Whether you work in construction or IT, contracting is becoming an increasingly popular way of work for millions of us around the world. Contracting not only offers more choice and job flexibility, but it can be significantly more rewarding than a typical nine to five position. But the truth is, it does not come without its challenges; you need to negotiate contracts with your clients, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll always be in work. To help you out, we’ve put together some top tips for those who are new to contracting and freelancing to help…
Finances are important
Let’s start with the most important one: it’s vital that you keep your finances in good order. If you were to become unwell for a significant period or you struggled to find a new role after your contracting ended, how would you pay the bills? Keep at least 10% of your income in a savings pot for a rainy day - you never know when you might need it. You should also work with an umbrella contracting company who can take you under their wing - not only will this save you time and money in accounting and bookkeeping, but it’ll mean that every penny that you earn - after tax and National Insurance - will go straight into your bank account.
Know that you’re good enough
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when you start looking for work in the world of contracting; if you’re competing against more established players, it can be even worse. It’s important to remember that you are good enough. You can find work at every skill level and background and you can work your way up to the top. It’ll take lots of hard work and perseverance, and there will be some knock-backs on the way, but you will get there with the right strategy.
Decide on a rate
In today’s ever-competitive world, contracting can often feel like a race to the bottom. Don’t be tempted to accept contracts and jobs that are less than your usual paygrade, as you’ll gain a reputation for being cheap. Remember that contracting rates are determined by the demand in your niche - speak to friends who are in a similar position to you and ask them about their rate and negotiation skills. You won’t always be earning the big bucks, but every job you accept should make sense financially; you don’t want to work for next to nothing!
Become a salesperson
Unfortunately, contracting requires sales and networking. Sure, you can work with an agency to find work on your behalf, but they’re solely interested in earning a commission and won’t put your thoughts and objectives at the forefront. To succeed, you’ll need to become good at selling yourself and your skills. Build up a decent portfolio of work and put yourself in front of every potential client. Network regularly, use LinkedIn and follow up on potential leads.
Do you have any questions about becoming a contractor? Let us know in the comments and check back soon for more handy guides and advice from the team on working for yourself.