time. They should be building trust with you and you with them.
- Don’t expect freelance florists to be able to work with a days notice. Planning and booking in dates in advance works well for everyone.
- The better you look after your freelancers the more they give and the more likely they are to go that extra mile for you.
- Give them all the information they need to do a good job for you. Freelance florists are adaptable but make sure you explain what you want from them clearly.
- Freelancers will work hard for you. If its a long day, you expect to be out for a while, or its a crazy time of day or night then a bottle of water and a snack bag goes a long way with a team to keep spirits up.
A great way to think to attract the right person as a Freelance florists is ‘Would I want to work for me?’
Where to look out for work or advertise for a freelance florist
At Wholesalers: A wholesaler may have a vacancy board on the premisis but also wholesalers talk to loads of florists so they often know who is looking for what.
The freelance florist: A website you can register with as an employer or a Freelancer to advertise or see job vacancies
Indeed.co.uk: A national website for hundreds of different job types is always worth a look
Colleges: Colleges often know about the businesses around them and within the local area so check in with them
Social Media: Some companies will advertise on their social media or in private facebook groups so having a good search on social media can really benefit you
Remember a great Freelance florist is not opinionated on the designs they make, is adaptable and trustworthy. You want people to look forward to seeing you again and know that you will be 100% a team player for them whilst you are there. It’s a two way street, If the employer looks after a freelancer and visa versa you’ll likely forge a great working relationship.