With some freelancers looking to sustain their self-employment venture, (or even for a side hustle to their original side hustle), online selling is becoming ever more popular. Read More
About the Author
We know what it’s like to be a freelancer, so here at Freelancer News we love keeping you up to date with all the latest news, tips and advice for freelancers. We cover tips on how to get work as a freelancer, economic news which may affect the way you work and the best way to handle your accounts and finance.
To make sure you’re always getting the latest news, we’ve gathered a team of writers with specific expertise and industry knowledge. That way you know that our writers can handle any aspect of freelancer life that you might need help with. Below are the latest articles from Stephanie.
Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the most expensive. There are extra costs coming at you left, right and centre, not helped, of course, by the increased cost of living.
If you’re looking for extra funds to support your seasonal spending this year, you might consider setting up a freelance side hustle to help you generate some additional income.
Ways to make cash for Christmas as a freelancer
If you have some spare time outside of paid employment and would like to make some extra spends in time for the festive period, here are some cool ways you could go about it.
Sell seasonal products on Etsy
If you got a penchant for arts and crafts or a creative skill left untapped, now is the perfect time to let it shine by making seasonal products to sell online, such as:
- Greetings cards
- Thank you cards
- Scented candles and wax melters
- Hand-decorated baubles
- Handmade wreathes and garlands
- Personalised decorations
- Personalised Christmas Eve boxes for children
- Plates to leave snacks for Santa and Rudolph on
- Knitted hats, scarves, and gloves
- Handmade crockery
- Balloon arrangements
These are just some common examples of what people create and sell around Christmas time to make some extra money. However, get your creative juices flowing because the more unique your seasonal product, the more likely you are to stand out in the market and sell.
Top tip: don’t forget to factor seller fees into your budget and expenses if you are going to use ecommerce marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon, or eBay.
Sell edible festive treats
Two hot commodities you know are sure to sell, especially during the festive season when people are drinking and being merry, are food and drink. People are more liberal around Christmas time with their calories and their cash, which is a lucrative opportunity for you.
Examples of edible treats you could make and sell include:
- Christmas cookies or cupcakes
- Festive flavoured fudge
- Homemade Panettone
- DIY cookie or cupcake jars
- DIY hot chocolate sets with all the trimmings
- Edible wreaths made from sweets
- Food and drink hampers
Get creative with it – just make sure you comply with all the necessary health and safety regulations if you are going to go down the food or drink route.
Be sure to check out the legalities before you stock your pantry, so you don’t end up in a sticky spot of trouble with lots of costly ingredients left on your hands.
Turn the jobs nobody wants into extra cash
Christmas is a time when many people want to kick back, relax, and forgot about their to-do lists until the new year. This is the perfect opportunity for somebody looking to earn extra money to strike by offering to do the tasks nobody wants to do in exchange for payment.
This includes things like:
- Picking up and dropping off Christmas trees
- Putting decorations up and taking them down
- Present wrapping
- Trips to the tip to get rid of cardboard boxes and other junk
- Housesitting while people are visiting family and friends elsewhere
- Dog-sitting while people head off on last-minute holidays
It goes without saying that, in order to offer any ad hoc services like these, you need to make sure you’re able to do so safely and legally.
Do some research to make sure there aren’t any qualifications or safety checks you need to have passed before starting anything as a freelance side hustle.
Turn your skill into seasonal spends
The world of business doesn’t stop just because Santa is coming to town, which means your Christmas side hustle doesn’t necessarily have to be Christmas-related at all.
If you have a skill that you could be putting to use to generate an additional income stream in time for the festive period, there’s no time like the present. If it goes well and you see success, you could even continue your side hustle once Christmas has passed.
That said, even if you have a non-festive skill up your sleeve, there are ways you can capitalise on the season to upsell or attract new customers.
If you’re a freelance photographer, for example, you could pull together a limited-time service where you offer families Christmas-themed photoshoots for things like greetings cards and calendars.
