PRICE OF FREEDOM
Freelance is a trade off: autonomy, satisfaction, variety and freedom in return for an equally compelling list of downsides. Immense insecurity and little opportunity to switch off from work are just two of the problems faced by freelance workers in all walks of industry.
Financial risk and instability are part and parcel of working for yourself. But choosing to freelance is a calculated decision so you will have worked out that your contract rates of pay will normally make up for periods when business is slow.
But what if you’re busy working and simply not getting paid? This is a problem that you should learn to prevent rather than solve. When you first begin or agree to a new contract, ask straight up about the company’s pay procedures. Who signs off contracts? Should you complete timesheets? What expenses, if any, are reimbursed? When will you receive your cheque? If you're still sceptical about getting paid, it’s worth asking for half of your fee up front. You'll be surprised how many clients are willing to oblige.
Chasing up payment for a project you’ve already done is frustrating. You can’t turn to the person who brought you in on the project. It won’t be their job to worry about finances and you don’t want to appear such a pest that they won’t relish the hassle of hiring you again.
Instead, you must make direct contact with the company’s accounts payable team. Talk to them early and often. Long before you’d expect to see your cheque in the post, call them up to find out their standard payment terms for contractors. If it’s 60 or 90 days, you might be able to change this to 30 or 45 days by simply having spoken to the right person at the end of the phone. Don't wait for a problem to arise. And if you do have a problem, don't be shy about saying so. Accounts people are used to being pursued by suppliers and contractors. You’ve fulfilled your service to their company and you’re entitled to their attention. So do what you can to get it.
Highs and lows
An infuriating client
The work is fine. It’s the person you work for that’s driving you crazy. This is a personality clash like orange and pink.
Remember who’s boss and learn to say no. Part of your decision to go freelance will have included less stress and the choice to work with who you like. But how do you spot a potentially troublesome client before a project’s begun? Some of the telltale signs are a client who negotiates overly hard on your fee, demands an extensive written proposal or asks you to do a lot of preliminary work for no charge. If you sense any niggling doubt, go with it. If you're already committed to the contract from hell, finish the job, do it well, and then fire your client.
Ups and downs
No time to market yourself
When you’re busy juggling jobs for and meetings with a number of clients, there’s often no time to do that essential freelance task of marketing yourself to potential new ones.
If this is your problem, it needn’t be. You're probably thinking about marketing as if you still worked for a large corporation. Break out of the old mindset. Promoting yourself as a freelancer is not about responding to newspaper ads or dropping flyers through people’s doors. But it's about almost everything else, including the quality of your work, the reliability you demonstrate, the look of your website, the articles you write, the networks you join, the conferences you attend and the conversations you have with the people sitting next to you.
Peaks and troughs
All work and no play
Even if you do find time to update your website or revamp your business cards, freelance life can make Jack a very dull boy. If you are your own business then there’s a natural reluctance to close the business for even one second of the day for fear of missing an opportunity. Time to fix some boundaries. Set a daily quitting time, designate an hour for the gym and arrange a date to play squash. Schedule days off, and not necessarily at the weekends. You dictate your own timetable so treat yourself to a weekday away from your computer. The shops will be less crowded and you can enjoy a stroll in a relatively empty park. And the joy of being off work in the middle of the week, while everyone else is at their desks, will give you an added sense of appreciation and empowerment.
Swings and roundabouts
Having longed to escape all those corporate annoyances like time wasting meetings, political promotions, back stabbing gossip and obligatory socials, there are moments when every freelancer feels out on a limb. And if you do most of your work from home, you can go quite stir crazy.
Even the most hardened of loners crave personal interaction. But as a freelance worker, other people won’t come to you – you have to go to them. So call an old colleague. Call a new one too. Then call a friend who has nothing whatever to do with your work. Read magazines outside of your field. Surf websites on new topics of interest. Check out the latest film releases.
In short, stimulate yourself by whatever means are needed to keep your intellectual curiosity on its toes, while achieving a healthy balance between your professional life and the personal and social lives that keep you sane. It’s important to love what you do, but remember to work to live and not live to work.
