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Top 10 Sites For Freelancer And Contractor News

It can be hard to keep up with what feels like ever changing regulations and best practices for freelancers and contractors – if you’re looking to keep up to date with the latest news in the freelance contractor industry take a look at our top 10 sites for freelancer and contractor news:

Freelance Advisor

Articles include comments on current news affairs which can affect freelancers, financial and freelance lifestyle advice. We’d recommend checking out the weekly digest posts, which link to interesting and useful sites.

Brookson

The Brookson Accountants site includes financial news and advice, industry specific blog updates (including Medical, Construction and Oil and Gas). There are also some handy downloadable guides available.

Freelancing Matters

Great magazine for contractors and freelancers to keep up with industry news, circulated by the PCG and with regular insight posts from contributors.

Contractor Weekly

Up to date news for contractors including IR25, tax and business news. There is also a job board and guides to contracting, mortgages and rates.

Contractor UK

Predominantly for the IT contracting community but with regular articles relevant to other sectors. Article categories include financial and legal.

Contracting ME

Contracting Made Easy site includes guides to contractor regulations, expenses, insurance and finance for umbrella and limited companies as well as first time contractors.

Contractor Calculator

Regular updates on the contractor market including statistics, legal and contractor umbrella company news.

Guerrilla Freelancing

Something different with tips and advice for the freelance community – including how to build your freelance business, marketing and financial tips.

Financial Times

Keep an eye on company news, tax and legislation changes. There are also sections for specific industries including Oil and Gas and IT.

Shout99

Regularly updated with news and support for freelancers and small businesses.  It’s worth signing up the newsletter for alerts – a panel of experts frequently answer legal and accounting questions with valuable insights into the industry.

 

Useful Apps For Freelancers And Contractors

Apparently, there’s an app for everything!  The increasing number of business and communication based applications that are now available are certainly testament to how we operate commercially.  We’ve selected some of what we think are the most useful apps for freelancers and contractors.

Communication

Google HangoutsFree international voice and video calls with up to 15 people; great for webinars, industry chats or meetings. Paid business account upgrades are available.

Skype – Free online video or voice calls with options for cheap rates to international numbers. Voice and video are also available with up to 10 people.

Money

Project Quote estimateA tool which helps create .PDF estimates (particularly for construction)

Quick books – Manage sales, estimates, invoices and receipts easily on your mobile or desktop.

Invoice2go Create, manage and send invoices on your phone or desktop. There are various custom invoice designs available and even an option to share them with your accountant. A free trial is available.

Organisation

HarvestTrack your time spent on projects, useful app for time management or if you charge per hour.

BasecampProject management. Basecamp allows you to upload and update documents, files and events, to which you can add other people to create discussions.  This is a  really handy tool for keeping everyone updated and managing everything from the same place..

EvernoteWrite and share notes, manage appointments and collate research.  We think this is an invaluable tool for all professionals.

With an average of 701 apps launched every day during 2013 the next best seller could well have been released while this post was being written.  We’d love to hear your suggestions via the comments box if you’ve found anything we’ve missed.

The World’s Most Inspiring Offices

The environment you work in can influence your productivity and mood just as much as who you’re with or what you are working on. Freelancers and Contractors often have to make do with a client’s hot desk or a home office, but we can all dream.  Here are some of the world’s most inspiring offices:


Selgas Cano – Madrid, SpainSelgas Cano

This Architects’  office is placed half underground with an outward view of the forest scenery. This would be perfect with the recent sunny weather we’ve been having!

 White Mountain – Stockholm, SwedenWhite Mountain

This Bond villain-esque office belongs to Swedish internet provider, White Mountain.  The site is a disused anti-atomic shelter 100ft below the city – converted into a cool, modern office which is sure to impress clients.

Mind Candy – London, UKmind candy

This office is on Silicon Roundabout in Shorditch – The online entertainment company have created an office which helps spur imagination and creativity with outdoors themed rooms, including a tree house meeting room and a slide

 Red Bull Red Bull

The Red Bull offices were designed to create an open, dynamic workplace. The design is cool and modern, with quirky features like the slide and a Ping Pong meeting room table.

Google – London, England google

 

 

Google are renowned for their creative workspaces. The London office has various themed rooms including  Granny’s Flat and the Lala library (pictured above).  ‘Hedge your bets’, a roof garden, gives employees a space to work or relax outside of the office environment.

 Richard Branson – EverywhereRichard Branson

Branson has as always worked outside of a traditional office, the image above shows him and his team discussing business ideas on his private island.  Okay, so we’re not all lucky enough to own our own island paradise to work on – but we like the idea of remote working in different locations to find inspiration!