It doesn’t have to be creative either. If you’re a plumber, for instance, you could offer a discounted service to check pipes and plumbing during the cold season when people often experience issues with freezing and water pressure.
Or maybe you’re a freelance wedding planner wondering how to make some money during the quieter wedding season. You could transfer your organisational skills and contacts list to Christmas or New Year party planning instead temporarily.
Don’t let taxes tarnish your festive spirit
No matter what your side hustle is, you’ll need to let HMRC know about it if your total self-employed income is more than £1,000 in a tax year. Anything below that threshold is covered by the trading allowance, which enables you to earn up to £1,000 through miscellaneous means (e.g., Christmas side hustles) without having to declare it or pay tax on it.
If your earnings go above the threshold, you’ll need to register for Self Assessment and submit a tax return. Fortunately, you can still offset the allowance against your earnings and only pay tax on anything above the threshold, or you can claim tax relief on your expenses instead.
How much tax you pay will depend on your overall income for the tax year, including what you earn from your main income source (i.e., employment), although you won’t need to pay tax on the same income twice. And no, your employer won’t find out unless you tell them!
Find more of the latest news and guidance for freelancers in our info hub.
The nature of being a freelancer means that you’re self-employed, and therefore not paid by an employer who will make tax deductions on your behalf through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system.
Generating your own income from self-employment means you’re also responsible for paying your own tax and keeping HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) up to date with your financial situation.
How you pay the tax you owe on your freelance earnings depends on how you are set up as a business.
For most freelancers this usually means operating as either a sole trader or as a limited company. These structures have different rules for reporting and paying tax (as well as different tax rates) but because they’re the most common options, we’ll go over both.
Paying tax as a (freelance) sole trader
If you’re set up as a sole trader, you will need to submit an annual Self Assessment tax return online or through the post and pay Income Tax on your freelance earnings. This is the most popular route for self-employed freelancers to take (but other options are available!).
Submitting a Self Assessment tax return
There are different deadlines depending on whether you submit your Self Assessment tax return online or through the post.
HMRC is encouraging all taxpayers to file returns digitally moving forward (as part of Making Tax Digital) but for now, paper returns are still accepted.
If you submit a paper tax return, the deadline is 31st October following the end of the tax year being reported. If you submit an online Self Assessment, you have a little longer, until 31st January.
Paying Income Tax
After submitting your tax return, you’ll receive a tax bill detailing how much you owe in Income Tax and National Insurance.
Your tax bill can be paid:
- Online through your account with HMRC by debit or corporate credit card
- Via Direct Debit
- By approving a payment through your online bank account
- Telephone bank transfer
- At your bank or building society
- By cheque via the post
You also have the option to pay your tax bill through your tax code. Taking this option means your tax code will change, and your employer will deduct the tax you owe for self-employment alongside your usual deductions. It might be something to avoid if you don’t want your employer to know you’re self-employed! This is only available if:
- You owe less than £3,000
- You already pay tax through PAYE
- You submitted your paper tax return by 31st October or your online tax return by 30th December (a little earlier than the usual 31st January deadline for online submissions)
Making payments on account
If your tax bill comes to more than £1,000 then you might also need to make payments on account. This is where HMRC ask you to make advance payments towards next year’s tax bill, based on predictions of what you are likely to earn.
These are paid in two installments and need to be paid by the following deadlines:
- First installment – 31st January (the same deadline for paying the current year’s tax bill)
- Second installment – 31st July of the same year.
Paying tax if you’re set up as a limited company
If you’re set up as a limited company, you will need to submit an annual Company Tax Return and pay Corporation Tax on your freelance earnings.
The deadline for filing this type of tax return is 12 months after the accounting period it covers has ended.
Paying Corporation Tax
Once you have submitted your Company Tax Return, you will then be informed how much Corporation Tax you need to pay.
