Freelancing can have great benefits for both freelancers and the businesses that hire them. Find out how your business could prosper using a freelance work force, and how you can rejuvenate your career by taking on freelance work.
Working for an employer has its pros and cons, and having a steady salary and someone else to deal with your tax and National Insurance contributions are attractive aspects for an employee! However, amongst the cons are a lack of flexibility and autonomy, so if this is what you crave then freelancing could be for you.
There is a particular increase in freelancers during times of economic depression. This is because small to medium sized employers are looking for better and cheaper ways of recruiting talented individuals. Hiring a freelancer means that businesses can take people on as and when they need them.
It also means that the business will not have to pay all of the associated costs of taking on a permanent member of staff (such as sick pay, holiday pay, maternity pay etc!)
Becoming a freelancer can be a liberating and exciting way of working. It can also be a great fit for a parent. Being able to work flexibly and on your own terms means you can fit your work commitments around family life, which is very appealing for a busy mum or dad, but if you are considering taking the leap there are certain things you should do to prepare for the change.
Obviously a key part of being a freelancer is finding people who need to employ you! Ideally you will have a network of contacts from your profession waiting in the wings to employ you on a freelance basis. But, if you are just starting out and don’t have contacts to rely on, then what can you do? There are various websites around that can help you find freelance work, and once you start making a name for yourself hopefully the work will come rolling in.
Many are based in the US, so look for a UK based one if you are looking for more local work.
Many people make the mistake of thinking freelance means ‘free’ – or at least cheap! But good companies are willing to pay decent money for talented individuals. If using a site where you have to bid for jobs, do not undersell yourself. Employers do not always go for the cheapest option. Many are looking for professionals with many years of experience and are prepared to pay for those skills.
If you are new to freelancing then make sure you identify your competition. You can do this using local directories then searching for them online – many will have websites and blogs. From these you can get an idea of the level of service expected, and it can give you pointers as to how to pitch yourself and the going rate for your kind of work.
Whatever line of work you decide to try your hand at, it’s a great idea to have an online presence. You could decide to pay for a professional website, but an alternative is to create your own blog. This can be done quickly, easily and, most importantly, for free from a website like WordPress and is a great way of advertising your business and showing potential customers exactly what you have to offer. If you would prefer a website to a blog then try a platform like Create. It is easy to use and you can create a great website with minimal IT knowledge. This costs £2.99 a month for a basic package.
Whilst legal and tax requirements can at first seem a little daunting it is well worth getting a handle on them early on. The last thing you need is a threatening letter from HMRC about your tax status. Many freelancers mistakenly believe that you do not need to register as self-employed unless they are earning over your personal allowance. In fact, whether you have earned £100 or £100,000 in a year you do need to complete a Self Assessment for the tax man or you could face a fine. They are easy to complete and can be done online. Visit www.hmrc.gov.uk for further information.