Freelancer

Why go freelance?

There's no denying that 2020 was a tough one, with more people than ever being forced to work from their homes and moving work entirely online. This shift has also seen freelancing boosted, as more businesses turn to flexible freelance support to help them get through the crisis.

If this year has been a turning point for you and you've decided to take the leap and become a full-time freelancer, congratulations! There will be many challenges along the road to successful freelancing, but every step is worth it. It's also essential you know what you're getting yourself into by becoming your own boss, so we set out the pros and cons below. 

Setting out on a new freelancing adventure can be daunting; you're taking full responsibility for your income and workload, as well as taking over all the fiddly financial and marketing side of things, so we take a look at some of the challenges and how to beat them. 

Why go freelance? 

Despite the pandemic, anecdotally, more companies are turning to agile freelance support to help them ride out the Coronacoaster and get back on their feet in 2021. Most members of our community have reported an uplift in enquires and new opportunities so it's all starting to feel a lot more positive and in the right direction.  

Being your own boss is liberating and empowering. You're the master of your destiny and can choose who you want to work with. 

While there can be a lot of anxiety around the money side and the feast or famine lifestyle that can come with freelancing, the flip side of that is that your earning potential is limitless! There is no glass ceiling or restrictions on how much you can earn and pay yourself, unlike in employment. 

The flexibility means you can work around your other commitments, lifestyle and family. 

Freelancing challenges

Some of the biggest challenges that come with working for yourself are:

  • Gaps in work
  • Admin and chasing payments
  • Isolation
  • Difficult clients
  • Late payments
  • Bidding wars 

So how do you overcome the challenges?  

Gaps in work: Network network network and start to build relationships as soon as possible, a great place to start is freelance Facebook groups. There are skill-specific groups you can join, for example, Freelance PR's, Marketing Managers UK, The Northern Creative Collective, and of course The Freelance Kit Members Group And what's the best way to network in groups, ask questions and be helpful! Groups are like any other community, so contribute where you can, don't be spammy or salesy and you'll start to build authentic connections quickly. 

Admin and chasing payments: A necessary evil, but there are some things you can do to make the more monotonous tasks easier. Always have a contract (you can buy a contract template from our shop here) and strict terms and conditions to protect yourself against late and non-payment. For the best tools and software to manage admin, you can download our free guide here. 

Isolation: Isolation is a very real problem when you're self-employed, even without a global pandemic and lockdown! Again, join as many online communities as you can and start to build your network. Connect with other freelancers in your area and go to events (online and IRL when they're allowed!) Most people are always up for having a chat or meeting for a coffee. 

Difficult clients: Something you have to bear, unfortunately, but you can usually spot the nightmare clients early on! Red flags include saying someone can do it cheaper (there can be a race to the bottom in the freelance world), contacting you at unreasonable hours, not giving enough notice, or trying to micromanage you from the beginning. There are lots more too, but with time and experience, you start to spot them much earlier on! 

Late payments: Always get a deposit or payment upfront for any new work or clients you don't have an existing relationship with and, again, have a good contract in place, so you're covered. Invoices legally become late after 30 days, and you can charge 8 % interest as a late payment fee. 

Bidding wars: Freelancing can be competitive, so set yourself apart by having a strong portfolio and be clear on what value you bring to your clients. The right mindset can be challenging at first as you're worried about paying the bills and where your next project is coming from, but never discount to a price you don't feel comfortable with. You'll only end up resenting it and not enjoying the project and the client doesn't usually respect or value you like they should. 

 

Freelancer traits 

So what kind of people make the best freelancers? A real mix! Self-employment isn't for everyone though, so if you're a person who needs a lot of structure and isn't OK with not knowing where the next pay cheque is coming from, it might not be for you! 

These are some of the more common traits that freelancers have: 

  • Tenacity: There will be good and bad days. Having the ability to brush yourself off and carry on is super important. 
  • Creativity: You don't have a team to brainstorm with, so being able to dream up the big ideas is all on you. 
  • Patience: And lots of it! 
  • Relaxed with lack of structure and routine (although you can create this for yourself) 
  • Organisational skills: You will be wearing all of the hats!
  • Ability to work to tight deadlines: Projects and delivery dates can often be last minute! 
  • OK with potentially a lack of financial stability
  • Happy to work alone a lot of the time 
  • Self-discipline! 

So congratulations if you've already made the leap; most people who make the decision to freelance and be their own boss say it's the best decision they ever made and didn't look back! 

If you haven't yet made your mind up, hopefully our review of the pros and cons helps. 😊

 

 

About The Freelance Kit

The Freelance Kit offers unique digital products, support and community for freelancers, including a 150 page high-quality and beautifully designed template kit.

Inside the digital kit, you’ll find templates, planners and spreadsheets for every aspect of freelance life including a 15-page contract worth £300, financial planning documents, social media planning templates and ideas for content, blog topic ideas and much more.

Along with digital products, The Freelance Kit has a private community and a soon-to-launch membership option, The Hive. The platform was created by experts to help freelancers thrive and our hope is that the products and support will empower you to succeed, and help make your freelance life that bit easier.

You can find our 2021 guide with 45 tools and tips for working from home and managing your freelance business in a handy FREE downloadable PDF HERE. We also have a FREE private members group where you can find support and guidance from an established freelance community, join HERE

 

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The Best Coworking Spaces in The UK-Colony Manchester

There's no doubt that office and coworking spaces have taken a massive hit over the last year, but thankfully most remain open and provide inspiring and stylish spaces to work for freelancers.

Our new series reviews the best coworking spaces across the UK and first up, we spoke to Alex Campbell, Founder of Colony in Manchester which has three stunning sites in the city centre.

Tell us a bit about the business. 

Time flies when you’re having fun.

I can’t believe it’s been just over three years since we started Colony. It feels like yesterday that we opened our first venue in Ancoats in 2017. Like most start-ups, it was somewhat of an experiment. We knew that we wanted to establish a community of like-minded freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses and see if we could provide a space in which the members of that community could collaborate, thrive and see their businesses flourish.

