The way people work has been changing for years. Businesses have trialled four-day weeks of hot-desking, flexible work hours, zero-hour contracts and remote working. In this article we discuss How Hard is it for a Freelancer to Operate in 2021?
2020 saw more changes as the pandemic forced many businesses to close and a large number of employees started to work from home, many for the first time.
Now that restrictions have eased, most workers have returned to their previous routines but a number of others have carried on remote working and some of these are working for themselves.
Freelancing is a popular way to employ one’s self but it is a competitive market. Around 2.2 million people were freelancing in the UK in 2020, a small rise on 2019’s figures.
Out of all the people freelancing in the UK, many of them will operate as graphic designers, web designers, SEO experts, writers, and coders.
With the market looking grim in many areas, how hard is it to work as a freelancer now?
How Hard is it for Freelancers to Find Work Now?
Being a successful freelancer can depend on many things. The chosen path a freelancer takes will quite often dictate how much work is available.
For instance, coders are in high demand, and a solid coder could be continuously working. However, a graphic designer could find gaining work difficult at times.
Part of this is that there are more freelancers than ever so the competition is much tighter.
Although the number of freelancers in 2020 rose only 1 percent from the previous year, this figure is likely to rise more as people either take the leap or are pushed due to employers hitting the wall.
Unemployment rates rose in 2020 as high as nearly 10% in some regions of the UK. At the time of writing the UK unemployment rate is around 4.8% in England which is the highest out of the four nations, although this is set to rise to 5.5% again by Autumn.
Rising unemployment levels, coupled with people discovering they liked remote working has led to a rise in freelancers and that means potentially less work.
What perils do freelancers face?
When many people start out as a freelancer they don’t always realise what they are letting themselves in for. Many newbie freelancers don’t consider all the aspects that come from working alone and for themselves.
The following are just some considerations:
- Initial investment in software & hardware
- Finding motivation
- No benefits
- No paid holidays
- Always available or on-demand
- Finding work
- Getting paid for work completed
- Organising accounts and taxes
If you become a freelancer you would need to know what to do when you have no freelance work, and when you do have it, make sure you get paid. Cash flow can be a major problem along with all the other items on the list above.
Explaining What Problems Freelancers Face
The list above shows some of the issues that a freelancer in any field could face. Below is a brief expansion on these items.
Depending on what role you are taking on and what equipment you have, you will need to make some purchases. To do this you are likely to either use savings or put in credit.
Will you be able to recoup this cost?
Finding Motivation, Distractions, and Loneliness
It can sometimes be hard to drag yourself to your desk when you are working from home. Remote working is not for everyone, and a certain level of discipline is needed.
It is also very easy to switch on the TV or invite a friend over, the next thing you know, you have lost hours from your working day.
No benefits, No Paid Holidays, and Always Being On-Demand
When you leave a firm to go freelance you will be giving up your company pension, healthcare, and any scheme to share in profits. You will receive no paid holiday time which can make it difficult to take a break.
Also, many freelancers find themselves at the beck and call of clients 24/7. This can make the job stressful but many freelancers do not feel able to say no, so they work themselves into the ground.
Finding Work and Getting Paid For it
The biggest problems for a freelancer are locating new clients or getting repeat work, and also getting paid on time for it. It can sometimes be very difficult to get paid and as an individual, this can make things financially difficult.
Organising Accounts and Taxes
No one is doing this for you anymore. It’s all down to you now. Or your accountant.
Keeping the Cash Flowing
Freelancers can face difficult times when they are struggling to find work but they can also find themselves with a stack of unpaid invoices.
This can be especially frustrating as you know you have produced the work to a high standard but the client is dragging their heels over payment.
In this instance, you will have to chase the client for the money that is due and there are ways to do this through communication and legal means.
If you find yourself needing cash then you can use invoice financing. This is a way to get paid for your outstanding invoices while waiting for the client to cough up.
An invoice finance lender will allow you to leverage your unpaid invoices so that you can get some cash into your business again.
There are things such as this that most people don’t consider they might need when setting out as a freelancer.
Organising Your Accounts and Taxes
Another of the more boring aspects of freelancing is that you will need to make a tax return each year and keep a record of your accounts.
Most people will use an accountant for this as it takes the weight off their shoulders. There is one other area that will need monitoring though: debt management.
When you look at your unpaid invoices and list of debtors, you could find yourself being distracted from your real purpose, which is to freelance.
Shipping your account out to a professional can take care of some of that work, but managing client debt can be time-consuming.
Fortunately, freelancers and small businesses can make use of debt management software which will hopefully keep the cash flowing and clients paying on time.
Companies such as Payt provide software that will automatically contact your client with invoices and reminders to free up time and encourage payments.
Sending electronic invoices with a link to make payments can mean that you can sit comfortably, happily producing logos and artwork.
Meanwhile, our debt management software is busy collecting payments for you and reminding clients that payments are due.
Being a freelancer can be a tough and lonely way to make a living sometimes, though it can also be highly rewarding. Being able to choose your clients and the type of work you take on is something full-time workers can only dream of.
Knowing how to find work and how freelancers can make sure they get paid is one of the problems you will face, but you will avoid bureaucracy, the commute, the 9-5 hours, and many other aspects of full-time work.
Unfortunately, when it comes to holidays, you might find you have to take your work with you.
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