I’m a freelancer working in IT, do I need insurance?
IT is one of the most popular sectors for freelancers to work in, and it’s easy to see why. Freelancing in IT allows you to be your own boss, set your own hours, and select the projects that are most interesting to you. You can also charge a premium for those in-demand specialist skills. Whether you’re a programmer, developer, technician or project manager, freelancing is a great way to build a career as an IT professional. But freelancing in IT is definitely different to working as an employee. With no set hours and no micromanaging, you’ll need to be self-disciplined and organised. You’ll also be working without the same protections that you would have as an employee, so freelance IT gurus would be wise to consider taking out business insurance.
Do I have to have business insurance?
In short, when you’re working freelance, anything that goes wrong is on you, and that might include big pay-outs to put things right, as well as arranging legal defence and fees. While most freelancers try to have a bit of a surplus for emergencies or quiet periods, that is unlikely to be enough to cover the costs if one of your clients tries to sue you or a member of the public is harmed in the course of your work. In this guide, we’ll take a look at what different types of cover are available to protect you and your freelance IT business.
Professional indemnity insurance for IT freelancers
Professional indemnity is the insurance that will protect your work and reputation as an IT freelancer. This covers things like mistakes in your work, negligence, copyright breaches and “bad advice” – when you make recommendations to your clients that turn out to be the wrong call. If your client thinks that an error you’ve made in your work has cost them money, they can try to claim against you for recovery of the costs and compensation. Even if you believe you’ve done nothing wrong, you would still be left with the cost and hassle of finding legal representation to defend yourself against the claims. If you have professional indemnity insurance from Dinghy, we can provide an expert legal team to fight your corner, and cover compensation costs awarded to the other side, up to the limit of your policy.
Example claim: You advise a customer to switch their web hosting and their new provider turns out to be much slower, costing them revenue as people navigate away from the site to go elsewhere and abandon their online baskets. They bring a claim against you for the loss of business and revenue that your bad advice has caused.
Public liability insurance for freelancers in IT
For IT professionals who work out and about, at clients’ premises, in co-working spaces or even if you’re partial to the odd cappuccino-fuelled coding session in your local cafe, public liability insurance is an essential. Public liability cover is there to protect the people around you and their property. If someone is injured or equipment damaged in the course of your work, you might find yourself liable for compensation claims. If you’ve got public liability insurance to cover your freelance work, then your policy can step in to provide a legal defence and money to put things right with the people you’ve harmed.
Example claim: You’re doing the rounds of the offices of a big client, making sure all their computers are running the latest operating system and updates, and you leave your bag in the gangway of the office. A member of the client’s staff trips over your gear, breaks their arm and requires time off work to recover. Public liability insurance would step in here to cover any compensation owed to the injured party. If you didn’t hold it, you’d potentially be looking at big legal bills and a demand for compensation that you are unable to pay.
Gadget and equipment insurance
To do your work effectively, you need the tools of your trade such as laptops, tablets and a smartphone. These items can be easily lost, stolen or damaged, and are expensive to replace. Getting insurance cover for your business equipment is a smart move, and Dinghy’s business equipment insurance protects your gear worldwide. We’ve got a 24/7 claims hotline and can courier you a replacement device within 24 hours, or put the cash in your bank account if we can’t get to you. Because we know how important it is that you can keep working, any piece of equipment that’s owned by your business can be covered.
Example claim: Your work laptop gets stolen from your home office. Thieves smash a window to get in and take it, but it’s owned by your business so your standard home insurance policy won’t cover it. If you don’t have business equipment insurance, the cost of getting a new one will have to come out of your earnings or savings. With Dinghy, we’ll make sure you can get back to work as soon as possible.
All IT professionals will recognise the risks of this growing area of criminal activity, and many will have seen first-hand the sorts of situations that cyber liability insurance is there to protect against. No matter how careful or clued up you are, ever more sophisticated scams are at work which can mean loss of access to your equipment or systems, and corruption or theft of data (yours and your clients). Cyber liability insurance from Dinghy is there to help you get back up and running again quickly and securely, with access to dedicated 24-hour help and cyber incident reporting service ReSecure. We’ll also protect your freelance IT business against the financial and operational impacts of an attack, including ransomware demands, restoration of data, business interruption due to cyber attack and regulatory defence and penalties.
Example claim: You’re pretty good at spotting the obvious scams and keeping your security tight by installing the latest updates. Unfortunately, one of your passwords gets leaked online and your laptop is held by ransomware, including the latest jobs you were working on. With cyber insurance, you’ll be supported through the process of getting your systems back online safely.
What’s more, all Dinghy Professional Indemnity policies come with Freelancer Assist, a package of support services for freelancers going it alone. Get help chasing your overdue invoices and consult the tax helpline to check if IR35 applies to you. Dinghy can support IT freelancers with all of the above insurance cover, in a flexible package tailored to suit freelance life. You can use our app so that you’re in control of your cover, 24/7. Policies are billed monthly with no hidden fees or charges, and, when you’re not working, you can switch your cover onto lite mode, saving you money between jobs or when you’re taking some time off. To get your own quote for IT insurance for freelancers, take a quick click over to the Dinghy website.
Freelancer goals: how to get more testimonials from clients
How did we do? Were you happy with the service you received today? Let us know your thoughts!
There’s a reason every company you interact with these days is desperate for you to leave your feedback: reviews are crucial in influencing decisions. How often have you been swayed to “add to basket” by a slew of five-star ratings, or been led to the cinema by a friend telling you a new blockbuster was a must-see? If you’re a freelancer who’s not collecting testimonials, you’re missing out on promotional and professional opportunities. That’s why we’ve put together this Dinghy guide to help our freelancers build their base of customer reviews.
