Posts Tagged ‘freelancing’

Freelancing/Consulting: What are the options?

September 1st, 2008

Well, I did mention that I’ve become a freelance PHP consultant (although currently I’m more working in ASP/ASPscript) and that I’d write my finding/experiences up on this ‘er blog: but I’ve just been so busy recently, I haven’t even really had the time to keep up with my other projects. However, a question by an ex-colleague prompted me to write about the options there are if you are considering going freelancing/consulting. As per usual, this is not legal/accounting advice yadda yadda – if you want proper formal advise, find somebody you can pay to give you advice.

There’s three ways (as far as I’m concerned/aware of) you can go freelancing:

Work as a sole trader
Less paperwork, slightly less taxes than other methods, but some companies won’t allow you to work for them due to the fear of IR35 (where the tax man could later claim you were technically an employee for them and cause them to pay more taxes – not so much of a worry if you “work from home” though).
Work as a Limited company (this is the route I’ve taken)
Lots of paperwork (as the company and you are technically different legal entities and all monies etc need to be kept separate and accounted for), but has a higher rate of return on your money. You do need to keep an eye on the tax front (as you’ll need to file a return for yourself and your company). Also, as from April this year, you can operate a Private Limited company (Ltd) in the UK on your own: you no longer need somebody to act as a company seceteray or secondary director.
Work under an “umbrella company”
You are technically an employee of the umbrella company [so I believe] (so they sort out all the paperwork), but obviously they take their cut. I regret not considering this option a bit more (as just keeping tracking of my expenses such as mileage, food etc takes up time), but unfortunately my other business interest meant I needed to have things all under one label.

The accountancy company I use has a handy calculator on their site at http://www.sjdaccountancy.com/contractor_calculator/index.html and some other resources at http://www.sjdaccountancy.com/about/ourservices/recruiter_resources.html which may help you decide what to do (if you do decide to use them, please enter me as a referral on their site as I’ll get £50 – however, in the interests of fairness, I have to admit that whilst SJD is doing a good enough job, my partner (not business) is considering http://www.nixonwilliams.com/ for her books and they are cheaper (£75 per month compared with £95 for SJD). You don’t technically need an accountant (there’s no legal obligation), but they’ll be able to advice you on what can be counted as an expense, what can’t, what you can claim VAT back on (and advice you whether to become VAT registered, VAT flat-rate registered or not registered) and help ensure your tax forms (corporate and personal) are filed in time.

We both registered our Limited companies via http://www.uk-plc.net/companyformation/ and we both currently use Freshbooks for invoicing although I’m trying FreeAgent as it’s a lot more UK orientated and can deal a lot better with UK tax and even provides you with a profit/loss statement: it is more expensive though…

Well, that’s it for now – not a lot of information I admit, but hopefully enough for you to think about and to consider…

Techy: 10 Absolute Nos! For Freelancers

December 20th, 2007

Wake Up Later has a list of 10 Absolute “Nos!” for Freelances which include (with my comments):

  1. Can you show me a mock-up to help us choose a designer/developer?
    When I worked for a web hosting company, we did waste a lot of time doing web site designs for people as “mock ups” and a few times we did see the ideas “recycled” in their finished design even though they hadn’t paid us. The percentage of “mock ups to completed projects” was quite low as well – meaning wasted time. Oh – and the number of people that said “I don’t like that mock up, can you do another”… Grrr… On the plus side, I’ve just realised that an insurance company that I wrote the billing system for nearly a year ago whilst at my previous employer is still in use, despite the pet insurance company having very little (if anything) to do with my previous employer now. Go me!
  2. Can you give us a discount rate?
    Am I the only person in the world that thinks “The price you see is the price you pay”? You don’t expect Tescos or Sainsburys to “haggle” the price of your food do you? Well, don’t expect web designers, programmers, hosting companies etc to do the same!
  3. Will you register and host my site?
    I slightly disagree with this one – the designer will be able to register the domain name and host it with a third party: but as long as they make it totally clear they are just performing the “payment side” of things and the client needs to contact the appropriate company if there is any “non-design/code” issues then it should be ok.
  4. Can you copy this site?
    Straight coping is a “no-no”, but trying to get a “similar look” to a site isn’t too bad. I.e. if you are doing a shopping cart: do you like the look of Amazon, Tesco, Play will help speed the design work along.
  5. Can I pay for my e-commerce site from my website sales?
    A big no from me here as well! If the designer/freelancer says to the customer “I’ll do it cheaper if you’ll split the sales” that means the designer/freelancer thinks the customer has a very good ideas. However, if the customers asks for it – then the customer must think it’s not such a good idea and hence doesn’t really want to risk their money.
  6. I have a great idea. Do you want to…?
    To me, this’ll depend on the circumstances. If they came to me (as a programmer) and said they’d like to partner for me and they can supply the design and backend content, and I’ve got to figure out how to get the content online and handle the promotion of it – then I may do. However, if it’s a case of “I want a shop to sell books via Amazon. I can design the site, can you do the back end…” then IMHO they won’t be contributing that much to the project. If they added their own book reviews then that’s another kettle of fish.
  7. Do you have an IM account?
    I’ve practically given up on IM clients (such as Yahoo, AOL, MSN Messenger and ICQ) mainly because of the Spam (Yahoo especially) and the fact that when I am logged in I’m not always available to chat (away from the machine) or I’m busy working on something. I tend to have my PC on a “always ready” state (i.e. text edit, browsers etc already loaded and positioned) so opening and closing Trillian (which I used to use to log me into all the different networks) will be an extra thing to remember…
  8. Can I just pay the whole amount when it’s done?
  9. Is there any way you could get this done tonight or this weekend?
  10. Can I be sure you won’t use this work in anything else?
    I tend to do the same as Samuel (the other of the original post) in that “(1) their code has utilized code from other projects which I haven’t charged them for, and (2) I will probably use code from their project on other projects, and (3) they own the code and implementation of the project (finished website), but not the actual code pieces (login system, image uploader, etc.). I pride myself in productivity and speed, and I need to use other code all the time to accomplish this.”. However, in most circumstances I do “copy my own code” but in a slightly different manner – so the “jist” of the code may be the same, it’ll be slightly different for each implmentation.
gamy-dance
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