Taking any leap is scary, but leaping from the security of full-time or part-time employment to becoming a fully freelance hairdresser might seem like the scariest of them all. Throw in economic instability and it's enough for you to dive head first back into your regular column. But if working for yourself is something you have always dreamed of then there's no reason you should have to push that aside for an unknown amount of time. As long as you have prepared well and are under no illusion of the hard work and dedication it requires, it could be your best move yet. But don't just take our word for it, we posed your most-asked questions (thank you for sending those through to us via Instagram) to current freelance hairdressers so they can give you the honest, first-hand answers you need.
How do you know it’s the right time to go freelance?
“When I left my salon of 14 years (that gave me things I could only dream of in the industry), I was scared to step out to the big wide world. I wanted to offer my clientele something that had changed for me within the salon. That personal touch. Within three days of flying solo I had already registered as a limited company with Companies' House. My husband built me a little summer house in our garden whilst I was in Cyprus doing wedding hair, and I was set to go out on my own. I set up a Facebook business page, and plugged it till the cows come home. I was lucky to meet a good friend, a fellow Wella Professionals colour technician, who recommended the Freelance Hairdressers Association to me. This was definitely a turning point in my freelancer career. This connection opened gateways to accounts that are not otherwise possible. It gave me a hairdressing family as well as staff room chat - which we all need, and advice and tips. I used to do a lot of competitions within my old salon and missed them dearly. The FHA gave me that opportunity to see my work on stage again last year. They also include full insurance, plus all different training platforms to make sure we keep ourselves educated. After nine years as a freelancer I wouldn’t change it for the world.” Renee Riley
Can you actually make money as a freelancer?
“You can choose to earn as much or as little as you like. By offering exclusive treatments and aiming it at the right clients then you can make good money. Showing pictures of your work on social media definitely helps pull in clients from far and wide.” Jayne Lambert
How do you find work when you’re freelance?
“I actually find it easier. I feel like my confidence has grown more as I don't have any one to ask. I go on more training now than I ever did in the salon and I have the time to educate myself. I work one to one and I feel like I'm not in so much of a rush all the time and have a better relationship with my clients.” Hollie Hilton
Is it lonely being freelance?
“No - we have The Freelance Hairdressing Association behind us. With an array of training opportunities and the ‘staff room chat’ there is always other hairdressers to talk to, share ideas and ask for advice. My local group is great - we usually meet up over lunch. I have attended several courses and demonstrations at the Wella Studio London where I have met up with other hairdressers too.” Jane A'Lee-Holt
How can you stay motivated?
“I have met plenty of fellow freelancers at the Wella Studios in London. I learnt so much and it was a great experience and encouraged me to be confident in what I do. The positive reactions from clients ensure I keep motivated to learn new techniques and styles, and to be continually creative. Seeing other hairdressers work on the Wella Professionals community page on Facebook inspires me and is a great group for guidance. It helps seeing other hairdressers work, which always motivates me to experiment with hair colour.” Rebecca Gray
How do you register as a freelancer?
“Firstly, set up as being self-employed with HMRC, keep good records and make sure you pay your tax and national insurance contributions regularly. It’s a great idea to join The Freelance Hairdressing Association which gives you the benefit of professional support and a sounding board for any advice on hairdressing or business in general. I find my membership really useful. You can also register as a State Registered Hairdresser through the Hair and Barber Council, for just £37 a year, which gives added reassurance to clients and further access to professional support. I'm also a member of the Wella Professionals Global Hair Community private Facebook group which is a great way to share ideas and gather inspiration. Any business needs marketing of course, and freelancing is no exception. Like most freelancers I get most of my work via word of mouth and recommendations, so I don’t have a website. I do my marketing by posting news items and photos on Facebook and Instagram, by keeping in touch with my clients between appointments and occasional chatty newsletters and Christmas cards.” Michelle Cartwright
Can you still work in a salon if you are freelance?
“Yes 100% you can still work in a salon if you are a freelancer. A lot more salons are offering booth rentals now. I personally only travel to different salons and collages to offer training, and I offer either one to one training or whole salon training. My other days are done in my home hair studio. I feel very accepted as a freelancer.” Renee Riley
What do you use to keep organised?
“I use a booking platform to organise my salon appointments, which I find great as it also offers its own web platform. I have a separate diary and spreadsheets for wedding bookings and freelance appointments. I also do all my own advertising through Yell, Google etc and of course it helps to have my own website (which I have created from scratch), and social media platforms to showcase my work although I am still trying to get to grips with social media content. Spreadsheets are a great way to stay organised with event management and accounting. I also have transferred all my record cards to Microsoft notes, so it saves having to carry them about. Everything is on my phone” Mary Gilmour