Why collect testimonials?
Sometimes it’s hard to sing your own praises – so let others do it for you! Displaying reviews and feedback from happy clients is a great way to generate new leads and help legitimise your business. Reading reviews of good experiences can give new clients the confidence to reach out and ask you to work with them on their next project. If others trust you, that’s an encouraging sign to a client that they are getting a good deal by hiring you.
Decide where you want to show your testimonials
It’s a good idea to have your testimonials all in one place, so that you can send new clients straight to them. Common choices for freelancers include LinkedIn; displaying them directly on your website; or through a review service like Trustpilot or Feefo. All of these have their own pros and cons. You can customise your own website to display the reviews as you want them, but there’s no real way to verify that the reviews are genuine, and you’ll have to keep manually updating them. Through LinkedIn, clients can see that the reviews come from real people, but if they don’t have a LinkedIn account themselves they may only be able to see a limited view of your profile. Tools like Trustpilot have the advantage of being independent, so may be more trusted by potential customers, but you are relinquishing a lot of control over your reviews and you may have to pay a fee to use them.
Decide how you will collect testimonials
If you’re using LinkedIn or a review-collecting service, testimonials from customers can be entered directly into the site, or you can set it up so that customers are automatically emailed to leave a review. If you are going for a more DIY approach, then you will need a way of collecting and collating reviews. This could be emailing clients directly and asking for feedback, or using a survey tool like SurveyMonkey to collect the views of all of your previous clients. If you want genuine and honest feedback, you could make the survey anonymous. However, testimonials are more convincing and powerful if a previous client is willing to put their name and company to it – particularly if they are an established brand. You’ll need to balance these aspects to decide what’s the best way to collect reviews of your work that will help you improve and promote your brand to potential new clients.
Ask for feedback!
Asking for feedback should be a regular and routine part of your interaction with all of your clients. Whether because they just don’t think to do it, because they are worried about what will come back, or they feel cheeky asking, a lot of freelancers have never collected client feedback. However, there are a lot of reasons to do so.
As well as the promotional potential, honest appraisals of your work can help to improve the services you offer and identify any gaps in the market that you could be filling. If there’s anything that your client isn’t happy about, you can address it head on and make things right, rather than risking negative word-of-mouth.
Exchange reviews with others
It’s common practice on LinkedIn for people to write testimonials for each other. This could be current clients, people you’ve worked with in previous employment or fellow freelancers that you’ve collaborated with. Contacting people in your network and asking them to exchange testimonials is a great way to build up a body of reviews, especially if you’re new to freelancing and don’t have many clients yet.
Asking for testimonials and finding the time to display them proudly in your website and marketing is a hugely powerful tool. As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg famously said, “people influence people”. It will be worth the time and effort collecting feedback when you find out that those rave reviews made a new client reach out for your help with their next big project.
Offer an incentive
Sometimes, people need a little enticement to put pen to paper (metaphorically speaking) and write a review. You could consider offering a small reward in exchange for their time and feedback – such as entry into a monthly or quarterly prize draw, or a discount off their next piece of work.
Refer a friend
Because we know how important other people’s opinions are in building trust, we also have our own referral scheme. Dinghy customers who recommend us to their freelancing friends can get rewarded for their introductions. If you refer someone to Dinghy using your personalised link, you’ll both receive £25 worth of vouchers if they stick with us for 3 months. Not sure how refer-a-friend works? We’ve got a blog all about it here. Don’t forget that your Dinghy landing page can also be set up to show proof of your insurance cover. Another great way for our freelancers to reassure clients that your work is protected and professional.
Not insured yet? Head over to our homepage to see what a great deal you can get on our flexible, fuss-free freelancer insurance (and find out what some of our customers think about us too!).
The insurance cover you should consider as a student freelancer
Student life has changed a lot over the years. With tuition fees higher than ever, and graduate career prospects uncertain, more and more students are making the smart move to start grafting while they study. Freelancing as a student can be a great way to earn some extra cash to support yourself – those student loans never seem to last very long – put into practice some of the skills you’ve learnt on your degree program and develop experience in your chosen field. It can also help you to learn a little bit about business management, show that you’re a self-starter who can work independently and take initiative. All of these things are going to look great on that graduation CV!
But what freelancing students might not know is that running a business – even a small one with just a few clients – comes with personal and financial risks. What if a client is unhappy with the work you’ve produced? What if you accidentally injure someone in the course of your work? What if your laptop is hacked and clients’ data stolen?
When you work for an employer, their business insurance covers any mistakes that you might make in the course of your work. Likewise, if any accidents happen – it won’t be your responsibility to fix it. However, when you work freelance, it’s another matter entirely. As a business owner, you are responsible for actions undertaken in the course of your work. When things go wrong, it’s you that has to put it right. This can often involve large sums of money that a student loan just won’t cover.
That’s why smart freelancers get business insurance. For a small monthly fee, you can take out cover that protects you and your business against these risks. Dinghy business insurance has been developed especially for freelancers – designed to offer you flexibility, freedom and security. In this guide, we run through the key types of business insurance we think self-employed students need to run a first-class freelancing business.
Professional indemnity insurance – protecting your work and your reputation
From an errant typo that means a client has to reprint their sales brochure to an accusation of defamation, there are lots of things that can potentially go wrong when you’re freelancing as a student. If a client incurs a loss as a result of your actions, your work, or your advice, they might try and bring a claim against you. Professional indemnity insurance is there to cover the costs of putting things right and can provide you with an expert legal team to fight your corner, so you can concentrate on your studies and keep working.
