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FreelanceSEM MarketingSocial Media Marketing

Q&A with freelance online marketing guru Lidia Van Wyk

posted by Ed Beukes July 10, 2017 0 comments

FCT: What is SEM & social media marketing?

Lydia: SEM (search engine marketing) utilizes search engines such as Google and social media platforms like Facebook to drive traffic to business websites and generate new business leads through paid advertising.

FCT: How do businesses benefit from SEM and social media marketing?

Lydia: It’s one of the most cost effective ways to reach your target market when they are ready to buy.

Research shows that 90% of online searches are conducted by people who are at the end of the buying cycle. It’s quick to implement, scalable, measurable, provides immediate traffic/sales/leads and creates brand awareness.

FCT: Is it expensive to launch an online campaign using Google or Facebook?

Lydia: You can determine how much budget you’re willing to allocate to your campaigns based on an estimated CPA (cost per acquisition/lead) which is largely determined by your competitors, search traffic volumes and the CPC (cost per click) of your industry keywords (Google Adwords). Facebook is very cost effective as the CPC is relatively low, therefore providing a good ROI with access to very granular audience targeting.

FCT: Sum up your skills in 7 words.

Lydia: Creative, strategic, analytical, resourceful, responsive, proactive, collaborative.

FCT: What do you enjoy most about freelance?

Lydia: I enjoy being my own boss. I also enjoy the challenges it presents as you’re forced to think like a business owner which grows you as a person. I’m passionate about helping businesses to solve their marketing challenges.

FCT: Describe the verb to freelance in the dictionary according to you.

Lydia: freelance | free·lance | ˈfrēˌlans/ verb: A vocation that gives one the option to partner up and add value to an existing entity who require a specific skill or service for a temporary period.

FCT: How have you benefited from Freelance Cape Town?

Lydia: I’ve received some great work referrals and due to these met some people along the way with whom I’ve formed a partnership/collaborative working relationship.

FCT: What are your words of wisdom/encouragement for those who are thinking of embarking on the freelance journey?


  • The beginning is slow – persevere, don’t give up too quick and keep trying different things.
  • Always add value to your clients and go the extra mile.
  • Network at every opportunity and look for different ways to find new clients.
  • Never turn down an offer to meet potential clients (even if they might not have work for you at the time). These very same clients could be calling you in a year’s time.

Check out Lidia’s profile by clicking here. 


Q&A with freelance photographer Kate Davies

posted by Ed Beukes June 30, 2017 0 comments

FCT: When did you start working as a freelancer?

Kate: Officially I became a full-time freelancer in November last year. I was freelancing before that, but I had a day job too.

FCT: Sum up your skills in 7 words.

Kate: Creative. Particular. Passionate. Knowledgable. Approachable. Strong. Non judgemental.

FCT: What do you enjoy most about being able to freelance?

Kate: I love the different jobs, the variety of briefs, dealing with totally different people, juggling many balls in the air at the same time. I’ve always loved being busy with many projects at the same time so freelancing is perfect for me.

FCT: Do you think freelancing is unconventional?

Kate: Not at all. On the contrary, I feel that staying in one job your entire life is quite unconventional.

The idea that you can work with many different people, within a variety of parameters, on a day to day basis is the best life/skill education one could ask for. I would never have learned a quarter of what I know now if I was in one place all day, everyday.

FCT: Describe the verb to freelance in the dictionary according to you.

Kate: free·lance | ˈfrēˌlans/ verb: the trading of one’s skill/s for reimbursement

FCT: Tell us about your work ethic.

Kate: I am an incredibly hard worker, I am obsessive about photography and I am super anal when it comes to quality. This is a trait you either like or dislike in me. Oh, and I also hate laziness. Hate it.

FCT: What do you believe makes you stand out from the crowd?

Kate: I look for solutions, rather than dwelling in possible problems.

I am a creative as well as an academic so I understand a lot more than just what is put in front of me on paper.

I am very rarely late, and I am able to flip between many different genres of my craft very easily, as I have spent an incredibly large amount of time perfecting each one, and I am a fairly easy person to be around.

FCT: Describe the space where you work at?

Kate: My own personal space would best be described as organized chaos. I am always busy with at least 10 projects and there are bits of each intertwined with my regular life. I like it this way- I know exactly where everything is and I can see my work unfolding. I feel I need to physically see my work to be inspired to continue.

FCT: How have you benefited from Freelance Cape Town?

