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How many people have or have been afraid of the word "freelancer"? Probably many. This is because sometimes we let ourselves be influenced by prejudices and false myths. It is right, instead, to shed some light on this profession that hides a lot of hard work and sacrifices, but also so much satisfaction.

What does it mean to be a “freelancer”?

The freelancer (from the term "free-lance", and therefore "free of constraints") is nothing more than an independent worker who offers his services to institutions, organizations and private individuals on the basis of a contract or for a single project. Any company of any size can use the skills of a freelancer who will guarantee a faster and more personalized work.

How to become a freelancer in Italy. What do we need?

Once you have chosen the most suitable form of your freelance activity (freelance enrolled, or not, in the professional membership), the next step is to register for VAT number. The procedure itself is very simple and at no cost if it is carried out independently and can be carried out both online and in the offices of the Revenue Agency. Otherwise, you can decide to entrust this procedure to a professional who can request a fee. For the management of your VAT number, the choice of an appropriate accountant will be essential. This figure will carry out consulting, education/training tasks and will help us summarize all tax obligations in order to update accounting records. One we have started the freelance activity, it is of vital importance to create/have the tools, and take care of all aspects that enable us to manage active customers. Establishing a portfolio of projects that we have followed (or are following), develop a personal branding, have a “showcase” where we can show off our skills will help to make us good publicity and increase the chances of getting a new project. However, the perfect number of active customers does not exist: it is all proportional to how much we want to earn and how much time we want to devote to our work.

Differences between being an employee and being a freelancer

Employee or subordinate work, and that with a VAT number are very different from each other. The first guarantees certainties and financial protections that a freelancer cannot benefit from, including illness, severance indemnity, unemployment benefits, thirteenth and fourteenth-month’s salaries, to name a few. On the other hand, the salary received may not equal the quality of work performance. Those who decide to register a VAT number know that they will have to take these unexpected events into account, but at the same time they will be able to achieve economic success thanks to an innate entrepreneurial mindset. However, choosing to be free from business constraints means that finding customers and their general management becomes an integral part of the job. It will be necessary to be prepared immediately for a careful organization of the projects we are following, without neglecting the communicative side with those who commissioned these projects. In fact, the regular exchange of information with your client on the status of the work will reduce the risk of negative post-delivery feedback. The freedom to choose who to work with is one of the advantages of being freelancer, but beware that less work equals less income. Therefore, you need to be able to find the right compromise and balance.

How much does a freelance earn on average in Italy?

The income of a freelancer depends on several factors such as skills, revenue diversification, expenditure to be incurred, price list, management of the number of clients, etc. However, when we face with the registration of a VAT number, we must evaluate the most appropriate accounting system on which the net gain will depend.
  • Flat-rate scheme: it is ideal for freelancers or sole proprietorships that do not exceed the annual compensation limit of € 65,000 and € 20,000 for expenses incurred for employees or for ancillary work. The advantages are linked to a very convenient tax rate and to accounting and tax simplifications.
  • Ordinary scheme: it is typical of large companies or companies with high turnover (those exceeding € 400,000 for the sale of services and € 700,000 for other types of activities) and with tax offices in Italy. It involves high management obligations and costs, requires very detailed accounting and records to be kept and presented to the authorities. The advantages are linked to the possibility of reclaiming VAT and deductions.
  • Simplified scheme: it derives from the ordinary scheme and the difference lies in the simplification of accounting obligations and in the taxation. Individual firms, partnerships, freelancers and self-employed persons who do not exceed € 700,000 for trade (sale of assets) and € 400,000 for service companies (provision of services) can choose this regime.
At the time of VAT registration, it will be necessary to consult your accountant who will evaluate the choice of the most suitable system for our business.

What are the characteristics of a good freelancer?

We have just seen the technical and bureaucratic steps that characterize the self-employed profession, but what is it that really makes it a good freelancer? The entrepreneurial spirit is at the base of everything, but not only. The organization of time, of your online office, being methodical, attention to detail, always being on the wave are indispensable ingredients that contribute to a positive performance. Furthermore, we need to be able to make social a profession that usually detaches us from the community. Networking, and therefore creating online relationships and attending virtual and real places, will help us to expand our network of contacts. This will also trigger a word-of-mouth mechanism with which to increase the probability of make ourselves known and have someone contact us. We are our best investment. exploiting our economic resources for continuous updating and training will enrich our curriculum and our credibility in a competitive environment. Finally, let us not be frightened by the bureaucracy, but on the contrary, we must always deepen the topic. Being aware of what we have to face will inevitably lead to promptness and inventiveness on a practical level. The accountant is our reference point, in this regard.

Is it better to work from home, in a studio or in coworking?

We assume that in this case the answer depends on the individual. Working from home costs nothing in terms of petrol or public transport, but it forces us to complete solitude. Instead, there are those who feel the need to leave their homes, as if to impose a beginning and an end to the working day. Having an office elsewhere can help us. Let's not forget that freelancers can work in coworking and recover the social side of the profession. In fact, coworking is a shared work environment, a space in which it is possible to carry out one's professional activities together with other people. Talent Garden, the most important European digital education operator as well as the largest community in Europe of innovators of the tech ecosystem, offers entrepreneurs, startups or already consolidated companies, coworking spaces both in Italy and in Europe. Those coworking spaces are expertly designed to offer a unique experience and a variety of solutions intended to foster and encourage creativity and create new business opportunities.
Article updated on: 09 August 2023
Talent Garden
Written by
Talent Garden, Digital Skills Academy

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