Public liability – protecting those around you and their belongings
No one sets out to injure people or destroy their property when they’re undertaking freelance work – but it can and does happen. If a customer in a coffee shop trips over your laptop cord and breaks their arm, you might become liable for compensation to put things right. If you have public liability insurance from Dinghy, we will get our team on the case and provide cover between £1million – £5million depending on the needs of your business.
Gadget and equipment insurance – protecting your gear
Uni halls and houses are often a target for thieves, as they know you’re likely to have up-to-date and expensive tech. But your gadgets aren’t there for show – they’re vital for you to do your job. Any equipment that is solely owned by your business can be covered by Dinghy’s business equipment insurance: laptops, smartphones, cameras, instruments, or anything else that’s essential for your work. With this worldwide cover, Dinghy will replace any lost or stolen items within 24 hours or get the cash straight to your bank account.
Cyber insurance – protecting your data and systems
The idea of your laptop being held hostage by ransomware is enough to make any student wake up in a cold sweat. As a freelancer, there’s an extra level to the nightmare – it’s not just your own data and privacy you need to worry about, it’s that of your clients too. Dinghy’s cyber insurance cover is an optional add-on that provides access to ReSecure, a specialist cyber incident reporting service, who can help you get your systems up and running again. Because your freelance business doesn’t have its own IT department, our cyber insurance for freelancers also covers costs for ransom demands, restoration of data, business interruption and legal defence and fines if you’re accused of committing any regulatory breaches.
Freelancer Assist – helping you through
As an added bonus, all Dinghy freelance insurance policies come with Freelancer Assist. Just like the student services at your uni that support you through your studies, Freelancer Assist is a helpful sidekick through your freelancing journey. As well as access to legal, tax and counselling helplines, we can help you chase unpaid invoices from clients who are reluctant to pay.
Getting signed up to Dinghy insurance couldn’t be easier. Simply fill in the quick form on our website with a little bit of info about you and your freelancing work, and we’ll email a no-obligation quote straight to your inbox. Our cover is super-flexible – in fact we bill by the minute – so you can dial down your policy when you’re not working to save cash (for example, if you’re busy with exams or taking a trip), then pay monthly for the level of cover you have used with no hidden fees or charges. If you install our handy Apple or Android app, you can manage your cover on-the-go, dialling it up and down to match your ever-changing workloads.
10 tips to reduce the risk of unpaid invoices when freelancing
There is no bane of a freelancer’s life greater than the terror of unpaid invoices.
Computer updates, fussy clients, requests to work for free, sure they’re annoying, but they are nothing in comparison to those customers who just will not pay!
Here, we share some of the top ways that freelancers and the self-employed can ensure they get their fees with the minimum amount of fuss – and it starts way before you send that invoice…
1. Make sure your payment terms are clear
Be upfront about money in early discussions with clients. Let them know when you expect to be paid and how much. Don’t shy away from these topics out of awkwardness. Asking them what address they would like the invoice to be sent to, when the time comes, will speed things up later on and demonstrates that you’re efficient when it comes to payment.
2. Agree payment dates with your client in advance
Negotiate with your client about payment dates, and get these written into the contract before the work starts. You may decide to invoice monthly, on the completion of projects, or at different milestones in the delivery of a larger project. If your client is reserving your time – for example, to photograph their wedding or to be a sound engineer at their festival – it’s usual to ask for a chunk of the money upfront as a deposit. You might also want to agree cancellation or kill fees at this point. Again, make sure these are written into the contract so you have something to refer back to if your client later claims amnesia about your conversations.
3. Make sure your invoice template is clear
Invoices don’t need to be complicated, but they do need to contain certain bits of information which will speed up the processing of your payments. Always make sure to include your correct bank details, even if you’ve worked for the client before, and ensure your contact details are up-to-date. It’s important not to fill an invoice with too much information – you want the receiver to be able to scan it quickly and understand what action needs to be taken. You might also want to include some small print about your right to charge late fees (see tip 8 for more details!).
4. Ensure you update what needs changing on each invoice
If you use a template invoice, make sure you update all the relevant details each time you send a new bill out. Double check that you’ve got the right price, dates, and that the invoice clearly states what work is being billed for. If you don’t use automated software – check your maths too! It looks very unprofessional if you give an incorrect total and it’s likely to delay your payment while the error is corrected.
5. Consider asking for a portion of the money up front
You probably don’t need to do this for regular clients but, if you’re dealing with someone new or it’s a larger project, asking for a down payment before work commences is a good idea. That way, you’re not left with nothing if they do not pay their final bill, and it means you’ve already had the experience of going through their accounts processing and have a rough idea of payment times and the people you need to liaise with.
6. Get a signed contract
We’ve mentioned contracts a few times in this list – and if you’re not using them, you should be. A signed contract lays out clearly the responsibilities of both parties – namely the work you have agreed to do and the amount that the client has agreed to pay you for it! This is also a good way to introduce your payment terms and late fees, and get them in writing with the client’s signed agreement. You can then refer back to this document if there are any issues that crop up later.
7. Keep on top of your invoices
The client can’t pay you your money if you haven’t let them know what’s owed, so invoicing promptly for any work is essential. Don’t let your bills stack up; send them as soon as the work is completed or according to the payment schedule you’ve agreed with the client. This will reduce any confusion and delay over payments.