With no prior experience, we picked up a tape measure, put pencil to paper and set about designing playful spaces that we felt on instinct would satisfy a freelancer’s requirement for networking, productivity and inspiration. A key challenge for us was to fulfil these needs while providing a professional environment that freelancers would be happy to present themselves from. A few months later, with the space complete, we opened and got word out across social media and we were pleased to see there was a lot of interest from people looking for something like this.

 

Our community started to take shape and within 6 months we had reached capacity. We then began to look towards expanding the network across the city. Since then we have welcomed two further venues to the Colony fold; Colony Piccadilly and Colony The Astley on The Northern Quarter / Ancoats border. As the network continues to grow, so too do the opportunities for the members within.

 

 

How does Colony cater for freelancers?

Being a freelancer is challenging. It is a way of life that requires creativity, courage, focus and drive. Coming from creative backgrounds ourselves, we at Colony know and understand this. We have used our previous experience of working in the creative industries to provide a range of purpose-built amenities for freelancers to do their best, most creative work. Focus areas, collaboration zones, phone booths, meeting rooms, printing facilities, reception staff, business address and mail handling, social events, all available within their chosen Colony venue.

Each venue has a different style and aesthetic, and Colony Members have access to all three so that new inspiration and productivity is always close at hand! Freelancers across the Colony Community find opportunity to meet other freelancers and businesses (either within the venues or via our online portal) and as we have witnessed time and time again, this leads to new business relationships and exciting creative partnerships for our co-workers.

 

 

How has Covid affected your business?

It is difficult to talk about the previous 12 months without mentioning the ‘c’-word. We can all agree that this year would have been a lot smoother without the C*vid pandemic. However, as our work and social lives have changed in line with lockdowns and other covid safety measures, the pandemic has allowed Colony to look at the way we do things differently and we have adapted accordingly. As a business, this period of rapid adaptation has been extremely challenging and difficult, but has also provided a useful change of perspective. These forced changes of perspective are to be welcomed and embraced, regardless of the cause. It isn’t productive to dwell on the negative impacts of the situation, instead it is to be seen as an opportunity to gain new insights, and develop new ways to improve and enhance what we are offering our customers.

 

 

How have you been able to develop and change during the pandemic for the Colony Community?

Having discussed the impact of the pandemic with many of the freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses within the Colony Community, the resounding requirement for people at the moment is flexibility. More than ever people need to be able to change their schedules at short notice. As a result, we have decided to increase the level of flexibility that we offer. Giving our members the option to now pause their coworking memberships for a month at any time means they don’t have to worry about any possible unexpected change of plan.

Our pausable memberships have been especially welcomed by freelancers because it also allows them to pause a portion of their overheads when taking unpaid holidays.

 

Our spaces have changed too. We are fully committed to providing safe workplaces and further to implementing a plethora of covid safety measures, we have also reworked and refined layouts to ensure necessary social distancing. We have also limited our capacity, as a result increasing the amount of space that each member has at their work position. The recent prevalence of zoom calls within the business community is evident too, and we have installed additional phone booths to provide extra private space for those who need it.

The Colony community is outward looking. It stretches way beyond the walls of Colony and it is open to all. We are enthused by the creativity which is evident in all corners of the City. We have a proud and rich history of involvement and promotion of cultural & social events, art & photography exhibitions, debates and discussions, through which we have had the privilege of welcoming non-Colony Members into the community. Our events schedule has been paused for covid safety reasons, but we have continued to work with artists where possible and are currently exhibiting the work of local artist Greg Meade at our Piccadilly venue, we recommend you drop by and have a look as soon as you get a chance – lockdown restrictions permitting!

 

(photo: Pechakucha at Colony Jactin House, photo credit: Fiona Finchett)

We have also done our best to continue to support our cousins in the hospitality industry during these difficult times. Championing local establishments such as Nell’s Pizza, Gooey, Bondi Bowls, Trove and Burgerism to name a few, who all have great stories to tell of their entrepreneurial spirit during this difficult time (you can read their stories and experiences on the Colony Blog here).

 

How do you feel about the future of coworking?

I am excited about the future of coworking.

There is no doubt that peoples’ work habits have changed for the long term. There are more people working from home than ever before and there are so many positives to come from this (more flexible work patterns, less congestion, better for the environment etc). I don’t think that we will see a return to the pre-covid nine-to-five work commute. With a less predictable approach to the working day comes a requirement for greater flexibility in the workplace, something that Colony easily caters for. By offering a range of options from long term to short term memberships, single day passes or meeting room bookings,  Colony has always challenged the traditional approach to office space and we will continue to transform the workplace for the better. We will shape it alongside the evolving needs of the coworking community. Colony is listening to the community and we will develop our offering with an informed understanding of what freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses really need and want from a workplace.

Everything we have learnt over the past 3 years will be worked into our upcoming 4th location coming Autumn 2021. The way we are configuring this new location, which will be our largest space yet, will be appropriated to the post-pandemic world, new working habits and demands.

 

We know that this is a difficult time for freelancers, and we’re keen for the community to kick start their productivity in 2021. We would therefore like to give away a free day pass to any freelancers reading this. Further to this, followers of The Freelance Kit will receive a 20% discount off any Colony membership taken before April 2021! Simply get in touch (info@colonyco.work) and quote ‘The Freelance Kit’ and we will gladly arrange.

Our doors are open and our community is looking forward to welcoming you…

Email: info@colonyco.work

Website: www.colonyco.work

Twitter: @ColonyCoWork

Instagram: @Colonycowork

 

About The Freelance Kit

The Freelance Kit offers unique digital products, support and community for freelancers, including a 150 page high-quality and beautifully designed template kit. 

Inside the digital kit, you’ll find templates, planners and spreadsheets for every aspect of freelance life including a 15-page contract worth £300, financial planning documents, social media planning templates and ideas for content, blog topic ideas and much more. 