Kate: I have been booked on a few jobs through Freelance Cape Town, through direct messages on the site or through clients who have seen my work on the site.

On top of just the work side of things, it is great to share space with other freelancers in your own industry.

We don’t often meet in person, so to read up on what others are doing is really informative.

FCT: What are your words of wisdom/encouragement for those who are thinking of embarking on the freelance journey?


  • Make sure you are 100% invested in your skill and that you are willing to work hard.
  • Be open to all kinds of work and every job will teach you something you didn’t know before.
  • Also, there is no shame in saying “I don’t know”, this will get you far in the world. Too many people want to be seen as masters of their craft early on, and don’t want to get their hands dirty or admit they are unsure.
  • Be honest.
  • Head into each job with enthusiasm.
  • Remember that every person you work with is your equal, hierarchy among creatives is boring and quite a turn off.

Follow this link to view Kate’s online profile.


Q&A with freelance writer Samantha Snedorf

posted by Ed Beukes June 5, 2017 0 comments

FCT: When did you start working as a freelancer?

Sam: I began working as a freelancer in January of this year after I quit my previous job in order to pursue my dream.

FCT: Tell us about that dream.

Sam: My dream is to become a full time writer. To work for myself and have my own website filled with content that I created. The final part of that dream is being paid by companies to write my beautiful content which I am still working on.

FCT: Sum up your skills in 7 words.

Sam: Passionate about writing, gin and mean cats .

FCT: What do you enjoy most about freelancing?

Sam: I love the freedom and flexibility of freelancing. I’m not the biggest fan of being in an office. Plus you can work in your pajamas if you like and no one will ever know.

FCT: Do you think freelancing is unconventional?

Sam: I think freelancing was unconventional but in 2017 and the age of the Millennial, freelancing is the direction that more and more people are taking as we search for job satisfaction.

FCT: Describe the verb to freelance in the dictionary according to you.

Sam: free·lance | ˈfrēˌlans/ verb: to work when and as one pleases through generating work for various establishments as non-permanent staff. Usually from one’s own home or office.

FCT: Tell us about your work ethic.

Sam: I’m actually pretty hard on myself. I have a routine for everyday because structure is important. Once I land a job I do my absolute best to send out what they are looking for as soon as possible. I push myself until the best final product can be presented.

FCT: What do you believe makes you stand out from the crowd?

Sam: I am quirky with a unique view on the world. I think some of my blog topics are unusual and interesting such as gin and being a model. I think I have something fun and captivating to offer the world and hope that someday people will see that.

FCT: Describe the space where you work at?

Sam: I work from home at a beautiful desk that my boyfriend hand crafted for me including the laser etched image of a raven on the right side in tribute to the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. Why is a raven like a writing desk?

FCT: How have you benefited from Freelance Cape Town?

Sam: I am still waiting for a client to find and use me through the Freelance Cape Town platform but I think it is a good way to have my name out there.

FCT: What are your words of wisdom/encouragement for those who are thinking of embarking on the freelance journey?

Sam: It is not an easy one and it is a very bumpy road. I am still figuring things out and often at times I have no idea what I am doing.

But I do believe that the universe has a way of making things work out and if you are completely passionate about something, it can only come into fruition with enough dedication and hard work.

Take a look at Sam’s FCT profile here, and then of course her website.
Otherwise get hold of Sam by contacting her directly 0721448519 or


Q&A with freelance photographer Johan Coetzee

posted by Ed Beukes May 15, 2017 0 comments

FCT: When did you start working as a freelancer?

I started working as a freelance photographer during 2012.

FCT: Sum up your skills in 7 words.

Creative and relatable documentary lifestyle photographer.

FCT: What do you enjoy most about freelancing?

Flexibility in working hours and the ability to focus on what is important for my business at any given time.

FCT: Do you think freelancing is unconventional?

Definitely! It pushes you to think out of the box constantly.

FCT: Describe the verb to freelance in the dictionary according to you.

free·lance | ˈfrēˌlans/ verb: Freedom to apply your acquired skills in a creative variety of ways.

FCT: Tell us about your work ethic.

I follow a strict work ethic of being honest, integral, professional, but still relatable on a personal level with people from all walks of life.

FCT: What do you believe makes you stand out from the crowd?

I see myself as a lifelong student – always learning from other creatives.

With this learned knowledge and skills combined, I bring something unique to my clients.

FCT: Describe the space where you work at?

Outdoors and on location within South Africa or other (mostly) Eastern European and Asian countries.

