Despite the hype around social media, there are lots of reasons that contractors might be tempted to avoid it altogether for business use. It takes investment in terms of time and, increasingly, money, as platforms tighten their algorithms to restrict the reach of business posts. It’s easy to get wrong, and it’s hard to do it really well when you don’t have a dedicated social media team in-house. But equally, not using social media could be a wasted opportunity for contractors. Our advice? Use it, but use it smartly. Don’t spread yourself too thin, and target one or two key platforms that best fit the needs of your business and get you in front of the right audience. In this guide we take a look at four of the most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. We’ll look at which platforms are most suitable for which types of content, and the types of client they will allow you to connect with, to help you kickstart your social media strategy.
Contracting and freelancing can be a lonely game. It can feel like you’re in a bit of a bubble, isolated from the “real world”, and unable to build up collegial relationships. One valuable way to build up your profile, networks and client base is to get involved with a local business group. The broad benefit of joining a group like this is that ever-present business buzzword: “networking”. There are a wide variety of different relationships you might build and opportunities that you might discover. This blog looks at some of the key benefits to becoming part of a business network as a contractor or freelancer.
Freelancing sometimes gets a bit of a kicking in the press and on social media. If you listen to the naysayers, it’s exploitative, unstable, unsocial, and insecure. Last month on Twitter, journalist Amelia Tate offered an alternative view, saying that she found freelancing “extremely enjoyable”, very “lucrative” and that it had had a positive impact on her mental health. Hundreds of freelancers joined in to say exactly what they loved about freelancing – here are just a few of the top reasons freelancers love their jobs.
“I see so much negativity about freelancing + I just want to weigh in for anyone considering it that I personally find it extremely enjoyable + v lucrative + have substantially better mental health than when staff. every experience is diff, but would hate for people to be put off!” – Amelia Tate, freelance journalist
May is one of our favourite months here at Kingsbridge. It’s not just the blossom falling from the trees, that first smouldering barbecue of the year, or the thrill of needing to get the suncream out again. There’s also the fact that May treats us to not one but two Bank Holiday Mondays. Of course, for busy contractors and freelancers, sometimes taking a four-day week seems like a luxury only available to those in a steady 9 to 5. However, the chat around the idea of a four-day working week as standard has been hotting up lately. Since its annual conference last September, the TUC (Trades Union Congress) has been consistently calling for a four-day week as a way for employees to share in the benefits of the tech revolution. And research foundation the Wellcome Trust recently announced – and then spectacularly abandoned – a plan to trial a four-day week among its 800 head office staff. All of which got us wondering: is the four-day week a good idea? And could it work for contractors and freelancers? After all, freedom to set your own hours and work flexibly is a major draw to the contractor life for many people.
We can’t imagine a job at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is always a barrel of laughs, but we’re sure that these outlandish expenses claims must have raised a few smiles around the office when they came in. Although the new tax year is now in full swing, it’s always a good idea to take a look back through some of the weird, hilarious and just downright cheeky expenses claims that self-employed workers have tried to sneak through the tax system over the past few years.
Off-Payroll working – what is it?
Most contractors probably already have a basic understanding of IR35 legislation: HMRC’s framework to try and weed out “disguised employees” – people who are claiming to be self-employed but whose work operates along lines they deem closer to an employer-employee relationship (if you’ve never heard of it, check out our previous guide here). It’s also commonly referred to using HMRC’s terminology of “off-payroll working”.
What some may not be aware of is that IR35 regulations have already undergone reform recently in the public sector, with the changes due to be extended to the private sector from April 2020. There is a consultation open at the moment which purports to inform the Government’s implementation of the new rules, but many contractors are sceptical that their voices will be taken into account.
HMRC’s most recent defeat by the queen of daytime TV, Lorraine Kelly, has thrust IR35 regulations in the spotlight once again. But how can contractors be assured that they won’t fall foul of HMRC’s crackdown on “disguised employment”? Much of the press coverage focused on the judgement that Kelly does not appear on television as herself, but rather performs the chatty persona “Lorraine Kelly”. Although you might not be able to get away with arguing that you perform your freelance duties as a more entertaining version of yourself, there were many other aspects of Kelly’s successful defence that can serve as useful guidance for contractors with regard to the various indicators of “genuine self-employment” as outlined in IR35 legislation. The judge for Kelly’s trial declared that they “did not consider this a borderline case” as they dismissed the £1.2million bill for tax and national insurance that had been claimed against her.
IT is still one of the biggest-expanding sectors in the UK economy. There are over 1.5 million jobs in the UK digital sector and 2.2 million in the wider digital economy. A recent study by recruitment body APSCo found that IT professionals were the most sought-after workers in 2018, with demand for these roles increasing 28% year-on-year. With specialist IT skills highly sought-after across a range of sectors, a good geographical spread of jobs, and digitisation and digital security becoming a priority for all types of business, it’s no wonder that so many IT professionals are choosing to become contractors and freelancers. Here we take a look at the skills that are most in demand from IT freelancers this year. If you have expertise in one of these areas, this could be the ideal time to go it alone.
In recent years, the Spring Statement and Autumn Budget have delivered a series of blows to the contracting community. From IR35 reform to the failed attempt to raise NIC payments, the Chancellor’s announcements have had many self-employed workers hiding behind the sofa.
It was with some relief, then, that other more pressing issues (see: Brexit) meant that this year’s Spring Statement seemed very likely to be a quiet one. As expected, that was the case.
A little quicker off the mark than many had anticipated, HMRC have published the consultation document ‘Off-payroll working rules from April 2020‘ which will run for 85 days, closing on 28th May 2019.
Ostensibly, the off-payroll rules will mirror those currently in place for the public sector but with some tweaks. This is because the government acknowledges that the needs of private sector organisations are different to those in the public sector, and that the range of activities carried out are much more diverse.
The extension of the existing rules to cover independent contractor usage is due to begin on 6th April 2020, with the consultation making it clear that the public sector rules will serve as the starting point when the private sector rollout begins. This consultation period is intended to gather comments from stakeholders on the proposals put forward by HMRC. Here’s what you need to know.