INSPIRATION FOR INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONALS AND THE SELF EMPLOYED ISSUE 62, JULY 2017 – £4.95
Luke who’s Freelancer of the Year! Winners all the way at IPSE awards
GENERAL ELECTION Full analysis inside
Will it end gig economy confusion?
Why do people choose self-employment?
FROM THE LOBBY
Simon McVicker and Jim Cassidy asses the political climate
MATTHEW TAYLOR REPORT Will it help the self-employed?
FREELANCERS WITH GREEN EYES Jason Ward looks at professional jealousy
FROM THE EDITOR JAMES GRIBBEN
MANAGING MULTIPLE CLIENTS
INTERVIEW WITH INSPIRE WINNER Read all about our Freelancer of the Year Luke Nicholson
When things are busy how do you keep up with multiple clients
THE FREELANCER’S GUIDE TO BIRMINGHAM
Jyoti Rambhai investigates what it like to be a freelancer in Birmingham
INTERVIEW WITH ASPIRE WINNER We speak to our Aspire winner, Nisha Haq
But that’s not all. 8 June was also the date of the General Election. We have in depth analysis from IPSE’s director of Policy, Simon McVicker as well as a Scottish update from Jim Cassidy and a report from IPSE’s own election manifesto launch.
AWARDS ROUNDS UP
We bring you all the news from the Awards
We speak to University and Co-working space of the year
WHAT IS A DIGITAL NOMAD?
Find out why people go freelance and how it affects health and wellbeing
Tom Hayward looks at how the British Library is supporting freelancers
Full coverage from IPSE’s manifesto launch event July 2017
This issue of IPSE magazine celebrates the best of self-employment. On 8 June we held National Freelancers Day at Kings place in London. It was an amazing success and we hope that who attended had a great time. If you didn’t make it, don’t fret; you can read all about the day and glittering awards evening in this edition.
Mark Williams explains how you can travel and still develop your career
CO-WORKING & COFFEE
Have you ever thought about freelancing in Birmingham? Deputy Editor Jyoti Rambhai visited England’s second city to bring you everything you need to know before making the journey. Other highlights this month include advice from Benedict Smith on how to juggle clients when you are in the fortunate position of having too much work on the go, and Jason Ward takes a rye look at how to deal with professional jealousy in what can be a crowded market for talented freelancers. Enjoy the read, Editor @JamesIPSE
A message from the CEO INSPIRATION FOR INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONALS AND THE SELF EMPLOYED ISSUE 62, JULY 2017 – £4.95
Chris Bryce reflects on a busy few months for self-employment. In the space of a month, the UK has held a General Election, celebrated National Freelancers Day and seen the publication of the long awaited Taylor Review.
Luke who’s Freelancer of the Year! Winners all the way at IPSE awards
GENERAL ELECTION Full analysis inside
Will it end gig economy confusion?
Why do people choose self-employment?
James Gribben email@example.com @JamesIPSE
DEBUTY EDITOR Jyoti Rambhai
MEDIA CONSULTANT Jim Cassidy
CONTRIBUTORS Gary Barker Benedict Smith Jason Ward Mark Williams
IPSE, Heron House, 10 Dean Farrar Street, London SW1H 0DX
IPSE MEMBERSHIP ENQUIRIES 020 8897 9970 ipse.co.uk/join
IPSE does not necessarily agree with, nor guarantee the accuracy of, statements made by contributors or accept any responsibility for any statements which are expressed in the publication. All rights reserved. This publication (and any part thereof) may not be reproduced, transmitted or stored in print or electronic form, or in any other format, without the prior written permission of IPSE. IPSE, its directors and employees have no contractual liability to any reader in respect of goods or services provided by a third-party supplier.
IPSE’s Chief Executive, Chris Bryce
ummer is here, and I hope you’re all enjoying a welldeserved break. IPSE has a lot planned for the next 12 months, and we’ll have some very exciting announcements to make throughout the year. But for now, let me just say that we are always looking for ways to expand not only our membership offering, as well as the range of independent professionals we speak for, ensuring that we are as representative as possible of the entire self-employed community. Since the last IPSE Magazine, we have welcomed many professional drivers who use the Uber app into our membership. To you, and all our recent joiners, welcome. You arrive at a time when it would be difficult for self-
This year we also gave some much-deserved recognition to the exemplary work being done by self-employed people right across the country employment to be higher in the political agenda. Now I’d like to give particular thanks to the team at IPSE for organising a wonderful National Freelancers Day. This year as every year, we shouted from the rooftops about how great it is to work for yourself, and also gave some muchdeserved recognition to the exemplary work being done by self-employed people right across the country. And as well as our brilliant winners, I’d also like to congratulate everyone who was nominated for an award this year. You are all a credit to our community. On a more political note, the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices has now been published – amid much anticipation. And it’s IPSE’s responsibility – as the leading voice for freelancers in the UK – to protect people who
actually choose to be self-employed from any negative consequences. I know most of you work this way because you want to be your own boss and do things on your own terms. That’s why we’re glad the Review recognised the major contribution that you, the self-employed, make to our economy. As well as recognition for the self-employed, there are also a lot of positive recommendations in the Review, which we hope the Government will act on. However, the Review’s call to replace ‘worker’ status with ‘dependent contractor’ could add to the existing confusion. At IPSE, we believe a statutory definition of selfemployment is the best solution. This would give legal clarity about who is and isn’t genuinely in business for themselves, as well removing the need for costly, stressful and time-consuming employment tribunals. It would also help distinguish the people who really need to be supported from the vast majority of people who actually choose to be self-employed, whether as independent contractors, consultant interim managers, or working in the so-called ‘gig economy’. The next steps will be important. First, there will need to be further consultation before the significant changes suggested can actually inform any new legislation. IPSE will be fully engaged with this process, making the positive case for self-employment. Finally, onto internal business. In the coming months, IPSE will be holding elections to our Board, which is responsible for setting the strategic direction of our organisation. It has been my pleasure to serve the Board since becoming Chief Executive, and in the autumn any member in good standing and who’s been an IPSE member for at least one year can put their name forward to stand for the Board. Becoming a Director is a big commitment, but a rewarding one. I urge anyone interested to put themselves forward. Details of how to stand will be circulated to all members by our Chairman James Collings in early September.
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From the Lobby The 2017 election: where are we now? IPSE director of policy, Simon McVicker looks at the aftermath of the General Election.
he 2017 General Election was a serious shock to the UK body politic. Theresa May went into the campaign as the ‘strong and stable’ leader of a Conservative Party in the ascendant; she emerged not just ‘weak and wobbly’, but struggling to stand up at all, and propped up by a controversial confidence and supply deal with the DUP. May now stands as a powerless Prime Minister at the head of a minority government. And, although the next election is due in 2022, May’s weakened position and the instability of her government mean it could come much sooner. There is no expectation that Theresa May will lead the Conservatives into it. In the meantime, Brexit negotiations are getting underway, and while May apparently launched the election to ‘strengthen her hand’, it ended up having exactly the opposite effect. The Prime Minister has found herself in a seriously weakened position at the negotiating table. So, while rhetoric from the likes of David Davis still suggests a ‘hard’ Brexit, it’s very unlikely that May and her negotiating team will be able to deliver it. May’s weakened position also has serious implications at home. ‘Mayism’, if there ever was such a thing, has gone out the window with her advisors Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill. Rather than pushing ahead with any of her ambitious domestic policies, May put through a Queen’s Speech overwhelmingly focused on Brexit legislation. She’s likely to be much more cautious on the domestic front now. So, what does all this mean for IPSE and the self-employed? Well, there’s now very little chance that the government will try to raise Class 4 NICs again. In fact, because of the government’s drastically weakened position, it’s now more likely to listen to reasoned suggestions for supporting the self-employed and thus boosting the UK economy. IPSE will do all it can to take advantage of this opportunity. The Government will be risk adverse, it will not try anything that would prompt a rebellion by its own MPs, the power of the backbenches will be very prevalent throughout this Parliament. IPSE will try and build support on the backbenches to stop anything that looks nasty. 6
However that does not mean we can be complacent. There is a danger that the calamitous changes to IR35 in the public sector could still be extended to the private sector if it got a degree of cross party support, IPSE needs to be vigilant and have a campaign ready even if there is a hint of that. We’ll also prepare for the looming leadership change by not only building our connections at the highest levels of government but amongst those who may be jockeying for position in the lower ranks. And what about Labour? Well, after their
astonishing surge in the election, there’s a real possibility that Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister of the UK. Of course, a lot could change before the next election. During its campaign, Labour walked a fine line on Brexit, allowing them to absorb both Remainer and Leaver votes. They may not be able to walk that line when the negotiations begin in earnest. For the moment though, with Theresa May precariously propped up by the DUP and Jeremy Corbyn enjoying a belated honeymoon, a Labour government looks far more possible than only three months ago. And IPSE has to prepare for
that, which is why we’re shoring up our influence right across the Labour Party. Overall, far from quieting the uncertainty and instability unleashed by Brexit, Theresa May’s snap election has destabilised UK politics and shaken the country’s economy even further. With more turbulent times ahead, the UK economy needs the flexibility and dynamism of the selfemployed more than ever. The Taylor Report will make a major impact and the Government’s response will be of great importance to the self-employed. IPSE will work at the heart of government and right across the political landscape to make sure their contribution is recognised and their voice is heard.
