The Gig Economy is a hot topic in the media today, with frequent suggestions that around 50 per cent of the workforce could be freelance in the future. Here we take a look at freelancing, if it can work for you, and how to get started.
Research from professional services firm PwC suggests that half of HR professionals expect at least one in five of their workforce to be made up of contractors or temporary workers by 2020.
Freelance support is appealing to employers, as it helps them flex their workforce to match business demand. But it’s equally appealing to freelancers themselves, for many reasons. For dads it can be the ideal career, harnessing their professional expertise while providing greater flexibility and, often, the ability to have more time at home with the family.
Find out if freelancing could work for you, and how to get started.
There are opportunities for freelance working in hundreds of professional areas, but the most common roles are in IT, digital and technology, marketing, PR & communications, copywriting, editing and proofing, HR, customer services, legal services, media, translation and, increasingly, administration.
Before you make the decision to go freelance, do some research into the demand for your skills. There are growing numbers of websites focused on matching up business needs with suitable freelancers – including People Per Hour, Upwork and Workingdads.
These will give you a good idea of the kind of work out there and market rates – which will help you decide if going freelance makes financial sense.
Like any career decision, freelancing needs careful consideration. There are downsides as well as benefits to be aware of. Here are some good questions to ask yourself:
Some freelance jobs are largely based at home, while others are contract based and your client will expect you to sit in their office. Will you need business premises and, if so, are you in a financial position to invest in them?
Freelancers sometimes have gaps between contracts or quieter periods. Do you have savings you can rely on if your income temporarily drops?
While being your own boss means you can create some flexibility, it’s limited if you’re working on an in-house contract. Some freelancers find that they are working longer hours than they expected, as they find it difficult to turn work down. Be realistic about what your working day could look like.
You’ll need to register as a sole trader or limited company, depending on the level of income you’re expecting. You’ll also need to manage monthly invoicing, accounts and tax. Many freelancers appoint an accountant to help with these tasks.
Will you need to buy equipment or IT supplies? Make sure you budget for these. You’ll need to consider financial products too, from adding ‘business use’ to your car insurance to Professional Indemnity Insurance if you’re providing advice and support to your clients. Many self-employed people choose income protection to pay the bills if they’re unable to work through injury or illness.
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, chances are you won’t regret it. Research from Boox suggests that the average freelancer earns more than double the national average salary, and a PCG survey found that nearly three quarters of freelancers were happier for making the decision.
As the Gig Economy continues to take hold, the opportunities for freelancers are growing all the time. Welcome to the club!