8. Make sure you have the correct contact
At the start of your work, and as you’re preparing the invoice, it’s a good idea to ask the client to confirm to whom the invoice should be addressed and their contact details (email and direct telephone line). Do you need to cc in their accounts department? The procedure will vary from client to client, but making sure your invoices are going to the right place should minimise any delay in payment. As a final safety net, always ask for confirmation that the invoice has been received. This should reduce the chances of clients pretending that it never arrived!
9. Remind the client of your right to charge late fees
Setting out your policy for late payments is another good way to declare to clients your intention to get paid on time! Insert these into your contract and include them on your invoice too as a reminder. In the UK, the law gives you the right to claim late fees. If a client hasn’t paid 30 days after receiving your invoice, or by another date agreed-upon by both parties, you can claim statutory interest of 8% plus the Bank of England base rate on the outstanding amount. You can also charge a one-off debt recovery cost for each outstanding payment. The fee that you can charge depends on the amount outstanding: it’s £40 for a debt of up to £999.99.
10. Follow up
If you hear nothing after sending your invoice, it’s a good idea to follow up via an email a few days later, just to check it’s arrived. If you still don’t hear anything, a phone call might be an extra nudge to spur people into action. You can also send out reminders a week before a payment is due if the amount is still outstanding.
Once an invoice is overdue, it can seem like a daunting task trying to reclaim the money you’re owed. There are only so many polite emails and awkward phone calls that a freelancer can handle! That’s where Dinghy can help. If you have a Dinghy freelance business insurance policy, it comes bundled free with Freelancer Assist, which includes our specialist invoice-chasing service. If you are owed a debt of more than £200, and haven’t been able to get the client to pay, our legal team can take over and recover the debt on your behalf. It’s just one of the ways we like to look after our freelancers. To get your professional indemnity insurance for freelancers or public liability insurance for freelancers set up, and benefit from all the perks of Freelancer Assist and our debt recovery services, sign up to Dinghy today via our website.
A graduate’s guide to becoming a freelancer
Hey, congratulations, scholar! Donning that cap and gown and finally getting your mitts on that degree certificate is a huge rite-of-passage. But amidst the champagne, proud parents and tearful goodbyes, there’s also that niggling feeling: oh my goodness, what do I do next?
If your time at uni is nearly over, you’ll be starting to consider your next career move. Will it be a graduate programme, an internship, an entry-level job, or volunteering for some experience? Do you want a job that uses what you’ve learnt in your degree, or to step into something new entirely? Perhaps you’d prefer something a little more flexible? If you’re a graduate looking to get into freelancing, you’re in the right place. This guide will tell you everything you need to know to get set up and ready to fly solo!
Why consider freelancing?
If graduate schemes seem too rigid and internships too poorly paid, freelancing might be for you. When you’re a freelancer, you can be your own boss and work the hours that suit you. You can invest in training for yourself and get to keep all the money you earn through your hard work (after tax). Once you’ve gained enough experience, freelancers can typically earn a higher rate of pay than you would in traditional employment. We have to be honest though – it’s not for everyone. You have to find your own work and if you have a quiet month with no projects on the go, you aren’t getting paid. Particularly when you’re first starting out and building up a client base, this can be a risk. However, as you get more established as a freelancer, recommendations, referrals and regular clients can help you stabilise your income.
Decide on your area of work
From writing to photography, social media to IT, there are many areas in which to get freelancing. You might already have an idea of what you want to do, and have a portfolio built up from your degree or part-time work. Or you could start out as more of a generalist, and try some different things until you hone down your niche. Whatever you want to do, it’s a good idea to gather together some examples of your work – whether that’s articles written for your university paper, animations produced for your final degree projects, or a website you built for your dad’s plumbing business – to show off your skills to potential clients.
Decide on your services and rates
Once you know what skills you’ve got to offer, it’s time to work out a pricing strategy and exactly what the services are that you’ve got to sell to clients. Setting your rates can be tricky, especially when you’re just starting out. What you charge should reflect your experience and qualifications. Too high and clients might not want to take the risk on someone without a proven track record. Too low and clients might not take you seriously or may expect you to continue working for rates that are actually not enough for you to live on. You’ll also need to do some research into your chosen industry to see what average rates are. We’ve put together a handy guide to setting your rates as a freelancer if you want some tips on pricing strategy.
Set up a website and LinkedIn or social media channels
Once you know what you’ve got to offer – it’s time to shout about it! It’s a good idea to set yourself up with a website. As a minimum, this should offer a bit of info about you and your experience, some links to samples of your work, and a way for potential clients to get in contact with you. Not sure where to start? We’ve put together a list of our top 10 website builders for freelancers. Make sure you set up a business email as well. No one wants their next project managed by “sunshinegirlY2K” or “lager_lad_01”. LinkedIn can be a really great source of potential clients and recommendations from others, so it’s worth setting up a profile there if you haven’t already. You might also decide to set up other social media accounts depending on the type of services you’re offering – illustrators and photographers will probably want a visual platform like Instagram, whereas wannabe journalists and writers might want to join the conversation on Twitter. For more tips, check out the Dinghy guide to building your social media following as a freelancer.
Get some training
To make sure you’re set up and ready to go as a freelancer, you might want to do a quick knowledge audit. Try and map out what skills, knowledge and experience you already have in your chosen area, and identify any gaps. Where there are topics that you feel you need to know more about, you could invest in some training to support you in those areas. Face-to-face training courses are fun to attend and you’ll learn a lot, but they can also be pricey. Online training is now widely available on a huge range of topics, and are much more reasonably priced for those just starting out. You can even train yourself from YouTube videos or TikTok, if you know the right accounts to follow!