If your taxable profits are below £1.5 million, this needs to be paid within 9 months and 1 day of the accounting period ending.
If your taxable profits exceed £1.5 million, you will need to pay your tax in installments, each with their own separate deadlines.
Can a freelancer claim tax relief on expenses?
Yes, just like any other business, freelancers are allowed to claim allowable expenses as tax relief against their bill, helping to keep your tax bill down!
Common examples of allowable expenses freelancers claim include:
- Work-from-home expenses (such as a portion of your rent, utility bills, internet connection, etc.)
- Business-related supplies and equipment (laptop, printers, software, stationery)
- Work-related travel costs (tickets, hotels, food and drink)
- Professional services (solicitor, accountant, etc.)
- Marketing and advertising costs (business cards, web hosting fees)
- Membership fees and subscriptions
Any expenses you claim need to be directly related to your freelancing work and necessary to the operation of business-related activities.
Remember to keep receipts and documentation to support your claims, just in case you ever need to produce them for an audit!
Find more expert advice and handy resources for freelancers in our info hub!
Valuable, accurate and original content can be critical to your success when freelancing. Digital content (content you create to share online) can help you connect with your existing customers, as well as reach new audiences who will hopefully also become paying clients. So what can you do? We go over some of the different types of digital content to consider for your freelance business.
Professional or portfolio website
Pitching for (and securing) work can be tricky, so having a professional website or some other platform to show off your skills and reviews is a good one to tick off your digital content to-do list.
If you feel a website will help (although it’s not always essential for every business) there are a few costs involved in getting started, like web hosting, a domain, design work and maybe some technical software expertise.
That said, investing time, energy and money into your website will pay dividends (literally, hopefully) as it is such a versatile and practical tool. It’s also worth mentioning that you might be able to offset your costs as a business expense, helping to reduce your tax bill!
A professional website can be a way to carve out your own space in the digital landscape. It fulfils a whole host of vital functions, including:
- A place for potential clients to find out more about what you do
- A means by which people can contact you with enquiries
- Somewhere to show what services you offer, as well as pricing information if applicable
- A foundation on which you can build other digital content, such as blogs and videos
The perfect place to put your portfolio
A business website is also where you can house a portfolio of your work. This doesn’t have to be every single project you’ve ever worked on, which could be overwhelming and tricky to browse for visitors.
Instead, showcase your best work and update this regularly with the projects you’re most proud of. Show off the diversity of your skillset and support this with some client case studies and testimonials to show the value you bring to your customers.
If you’re not ready for a website of your own, there are lots of portfolio sharing platforms out there which are worth a look.
Social media content for freelancers
In the modern world, it’s safe to say that most businesses need a social media presence if they’re going to succeed. Think of social media as your digital soapbox and your way to share thoughts, resources, blog posts, videos, images, and more with your target demographic.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter are all super powerful communication and digital marketing tools. They enable you to reach people near and far, including existing customers, potential customers, peers, mentors and even the competitors you want to keep a close eye on.
Share engaging organic content that adds value, interact with your audience and invest in paid media advertising to reach a wider audience if your cash flow permits.
Make sure the content you’re creating is native to each of the different platforms so you’re appealing to the users on there. This is an important part of forming a strong social media strategy that generates business – something some freelancers with wiggle room in their budget prefer to outsource.
Even if the content you share is minimal, lots of people will make word-of-mouth recommendations through social media groups, so it’s a good thing to keep an eye on.
Written content for freelance marketing
Create articles that showcase your skills, offer tips and focus on common client pain points or struggles to show them how your services are their ideal solution. A blog for your freelance business will help establish you as a credible thought leader and can even help pull organic traffic to your website.
Written content also includes text-based resources such as white papers, guides, reports and eBooks. Again, fill these with expert advice and rich knowledge that your audience will want to get their hands on. It shows that you’re a pro in your field.
