How To Become a Freelance Accountant

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 October 2022

Published 16 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A freelance accountant is a financial professional who operates independently of an accounting firm. Independent accountants can offer bookkeeping services to customers and determine their own rates and working hours. If you want to become a freelance accountant, it can be beneficial to learn about what they do. In this article, we explore how to become a freelance accountant, describe what they do, show the different types of accounting and explain the answers to some frequently asked questions about independent accountants.

Related: Top 10 Accounting Skills To Include in Your Resume

How to become a freelance accountant

The process of becoming a freelance accountant can be more expansive than working with an accounting firm. This is how to become a freelance accountant:

1. Become a recognised practising accountant

Before you get into freelance accounting, you may need official accounting credentials to show your potential clients that you're capable of managing their finances. You can pursue an accounting certification like Certified Public Accountant, Singapore Chartered Accountant Qualification or a certification from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. Though a degree may not be necessary to become a practising accountant, it can improve the process and heighten your credentials for potential clients, and some certifications list it as a requirement. You earn at least two years of experience before certification to build your accounting skills for many of these.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a Resume

2. Invest in equipment and software

Once you are a certified accounting professional, consider investing in the equipment and software to do freelancing. Depending on the accounting speciality you choose, you likely need various programmes or software, like spreadsheets, financial databases or investment portfolio management systems. A computer, reliable internet connection and access to a printer are all components vital to becoming successful as a freelance accountant. You can invest in these tools to get yourself started or locate a place where you have access to them while building your client base.

Related: What Is Freelancing? With Advantages, Disadvantages and Tips

3. Establish your services and base rates

After you have your tools, establish which services you offer and how much you charge for each one. Determine whether you charge for the service or for the hours you spend working on the project. Establishing this information is important, so you can communicate to your clients how much they may pay for your services. It's also important to have established base rates, so you can offer discounts or promotions to new clients for their first services with you.

4. Pursue leads and build your client list

Building your client list can help you create a reliable income from your freelance accounting business. Consider cold emailing and cold calling to locate potential customers. Create a website that showcases your talents and clearly communicates your prices. Providing great service to your current clients can also help you build your client base, as you may gain more customers through word-of-mouth. Depending on the form of accounting you do, consider making in-person visits to businesses or organisations to pitch your services to them.

5. Focus on networking and marketing

Networking is building professional relationships within your industry. You can network by attending accounting or freelancing events and making conversations with other professionals. These relationships can be helpful as others may provide you with guidance or advice, or you may complement one another's businesses. For example, if you're a freelance accountant and you meet a software developer, you may work together to develop a program or app for personal finance or accounting professionals.

Marketing is communicating the value of your services to people who may need them. To do this, you can create social media profiles, purchase advertising space or create campaigns that show your skills and usefulness. How you market yourself can change as you grow your freelance business, so you may start small in the beginning with free social media platforms rather than an advertisement or commercial space.

Related: A Complete Guide on How to Build a Network (Plus Benefits)

6. Increase your rates as you improve

By increasing your personal development and accounting skills, you can strive for consistent improvement. As you gain more clients and better your services, you can charge more and increase your income. Communicate the changes to your clients and explain how the increase in cost means an increase in value to them. Occasionally, it may be necessary to halt services to a client to continue raising your prices to match your competency and value.

Related: Effective Ways To Enhance Your Personal Development Skills

What does a freelance accountant do?

These are some common responsibilities a freelance accountant may have:

Accounting duties

Freelance accountants perform many financial duties that can change depending on who their clients are. For example, if an accountant is assisting a business, they may prepare invoices, issues tax reports, evaluate gains and losses and create business budgets. Some accountants are also certified to process and distribute a company's payroll. If an accountant is providing services for an individual, they may file personal taxes, create household budgets and provide financial or investment advice.

Related: What Does a Cost Accountant Do? (With Skills and Salary)

Freelancing responsibilities

As a freelancer, an accountant also manages responsibilities that allow them to find clients and run their freelancing business. These include establishing their rates, writing contracts and filing taxes for their freelance business. To grow their freelancing business, they may also dedicate time to marketing themselves, finding new clients, developing an accounting speciality and retaining their current clients.

Related: 10 Steps for How To Make a Career Change (With Roles)

Types of freelance accountants

Though all freelance accountants work independently of accounting firms, they can target different client bases and offer different services. They can specialise in varying areas of bookkeeping and financial services, including:

Business

Freelance accountants who focus on business-related clients work more with organisations than they do with individuals. This may involve processing payroll or filing taxes. Business-focused independent accountants may also prepare and deliver invoices as well.

Personal

Financial professionals who focus on personal accounting may assist their clients with preparing for retirement, filing their taxes or investing. Personal freelance accountants often work with wealthy clients and advise them on protecting and growing their assets. A personal accountant may also prepare personalised budgets and financial plans for their clients.

Audit

Freelance auditors focus specifically on performing financial reviews for businesses. This means analysing financial information, evaluating the accuracy of bookkeeping and ensuring the quality of statements. A freelance auditor may also offer suggestions on how to improve the accuracy or efficiency of a company's accounting processes.

Related: What Does an Auditor Do? (Plus Steps on How To Become One)

Cost

A freelance cost accountant provides consulting services to their clients. They may evaluate the profits and losses a company incurs and offer solutions for increasing revenue or decreasing expenditures. Freelance cost accountants are experts on each part of a company's process, including manufacturing, production, transportation and labour costs.

Frequently asked questions about freelance accounting

Knowing more about independent financial services can help you determine if you want to become a freelance accountant. These are the answers to common questions about freelance accounting:

How much do freelance accountants make?

A freelance accountant can make more or less than an accountant working with a firm depending on how much they work, how many clients they have, their location and their experience. The average base salary for an accountant is $3,766 per month or $53,191 per year. How much a freelance accountant earns can also depend on their speciality and the clients they serve. For example, an accountant who works closely with a business may earn more than one who works only with individual finances.

Related: How Much Do Chartered Accountants Make? (With Skills)

How do I become a successful freelance accountant?

Determination, organisation and planning can all contribute to your success as a freelance accountant. Determination is important because it may be difficult to find your first client or build your client list, so persevering can allow you to overcome plateaus and find success. Organisation and planning are important because as a freelancer you are the manager and owner of your organisation, meaning it's crucial to know when to pay your taxes, where to store and find information and what your business plans are.

Related: 10 Chartered Accountant Skills for an Accounting Career

How do I market myself as a freelance accountant?

To market yourself as a freelance accountant, consider creating social media platforms for your business. This is a free method to market yourself when you begin as a freelancer. Once you have a larger income, consider allocating some of your monthly budget to marketing services to continue building your freelance business.

Related: What Does a Financial Accountant Do? Role, Duties and Salary

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Explore more articles