Top 10 freelancing tips for self-employed people in 2022

1. Test your skills against market demand

2022 may get off to a slow start due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. But there’s every chance the UK will return to growth later this year. For self-employed workers, growth means more opportunities, albeit really just for those with the right skills!

So get a good skill-set in place -- a skill-set the freelance labour market actually wants. Then remember that getting ahead of the pack and benefitting from increased budgets involves more than just your expertise.” [Editor’s Note: See tip 4 – Cultivate, Create and Position ].

Andy Chamberlain, policy director of IPSE.

2. Crunch what your tax numbers will be next month, next quarter

From April 2022, more people are going to be dragged in to a higher rate of tax because of inflation and the tax thresholds being frozen.

This stealth tax plus the rising cost of fuel, energy prices and interests rates is a catastrophe waiting to happen!

And the self-employed and small business community are going to suffer and unfortunately, this is on top of the corporation tax rate rise and the Social Care Levy (which will result in higher self-employed National Insurance Contributions). The pressures will be even worse if you’re one of the ‘excluded’ without meaningful income support from the government during the still pandemic-hit economy. So, fail to prepare, and prepare to…

Rebecca Seeley Harris, founder of ReLegal Consulting.

3. Do you on social media

I wrote a post one weekend that ruffled a lot of feathers.

So I changed and started to spend money on traditional marketing. Thousands and thousands of pounds on marketing and nothing like the results we got when I was being myself for FREE.

The moral of the story? Don’t listen to other people. Don’t buy into their insecurities. Do you on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media platforms. So in 2022, I’m back as the true me, and no more hiding!

An edited extract from a post by Laura Taylor, director of Empowered by Cloud.

4. Cultivate, create, and position

Self-employed workers need to cultivate relationships with businesses and start to create their own client-base. In the old days, this was called 'networking'!

But let’s be more specific. For people who are thinking of going into self-employment for the first time, you especially need to get in contact with companies and potential clients, as getting your first contract is key to building a portfolio and achieving long term success.

Self-employed workers, this year, should therefore use their own network to explore opportunities and ensure that they are in the right position to take advantage of what we hope will be a thriving economy in the not-too-distant future.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

5. Get a recruitment agency on your side

Even though the candidate is the king of the labour market at present, this will change.

We will, at some stage, be staring down the barrel of a market where candidates out number jobs again, so please make sure that you maintain your relationship with your favourite recruitment agency.

You will need them all the more in the jobs-short market that will inevitably follow, so make sure that your relationship is reciprocal, creating that win-win outcome for both parties.

Natalie Bowers, founder of Bowers Partnership.

6. Expect to be reviewed

When it comes to IR35 and compliance, HMRC has shown its intent in recent months. So for freelance consultants supplying medium or large commercial organisation, this expectation is wise to have.

In particular, we’re recommending to such organisations both a reassessment of all existing off-payroll workers, and a review of all their internal processes they have put in place to manage April 2021’s IR35 reform. Both are prudent to do because HMRC’s ‘soft-landing’ ends in April 2022, after which point HMRC can issue penalties to organisations for IR35 non-compliance, in addition to tax liabilities.

Seb Maley, CEO of Qdos.

7. Assess all your options, and yours ways of working

2022 will be a year of work opportunities and change in the contractor and freelancer market.

Organisations will evolve with the changes in the tech landscape, and they will develop their staffing models according to changes in regulation.

Therefore, independent workers should think carefully about the type of work and way of working that most suits them. Doing this will maximise your chances of success if, at the same time, you develop your credentials.

Remember, look around the market to see if any new models of working better suit you, such as, potentially due to IR35, Statement of Works.

2022 could easily see a rebound for contracting and freelancing, after recent downturns in activity caused by IR35 reform and the pandemic. So 2022, the year that the independent worker fights back?

Keith Rosser, director of Reed Screening.

8. Do ‘Due Diligence’ (and ready a bargepole for ‘schemes’)

Freelancers should understand the warning signs and what to avoid when looking at services, staffing, tax and ‘solution’ providers in the market. 

It is this attention to detail that will determine if it is a genuine provider, such as a bonafide PAYE umbrella company, or a ‘have I got a good idea for you’ scheme that’s best avoided!  Do your own due diligence.

But be aware, you may be involved with a dodgy scheme if:

  • You are offered or receive a higher return. Then, it is likely that you are signed up to a dodgy scheme and that PAYE is not being paid correctly.
  • Your provider has significantly higher fees and you are still taking home more money than with other providers. In this instance, it is highly likely that you are embroiled in a non-HMRC-compliant arrangement or scheme.
  • You are asked to sign contracts such as ‘Loan Agreements’ or ‘Investment’ and/or ‘Annuity Documents.’ If so, it is likely that PAYE is not being applied correctly.

Crawford Temple, CEO of Professional Passport.

9. Brace yourself for internal recruiters

Internal recruiters and direct-hirers on LinkedIn jobs should be your last resort if you’re serious about landing a freelance role!

Don’t forget, direct-hiring clients and their internal recruiters don’t source work for freelancers for a living, like we do. Often, your CV as a freelance candidate probably won’t ever get looked at, especially for those openings which are also advertised internally.

Us specialist, external agents live and die by filling jobs, and there is no one more highly motivated to fill that job! Remember, a good recruiter will finesse, explain, persuade, negotiate, influence and hound on your behalf on a free of charge basis. Conversely, when you apply direct-to-client, you are missing out on the most important part of the recruitment process. For true freelancers, it’s to be avoided at all costs!

Natalie Bowers, founder of Bowers Partnership.

10. Practice self-care

As business owners, self-employed sole traders have had a lot of pressures and challenges forced upon them over the last couple of years. Therefore, I encourage you all to look forward to and enjoy the year ahead. Look after yourself physically and mentally – whether that’s booking a holiday, taking up a new hobby, or focusing on your mental wellbeing. Do it, and both your family and your business will thank you!

Matt Collingwood, director of VIQU.


13th January 2022

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