HIRING SHORT TERMERS
Tailor the talk
Contractors are good at interviews. They interview more often than their permanent, full-time counterparts and they learn to market and sell themselves very effectively. If you're interviewing contractors or freelancers for a project, you need to be equally savvy. In particular, you should tailor certain questions for the contract nature of work and, indeed, the contract personality.
Saying this, there are lots of questions that will be the same whether you’re interviewing freelancers or candidates hoping to fill permanent roles. The key with freelancers is to adopt a combination of both conventional and contractor-specific interview techniques.
Have a plan
As with any interview, you must plan well. Have your questions formally prepared and word them to be open ended so that candidates are forced to elaborate without being coached. You have a short amount of time to get to know a complete stranger who could be critical to a very big project, so you want to hear what they have to say – and lots of it. Let them speak for the vast majority of the interview. You, meanwhile, should be poised for some serious note taking.
Think project experience rather than work experience. The companies for which contractors have worked are relevant, but the specific project experience they bring to the table is more important.
What form did their previous briefs take and what were the timeframes?
Freelancers, by nature, should be adaptable workers, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure. Can they work to incomplete creative briefs or do they need more direction? Can they pick things up quickly and work to tight deadlines? Or do they need time to absorb information and settle in?
What did they enjoy about particular projects?
Get to know their tastes. Their likes and dislikes may reveal their suitability and potential enthusiasm (or apathy) for your project.
What was their specific role on each project?
How many people did they supervise? Can they explain the position they filled and its context within the project as a whole? Are they team players and do they play their parts responsibly? Or are they loners best left to their own devices?
How did each project impact the company for which they were working?
A huge giveaway if this renders them speechless. And a significant insight into candidates’ interest in, motivation for and appreciation of the impact that a project has on a company. Do these consultants actually care about the overall effect of their work? Or do they just show up each day without thinking about the bigger picture?
What did they do when there was a hitch on a project?
How do these candidates respond to problems? Do they rise to a challenge or are they easily defeated? Perhaps they are bluffers who sweep discrepancies under the carpet in the hope that no one will notice before they are gone. After all, they could be walking away from the job with no repercussions to face but a nice fat cheque.
The best consultants never stop learning. Experienced contractors should be used to arranging and financing their own professional development, skills training and work experience, as these lead to better projects and higher fees.
What training have these candidates undertaken?
Are they truly committed to increasing their skills and knowledge? If applicable, ask for certificates to verify claims to training courses.
Do they belong to any professional associations?
A way of separating the professionals from the newcomers to contracting is to determine how effectively they network in their industries. Experienced CreateWork members usually take advantage of the benefits, leads and resources offered by many professional associations.
Arguably the most unpleasant part of any interview is the issue of money. Contractors’ pay schedules are unique. Non-payroll employees have different expectations altogether, so you should establish what these are so that you are both clear.
What are their rates and how do they invoice? Do they charge on an hourly, daily or per project basis? Are you billed weekly, biweekly or monthly?
Contractors’ rates and billing terms may or may not be negotiable, so remember to cover this important ground.
Candidates’ project experience is critical to your decision so, if you're serious, start checking their references. If contractors have worked on a number of briefs for the same company, ask for the names of a few project managers.
While managers offer an important perspective, coworkers can provide equally valuable insights into candidates’ work ethics and skills. Try to track down some of these insights.
At the end of the day, hiring contractors is often a case of trial and error. But, with a thoughtfully planned and thorough interview, you can at least minimise the trials and, more importantly, the errors on short term projects that you can’t afford to get wrong.
Whether you’re a sole trader or a limited or public company, if you are self-employed you need to be an on the ball person. Juggling jobs and organising your own finances and tax payments can be more stressful and time consuming than you imagine, and it certainly isn’t for everyone.
Below are some guidelines to give you an idea of what’s required if you want to set up your own business. But tax is a complex area, so you should always seek professional advice before you begin trading.