Resources like this can either be free to download from your website if you’re feeling generous, or you can gate them behind a lead generation landing page or paid social ad. The latter requires somebody to fill in their details in order to access your content – a tried and tested data capture tactic.
Video and audio content
Video and audio are increasingly popular as forms of digital content when it comes to what audiences now want to consume. That’s why we’d recommend adding things like social media video content (Instagram reels, TikTok videos, etc) YouTube videos and podcasts into your content plans.
The nature of your video content could include things like tutorials, explainer videos or even client testimonials.
Email is one the most effective ways to keep customers informed about your services, and for you to share valuable content and offer exclusive promotions.
Although email marketing could become one of the most vital parts of your comms and marketing strategy, it’s also usually one of the most inexpensive. Email campaigns are also far easier to track in terms of performance than things like social media content and blogs.
Send out regular newsletters and updates to make sure the people on your mailing list keep you in mind. Make sure you’re only sending valuable, informative emails, though, otherwise you run the risk of annoying recipients and pushing them towards the dreaded ‘Unsubscribe’ button. Include a link back to your website or contact form in all your emails!
The freelance life is a busy one, we get it – but if you can find some spare time in your schedule to dip your toes into guest content, it will provide you with invaluable exposure. You might even be able to produce guest content in exchange for a fee and make some extra cash at the same time.
Guest content includes things like:
- Authoring blogs or articles on somebody else’s website or publication
- Appearing as a guest on podcasts or video series
- Creating content that is shared on other social media platforms
To reap the true rewards of guest content, you should make sure the platforms you’re featuring on are relevant to your industry. Doing so means you can reach people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say or share.
You can also invite people to create guest content for your own digital platforms. Not only will this help flesh out your content marketing plan, but it’s also a great way to go about online networking and relationship building.
Find more advice and guidance for freelancers in our info hub!
As a self-employed freelancer you’ll need to report your earnings to HMRC and pay tax on them. To make sure that HMRC identify your tax records correctly, they’ll assign a Unique Taxpayer Reference number (UTR for short) once you register the business. Read More
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a type of financial benefit that might be available if you have ‘limited capacity to work’, such as a health condition or disability which inhibits your ability to work.
The allowance is designed to provide some financial security whilst you are unable to generate income. It’s particularly useful if you’re a self-employed freelancer and don’t have an employer to pay Statutory Sick Pay when you need time off sick.
What is the new-style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?
Most people who claim ESA now get what is called ‘new style ESA’, which replaced the previous income-based and contribution-based allowances.
It’s a contributory benefit, which means that you must have made sufficient National Insurance contributions or NI credits in last few years to receive it.
Although there are still some people receiving the old types of ESA, any new claims will now receive the new style Employment and Support Allowance which provides:
- Financial support towards your living costs
- Class 1 National Insurance credits, which can support your State Pension and other benefits.
- Professional support if you’re able to return to work.
How much can I claim with the Employment and Support Allowance?
A new claim for the ESA can take several weeks, or even months, to be assessed, so you’ll normally be entitled to an ‘assessment rate’ of ESA until a decision has been made. The assessment rates of new style ESA are currently:
- £67.20 per week for anybody under 25
- £84.80 per week for anybody 25 and over
If you are deemed eligible following assessment, any money owed from the assessment period will be backdated.
Assessment categorises those who are eligible for ESA into two groups: ‘work-related’ (those who will likely be able to work again) and ‘support’ (those who aren’t likely to work in the future).
The new style ESA rates for these groups are currently:
- Work-related: up to £84.80
- Support: up to £128.85
Note: a private pension of more than £85 per week may impact how much you can receive in ESA.
Who is eligible for new style ESA?
Employment and Support Allowance is available to those who are employed, unemployed, or self-employed, although you will need to meet the criteria in order to qualify.