FCT: How have you benefited from Freelance Cape Town?

Exposure and enquiries from FCT have helped a lot to get local exposure within South Africa.

FCT: What are your words of wisdom/encouragement for those who are thinking of embarking on the freelance journey?

Stay true to yourself and your dreams. In tough times, remember why you started in the first place and let that help carry you through.

Follow this link to view Johan’s profile.


Freelance with Photographer Malan Louw

posted by Ed Beukes March 17, 2017 0 comments

Malan Louw is a traditional South African family man. Reliable, dedicated, grounded and open to adventure. As much as he enjoys capturing the world through his lens, he loves cooking for his wife and kids and even more so over a ‘braai’ with good music.

Enjoy this inside look into the world of a freelancer from our very own Malan Louw’s perspective.

FCT: When did you start working as a freelancer?

I started working as a freelance press photographer at the end of 1999.

FCT: That’s more than 15 years in the field! If you could go back to the end of 1999, what would you tell your younger self about the freelancing world that you wish you had known back then?

(Malan Laughs). It’s not as easy as it looks.

interview with malan louw

FCT: Sum up your skills in 7 words.

I am a creative photographer and videographer.

FCT: Where/What do you draw your inspiration from?

I spend a lot of time looking at other photographers’ work and the comings and goings of everyday life.

FCT: What do you enjoy most about freelancing?

The flexibility and variety of project exposure.

FCT: Do you think freelancing is unconventional?

Freelancing is unconventional and a rewarding way to work.

FCT: In which way do you find it rewarding?

I enjoy the lifestyle it offers. You have room to move and it basically comes down to you get out what you’ve put in.

FCT: Describe the verb to freelance in the dictionary according to you.

free·lance | ˈfrēˌlans/ verb: The exploration, application and development of skills with greater flexibility and control.

FCT: Tell us about your work ethic.

Honesty, quality of work, reliability and dedication play a big role in my work ethic.

interview with malan louw

FCT: What do you believe makes you stand out from the crowd?

My unconventional way of thinking supports new creative ways and ideas in my image-making processes.

FCT: Describe the space where you work at?

I work in open spaces, mostly outdoors and on location.

FCT: Which location has been your favourite up to date?

Err… tough choice, but I really did enjoy a fairly recent project out in the Cederberg shooting an adventure bike promo.

FCT: How have you benefited from Freelance Cape Town?

I have enjoyed great exposure, various leads and successful jobs from Freelance Cape Town since I’ve joined in 08/2015.

FCT: What are your words of wisdom/encouragement for those who are thinking of embarking on the freelance journey?

As a freelancer, you need to keep yourself relevant to changing environments whilst at the same time being consistent with your own style and brand.

Click here to view Malan Louw’s profile.

Writer Tamara Arden with Freelance Cape Town
Creative WritingFeatureFilm & BroadcastingFreelanceUncategorizedWriting

Freelance with writer Tamara Arden

posted by Ed Beukes February 17, 2017 0 comments

Tamara Arden has worked in an array of media such as magazines, newspapers, radio, advertising and digital; and one can only see why this freelance writer’s pen is destined for great things.

Both free-spirited and grounded; Tamara shares her freelance journey and her words slowly draw you in. Through her story she conveys her strong will and sensitivity to life and work in an unashamed and poetic way.

FCT: Tamara, how long have you worked as a freelance writer?

I’ve been dipping in and out of that role since I chose words as a career path. I generously gave my time to freelance projects during my in-between moments, when the office roles and company culture conflicted with my vision and integrity.
But until recently, I’ve never believed or given myself the chance to branch out. This was until I decided to invest in my potential, skill set and refined craft with a confidence to secure me, which is why I joined FCT in November 2016. So, it’s still early days – and I’m curious where this journey will take me.

FCT: We like your word choice: Vision, Integrity, Journey… Tell us more about that. What is your vision with your freelance work? What does integrity mean to you? And in your opinion, what are some of the key elements needed for someone who wishes to embark on the freelance journey?

All those attributes have become an extension of the personality and mood my writing carries.

I wear my integrity like a crown, letting it it lead the way.

Writer Tamara Arden with Freelance Cape Town

The media industry is both stimulating and draining. It often narrates your direction, instead of you – so I needed to know who I was and what I stood for before I dedicated my time to a freelance path.
Sifting through each role; you are expected to adapt- be a chameleon, so if you lose sight of your integrity, the work will not sound believable.
My biggest tool is being an active listener, I use it to guide the vision.