Running a business
As a self-employed person, you will receive gross earnings from your customers on which you pay tax through a self-assessment tax return. You must complete your tax return each year, doing so as promptly as possible so that you can begin to plan for your tax payments. It is essential that you keep proper records of all your business income and expenses, including copies of invoices to customers and receipts for purchases (especially if you are VAT registered). A bookkeeping software package is good for this, but a simple ledger will be fine. And although not essential, it might be an idea to hold a separate business bank account to keep your business affairs apart from your personal finances.
Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise and VAT
You must tell the Inland Revenue (IR) that you are trading within three months of starting the business or else you will be liable for a penalty. If your turnover exceeds £52,000 in any 12-month period, you must register for VAT, informing Customs and Excise within 30 days of your turnover reaching this level. You can also register for VAT if you have a smaller turnover, and this allows you to reclaim the VAT element of all of your costs. Unlike income tax, VAT relates to single transactions so the VAT invoice or receipt must be kept for every transaction related to the business.
Self-employed people are required to pay Class 2 contributions unless you have an exception because of your age, because you already pay Class 1 contributions or because you have small earnings. The Class 2 rate is currently £2 per week. Direct debit is the easiest way to pay your National Insurance bills, although you can pay by other means if you prefer.
Trading as a limited company gives you a measure of protection against commercial creditors. As a sole trader or partner, you are fully liable for any business debts and may be made bankrupt if the business fails. If you are a limited company, however, you are usually only liable for debts to the extent of your share capital in the company, except in cases of fraudulent trading.
Paying tax on profits
The calculation of a taxable profit depends upon the tax laws that apply to you and the amount of money you have earned in a year. Whatever your situation, your first tax bill will be on January 31st following your first tax year. And this first bill will include a payment on account for the next year. So basically, you will pay one and a half year's tax in one go, but this only happens in your first year of payment. After that, payments on account are made every year, based on the tax payment for the previous year, and fall due on January 31st in the tax year to which they relate and July 31st following. So, if your 2021/02 tax payment (due January 31st 2023) is £1,200, you will make payments on account for 2022/03 of £600 on January 31st 2023 and of £600 on July 31st 2023.
The self-assessment tax procedure is accompanied by random tax audits to monitor the system. The Inland Revenue can investigate your business affairs at any time and without reason. In fact, it conducts 750,000 investigations each year, about 8.5% of all tax returns, which means that anyone may find himself being investigated without knowing why or what the IR is looking for.
If handled correctly, an investigation may not be so daunting. Remember three important tips:
• Keep accurate records. Records are the evidential backbone of your business. The more accurate and detailed they are the stronger your case.
• Deal with enquiries promptly and efficiently. From your first response to an inspector's query, he will be building up a picture not only of your business but how responsibly you take your tax affairs.
• Negotiation. An inspector has the power to negotiate on penalties and will take into account factors such as how you help with the enquiry and what course of action you offer to put matters right.
Although there are no definitive rules as to a person’s employment status in the UK, the distinction is usually whether you are working under a contract of service (employment) or a contract for services (self-employment). The IR will usually look at the following factors.
You are employed if:
• You yourself do the work rather than hire someone else to do it for you
• Someone can tell you at any time what to do or when and how to do it
• You work at the premises of the person you work for or at a place he/she decides
• You are paid by the hour, week or month and often for overtime
• You work set hours or a given number of hours a week or month
You are self-employed if:
• You have the final say in how the business is run
• You risk your own money in the business
• You are responsible for meeting the losses as well as taking the profits
• You provide the main items of equipment you need to do your job, not just the small tools many employees provide for themselves
• You are free to hire other people on your own terms to do the work you have taken on and you pay them out of your own pocket
• You have to correct unsatisfactory work in your own time and at your own expense
Do not confuse occasional income with seasonal income, which is always classed as self-employment. Occasional or intermittent earnings may not be classed as self-employment, but each case will be taken on its own merits. Occasional earnings must be disclosed on a self-assessment tax return and tax paid at the normal time.
Find out more
The people who deal with your tax payments are not the enemy you might think they are. In fact, of all the customer service personnel you will ever deal with, they rank among the friendliest and most efficient.