Along with digital products, The Freelance Kit has a private community and a soon to launch membership option. The platform was created by experts to help freelancers thrive and our hope is that the products and support will empower you to succeed, and help make your freelance life that bit easier.

You can find our 2021 guide with 45 tools and tips for working from home and managing your freelance business in a handy FREE downloadable PDF HERE. We also have a FREE private members group where you can find support and guidance from an established freelance community, join HERE

 

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Should Freelancers Register as a Limited Company or a Sole Trader?

Should freelancers register as a limited company or a sole trader?

When you first decide to take the leap and become a full-time freelancer, sorting out your taxes should be on the top of your list. Creating a self-assessment account is very easy, but there are a few details you need to decide on before getting stuck into setting up your account. The main one being whether you want to register as a limited company or as a sole trader.

Each option has its own pros and cons, so we’re going to take a look at each and give you all the info you need as a new freelancer, to make the right decision for you and your business

What is a sole trader?

When just starting out, a lot of freelancers choose to register as a sole trader, as it’s the simplest structure when deciding to become your own boss. A sole trader is someone who usually works alone or is the sole owner of their business. Effectively, you are the business. 

The biggest difference in the long run is that as a sole trader, you are completely responsible for your business’ losses and you are allowed to keep your business profits once you’ve paid tax on your total income.

What is a limited company? 

Becoming a limited company is a little trickier and it’s advised you get yourself an accountant to help you get the most out of this tax structure. Limited company means that a company is ‘limited by shares’ or ‘limited by guarantee’. Unlike being a sole trader, the business becomes separate from you as the owner. If your company is limited by shares, it means that your business has separate finances from your personal finances, so you wouldn’t be held personally responsible for any major business losses. 

There used to be more tax ‘perks’ in setting up a limited company, but there are still benefits depending on how much you earn and if you’re the sole employee of your company. It is always advised to seek advice if you choose this route as it can get complicated. 

Tax and national insurance

When you’re full-time employed you don’t have to worry about things like paying tax or paying your national insurance, as it comes straight out of your paycheck. However, when you’re the one in charge of making sure to pay HMRC, you need to be aware of what you need to pay and when. Although there are many similarities when paying tax and NI between being a sole trader and a limited company, there are also a few key differences to be aware of when choosing which to register as.

As a sole trader your first £12,500 is tax free and you’ll pay around 20% tax on your income up to £37,500. Once you begin to earn over £37,500 as a sole trader, you’ll move into a higher tax bracket and pay around 40% tax on your earnings. If you find yourself earning over £150,000 in a tax year, then you’ll pay around 45% tax on your profits. 

Example: If you earn £45,000 in a tax year, £12,500 of that income will be tax free, so you will only pay tax on the remaining £32,500. This puts you in the lowest tier tax bracket, which means you’ll pay 20% tax on that £32,500 resulting in a tax payment of £6,500 for that tax year.

National Insurance as a sole trader is paid depending on two different classes. Class 2 means that you have to pay NI once your profits are £6,475 or more a year, in class 4 you pay when your profits are £9,501 or more a year. Don’t forget that your profits are your income with all your business expenses deducted. 

If you choose to opt in as a limited company, then you will pay class 1 NI and it will be based on your earnings as an employed person. Like we mentioned before, when you become a limited company, your business finances will become separate from your own personal finances, so you effectively become your own employee and pay yourself a wage. Just like an employer would if you worked for a third party. 

As a director of your limited company, you will only pay NI once your salary exceeds £9,500 and income tax when your income exceeds £12,500 and this contribution will usually need to be paid in a lump sum when you submit your tax return, rather than being deducted weekly or monthly like you would if you were a standard employee. 

Essentially, owners of limited companies pay tax twice, as the company will pay corporation tax and you as a director will pay income and NI tax. Your company will pay tax based on its profits from trading, investments and selling assets during a tax year and as an employee of that company, you will pay income tax on your personal earnings as company director.    

Another aspect of being a limited company that you will have to think about, is setting up a PAYE scheme. This scheme manages the tax and NI that your employees pay, even if you’re the sole employee of your limited company, you need to set up PAYE. Having employees under your limited company can offer some tax relief as you can claim expenses for things such as company cars, health insurance and travel and entertainment expenses. There are also a few tax exemptions when it comes to employee expenses as you don’t have to declare costs for business travel, phone bills, business entertainment and uniforms or tools needed for work.

Dividends for shareholders

With a limited company's finances being separate from the owners/shareholders, you may wonder how or if you can take money out of your business should you need or want to. The answer is yes, but only if your business makes a profit. If your limited company has turned a profit, then you are free to pay out a dividend to yourself as a shareholder, or any other named shareholders. 

This dividend is tax free for the company, so you will not be taxed for paying this sum out to any shareholders your business has. However, if the dividend being paid out is over £2,000 then the shareholder receiving it may have to pay income tax on that amount. Essentially, your company will not have to pay tax, but you might. To find out more about dividends, head over to gov.co.uk.

Which is best for a freelancer? 

Although limited companies do have some tax perks, they can be very complicated to manage on your own and you have to make a profit in order to legally withdraw dividends. With so many pros and cons attached to being a limited company, it’s best to make sure you have an accountant that can handle all of the legal and tax return side of things, in order to really get the most out of it. 

For freelancers, registering as a sole trader is a much easier option and you can manage your tax payments through ready-made software like QuickBooks, Sage or Xero. When you’re just starting out, you may not feel ready to commit to an accountant, so this is your best option to manage your finances quickly and easily. 

Remember, that if you get to a point in your freelancing career where you want to build a bigger empire, you can always change to a limited company further down the line. 

You can find our 2021 guide with 45 tools and tips for working from home and managing your freelance business in a handy FREE downloadable PDF HERE. We also have a FREE private members group where you can find support and guidance from an established freelance community, join HERE

 

About The Freelance Kit

The Freelance Kit offers unique digital products, support and community for freelancers, including a 150 page high-quality and beautifully designed template kit. 

Inside the digital kit, you’ll find templates, planners and spreadsheets for every aspect of freelance life including a 15-page contract worth £300, financial planning documents, social media planning templates and ideas for content, blog topic ideas and much more. 