You need to learn to be both the lone wolf and the team player on this journey, pairing up ideas and strengths to create artistry.

One vision is essential: it helps absorb and contribute.
Collaborative vision is magic and its practice is humbling.

The important part is the story; it gives context to your timeline and future. No matter the medium, the key is to share it your way. Trust your contribution to the work.

A freelance journey is just about giving clients ‘you’. Everyone is looking for individuality and how it will support their brand. Sincerity, honesty and openness are my go-to’s – you must have a strong will to be be heard and ask as many questions until you feel you have the clarity and understanding of what is expected of you.


Writer Tamara Arden with Freelance Cape Town

FCT: Tell us about the project you most enjoyed working on and why.

I was asked to write, narrate and record an audio tour for Voice Map in 2015. I wouldn’t jump to explain it as enjoyable first. I’d say more along the lines of daunting, awkward and out of my comfort zone, but by the time it was finalised, that joy spread throughout me.
I wrote audio copy for a tour around Braamfontein, Joburg. I thought this would be the only expectation of me, but alas, it was quite a lengthy process – a lot of back and forth, pushing me against the limitations I instilled in myself and audio was a whole new platform to me. I had a great guide with me every step of the way, showing me how to be concise, clear and relatable in my choice of words. I learnt to be a storyteller in a different way. So day after day, as I sat under a duvet to shut the external street noises out, using my phone as a microphone, concealing the discomfort of listening to my voice over and over again, the awkward and the uncomfortable turned into the beautiful and the brilliant. I had created a living piece of content for a dynamic and innovative start-up for people to download and navigate their way around the area I had mapped out. It gave me a taste of that world and I’d love to venture deeper again one day.

FCT: If you could narrate the next freelance chapter of your life, what would your last paragraph sound like?

I think it’s quite an obtuse question, but I’ll write what’s in the heart… She asked for the transparency and certainty of today, the potential of another tomorrow and the choice to discover liberty in the artistry of life. Shape Shifting constantly as she mastered her every mood, she began to operate on a high emotional frequency where every detail, gesture and interaction deeply moved her. She immersed herself in nature and used gratitude as a foundation to appreciate the comings and goings, the temporary and the divine.

The gift was just to stay present and keep that reminder active:
Be you. Be unashamedly you.


Click here to view Tamara Arden’s profile.

freelance photography

Freelance with photographer Fred van Leeuwen aka The Image Engineer

posted by Ed Beukes February 3, 2017 1 Comment

Freelance photographer Fred van Leeuwen adjusts his eye behind the lens. Lights hit the stage; reflecting yellow and red and blue off leather jackets and cheering fans reaching out to where the energy bounces off the rock star’s electric counterpart.

Flash. Image. Capture. That’s where The Image Engineer’s passion for photography fuses with his favourite subject.

We really loved catching up with this talented photographer and hope you also enjoy this window into the freelance lifestyle of The Image Engineer.

freelance photographer

FCT: When did you start working in the freelance industry?

I started building my freelance career after graduating from college in 2009. After working numerous full time jobs that I tried to keep as closely related to photography as possible, I finally made the switch in June 2016. I quit my day job and embarked on a career as full time freelance Photographer and Retoucher.

FCT: Was it an easy transition?

I don’t think any transition of this nature happens without a few hitches. I had prepared myself before undergoing the transition, but it still had a few small kinks in the chain here and there. I think once you are able to secure a few long-term clients on the side, it’s much easier making the switch.

FCT: Sum up your skills in 7 words.

Perfectionist, knowledgeable, industrious, versatile, experimental, unorthodox, resourceful.

FCT: What do you enjoy most about freelancing?

I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to my own work. Being able to manage my own time, set up meetings and take control of my work is what I live for.

FCT: Do you think freelancing is unconventional?

Perhaps a few years back it would’ve been unconventional, but I know of quite a few people pursuing a career as freelancer these days, especially in Cape Town.

FCT: Describe the verb ‘to freelance’ in the dictionary according to you.

free·lance | ˈfrēˌlans/ verb: Freelancing is a bit like switching over from Automatic to Manual Mode on your camera; From a safe, corporate environment where it’s more likely you’re being told to stay in line, to switching over and being completely in control of your own success or failure. It’s both daunting and exciting at the same time.

freelance photographer

FCT: Tell us about your work ethic.