- For Inland Revenue, visit www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk
- For Customs and Excise, visit www.hmce.gov.uk
- For details about record keeping, go to the Customs and Excise site and download booklet 700/21
- For information about employment status, go to the Inland Revenue site and download booklet IR56
- For any other enquiries, visit or phone your local tax office
Your fabulous new embossed business cards have arrived. You've groomed your personal profile on CreateWork.com. And you’ve just gone broadband bananas so you can be sure not to miss out when you’re busy online and all those telephone calls, begging for your services, come flooding in.
Brilliant. Time to sit back and wait. Right? Wrong. However great you are at whatever it is that you do, business won’t gravitate towards you by the sheer forces of nature. You have to go out and get it.
The offline net
As an independent consultant, CreateWorker or freelancer of any sort, there is always more you can be doing towards ensuring the flow of future work.
Networking is one crucial and ongoing activity that every self-employed person must do to find business, bring it in and keep it coming. And one cornerstone of networking is the referral meeting.
A referral meeting can be any kind of contact with someone in a position to refer business to you. Whether it’s a formal office appointment or a brief chat at a social do, the aim is the same. To let other people know what you have to offer, while learning from them about contacts and connections that could help your business to grow.
Network means legwork
Rather than meeting with people who can hire you directly, referral meetings tend to be with those who have leads to the people or organisations that might hire you.
This can be more time efficient than your trying to pursue individual potential clients, as referral sources can spread the word about you to more potential clients than you could get to meet by yourself. It expands your business effort without the effort. Also, they will hopefully know the right people to target with their referral. (Something you can’t always gage before you’ve wasted time and energy traipsing across town, or towns, to meet someone who turns out to be a non-potential client after all.) It's like having a sales rep promoting you while you concentrate on the creative side of business.
Saying that, referral meetings can still be a toil. The success rate they produce is often a mere fraction of the legwork you have to do to achieve it. Several dozen meetings might yield just one or two potential jobs. And even then, it could be a long time before those briefs actually come in.
Use your downtime
Everyone knows that freelance is famine or feast. What’s important is that you use your famine times to get out there meeting potential referral sources and working to bring the next feast to your table.
Before any referral meeting, you of course have to prepare. If you don’t know the person well, you must get to know them through a little research. Consider their line of work so you can talk about your own business in a way that is meaningful to them. Bear in mind their level of knowledge in your area. Don’t use jargon that they won’t understand and don’t over explain something that they will.
The sales pitch
You are in this meeting to promote yourself, so be articulate about what you have to offer. Focus on selling the benefits of your service, not the features. Instead of describing what you do and the skills and tools you use to do it, talk about the end results of your work: how your service can improve people's businesses, increase their profits and encourage repeat custom. There's time later to get into the details of how you operate.
Present yourself in stereo
Good presentations combine both words and props. And people will want to see evidence that you can actually deliver. So take to the meeting something visual to back up what you say. A portfolio is a must, whether it’s a hard copy or online. Brochures and flyers also convey a professional image, although you don’t want to overwhelm someone with reams of paper. Equally, involved laptop presentations are a bit much for a one-to-one meeting. Simply take along enough to present yourself as a polished package.
It’s an idea to follow up the meeting by sending any additional material that you didn't give in person. Not only does it add to an otherwise brief thank you note or email but it makes a good indication that you intend to deliver (to future clients) everything you spoke about.
If your work doesn’t involve any tangible product that you can take to a referral meeting, then you’ll have to rely on description. Talk about previous projects you’ve worked on, real stories of accomplishments. Written case studies or client testimonials would be your best bet in this case.
Make it work both ways
Much as you are a creative rather than salesy person, this is still a mild game of PR you’re playing here, and there are certain rules you should follow if you want to stay in it. We’re not talking blatant schmoozing. Rather a simple case of running a two-way street.
PRICES NOT FENCES
Money is one of the reasons why people freelance. When the work is there, the rates can be excellent. So money is going to be a prime concern when it comes to renewing contracts with clients.
New terms time
It’s always slightly awkward to renegotiate a contract with an existing client. It’s particularly difficult when this is your biggest and oldest client. The client that’s so lasting, in fact, that the rates you’ve been charging him all this time are now well out of date. You’d never dream of charging so little to new clients these days. But how do you tell him that you’re raising your fee by what might seem to him a huge and perhaps cheeky leap?