Along with digital products, The Freelance Kit has a private community and a soon to launch membership option. The platform was created by experts to help freelancers thrive and our hope is that the products and support will empower you to succeed, and help make your freelance life that bit easier.  

SHOP


Jack Appleton

Freelancer Focus- Jack Appleton

Freelancer Focus 

Our Freelancer Focus series features freelancers from our community, and we talk about how they've coped during the ongoing Covid19 crisis and their predictions for the future.

Next up is Jack Appleton, Founder and MD at Relentless Agency, providing social media and digital marketing services to national and international businesses and brands. Jack set the agency up after being made redundant from his role as UK Marketing Manager for the Melia Hotels Group in March due to the impact Covid has had on the hotel and hospitality industry. 

What do you do?

Based in Manchester, I provide social media and some digital marketing services to national and international businesses and brands small and large. With a strong commercial hospitality background, I have worked in a number of sales, revenue and marketing roles within these types of businesses at regional and group level, prior to setting up freelance under the Relentless Media brand in March 2020 following redundancy due to COVID-19 and its impact on events and hospitality. I primarily specialise in organic social, content creation, influencer programmes, (small and at scale), and social media strategy, (collaborating with paid and social media ecommerce partners).

What have you been up to during the Covid madness?

Keeping in touch with and working my network was key – I had to start from scratch in terms of getting the word out that I was now freelance and ‘open to work’ in the social marketing space, but also encourage my network to spread the word that my skills were very much transferrable and could flex and mould to suit businesses outside of the industry (hospitality). I’m incredibly grateful to those who have connected me with businesses seeking support and who have started working with me on their organic social footprint and since onboarding some new clients, the focus for me has been looking after them and trying to maintain some sort of pipeline to make sure I am networking and selling my services at the same time. I’ve found it a tricky balance!

What did your days look like pre-Covid and what do they look like now?

Pre-COVID I was Country Manager for a large hotel company and things were pretty chaotic with 3 hotels and almost 450 bedrooms in 3 cities under construction, and pretty strict critical paths to manage, collectively, to make sure the marketing deliverables were covered off. Now it couldn’t be more different. I absolutely love the flexibility the freelance model gives me, but I sometimes find myself jumping from task to task, flitting between priorities and having to take more time than ever before to re-focus and make sure I have a checklist and work through priorities – I’ve found it so easy to become overwhelmed.

How are you feeling mentally and how do you manage stress?

A bit of a rollercoaster a lot of the time. There is an image that freelancer life is chill, and you can come and go as you please – whilst it’s certainly true to a certain extent, I’ve found that sometimes I feel as if I have more bosses than ever before…and more than one person to report to can become overwhelming. I always try and write a check list and turn my phone over, so I ignore any reactive messages and actually focus on working through the checklist and tasks in hand. It’s tricky and sometimes really difficult but recently I’ve started thinking, “I certainly feel pretty overwhelmed now, but I’ve managed to get through my workload before and successfully, and I’ll do it again.” – it can also help me to put my phone in my pocket and go out for a walk, even for just 15 minutes to clear my head of distractions.

How do you feel about the future?

Pretty optimistic. I’ve recently really limited my media intake in terms of mainstream media and news. I used to receive a Sky News or BBC News alert and sit for 20 or 30-minutes thinking about the future and what will become of the world and how I’d manage to keep things ticking over, and even better, grow. I switched alerts off a few months ago and did a real detox of notifications on my phone and MAC. It’s certainly helped me maintain some optimism for the future as I can focus without certain distractions.

What predictions do you make for the future of freelancing?

I really do believe that freelance support will become a lot more mainstream and a lot of large businesses will be seeking freelancers to fulfil lots of the workload as they re-structure and re-strategize – for a lot of brands at corporate office level. It makes complete sense. Now, more than ever, (as has been written on the group before) it’s time for us to ‘set out our stalls’ in terms of managing client’s expectations, protecting and looking after our mental health and being ‘switched on’ – as I strongly believe more than ever, we’ll be a hugely necessary extension of teams for many businesses. I also believe they’ll be a lot more freelancers and businesses collaborating across the globe, remotely. We won’t need to service a client in Manchester and be based in Manchester, a marketing team could be made up of 6 freelancers in 6 different locations globally, and a head of marketing employed directly by said business. It’s the setup for one of my largest clients and we’ve grown sales during COVID so it really works.

 Thank you Jack for taking part. :)

 

You can join our FREE private members group where you can find support and guidance from an established freelance community here. 

And grab your FREE Ultimate Freelance Guide here,The Ultimate Freelance Guide 2020 with 45 top tools and tips from our community.

About The Freelance Kit

The Freelance Kit offers unique digital products, support and community for freelancers, including a 150 page high-quality and beautifully designed template kit. 

Inside the digital kit, you’ll find templates, planners and spreadsheets for every aspect of freelance life including a 15-page contract worth £300, financial planning documents, social media planning templates and ideas for content, blog topic ideas and much more. 

Along with digital products, The Freelance Kit has a private community and a soon to launch membership option. The platform was created by experts to help freelancers thrive and our hope is that the products and support will empower you to succeed, and help make your freelance life that bit easier. 

Shop 

 

 


Freelancer of the Week

Freelancer Focus - Becky Wong

Freelancer of the Week

Our new series features freelancers from our community and we talk about how they've coped during the ongoing Covid19 crisis and their predictions for the future.

Next up is Becky Wong who is a remote freelancer currently based in Bulgaria!

What do you do?

Hello! I’m Becky. I’m an ex-Londoner turned digital nomad. I’ve been remotely freelancing for the last 3 years, wearing many hats! Most of my work is with small businesses as Operations & Projects Manager as well as freelance writing creating content for their company websites. This year I’ve been focusing on projects surrounding sustainability, diversity and inclusion!

Alongside my freelance work, I run Project Anywhere where I share stories about nomad travels, freelancing and remote work adventures - although this year there's been a big pause on any travelling so it's been mostly Bulgarian adventures! I also coach and mentor others who are starting remote careers or running remote businesses.