With today’s digital world, instant gratification has become an ever-growing need. Clients expect a week’s worth of work to be done in a day. This is where managing expectations as well as drawing a line in some circumstances is quite important when you are your own boss.
You do get the occasional client expecting you to pull an all-nighter or work over weekends – but it’s up to you if you’re willing to do that. I believe a balance is necessary when freelancing. If you’re working yourself to death for little or no pay, something needs to change.

FCT: What do you believe makes you stand out from the crowd? (no pun intended)

Probably my retouching style. I’ve always been drawn to the visual aesthetic of pin-up, retro and those old propaganda posters. I started off mimicking the style when retouching my own images and worked well on Concert and Event Photography. Over the years it has evolved and became a more subtle effect, but it’s the one thing people seem to be drawn to.

FCT: What do you mostly photograph?

I love music, so for the vast majority of my photography career it’s been mainly band/concert photography, with some surrealistic, commercial and landscape photography on the side. I’ve found myself branching out towards doing more fashion/portraiture in the studio the last few months and absolutely loving it. That being said, I’ll never move away from shooting bands.

FCT: Describe the space where you work at?

If I’m not out shooting, location scouting or meeting clients, I’ll be working at my PC from my home in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.

FCT: What else do you have next to your PC?

My electric guitar. Useful for times when I have to wait for video projects to render or have an extra 5 minutes to spare. It’s been gathering dust in the last few months though, unfortunately.

freelance photographer

FCT: How have you benefited from Freelance Cape Town?

I’m always for entities such as Freelance Cape Town promoting the industry. Especially when it comes to promoting the Photographic Industry. I haven’t been a member for a very long time yet, but I’ve received a few queries already and also managed to secure a neat interview! I believe the foundations have been laid and I’m sure the future has many interesting ventures ahead.

 FCT: Describe your future dream project.

I would’ve loved to go on tour with one of my favourite rock/metal bands during their prime for a month or two. Taking portraits of people like Ozzy, Lemmy, Bruce Dickinson or any other rock stars of that time must’ve been an incredible experience! I wouldn’t mind trading places with photographer Ross Halfin for a while…

For now, I would love to spend a month or two in Iceland with a Hasselblad H6D, a makeup artist, stylist and a few models to shoot surrealistic looking portraits and composites.

FCT: What are your words of wisdom/encouragement for those who are thinking of embarking on the freelance journey?

The freelance journey is a great one if you manage to tame that wild horse and ride her into the sunset.

But don’t expect that you won’t have a few tumbles along the way.
– The first ones are always the worst and will make you want to give up.
– Don’t expect instant success overnight.
– There are hundreds of other fly-by-night freelancers looking to undercut your business and make a quick buck. Create your own signature style and perfect it in order to separate yourself from the crowd and hopefully you will get noticed.
– Use social media to your advantage. If you’re a photographer, use Instagram and learn which hashtags work well for your type of work.
– Get to know the industry and key players. One thing that has helped me boost my business is to collaborate with like-minded photographers. I often get a feeling there’s this unspoken rule to keep to oneself in the freelance photographic industry. That shouldn’t be the case at all! The only way this industry is going to grow is for photographers to tone down their egos and insecurities and work together.

One can gain so much inspiration and knowledge by simply sitting down with another freelancer and chat ideas over a few beers.

Click here to view The Image Engineer’s profile.

7 Reasons to outsource your accounting

7 Reasons to outsource your accounting

posted by Marius Vosloo July 27, 2016 0 comments

We recently met up with Donovan Blake-Shepherd, one our accountants on Freelance Cape Town.

Below Donovan shares some valuable advice and reasons why we should outsource our accounting.

7 Reasons to outsource your accounting

If you’re a small business owner, you’ll understand the pressures of growing a business. In these tough economic times, keeping your head above water, let alone flourishing, is becoming increasingly more difficult, and it takes some creative thinking and innovative developments to increase your bottom line. One solution many SME’s are turning to is to move away from in-house finance departments or large and impersonal accountancy firms, and to outsource their finances and accounting. Here are a few of the reasons it is a good (no, great) idea to follow suit:

Increase productivity (and ultimately performance)

The first, and probably the most obvious, benefit of outsourcing your accounting is that your time is far better spent on growing the business, and not struggling to balance the books each month, or trying to understand the mountain of ‘red tape’ requirements that come with running a business. Let the experts do what they do best, and leave you to run your company.