Business is business
You don’t want to offend or alienate your most loyal source of business. Your personal relationship with him is important and it’s largely this rapport that’s kept the partnership going so long. But, while good personal relations are a valuable element of any consulting arrangement, the health and prosperity of your business must be your bottom line.
If you’re the kind of person who’s afraid to even barter at a rip-off tourist flea market while holidaying where haggling is quite the custom, you might have some trouble asking a long time supplier of work for more of his cash.
So how to renew a contract without squirming in your skin or burning bridges you can’t afford to char?
For starters, you don’t simply ask for more money without good reason. You need to give a rationale for increasing your fee.
Higher expenses and overheads are perfectly good grounds. You could be renting extra office space, hiring new personnel or undergoing the latest training course in order to develop your own professional skills, all of which directly or indirectly help to improve the service you are offering your client.
Rather than simply increase your daily or per project rate, however, you could restructure your charges. This might mean asking for mileage reimbursement, if a client requires you to travel to his office, or charging for time spent at client meetings, if you didn’t do so before.
Aside from increasing your price for actual hours devoted to a client or project, you can sometimes renegotiate your intellectual capital rights. Quite often, freelancers, either knowingly or unknowingly, sign an agreement to give away all rights to the intellectual assets they create. Looking back, this might be imprudent, but it’s by no means irreversible. Consider renegotiating the intellectual property terms of your agreement.
Whether it's a clever software code, a slick art design or a brilliant copy line, you might produce work for a client that you recognise to have commercial value beyond the company's specific needs. It’s worth asking the client to deed that intellectual property back to you, especially if it's something he will never use in the future. Satisfied with the results of the project at hand, he may not want to go to the trouble of realising the additional value you have created.
You may also think about asking for royalties on uses of future works created while you're under contract.
Intellectual rights are a complex issue so, if you’re unsure about the ins and outs, consult a lawyer before approaching your client.
At the end of the day, when it comes to wanting more money, you’ve simply got to ask. You never know, your client might be anticipating your broaching the subject, bemused that he’s still enjoying your services for what he knows are sub-market rates and wondering why it’s taken you so long to get around to the question.
BEST BUSINESS PLANS
Tempting fate and fortune
Venture capitalists, or VCs, receive thousands of business plans a month, so they only have time and inclination to consider the most convincing proposals. Make sure yours gets to the top of the pile.
Get to the point
Keep things short. A business plan should be no longer than 20 pages. And grab attention straight away. VCs will pretty much scan the plans on their desk, so cut to the chase quickly, giving all the main facts right at the start.
Your executive summary should tell six chief points in as little space as possible: your venture plan, your proposed market’s size and growth, your strategy to resist competition, your team, your unique selling points and – the reason you’re here – your required funding.
You’ve got to convince VCs that you are the right people in the right market at the right time. The rest of your business plan will then back up these assertions.
A sense of direction
Whatever you do, don’t ask for a preliminary meeting to chat about ideas. VCs expect you to have a firm picture of where you are taking your company and what you need. Make sure you have done every last piece of your homework.
A decent business proposal
To begin the main body of your plan, give a clear outline of what your company intends to do: the short, medium and long term direction. Long term plans should be ambitious. Venture capitalists like to see large potential markets. So consider expansion, be it into other countries or into other products and services. And show commitment to the company. Leaving your job and putting your own money into the project are significant gestures. VCs like to see 100 per cent dedication and they can spot business planners who are merely out to make a quick buck.
Keep the money rolling in
Explain exactly how the company intends to generate revenue. It may sound obvious, but ensure that your model is not based on weak streams such as banner ads on your site. And don’t rely on just one avenue. Consider as many different revenue-generating models as possible. If you have any guaranteed revenue streams already in place, then mention them. Keep this section basic. Forecasts and assumptions can wait until your financial projections.
Suss out the competition
Examine both existing and potential competition, bearing in mind real barriers to market entry. Show detailed research and statistics to indicate expected levels of demand. And explain your route to market including a marketing strategy. If VCs decide to invest in your project, they will do their own research of the competition, so give a full and candid disclosure from the outset.
