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Four Contracting Tips From A Seasoned Contractor

Four Contracting Tips From A Seasoned Contractor

As I’ve progressed through my contracting career, I’ve seen contracting go from a few roles here and there to a booming industry in its own right. There used to be a time when contracting was a risky option for many to take, but now if you play your cards right being a contractor can be almost as secure as having a full time job.

With many industries relying on contractors and ‘’niche’’ experts, it’s not only becoming easier to make a career out of contracting but it’s also becoming more lucrative to do so.

Whereas once you might spend weeks at a time without a contract it’s now much more common to move from contract to contract without any downtime at all, meaning financial stability is much more likely.

Throughout my time as a contractor, I’ve undoubtedly made some mistakes but also made some great choices that have helped me develop a series of contracting tips that I like to pass on to new contractors whenever I come into contact with them.

Tip One: Make life easy for yourself


When I started out I dived straight into running my own Limited Company complete with business cards and a website. Not only did this massively increase my startup costs (and made a dent in my savings) but over time I came to realise that none of these were actually necessary in order to succeed as a contractor.

As a contractor there’s a world of invoicing options open to you from Limited Companies to Umbrella Companies, and with LinkedIn being so prevalent, there’s really no need to have a website if you can use the platform effectively.

If I were to start all over again I’d do things very differently. I’d not only use LinkedIn as my website and business card, but I would actively seek out an umbrella company that could reduce my invoicing and tax calculation time down to zero.

Starting out as a contractor is stressful enough without having to spend an hour or a night sorting out admin tasks like writing content, sending invoices or chasing late payments. As a new contractor you need to be able to focus on impressing your new client and removing the hassle that comes with being self-employed.

Tip Two: Engage with potential clients every day


Finding clients is a lot easier today than it used to be – there are jobs boards available offering thousands of contracts and you can also contact potential clients directly through LinkedIn.

It’s really important that rather than spreading yourself thinly, you pick a few areas to focus on. It’s better to put 100% of your effort into LinkedIn for example than to register on a few jobs boards and barely check your account.

LinkedIn is great because you can add links to all your previous work, get reviews and connect with your potential clients. You can even actively engage in groups focused around your industry to establish yourself as an expert in your field.

By actively partaking in these groups, sharing content and keeping your CV up to date you’ll not only make yourself more attractive to potential clients but you’ll make yourself more likely to be found by recruiters.

There’s no doubt that the hardest part for contracting is finding your first client but luckily it does get easier the more established you become, especially if you keep one eye on obtaining your next contract.

Tip Three: Don’t be fooled by a higher day rate.


If you’re considering contracting then you’ve probably noticed as a contractor you will earn more per day than your employed friends.

At first this can be a very attractive reason to go into contracting but it’s important that you understand both why day rates are higher and how sometimes they can be misleading.

Day rates are usually higher for contractors because of a number of factors including;

  • You won’t be paid when you take a holiday. To work out your annual income, it’s actually best to multiply your day rate by 5, and then by 46 (not 52) to factor in your time off.
  • You won’t get benefits like sick pay, healthcare or a pension.
  • You might work from home and have to cover your own computer, phone and electricity costs.
  • You could be required to work more than seven hours a day to fufil the contract by your deadline.
  • You will need to cover your own qualification and subscription costs.

It’s important then to truly understand the nature of your contract and how it will fit in with the lifestyle and family life you want to have as a contractor. Yes, a higher day rate might be attractive, but once you factor in holiday and the increased number of hours you work you might find that you could be worse off per hour.

Tip Four: Be a contractor in the know


Finally, your worth as a contractor entirely depends on how good you are at helping your clients deal with their problems.

For example, in my sector of journalism, as in any other industry, I keep abreast of developments within the sector, changing client needs and network regularly to find out what problems are coming next. All to help clients prepare for any changes in the industry and potentially extend the contract, as a result.

Finding out what’s coming next can really help win you contracts because you’re not only going to be ahead of the game, but you’ll significantly reduce the pool of potential alternative contractors that your client will want to work with because you’re truly finding a niche.

Working out of a niche is ultimately where you want to be because you can charge more per day, while you will be able to charge more complex and interesting content via your LinkedIn page which will only add to your appeal as a contractor, making your experience of contracting both more financially rewarding and stable.

This is a guest contribution from Steve Lumley, a freelance writer who specializes in writing biographies. You can find him on

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