Kick boxer leaves Nats black and blue by Jim Cassidy If Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson was a Member of Parliament she would be in the Cabinet. That’s a given.
Away from Westminster and Downing Street there are few people as powerful within the party as this dynamic politician. This five foot five, lesbian, kick boxer and former Territorial Army signaller is no shrinking violet and fights to ensure her voice is heard. As Central Office awakened to the mother of all political hangovers on the morning of Friday June 9th there was only one bright spot on the Conservative electoral landscape: Scotland. Ruth and her band of close advisors had boosted the number of Conservative MPs in Scotland from 1 to 13. There has been a resounding body of opinion that Ruth should head for Westminster and that day may well come, but not before the next Holyrood elections in 2021. The man who first saw the potential of Ruth many years ago was former No 10 advisor Ramsay Jones and how No 10 could have benefitted from Ramsay’s wise council in the last few months. Those who would write off Nicola Sturgeon should do so at their peril. Nicola spent many years serving her apprenticeship and she and her team knew that Theresa May’s snap election had caught them on the wrong foot. Her demand for an INDY2 referendum was the wrong call, at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. The Indy2 bus is now parked in some obscure Highland glen just outside Brigadoon and will stay there until there is another Braveheart moment. With 21 former SNP MPs looking for alternative employment it was inevitable the Sgian Dubhs (Highland dress daggers) would be sharpened. But, surprisingly, it was not Nicola under attack, but her husband Peter Murrell, the party’s Chief Executive who was the target for recriminations. Until now they have been the golden couple, but Kenny MacAskill, a former SNP cabinet secretary questioned their power and influence over the party. MacAskill is seen as a voice in the political wilderness, a rebel throughout his career and a man who could start a political fight in an empty debating chamber. Behind the scenes, Peter Murrell has been the unsung hero of the SNP bringing the party into the 21st century with ease and leaving the Scottish Labour Party floundering in the dark ages. That said, Labour in Scotland did better than expected. IPSE members should be delighted to see Ian Murray, Edinburgh South returned to Westminster, a man who understands the goals of IPSE and the self-employed. In the cold light of day Labour, once the most powerful force north of the border are now demoted into third place. At Westminster, the SNP depleted army has a new leader and it is quite amazing what appearing on an IPSE platform can do for your career! Ian Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber was IPSE’s guest at a debate on the self-employed at the SNP Conference in Aberdeen a few years ago and has succeeded Angus Robertson as the man facing up to Teresa May at Question Time. Skye’s the limit? Not for our Ian. But the key question is; who will Ian be facing at PMQT after the summer recess and the autumn party conferences?
Fighting for freelancers to get paid On 14 June IPSE’s policy team hosted a roundtable on the epidemic of unpaid freelancing taking place in creative professions. Chaired by the Guardian Small Business Network, a number of experts from the like of the London College of Fashion, the Freelancer Club and the Creative Society discussed recent research conducted by IPSE which found freelancers lose an average of £5,394 each year to unpaid work. The confidence deficit The new government should prioritise developing a new strategy to ensure businesses have people with the skills they need, say a third of business owners according to research by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC). In the three months prior to the EU referendum in 2016, a third of business owners believed that the UK economy was improving and were confident about making investment decisions. The Brexit result saw this confidence plummet. According to the REC’s June 2017 survey, although confidence has risen again since, it is still far below the levels reported this time last year and this has had a significant impact on some sectors. The health and education sectors have seen a decline in growth, while demand for industrial workers and drivers is high. Get your Big Mac via Uber Fast food giant, McDonald’s has partnered with Uber to trial its McDelivery service in three UK cities. Teaming up with Uber’s food delivery service, UberEats, McDonald’s will be delivering to customers living within a 1.5 mile radius from selected stores in London, Nottingham and Leeds. Across the capital, 22 chains will be offering the McDelivery service and another 10 in the other two cities. Customers wanting to get their Big Mac or McChicken sandwich delivered to their door, need to place their orders through UberEats between 7am and 2am. New app to transform how freelancers get hired FreelancerDiary has launched an app that looks at a new way for freelancers to find jobs. The smart Diary app enables clients to instantly view new or favourite freelancers available for a job and book quickly. Founder and CEO of FreelancerDiary and a former runner up in IPSE’s Freelancer of the Year Inspire Awards, Richard Jeffs, said: “It works the way freelancers and clients actually do.” “Freelance Diary strips away the barrier between clients and freelancers by enabling direct bookings through a smart Diary app.” Although the app does not charge users for the bookings they make and receive, it does offer a membership option.
Opportunities and obstacles: the Taylor Review 2017 The Prime Minister commissioned the head of the RSA to investigate how to end gig economy confusion. Did he succeed? By Tristan Grove
ver since it was first announced back in October last year, few things have stirred more anticipation – and indeed anxiety – in the freelance and selfemployed community than the Taylor Review. Commissioned by Theresa May and headed up by Tony Blair’s former head of policy Matthew Taylor, the Review set out to ‘look at how employment practices need to change to keep pace with modern business models.’ Beginning on 30 November 2016, the Taylor Review consisted of a detailed government research project to ‘reveal the scale of “gig” working and the reasons people take it up’, as well as a regional tour exploring different sectors of the economy and labour force. The Review also
accepted submissions from leading industry bodies like IPSE. From the outset, IPSE has welcomed the commissioning of the Taylor Review. Almost since its very foundation, IPSE has been about not just overturning the damaging IR35 regulation, but also getting the government to bring its legislation in line with modern employment practices and ensuring the self-employed are recognised for their vital contribution to the economy. That was reflected both in IPSE’s hearing with the Taylor Review panel and in its official submission to the Review, which called for a statutory definition of self-employment, ‘to end confusion and ensure working for yourself is viewed as a positive, valuable way of working’. It
also called for more support to help the selfemployed with training and saving for retirement, as well as changes to the welfare system to ‘better support the self-employed, particularly relating to issues of Universal Credit and maternity and paternity provisions’. So, what was the Taylor Review’s response? Well, it called for ‘seven steps towards fair and decent work’: 1. The government should ensure that ‘the same basic principles apply to all forms of employment in the British economy’, which means making ‘the taxation of labour more consistent across employment forms’. 2. Although the positive opportunities created by ‘platform-based working’ must be protected, ipsemagazine.co.uk
the government should also ensure ‘fairness for those who work through these platforms’. One way to do this is by taking steps to be clarify ‘how to distinguish workers from those who are legitimately self-employed.’ 3. The government should take steps to improve conditions for workers – or ‘dependent contractors’, as the report recommends they should now be named. It should ‘provide additional protections for this group and stronger incentives for firms to treat them fairly’. 4. More should be done to ensure companies are transparent and open ‘about their practices and that all workers are able to be engaged and heard.’ 5. The government should work to ensure everyone has ‘realistically attainable ways to strengthen their future work prospects’. 6. There must be a ‘more proactive approach to workplace health’. 7. The National Living Wage is a ‘powerful tool to raise the financial base line of low paid workers’, and it should be accompanied by ‘sectoral strategies engaging employers, employees and stakeholders to ensure that people – particularly in low paid sectors – are not stuck at the living wage minimum or facing insecurity’. IPSE welcomes the Review’s commitment to protecting the flexibility and positive opportunities created by ‘platform-based working’, but there are some doubts about redefining workers as ‘dependent contractors’. As IPSE’s chief executive Chris Bryce has said, ‘any changes to employment status should bring clarity and not add to the confusion. Renaming workers “dependent contractors” might bring some benefits, but government will have to be absolutely clear who falls into this group.’ IPSE believes that this new ‘dependent July 2017
contractor’ status may just be adding to the confusion pervading the gig economy. As Bryce went on to say in IPSE’s official response to the Taylor Review, IPSE still believes that the best way to clear the confusion in the gig economy is to ‘enshrine what it means to be self-employed in law’. A statutory definition of self-employment would not only protect the flexibility of legitimately self-employed people, but also stop unscrupulous companies using the confusion to exploit the vulnerable self-employed. IPSE also has ‘a serious concern’ about how the Review defines these ‘dependent contractors’. It believes the Taylor Review is ‘far too reductive’ because it only seems to use ‘direction and control’ as indicators of worker – or ‘dependent contractor’ – status. ‘In reality, things are a lot more complicated than that. You should also consider
There are many positives for independent professionals to take from the Taylor Review the ability to choose when and where you work, whether the role is project based and whether you have the right to send a substitute.’ There are certainly positives to take from the Review too, however. For example, as Chris Bryce noted in IPSE’s response, ‘Mr Taylor’s recommendation to align tax and employment status would be a clearly positive step, as this is an issue that currently causes a great deal of confusion.’ IPSE also shares the report’s concern that not enough self-employed people are saving for their retirement or insuring against illness, and strongly
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts
supports its recommendation that the government should investigate ways to resolve this. There was also little to disagree with in the report’s calls for a ‘more proactive approach to workplace health’ and greater business transparency. So, overall there are many positives for independent professionals and the self-employed to take from the Taylor Review, as well as the risk for some negatives. But what will be carried through – what will the government write into law now? Well, the short answer may be not much. Having lost her majority in Parliament, May’s premiership is likely to be humbled and cautious from here on in. Despite pledging in her Taylor Review launch speech to thoroughly consider the report’s recommendations over the summer, it’s unlikely she will attempt any remotely controversial domestic reforms – particularly while Brexit is under way. If new legislation does emerge from the Review, however, IPSE’s response is ready. 9
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Accent coach Luke left speechless by win Tom Hayward speaks to IPSE’s Freelancer of the Year award winner, Luke Nicholson. Despite his recent successes, Luke admits he almost stumbled into his career by chance five years ago. He grew up with a passion for languages and the spoken word, and went on to study German and Italian at the University of Birmingham. Simultaneously, he also led the university’s drama society and went on to study at East 15 Acting School.
