6 secrets only freelancers and contractors know about

Around the world, more and more of us are going freelance, working for ourselves, offering our services to businesses and organizations. In the United States, for example, 35% of the workforce is made up of freelance talent, and as the coronavirus continues to cause mass job losses around the world, we’ll only see an increase in those figures as people work on their “side hustles” and forge their own career paths, reducing their reliance on businesses.

If you’re new to the world of freelancing or contracting, you’ve got a lot to learn. Below, we have bundled together some secrets that will give you food for thought and help you grow.

Freelancer websites suck

Websites like Upwork and Fiverr might be good for helping you secure your first clients in the early days of your business, but they’re not a good idea long-term. Indeed, some people say you should sign up to these websites to build a portfolio of work, but then move away from them as you grow your business. Why? It’s a dog-eat-dog world, where the price is the only way to stand out, and freelancers often have to work for less than minimum wage to succeed. In addition, such websites take unfair commissions - up to 30% - leaving you with little revenue.

It’s okay to say no

When you work for yourself, it’s natural to be cautious about making ends meet, and in that anxiety, you might agree to projects or work that doesn’t suit you. The sooner you grow a thick skin and decide what you do and don’t want to cover, the better. It’s okay to say no to a client if you’re not comfortable working on something or don’t have the expertise - be brave!

Accounting doesn’t have to be tough

One of the biggest challenges for self-employed freelancers is accounting and managing their taxes. Signing up to a bookkeeping website on day one is a good idea, or if you’re on a contract basis, consider an umbrella contracting company that can employ you. Your clients will pay your umbrella company for your work, and you’ll be paid by them, minus tax and national insurance. It’s a simple way to freelance and removes the need for any paperwork.

Your work will be in high demand

As businesses continue to look for ways to permanently reduce their overheads, many are turning to freelancers and the gig economy to bridge skills gaps. That’s good news for you, and if you put yourself in front of the right people, you’ll find work for life. Use this to your advantage when pitching - let them know why you are a better choice than an employee.

You don’t need to know everything

“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” Wise words from Sir Richard Branson. It’s okay to agree to a project that you’re not 100% confident in - just make sure you have the time to learn and a back-up plan if something goes wrong - for example, hiring another freelancer, or refunding.

People will try to take advantage of 

If you’re a generous person and a hard worker, you’ll find clients and businesses that try to take advantage of you. Don’t let them. Know your limits, know when to pull out from a project if it’s not working, and never work for free. Always invoice clients in advance for work and get them to agree to a contract before they do; otherwise, you could be left out of pocket.

How many of these freelancing secrets did you know about? Let us know on social media and be sure to check back soon for more advice on becoming your own boss. Good luck!

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