During the coronavirus pandemic redundancy rates increased faster than during the 2008-09 economic downturn, with the global uncertainty resulting in many workers losing their jobs.
The Bank of England expects the unemployment rate to peak at 5.5% this autumn, with the government’s furlough scheme set to finish at the end of September.
While lockdown restrictions have eased significantly over the past months, the future remains uncertain for the portion of the population that was unable to work through the pandemic.
Becoming a freelancer is a way back into the job market for those people. We’ve put together a few handy tips to help those looking to go it alone get the most out of their decision.
What is a freelancer?
The number of freelancers in the UK grew slightly to 2.2 million in 2020, according to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).
When you’re a freelancer, you can work for any number of companies and invoice them for your services. However, you’ll need to register as a sole trader with HMRC and take care of paying your income tax and national insurance contributions. That may sound daunting, but you can file your self-assessment tax return online and government-approved software like GoSimpleTax makes it easier than ever.
Companies are responsible for the health and safety of freelancers they employ, though. However, they do not have to afford them the same rights as permanent employees. For example, a full-time member of staff would be provided with replacement equipment if theirs malfunctioned or stopped working – a freelancer wouldn’t.
To protect yourself from potential issues that can threaten your ability to work, it could be a good idea to take out a business insurance policy. That way you know your back is covered if unforeseen circumstances arise.
Before you get started
It’s important to make sure it’s clear what services you are offering and the industry you are focusing on before you try to find work as a freelancer. Identify your key skills and select the one you want to put forward as your primary offering.
Once you’ve done that, set up a professional profile on online platforms like LinkedIn, Bidvine and Upwork that can help you find work. Try to find out if there are any such services dedicated solely to the niche you are looking to freelance in or the skill you are offering.
For example, contently is good for writers, OnSite caters to people who work in the digital realm, while IT contractors can head to Elevate.
If you can showcase pieces of work from a previous job, create an online portfolio that you can direct potential clients to. They’ll be able to easily see the standard of your work and it could help turn potential leads into paid work.
It’s simple enough to register as a freelancer, but by following our tips you’ll hopefully find it easier to find potential clients and start earning on the terms you set.
Jason is the Marketing Manager at a local advertising company in Australia. He moved to Australia 10 years back for his passion for advertising. Jason recently joined BFA as a volunteer writer and contributes by sharing his valuable experience and knowledge.