To be eligible to receive ESA, you must:
- Have a disability or health condition that directly limits your capacity to work
- Have worked as an employee or been self-employed
- Be aged 16 or over
- Be under the State Pension age (you can find out more about this on the GOV.UK website)
- Live in England, Wales, or Scotland
- Have paid sufficient National Insurance (NI) for the last 2-3 tax years (this also includes National Insurance credits)
Note: Even if you aren’t eligible for new style ESA right now, you may still be able to get National Insurance credits if you are unable to work. These NI credits could then help you qualify for ESA further down the line.
Can a freelancer claim Employment and Support Allowance?
Yes, freelancers are allowed to claim ESA providing you also meet the other conditions. It’s worth noting that if you have a full-time job as well as a self-employed side hustle (i.e., you freelance to supplement your PAYE salary), you can claim ESA but only for one type of income. You won’t be able to claim ESA on both employment and self-employment income at the same time.
How do I apply for ESA?
If you think you qualify for ESA and need support while you’re unable to work, you can apply via the GOV.UK website.
Make sure you’ve got the following to hand:
- National Insurance number
- Bank or building society account number and sort code (yours or somebody else’s if you don’t have your own)
- Your doctor’s name, address and contact details
- A note from your doctor (i.e., a ‘sick note’, ‘fit note’ or a ‘statement of fitness for work’)
- Date your Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is due to end (if applicable)
Once your application has been submitted, you will then be contacted by phone with next steps.
Can I still work whilst claiming ESA?
You can still work if you are claiming Employment and Support Allowance but only if you:
- Work fewer than 16 hours per week.
- Aren’t earning more than £167 a week.
Any hours you do work will need to be recorded with Jobcentre Plus.
Can you get ESA alongside other benefits?
You may be able to claim some benefits whilst claiming the Employment and Support Allowance, but others will not be available during the claim period.
In most cases, you are able to claim Personal Independent Payments (PIP) and Universal Credit at the same time as new style ESA.
Some people choose to get ESA instead of Universal Credit because the payments are more frequent (every 2 weeks rather than monthly), while others choose to claim both.
If you do choose to claim ESA and Universal Credit simultaneously (and are eligible to do so), your Universal Credit allowance will be reduced by whatever you receive through ESA.
You cannot normally claim ESA alongside Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), Income Support or Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Of course, SSP only applies to freelancers that are also in employment and paid through the PAYE system.
If you are a freelancer who is also in employment, it’s worth noting that you can apply for new style ESA up to 3 months before your SSP is due to finish. ESA will simply replace your Statutory Sick Pay once that comes to an end.
What else can I do?
Being off sick is never easy, especially if your only source of income is the money you make working for yourself. The way that ESA is structured can mean that it’s not that useful for shorter absences, so lots of self-employed freelancers build potential absences into their pricing structure.
Consider what time off you might need over the year for much-needed holidays or for short-term sickness, and factor this in to your fees so that there’s more of a buffer if anything does happen.
According to recent facts and figures, there are currently over 2 million freelancers in the UK alone and they’re contributing around £125 billion to the economy. Read More
If you’re feeling confused by the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) rules and regulations, don’t worry, you aren’t alone! CIS rules deal with how contractors working in the construction industry pay their sub-contractors, so it can have a big impact on your reporting responsibilities, and even on your take home pay. Read More
Ten years ago the term ‘influencer’ wasn’t a phrase many of us were very familiar with. Little did we know it would soon become a common word in most vocabularies, as well as a whole new category of self-employment, income stream, digital content medium, and marketing channel.
For those who still aren’t entirely familiar, an influencer is somebody with a large (and loyal) online following who has the power to influence sales of products and services—hence the name.
You’ll typically find influencers on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok but ‘influencing’ also extends beyond the most popular platforms into more niche parts of the digital world too.
Is being an influencer a ‘real’ job?
Yes, absolutely. In fact, according to a recent study by Adobe, UK social media content creators are now earning an average of £137,000 a year.