“I entered IPSE’s awards to show all those people who’d asked me, ‘when are you going to get a real job?’ that being a freelancer is a valid alternative to 9–5 employment and routine”
Voice coach Luke left speechless by win
n some select circles, the general election was the hottest ticket in town on 8 June. However, the UK’s diverse and thriving freelance community descended en masse to King’s Place in central London for the glittering Freelancer of the Year Awards ceremony – at the culmination of which, speech and accent coach Luke Nicholson was crowned Britain’s best freelancer. Alongside a stellar cast of co-stars, it was the former leading man – whose business, Improve Your Accent, has taught students from 70 countries how to master the spoken English language – who left the stage as IPSE’s headline act. Both personally and professionally, there is an inherent impressiveness about Luke and his business. From the way he has exploited a niche in the market and established himself as a leader in his field, to the number of people he has taught and the grandeur of his vision for the future.
Luke embodies all that IPSE is proud to represent in the freelance community, yet interspersed through his success and hugely impressive business offering – from tutoring to online pronunciation games and phonetic translator tools – he has a compelling sense of modesty, which was entirely visible in his reaction during and after the awards ceremony. “I spent the whole day telling myself I hadn’t won, because I didn’t want to get my hopes up,” Luke told IPSE a few days after the dust had settled on his stellar night. “Especially after talking to the other freelancers during the day and hearing about all their successes and their interesting jobs. “I was shocked and completely speechless when Ellie Taylor (comedian and host for the day) asked me how it feels – there were no words. It was a mix
of shock and complete excitement having won.”
During this period, he was approached by a friend who needed help to master her spoken English. While tutoring her, Luke realised two things – he was both good at it, and loved doing it. “While I was training at drama school, one of my Belgian friends was asking me to help her with her English accent,” Luke added. “She knew I was reasonably good with accents; I started helping her and I realised I was good at it and really enjoyed it, so I had an idea that maybe this could turn into a proper business. “After drama school, I started buying lots of books on phonetics and teaching English – prior to drama school I’d done a month teaching English as a second language, so I had a qualification in that as well. I advertised online and started getting clients in.” Luke had found a niche in the market, and soon set about creating a business where he broke down the spoken language to its simplest form. Starting by listening to the way a student constructs their sentences, Luke then teaches them to physically retrain their mouth muscles to create the right sounds. “It soon became clear that there were lots of people who had studied English at an advanced level 11
but weren’t understood when they were speaking. “Their grammar and vocabulary were perfect, but they were using their native language sound system when they spoke English, and didn’t know how to physically create other sounds. “In lessons, we look at how the mouth muscles work, how sounds work in the student’s native language, how to move towards what English sounds like. But it’s not just sounds; it might be the way you hold your muscles when you speak to create a particular sound quality or tone, and it might also be intonation – the ups and downs of pitch – or rhythm. “I taught a maths teacher from Nigeria. She’d actually been to her GP because she thought she had a speech impediment. Her issue wasn’t actually a speech impediment: she was just pronouncing sounds in different ways to English people. “In her native dialect, she would make sounds like ‘l’ and ‘t’ with her tongue protruding out of her mouth and touching the lip, which, of course, we don’t do in English. Once that was explained to her, I gave her some practice worksheets and she has improved considerably. “She’d been teaching for 20 years and her pupils hadn’t really been understanding her, so it was a huge breakthrough moment because suddenly she found it so easy to communicate to her class.” Unlike many businesses, Luke can measure success almost tangibly, in the number of people he has helped. But as his business grew, both in terms of turnover and the number of people he was helping – and even when he rented an office space
L/r Inspire runner up Chichi Eruchalu, Chloe Baldwin and Mandy Barker
in central London – he was still being gently teased by friends who said he didn’t have a real job. “I entered IPSE’s awards to show all those people who’d asked me, ‘when are you going to get a real job?’ that being a freelancer is a valid alternative to 9–5 employment and routine. “I wanted to show them that a freelancer can be successful – that they can inspire other people to follow their passions, find business ideas and take risks.
“There are not many people in the world who do my job. Part of the reason might be that not enough people had thought of it, or people have thought of it but didn’t think going by themselves was a good idea. “There must be so many good business ideas out there in the world that can serve a niche in the market, but people just aren’t taking the risk. Awards like the Freelancer of the Year Award really show that it’s possible.”
Above: IPSE CEO Chris Bryce Left: L/r IPSE Chairman James Collings, Luke Nicholson and host Ellie Taylor
‘I was flabbergasted when they said my name – I almost didn’t apply’ Tristan Grove speaks to the Under-23 Aspire Freelancer of the Year, Nisha Haq. There’s a perception in some circles that freelancers are all old men who’ve worked their way up the professional ladder. Well if there’s one thing that blows that idea out of the water, it’s the Aspire Award for freelancers aged 23 and under. This year in particular, there was a hugely diverse range of Aspire finalists – from every industry and walk of life, from make-up artists and graphic designers to shop fitters and photographers. But of all the talented finalists, there was one who the judges said “bowled them over with her enthusiasm for freelancing and her passion for her work”. Nisha Haq took the crown for Aspire Freelance of the Year award. The Southamptonborn photographer set up her own photography company – Nisha Haq Photography – in 2015. She specialises in professional wedding and lifestyle photography. “I’ve been photographing people since I was 13,” Nisha said. “And after doing Photography at A-Level, I knew it was the career for me. “Having the opportunity to be artistic and creative, and to meet so many new and interesting people every day – that’s something special, particularly for a people person like me. “It’s genuinely rewarding to be able to capture those magic moments for my clients – at weddings, engagements and all kinds of events.” Nisha decided to go freelance straight after graduating because she realised there weren’t many full-time opportunities in photography. She added: “During my final year studying Photography at Southampton Solent University, I was looking into ways of getting my career off the ground. “I realised there weren’t many full-time opportunities in photography: the industry is mostly made up of freelancers. “So I started looking for ways to work for myself. Not long before I graduated, I decided to apply for start-up funding, and I was lucky enough to be accepted. I also managed to get support from the Solent LEP Young Entrepreneurs Fund, which was a big help with kick-starting my photography business. July 2017
Aspire Freelancer of the Year, Nisha Haq
“Then a little later that year, I had the chance to photograph a wedding I’d been invited to. I really enjoyed it and realised I had an eye for wedding photography. I’d found my niche, and I’ve been a freelance wedding photographer ever since.
