Freelance France: The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Living and Working in France
With nearly 5 million people in France working after emigrating from abroad, many people have taken the world of freelancing as an excuse to go somewhere new. IF you’re one of the many people trying to freelance in France from somewhere else, there are a lot of clever ways to ensure that you do it successfully. Freelancing is hard and doing so from another country takes some know-how.
Here are five things to keep in mine when freelancing in France.
1. Start Paperwork Early
Many people from across the world love the kinds of social benefits, support, and funding that European countries give to all kinds of enterprises. Whether it’s healthcare, small businesses, or the arts, European countries are the vanguard in supporting ideas from other places. However, the two costs of this grand environment of support are the costs paid through taxes and through the bureaucracy.
Your patience and your knowledge of obscure French words will be put to the test when you consider becoming a full-time French freelancer. Acceptance is the first step in dealing with French bureaucracy. The sooner you get started, the easier it’ll be to handle your taxes and other responsibilities of French work life.
If you want to ensure that you don’t get slammed with a huge tax bill at the end of the year, start monthly payments now. If you send the French government a little bit of money each month, you’ll offset your tax bill at the end of the year. And if you overpay, you’ll be returned that money after you file.
Many freelancers work outside of the system because the government can be cold. However, they’ll take note if you’re trying your best. Just know that if they’re asking you to do something, you should do it as soon as possible. Check out this useful guide for pronouncing those difficult bureaucratic terms over the phone.
2. Join a Co-op
France has an auto-entrepreneur setup to help self-employed people to get started. Lots of writers and freelancers start out in this way, but then move on to join a worker’s cooperative. It’s the best way to help ensure you start up your own business properly.
When you’re a freelancer, you are your own business. In many tax schemes, you’re a contractor to the companies you’re writing for or else you’re a temporary worker. You need to know how you’d like to file your taxes at the end of the year.
The best way to do that is to get involved in a worker’s cooperative where you can ask questions to people who are already doing the work.
Paying out ten percent of your earning to a cooperative is typical, but in exchange, they protect you as a writer. They’ll ensure that you get what you’re owed from non-paying clients and they’ll handle all of your accounting. You can get payslips and get a permanent contract, proving you have steady employment.
These services are essential when setting up your life in France or even trying to get your own apartment.
3. Communicate Professionally At All Times
While you might use a personal email or texting for lots of your communication, keep your communication professional at all times. When you use your personal likes for business, you need to know how to shift your tone. If you fail to set the tone right at the start of your communication, you’ll struggle to backpedal into something more professional later.
When you start out as a freelancer, people might not show you the respect you deserve but once you get the hang of it, you’ll make the shift easily. You’ll quickly learn how the French handle their work communication. Much of their contact is very formal, so expect to use proper nouns and professional terminology for everything.
Steer away from slang, any kind of overexcited language, or comments you wouldn’t want to associate with your professional career. You can be casual, so long as you know how to be firm all along the way. You need to keep your initial contacts very formal to ensure that you are taken seriously from the start of your working relationship with someone.
4. Turn Into a Networking Machine
Someone who is good at networking can spin gold out of any situation in a matter of a few conversations. However, for most people who aren’t French natives, becoming a freelance writer in France is a challenge. You don’t have those lifelong connections that other people have or even the connections they make in college.
Send out CVs and make phone calls like there’s no tomorrow, but be sure that you put yourself in the right situations. You need to be places where you’ll find and meet people to work with.
If you’re a parent, you might be able to find a group of parents who are also from where you’re from, interested in socializing. If you don’t mind being in a circle that’s limited to your native tongue, this isn’t so bad. However, if you’re trying to stay sharp with your French, you’ll need to seek out other connections.
Let your friends know if you are able to work as a translator. You can make more connections if you just tell the people in your circle what you’re able to do.
5. Keep an Updated Website
It’s vital to have a good website when you’re out meeting people. Get your URL printed on your card. Include a photo on the front of your site so that people who meet you remember who you are.
Hire a designer if possible to ensure that your site looks great and is translated properly.
Let people know that you’re located in France right now. While it’s nice if people come by to offer you work in New York or London, if you’re not around, it’s just an added frustration.
Freelance in France and Live Your Dreams
As anyone who’s ever lived abroad can tell you, living in another country is much different than visiting. You’ll have a different lifestyle when you freelance in France than if you go there on vacation. Moving somewhere new is hard, but if you have flexible work, you’ll be better off.
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