Last week, National Freelancers Day meant that the world of freelancing hit the headlines. As a freelancer, checking the freelance news isn’t necessarily top of your priorities when you have clients to please and invoices to send. So today, we’ll give you an overview at the news affecting freelancers this year…
#1 Freelance on the rise
The top news story (as reported by Totaljobs) is a 132% increase in the demand for freelance jobs in the UK between 2017 and 2019. As freelancers, we know the benefits of the freelance lifestyle well, but UK workers are also starting to jump ship to the freelance world. Whilst these figures primarily relate to contract-based roles, rather than project-based freelancing, they highlight the shift in workers’ priorities from job stability and security to flexibility and work-life balance.
What this means for you as a freelancer: Potentially more competition from an increasing number of freelancers, but also more opportunities as more and more companies seek freelancers to plug gaps and complete projects.
#2 Freelancers drowning in admin
Research from Setapp found that UK freelancers are missing out on a combined £28bn each year from wasted time on basic admin tasks. On average, freelancers are spending 8.5 days per year on admin, including taxes (44%), emails (30%) and IT problems (28%). The problem here is that spending time on admin means time not spent on finding or working with clients. In other words, time spent on admin means time you’re not earning money. What’s more, 48% of freelancers felt these tasks affected their productivity, yet only 23% use productivity apps or tools.
What you can do as a freelancer: If you feel you’re wasting time on admin, consider outsourcing tasks to a virtual assistant and/or accountant. If you’re struggling with productivity, download free productivity software such as RescueTime or FocusBooster.
#3 Freelancers struggling to pay the bills
A study from ETZ Payments of 2003 freelancers suggested that up to 2.6 million skilled freelancers have missed bill payments as a result of receiving client payments late. What’s more, 15%-17% of freelancers have reportedly used payday loans to cover inconsistent freelance earnings. The government have now vowed to help freelancers, contractors, and small suppliers who are suffering from poor payment practises from big businesses.
What you can do as a freelancer: You can make your freelance income more stable—find out how here. Try to keep an emergency pot so you can pay the bills in the case of late payments. To avoid late payments, build late payment penalties into your terms of business contracts. If clients pay late once, cut them off.
#4 The top freelancers are loving it
Contrary to the other news articles circulating, the results of a 2018 Upwork study of 6001 freelancers found that many freelancers are doing just fine. In fact, 536 of them worked 25+ hours per week in highly skilled areas and were enjoying great success. The study found that freelancers are satisfied with their current work (72%), optimistic about the future of freelancing (90%), earn more than in a traditional job (66%), took less than a year to reach their earning level (81%), are happier than in a traditional job (76%), and live the lifestyle they want (78%).
What this means for you as a freelancer: You probably already know the benefits of freelancing, but more people might be joining you in the freelance world. If you’re not in the top percentage of freelancers right now, keep striving to improve your freelance life.
#5 Freelance contractors in the dark about IR35
In April 2010, tax reform IR35 will come into force. Its aim is to reduce tax avoidance where contractors would be considered employees if they weren’t using a limited company structure. This means that all companies (with more than 50 employees or earnings of more than £10.2million) must assess their contractors’ employment status.
However, according to a Qdos survey, 92% of 1000 contract freelancers haven’t been contacted by their client or agency about IR35. While 59% of businesses surveyed by Brookson Legal Services were considering a blanket approach to assessing contractors due to the complex rules and timeframes, 86% of the contractors surveyed by Qdos stated they would challenge a client who deemed them an employee under IR35.
What this means for you as a freelancer: If you’re a contract freelancer, get in touch with your client or agency asap to discuss the implications of IR35 for you—don’t leave it until April. And get clued up on the new regulation.
Have any of these issues affected you? What have you done to mitigate them? Comment below or get in touch.
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And stay tuned for more freelance tips on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on A Freelance Life…