More cost effective

Following on from the above point, then why not hire an internal accountant or accounts team to handle the finances? Because it’s far more cost effective to outsource it. Why pay a full-time salary (with benefits), when you can pay only for what you need?

Expert team at your disposal

A specialised accounting firm will comprise a team of experts with knowledge and access to the latest cutting-edge technology, software, compliance regulations, and innovations. Plus, you will effectively have an entire team at your disposal, constantly collaborating and strategizing to find the best possible solution for you.

Focused and vested in your business

Unlike a staffer who knows they’re going to get a pay check at the end of the month, an outsourced solution will have a vested interest in providing you with the best possible service, because he will want to retain your business, and so will work extra hard at maintaining a life-long relationship.

Quicker turn-around time

With a team working around the clock to meet a deadline – that has access to all the necessary resources – the turn-around time will be faster and treated with a professional urgency.

Flexible options

Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, you have the ability to choose which options suit your company’s needs. Do you require a once-a-year audit, is it a monthly bookkeeping service you’re after, or perhaps you need the full-service financial treatment? Whichever it is, you can pick and choose, and you pay accordingly.

Fraud reduction

An external company will have the means and resources to implement proper fraud protection controls, detecting and preventing all forms of fraud, which can potentially cripple any small business.

Now that we’ve explained why you should be outsourcing your accounting, the next step is to find the right people for the job.

One such company is Profijt, a modern, virtual accounting solution for start-ups and the progressed SME business. They pride themselves in understanding modern business challenges, expert knowledge of the latest technologies to ensure your company’s progression, fast turn arounds, lifelong client relationships, constant collaboration, and fair fees.

Not only is Profijt’s end-goal to make their clients wealthier, they’ll talk to you in a language you’ll understand.

Services on offer include the full range of accounting and financial services, which can be tailored to your individual needs. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Monthly bookkeeping, payroll and management accounts
  • Annual financial statements, corporate tax and other compliance duties
  • Strategic guidance and independent business valuations
  • Expert consulting and finance-related registrations etc


Great news! Profijt are offering all Freelance Cape Town members an exclusive offer where you can save a whopping R10,000+ on their products and services:

  1. Free set-up of Xero accounting system; a modern, advanced accounting software hosted in the cloud, which includes all data conversion and training. Work on your current accounting system today, and work in the most beautiful-, cloud-based accounting system tomorrow!  (Save over R6,500 excl)
  1. Save 30% off your first 12-month Xero subscription (save up to $12 a month)
  1. Free consultation, where you can ask any question, not necessarily related to Xero. Perhaps they can help you with another pressing challenge. (Save over R3,000 excl)

T&C’s apply to all offers.

Is it time for your company to progress? With savings like these, there’s no time like the present to progress to Profijt.

For more information on Profijt and the Xero accounting solution, visit 

Article prepared by Kirsten Curtis for Profijt Chartered Accountants


Freelancers and tax: Eight things you need to consider

posted by Marius Vosloo May 11, 2016 1 Comment

Freelancers have it tough. You are out there on your own in a tax environment that is probably more complex than you imagined it ever would be. For the regular nine to fivers, a paycheck arrives at month end, with a neatly deducted amount and SARS is magically paid up. Then once a year they have to submit a return and that’s SARS off their backs.

For a freelancer though, life is a different story. Sure you get to work from your favourite coffee shop and sleep as late as you want. But when it comes to admin, such as tax, the reason you’re sleeping late is because you’re up all night staring at the ceiling wondering when SARS are going to break down the door and haul you up in Pollsmoor for evasion.

Firstly, relax. Secondly, we’ve compiled a list of the most common tax issues of which freelancers should be aware. So roll up your jeans, pat your pet bull dog and listen up.


A common problem is not being registered for tax in the first place. As a freelancer, running your business is a full time job and admin such as registering for tax gets left behind. Then when work starts coming in, it’s small amounts and you figure you may fall under SARS radar anyway. As your business grows, your bank balance grows with it. But so does the backlog of admin, unpaid tax, consequences, fear and sleepless nights.

Unfortunately this is not one of those problems that just goes away by itself – like dub step. Fortunately, the first step to sorting it out is to get registered for tax.

Registration has to be done in person at a SARS office, and this will probably involve waiting in a long line. You will need:

  • A bank statement,
  • Your ID document, and
  • proof of address.

The next step is grappling with your financial history. This can be daunting, depending on how good your records are and how long you’ve ignored the problem.