Join a freelancing community
Freelancing is a lot of fun, but it can also be lonely, especially after the camaraderie of a degree course. If you’re feeling out of the loop, you could try joining a freelancing community. These can be great sources of support and advice on everything from sending invoices to finding clients. There are lots of generic freelancing communities out there, as well as ones dedicated to specific fields.
Get freelance business insurance
When you work for an employer, they have business insurance which protects you if you make a mistake as part of your job, or if someone gets hurt. Unfortunately, when you’re a freelancer, you’re unprotected and can be held liable for negligence that costs your client money or accidents that cause someone to be injured. This could cost lots of money to put right – money that most freelancers simply don’t have. The best way to keep yourself safe from these risks as a freelancer is to make sure you’ve got business insurance. There a two main types of business insurance that freelancers should consider:
- Professional indemnity insurance – this protects you and your clients in the event that something’s wrong with your work. This can include things like copyright breaches, liable, negligence and giving bad advice.
- Public liability insurance – this protects the people around you and their property if anyone gets injured or damaged as a result of your actions at work.
Dinghy also offers some extra insurances for further peace of mind for freelancers: business equipment insurance to protect your essential gadgets and cyber insurance to support you in the event that you become a victim of cyber crime like a ransomware attack or phishing scam. Find out more about the different types of insurance that we recommend to freelancers. What’s more, all Dinghy policies come bundled with Freelancer Assist, a unique service that will give you access to tax, legal and counselling support and help you chase unpaid invoices. Because Dinghy insurance is designed specifically with freelancers in mind, we offer flexible, pay-monthly plans which you can pause at any time when you’re not working – ideal for freelancers just starting out. You can find out more or get a quote on our website. Good luck out there graduates…the adventure is about to begin.
Freelancer goals: how to be a more productive freelancer
Productivity takes on a whole new meaning when you start freelancing. A survey by Vouchercloud suggested that the average UK office worker is productive for just 2 hours 53 minutes of their standard 9-5! But when you’re self-employed, every second is precious – because if you’re not working, you’re not earning. Making the most of your working hours and ensuring that your time is being used effectively and efficiently also means you can take greater advantage of the flexibility and freedom of freelance life. So how can you turbo-charge your freelancer productivity? In this blog, we take a look at our top tips for how you can adapt your working ways to be a more productive freelancer.
1. Consider when you are most productive
One of the big bonuses of freelancing, of course, is the flexibility to work when it suits you. Maybe those office workers were wasting time because they weren’t able to tailor their hours to their most productive points in their day. As a freelancer, you have the ability to set your own schedule. That means that if you’re a night owl, you can ease into the day gently, knowing that you can get cracking on those important projects later on. If you’re a lark, you can rise with the sun and get those emails sent before anyone else has even had chance to reach for their morning coffee. It’s all about working smart and finding a rhythm that suits your own body clock. There are more tips on how to manage flexible hours in our blog on ‘How to make the most of your day’.
2. Take regular breaks
It’s well documented that staring at a screen for hours on end is bad for you: for your eyes, for your posture and for your mental health. It’s a good idea to schedule regular breaks – whether you decide to take them at set times in the day or when you complete a task. While working non-stop might feel like you’re getting the job done, you’re likely to tire more quickly and start making mistakes or getting distracted. In fact, one of the most legendary productivity techniques is the “pomodoro method”, named after creator Francesco Cirillo’s tomato-shaped egg timer:
- Set timer for 25 minutes and work until it goes off – this is one “pomodoro”
- Take a 10 minute break
- Set the timer for another 25 minutes and repeat
- Every four pomodoros, take a longer break (20-30 minutes)
Proponents of the pomodoro technique swear it helps them focus, get tasks done faster, and feel less stressed during their workdays.
3. Track your time
A big problem in freelancing is that your days seem to pass so quickly. At the end, you shut your laptop wondering “where did the time go?” Well, it’s time to start getting proper answers to that question. To really unlock your freelance productivity, you need to start time tracking. Keep a log throughout the day of the minutes you spend on each activity – answering emails, working on projects, taking breaks, checking social media. You could do this on Excel or use a time-tracking app like Clockify. It will help you see what’s sapping your productivity. It’s also useful to help you quote accurately for jobs, as it will help you see how long freelance projects actually take you, and to help you identify any instances of scope-creep.
4. Find a playlist that fits the mood
For a productivity-boost at any time of day, get the rhythm right and the rest will follow. Whether you need some upbeat pop to pep you up through morning emails or an injection of serenity into a stressful afternoon, there’s bound to be a soundtrack for that. Check out our blog of the best motivational playlists for freelancers to listen to some of our favourites.
5. Reward yourself for completing work
Call it bribery if you like, but we always work a little bit harder when we know there’s a reward in it for us! Break down the tasks you want to get accomplished in your workday and set rewards when you achieve them – whatever works for you, whether that’s a biscuit, a break or a bath bomb. There’s an anecdote that novelist Anthony Burgess used to set himself the goal of 1000 words a day, 365 days a year, and once he hit his target he would finish work for the day and relax with a martini. It’s worth a try, right?
6. Get your home office organised
It’s hard to focus when your workspace is filled with clutter and distractions, so a bit of time spent streamlining your space will help your productivity. The same goes for your emails and computer files – how much time do you waste each day trying to locate the right document? Tidy desk, tidy mind.
7. Block out time for big tasks
Some jobs you can do in between emails and social media updates and loads of laundry. Other jobs you need to set aside a proper chunk of time for. For involved tasks – coding, design work, web copy or report-writing – make sure you block out proper thinking time without distractions. It can help to escape out of the house for these if you share with other people or if you’re likely to get distracted by the dirty dishes. Perhaps trial using a co-working space or public library for activities that need extra focus.