What have you been up to during the Covid madness?

My partner and I decided to stay where we were in Bulgaria when it all started, so I continued to work remotely from the small mountain town, Bansko. Some client work paused, so it did impact my work at the time. I also had some surprise health issues over the summer months which meant I had to hit pause on all of my freelance work in the end unfortunately while I dealt with that.

I had just started a 3-month membership at the local space Coworking Bankso before the lockdowns started in Bulgaria. The founder kindly contacted all nomad members who stayed in Bansko to check-in on us and started a Whatsapp group for us to share updates and stay in touch. They also shifted many of their regular community activities to online, so it was brilliant to be able to stay connected that way through the lockdown!

Because I’ve been working remotely over the last 3 years, apart from not being able to physically go into the coworking space or to cafes at the time, much of my usual routines stayed pretty much the same - working from home and video calls with clients with even more video calls with friends, family and online groups.

There were A LOT more Zoom video calls during the lockdown period. :)

What did your days look like pre-Covid and what do they look like now?

Pre-Covid I’d be moving around every 3 months exploring new bases around the world, but right now I’m not travelling at all (except for a few road trips around Bulgaria!). I had planned to slow it down this year anyway I just didn’t know where, and the world chose Bulgaria for me.

I’ve been relying on online groups to meet new people while travelling and joining online events over the last few years already, so it’s been fascinating to see the big shift towards everything going remote out of necessity because of the pandemic. There have been many remote work summits happening over the years and now it seems the number of online events is exploding more than ever!

Although it’s sad that it took a pandemic to drive more conversations about remote work being the norm, it’s a big positive direction. Because while some of us want to work remotely or flexibly, there are many others who need to.

How are you feeling mentally and how do you manage stress?

I think there’s more of a general acceptance now that this isn’t going away any time soon and we’ll be living with restrictions for some time still. I definitely felt that shared global grief people talk about because it has been a hard year for everyone in so many ways.

I’m feeling positive, like most people I’ve been feeling a lot of ups and downs this year. I’m grateful to have my long-term partner, travel buddy and fellow freelancer to keep me grounded and keeping my spirits up. Luckily, we live in an age too where technology allows us to video call family and friends at a drop of a hat - staying connected with loved ones has been a major help too.

There have been times this year where I felt like I should be doing more, achieving more, using the time especially during lockdown to push ahead on personal or professional growth but I’d be struggling mentally because of everything happening, as many of us have felt. I’d often remind myself not to be so hard on myself!

This year has not been normal circumstances in any shape or form so we should go definitely go a bit easier on ourselves. If that’s what you need right now, then don’t feel guilty about reading all of your books or binge-watching ‘Emily in Paris’ on Netflix. ;)

How do you feel about the future?

I’ve always been ever the optimist! My plan this year from the start has been “the plan is to have no plan” which turned out to be incredibly fitting. As a freelancer, I’m used to and prepared for bouncing between being busy and having downtime.

Pandemic-wise, I’m worried about what the world might look like from the view of the impact of this pandemic around the world.

From a freelancing and remote work view, I’m excited about the shift from friends or connections who would never have considered either before who are now seeing both as options now. Couple that with organisations also seeing this change as something that is here to stay rather than a long-term solution.

What predictions do you make for the future of freelancing?

I think there are loads of new opportunities for anyone who is looking to make that leap or is looking for a career change. I’m currently working directly with or as a sub-contractor with so many clients from organisations big and small who see the real benefit of working with freelance teams, to be able to quickly scale up and scale down depending on their projects while being able to work with specialists.

More people are realising the benefits of freelancing and self-employment for themselves too, to be able to choose when, where and how you work. As more people continue to look for and find the flexibility, they need to fit work around their life rather than the other way around, I think more people will choose this option.

Freelancing communities are such welcoming, collaborative communities, open to helping each other out. We’re all here ready to guide and support you if you are thinking about making a change. :)

 Thank you Becky for taking part.

You can join our FREE private members group where you can find support and guidance from an established freelance community here. 

And grab your FREE Ultimate Freelance Guide here,The Ultimate Freelance Guide 2020 with 45 top tools and tips from our community.

About The Freelance Kit

The Freelance Kit offers unique digital products, support and community for freelancers, including a 150 page high-quality and beautifully designed template kit. 

Inside the digital kit, you’ll find templates, planners and spreadsheets for every aspect of freelance life including a 15-page contract worth £300, financial planning documents, social media planning templates and ideas for content, blog topic ideas and much more. 

Along with digital products, The Freelance Kit has a private community and a soon to launch membership option. The platform was created by experts to help freelancers thrive and our hope is that the products and support will empower you to succeed, and help make your freelance life that bit easier. 

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Freelancer

Five Reasons Why Being a Freelancer Rocks

Freelancer

Although the COVID19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has hit many self-employed people hard - let's take the opportunity to celebrate the positive reasons for going, or remaining, part of the UK’s incredible freelance community.

Here are our top five reasons why being a freelancer rocks...

You are the master of your own destiny 

Despite the uncertainty that lockdown has created, with lost contracts and parked new business meetings the norm, being a freelancer still offers you more control than being employed.  Employment can appear to be the more stable choice, but in many cases, staff members work with constant threats of redundancy due to the streamlining of departments, cost cuttings and lost contracts. 

And, while furlough may appear to be an extended holiday, many freelancers have used their spare time in lockdown to work on their business models, improve their skills and mindsets, look for new clients and widen their contacts book. 

Freelancing can be hugely empowering when you think of it that way. You are always the master of your own destiny and never have to worry about being out of a job. 

There is no salary cap

Unlike employment where there are usually strict salary caps for most roles, there is no glass ceiling for freelancers.  Your earnings reflect your hard work, your focus, and your passion, and you can make the decisions when it comes to how much you charge and how much time off you have.  

It may be a wild ride on occasion, but having a more hands-on approach to your finances can be a very positive thing. 

