We are pleased to announce the relaunch of our blog, with a brand new design and fresh content. We will be featuring interviews, survey results, articles from guest experts on various fields and much more – watch this space!

Check out the new blog and don’t forget to subscribe using RSS if you like what you see and would like to stay in touch! If you have already subscribed to the old blog (i.e. this one) you will need to re-subscribe to the new one.  Subscribe to our new RSS feed now >>

Related URLs:

New Blog: http://blog.peopleperhour.com

New RSS feed: http://blog.peopleperhour.com/feed/

The webcast below is hosted by the PCG (the representative body for freelancers, contractors and consultants in the UK) to mark National Freelancers Day.

Follow the video link in order to hear the opinions and views of leaders in the field of freelancing: why companies are using freelancers more and more, what is driving change and what their vision of the future is. Amongst the speakers is our founder and CEO Xenios Thrasyvoulou doing his bit to extend the gratitude of the business community to the freelancing community.

If you are keen to contribute in any way to our blog we’d be more than happy to hear from you. We would also love to hear your opinion about this post and webcast.

The Future of Work

May 22, 2009

There was an interesting article about ‘The Future of Work’ in Time Magazine this week. Seth Godin, author of Small is the New Big, contributed some particularly insightful points. Godin describes a future in 5 or 10 years, where businesses will employ only a few essential employees and outsource the rest of their work.

A growing number of businesses are already adopting this way of working. We speak to dozens of you every day who tell us how you have cut costs by outsourcing work via PeoplePerHour.com. Many are cutting costs by more than 50% a year.

For example, earlier this week we spoke to Michael Parker, founder of A Quarter Of Ltd, which is a traditional sweetshop, selling retro sweets online. Michael has outsourced PR, affiliate marketing, article writing and web site development, saving an estimated £7k every month in salaries.

Similarly, Kerchoonz, the social networking site that allows free legal music that pays the artists, saved costs by finding freelancers for their PR, Marketing, IT and sales functions, for which they’d otherwise have to hire fulltime or agency staff.  Founder, Indiana Gregg, says “we have made an estimated saving of 32% in the last year by using freelancers through PeoplePerHour.com”.

Ask-Kent, a B2B telemarketing company, founded by Richard Romaine took his entire business virtual in January 2006. It previously had 10 fulltime people in an office. As a virtual company it has five telemarketers working from home at any one time. By doing this, Richard has cut overheads by £80k a year. This kind of business model is also greener as it eliminates the commute.

Thanks to all of you who are using the site and recommending it to others, PeoplePerHour.com has grown from 4,700 to more than 30,000 in the past year.  This suggests that ‘The Future of Work’ as Seth describes it is already well on its way to becoming a reality.

PPH gets a new look

April 9, 2009

We have been collecting feedback about the design of the site for a while now; both through the messages/emails we get and also by proactively contacting as many of our users as possible to get feedback.

With that in mind, we have now launched a new, cleaner design that will hopefully address most of the feedback we have been receiving. Please take a moment to check out the new design and feel free to send us any feedback that you might have.

We will continue the redesign exercise over the next few months to improve other sections of the site – it is our ongoing goal to make the site as easy as possible to use and understand so thank you for your feedback so far and we hope that you will like the new design.

In addition to ensuring that your PPH profile is as comprehensive and professional as possible, the other most important element of success in winning work on PPH is your ability to submit effective proposals (bids) to prospective clients.

Here are some tips on how to make your bids as effective as possible and make them stand out:

1. Tailor each proposal

While there is nothing wrong with having a proposal template as a starting point, you should always remember that templates are there to be customised. Sending generic proposals is one of the most common mistakes and it hardly ever works as clients can easily spot a proposal that has been simply ‘copied and pasted’.

Instead, put in the time to go through the project requirements properly, give thought to your proposal and tailor it to address all the points/requirements of the project.

2. Describe your approach/process

Clients often know what they would like to achieve (e.g. they need a company website) but not what is involved in the process or how it’s done. Giving a high-level outline of the process you will follow to achieve the result they are after is a quick way to build rapport and win the client’s confidence.

3. Highlight your strengths/experience

Do not be shy to highlight any relevant experience/projects you have completed and highlighting your skills – clients need to be convinced that you are qualified to complete their project successfully. Do not go overboard when selling yourself and if you are giving big projects as examples of your work, explain clearly what your exact involvement was.

4. Be concise

Clients usually receive many proposals, so it’s important to be concise and make each word count. Do not labour obvious points and use easy to understand language without too much jargon.

Bigger, more complex projects will probably require more detailed proposals but it’s worth keeping in mind that too much detail from the outset might make the project appear daunting to the client.