What Is Contractor Insurance?

Working as a self-employed contractor may give you freedom to be your own boss, but it also means that you have to take on all responsibility for your actions. Taking out a dedicated Contractor Insurance policy ensures that you get support when you need it most.

Whether you work in Engineering, Finance or IT you are likely to need Professional Indemnity Insurance (also known as PI). In the event that a client is unsatisfied with the work you’ve carried out for them, due to a breach of professional duty. PI can help cover legal fees incurred if a claim is made against you.

It’s recommended that contractors keep Professional Indemnity Insurance continually, even though you may be between jobs or taking a short break from work – a past client could still bring up issues and, to be covered, you must have insurance in place at the time the claim is made against you.

Occupational Personal Accident cover is important if you encounter an accident at work which leaves you unable to carry out your job in the future.  An insurance policy should be able to give you weekly payments while you recover, or a lump sum if you find yourself unable to work in the long term.

If you work from a client’s premises, or anyone visits yours you have a duty to protect anyone who might be affected by your actions. Public Liability Insurance will help cover you if property is damaged or a third party is injured whilst you are carrying out your work.

The volume of polices available can be confusing, at Kingsbridge Professional Solutions our insurance package covers the above policies (as well as Employers’ Liability and Directors’ and Officers’ Liability) to make Contractors Insurance simple and affordable.

Contractors – Who To Follow On Twitter

With so many people out there using social media sites like Twitter, it’s hard to know who you should be following. So, to try and help you separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve put together a list of who to follow on Twitter. (We’re on Twitter too! Follow us @KingsbridgeCI for freelance contractor news and updates. )

Susie Hughes – @Shout99

Susie Hughes, aka @Shout99, keeps us up to date with the latest tax news and information for small businesses, freelancers and contractors, with links to some insightful blog posts.

PCG – @InsidePCG

PCG keep followers up to date with regular networking and Q&A sessions for freelancers. Follow them for tips and advice for freelancers, which are relevant to current events.

Maria Schneider – @MariaSchneider

Maria Schneider works in Marketing Communications. She worth a follow for her for social media tips and links to publishing, writing and social media articles; particularly if you’re a copywriter or marketing freelancer!

Freelance Advisor – @FreelanceAdvice

Freelanceadvisor.co.uk provides some great insights and advice for freelancers; from updates on working regulations to the answers to questions such as ‘What is a limited company?’ Their Twitter feed is mostly made up of links to their blog articles and RTs from relevant articles and business.

Laura Kuenssberg – @ITVLauraK

Laura Kuenssberg is the ITV News Business Editor. She keeps her account up to date with business and economy news, alongside insights into her work and commentary on the latest industry events.

Freelance Switch – @FreelanceSw

Freelance Switch links to some insightful and interesting articles, including some great advice for using social media. Although a lot of the jobs advertised are U.S. based, the issues they discuss are often still relevant to UK freelancers.

Guerilla Freelancing – @Gfreelancing

Guerrilla freelancing provides ‘marketing tactics straight from the trenches’. Their Twitter generally links to their blog articles, which include posts such as marketing tips from Hulk Hogan, which puts a bit of an interesting take on a usually pretty dry topic!

Contractor Calculator – @ContractorCalc

Contractor Calculator regularly shares links to articles which relevant to freelance and contractors, including HMRC updates and sector-specific (such as the construction and financial sectors) trends.

Contractor UK – @itcontracting

Contractor UK tweets tax, news and agency updates. These are particularly relevant if you are an IT freelancer or contractor.

Freelancing Matters – @FM_Mag

The UK’s dedicated freelance business magazine keeps us up to date with their handy articles. Follow them to join in with conversations around freelancing and business.

Freelance Folder – @FreelanceFolder

Freelance Folder link to industry and freelance articles. Follow them if you want to help increase your skills, learn from tutorials and keep up to date with industry trends, particularly for web and design.

Jane Friedman – @janefriedman

Jane Friedman is a US based freelance editor, who shares tech and media articles. Follow her if you’re a writer or media freelancer looking for a bit of business inspiration.

Brookson Accountancy – @AskBrookson

‘Ask Brookson’ is an Accountancy firm with personality! They hold regular Q&As and give some great financial advice for freelancers and contractors, with the occasional plug from their favoured sports team (Warrington Wolves).

APSCo – @APSCo_org

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies is the professional body representing the interests of recruitment organisations.

 

Funny Insurance Claims You Couldn’t Make Up

cowHaving the right insurance is no joke but it’s not all doom and gloom in the world of insurance either.  Every now and again we hear of some rather amusing situations – don’t be embarrassed to ring us, we’ve heard it all! Here are some funny insurance claims you couldn’t make up!

