As much as we love the freedom of it, nobody said being a solo was easy. With no onboarding, no HR team, and no colleagues, there’s no obvious person to turn to when you simply don’t know what you’re doing.
But going self-employed doesn’t mean you’re stepping into an empty abyss. If you know where to look, you can find the resources that will help build your freelance career.
That’s why we’ve created a guide that goes through classic questions that freelancers have and who they can speak to about them. In just a five-minute read, you’ll find out how to get actionable freelance help from people who can turbo boost your solo journey.
Choosing to build your own business is a daunting affair, and sometimes you can’t find the answers because you don’t even know the question. The following eight points cover typical areas that freelancers need guidance on.
The first step in your adventure: registering as a freelancer. Sure, it sounds easy, but if you’re new to the game, it’s a tricky process. And that’s before we even talk about the language.
Almost all freelancers choose to go through a gestoría — a general management service for businesses — to sign up with the tax authorities and social security. Sure, you can do it yourself, but the amount of time taken to navigate the government’s… ahem… “unique” online platform could be much better spent getting a job done and getting paid.
As a dedicated online gestoría, Xolo offers freelance help for expats from the very start. All we need is your NIE and 10 minutes of your time. We’ll even register you as a freelancer for free as long as you keep your subscription for at least six months. But as we’ll see in the following points, you’ll probably want to stick with us forever anyway 😉.
Invoicing has evolved massively in the past few years. From hand-written bills sent by snail mail to excel sheets by email, you can now simply fill in a few boxes and algorithms take care of the rest.
Sure, it’s good to know what you need to include in an invoice and why, but it’s hardly an art form. To manage your time as a solo, it’s important to streamline your admin as much as possible, and there’s plenty of freelance help out there to help you.
Online platforms like Xolo let you automate your invoicing so you can bill both Spanish and foreign clients by simply filling in a few details in a form. This is a far less stressful way of sending invoices, especially if you’re new to freelancing. Rather than staring at a blank page hoping you’ve got everything right, you can bash out bills every month without spending any time on it.
If you thought invoicing was hard, tax returns make it look like child’s play. To put it into perspective, there is a big, fat annual guide for tax returns that you can buy for the low price of €231.19 — and that’s with a 5% discount 🤩.
The forms themselves are page after page of complicated language that you wouldn’t even understand in your own language. You’ll spend hours sweating buckets, hoping you’ve got it right, and might end up with a nasty tax bill that you don’t even owe in the first place.
That’s why pretty much anyone you talk to will hire the experts to do it for you. Outsourcing your Spanish tax returns is the way to go for two key reasons:
Income tax-deductible purchases are your business expenses that are subtracted from your total earnings to give you your taxable earnings. In short: you pay less tax.
If you’re that way inclined, you can set out on a mission to find every deductible expense that applies to you. But if you value your time, you can reach out to an expert for freelance help and save yourself the hassle of scouring a bunch of contradictory articles on the web.
With a company like Xolo on your side, you have a hotline to experts who have seen it all before. Rather than scanning sites for specific info you need, you can get a yes/no response and never fear that the Hacienda is on your case. To simplify the process, you can even safely connect your bank account and track your expenses automatically.
Like with your income tax, you can get VAT back on purchases related to your work. These purchases include things like a new laptop, business subscriptions, and even a car if you can prove you use it for your job.
The system is quite complex, with your clients passing their VAT payments on to you before you hand them over to the tax authorities. By submitting your invoices alongside your VAT tax return, you get to keep a slice of your clients’ VAT that you pass on to the government.
Does that sound simple? Thought not.
But don’t worry, Xolo is there to help you again. All you need to do is submit invoices for your business expenses and we’ll sort out the rest.
As of 2023, social security contributions for freelancers in Spain is a more complex business than the previous flat-rate format. Nowadays, you have to make a rough estimate of your future earnings to understand your contribution base — base de cotización, which is the salary your contribution is calculated from. Then comes more complicated forms to fill in 🥲.
Again, gestorías are your go-to source for understanding and paying your contributions. By handing over the reins to experts, you essentially automate the process. This saves you a heap of time every month as well as the mathematical ins and outs of calculating what you owe.
If you ask freelancers in Spain if you can get paid parental or sick leave, the majority will probably answer “no”. And that’s why you shouldn’t always accept what you hear on the street. If you want real peace of mind, speak to an expert who knows the system inside out and will wish you a speedy recovery.
We’re not saying it’s smooth sailing — there are requirements. But in general, if you’ve been paying into the social security system for at least 180 days in the past five years, you’re eligible. You won’t have your full salary covered either. As an example, for a typical illness or non-work-related accident, you’ll get 60% of your contribution base, which rises to 75% from day 21.
Depending on where you're from, you might naturally turn to separate people for help with legal or financial advice. But in Spain, gestorías are your one-stop shop for everything you need, even though not all of them are the same.
Massive companies often spread themselves too thin and don’t have too much time for individuals. Others are more generalist and don’t offer specific help for expat freelancers. On the other hand, Xolo is made with freelancers in mind, and can offer solos precise, one-to-one advice on even the more obscure cases you come up against.
We’ve covered the kinds of questions you might have, now we’ll go through three examples of who to ask.
If you're all about that coworking life, it can be a great route for how to get freelance help informally. Coworking spaces are often social environments where you can pop a question to your new-found buddies and even find mentors there.
Obviously, even the most well-meaning mentor might not be the best source of technical information unless they are a gestor themselves. Similarly, their information may be outdated if they’ve been freelancing in Spain for a long time.
Not everyone finds their tribe in a coworking space, but you can just as easily turn your attention to online communities too. They’re a great way to connect with other solos in Spain and around the world so you can share ideas and get tips on freelance life.
A great example is Xolo’s Slack channel, a space designed exclusively for freelancers, which is full of news, advice, tax and accounting resources, as well as social and professional events. Being surrounded by solos like you — even online — is a great reassurance that you’re not in this alone.
A place to ask questions, share resources, find job opportunities and connect with your fellow fiercely independent freelancers!
It might come as a surprise to you, but you’re not the first person to go solo. And luckily, those who went before you left a trail behind them that can help you get a headstart.
FAQ pages are a great way of getting a quick answer to questions you have about freelancing in Spain. They’re often easy to navigate, and they’re also a great rabbit hole to get stuck down.
If you’re wondering why Xolo has appeared so many times through this guide, it’s because it’s your best bet — even if we do say so ourselves.
Xolo is an all-in-one online business platform with local experts available 24/7. So aside from making your invoicing as easy as pie, you can reach out for freelance help whenever you need to.
✍️Register as a freelancer for free
⬇️Deduct your business expenses
🤝Stay compliant with tax and social security
So if you need a trustworthy team of experts to help build your freelance career, sign up for Xolo today.
James McKenna has been a freelancer since 2017, working in subtitling, translation, and his main passion — writing. He loves nothing more than falling down a rabbit hole, a habit that has helped him specialize in areas as diverse as biotech, climate change, higher education, and business strategy.
Based in Barcelona, James learned the ropes the hard way, making mistakes that turned into valuable learning experiences. After working hard to establish himself, he is now working smart, and is always on the lookout for ways to streamline his business.