5. Ask questions – don’t overpromise

If you are not clear about any of the project requirements, ask questions instead of promising that you can deliver the world. One of the most common causes for problems during projects is poorly defined requirements.

While only the client can provide you with the necessary detail and information, it is up to you to ensure that you have gathered all the information by asking the right questions and filling any gaps in the requirements.

6. Show enthusiasm

Let the client know that you excited about the prospect of working together on this, and possibly future projects.

Clients are much more likely to hire someone who shows interest and enthusiasm about their project and business instead of someone that comes across as wanting to get the project done as quickly as possible and get paid.

7. Review your proposal

Always remember to carefully review your proposal. Proof-read what you have written to ensure that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes but always also review the proposal as if you were the client i.e. by trying to put yourself in the client’s shoes.

It is always a good idea not to review your proposal right after you have written it as it will be difficult to spot; work on something else for a couple of hours if possible and then revisit your proposal.

When reviewing your proposal try to determine if it’s engaging, if the benefits of hiring you are clearly stated and most importantly, if it makes a prospective client confident that you can deliver.

Import Feedback

October 9, 2008

We’ve just added a new feature that allows our Providers to import feedback from people that have used their services outside the site in the past.

Statistically, Providers with feedback have an 80% higher chance of winning work.  Providers who are new to the site can therefore now start on a level playing field by building their feedback rating and winning work straight away

To keep this fair we do differentiate the feedback that’s imported from that which is from the site – so naturally as a Provider your rating will improve the more work you win through the site. Importing feedback at the start allows you to escape the initial deadlock and gain momentum in building your profile.

To import feedback please login your account and click on the relevant button

A common worry among the freelancers we speak to is whether they’ve got enough put aside for their next tax bill.

Failing to make this kind of provision frequently catches those new to freelancing out. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs are not known for their understanding in these matters, with penalties and interest being charged as soon as you miss deadlines.

The rules for working out the tax bill, and when it’s due, vary according to your company structure and can be quite complex. An accountant will take your invoices and receipts and sort this out for you, but it can cost hundreds of pounds and you won’t know what the answer is until after the tax year is finished.

For all freelancers, Self-Assessed income taxes are due by 31st Jan in the year following the end of the tax year (so 31 Jan 09 for the tax year 6 Apr 07 to 5 Apr 08). There will be payments-on-account from the previous year, and those for the next year, to consider when working out what’s actually due.

For those running Limited Companies, Corporation Tax bill deadlines vary according to when your company’s accounting year ends but you have a similar amount of time to pay. And of course there are VAT Returns and Payroll Taxes to keep track of too.

We don’t know anyone who enjoys this, and even with the best will in the world many of us leave these matters to the last minute. A nasty surprise or missed deadlines can be the result.

There’s some good news, though, in the shape of a new breed of online accounting and tax calculation services which can help you understand what’s due and when, well in advance.

One example is Sam’s Tax (www.samstax.co.uk), dealing with Self Assessment for Sole Traders but also able to work out VAT as well. You subscribe to their online service, which costs £9.99 a month (with the option to pay £99.99 annually instead) and enter your income and expense transactions into the system.

It then gives you access to a set of reports and graphs which detail where your money goes, a monthly breakdown of profit, information to fill in VAT returns and of course the numbers you need to complete your Self-Assessment Tax Return.

Also available is the popular service FreeAgent (www.freeagentcentral.com), which is built primarily for freelancers and provides plans to suit Partnerships and Limited Companies as well as Sole Traders.

Like SamsTax, FreeAgent handles Self-Assessment Tax Return figures and VAT Returns, but also handles Corporation Tax and PAYE/NI (payroll) taxes, and provides a ‘Tax Timeline’ – a calendar of tax due dates and amounts that you can view in your Outlook, Apple iCal or Google calendar.

FreeAgent is slightly more expensive at £15 a month for Sole Traders, £20 for Partnerships and £25 for Limited Companies.

Both services offer a 30-day free trial, and FreeAgent also provides access to a number of demonstration accounts so you can try it out without signing up.

We’ve checked out both services, and they both look like they would take a lot of stress and hassle out of managing your money.

Now there are no excuses for not knowing how much you owe and when you owe it. But it’s still up to you to ensure you set that money aside!

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People per Hour are pleased to have negotiated a 10% discount for all our Providers when you sign up to FreeAgent using the the ‘Recommended by PPH’ FreeAgent page. We’re also working to provide you with a fully integrated solution so that all your PPH invoicing is synchronized with the rest of your accounts automatically without having to re-enter data.