Register your company at Skatteverket and choose a form. Sole trader (Enskild firma) is a simple way to get started, with the least amount of paperwork and overhead. But make sure you understand all your options before choosing a company form.
Set a regular hourly rate. This is going to be the maximum you’ll get. Clients might want to get a cheaper rate, but they’ll never offer you more than you’re asking for. Understand what the common hourly rate in your field is. Ask other freelancers what they are charging. Don’t set it too low. Understand that you’re not going to be able to bill 40 hours per week. Being a freelancer involves plenty of tasks that you can’t bill anyone for.
Some clients ask for a discounted rate when they work with you for the first time. It can be worth it if you’re interested to work more with this client in the future.
Be dependable, respond fast and get your work done. You’ll get most jobs via recommendations, so give people you work with a reason to recommend you.
If you can’t or don’t want to do a job, always recommend someone else who might be interested. The client will remember that and the person you recommended will do as well.
Use a tool for project management and client communication. Don’t just send tons of emails back and forth. Basecamp does a better job.
Time track every project you’re working on. Do this even if you’re offering a fixed price. Harvest (referral link) is an excellent tool for this, plus it saves you a lot of time handling invoices.
Get good at estimating. Break projects down into parts. When a project is done, evaluate your estimate and try to make a more accurate estimate next time.
Worry about your cash flow. Skatteverket collects tax payments from you in advance (Preliminärskatt), before you even know how much you’ll make this year. Clients pay late for different reasons. If you enjoyed the perks of being an employee (like getting a salary every month), this is going to be the hardest part to get used to.
Get an accountant. Don’t do your bookkeeping and taxes yourself, it’s effectively more expensive. Understand which expenses you can deduct and how to invoice your clients correctly. Understand the different rules for VAT (Moms) if you invoice clients that are based outside of Sweden.
Get a company bank account. Have a separate company savings account for your taxes. Everytime you get paid, put the VAT there, and a good part of the invoiced amount. Ask your accountant what percentage you should expect to pay in taxes.
Buy the software you need to get your job done. It can seem expensive, but it’s an investment that easily pays off.
Get a company insurance. Negotiate the offers you’re getting. If you don’t, you’ll get overcharged. There is no list price. Every time you get invoiced, compare the insurance with the terms from last year. It will have changed to your disadvantage. Ask the insurance company for a discount, you’ll get one.
Get a pension plan and a long-term sickness insurance. Often you’ll only get the pension plan and insurance in combination. Ask the insurance company to pay the health check for you.
Go to local events and talk to people. This is the best way to let people know what you’re doing and that you’re freelancing. You can easily find events via meetup.com that are relevant to you.
Twitter is more important than LinkedIn. Twitter will tell you about news, events and jobs in your field. LinkedIn will make recruiters call you on the phone about jobs you’re not interested in.
Have a website that tells people what you do and how to contact you. Make sure people can access this information on a mobile phone.
If you sign a contract or NDA, make sure you’re happy with the terms. Negotiate out anything that you’re uncomfortable to sign.
Backup your work daily and use offsite version control. GitHub is great for that.
Be prepared to have to learn something new on every freelance project. Freelancing is about being flexible and adapting to changing working environments.
Work on your own stuff. Have interesting side-projects you can work on whenever you have downtime.