You can work around your other commitments 

Although employment overall is becoming more flexible as tech improves and attitudes towards the nine-to five-day change, being a freelancer means you have ultimate control over when you work and how you spend your day. 

Sure, there will be deadlines, and sure you’ll be busy with client work, but freelancing allows you to design your life around other commitments. You may have taken to the leap into freelancing for this very reason - so if you want to pick your kids up from school, walk your dog, work on a side hustle, give time to a charity project, take up a hobby or simply support family members and friends, freelancing will give you the freedom to do it. 

Employment will simply never be as flexible as freelancing, and having this level of control will also help with your mental wellbeing and work-life balance. 

You are part of an incredible collaborative community 

The UK’s freelance community is an incredible thing to be a part of. Freelancers are always happy to collaborate, share resources, pass work around and support each other. 

The Freelance Kit’s Facebook group has become a great place for members to share tips, resources, links, free training, post supportive info and ask questions. 

Even though you may not always have colleagues to bounce ideas off - social platforms and groups step in to provide this function for the freelance community. 

You could be the answer to business success in a post COVID19 world 

Although we are all unsure about the future to some extent, freelancing could prove to be a huge part of the business re-build when things start moving on again. Lots of businesses will prefer to turn to agile freelance support giving them much more flexibility whilst business is rebuilt. 

Freelancers are hugely talented, very experienced and can provide services on a cost-effective, project-based basis for businesses, without the large agency costs or the requirement to hire a new employee. 

Things may seem bleak and uncertain for some, but don’t lose heart - keep pushing, keep reaching out and stay positive.  The rainbow after the storm is on its way! 

You can join our FREE private members group where you can find support and guidance from an established freelance community here. 

And grab your FREE Ultimate Freelance Guide here,The Ultimate Freelance Guide 2020 with 45 top tools and tips from our community.

About The Freelance Kit

The Freelance Kit offers unique digital products, support and community for freelancers, including a 150 page high-quality and beautifully designed template kit. 

Inside the digital kit, you’ll find templates, planners and spreadsheets for every aspect of freelance life including a 15-page contract worth £300, financial planning documents, social media planning templates and ideas for content, blog topic ideas and much more. 

Along with digital products, The Freelance Kit has a private community and a soon to launch membership option. The platform was created by experts to help freelancers thrive and our hope is that the products and support will empower you to succeed, and help make your freelance life that bit easier.  

Shop 

 


Six ways that freelancers can future-proof their business during Covid-19

Six ways that freelancers can future-proof their business during Covid-19 by our Founder, Nikki Kitchen. 

The ongoing Covid-19 crisis and the subsequent effect on businesses has hit the freelance economy hard, with many clients cutting their freelance support overnight. 

A recent survey of PR freelancers by the PR Calvary has found that half of the participants have lost 60 % of their income, and many of them cannot claim the rescue package help from the government in June, due to their length of time in business or the nature of their business set-up. 

Although there is some good news, with several fortunate freelancers reporting new business wins, most people are finding that they suddenly have a lot of spare time on their hands. 

With that in mind, here are six things that you can do to survive and future-proof your business during the Covid-19 crisis. 

  • Start to think strategically for the future and get your house in order 

The freelance and gig economy has grown exponentially over the last few years, with nearly 64% of businesses employing freelance support. In 2017, People Per Hour Founder Xenios Thrasyvoulou, predicted that half the UK workforce would be freelance by the end of 2020, and whilst a lot of freelancers have lost work, as the crisis starts to ease businesses are more likely to turn to flexible, agile support rather than employing full-time staff. 

Until things start to get back to the new ‘normal’, it’s a great opportunity to work on your business rather than in it. Do you have a strong portfolio, and is your website up-to date? Use the extra time to get your house in order so you’re ready to go when new opportunities start to appear. 

Do you have robust terms and conditions in place? Do you need to rethink how to structure your business? Lots of freelancers rely on a couple of big clients for their income and that isn't the best approach because they can (and have!) disappeared quite literally overnight. Of course, it’s easier said than done to try and secure new clients right now, but when it does start to pick up, which it will, work towards creating more balance in your business so you’re not so reliant on one or two clients. 

One thing that this extraordinary situation has taught freelancers is that anything can happen, whether that be a global pandemic or a personal crisis, now is the time to think about how to protect yourself going forward. 

  • Learn new skills

Whilst we’re all probably a bit sick of being productivity shamed (what’s wrong with daytime drinking and Netflix bingeing anyway?) if you do want to use the time to upskill, there are some amazing free and heavily discounted courses available. 

Google’s Digital Garage is a fantastic place to start and I highly recommend the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course with 26 modules covering SEO, SEM, social media, and content marketing. You can complete it at your own pace, and the modules will be of great use to most freelancers. 

Udemy has some incredible courses which have all been heavily reduced and Jolt London offers specific courses for start-up businesses led by world-class experts. The Open University is also offering a variety of free courses. 

The PRCA and CIPR are both offering free webinar series and short courses to help PR freelancers navigate the crisis as they go along. 

  • Set business goals

Although it might feel tricky to set goals when we don’t know what the heck is going on (or what the world will look like when this crisis finally starts to pass), you can start to think about what you really want for your business. Why did you start freelancing in the first place? What type of clients do you want to work with? 

Start to reflect on your freelance career and be honest about your achievements - have you been going in the right direction, and on the right trajectory? Do you want to increase retained monthly earnings by a certain percentage? Attract different clients from new sectors? Write a book, start a podcast, or branch out into a new area? Write down your goals for the year and break them down into quarterly and monthly actions where you can. 

So often, we can get caught up in just paying the bills and forget about the work we’re really passionate about, so use this time to get clear on your ‘why’ and what’s next for you. 

  • Work on your mindset and focus

Most freelancers and business owners have been through a whirlwind of emotions during the crisis, from anger to anxiety, to grief to acceptance and back again! Members of The Freelance Kit community have reported various mental challenges, but many seem to be arriving at a positive place of acceptance and have started to have more of a growth mindset. As a side note though, it’s totally fine if you aren't in that place, right now is the time to be kind to yourself and go at your own pace. 