“I almost wasn’t going to
apply for the awards because I didn’t think I was good enough; but I think that’s a feeling a lot of creative freelancers struggle with” “Being a freelance photographer is really rewarding. When I get great testimonials from my clients – when a mother thanks me for documenting her daughter’s wedding so well – those are the things that make my job really special. “I also love having the freedom to be creative with my business – with branding, web design,
marketing, videos and everything. It’s liberating to be able to build everything from scratch yourself.” Asked about how it felt to be named Aspire Freelancer of the Year, Nisha said: “It feels amazing – I’m over the moon because I honestly didn’t think I’d win. “My heart was beating out of my chest when I was on stage, and I was utterly flabbergasted when Ellie Taylor said my name. “I almost wasn’t going to apply for the awards because I just didn’t think I was good enough, but I think that’s a feeling a lot of creative freelancers struggle with. So for me, it was a huge confidence boost – I feel so honoured to be recognised like this, at a national level. “It’s also amazing because of the prize money: I’m hoping to go part-time with my business, and the money will help me a lot with that. At the moment, I work full-time for a marketing and design company. “Having another job has allowed me to grow my business steadily without too much risk, but I’ve been wanting to dedicate more time to it for quite a while now. And the big hope is to take my business full-time in the near future.” 13
Glitz, glamour and winners all the way By Tristan Grove “Amazing”, “invaluable”, “inspiring”, “brilliant” – National Freelancers Day 2017 certainly went down well with the IPSE awards finalists. And with good reason: with more than 400 attendees and over 20 exciting events across the country, this was IPSE’s biggest and best National Freelancers Day yet. Held on 8 June, this year’s NFD consisted of a host of workshops and talks during the day, followed by the Freelancer of the Year Awards in the evening. And this year, there was a major addition to the day’s line-up: as well as the main London event at Kings Place, for the first time IPSE also hosted two satellite events. One took place at Ziferblat co-working space in Manchester and the second at Desklodge work-hub in Bristol. Both included not only talks and networking opportunities, but also live streaming of the London event. At the main London event, freelancers from across the UK and beyond converged on Kings Place, a breathtaking exhibition centre overlooking Regent’s Canal.
Pouring in throughout the afternoon, guests were treated to talks and workshops, with everyone from Freelancer Club director Matt Dowling and the 2016 Freelancer of the Year Emmeline Pidgen, to former Minister for Europe Doug Henderson and IPSE’s own director of policy, Simon McVicker.
Talks and workshops covered everything from managing freelancer finances to the election and the future of freelancing in the UK Spread across six rooms and two floors, the talks had something for everyone, from young professionals just starting out on their own, to experienced freelancers looking to build up their client list. There was even a student zone
dedicated to giving students the support and knowledge to make it on their own. The rest of the talks and workshops covered everything from managing freelancer finances and securing higher-paid contracts, to the election and the future of freelancing in the UK. Guests also had the chance to browse stalls laid on by some of the leading names from the world of freelancing, including HSBC, CMME, Close Brothers, Kingsbridge and the British Library Business and IP Centre. And, of course, everyone had plenty of opportunity throughout the day to practise that most important of freelancer skills: networking. In the main foyer, over a lavish array of drinks and afternoon titbits, guests were able to meet freelancers and other professionals from every industry and walk of life. As day turned to night, evening dresses started to glimmer in the crowd and the really serious business of NFD began: the Freelancer of the Year Awards got under way… fittingly enough, with comedian and all-round funny woman Ellie Taylor.
Live streamed to satellite events across the country, the awards kicked off with a warm welcome and round-up of the year from IPSE’s chairman James Collings. Then it was on to a stirring speech from keynote speaker Carl Camden, a leading voice for freelancers in the USA, who has been featured in everything from Bloomberg to The New York Times. Striding across the stage, he inveighed against the idea that full-time employment should be the norm, lamented the almost non-existent support for the self-employed in the USA, and raised a rallying cry for freelancers everywhere. After a round of rapturous applause, it was back to comedian and self-styled “Steve Tylerlookalike” (ask her) Ellie Taylor. Taking to the stage in a dress she described as like “Theresa May in the 1970s”, she treated the audience to a routine that ran from the joys of having a fit-bit-freak husband, to the trials and tribulations of hosting the Butcher Shop of the Year Awards (“a ‘sausage fest’ in every sense”). Next were the award announcements themselves, with Ellie and IPSE’s James Collings. Middlesex University was crowned the University Partner of the Year, and Work.Life in Camden took the title for Co-working Space of the Year. Then it was on to a new category for 2017, Ambassador of the Year. The first-ever winner of this award was Katy Carlisle. Katy runs Freelance Folk, a Manchester-based freelancer group, which provides one of the things independent professionals need most – community.
Last but not least were the Aspire and Inspire Freelancer of the Year Awards. Nisha Haq, a dedicated young photographer from Southampton, took the Aspire award for the best freelancer aged 23 and under.
Taking the crowning title this year was speech and accent coach Luke Nicholson Then it was the runner-up prizes for the Inspire award, which went to Melissa Holloway, a medical copywriter, and Chichi Eruchalu, a business coach and strategist. And finally, the headline award itself: the Inspire Freelancer of the Year. Taking the crowning title this year was speech and accent coach Luke Nicholson. Luke owns the London-based business Improve Your Accent. The judges said he embodied everything IPSE wants to promote with the award: not only had he found a unique niche for his business and made fantastic use of social media to promote it, he also had a comprehensive, impressive plan for the future. After the excitement of the awards, it was time for everyone to let their hair down and reflect back on the day at a glamorous drinks reception. Friends and colleagues, finalists and freelancers from all over the country drank and chatted long into the evening, savouring the last glimmers of the day and of IPSE’s most successful NFD yet.
Guide to Freelancing
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The IPSE Awards 2017: meet the winners By Tristan Grove
L/r Chichi Eruchalu, Simon Best, Nisha Haq, Luke Nicholson, Melissa Holloway and Adam Smith
he 2017 Freelancer of the Year Awards were the biggest yet, and not just because of the audience. IPSE also had more awards this year than ever before. As well as the Aspire and Inspire Freelancer of the Year Awards, there were also two Inspire runners-up, who each took away £2,500 as well as a whole range of business support products. There were prizes for the IPSE University Partner of the Year and the Co-Working Space of the Year too. Not to mention a completely new award for 2017: the IPSE Ambassador of the Year, celebrating the people who provide the products and services that support freelance professionals, from knowledge hubs to membership organisations and support groups. July 2017
IPSE Magazine spent some time getting to know the winners and finding out what the awards mean to them. Chichi Eruchalu, Runner-Up for the Inspire Freelancer of the Year Award Chichi, a business strategist and coach, said she works with “women ready to stand up and stand out in their business and life. I empower women to stop hiding, build a profitable business and create lasting freedom for themselves”. She added: “I’ve been a natural troubleshooter for as long as I can remember. And because of my family, I’ve always been surrounded by entrepreneurship. “So eventually, I found myself having
everyday conversations where I was just naturally identifying where people were struggling with their businesses – pinpointing the things that were holding them back.” After she graduated, Chichi spent several years working in corporate banking. When she had her two children though, she decided things had to change. “I didn’t want to be tied to a desk any more: I wanted freedom. So when my daughter was born, I started building up my business, and last year I finally made the leap and left my banking job.” Now, just a year later, Chichi is the runner-up for Freelancer of the Year. “It feels incredible! IPSE are a fantastic organisation, and although I don’t do what I do > 17
brand new Flex membership, which basically offers pay-as-you-go rates for as little as £3.50 an hour. It’s been very exciting to see our freelancer community grow through Flex, and we plan to give many more freelancers an alternative to the coffee shop and the kitchen table in the future!” Katy Carlisle, founder of Freelance Folk and IPSE Ambassador of the Year Katy is the first-ever winner of IPSE’s Ambassador of the Year Award, primarily for founding Freelancer Folk, a Manchester-based freelancer
Katy is now the first-ever IPSE Ambassador of the Year
Katy Carlise, IPSE Ambassador of the Year
for outside praise, it’s great to have your hard work recognised,” she said. “It’s also brilliant because of the prize > money, which I’m looking to invest in more marketing for my business and in a new training academy for business owners.” Melissa Holloway, Runner-Up for the Inspire Freelancer of the Year Award Based in central London, Melissa is an in-demand medical copywriter with two businesses. She explained: “One is M Holloway Limited, which provides medical copywriting and consulting services, and my new venture is Speaking Diabetes, which works with NHS stakeholders, companies and investors to help increase the adoption of diabetes services.” After four years at a healthcare advertising agency, Melissa decided on a change of direction. “I realised what I really wanted was to be freelance – to be able to have more of a say in which projects I took on, where and when I travelled and the types of clients I worked with.” Now not only are her copywriting skills in high demand across London and beyond, she’s also been recognised at the Freelancer of the Year Awards. She added: “Being runner-up in the Inspire Award was fantastic! I was absolutely shocked and so flattered.” Melissa has got big plans for the prize money too: “With the money, I’m going to develop and launch my social media strategy, take training to enhance my negotiation and project scoping skills, 18
and attend a major diabetes conference to get in touch with prospective clients. I’m keen to start branching out beyond London too.” Sarah Mourtada from Work.Life, the IPSE CoWorking Space of the Year “We opened our first space in Camden in August 2015, with the aim of changing how people feel about Monday mornings,” said Sarah. “We think you should enjoy every day you spend at the office, so we provide a flexible, creative and intimate space where you can do your best
“ We think you should enjoy
every day at the office, so we provide a flexible, creative and intimate space where you can do your best work ” work and feel part of a community.” Two years, five locations and 1,000 members later, it seems to be working. “We are absolutely delighted to have won IPSE’s Co-Working Space of the Year Award. Freelancing is without doubt the future of work, and we are passionate about giving freelancers a better working environment – an alternative to the coffee shop and the kitchen table.” Building on their success, Work.Life have even bigger plans for the future. Sarah added: “Last year, we launched our
community that runs “regular pop-up co-working sessions and socials so self-employed people can work, chat – and drink – with other freelancers”. She said: “It’s so if you’re working from home and want some company, or if you’re thinking of going freelance and want to chat to people who are actually doing it, you’ve got somewhere to go. “We’ve now got over 1,000 members in our online community and have plans to expand, both online and with our face-to-face events.” And after Freelance Folk’s rapid expansion, Katy is now the first-ever IPSE Ambassador of the Year. “It’s amazing! I started Freelance Folk because I thought that there was a need for it, but it was always very much a side project – it didn’t even cover its own costs! So, after such humble beginnings, I’m beyond happy that it’s won an award from the association for freelancers.” She added: “Winning the award is a great springboard for growing Freelance Folk. I’m already doing a lot of work to build our online presence, including a new logo and rebrand. “Being a web designer, I’ve naturally put together a shiny new website too, which is going to be a hub for useful resources and guest posts from the community. I’m also keen to push ahead with our expansion into new cities like Sheffield, and create a model that anyone can replicate, wherever they are.” Simon Best, from Middlesex University, IPSE’s University Partner of the Year IPSE works with exceptional university partners right across the UK. But one university in particular distinguished itself with its breadth of research and the scale of support for the selfemployed. It is why Middlesex University was named University Partner of the Year. Simon Best, a project leader and teaching ipsemagazine.co.uk
IPSE award finalists.
