Word of mouth recommendation is the primary way that freelancers in the South of England source work, according to research from advice and networking website www.FreelanceAdvisor.co.uk
86% of freelancers surveyed in the region said they won new work mainly from existing clients and contacts. In contrast, only 6% used online marketing or networking at trade events as their primary method, with 8% preferring to make cold calls to unknown prospects.
Over half – 54% - of the total sample said they found it fairly easy to get regular work, but 35% stated it was either not very easy or difficult. 11% were most confident, claiming they found work very easy to source.
When questioned about the current economic climate, FreelanceAdvisor.co.uk found that 55% of freelancers were concerned about how widespread uncertainty will affect their income. As a result, 39% of these are increasing time spent on securing work, for example calling current clients, while almost a third (31%) are actively cold calling to drum up new projects. 29% are increasing marketing activity to promote their services via email or leaflets.
Overall, 23% remained firm they were not worried about their income going up or down in the face of economic uncertainty, while 21% were unsure.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the average number of self-employed people in Great Britain is 9%. The number of those choosing to work for themselves in the South East and South West of England is higher than the national average, at 11% and 11.3% respectively. Cities such as Brighton, where FreelanceAdvisor.co.uk is headquartered registers 11.1%.
When asked why they decided to become freelancers, the survey revealed that the ability to manage their own time, along with being their own boss, were the most popular reasons. 15% said they became freelancers because they had been made redundant, and 10% felt that being a freelancer was safer as a ‘job for life’ no longer exists.
“The main gripe about the freelancing lifestyle was consistency of work – 70% of the people we questioned agreed,” said FreelanceAdvisor.co.uk Founder Darren Fell. “However, half of the total sample said a lack of work hadn’t made them consider going back to full time employment.
"Mass redundancies and the current climate indicate that the number of freelancers will continue to grow - the website will help ease the transition for those making the jump from employee to freelancer, and indeed those already freelancing to make the most of their skills and help them network.”
FreelanceAdvisor.co.uk, which aims to unite the UK’s surging community of self-employed as growing uncertainty forces people to look at their skillsets and consider working for themselves, discovered that 72% of freelancers worked from home. Of these, just over half (53%) said they were ‘OK’ at separating work and home life, with 42% saying their work and homelife was blurred. Only 6% claimed to be very good at separating the two.
42% of those surveyed had been freelancing for five years or more, with 37% working for themselves for one to four years. A fifth were just starting out.
Respondents worked across multiple industries. The top three were digital media (46%), IT (40%) and design (32%). A further 20% of freelancers in the South of England worked in television/film, gaming, mobile and media.
A quarter of the 70 freelancers who took part in the survey said they earned between £15,000 and £25,000 per year. 27% earned between £25,000 and £40,000. Almost a third (30%) claimed they billed over £40,000.
www.FreelanceAdvisor.co.uk is an advice and networking website for freelancers and contractors. It’s one of the fastest growing freelancing sites in the UK. FreelanceAdvisor.co.uk’s aim is to unite the UK’s surging community of 1.4 million self-employed people*, offering guidance on setting up and working efficiently; covering all aspects of the freelancing lifestyle.
The site is written by experts from all industries within the freelancing community – articles are published three to four times a week along with a monthly podcast featuring an influential figure. FreelanceAdvisor.co.uk was founded by award-winning online entrepreneur Darren Fell.
Fell appears in this year’s ‘Courvoisier The Future 500 in association with The Observer’; a league table of the UK’s most talented business people and was also named Entrepreneur of the Year at the Sussex Business Awards 07/08.
*Professional Contractors Group (PCG) research released September 2008
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