The good news is that once registration is done, most tax concerns can be dealt with online via the SARS e-filing service. Depending on a person’s tax history, one could also apply for the SARS voluntary disclosure programme. This programme provides the opportunity to come clean on outstanding tax issues without having to pay penalties. But the first step to redemption is registration.

Getting your refund

Don’t think of registering for tax as just a legal requirement. For freelancers, there may also be a significant financial benefit. Most freelancers will be all too familiar with the annoying 25% tax that gets withheld by clients on certain jobs.

This 25% is, roughly speaking, tax which you prepay to SARS based on what you would land up paying over the course of a year. Basically, SARS guesses you are going to pay 25% of your earnings each year, so it holds that amount back. But since everybody’s business is different and certain business expenses are tax deductible, the chances are that when you file your return at the end of the year, you should get some of that money back.

So you can almost thank SARS for paying your bonus each year.

Tax directive application

Another benefit of being in the tax system is that you will be in a position to ask SARS for a tax directive. If the previous year’s business shows that the 25% tax is too high, a tax directive allows you to get paid without getting the full 25% deducted. You must apply for a directive every year if you want the reduced tax, but it is a relatively simple process and will result in better cash flow for the business.

Choice of taxpayer type

There are lots of different forms a business can take. Your business may run as a sole proprietor or a company. The benefits of these options will ultimately depend on the nature of your business, your turnover and your types of expenses.

SARS has introduced various tax regimes with a focus on small businesses. The Micro Business and Small Business Corporation regimes make things easier for smaller businesses with simplified tax rules and lower tax rates.

There are lots of options which could lead to serious savings. But none of these are possible if you fly under the radar and ignore your tax requirements.

Tax Deductions

For a business owner, these two words are almost more beautiful than “I love you”. Once you’re in the tax system, the aim is to pay as little tax as possible. To reduce your tax bill, certain genuine business expenses can be deducted from your income. These are called tax deductions (I love you).

For instance, studio rent, computers, business travel, phone bills or stationary may all be tax deductions. If you’re not registered for tax, then you’re paying your 25% tax and not claiming ANY deductions. You’re basically losing money each month. Nice. But if you are doing things properly, then you’re paying for the things you need, paying less to SARS and are basically a lean mean freelancing machine.


For certain jobs you’ve been asked for your VAT registration number in order to become an approved vendor for your client. And you’ve been like my what, what now?

VAT (Value-Added tax) is a tax on the supply of certain goods or services. Businesses are only required to register as VAT vendors if they will have a turnover of more than one million Rand in a 12 month period. If this is you and you’re not tax registered, then consult a tax practitioner IMMEDIATELY. But the unfortunate likelihood is that it’s not. So while you may voluntarily chose to register for VAT, it is not a requirement.

The benefit of VAT registration is that you may be able to claim back money you spend on VAT from SARS. A disadvantage is that you may have to charge VAT (of 14%) on your fees. If you are not VAT registered, then just tell your clients that and if they require a VAT registration, then it may not be a job worth taking. Ultimately the decision to register for VAT voluntarily will come down to weighing the potential benefit of claiming back VAT against the increased administration costs.

International issues

One of the benefits of freelancing is that you have the ability to work from almost anywhere – sometimes outside of South Africa.

However, as the age old saying goes: as certain as death, there is taxes. Some countries may want you to pay tax if you do work there and conversely, even if you’re working abroad, SARS may still want its cut.

South Africa has tax treaties with various countries that determine which country may tax which income. This can get complicated. So the best advice we can give is if you do freelance work outside South Africa, you should probably consult with a tax practitioner.

When does this become a problem?

You may be thinking, this seems like a lot. It’s always worked out before, so I don’t see why it won’t continue to work out. Well our freelancing friend – death and taxes. It’s literally a saying.

Firstly, your business won’t stay small forever. All your hard work and savings will hopefully lead to growth and wealth and when it does – SARS will be waiting.

Secondly, ever wanted to buy a property? Well, it’s unlikely you will be able to get a bond and fulfill that dream without your taxes being sorted.

These are just two examples. There are many more.


Paying tax actually isn’t the worst thing in the world. Essentially, those highways we like, those health services our country relies on, the government grants we apply for – are all payed for out of tax payers’ money.

It’s possible that this fact won’t convince you to pay your taxes, but your tax status is closely linked to your commercial success. If you’re not okay with SARS, then at some point you will take a hit. The question is do you want that to be now, at the start of your career, or later when the consequences are more severe.