1. A jeweller sent in an insurance claim after repairing a customer’s £200 watch he then accidently returned a £10,000 Rolex – only noticing as he left the shop that he had forgotten to note down the customers contact details. We don’t know what the result was, perhaps the customer was kind enough to return it?

2. A holidaymaker in Sri Lanka suffered an accident as a result of a coconut falling on her head whilst she read in the shade below. She claimed for her hospital expenses.

3.  A driver rang up with this claim – “I was driving along a road and saw there was a farming fete in fields ahead, all of a sudden I saw a man dressed as a potato, this quite surprised me and I lost control of my vehicle and landed in a ditch” (The man dressed as a potato was at fault of course!)

4. One burglar in the US robbed a house, accidentally locking himself in the garage. He was stuck there for more than a week as the homeowners were away on holiday. He survived by eating dog food stored there. When the man finally got away he made an insurance claim for ‘undue mental anguish’. He was compensated almost half a million dollars!

5. A Devon farmer claimed that his iPhone had been lost in the back end of one of his cows – he had been using it as a torch whilst calving in the middle of the night. Unsurprisingly, the mobile appeared a while later but wasn’t working.

Do have any insurance stories to share?  Why not post them in the comments box?

Making The Move To Freelancing?

If  you’re considering making the move to a career in Freelancing – Here are some points to consider. 

There are many reasons why you might decide to go freelance, from commitments at home to being your own boss to wanting to earn some extra money alongside your current work. Whatever your reasons, here are a few things that are worth considering:

Do you want to be a Sole Trader or Limited company?

Before working you must decide whether you want to work for yourself or set up a company. It may be worth meeting up with an accountant to run through the pros and cons of each before you make a decision. You can register as self employed through the HMRC online.

How much will you charge for your services?

You will need to be earning enough to cover a number of things, your average cost of living, taxes, your monthly overhead (e.g. office supplies, admin, insurance or rent) as well as making a profit for future growth. Try using an hourly rate calculator, such as this one from Freelance Switch for a rough estimate.

How will you manage your finances? 

Going freelance means that you will need to keep a close eye on managing your finances. Not just for tax purposes, but this can help you track whether or not you are making any profit and if your business is growing. Opening up a business account can help you track all of your finances and make your self assessment easier at the end of the tax year. You may also want to hire an accountant to help you with this as well.

Have you got a back up plan?

Going freelance often means there is less support if something goes wrong. Whether it’s an accident at work or just a slow month for business, saving a percentage of your earnings each month can ensure you have some money to fall back on in case of emergencies. Investing in a freelance insurance package can also help save you money in the long term. Take a look at our website for more information about the types of cover available.

Here are some useful sites for advice when becoming freelance:

Money Saving Tips For Contractors

A few simple, practical and effective money saving tips for contractors to help you make the most of your finances.

Record Everything

It may sound simple, but making sure that you keep all receipts, invoices and emails for your outgoings can be invaluable to helping you manage your spending. Keep a box or a file of all this information so that you can review them each month. You will also need these if you want to claim expenses.

Save on Taxes

Taxes can feel like a burden on freelancers and contractors. We recommend hiring a professional accountant as often, the savings that are made eventually greatly outweigh the hiring costs. Hiring an accountant to manage your finances can also save the stress of doing tax returns yourself! Talk to your agency or other freelancers for recommendations.

Save on Phone Bills

The cost of calling clients can add up, especially if you’re using a mobile phone. Using Skype or Google Hangouts for video or voice chats when possible can help reduce this. Both services are free for online voice chats, but for as little as £2.99 a month on Skype you can ring international numbers.

 Save on Software

There are some fantastic, and free, alternatives to the ‘paid for’ software that you may need for daily tasks. There may well be open source software available for your specific needs, however the issue with this is that many of the free versions have less tools than paid for version. These can still be of use though, especially if you want to use a free trial to make sure you’re buying the software that you’ll get the most use out of. Free software packages are particularly useful if you only need the basic version. Here are some examples:

Free Desk Space

Whether you’re renovating your office, in between jobs or just want to get out of your office at home for a while, free desk opportunities are there to help support freelancers and also encourage networking. Take a look at the Free Desk Here campaign for vacancies in your area, but remember that these are usually temporary positions.

Find Free Office Equipment

Looking to expand your office or get some new equipment? Before you fork out hundreds of pounds on new kit, have a look on sites such as Freecycle.org or Gumtree to see if anybody in your area is selling the items you need, or even giving them away for free. You can kill two birds with one stone here, save money and be good to the environment by recycling!

