Evelyn Hester-Wyne, a director/producer, has a dream that one day it will be standard to pay freelancers 50 per cent of their fee up-front. For now, she advises choosing clients wisely.
“Do not be desperate enough that you take any work that’s offered from people who seem like they might renege on that payment,” she says. “Getting saddled with bad debt can be disastrous and a lot of people have suffered in the production industry because they haven’t been paid.” Photographer Paul Emous is adamant about insurance: business and personal liability insurance to protect him at work and health insurance that will protect him as an expatriate should he get ill or hurt. Not only does that insurance prevent future financial ruin, but it gives peace of mind in the present.
“If you don’t have that, you will be constantly running around with this in the back of your head,” he says. “You might have to go back to your own country, it might lead to massive debt.”
Makeup artist Toni Malt says new freelancers may have to do some jobs for free to prove what they are capable of.
Combined with the always-expected issue of slow payments and unexpected costs, she believes anyone considering freelancing full time must have six months’ savings before striking out on their own.
“You can’t go freelance with no savings,” she says. “You won’t be able to pay your bills at all.”