The Freelance Kit is running a free weekly Facebook Live expert interview series and we spoke to qualified business and freelancer coach, Matt Essam about the future of freelancing. 

Matt commented that this situation was a “great time to pause and reflect” and think about your business and where it is going. He also talked about how we can use this time to change our mindset from focusing on what we ‘do’, to focus on how we can solve problems for our clients (and future clients!). 

For example, by offering a free brand audit, you put yourself in a stronger position to deliver the actual work and position yourself as the knowledgeable guide solving a problem the client didn’t know they had. 

Think about who you can approach, both previous and potential clients, and what problems you can solve right now. Start with a list of five contacts and see what happens, there might not be paid work immediately, but you’ll be first in mind when there is. 

You can join our free community here where all of the Live videos are available to watch. We’ve already had weekly expert interviews on mindset, finding purpose, and mental health and have upcoming discussions about accounting and marketing your freelance business during the crisis. 

  • Collaborate 

Now is the perfect time to look for collaboration opportunities or expand your network. By reaching out to other freelancers, you never know what opportunities you might be able to access or help out with, or they may be able to introduce you to other clients and connections looking for support. 

Starting to reach out in an authentic way right now will build relationships for the future, so think about other freelance skill sets that your skills complement. For example, are you a graphic designer who might be able to help a PR with social media content, or a digital marketing whizz able to help a traditional marketer take a business online?

The best place to start is in freelance social media groups, there are tons of brilliant ones including Freelance PR’s, The Northern Creative Collective and The Freelance Kit. All are safe and supportive spaces where you can look for opportunities to collaborate and start building a network of like-minded people. 

  • Rest and recharge! 

Now the initial panic is (hopefully!) starting to pass, we can start to reframe the extra time as an opportunity to just rest and ‘be’, so sleep, relax and do what makes you happy.

Ditch the screen time, take the dog out, do some yoga and leave the phone charging while you spend some time in the garden with the kids. 

Resting and recharging your batteries will do you the world of good, so when the crisis has passed you can come out fighting and raring to go.

Stay well.

Nikki x 

Nikki Kitchen

Grab your FREE Ultimate Guide to Freelancing HERE. And join our FREE private members group where you can find support and guidance from an established freelance community, join here. 

About The Freelance Kit

The Freelance Kit offers unique digital products and community for freelancers, including a 150 page high-quality and beautifully designed template kit. 

Inside the digital kit, you’ll find templates, planners and spreadsheets for every aspect of freelance life including a 15-page contract worth £300, financial planning documents, social media planning templates and ideas for content, blog topic ideas and much more. 

Along with digital products, The Freelance Kit has a private community and a soon to launch membership option. The platform was created by experts to help freelancers thrive and our hope is that the products and support will empower you to succeed, and help make your freelance life that bit easier. 

Shop

 


Freelancer Focus Yolanda Copes-Stepney

Freelancer of The Week

This week we spoke to Yolanda Copes-Stepney whose background is in PR, events and digital content. Yolanda has just launched an incredible series of events “Speak On Presents: How To Be Anti-Racist” which runs from tonight, 14 July at 6.30pm – 17 July and 21 -23 July.

Speak On Presents: How To Be Anti-Racist

 

Beyond the Black Square
How to be Anti-Racist

A series of online events including talks and panel discussions designed to support and educate people committed to being anti-racist.

” We know it’s not enough to be non-racist, we have to be anti-racist and we’re providing a safe space for people to ask questions”

Speak On have bought together psychologists, academics, activists and more to lead the sessions which will include learning how to talk to explain racism to children of all ethnicities, to processing the shocking images you’ve seen on social media, through to how to help your friends with racial trauma.

Speakers include: Richie Brave, Dr Vanessa Boachie, Dr Yvette Arthur, Vix Meldrew, Ama Peters and many more.

Along with running Speak On, Yolanda owns Speak & Do, a digital media agency which specialises in influencer management, booking and brand partnerships, and also content creation including campaigns and events. And if that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Yolanda is founder of the Festival Of Confidence, an event series for women designed to build and celebrate confidence, which also has a podcast and YouTube show!

How have you been affected by the crisis and lockdown? 

One of my brands was being acquired, but that fell through because of COVID. It was a bit sad, but something that we’ll revisit in the future.

I went on furlough from Speak&Do because brands weren’t booking many campaigns. My sister has been taking care of the ongoing deals while I work on my other brands, Speak On and planning for Festival Of Confidence.

How are you feeling and what have you done to manage your mental health?

I’m all good to be honest. I’ve been working out, chatting so much on the phone and video calls A LOT.

I’ve recorded a Podcast and spent time restructuring and sorting out my other companies.

At the beginning I did have a few moments of disbelief and mild peril, but adjusted fairly quickly. I have been working flat out for years, so this gave me the forced break I needed. It’s made me realign and going forward, I am only working four days a week.

What did your normal day look like before and what does it look like now?

Then

Daytime

Work from 8/9am – 6pm, sometimes later. Or I would spread my work out over the whole day with breaks for walks, chat and working out. I work from The Curtain or Shoreditch House. Evenings- Could be any of the following: Cinema, drinks with friends, Soho House or The Curtain events (they have a great selection of things to do), brand events with talent clients. Sofa, films and wine.

Now:

Up at around 8am, a lot of mincing in tracksuits, workouts occasionally (sometimes I am bang on it, other times I am very committed to being on my sofa all day) Around 4 – 5 hours of work 3-4 days a week, a lot of podcasts, audio books and I am pretty sure I’ve completed Netflix.

What do you predict for your industry post lockdown and Covid19? 

⁃Content creators will overtake generic “influencers”, comedians who have been doing the lord’s work when it comes to making us laugh and entertaining us during these times will have increased value at influencers.

⁃Campaigns will have more diversity and inclusion, which is great because I truly have been having this fight with brands since 2016.

⁃Activists and advocate influencers will become more relevant.