fellow at Middlesex, explained why they do so much to teach their students about self-employment: “We understand that the shift in working practices is leading more and more students to selfemployment, both as an additional source of income while they study and, in many cases, as their mai n source of income when they graduate.
“We’re also telling more and more of our students about the support IPSE can offer them throughout their self-employed careers.”
“ We recognise the role that IPSE plays in supporting self-employment and we’re looking to build on our partnership even further ”
“It’s also important to teach students about self-employment because some of the skills involved – like enterprise and entrepreneurialism – are becoming absolutely essential for people entering the labour market, even if they’re not becoming self-employed.” Simon himself has played a significant part in Middlesex’s success: “I set up and run the enterprise development hub at Middlesex University, EDH@MDX. “We provide workshops and mentoring to help support new businesses and the self-employed. In particular, we focus on the 93 per cent who aren’t necessarily innovative or tech-oriented.” As for the future, Middlesex is keen to step up its partnership with IPSE. Simon added: “We recognise the role that IPSE plays in supporting and representing selfemployment, and we’re looking to build on our partnership even further – particularly in terms of policy development and research. July 2017
IPSE Chairman James Collings, Work.Life’ co-founder David Kosky and Ellie Taylor
To be or not to be a freelancer Today, more people than ever before are going it alone as freelancers. But is that necessarily a good thing? Why are people choosing to go freelance – if indeed they’re choosing at all? And are they happier working for themselves? IPSE conducted a survey of over 1,000 freelancers to find out. By Kayte Jenkins and Tristan Grove
Work Intentions How long they intend to work as a freelancer
64% 29% For the forseeable future, but would consider switching
or many organisations, having an engaged and satisfied workforce means having a more productive workforce. But what is received wisdom for full-time employees is almost completely unknown in the freelancer community. While HR departments devote masses of resources to employee wellbeing and job satisfaction, there is little provision for freelancers. Now two million-strong and accounting for more than 40 per cent of the UK’s self-employed population, freelancers are one of the fastest growing and most important sectors of the labour force. Distinguished from other self-employed people by their advanced skills and expertise, they contribute no less than £119 billion to the UK economy. So as both the number of freelancers and their contribution to the economy continue to grow, it is more important than ever to understand why people are choosing to work for themselves and 20
Want to switch to working for someone else as soon as possible
what effect freelancing has on their wellbeing and job satisfaction.
WHY WORK FOR YOURSELF?
agree that they can usually handle the challenges in their work
One of the biggest questions to answer is whether most freelancers have actually chosen to go it alone, or whether they have been forced into this way of working. And, reassuringly, IPSE’s research suggests the former. Asked to pick the main reasons they went freelance, most of IPSE’s respondents went for positive answers: “Better work/life balance” (60%), “Control over work” (60%) and “Increased earning potential” (60%). For the most part then, freelancing seems to represent a positive choice for people. There were some, however, with less positive reasons: 18 per cent said they started working for themselves because they lost their previous job, while 13 per cent said they had no other option. Of these people, however, 70 per cent said they were actually satisfied with this way of working.
4% Dont know
It wasn’t just the people who didn’t actively choose to work for themselves: 84 per cent of the freelancers surveyed by IPSE said they were “very satisfied” with their way of working. That’s compared to a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) study, which found that just 64 per cent of employees feel the same. Freelancer satisfaction has also increased by one per cent since a similar IPSE survey in 2015. That may not seem like a big rise, but set against a background of political turbulence and a series of government attempts to restrict the self-employed, it actually shows the resilience of freelancers and just how satisfying working for yourself can be.
WHY SO SATISFIED?
So, what is it about freelancing that creates these extraordinary levels of job satisfaction? Well, when IPSE asked how working as a freelancer made respondents feel, many said they are often “cheerful (66%)”, “optimistic” (50%) and “energised” (46%). Again, this compares very well with the results of a ipsemagazine.co.uk
HOW DOES WORKING AS A FREELANCER MAKE YOU FEEL?
similar CIPD study, which found that only 29 per cent of employees often feel cheerful. Freelancing is clearly a positive choice for many. But that doesn’t mean there are no challenges: 50 per cent of IPSE’s respondents said freelancing sometimes made them feel stressed. Even the challenges, however, don’t seem to be enough to discourage people from working independently. Asked about the future, nearly two-thirds (64%) said they intended to carry on freelancing for the foreseeable future. By contrast, just three per cent want to cross over and work as employees.
WORK AND WELLBEING
It’s clear that freelancing has a positive impact on job satisfaction, but what about wellbeing? IPSE’s
84% are satisfied working as a freelancer
survey examined wellbeing by asking respondents about four key areas: confidence, health and physical wellbeing, fulfilment and motivation, and work and financial security. The results were mixed. For starters, 30 per cent said lack of financial security and uncertainty about the availability of freelance work impeded their wellbeing. On the other hand, 95 per cent said they were confident they could handle the challenges of their work, and 91 per cent also said they take pride in what they do. So despite a degree of uncertainty among freelancers, overall, working for yourself seems to significantly improve wellbeing.
THE BEST WAY TO WORK?
IPSE’s findings are clear: freelancing has a positive impact on both job satisfaction and overall wellbeing. What’s more, it looks like most people become freelancers not because they are forced to, but out of a desire for greater freedom and control. And even those who did not actively choose to become self-employed say they find it a satisfying way of working. IPSE’s findings also suggest freelancers are buoyed both by their confidence in their abilities and also by their sense of optimism about their work. Overall, freelancers seem to be very satisfied with their way of working. So it seems likely that more and more people have started freelancing over the last few years not so much as a shortterm solution during the recession, but because they recognise that freelancing is a satisfying and rewarding way to work.
