The life of a Freelancer

Working as a freelancer brings its own particular challenges and rewards. While it’s great being your own boss and having flexible working hours there are downsides too, not least the lack of colleagues or support when things get tough.

These are some of the issues being highlighted by National Freelancers Day on 20th June. The one-day event offers talks, seminars, workshops and the opportunity to mingle with other freelancers from all kinds of sectors.

The themes of Wellbeing, Digital, Winning Work and Finance are aimed at anyone who works for themselves, whether they’re a start up, small business or freelancer.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of self-employed workers in the UK currently totals more than 4.8 million. However, the self-employed earn less on average per week compared to those in full time employment.

Freelancers can also be the forgotten workers, who operate in isolation and whose eagerness to get exposure can sometimes lead to exploitation, and an expectation that they will work for free.

This is where freelancerclub.net comes in. It’s a great website that provides networking for creative freelancers who may be starting a business or are already established, access to jobs, advice and support.

One of their campaigns – #nofreework – aims to speak up about and stamp out the practice of clients expecting freelancers to work for free.

Another pressing issue recently highlighted by an Institute of Directors (IoD) report is the lack of support available for the mental wellbeing of remote workers. The report’s author said that while the flexibility of remote working is welcome, the isolation and stress associated with being a lone worker is a real problem.

The IoD is pressing the government to provide better guidance to businesses for supporting lone workers, which should be distributed through Local Enterprise Partnerships and Growth Hubs.

If you’re working as a freelancer, it’s worth taking the opportunity this National Freelancers Day to step back and reflect on what works well for you, and what doesn’t. Networking and sharing ideas with fellow freelancers is a good way to pick up tips and help you reassess your working practices. Here are a few for starters:

  • Check out tools and apps such as Trello, Asana and Toggl to organise your workload.
  • Social media is an essential marketing tool. Brush up on your skills and use an app such as Hootsuite to track and schedule your activity. I wrote a piece about social media for startups/ business here.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This could be querying a client’s brief, or asking for clarification about pricing or payment.
  • Keeping with the themes of National Freelancers Day, don’t forget that your own wellbeing is vital to your business success. Make sure you book days and time out in your diary, just as you would meetings or appointments. I have written a bit about mental health in the past, a recent piece was for mental health awareness week here.

Whichever line of work you are in, wishing you a happy and productive National Freelancers Day!

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