⁃Some agencies will give up their offices and the sector will have more digital nomads with staff based globally.

⁃For a while, working hours and opening hours will decrease as we all want work/life balance.

⁃Brands will consult more on content instead of just relying on the echo chamber of their offices in an effort to strike the correct balance with campaigns.

Thank you Yolanda for taking part.

 

You can join our FREE private members group where you can find support and guidance from an established freelance community here. 

And grab your FREE Ultimate Freelance Guide here,The Ultimate Freelance Guide 2020 with 45 top tools and tips from our community.

About The Freelance Kit

The Freelance Kit offers unique digital products, support and community for freelancers, including a 150 page high-quality and beautifully designed template kit. 

Inside the digital kit, you’ll find templates, planners and spreadsheets for every aspect of freelance life including a 15-page contract worth £300, financial planning documents, social media planning templates and ideas for content, blog topic ideas and much more. 

Along with digital products, The Freelance Kit has a private community and a soon to launch membership option. The platform was created by experts to help freelancers thrive and our hope is that the products and support will empower you to succeed, and help make your freelance life that bit easier.  

Shop 

 

 


Freelancer Focus - Beccy Gibson From Tempt Marketing

Freelancer Of The Week

Our new series features freelancers from our community and we talk about how they've coped during the crisis and their predictions for the future.

First up is Beccy Gibson from Tempt Marketing, a specialist hospitality marketing agency based in Manchester.

What's your background and what do you do now?

I run a business, Tempt Marketing which specialises in Marketing & PR projects for the hospitality & events industry.

I have an MSc in International Events and Conference Management, a professional diploma with The Chartered Institute of Marketing and over 13 years’ experience in the sector – which includes operations, events, sales and marketing for venues, suppliers, events across the country. I set up Tempt Marketing in summer 2018 with the mind-set to offer businesses the marketing & PR strategy and activities they need to help them engage with their consumers and raise the profile of their brand.

I’m also on the national board for The Female Hospitality Network, and a support volunteer for Samaritans.

How have you been affected by the crisis?

Around two weeks before ‘lockdown’, when Boris Johnson advised the public to stay away from restaurants, pubs and cafes, in the space of about 5 days I lost all my clients! Current retainers placed pause, and any planned campaigns were postponed to ‘god knows when’. I went into panic mode, then - applied to various entry level jobs.

Since then, an awful lot has happened. The pandemic worsened so instead of feeling worried about my income, I was more grateful to be healthy and safe. The state of the economy also went (and still is) in meltdown, but unlike before it’s now all sectors, and the government have out some provisions in place.

I’ve spent the time learning, dining some voluntary PR work and picking up conversations with old contacts or previous clients. In the past two weeks, I’ve actually picked up three client projects which I can work on from home. It’s really given me a sense of purpose again, and some positivity that there is business out there. (Two of these are hospitality clients, the other is hospitality supplier who’ve pivoted to enter a different market)

How are you feeling and what have you done during the crisis to stay sane and manage your mental health?

I think every week is a bit of a rollercoaster. At first, I was sad, then panicked, now I feel much more at ease and used to this style of routine. I still plan my week in advance, however I’ve found I’m nowhere near as productive or focussed as I’d like to be, although I recognise there’s worse things.

I’ve been keeping sane / looking after my mental health by running. I’m a big exercise fan anyway (for both physical and mental reasons) but since lockdown I’ve really been making the most of my hours' exercise by running outside and taking in the fresh air. The weather’s been great for it, and where I live there are some real picturesque spots. I’ve also been speaking to my friends and family on Zoom and Houseparty, then just taking some time to read / potter about, and just generally give my brain a bit of a rest. At first, I was strapped to ALL the new updates, but I try to check these less regularly the intense negativity was getting too much. (I think we've all felt it!)

What did your normal day look like before and what does it look like now?

Previous to all this, I’d spend almost every day of the week, ‘on the go’. I’d get up at 6am, then either be in meetings in Manchester or deep in project work then be at a networking event or working on my laptop until silly o’clock. I’m grateful for the gift of time right now, I’ve been getting a decent night’s sleep each night, I’ve had time to touch base with friends I wouldn’t normally speak to so often and I’ve used to time to read / learn but also just chill out. I miss the hustle of the city, the endless opportunities and my co-working community but I’ve actually realised that I don’t want to go back to rushing around, feeling stressed and working late on a daily basis. I’d like to think I’ll manage my time more effectively when life returns back to ’normal’. (She says, sat on her laptop at 9pm!)

How do you see things changing after the lockdown is lifted and for the future in your industry and beyond? 

The landscape of the hospitality and event industry is very unclear currently, with social distancing measure likely to continue for quite some time, the nature and experience will no doubt change. I imagine many more restaurants and bars will focus on a ‘retail' way of working, whilst still trying to keep a community of consumers. Businesses will have to communicate these updates along with a huge amount of reassurance to both their staff and customers. With this, there could be some opportunity but with smaller budgets. As I have already, I’m prepared to collaborate with others and diversify my services to help keep the business alive. I’ve been regularly attending webinars and virtual events to make sure I’m up to speed with key thoughts, procedures and changes within marketing, PR and hospitality.

Freelancer of the week
Beccy Gibson

Thank you Beccy for taking part and you can check out her business Tempt Marketing here. 

You can join our FREE private members group where you can find support and guidance from an established freelance community here. 

And grab your FREE Ultimate Freelance Guide here,The Ultimate Freelance Guide 2020 with 45 top tools and tips from our community.

About The Freelance Kit

The Freelance Kit offers unique digital products, support and community for freelancers, including a 150 page high-quality and beautifully designed template kit. 

Inside the digital kit, you’ll find templates, planners and spreadsheets for every aspect of freelance life including a 15-page contract worth £300, financial planning documents, social media planning templates and ideas for content, blog topic ideas and much more. 

Along with digital products, The Freelance Kit has a private community and a soon to launch membership option. The platform was created by experts to help freelancers thrive and our hope is that the products and support will empower you to succeed, and help make your freelance life that bit easier. 

Shop