According to research from the IPSE combined with the data released by HM Revenue and Customers, around 80% of freelancers live in dire poverty in the UK. The appeal for an independent career is high, ranging from escaping the dullness of the 9 to 5 routine to becoming your own boss, which is why the number of self-employed individuals is still rising despite worrying financial issues. Indeed, the talks of freedom, flexibility, work/life balance and greater opportunities fail to deliver solid results. The truth is that most freelancers live miles-apart from the image of the enthusiastic and creative entrepreneur growing an innovative and profitable business in his garage. Indeed, the typical self-employed person is likely to earn up to 40% less than their employed counterpart.

The truth is that many freelancers struggle to land regular gigs and find new clients. Indeed, freelancers are faced with many opportunities but still can’t manage to make money from their career. The real question you want to ask yourself is what stops you from getting a profitable freelancing project?  

#1. They want to deal directly with a company

Even though more and more companies require additional support and specialist skills to complete some of their most complex projects, many are reluctant to work with independent professionals. While the need for external consultants to help with timely work is increasing, the idea of collaborating with freelancers remains worrying for the majority of companies, whether it is for tax reasons or out of lack of trust. As a result, self-employed individuals who want to boost their chances need to consider setting up a limited company to appeal to their most cautious clients. Entrepreneurs and company managers are more likely to want to speak to an LTD company than to a single individual, even though your work process remains the same. For freelancers who are concerned about additional administrative duties as a company director, there is an alternative option by joining an umbrella company that can handle all administrative tax hassle for you. Ultimately, a contractor umbrella company acts as your employer, managing your invoices and your paperwork.

#2. Nobody is going to believe you’ve got skills until you show them

Typically, when you change careers, you can use your CV as an introduction to your skills and achievements. However, when you’re self-employed, your clients are not interested in reading your CV. They want a taste of your talents without having to go down the boring route of reading about your studies and discovering the testimonials of former colleagues from your previous career. If you want to be taken seriously by your potential clients, you need to ditch your professional bullet point history for a portfolio that showcases your best work. Indeed, your portfolio is a powerful marketing tool. It is also a challenge for most freelancers. Creating an engaging and positive portfolio can feel unnatural, especially if you don’t yet have clients cases to talk about. But don’t let yourself get caught by the impossible dilemma: you need clients to create a portfolio, but you need a portfolio to get clients. The best-kept secret of all effective portfolios is to create new work for yourself. Mock samples are ideal to not only gain a better understanding of what you want to do but also show your work to prospective clients.

#3. You can’t promote yourself effectively

Self-promotion is the most challenging skill to develop. When you’re busy creating pitches and finishing projects, you might find it difficult to promote your work. Ultimately, your professional expertise might be miles apart from the marketing skills you need to boost your career. Ultimately, not every freelancer is also a specialist in self-branding and attractive graphic design. However, you can’t afford to ignore the importance of self-promotion. That’s precisely why a popular freelancing platform such as Fiverr has dedicated time and effort in the creation of an online marketing skills data bank, Learn, to help self-employed individuals secure their market position.

#4. You don’t take time to stay on top of your skills

The typical day of a freelancer is a difficult time management journey to complete projects and run a business simultaneously. As your time is precious, it’s fair to say you’re not ready to spend it willingly on tasks that don’t immediately generate income. An unfortunate consequence of a freelancer’s strict time and income management strategy can affect skill training and expertise. Indeed, self-employed individuals tend to skip self-growth and skill development processes as they’re worried they might lose precious income while they’re learning.

#5. You are still learning the basics of freelancing

The truth is that there is so much to learn as a freelancer, from how to pitch an idea to a client to how to promote your work. As a result, it’s not uncommon for self-employed individuals to invest time in learning the different skills needed to run a business – which, ultimately, means they’ve got less time to dedicate to boosting their existing expertise. In reality, you don’t need to manage your freelancing career alone. The most successful freelancers actively outsource tasks that are not linked to their expertise, such as general business management, marketing or even content creation. Indeed, while you trust the boring stuff to someone who knows, you reduce risks of making a costly mistake. Additionally, this frees up time for strategic self-development.

#6. Your brand sucks

As a freelancer, you are your own brand. If you’ve worked as an employee until now, using your personality as part of your branding routine is a new and challenging experience. But defining what makes you unique as an individual is also crucial to create an appealing presence for your clients. Falling down the trap of creating a corporate brand will only disappoint your audience.

#7. You sound desperate

Freelancers who display bargain prices are less likely to be taken seriously by the market. Indeed, nobody is going to believe that your £5 job requires specialist skills. Failure to charge accordingly, or charging under your value to attract clients, makes you look desperate and incompetent. Besides, you’ll be working long hours for almost no income at all. Is it worth your time and skills?

Landing your dream gig doesn’t happen overnight. But the more attention you give to building a reliable and respectable career, the more likely you are to move your freelancing job out of income poverty.

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