Freelancing in the wake of Covid

Emma Louise O’Brien from Renovo has some advice for people considering freelancing after Covid.

Keyboard, computer


Despite the fact that many freelancers have been badly hit by Covid as work has dried up and/or rates have gone down, that some have missed out on any government support and with new tax legislation on outsourcing work coming in in April, it is likely that self employment could see a bounce back after Covid as people look to re-enter the jobs market and employers seek a more flexible workforce. Recent research from PeoplePerHour shows 60% of business leaders say that they plan to use more freelance workers in 2021 with the most popular reasons being to introduce skills businesses don’t have in-house and to help speed up projects.

Emma Louise O’Brien, a job coach at Renovo, says that while freelancing helps many gain more control of their working life and opens up different working potentials in an uncertain job market, it is important to do your research well. Here she provides some advice on how to approach freelancing and Renovo answers the key questions people have about it.

Firstly, it is important to understand a business’s or team’s pressure points and key market issues so you can develop and present a clear solution to support their needs. You need to be clear on why they should hire your services and the benefit it will have to their company, not least as you may be marketing yourself to companies who would not traditionally use a freelancer.

Secondly, networking is essential. Having a strong online presence in key industries you want to work in is vital, so incorporating this into your daily working routine will help highlight your expertise to a wide range of organisations and maximise your chances of success.

And thirdly, don’t forget to research whether there are any legalities such as tax assessment or registrations that you will need to adhere to, as well as seeking further advice from an accountant.

Here are the three key questions people ask Renovo about freelance work:

I have a variety of skills and don’t want to be tied down to one job. How can I take control of my career to shape work around me and my expertise?

Consider a pluralist or portfolio career. This is an agile, autonomous working style combining multiple streams of income using a mix of employment, freelancing and volunteering.

Having a portfolio career is a working style that has many benefits. It allows someone to take control of their career so they can shape work around them, their expertise and individual strengths. Not only are portfolio careers helping individuals redefine work, but they help achieve a healthier work life balance. Other advantages include higher earnings, stronger sense of personal growth, more variety (ideal if someone is not driven by one interest), more opportunities and exposure to different cultures and environments than if they were employed full time and office based.

I have a skill I developed as a hobby over a period of time and I’m really good at it. Can I turn this into a business?

One of the most appealing factors is undoubtedly the chance to make a living out of something enjoyed – it’s little surprise that many people strive to turn hobbies into businesses. Nonetheless, it’s a serious challenge to turn a passion into a sound business strategy.

Bear in mind that once a hobby is combined with an income, a great deal of enjoyment may be removed from the process. Meeting the demands of customers could include working to a very tight deadline and repeating the same processes over and over again. This is why it’s important to start small. As demand rises it’s important to ask whether it’s still enjoyable. If not, individuals may wish to reconsider self-employment as a career choice. Some people do this alongside a part time or permanent role, so they can explore if this is something they want to commit to longer term.

I’m an expert in my field and I want to continue to do what I do. What do I need to do to be successful as a consultant?

Effective marketing is essential. Individuals will need to expand and excel at this in specific areas to help optimise success as a consultant. Before beginning any marketing, set goals to measure successes and route of travel. For instance, who will want the service? What is the current market demand and where do employers or customers look for this type of service or product? Conducting research and having answers to these types of questions is a great place to start.

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