Pick your teammates
Include brief CVs for your proposed management personnel. Also state which further team members are needed, although saying this, your main board positions should all be filled. VCs will not be impressed if you have to go shopping for crucial executives. They may decide to put one of their own nominated directors on the board but they won’t want to half fill it for you. Also, if you’re an essentially young team, try to get some older contingent on the board as non-executive directors, one or two people with wide business and IPO experience.
Where possible, link up with other companies that can add value to your business. Large blue chip companies will look good in your plan, although alliances can range from mutual click-throughs on another company’s website to free advertising in exchange for equity.
Know your worth
If similar companies have recently floated or been bought out by trade buyers, include figures to show the potential valuation of your business.
It’s okay to gamble
Be frank with VCs from the start. Pinpoint all possible risks, pitfalls and weaknesses. As long as you demonstrate ways to combat or minimise them, you will be given credit for your realism and determination. All ventures have risks and VCs are in the business of taking them. They will not only appreciate your honesty but, if you say that there are no risks, they’ll think you’re being naive.
Show your workings out
Present a financial forecast as a projected profit and loss and cash flow account. Give anything between a three and five-year period that’s sufficient to show a profit, with justification for each assumption made in notes to the accounts. Use evidence, such as independent market research, where possible. If no profit is forecast for longer than five years, you are unlikely to receive finance.
Time it right
Be realistic with timing. Don’t ask VCs to sign a cheque at your first meeting. Although interested VCs move quickly, the legals will take at least a month.
And if you do get an offer of investment, don’t spend too much time wrangling over the equity. By all means be greedy but don’t waste time. Some companies can increase in value 30 per cent month on month so it is not worth standing still for the sake of 1 or 2 per cent.
CATCH THE LATEST
Spying on the competition has never been so easy. And, as with so many things these days, we have the internet to thank.
Keeping tabs on the opposition is all part and parcel of running a business. Whether you’re hunting around for the next creative director move, checking out the contest at a forthcoming pitch or wanting to know the outcome of a juicy copyright suit involving the agency down the road, the web is your trusty new telltale.
It’s all relative
It’s one thing having your own brilliant strategy, but business only works within a context. You need to know what’s going on in the creative world around you to be able to make decisions as to your next professional move. What are the latest trends and customer habits? Which companies are proving successful and why are others falling to pieces? And looking to the future, who’s hiring who and what impact is it going to have? Where is technology going and in which of the newest systems is it worth your investing?
From now on, you needn’t rely on weekly magazines or intuition to keep watch of other industry players or make crucial business decisions.
Stock up on scandal
Company Sleuth bills itself the internet’s “top covert information specialist”, whose aim is to uncover clues as to companies’ unannounced plans. Until recently you could log on to www.webfarming.com, pay a subscription and receive daily email reports giving the business, internet and financial dealings of up to ten selected public companies. These days, Company Sleuth focuses on what it calls stock exchange news and stock watch news - still useful tools for a little snooping around. And the site also has links to Elibrary.com’s database of news articles and Encyclopaedia.com’s reference site.
Hoover’s, at www.hoovers.com, is a company directory that details financial and executive activities of public, private and government-run enterprises around the world. While Yahoo! Finance provides everything from press releases to insider stock trades. And CorporateInformation.com, claims 350,000 links to company profiles, plus 12,000 message boards and 15,000 research reports.
Web message boards, such as the one on Yahoo! Finance and Raging Bull’s online partnership, should be viewed with a pinch of salt. Saying this, they sometimes yield the odd gem, such as discarded business models or defections among workers (it is largely disgruntled employees who spend their time posting messages on the web).
If you want to nose through records compiled by public offices and agencies, KnowX.com has both search and research tools to take you to what you want to know. With user fees varying according to the kind of records you request, the site will show you companies’ real estate holdings, stock ownership and assets as well as helping you learn about lawsuits, permits and bankruptcies.