8. Don’t multitask
It’s one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves – that working on more than one thing at a time is going to help us get through our to-do lists faster. Instead, this costs us time in procrastination and focus as we have to reorient our brains each time we switch tasks. Instead, prioritise your workload in order of importance and urgency, and try to focus on just one thing at a time.
While you’re getting on with the important business of freelance life, Dinghy freelancer insurance can be there by your side, offering you and your clients protection and peace of mind. A quote takes less than a minute on our website – leaving you with 24 minutes of a pomodoro to get on with that next big project.
Freelancer, sole trader, contractor or employee: What are the pros and cons?
When you’re setting up solo, there’s a lot of new lingo to learn. Words that you previously took for granted that you understood – like freelancer – suddenly need to be backed up by the business know-how to understand the technical differences between different types of self-employment. Should I be a contractor or a freelancer? A sole trader or a limited company? Or should I just stick with being an employee? The way that your business is set up and registered can have a big impact on your earnings, taxes and reporting responsibilities.
We’re here to help you find a way through the minefield – and understand the pros and cons of different types of business set-ups so you can get started on your freelancer journey.
This article does not constitute financial advice. To get advice tailored to your situation and circumstances you should consult a qualified accountant or financial adviser.
What is a sole trader?
A sole trader is probably the quickest and easiest way to set up as self-employed. In this model, you run your business as an individual. You are entitled to keep all profits (after tax), but you are also personally responsible for any losses made by the business. You can trade under your own name or create a name for your company. To register as a sole trader, you simply need to notify HMRC and let them know that you need to complete a Self-Assessment tax form.
Pros of being a sole trader:
- Easy and quick to set up
- Relatively little administration and simple accounting
- Don’t have to worry about IR35 rules
Cons of being a sole trader:
- Unlimited liability for losses – which could mean you lose your house or other personal assets to pay business debts
- Usually less tax-efficient than being a limited company
- Could be seen as less professional or official by clients
What is a contractor?
A limited company contractor sets up their own company and acts as the director. The business is a separate legal entity to the individual, which offers some protection from liability. Contractors usually work on fixed-term contracts for different clients. This can be more tax-efficient than being a sole trader because many contractors take a small salary from their business and then earn the rest in dividends. Limited companies must be incorporated by registering with Companies House and publish their accounts publicly each year, so they are a little more complex to set-up and run.
Pros of being a limited company contractor:
- Business finances stay separate to your personal finances
- Limited liability for losses – only up to the value of your initial investment in the business
- Can be more tax-efficient
Cons of being a limited company contractor:
- More complex to set-up
- More onerous requirements of accounting/reporting
- Taxes can be more complex
- Bound by IR35 regulations which can affect tax savings
What is an employee?
When you’re an employee, you are under a contract to work for another business in exchange for money. It’s financially very simple, because your employer will pay you and deduct any tax and National Insurance owed through the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system. Being an employee also brings you rights and protections that don’t apply to self-employment, like statutory sick pay and annual leave. However, you are likely to have little control over when you work and what jobs you have to do.
Pros of being an employee:
- Have rights and benefits like annual leave
- Secure hours and guaranteed wages
Cons of being an employee:
- Far less freedom and flexibility
- No tax relief
- Have to negotiate salary and pay rises
What is a freelancer?
A freelancer is someone who works on a self-employed basis, offering their services to multiple clients at once. Often freelancers are paid per-job, per-day or work on very short term contracts. Freelancers have a high degree of autonomy over their working hours, workload and the jobs they decide to take on. Freelancers do need to register as self-employed for legal and tax purposes – and they can choose to set up either as a sole trader or as a limited company. Which one suits you better might depend on your finances, your industry, your projected takings and the type of clients you want to work with. If you’re unsure, discuss your business plans with an accountant or financial advisor to see what is the best option for you.
Pros of being a freelancer:
- One of the most flexible ways of working
- Can pick and choose the projects you find most interesting
- Can mix different income streams
- Can set up business in the way that works for you – sole trader or limited company
Cons of being a freelancer:
- Income isn’t guaranteed and can be unstable
- Not entitled to employee benefits like sick pay and annual leave
If you’re setting up as a freelancer, here’s a handy checklist of things to consider:
Do I want to set up as a sole trader or a limited company?
Newer freelancers with smaller takings may prefer the simplicity of being a sole trader – but if you are earning more, want more protection or are looking for the most tax-efficient solution, it may be worth the extra administration to set up as a limited company.
Does IR35 apply to me?
If you do decide to set up as a limited company, make sure you understand the IR35 rules and how they affect you.
Have I got a system in place for managing my accounts?
All self-employed people need to keep accounts of the business’s incomings and outgoings. For sole traders, these will need to be reported on your Self-Assessment tax return each year. Before you launch into trading, it’s a good idea to set up bookkeeping software or a spreadsheet to help you keep track of your earnings and business spending. As mentioned above, the accounting for a limited company can be more complex, so you might want to consider hiring an accountant to support you.
Have I sorted out business insurance?
Dinghy insurance looks after freelancers whether they are registered as a sole trader or running a limited company. You can choose from a range of policies to protect you and your business, including professional indemnity insurance, public liability insurance, business equipment insurance and cyber liability insurance. PI and PL insurance are often a contractual necessity for freelancers, and will help protect you against compensation claims and legal fees which might otherwise affect your personal finances if you’re a sole trader. We also include our unique Freelancer Assist service as standard with every policy purchased, which will give you support with legal issues, tax and help you chase unpaid invoices. Once you’ve decided how to set up your freelance business, you can get covered right away – and all our policies are pay-monthly with no hidden fees or charges. You can even dial down your cover if you’re on holiday or in between jobs. Get a quote now from our website.