Legalese is a creative legal agency which has redesigned legal services to suit creative and start-up businesses by making them accessible, affordable and understandable.

Authors : Alvhin Adendorff & Eitan Stern

We also have a few accountants signed up onto Freelance Cape Town who would gladly assist you – have a look here.

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Charles Siboto, his journey and learnings as a Freelancer

posted by Marius Vosloo March 22, 2016 1 Comment

We recently had a chat with Charles Siboto and I can honestly say, from the first exchange of mails we had a LOT of respect for him, the way he communicates and when you see his profile it’s pretty hard not to be impressed with him.

Please enjoy the read below as Charles shares his journey with us.

Journeys have been an overarching theme in my life of late, whether it’s at work or at home. Journeys are perhaps one of the overarching themes of all life. That and running a race. All my teachers in primary school loved comparing life to running a race. I digress, though. What I want to get at is that when one is on a journey it is good to stop once in a while and take stock. Just stop, catch your breath, relax and look back at the way you have come. A little break also allows you to look at the road ahead and to plan a bit.

I recently joined the wonderful people over at Freelance Cape Town as a freelancer. Marius Vosloo, the guy who heads the team up, immediately made me feel welcome and at home. They just launched their blog (where you are reading this) and this is the perfect opportunity for me to pause, take stock and reflect on my journey as Charles thus far and to add my voice to theirs and see what sort of music comes of it.

Dear Reader and fellow traveller, sit down and rest your feet a while and let me tell you my story.

My name is Charles Siboto and I am a reader and lover of beautiful stories. I haunt places where I can find good stories. My love for stories has resulted in me becoming someone who works with stories, whether they are my own or stories that other people wish to tell. I mainly prefer stories that other people tell because there is nothing better for me than getting so caught up in someone else’s visions that you just cannot help but love and understand that person a bit more than you did before being moved by their story. I grew up as a reader and from early on I knew that stories are magic and that I want to be a part of that magic when I grow up. I never knew in what capacity I would help make and spread more of this magic but at least I had a general direction in which to start looking for where I can fit in.

I am not even all that picky in my love for stories. I love the stories my grandmother told me as a child and listened to Gcina Mhlope on the radio every Saturday morning on a show she had that was sponsored by Joko tea. I can’t remember the name of the show but I loved the monsters she always told of and how the children in the stories always outsmarted them. I read books, comic books, played video games, watched movies and listen to weird radio dramas. I landed up studying English Literature, Linguistics and Literary studies and I loved most of it and hated some of it. I remember one instance in my fourth year of university where I read the comic book, Final Crisis by Grant Morrison and had one of the greatest moments of my life reading a story and it shook me to my core. Final Crisis is a massive story in its complexity and when Zillo Valla (if my memory serves me well), one of the beings in charge of protecting the multiverse utters the following words it just gets me every single time I read that story: “Behold: we monitors who were faceless once . . . We all have names now, and stories. There are heroes and villains . . . secrets and lovers.” Things like this unstitch me. Somewhere in that comic book Superman asks that the words, To Be Continued be carved on his tombstone because humanity’s story never comes to an end, it always carries on. I read and love J.R.R. Tolkien and he taught me that some stories can break your heart and yet still strike you with sorrow as sharp as swords, eucatastrophe he called it, the good ending that breaks your heart.

Stories lead me to where I am today. My name is Charles Siboto and I am an editor of children’s books by day at one of South Africa’s biggest publishing houses. This is a great honour and privilege for me because it was a struggle for me to get my foot in that door but like any good character in your favourite stories I persevered and always kept on going. I am also a freelancer in the sense that I use the majority of my free time to blog and write about books, movies, comic books, video games, technology, lifestyle events and even a dash of politics for various online media. I also offer my services as a proofreader and editor to almost just about anyone who needs it. Interestingly enough, French engineering students turn up on my doorstep with reports for me to proofread on a regular basis. I have even dabbled in doing voiceovers, officially becoming the voice of one our book characters at work.

This, dear Reader and fellow traveller, is where I find myself currently. I am juggling a publishing career and exploring many avenues as a freelancer. I am learning a lot in both spaces and I love it. I’m working with stories and helping people who tell them find ways to tell them as clearly as possible, whether it’s an author writing a book for children or a company that needs content written to succinctly share their vision. My own story remains, always, to be continued . . .

Thank you for sharing your journey with us Charles.

If you would like to make contact with him, you are more than welcome to do so via his profile – Charles Siboto