Creatives have long since utilised the web’s offerings on the job hunt front. But online job search tools aren’t only for people looking for employment. They’re for astute business detectives trying to keep on top of their competitors’ movements. Websites such as CareerPath.com, HotJobs.com and Jobsearch.com, to name just a fraction of what’s out there, must be trawled if you’re going to find out that your rival agency is advertising for a project leader who’s going to “take its creative strategy to the next level with a client/server ecommerce application”. There. You’ve learned more than you thought you would. Job openings are among the best inadvertent sources of details about company strategy.
And then there are Vault.com and WetFeet.com, which, though designed primarily for job seekers, offer insider information on companies as well.
So don’t worry if you’re not gifted with a sixth sense. Get online and let your fingers do the sniffing.
OPPOSITE OF FREEDOM
Ever deprived yourself of a holiday because business has seen a quiet year and you don't feel entitled to sitting back and relaxing? Or your bank balance is suffering from its latest Inland Revenue payment and you can't justify the extravagance? Or else you're expecting some big, juicy project to come your way any day now? Or you're convinced that a new client referral is just around the corner and you'd hate to be away when the phone rings…?
Never mind tax dodging. Holiday evasion is one of the greatest crimes committed by contractors today (and one of the biggest ironies of all that freelance freedom). If it's something of which you're guilty, think again. You need time off as much as, if not more than, your permanent, full-time counterparts. Time to switch off, rest and recharge your batteries ready for the next stint of work and, often more exhausting, chasing work. So make sure you have your guilt-free day in the sun.
Do your sums. Making sure you can afford to take a break is step one toward feeling better about it, and you don't need your accountant to do the maths for you. Simply subtract from 52 weeks the amount of holiday you want to take this year and divide your remaining number of income-generating weeks by the gross annual figure you want to earn. Remember to include holiday expenses and final tax deductions in your calculations.
Make yourself a promise. You don't have a mandatory 25 days' paid annual leave that head of HR will remind you to take by January lest it go to waste. The only way your break is going to happen is if you make it happen. So book the time in your diary, book your friends or family, get them to book the time in their diaries and stick to the plan.
Remember who's boss. Many clients assume that freelancers are available at the click of their fingers, bank holidays and all. It's up to you to change this attitude. The next time you negotiate a contract, let the client know when you'll be taking time off and, if need be, arrange for an associate or subcontractor to cover for you in your absence. You're self-employed, remember.
Book your seat. Lots of freelancers get this far in planning a holiday and then bail out. Something always comes up work wise, whether it's a definite job, a project in the pipeline or simply a meeting that they feel they shouldn't miss. But something always will come up if you let it. There is never a convenient time to just vanish. So, having made the commitment in your mind, put your money where your mouth is. Take out the credit cards, lay down the deposits and book the actual holiday - the hotel, the flights, the car, whatever. Now there's no backing out.
Countdown to H-day. You've finally given yourself a real deadline to get things done. And that includes your work. But don't panic. Draw up a timetable between now and your trip, remembering not to try to fit a month's work into the very last week. Apart from packing beachwear, your final week should spare time for attending to any last minute cries from clients.
Cut off comms. You didn't think you'd be allowed to slip your mobile phone or laptop into your luggage, did you? If you're on call, you're not on holiday. Let your clients know that you'll be entirely offline and out of contact for the duration, and make arrangements for colleagues to handle emergencies. Give yourself a break. No one else will. And, besides, you deserve it.
Be your own boss
CreateWork.com does exactly that. Combining innovative design with a clear user-friendly interface CreateWork.com is a networking website for professionals keen to move away from the conventional office lifestyle. Using state-of-the-art Internet based technologies, CreateWork.com is a dynamic destination site for skilled freelance professionals and project leaders around the world.
CreateWork.com enables professionals to learn the best ways to work with teams across the globe to build their remote working lifestyle. Anyone visiting the site can browse through knowledge articles.
Helping freelancers learn about projects and management is the basis of CreateWork.com.
It's our aim to create a community and a valuable service for those interested in making professional contacts around the world, we create relationships across the globe and let people share and bring ideas together.
CreateWork.com is a brand designed by young, creative professionals who have harnessed web technology to make working remotely a reality.