What insurance cover should I consider as a freelance writer?
We know that as a freelance writer, self-employed business insurance might fall down your list of priorities. You’d rather concentrate on the words – not worry about the “what ifs” of a freelancer lifestyle – but as a creative professional, you’ve also got to understand the risks that you’re taking on when you produce written content for clients.
Freelancing is common in the world of professional writing, with many people entering into contracts with clients without properly protecting themselves financially. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the most useful types of business insurance for writers – so that you can ensure your freelance career is more “happily ever after” than “dark and stormy night”.
Professional indemnity insurance for freelance writers
You draft carefully, edit ruthlessly and proofread meticulously before sending any of your work to your clients. But even with the best of intentions, mistakes can still happen. Whether it’s an errant typo that means your client has to get their entire run of leaflets reprinted or an unintentionally libellous comment that gets posted in a blog, a career in freelance writing does leave you exposed to legal risks and hazards.
Professional indemnity insurance is there to protect you and your client in these instances. It will cover legal fees and any compensation/damages awarded for cases of professional negligence that have cost your clients money, such as:
- Copyright breaches – where your work might appear unintentionally too similar to something else that’s out there, or you’ve forgotten to reference your sources.
- Defamation, liable and slander – if your words damage the reputation of someone or cause them distress or harm.
- Mistakes and negligence – when you’ve made factual errors or typos in your copy.
Find out more here about what professional indemnity insurance covers.
Public liability insurance for freelance writers
Although they say the pen is mightier than the sword, no one really thinks of writing as a particularly dangerous activity – but when you’re running a small business, hazards exist whenever you’re working in contact with the general public. That’s why public liability insurance is a must for anyone who writes on-the-go.
When you are not required to work in a client’s office, you may favour getting your creative juices flowing by people-watching from the corner of a cafe, holing up in a public library or joining in the chat in a co-working space. In all these circumstances, as you are acting in a business capacity you need to seriously consider public liability insurance – as your home contents insurance is unlikely to protect you.
A public liability policy will protect the people around you if an accident happens when you’re working outside the home, in a client office or elsewhere – for example, if a fellow customer trips over the cable of your laptop in a coffee shop, or if you spill your drink over a fellow freelancer’s MacBook in a co-working space.
It will cover legal fees and compensation if people are injured or their property damaged as a result of the activities of your business. Many clients also ask for this protection as part of their standard freelancer contract, so it helps ensure that you are meeting your contractual obligations. Find out more here about what public liability insurance covers.
Gadget and equipment insurance for freelance writers
From quills to typewriters, writers have long been associated with the romantic tools of their trade. Nowadays, while you might have a favourite notebook and pen, you will almost certainly be filing most of your articles, blogs and copy electronically. Without your laptop or tablet, it would be impossible for you to carry on working.
That’s why Dinghy offers all our freelancers the opportunity to protect those essential gadgets with our business equipment insurance. We will cover any piece of equipment that is owned by your business – anywhere on the planet – and we offer a guarantee of replacement or cash in your bank within 24 hours to minimise the disruptive effect on your workload.
Cyber liability insurance for freelance writers
With your client databases, briefs, and confidential emails, freelance writers are probably holding onto a lot more sensitive data than they realise. Small businesses are an increasing target for cyber attacks because they don’t have the infrastructure of a larger company.
Ransomware – where your systems are held captive until you pay a large sum of money – can be particularly devastating to freelance writers. It might mean you don’t have access to your files and can’t work while your computer is held hostage. Cyber liability insurance helps to mitigate against these risks, offering you help with ransomware demands, restoring your systems and recovering data, as well as regulatory fines that might be incurred.
Because we know that working as a freelance writer can sometimes feel like a little bit of a solitary activity, Freelancer Assist comes bundled at no extra charge with every Dinghy insurance policy. It makes sure you’re not alone by giving you access to a support package, including legal, tax and counselling helplines.
Freelance writers are also especially vulnerable to unpaid invoices: IPSE estimates that freelancers in the creative industries are owed an average of £5,400 a year in unpaid invoices! Freelancer Assist offers an invoice-chasing service, where we can help you recover unpaid debts of £200 or more, helping you get paid and freeing you up to pursue more work.
Insure your freelance writing business today
Dinghy insurance can offer freelance writers all the cover and benefits described above, in a special flexible package that’s tailored to the needs of freelancers. It’s cover that you can dial up and down at the click of a button; perfect for those times between assignments or when you’re taking some leave. It’s cover that you can manage via our app, making it easier than ever to take charge of your business insurance. And it’s cover that you can pay monthly with no hidden fees or charges.
Freelance writers can get sorted with their small business insurance today by heading to our website for a quote straight to your inbox.
10 of the best outdoor working spaces in London for freelancers
The days are longer, the sun is shining (sometimes) and we know that when the great British summertime arrives, you have to be ready to grab it with both hands. Working al fresco is the perfect way to soak up some Vitamin D while still making sure you plough through that freelance to-do list. Whether you need a spot for some quiet time, a lunch break away from your desk or a meeting with a client, we’ve rounded up a list of our favourite hot spots for working outside in our fair capital city.
