There are plenty of guides to freelancing on the internet. What’s different about this one and why should you read it?

Who is the author?

This Freelance Guide, and the whole Work Notes project, is written by me, Dave Smyth.

I’m an independent web designer, originally trained as a musician, and I’ve been self-employed for over ten years. I started writing about freelance topics on my web design blog, before launching Work Notes in January 2018.

Since then, Work Notes has expanded to include a community, the Freelance Pricing Guide and now this, the Freelance Guide.

The number of people who choose to freelance is only increasing. While Governments are happy to celebrate low unemployment figures, there is little in the way of independent practical advice about setting up a business that’s profitable and sustainable.

Anyone looking to set-up on their own is in somewhat of a Wild West: searching for topics as they hear about them, possibly handing over money to courses or organisations in the hope they’ll be given the answers they need.

The aim of this guide is to be somewhat of an antidote to this. It’s offered for free – you don’t need to enter your email address or hand over money to access it.

However, there are costs associated with producing a guide like this: the time to write is significant plus there are things like website development, hosting, ongoing costs, etc.

To make this project sustainable, I’ve partnered with companies who offer products and services for freelancers – I’d encourage you to check out what they do.

It is also possible for individuals to support Work Notes. There is no expectation for anybody to do this, but all donations are greatly appreciated.

Why is this important?

As Stewart Lee says, “context is not a myth”. However, context is all-too-often missing from guides like this.

It’s important for readers to know a little about the background and motivations of guide authors, which is why I published the Manifesto. If you have not read that, I would encourage you to do so.

Another aim of the guide is to keep advice as broad as possible. Any suggestions I make are based on things that have worked for me or for other freelancers I know.

As neutral as I’ll try to be, it’s natural that the writing is influenced by my experiences. You will need to make a judgement about how relevant it is to you and your business.

It’s impossible for one person to be able to draw on the lived experiences of all freelance things. With that in mind, if I have limited or zero experience of a topic I’ll either:

  1. Bring in the voices of people who have lived it and can offer practical advice
  2. Refer to external sources

If you have any questions, you can email me at

I hope you find this guide useful.