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3 Steps to Becoming a Successful Freelance Accountant

The world of freelancing is booming, especially for those with skills everyone needs, like accounting. You could be a successful freelance accountant if you have a passion for numbers and extensive bookkeeping knowledge.

Switching from working for someone else to being self-employed is exciting yet daunting. This article by Selfgood details what you can expect to deal with as you make this career evolution.

Most obstacles that intimidate other would-be gig workers, like taxes, record-keeping, and dealing with the IRS, are cake for you.

When you’re ready for the challenge, follow these steps to make the journey of branching out into freelance accounting easier.

Step One: Choose a Niche

Accounting is a broad term for a collection of smaller focal areas — or niches in the world of online business branding. What is your certification, particular interest, or passion?

For example, some accountants prefer auditing, while others steer clear from those requests. As a self-employed business owner, you can pick and choose the kinds of jobs you accept. But knowing your niche helps you market yourself to get in front of your ideal clients.

Of course, you must be able to show evidence that you’re the ideal accountant for the job, too. You may need a certification before legally practicing, even as a freelancer. A few of the most popular accounting certifications include:

  • Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) complete tax returns and audits and provide advice to your clients to guide them in their business and personal finances.
  • Certified Internal Auditors (CIAs) are hired to complete audits and assist businesses as they need help developing financial processes.
  • As a CISA, you ensure an organization’s IT systems actively and effectively protect its sensitive information and assets.

Choose your niche, either from one of these or another specialty, and use that focus area for marketing yourself when you’re ready.

Step 2: Protect Your Business and Finances

If you worked for someone else in the past, chances are, their business license and insurance policies protected your work. Now, it’s your responsibility to ensure you have everything required by law to accept money for accounting jobs.

Start by deciding whether you’ll register as a sole proprietorship or LLC. You know the pros and cons of each, but whichever you choose, you’ll need to complete the paperwork on the IRS website.

Once you have that officially documented, you can register with the state and county, and request a federal employee identification number from the IRS. You’ll need all of that to open your business checking account.

Finally, protect your business and personal accounts with general and professional liability insurance. You’re handling sensitive data, often from your computer, and if there’s ever a legal dispute, you’ll be glad to have someone on your side.

Those two policies are essential, but you should also consider investing in cyber liability coverage to protect you in the event of a breach.

Step 3: Market and Network

Finally, the fun begins! Now, you can begin networking with your connections, letting them know about your career change.

Freelance networking is done anywhere, at any time. And as an accountant, anyone could be your next potential client (depending on your niche).

Sign up for job fairs, create a LinkedIn account if you don’t already have one, and offer your services to local social media marketing groups.

Practice what you’ll say now so when the conversation steers in the right direction, you can easily tell the other person what you do and why they should hire or refer people to you.

As an accountant, you have a variety of professional organizations available, too. Sign up and join members-only groups like the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or the National Association of Black Accountants. Whatever your niche is, there’s likely an organization for it.

Since you’re self-employed, you’re also a candidate for many gig worker-only resources. These will help you find affordable insurance and open you up to a network of possible clients.


The world needs knowledgeable and reliable accountants like you. In fact, every business and most individuals will require those services at least once each year. With such a wide market, if you follow these three steps, you’ll be on your way to building a successful freelance accountant business.

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