Of the many people who come to work in Australia, most take on “odd jobs” in the restaurant business or work on farms. However, it is also possible, with a work visa, to pursue freelance work. This option allows you to either practice your profession or start a new venture. With the emergence of new trends such as Uber and Deliveroo, working independently in Australia opens many doors. Even with a Working Holiday Visa, it is entirely possible, and the steps are simple. We will provide you with all the necessary information in this article!
What does it mean to be ‘Freelance’?
It’s true that we hear this word everywhere, but it’s important to understand that being a freelancer isn’t a status in itself. Whether you’re at home or Australia, being a freelancer simply means having your own business and earning money through the work you do. It’s being an independent worker who takes on professional tasks assigned by clients. To work as a freelancer in Australia, there are certain administrative procedures that need to be followed (which we’ll discuss below).
Why start as a freelancer in Australia?
Weigh the pros and cons before becoming a freelancer
Let’s define what being a freelancer means in practice! It means being your own boss, managing your individual business, being able to choose your own schedule, having more freedom and flexibility, and working in your field of expertise. You can acquire technical skills and generally have a better hourly rate than working as a waiter. However, it also implies a heavier workload or more stress, uncertainty about the salary you can pay yourself each month, and a sense of isolation depending on your work environment. Depending on your situation, it’s up to you to set your personal objectives:
If you’re already a freelancer in your home country, you may want to keep your clients to maintain an income before developing your activity in Australia. Alternatively, you may have decided to put all your energy into creating your Australian network.
If you’ve never been a freelancer before, you may have a particular technical skill and want to start in Australia. Or, you may have a business idea and have decided to test it in the Australian market.
Whatever your project, one of your main motivations is to earn a living while keeping your independence and freedom! You can achieve this in a dream work environment, whether in the middle of nature or in the big Australian cities that offer beaches and coworking spaces.
Can we really live from it?
In addition to the previously mentioned constraints, the freelance profession involves a level of risk that should not be underestimated. Just like at home, you may suddenly lose a customer, fall ill, struggle to find enough customers, and so on.
If this is your first time as a freelancer, we strongly encourage you to start while having a side job or enough savings to cover any unexpected expenses. This will allow you to test the market and get accustomed to this new professional routine. You should manage your bills, think about your communication strategies, and canvass while enjoying your trip to Australia. Still motivated? Let’s take a closer look at the different options available to you!
The main professions exercised as a freelancer
In principle, any job could be done as a freelancer. But let’s start by taking a closer look at the list of those who have been on the rise in recent years…
- Web jobs: developer, data analyst, web integrator, etc.
- Marketing professions: web editor, community manager, social media manager, SEO consultant…
- Creative professions: graphic designer, draftsman / illustrator, photographer, web designer, architect…
- Commercial professions: business developer, commercial, etc.
- Writing and communication professions: journalist, editor, press officer, translator, etc.
- Consulting and teaching professions: language teacher, consultant, trainer, coach, etc.
- Consulting professions: coaching, administration, communication, etc.
So, whatever your field, it is possible for you to work as a freelancer. However, it is obvious that some activities will be more accessible than others.
Typical services accessible to young travelers
If you don’t have a clear idea of the field you are interested in, here are some avenues to explore:
- Jobs related to tourism and travel: You have an advantage, you’ve travelled from overseas! This can be very useful in sectors such as tourism that regularly targets overseas travellers. Think of travel agencies but also establishments offering vehicle rentals, for example.
- Communication and marketing professions: If you speak another language, this is the perfect space for you to put it to use! Aim for jobs as a translator, writer, or even a communicator.
- Sales jobs: Many companies in Australia still operate with a network of salespeople responsible for developing their customer portfolio. If you are not afraid to go door to door, this is a niche to test!
These are obviously just a few examples among many others. If you want to get started as a sports coach or interior designer, now is the time to try!
Type of remuneration
Let’s get to the topic that interests you:
how much can I earn as a freelancer in Australia?
This is a broad topic that requires some research. Your income will indeed vary according to several criteria: your field of activity, your level of experience, the competition present on the market, etc.
To carry out your research, go to freelance platforms or to the Payscale site, which offers a comparison of salaries according to your job, your skills, your background and many other criteria. For example, on Payscale, it is estimated that a graphic design freelancer charges an average of £30 per hour.
In general, you can estimate an average hourly rate 20 to 30% higher than an employee performing the same function. Quite simply because you will have to pay your taxes! Yeah, that’s not the most fun part, but it’s important to do it the right way. Let’s take a look at the different steps to take.
The administrative procedures to become a Freelancer
Obtain the winning combo: TFN & ABN
The good news is that for most administrative procedures in Australia, registering as a freelancer is simple and free! Everything can be done online and the response usually takes no more than 2-3 weeks.