Crowds flock to the launch of the IPSE Manifesto: ‘A Contract with the Self-Employed’ IPSE held a four day campaign ahead of the general election in June. By Tom Howard The IPSE manifesto is built around six themes: Delivering a Brexit deal that works – The selfemployed must be central to the government’s agenda in the negotiations. A fair trading deal and the free movement of skilled professionals across Europe are imperative. Keeping self-employment positive: The Taylor Review – There must be a statutory definition of self-employment. This definition should consider autonomy in work, control over working practices, taking on business risk and the level of independence from clients.
gainst the backdrop of London’s iconic skyline, crowds flocked to the River Thames’ South Bank for the official launch of the IPSE Manifesto, A Contract with the Self-Employed. The launch, adjacent to the OXO Tower, marked the beginning of a bold, striking and intensive four-day campaign in which advertising vans clad with images of IPSE’s posters were driven around London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol. Taking in newspaper offices, co-working spaces and areas of local significance and history, IPSE’s vans set out to ensure the self-employed have a voice and a platform, from Land’s End to John o’Groats. IPSE’s campaign was built around prominent imagery of a goose laying a golden egg alongside a message calling on the government to “not strangle the self-employed”. Contributing £255 billion to the UK economy every year – enough to fund the NHS twice over – the UK’s 4.8 million self-employed are the country’s golden goose, and should not be punished with restrictive and ill-conceived policies. Addressing the crowd at the South Bank, IPSE CEO Chris Bryce spoke of the vital contribution 22
A fairer, more efficient tax system – The current tax system is based on a traditional employer/ employee model that is out of touch with modern working practices. The government should conduct a strategic review of it and create a new, bespoke tax system for freelancers. It should also limit the damage done by the controversial IR35 regulation, simplify the Making Tax Digital programme, and under no circumstances raise the rate of NICs for the self-employed. the self-employed make to the economy and the pressing need for the next government to reflect and reward their unique value with fair, progressive and supportive policies. “The manifesto launch was a great success, and drew a lot of attention in central London,” Chris said. “But it was just the beginning of a bold and concerted campaign across the UK and a long, and hopefully fruitful, engagement with the government over the coming years. “We are determined to give a voice to selfemployed people right across the country and ensure the next government gives them the support and freedom they need to flourish.”
Securing the future of the self-employed – Ensure better provisions for the self-employed, including better pension arrangements, improved access to the Lifetime ISA, fairer parental benefits and Universal Credit for new businesses. Preparing young people for self-employment – Including further integration of self-employment in curriculums, reforms to construction training and new tax arrangements for training. Creating a positive business environment – Delivering faster broadband across the country, creating a strong Small Business Commissioner and incentivising the use of work-hubs.
WHAT IPSE IS CALLING FOR?
IPSE’s 2015 manifesto, ‘Britain’s Secret Weapon’, achieved a great resonance, as a number of its policies were implemented by the government – including the appointment of a small business commissioner. IPSE is confident its new manifesto will gain even more traction over the next five years. Self-employment has never been more crucial, nor higher on the government agenda. The selfemployed are the only people who can give the UK economy the flexibility and dynamism to carry it through the years of uncertainty ahead. ipsemagazine.co.uk
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Self-employed or a contractor? Why what you’re called matters. Right now in the UK, more people than ever before are making the conscious decision to become self-employed. In fact, in a recent study it was found that as many as 50 per cent of the UK’s working population will be working in some sort of freelance capacity by 2020. People choose to go it alone for many different reasons, but our research has found that many independent professionals share a number of the same things in common. A long-held ambition to be their own boss; a need for flexibility to work when they please; or the desire to achieve a better work-life balance, being three of the most often stated reasons for choosing self-employment.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
What many independent professionals don’t share however, whatever business they specialise in, is what they call themselves when they’re working. What you decide to call yourself is vitally important when it comes to successfully securing a self-employed mortgage, because it can have a significant impact on the outcome.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SELF-EMPLOYED AND CONTRACTOR MORTGAGE?
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Lenders criteria for contractors: • How long have you been contracting for? If you have only just started contracting, this can make employers nervous about the stability of your income. • How long do you have left on your current contract? Lenders generally like to see at least 6 months left on a contract to feel comfortable. • History of contracting – some lenders like to see a CV to ensure you have had no major breaks between your contracts. • Evidence – accounts aren’t needed to evidence your income, but a copy of your current (and sometimes previous) contract will be needed. • Affordability calculations – contractors have a daily rate which is then multiplied by 5. This is then multiplied by a number of weeks – most often 46. However, many lenders will go higher than this.
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BUSINESS & FINANCE
Freelancers with green eyes Jason Ward looks at professional jealously.
ou have to stop comparing yourself to people who are exceptional”, an exgirlfriend said to me once. How I responded is lost to time, but I can only imagine that it included the word “ouch”. To be fair, in its retelling the comment sounds harsher than was originally intended; when she said exceptional she meant outlier rather than great. I can’t remember precisely what I was complaining about – it may have been Orson Welles directing Citizen Kane at the age of 25, or Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein at 20, or Napoleon conquering Italy at 26, or the Beatles breaking up before any of its members had turned 30 – but she was trying to impart a valuable lesson about judging myself against the experiences of those in wildly different circumstances. Like most valuable lessons imparted by ex-girlfriends, of course, I chose not to take it on board. The world of work is inherently competitive, and applying for any salaried position is a fierce business – you have to write letters about yourself 26
and attend interviews like you’re a schoolchild trying to win a contest – but to be a freelancer is to be reminded daily of how many others out there are trying to do the exact job that you are. As I moved into a career as a freelance writer I found that not only was I comparing myself to
There’s still the fear that it might all go away tomorrow, that you should be doing more, that you are about to be lapped people who were exceptional, I was comparing myself to everyone. Even as I became busier and established myself, I couldn’t help but look covetously over at the plates of my peers. Which publications were they writing for? What were they being commissioned to write about? What were their word lengths? How come
they all seemed so prolific when I could lose an afternoon to writing a single sentence? It wasn’t that I was unhappy with my own situation, but there’s an essential insecurity in being self-employed that’s difficult to shake. It doesn’t matter if you have a healthy stable of contractors that you regularly work for, there’s still the fear that it might all go away tomorrow, that you should be doing more, that you are in some way falling behind and are about to be lapped. There’s presumably some sort of delicious German word for that sensation in the pit of your stomach when you realise that someone who’s the same age you are and started from roughly the same spot as you did, at the same time, has reached heights that seem impossibly distant. This nagging sensation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s okay to be unsatisfied. It can be decidedly beneficial to career progression, in fact: a sense of competition can inspire you to push yourself, to be bolder and more ambitious. At a certain point though you have to ask if you’re profiting from your feelings of professional jealousy or merely indulging in them. ipsemagazine.co.uk
Is your work stronger and your career better, or is it just making you less happy about something that you’ve spent your whole adult life pursuing and are now making an actual living from? It’s natural (albeit depressing) to compare your progress with those around you, but it’s also wise to monitor how this inclination expresses itself. Healthy competition is useful, bitterness is not. Supporting your peers is useful, rooting against them is not. Encouraging those who are starting out in your industry is useful, undermining them is not. There’s normally a high road to take, and you normally know what it is. The more energy you expend worrying because a person is doing something that you’d like to be doing, the less energy you spend doing your own things. There will always be someone trying to get the same gig that you are – someone younger or more experienced, someone more nuanced or possessing
It’s common to become accustomed to your own accomplishments, so they seem less worthwhile than those you admire more raw talent. It doesn’t matter how good you are, there will always be people who surpass you in some area, just as you might surpass them in another. Unless you work in a field that maintains intricate and ongoing rankings – if you happen to be a tennis player, basically – it isn’t possible to be the absolute, definitive best at your job, and even in that scenario your abilities would still fluctuate depending on experience, age and form. We create narratives for ourselves that suggest this isn’t the case and even devise baubles like award ceremonies to corroborate them, but outside of competitive sport there are few occupations that you can truly “win” at. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible to get better at your work or improve your place within your chosen industry, but for the most part your
own progress has very little relationship to the progress of anyone else. There are only so many hours in the day – you can’t do everything, and just because someone has accomplished something doesn’t mean that you’ve lost. This is something that’s easier to appreciate intellectually than it is to believe deep down, but there’s a comfort to be found in realising that many people experience the same struggle to some degree or another. You’re not alone in your neuroticism. We’re all trapped in the scaffold of our own experience so we all have an inaccurate sense of everyone else’s circumstances. It’s harder to comprehend the professional struggles of others when only success peers out above the water. What’s below the surface is a whole underberg of rejection and toil, just like it is for you. By that same measure, it’s common to become accustomed to your own accomplishments, so they seem less
worthwhile than those you admire from a distance. It’s helpful to remind yourself of all of this every now and again, like a mantra. Time softens everything out, for good or ill. For the past six years I’ve been the associate editor of an independent women’s magazine called oh comely.