This is significantly more than other average salaries shared by the UK Government’s National Careers Service:
- Solicitor – £100,000
- Software developer – £70,000
- Accountant – £65,000
- Train driver – £65,000
- School teacher – £42,000
- Firefighter – £32,000
- Nurse – £32,000
Although some traditionalists might snub the idea of ‘influencing’ being a real career, the potential earnings mean it’s fair to say that it’s an extremely valid and lucrative way of earning a living.
Plus, while it might look easy and glamorous at times, producing the kind of digital content that engages an online audience so effectively that you can turn it into an income stream takes a great deal of time and skill.
The growing appetite for influencer marketing
Not only does influencing have the potential to be an extremely profitable income stream for the content creators themselves, but it can also have a powerful impact on the success of the brands and businesses they’re affiliated with.
According to research published by The Social Shepherd, 93% of marketers said they had incorporated influencer marketing as part of their overall strategy. This means almost all of those surveyed had worked with influencers and content creators to:
- Raise brand awareness (86%)
- Reach new or targeted audiences (74%)
- Improve brand advocacy (69%)
- Increase sales conversions (46%)
The same study found that 61% of consumers say they trust influencers’ recommendations. With a statistic like that, it’s clear to see why so many brands and businesses rely on influencers to help grow their digital presence and boost the bottom line.
What do you need to be an influencer?
Technically, anybody can become an influencer. Due to the fact influencers can run their business anywhere in the world with an internet connection, it’s actually a super inclusive and accessible way to make money.
Plus, with free access to social media platforms and advanced smartphone technology, great potential really is at our fingertips these days.
This applies whether somebody is a full-time influencer or if they influence on the side to supplement an employment salary. It also applies whether somebody is an influencer with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of followers, or if they are what is known as a ‘micro-influencer’, somebody with 1,000-10,000 followers.
Unlike many jobs, you don’t need any specific qualifications to be an influencer and the nature of the role is extremely diverse and expansive. Age, experience, and location are some major factors that often determine access to ‘regular jobs’, whereas influencing is open to anybody who wants to give it a go.
That said, there are some areas which might be worthy of consideration becoming an influencer as a way to generate income, including:
- Have a niche area that you specialise in and build your content around that
- As well as having a niche, have a target audience that you want to reach and engage
- Stay on top of your social media skills and the latest trends so that your content stays current
- Make sure you have time to post regularly and interact with your audience, as well as liaise with the brands you work with
- Be consistent—sporadic posts aren’t the way forward if you’re going to make a successful business from your online content
- Analyse how your content performs closely so that you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. This requires some knowledge of analytics platforms, most of which are now integrated into the digital platforms themselves.
The pros and cons of being an influencer
Below are some of the advantages of the role, as well as some things to consider. It’s important to remember that influencing isn’t just about getting nice things for free and editing Instagram reels in your PJs.
The benefits of being an influencer
- You have complete flexibility and autonomy over your own time
- As with all self-employment income streams, any post-tax profit you make is all yours to keep
- For people who are passionate about this line of work, it can be a whole lot of fun
- You have the chance to positively influence a large audience and make a real difference
- You get to try products, visit places, attend events, meet new people, and have experiences that you might not otherwise be exposed to
- Start-up and overhead costs can be super minimal. All you really need to get started is the smartphone that’s probably already in your hand right now.
Some things to consider
- Just like with any form of self-employment, you are responsible for generating your own income
- Similarly, you are also responsible for reporting and paying your own tax
- As influencing is so inclusive, this means that the competition is high too
- There isn’t necessarily as much job security as with salaried employment
- Even though it’s a lucrative industry right now, nobody knows the future of influencer marketing
- You may well need to share a part of your life with the world online, and sacrifice some of the privacy and anonymity regular employees or self-employed people have
Think a career as an influencer might be for you? There’s only one way to find out! Head over to our hub to find more information and support for freelancers.
Remote working is no longer a novelty, it’s a fact of everyday working life, especially for self-employed freelancers who often have more flexibility to move around. Read More