The first step, if you haven’t already, is to get your TFN. Whether you plan to work as a freelancer or an employee, this tax number is mandatory! Check out our complete guide on how to apply for it.
The second step is to register on the ABR (Australian Business Register) website to obtain your ABN (Australian Business Number). The ABN takes the form of an 11-digit registration number, which is equivalent to the UTR number in England. Here are the different pieces of information you will need to provide when registering:
- Your full contact details
- Your TFN
- Proof of your identity (scanned passport)
- A description of your business
- Specify that you are a “sole trader,” i.e., a micro-enterprise where there is only you.
If you are missing certain information, you can save your process and come back to complete it later by creating an account. Once completed, all you have to do is wait for the response, which usually takes up to fifteen days.
Read also: How to get an ABN
Obligations of Freelancers in Australia (Invoices, Taxes and Registration)
The accounting of a small sole proprietorship is simplified, but you must still comply with some obligations. Here are some rules to keep in mind:
Create Your First Invoice
Congratulations! You are now officially a freelancer. However, you must still follow certain rules, such as:
- Do not work for the same person for more than 6 months if you are on a WHV, or be able to prove that you have other clients at the same time.
- Keep track of your billings and expenses related to your business. The easiest way to do this is to manage everything online and bill your customers correctly.
Regarding your invoices, the following information must appear on each of them:
- Name and address of your business
- Company ABN
- Date and invoice number
- Name and address of your client
- The list and description of the products/services sold (specify the quantity and add a description if possible) with the amount in dollars corresponding to the total amount
- Your bank details.
Then, two scenarios exist if you are subject to the GST (Goods and Services Tax), which is the equivalent of our VAT.
Case #1: If you think you will exceed an annual income of $75,000, your invoice must mention “Tax invoice”. Also, if you haven’t already done so, you must register for the GST via the ABR website.
Case #2: If you think you will not exceed $75,000, which is the most common case in the first year, your invoice must state “No GST has been charged”.
Pay dues and taxes
As is the case in most countries, you will have to declare your income in Australia! Workers must make this declaration once a year between July 1 and October 31. The amount of taxes varies mainly depending on whether you are a resident or a non-resident. Please note, as a WHV holder, you are automatically considered a non-resident (even if you stay more than 6 months in the same place).
Calculation of taxes
To give you an idea of how much you will need to pay, use the ATO’s online tool.
How to find freelance jobs?
The different platforms for finding work
The secret to sustainable freelance activity? Multiplying sources of income! We repeat, betting everything on a single client is risky and not recommended if you want to continue for more than six months.
There are several platforms dedicated to finding freelance work:
The advantage of these platforms is that they connect service providers (you) directly with potential customers. The interface allows you to create a profile to highlight your skills and work. Some platforms are more specialized in one or more areas. It’s up to you to see which ones suit you. Another alternative is to use Australian classifieds sites like Gumtree or Airtasker.
Increase your chances of finding your first customers
Let the world know you’re a freelancer! The formula is a bit crude, but it works. The majority of freelancers can confirm that their best marketing approach is based on word of mouth. Therefore, it is essential to inform your personal and professional network as a priority.
The first step is to update your LinkedIn profile. It is not uncommon to be contacted directly by a company with specific mission needs. To do this, remember to include the right keywords in your summary, title, and descriptions of your professional experience. Finally, including a cover photo related to your activity or indicating your presence in Australia can make a difference. So, think about it!
The second step is to add your LinkedIn or Malt profile to your email signature, Instagram or WhatsApp bio, and on all your media.
The third step is to participate in Meetup events that bring together people from your field of activity or your target audience. Being a freelancer means being there at the right time, so maximize your chances by going out and meeting people like you!
Charlotte worked at a digital agency in France before going to Australia on a WHV to try out the freelance experience.
“I was lucky to have kept clients from my digital agency where I worked and was able to continue my activity remotely (by working off-shift with client calls at 7 or 8 p.m., but it’s doable!).
I also experienced private French lessons which allowed me to meet Australians who have remained very good friends. Unfortunately, I had to stop because it was complicated to manage the long journeys (often at the other end of Sydney!) for a very variable salary depending on the number of lessons I managed to have in a week.
But in any case, working on your own account has significant advantages that I really appreciated during my trip to Australia.”
6 steps to become a Freelancer
▷ Request your TFN
▷ Request your ABN
▷ Keep track of the company’s cash inflows and outflows ✅
▷ Invoice your customers in the right way 👨⚕️
▷ Pay your taxes each year 💵
▷ Use platforms like CurrencyFair or Wise to your international money transfers 💸