5 mornings a week, my alarm goes off at 7am. I get up, get myself organised for the day, and start the daily commute to my office. I’m sat at my desk by 8.30am, going through emails, responding to voice mails, and writing up my daily to-do list. (I actually try to write this up the night before I leave work, but as we all know, life happens and sometimes the list gets longer). 1pm comes around and I grab my lunch. I then get back to work until 5.30pm when I start my commute home.
Getting in the door around 6ish, 4 days a week I am greeted by my partner who works from home. Aaaah home workers, it sounds like such a great idea right? These days, employers are becoming more flexible to, well, flexible working. The number of employed professionals who work from home either for a business directly or on a consultative basis has boomed; four and a half million people now work for themselves, more than one in seven workers. The sector has accounted for more than two-thirds of all new jobs since 2008.
Not so long ago, self-employment was largely the territory of tradespeople: builders, plumbers, electricians and the like. More recently, numbers have been swelled by an army of low-paid workers such as drivers, (think Uber) who would until recently have had full employment status.
But what about the rest?
Changes in technology and society mean that whole new areas of work have opened up, and companies often test the waters by using freelancers rather than permanent staff.
“The way we work – and live – has changed dramatically since the creation of the internet, so it’s little wonder that the freelance market has also transformed.”
Having gained more than 300 million users in the five years since it started in 2010, it’s one of the most successful social media platforms of the moment – and businesses are starting to use their Instagram pages as a marketing tool to draw in new customers and to shout out about their business on one of the fastest growing social media platforms out there – any why not?
But what if you don’t know the first thing about Instagram? Or indeed any other social media platform?
This is where Instagram marketers come in, creating visual advertising tailored for the platform, to their clients business – and charging as much as £30 per hour to do so.
There’s plenty of other freelance jobs around that wouldn’t have been dreamt of a few years ago. 2015 has seen the advent of the Apple iWatch app developer, for example, making around £45 per hour – £10 an hour more than the average mobile app developer.
Meanwhile, at £23 per hour, eBook cover designers are still in demand as more and more people take advantage of self-publishing opportunities.
Other popular freelance positions include image retouchers, on an average of £37 per hour, professional bloggers on £22, and online security consultants – an increasingly lucrative job, which has evolved from focusing purely on avoiding cyber-attacks to include helping clients remove unflattering data from search engines such as Google. They’re making an average of £40 per hour.
Growth in new jobs in the last 6 months and hourly rates charged:
Instagram marketer: 450% – £32
Security consultant (help securing websites, executing removal from Google search etc): 382% – £40
Apple iWatch app development: 372% – £45
Pinterest consultant: 299% – £27
Image retoucher: 254% – £37
Twitter consultant/social media manager: 215% – £21
Facebook/Twitter designers: 207% – £28
LinkedIn Marketing: 177% – £30
eBook cover designer: 169% – £23
Mobile App Developer: 150% – £35
Professional Blogger: 146% – £22
Dating profile writer: 134% – £18
Google analytics consultant: 129% – £32
Online tutor (via Skype): 120% – £18
User experience designer: 119% – £17
In a separate survey, PeoplePerHour found that the main motivations for becoming self-employed are the desire for independence and the need for a greater challenge, more creativity and greater job satisfaction.
So, are you ready to go freelance?
Setting up on your own as a sole trader is actually pretty simple. You’ll first need to contact HMRC and register for self-assessment. You can trade under a business name without needing to register it with Companies House, though you still need to follow certain rules, such as avoiding confusion with existing businesses, or with official authorities.
Filling out a self-assessment tax return means you’ll need to keep records of your sales, expenses and bills; you’ll also have to pay National Insurance. If you earn less than £82,000 a year, you won’t need to worry about VAT.
Accountancy firm Boox reported that the average self-employed worker makes £50,820 – not far off double the national average of £26,093.
“Employers value the skills and expertise this diverse group of workers bring to an organisation. The rise in the number of self-employed workers is also beneficial for government because it is a key driver of wealth creation, employment and diversity.”
As the Internet becomes more intertwined with our day-to-day lives, and businesses look for new ways to attract consumers to their goods and services, the digital freelance market is set to boom even further over the next 5 years. More of our top university graduates are considering freelancing as a part of their career strategy, with over 87% seeing freelancing as a highly attractive career option, and a fifth of UK grads holding a first class degree already undertaking some form of freelance work.
It seems the freelance world is no longer exclusive to the trades and handymen, but open to all who want the ultimate work life blend, working more flexible hours that suit both them and their clients. On the flip side of this, freelance jobs offer nothing in the way of benefits, holidays, or a pension, and come with a whole host of their own stresses (not to mention having to find the self motivation not to watch Youtube videos of cats all day).
I know freelancers who have to work most evenings and weekends, and have even been caught with their laptops open on Christmas day or whilst squeezing in a holiday. For me, I think I’ll stick to those early morning wake up calls and morning commute. The idea of working from my sofa may sound ideal at times, but working in an office with a great bunch of enthusiastic friendly colleagues is much more to my liking.