Freelance expert Emma Gannon shares her top tips for self-employment with Stylist.
Freelancing is fast becoming the preferred way of working for a growing number of people in the UK. You’ll definitely have seen a trendy co-working space pop up in your postcode. And we all have at least one friend who’s panicking over getting their tax return done by the end of January.
According to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), over 5 million people now describe themselves as freelance, which is around 15% of the overall working population. And last year, there was a 31% annual rise in people looking to go freelance.
A recent report from NatWest also found that there has been a 67% increase in highly skilled female freelancers since 2008, and a 33% increase of highly skilled male freelancers.
But, for many people who are used to the usual 9-5 working week, the idea of swapping a permanent position for freelancing comes with a lot of questions. Luckily, we chatted with one of the best people out there to answer some of them for us.
Emma Gannon is a writer, award-winning Ctrl Alt Delete podcaster and author of bestselling book The Multi-Hyphen Method. Gannon, who has been freelance for four years, shared some of her best freelance tips with Stylist. Here, she has some advice for new freelancers who are looking to be better with their money.
1. Save up to three months’ salary before going freelance
I don’t really treat freelancing as “making the jump” or “taking a risk”. I just see it as another type of job. But the first few months are quite difficult for people, and it comes down to the individual – some might have money from a relative, while others may have nothing. I think it’s basically about what can you do to save up. If you’re really miserable in your job, it’s quite an exciting driver to save up three months’ salary. Obviously it’s really, really difficult – that’s why I talk a lot about side hustles, because that’s the obvious other route, to work on the side for people, then you save that way.
But lots of people do it, and it doesn’t have to be this big scary thing. You might not be able to go back to that job [that you did before going freelance], but you will always remain employable in what you’ve always been doing. Yeah it is a risk, but it is up to the individual to plan ahead.
2. Follow this YouTube channel to save money
The Financial Diet’s co-founder Chelsea Fagan is someone I’ve known for years – she’s brilliant. Chelsea’s got a book called The Financial Diet, and also a quite unapologetic YouTube channel. And her whole thing is basically, we spend and waste so much money on buying food in very haphazard ways, so she really has a focus on her channel to encourage people to cook more. And I know that it’s not an obvious answer but it can really help to save money. It’s not something that I really cared about, but I would waste so much money on quick and easy food on my way home. She basically sets you up with the task of seeing how much you can save in a year.
3. Get an accountant to do your tax return
I have an accountant, and I really recommend that, although it is an extra cost. It is a pain having to teach yourself this [tax] stuff but, if you can kind you should have an accountant as it really helps having someone in your corner.
4. Set up a Limited Company
I talk about this quite a lot, because it changed a lot of things for me and my friends, which is setting up a Limited Company. It allows you to have a business account and a personal account, because if you just have a personal account you are basically just wasting your money. And then allow yourself a monthly salary, so you have all your money in the business account, and then you pay yourself how much you want every month.
5. Join a group or a union
There’s a collective or a union called The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), which is basically for people who are self-employed. They do amazing policy work with the government and they have great resources if you’re stuck, or if your late with a payment, or if your trying to chase someone to be paid. They’re a really good source.