Go Paperless

Cut costs and your environmental footprint by going paperless; just remember to back up data as much as possible! Using note software such as Evernote will help you save on printing costs and unnecessary stationary.

Free Marketing

Marketing yourself through social networking sites such as LinkedIn, and attending offline-networking events can prove to be an invaluable source of new leads both locally and nationally. It might mean investing a little time outside of working hours, but they will save you money in the long term, as the cost of traditional marketing methods such as printing flyers and ads in local press can add up. They could also earn you money by winning you new business.

Research

Let’s face it, not everything is free, but a little time and research can go a long way to helping you save money in the long term. Before you purchase anything new, research and compare so that you can make sure you’re finding the best deal for your needs. At Kingsbridge, we offer a Price Promise, which ensures that we can provide a competitive price for insurance policies, so look out for similar deals with your product suppliers or accountants, for example.

Finding Work Through Social Media As A Contractor

We’re constantly reminded that social media is a ‘must’ for a business of any size but, although it sounds easy enough, it can be quite tricky to get started, especially when there are so many people doing the same thing.  So we’ve put together some top tips on how you can increase your chances of finding work through social media.

Search for new client leads

Google +, LinkedIn and Twitter all allow you to search by both location and keywords.  For example, a quick search for ‘Freelance Designer’ on Twitter comes up  with the top results for those terms (see image), instantly providing you with a list of contacts that could be in need of your services and potentially could end up becoming retained clients.

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Introduce yourself

Your introduction online is like your cover letter.  Keep it short, informative, relevant and interesting.  Avoid sending out a standardised message, particularly on LinkedIn.  Another good idea is to reference the recipient and try to provoke a response.  A conversational tone can go a lot further in social media than a formal approach!

Get recommended

Recommendation through word of mouth has always been an important source of new business for freelancers and contractors and social media has made this a whole lot easier.  A client mentioning you or your business on LinkedIn in response to a friend’s plea for help with a project, for example, is akin to them mentioning you in person or over the phone, but it has the added advantage of all of their connections seeing it too.

Maintain and build relationships

You’ve probably lost count of the number of times that your emails were apparently “lost” in the ether, or calls where someone couldn’t get through to you.  Chances are, unless you’re best friends, you’re not going to make small talk between projects.  The ‘social’ nature of sites like Facebook and Twitter means that, whether it’s a quick hello or a business query, people are more likely to respond. Make the character limitations work in your favour – a 140 character message can be a lot more effective than a lengthy email where you’re detailing every bit of experience you’ve had and why someone should hire you.

Be part of the community

Becoming a regular contributor to groups and conversations on social media can help you establish yourself as an authority in your area.  Look out for Twitter conversations (which usually use hashtags) that encourage businesses to make introductions and recommendations.  Introduce yourself and meet potential clients; there are often offline events, which are created from these groups, so keep an eye out for meet-ups as well. Regular attendance to offline meet-ups can also benefit you, as people will begin to recognise you.

Make sure you’re on the relevant social networks

There are, what seems to be, an infinite number of social networks out there.  So which ones do you need to be on?  Well, LinkedIn is the obvious one if you’re looking to make business connections, so if you had to choose one site to be on, we’d recommend that this is it. Twitter, as demonstrated above, is very handy for being able to search for relevant terms.  People on Twitter tend to share updates more frequently than on any other site, so it’s handy to be on here in order to try and keep up with anything.  This is relevant not only for looking for potential clients, but also to make sure you’re on top of everything that’s going on in your industry.  Facebook is a good way to let people know about your business.  Setting up a Facebook page gives people a place where they can post enquiries or leads and also gives them somewhere that they can send friends and contacts to.

 

Bring on 2013

As 2012 draws to a close, KPSol are reflecting on a busy year and looking to the future.

We’ve launched a new website, making it simpler than ever for freelancers and contractors to obtain quotes, access their insurance documents and find helpful information about what cover they need to insure them against risk.

Our team is growing and we’ve made some exciting new appointments in order to better meet the needs of our customers.  We’ve invested heavily in system development to make sure our customers can access their information 24/7 and 2013 will see these investments continuing.

As a result of feedback from our customers, from 2nd January 2013 we’ll be extending our office opening times.  The KPSol Customer Service team will be available from 8.30 – 17.30, Monday to Friday and we’ll continue to talk to our customers to ensure we’re always providing the best service possible.

This will be the last blog post of 2012 but look out for posts about new products, industry awards, prize giveaways, events and more in 2013.

I’d like to take the opportunity of wishing you an enjoyable festive season and a very happy and prosperous New Year.