As a freelancer, you virtually are everyone in a company. You are your own boss, your own marketing department, your own accounts department, your own project manager, your own legal department etc. The scope will be smaller compared to a corporate, but your scope of knowledge is much wider and many stuff to learn.
Phil Gyford gives you a head start with an article called A beginner’s guide to freelancing. He hands you his experience from what he learned during his year of freelancing – and those are pretty solid information – for instance about legal:
Should you expect a contract when you begin a project? I can only say that I’ve done a lot of work for clients with nothing more than a verbal agreement and I’ve never had a dispute over payment from either side. I may have been extraordinarily lucky, and a large number of my clients have been people I already know or are friends of friends. If I was working for an individual I had no connection to I’d probably be more keen on getting something in writing, but I’d be less worried with a reputable company I didn’t know (they’re less likely to disappear overnight).
Larger companies will often provide a contract, although they vary in their efficiency at getting it ready, which can be a problem if you’re both otherwise ready to start work. One large company I’ve worked for sometimes ends up providing lengthy contracts for me to sign after all the work has been completed, such is the bureaucracy.
Some of them are UK related, but most of them should be applicable to all freelancers.
A beginner’s guide to freelancing – [Phil Gyford]