You make your own path and you come to understand that doing so means there will be many, many paths that you don’t take As a fair amount of my writing has been for a single outlet I haven’t had the time to write quite as widely as I would like, but this has been compensated by having the latitude to write freely about a range of things I’ve been interested in, from the ridiculous to the profound. If I’d left earlier (and not a single person who was involved with the magazine when I joined is still there – I assume this is vaguely what it must feel like to be the oldest person in the world and realise that everyone who was alive when you were born is dead), I may now have bylines in more publications, but then I probably wouldn’t have been able to persuade anyone else to commission me to cycle around London eating at fried chicken restaurants named after different U.S. states and then write about it. There are always trade-offs. Ultimately you make your own path, as a result of your choices, luck, effort and ability, and you come to understand that doing so means there will be many, many paths that you don’t take. Other people will take them instead, and that’s okay.
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BUSINESS & FINANCE
Learning to master the art of juggling Benedict Smith, founder of content agency Levo London, shares his tips on managing multiple clients.
uggle: ‘Continuously toss into the air and catch a number of objects so as to keep at least one in the air while handling the others.’ Put simply, juggling isn’t easy at the best of times. You’re just one tiny lapse in concentration away from a heap of balls on the floor and an unimpressed audience. When it comes to juggling clients, the story isn’t altogether different. In the stupendously competitive world of work, where clients expect priority, on-time delivery and first-class results, keeping all your balls – or in this case projects – in the air at one time is a tricky business, especially July 2017
at the beginning. I found it difficult. Or should I say, I still find it difficult. I’m a year or so into freelancing and still fairly new to the scene – and like every other freelancer, I’m desperate to prove my worth, establish my reputation and win repeat business from a number of clients. Committing to that second, third or even fourth client when you’re snowed under with the first isn’t easy. But as my dad always says, ‘it’s a good problem to have, son.’ Spot on, Dad. I’d much rather have too much on my plate than not enough. And while multi-tasking doesn’t come easy to
the male species – or so I’m told – I’ve learnt a few essential hacks that have helped me master the art of juggling. With a bit of luck, they’ll help you too.
Today, one in seven of us works from home, while 1.8 million more would like to be given the chance. You’re a freelancer, embrace remote working – whether that’s from the comfort of your own home, a co-working space or a coffee-shop. Working remotely, as opposed to on-site with clients, gives you the chance to structure your day in a way that suits your workload. Some days I spend mornings working on one project, before > 29
BUSINESS & FINANCE
jumping onto another in the afternoon. Other days I go back and forth, hopping from one client to the other throughout the day. To be able to do this, you need flexibility. Set ground rules with clients and explain that you often work remotely. The chances are they’ll respect your independence. This is the new world of work, after all.
Most importantly, working on a retainer gives me the chance to prioritise clients when I need to GET RETAINED
To achieve the flexibility I need to juggle a number of clients at any given time, I typically work on monthly retainers. Not only will a retainer offer you a degree of security, it should give you the freedom to spread your workload across the week, rather than committing to a client on specific and set days. The nature of my business means that it’s often better that I’m on call, available as and when. But most importantly, working on a retainer gives me the chance to prioritise clients when I need to. And if you’re thinking that a retainer often works out at a reduced rate spread across the month, you’re right. But not by much, and in my experience, retainers have actually helped me bring in new clients, largely because of the freedom they bring. Think of the bigger picture, and keep an eye on the long term.
Obvious, isn’t it? But the key to juggling a number of clients at once is getting and staying organised. Whether you use free work management tools like Trello or Asana, or go old-school and keep a diary, you need to declutter your mind and note down your entire work schedule. I struggle to focus on one thing at a time, let alone three. I’m a big fan of Trello, on which I create different client and project boards, with deadlines assigned to everything. But if I’m honest, daily to-do lists scribbled down in my diary have been my saving grace. The satisfaction of ticking each task off will never be lost on me either.
In fear of losing out on work, I’ve sometimes stretched myself too thin in the past SAY ‘NO’
The irony here is that I have real trouble saying ‘no’ to clients myself. In fear of losing out on work, or upsetting a client I rely on, I’ve sometimes stretched myself too thin in the past. Learning to push back with clients is essential, not only to make sure you can actually meet deadlines, but also so you can create healthier working relationships. Remember, this should be a two-way street. A client will respect you if you’re honest about what you can complete in certain timeframes. Don’t promise things you can’t deliver. It doesn’t bode well.
STAGGER YOUR INVOICES
With multiple clients, you have the opportunity to take control of your cash flow. Try staggering your invoices throughout the month, so when you are (inevitably) paid late, you won’t be too far off receiving a payment from another client. It’s liberating! Sure, juggling clients has its challenges. And there has been the odd occasion where I’ve considered committing myself full-time to one client. Just for a simpler life.
I enjoy the variety of work you get from having multiple clients But I can’t. I enjoy the variety of work you get from having multiple clients and, to be frank, I’d rather not place all my eggs in one basket. What’s more, juggling clients successfully marks the start of my transformation from oneman band to building an agency with a number of accounts. And on that note, I’ve just noticed a pile up of urgent-looking emails in my inbox. I’d better dash…
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The freelancer’s guide to Birmingham Not only is this West Midlands city the largest and most populous UK city outside London, it also has a thriving freelance industry. By Jyoti Rambhai
irmingham – home of Spaghetti Junction, the steam engine and even the football league. The city has always been a significant hub for the industrial and manufacturing sectors; and although this is still very much true, the last five to ten years has seen Birmingham transform into a popular base for freelancers across all sectors. While the service sector, particularly wholesale and retail trade, dominates Birmingham’s economy, motoring and other forms of manufacturing are still among the top high-level industries in the city, with many companies often outsourcing work to freelancers and contractors. In fact, this West Midlands city, which is home to more than 1.1 million people, had a total of 904,269 jobs in 2015, according to Economic Modelling. This figure is expected to rise to 929,182 by 2020. Top employers in this metropolitan borough, which is also a major international commerce centre, include National Express, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, Lloyds Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Specialist Computer Centres (SCC) and Whitbread. And outside London, Birmingham is the largest centre of higher education, with 32
five universities: University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, Aston University, University College Birmingham and Newman University – so there is certainly a wealth of talent around.
LIFE AS A FREELANCER
There are an abundance of coffee shops and coworking spaces to set yourself up to work. Impact Hub, which is one of the most centrally located, is a popular choice for many freelancers. The space often hosts networking events and is great if you are looking for other freelancers to collaborate with. The same goes for The Moseley Exchange – a quiet, contemporary space just outside the city centre, which also gives you the option to rent your own office. For a more quirky and cosy co-working space, there is The Transfer, which is based at The Old Print Works in south Birmingham. Patrick Wilcock, who runs The Old Print Works and The Transfer co-working spaces explained how the freelancer sector is much more “visible” nowadays. He said: “The last five to ten years has seen a huge growth in freelancers. Up to about five years ago, there were very few shared spaces where
people could work, but now there are so many more co-working spaces and similarly the number of cafés has grown too. “The growth of Wi-Fi and digital has helped enormously, with many of the big companies downsizing and outsourcing their work. That’s the global world we live in, and Birmingham has responded.”
WHERE TO STAY
Prices for hotels and accommodation are relatively cheap in comparison to the likes of London or Edinburgh. A standard room at a modest hotel like the Briar Rose, which is centrally located, comes in at around £39 per night. For something a little more luxurious, the four-star Hotel Indigo certainly will not disappoint. For £69 per night for two people, this unique hotel boasting a retro design offers panoramic views of Birmingham and is just a ten minute walk away from New Street railway station. Those looking at making Birmingham their permanent home will be glad to hear that it is as equally cheap as getting accommodation for the night. Moseley, in south-east Birmingham, was named the best place in the UK for city living this year by The Sunday Times, clinching the title ahead of the highly esteemed Muswell Hill and Mayfair in London. To rent a one-bedroom flat in this area would cost between £500 and £600 per calendar month (pcm), according to property website Rightmove. And a three-bedroom house can cost between £750 and £1,200 pcm. ipsemagazine.co.uk
For those wanting to buy a property in Moseley, house prices are fairly reasonably too. According to figures on Rightmove, a threebedroom terraced house can work out around £250,000 and a four-bedroom semi-detached house can be bought in the region of £325,000.
Birmingham has incredibly strong rail links and being based in the midlands, it means cities such as London, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow and Edinburgh are just a couple of hours away. Most trains go from Birmingham New Street, but there are also links to Birmingham Moor Street and Birmingham International. Birmingham International Airport is just a train ride away and offers hundreds of flights to destinations all over the world. These include Dubai, New Delhi, Hannover, Corfu, New York, Nice, Glasgow and many, many more. And of course, there is the famous Spaghetti Junction. With easy access to some of Britain’s busiest motorways, including the M6, M5, M40 and M42, travelling in and out of Birmingham is simple – once you know your way round the intertwining junction, that is. With easy access to roads, rail and flights – Birmingham can be an ideal base for freelancers.
