Should I go freelance?

With the recent Taylor Review and the discussion of ‘gig economy’, our consultant Charlotte Carter looks at the Pros and Cons for ‘going freelance’ in the creative industry.

Should I be a Freelancer?

Being considered a freelancer or self-employed is becoming more prominent UK wide with 15% of the workforce choosing to offer their services personally to Clients.

If you look more closely at the Creative Industries that becomes closer to 50% and certain disciplines are almost predominately made up of freelancers.

Certain studies suggest that within Video Editing over 50% are considered freelance, Camera and Sound is made up of 66% freelancers, for Hair and Makeup 70% are freelancers and for the Lighting departments the figure is at 84%.

We are not suggesting that if you want to be an Editor or Cameraman or anything else in the creative industries that you have to be freelance. Many of our clients are still recruiting permanent members of staff or on long fixed term contracts however, we have listed below the potential Pros and Cons of taking the leap into being a freelancer if it’s something you are starting to consider. We would always suggest that you seek legal or financial advice before making any decision on whether this is a move that you wish to take.

 Pros Cons
 Jobs More flexibility in being able to pick what you want to do. You can dictate your own hours and can be selective on the projects you pick. You might be able to ask to work from home if suitable. Working at all times is not guaranteed. There will be periods when you might not be working for a few weeks at a time. You will need to manage your cash flow for times like this and think ahead. Some take this time to go on holidays. We find that the summer is busiest for most freelancers across many disciplines whereas January tends to be a lot quieter.
 Pay  Higher rates of pay are often associated with working as a freelancer and you should be able to quote your chosen rate, within reason!  There is likely going to be someone who will offer to do it cheaper than you. It is unlikely to be better quality but there will be someone out there.
 Invoicing & Accounts  There is an opportunity to claim kit, software & travel among other things back on your tax return so your earning potential is more than if you were employed directly. Always speak to an accountant about claiming this back.  Accounting headache – you are responsible for arranging and saving for your tax, NI and VAT, if applicable, to be paid each year.
You might need to chase for payments from clients and on occasions, you might not get paid what you are expecting.
 Different Clients  You should have a variety of work. You will always be meeting new people and will be able to be social with lots of different circles. Current projects can always lead to other work with more clients as well.  This can be quite lonely and isolating. You might feel like the outsider and more ‘disposable’ if anything might go wrong. If clients are looking to cut costs, a regular freelancer might be the first and easiest option as your contract will differ to other workers.
 Competition  You will always be competing with others so striving to better yourself will be a permanent task.  Complacancy is never possible. You will always be looking for work: pitching for projects; applying for jobs; trying to network.
 Employment Rights  No restrictions on working hours which means you can choose to undertake several projects at once in order to make additional money.  Less employment rights than those on the payroll – you wouldn’t receive sick pay, maternity leave or an employment pension.
 The Future  You never know where your next project might be or with who. There is a certain amount of excitement on the potential of where you can end up.  It might be harder to plan holidays, events or trips if you are considering when  you might get the next great offer.
Diary Management You are in control of your diary and the jobs you take and don’t take. It can sometimes be hard to juggle offers, pencils, confirmations, and cancellations – all while trying to continue to work. Some look to work with an agency or diary service to help manage this.
Work / Life Balance You might not be as restricted to a Monday – Friday, 9 – 5 lifestyle and there is opportunity to work in and around other commitments Some freelancers find relaxing harder as you will always be thinking about the next email, the next payment or the next job. As everywhere and nowhere is your working place, can you simply switch off?

If you have made the decision that being a freelancer is a possibility for you, there are a number of factors to make sure you have in place or to have considered before you start your first job so look out for our checklist of being a Freelancer that is coming out soon.

Have we missed anything on this list? Let us know if you have any additional thoughts on taking that step into being a freelancer in the creative industries.

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