After the 2014 recession, self employed individuals reached their highest numbers in the UK, leading to a marketplace flooded with contractors and freelancers. But while many became freelancers out of necessity, during those difficult years, digital and social changes to the modern working life have reshaped the outlook for those who are self-employed.

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Of course, with the “if they can do it, so can I” attitude of freelancers and independent contractors, over saturation within certain industries was inevitable. So how can you stand out, maximise efficiency and get ahead in this increasingly competitive market?

 

Use the tools of the trade

If you’re freelancing then you probably know what tools you, as an individual, need. But as an individual contractor more may be needed. It’s very important to maximise your efficiency, and, with the growth of cloud technology and remote options, this is more achievable than ever before.

Contractor accountants 3 Wise Bears recommend the use of cloud accounting software, like Xero and Freeagent, for freelancers. This technology allows individuals to keep up to date with their accounts enabling fast paced decisions to be made on the move with mobile device access.

 

If working globally, make sure you’re not losing take home pay

If you’re working on a global scale it can be incredibly useful to know how best to be paid to avoid losing capital to bad exchange rates and banking overheads. Transferwise recommend

billing in lump sums to avoid losing money in this way, maximising your take home pay if you can afford to wait a month to invoice instead of doing it on a weekly basis.

 

You have to have a good looking, responsive website and an online presence

A modern freelancer in the digital world needs a website and it needs to look good. Responsiveness is an essential, as searchers are using their phones and tablets more frequently than desktops.

But before your website’s up and running you should allocate time to building your online presence. As Eursap’s delivery directory Daniel Patel has advised in a blog on improving employment success, one of the best ways to do this is through networking on sites relevant to your industry. Remember, if clients can’t find you online they might be wary of you.

To further elevate your positive online visibility, encourage clients to leave you reviews on Google Plus or an independent review site that you can link to your own website. The digital era has emphasised the idea of doing business on a human to human basis, reviews can help you get further through human recommendations. However, bad reviews can be very hard to remove or bury, thus throw caution to the wind here.

 

Don’t be afraid of marketing yourself

Even though you’re working individually, you should discount the power of campaigns like email marketing. You aren’t likely to have the resources to splurge on a huge digital campaign, but direct email targeting can help you reach out to relevant customers. If you have a list of email addresses to target, make sure you don’t end up in the spam folder by using the right language and avoiding blacklisted IP addresses.

Similar to building a website, you shouldn’t shy away from marketing yourself online – and it needn’t be a mammoth task. Having a Facebook page, LinkedIn or Twitter can help you to market yourself, share success stories, and liaise with other companies and individuals. Social shares can help propel you into more work – word of mouth, even if it’s digital, is more powerful than any ad campaign.