There have undoubtedly been several positive changes, post-Covid, to all of our working patterns; whether that is hybrid working, complete remote working, or even adopting a 4-day working week. But how has this change affected the freelancer market, as well as the way you find and engage with good freelance talent?
This has benefits on both sides as it broadens the pool of freelance talent that you can engage with, rather than just those who are able to get to your office. The only downside to this to you is that the same freelancers who you used time and again now have less availability as they can prospect across the whole of the UK for work, which means that your pool of regular freelancers needs to be larger to accommodate this. This can have a positive impact for your business as you can access fresh freelance talent who were never usually available to you before – this is also very helpful with niche skill sets.
Owing largely to the fact that many freelancers are able to work remotely and prospect companies in London, the difference between regional and London rates has appeared to level out. Those freelancers living in the regions can now charge the same rates and prospect themselves in London. However, most freelancers are still working with a number of their regular clients at their old rates, or with a smaller uplift. It’s not about freelancers making higher margins, the reality is that some freelance rates haven’t changed for the past 10 years or more and, during Covid, many freelancers didn’t get any government support, and have had a difficult few years. Do ensure to factor this uplift in when planning to hire a freelancer or contractor and, if you don’t know the going rates for freelancers, our freelance consultants can happily advise you or click here to see some typical freelance rates.
In the last year, since IR35 changes came into force, a number of freelancers have taken on assignments to go Inside IR35. Many of these freelancers aren’t able to sustain the vast drop in take-home pay, which is due to being taxed at PAYE rates as well as having to take BOTH employee and employer’s NI out of their rate. Therefore, a lot aren’t willing to take on new Inside-IR35 assignments, unless the rate works for them, and this is often significantly higher than clients have budgeted for as a day rate. The good news is that from April 2023, the government is scrapping the new IR35 reform and reverting to the freelancer being responsible for determining their tax. This is a welcome move for freelancers and clients alike. HOWEVER, until April 2023, do ensure that, before agreeing any budgets internally for freelance/contracts, you have determined whether the role sits Inside or Outside IR35 and calculated the difference that will mean in day rates and budget for the overall project.
Whilst this is an age-old problem that most freelancers have had to endure for years, they are simply no longer willing to be messed around with the payment of their invoices and many will no longer accept new freelance bookings with clients who don’t pay their invoices on time – also made easier for them by now having a wider choice of clients to work for. We see it so often when a client loves a freelancer but then the freelancer has trouble getting their invoice paid. They get fobbed off or ignored by the client’s finance team and ultimately make the sad decision to not work with that client again. All of this would have been avoided if they had their invoice paid on time. It will help the freelancer and ultimately help you if you work with your finance team to get freelancers paid on time. In fact, if you can, pay them early and I can assure you that they will prioritise you when they are next available.
Sometimes, having a geographical boundary makes the search for a freelancer easier, but now that you potentially have access to the whole of the UK freelance market, that can be a little daunting to know how to find and engage your freelance resource. LinkedIn is a good tool, but sometimes when you put out a request for a freelancer, you can be inundated with people saying that they are available. So how do you choose or know who is the best freelancer for your market? It’s usually beneficial for one person in your office to post and manage all responses, ensuring that each freelancer is acknowledged so that they feel that they haven’t been ignored. Whilst it’s great for the rest of the team to share your post, you can’t see who responds to them and people can often be missed. A post on LinkedIn can often work best when time is on your side to enable you to look at each person who responds, get their work samples, and then ask about their rates and availability. This will still take up someone’s time and can result in some great freelance finds, but equally can be stressful and still may not result in finding the right person.
At Beyond The Book, we have 2 freelance consultants, Emma and Kaisa, who have worked for many years to grow a network of freelancers who they know exceptionally well, and where they best fit. So, if you need a freelancer, even at the last minute, do give them a call. They will be very happy to help you and ultimately save you time and hassle.
Many freelancers enjoy working with their existing clients and have in the past often waited to have a pencilled booking confirmed at the last moment. With a wider choice of potential bookings, the freelancers’ priority is to have their booking confirmed as soon as possible, to ensure that they aren’t having to keep prospecting. Therefore, if you don’t confirm them, freelancers will challenge pencilled bookings earlier, with more potential for them to cancel. We see time and again that clients can’t confirm a booking until the Friday before a booking starts, and unfortunately, this means that the freelancer will continue to prospect for other work. Perhaps now is the time to look at those processes and see whether you can confirm the freelancer earlier in the week.
While there have been considerable changes to the freelance and contract market, most are positive ones and ultimately give you a wider choice of freelance talent. However, understanding how the freelance market and freelancer’s behaviours have changed will give you the advantage.
If you need any freelance support across Creative, Marketing, Digital, PR or Events, then do contact Emma or Kaisa, our freelance team who will be happy to help and advise on any freelance/contract need that you have within your team.