1. Hampstead Heath
A wild world of heathers, meadows and woodland – it’s sometimes hard to believe you’re still in Zone 2 when you’re wandering around the landscape that reportedly inspired The Chronicles of Narnia. There’s plenty of space to spread yourself out – it’s almost as vast as New York’s Central Park. If you’re seeking a spot for quiet working, we love the secret gardens of the Pergola, where there are benches to sit and drink in the amazing views and leafy greenery. Hampstead Heath is a great choice for a lunchtime or working afternoon, particularly when teamed with an energising dip in one of the three natural bathing pools or the (unheated) outdoor lido. Warm up with a coffee and hot snack from the Parliament Hill Café.
2. Clapham Common
If you’re based in the South, you’ll probably already be well-acquainted with the giant triangle of green that graces the boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth. If it’s open space you’re after, there’s tonnes of it here, and it’s a great spot for walking meetings. There are lots of shops and cafes nearby, so you can grab a picnic lunch on your way in. The iconic bandstand is the obvious spot to head for, but if you’re looking to get away from the crowds then venture further into one of the woods or contemplate your next freelance project while looking over the waters of one of the two fishing lakes.
3. Greenwich Park
If you want to work against the backdrop of some of the most stunning views in the capital, hop along to Greenwich Park, make a beeline for the Royal Observatory and park yourself on a bench in the plaza. If you get bored of the views of the Thames, Canary Wharf and the Millennium Dome, there’s plenty of fun to be had people-watching, or you can escape to the serenity of one of the showpiece gardens. The Rose Garden, with its showy blooms in summer, gets all the good press, but we love the full-on sensory experience of the Herb Garden. It’s usually quieter too – perfect for when you need to crack on with some project work.
4. Battersea Park
Battersea Park might be most famous for its zoo and playgrounds, but there’s a lot for grown-ups to experience here too. We love the nature reserve areas, where you can type along to a soundtrack of birdsong. In the centre of the park is the Pump House Gallery, the perfect place to head if you’re meeting with a client or experiencing a bit of creative-block. Finish your workday on a mindful note with a walk up to the London Peace Pagoda, where you can meditate away the stresses of the day.
5. Richmond Park
Craving wide open spaces? London’s largest Royal Park – Richmond Park, is where you need to go. Home to a herd of 650 deer, its wild grasslands will transport you far from the hustle and bustle of city life. Take a picnic blanket and enjoy a day spent exploring the true meaning of remote working! If you can get down there this week, treat yourself to a lunchtime walk through the stunning Isabella Plantation, where in early May a jaw-dropping carpet of pink and purple azaleas line the paths. Influencers take note – it’s one of London’s most Instagrammable backdrops.
6. Green Park
If you’re stuck in Central London and need a quick spot for some fresh air, the leafy, squirrel-filled triangle of Green Park is our top option. From March to October, you can hire a deckchair (prices start from £3 for an hour), so you can work away while engaging in a bit of outdoor indolence. Green Park can be busy in the tourist season – as its location is right next to Buckingham Palace, it’s not the most secluded space on this list – but it’s a great central meeting place with plenty of shade on hot, sunny days (assuming we get any!).
7. Hyde Park
An oasis in the middle of Zone 1, there’s a reason why Hyde Park is London’s most famous green space. A trip to Speaker’s Corner is a must – spend a few minutes listening to the debates here to help get your creativity flowing first thing in the morning. There are plenty of quiet corners to hunker down in to read, write, sketch, research or plan, and if you want to break up the day you could cool off with a dip in The Serpentine (or a paddle in the Diana Memorial Fountain, for the less adventurous!).
8. St. James’s Park
Another centrally located park, St. James’s is probably most notable for its pelicans, which have lived there for over 350 years. If you pitch up on one of the benches by the lake, you may even find one joins you to help you send a few emails (or steal your lunch). There’s a handy cafe in the park if you need a caffeine hit and the gorgeous flowerbeds of Buckingham Palace form a pretty impressive backdrop indeed for a day of self-employed admin tasks!
9. Regent’s Park
Kick your day off with a hike up Primrose Hill to get the endorphins pumping, then plop yourself on a bench to work with one of the most stunning views in the capital. As well as its zoo, Regent’s Park is famous for its sports facilities, making it a great place to meet up with clients for a game of tennis or get together a gang of fellow freelancers for a spot of 5-a-side. It’s usually a little quieter than Hyde Park or St. James’s Park as well, making it a good choice for days when you want to work outside but don’t want the distractions of crowds.
10. Waterlow Park
Described as “a garden for the gardenless”, this leafy green space in Highgate is a total hidden gem. Less touristy than some of London’s bigger and more famous parks, you can choose your own quiet spot for working: do you fancy watching the green-fingered at work in the Kitchen Garden, enjoying a canopy of blossom in the orchard, or overlooking one of the park’s three natural spring-fed ponds? There are also dedicated BBQ areas if you fancy meeting up with freelancer friends for after work fun.
What’s your favourite spot of green space in the Big Smoke? We’d love to hear your recommendations for more outdoor working spots that freelancers can enjoy this summer in London!
If it’s raining, as it is often prone to do across a UK summer, never fear! We have a blog for that as well. You could take your work to one of these top co-working spaces in the capital. Check it out – it’s always good to have a Plan B.
Which is kind of what Dinghy insurance is. A back-up plan or a support device if things go wrong when you’re running your freelance business. Dingy offers professional indemnity, public liability, business equipment and cyber liability cover, all tailored to the needs of freelancers. It’s super easy to set up – just pop the details of your freelance biz into our website, and we’ll take you through the rest. All our policies are paid monthly and can be dialled down when you’re not working, so you can save those precious pennies for a few ice creams in the park, maybe? Find out all the information you need about our freelance business insurance policies on our website.