THINGS TO DO
Birmingham is a city for football fans; after all, it is where the concept of a football league originated from. There are two main clubs: Aston Villa and Birmingham City, both of which are in the Championship. Whether you’re heading out to Villa Park or St Andrew’s to catch a glimpse of July 2017
the action, you will not be disappointed by the incredible atmosphere you get on match days at these stadiums. If sport isn’t your thing, then why not head to Bullring or the Mailbox for a spot of shopping? There are hundreds of stores, with something for everyone, including the only other Selfridges outside London and Manchester. Mailbox, along with Brindleyplace, is great for food and drink. If you want a low-key night out, it
also has some very nice bars. But the main nightlife takes place along Broad Street and Arcadian, where you will find some of the most popular bars and clubs. If you want to step away from the busy streets of the city centre, check out some of Birmingham’s attractions, including Cadbury World in south Birmingham. There is also the National SEA LIFE Centre and the Pen Museum – ideal for family days out. 33
How the gig economy lets freelancers become full-time world travellers Mark Williams talks about the life of a digital nomad.
igital nomads don’t have many possessions. I know that because four months ago, I crammed my entire life into a hand luggage-sized backpack, ready to hit the road and become one myself. And then did it twice more, because the bag wouldn’t close the first two times. I don’t like the term ‘digital nomad’ – it sounds like a failed attempt to sell Wi-Fi-enabled camping gear. But I do like the lifestyle very much. It’s a way to spend your whole working life travelling, while maintaining a tenuous grip on reality and building a freelance career at the same time, and it’s the most rewarding move you could ever make. Digital nomads are freelancers who work completely remotely from clients, holding meetings through Skype or Google Hangouts, and winning new jobs on the road. Digital nomads work in all manner of
industries. If, for example, you’re a freelance web developer, a graphic designer, a marketing guru, or like me, a copywriter, chances are you could make your living with only a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection. This means there’s no need for a permanent base – so why work from home? If it sounds tempting, the only real question is deciding where you’re going to go. My journey began in the decadent Thai capital of Bangkok. It is ranked the world’s fourth best freelancing city by NomadList, a useful resource comparing thousands of destinations for itinerant freelancers. I’m not entirely sure how a smelly and noisy Bangkok has beaten cities like Lisbon, but that’s for another day. Then comes the task of finding work. My first, and still most dependable, source of work is Upwork – the freelance jobs marketplace connecting freelancers and potential clients
through an eBay-style bidding system. It is definitely the easiest way to find a gig for freelancers new to the game. It works like this: a potential client posts a job they need doing. This can range from web development contracts offering £10K+ to Punjabi translation gigs paying by the dollar. Freelancers can then send over their cover letter and rates to the potential client, who will assess each individual’s profile (CV) and previous client ratings before selecting candidates for an interview. It is not particularly difficult to catch a potential Upwork client’s attention in the copywriting industry, or, I presume, in any other industry either. Although they’re often inundated with 40 or 50 bids in a day, the majority are generic copy-paste messages cobbled together in broken English. Winning the job is just a matter of letting ipsemagazine.co.uk
your personality shine through. Once you’ve bagged the first one or two, interview offers come thick and fast. My current Upwork gigs are varied, which keeps things interesting – a part-time PR contract with an online pharmacy, a weekly advice column for a graduate news website and regular marketing copy for a chain of BMW dealerships. A good network of contacts is, of course, crucial to winning the best gigs, and I’m lucky to have a friend at a digital marketing agency in Leeds. I plastered requests for freelance work all over Facebook before I left employment, which led to a monthly freelance contract creating social media content for the agency’s clients. And now I have an additional contract crafting web copy whenever clients need a new site. The money’s not bad, either; in a good month, I’ll earn close to my previous salary after tax, but work around half the hours. Most of which are on a beach. But it’s not all fun and games; there are all the usual challenges of independent working to deal with too.
Combining solo work with solo travel is as fulfilling as you might imagine I have no idea when my agency friend will next win a new client and pass the job to me. I have very little control over when I’ll be paid; a client might process a £400 invoice tomorrow or in six weeks’ time. Then there’s the constant distractions of backpacker life. Staying in hostels is cheap and fun, but everybody else is there with the sole purpose of being absolutely sozzled at all times, and it’s not particularly conducive to work. Still – that’s better than sitting alone in a home office. Spending your working life in the further-flung
corners of the world also means that you spend a lot of time wandering around holding your iPhone aloft, desperately searching for that elusive Wi-Fi connection. I try to minimise this time by taking careful note of a hostel’s reviews before I book it (people love to complain about rubbish Wi-Fi), or researching the best coffee shops/cafés/bars to work in before I arrive. There is the odd downside, but it’s a reasonable price to pay for working wherever and whenever you want to. I planned to visit the party island of Koh Pha Ngan – a tropical paradise in the Gulf of Thailand – for four nights. And found myself still there three weeks later. You rarely need any special equipment to become a digital nomad – especially not in copywriting.
I use Slack, a group chat tool, to communicate with my team at the pharmacy, and Upwork time tracker software to log my hours. OneDrive is a brilliant way to store, share and access your files through the cloud, while Google Drive comes with a very capable word processor and spreadsheet in case you find yourself on a PC without Microsoft Office. They are all free, and my ultra-lightweight, £170 laptop is more than powerful enough to get the job done. In short – combining solo work with solo travel is every bit as fulfilling as you might imagine. When there’s nobody to dictate where you go and what you do, you’re free. Although, you are never actually alone, because so many other people are doing the same thing as you, which beats being in the office on a Monday morning.
Co-working & Coffee By Tom Hayward With an almost unrivalled 150 million books, journals, newspapers, manuscripts and other items dating as far back as 2000 BC, there is an unavoidable sense of prestige and grandeur about the British Library. But nestled among the history and spectacle of the world’s second largest library, is the Business & IP Centre – a department dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start, protect and grow successful businesses. The centre was inspired by the Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) at the New York Public Library, and was officially opened in March 2006 to give entrepreneurs and innovators free access to the most comprehensive collection of business data and intellectual property resources in the UK. The centre quickly became a hub for business support, with its innumerable resources, business offerings, workshops and networking events attracting 70,000 visitors in 2016 alone. “Our aim is to be an accessible front door to business support in the UK,” Isabel Oswell, head of business audiences, told IPSE. “People using the centre can gain access to incredibly valuable market intelligence and intellectual property resources that would usually only be available to large corporate companies; this allows small businesses to gain a competitive edge. “In fact, an independent evaluation proved that businesses who used the centre when starting up were four times more likely to be successful by year three of trading.” The centre’s expert staff are trained to help SMEs and entrepreneurs identify and find the information they need to develop their businesses. They also offer free one-to-one sessions to support business owners and help them make the most of the available resources. “The mission is to help people start and
grow their business,” Joe Faulkner, marketing executive, said. “We are part of the national research library, so everything that is published, we hold. So you can imagine all the business information we hold, and this centre is free, so anybody can come and access it. “If you are starting out in business, or want to grow your business, this is one of the places you should come, because any of the things you might need along the way, we have.” Isabel added: “We are a one-stop shop for business support. “Not only can business owners use the centre to access market intelligence, journals and databases,
we also provide workshops and training on everything from searching patents and managing your cash flow to generating PR on a budget – all delivered by our in-house business information specialists and carefully selected partners.” In addition to the centre’s packed schedule of workshops and training, there are also regular networking events, speed mentoring sessions and panel discussions, including the ‘Inspiring Entrepreneurs’ series. In ‘Inspiring Entrepreneurs’, the people behind some of the UK’s biggest business successes share their stories with the next generation of entrepreneurs, as well as giving insider hints and tips. And the Business & IP Centre is not just for start-ups. Since 2012, the centre has also delivered its flagship ‘Innovating for Growth’ programme, which now has over 300 scaling businesses. The programme gives ambitious small businesses access to £10,000’s worth of bespoke business consultancy in areas such as marketing, branding and product and service development. One of the programme’s graduates, Warren Pole of sports nutritionist 33Shake, said: “A friend tipped me off about the ‘Innovating for Growth’ programme. We landed a place, and over the next three months, received bespoke, expert guidance, advice and reassurance as well as a priceless opportunity to step back from our growing business and understand our long-term focus. “Our adventure is still only just beginning, but ‘Innovating for Growth’ has fast-tracked 33Shake’s performance by several years. The business centre’s resources – particularly the ones that help with market research and IP – are some of the most powerful tools in our business toolkit.” ipsemagazine.co.uk
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IPSE magazine - Freelancer of the Year's winners edition. Plus post-election analysis, Matthew Taylor review and professional jealousy.