Turns out, being a freelancer can be a big problem if you want to do something like get a loan with a bank, or even rent somewhere.
I want to share a couple of things I did a while ago that have paid off a lot in situations like these. They felt a bit scary/boring/unnecessary to do at the time, but I'd be kicking myself now if I hadn't.
Right now, I'm looking at moving to a new place, which means trying to make a good impression with prospective landlord/estate agents. (See step 242 of Adulting). If you're a freelancer, they'll often request 3 years of accounts, prepared by a chartered accountant.
Fortunately, in my first year of freelancing, I got an accountant. I wasn't earning much at all at this point because I'd just left school and was studying two Open University courses, but I'd heard that getting a good accountant would save me more than I paid in fees.
Now I don't automatically need a guarantor when I want to rent somewhere, which gives me more freedom with where I live. I also get lots of good advice about my finances which helps me sleep at night.
I've just started a new project, and the contract I signed had a section saying I had to arrange my own insurance, specifically Indemnity Insurance.
"The Consultant shall on request supply [the client] copies of such insurance policies and evidence that the relevant premiums have been paid."
Business insurance is an important thing to have as a freelancer. It's one of those things I've always resented paying for, but I know it makes sense to. Some contracts, like this one, require it, so it's good to have it already.
At the time, I didn't know that these decisions would give me more freedom later on about where I live and who I work for, so I wanted to mention it for those of you currently on the fence about whether to get things like an accountant or business insurance. Please do. You may not think it's worth doing now (especially if you've just started out), but you'll thank yourself later.