The Mud Blog

2014 Freelance Rates results: how people work

Following up from last week’s post covering what Freelancers charge, this week we want to look at what the Freelance Rates survey responses tell us about how freelancers work in the UK. Here, I wanted to get a clearer picture of working practices and particularly whether working freelance gave people the freedom and work/life balance that many freelancers aspire to.

Working life

The majority of respondents (67%) work from home whilst the majority of the remainder either work on-site with clients or at a dedicated office.  

Work place Count %
From home 378 67.86
Dedicated office 109 19.57
Co-working space 29 5.21
Client office 27 4.85
Coffee shop 4 0.72
Other 10 1.80

The clear majority of freelancers worked 5 days a week. However over a quarter worked 6 days a week. So much for the four day week! This pattern is shared when we look at number of hours worked a day. Over half of respondents worked between 8 and 10 hours a day with 10% of respondents working over 10 hours a day.

Days worked Count %
5 days a week 307 56.23
7 days a week 29 5.31
Less than 5 days a week 64 11.72
6 days a week 146 26.74
Hours worked Count %
5–7 hours 184 33.52
8–10 hours 294 53.55
More than 10 hours 51 9.29
Less than 4 hours 20 3.64

Clients and Projects

Over 40% of freelancers only worked on 1 or 2 projects at any time with a quarter working on between 3 and 4 projects. The majority also had relatively short projects with over half lasting less than a month and 34% between 1 and 3 months long.

This gives a picture of focused work on smaller projects, as reflected in last week’s post where 40% of respondents worked on projects worth less than £2,000.

Who work with? Count %
directly with clients 224 40.00
in partnership with other freelancers 122 21.79
subcontracting for agencies 285 50.89
Concurrent projects Count %
1–2 projects 235 41.96
4+ projects 74 13.21
2–4 projects 154 27.50
Only 1 project at a time 97 17.32
Length of project Count %
< 1 month 285 50.35
1–3 months 195 34.45
3–6 months 47 8.30
6–12 months 26 4.59
> 12 months 13 2.30

Business and Accounting

In terms of legal composition half of respondents worked as a sole-trader, with almost half trading as a Limited Company.

Trading as Count %
Sole-Trader 290 51.97
Limited Company 253 45.34
Partnership/LLP 12 2.15
sole trader part of LLP with other freelancers 1 0.18
Not a registered company 1 0.18
Not yet registered 1 0.18

When it comes to accounting, over a third are self-accounting whilst 28% use a local accountant and 21% use an online service (although the wording of this question is probably fairly ambiguous).

Accounting Count %
I’m self-accounting 203 36.38
I use a local accountant 160 28.67
I use an online service 119 21.33
I use a remote accountant 76 13.62

Once more the clear majority of respondents who use accounting software use Freeagent with 60% of freelancers. 10% used Xero with the remainder spread between Crunch, Freshbooks and Harvest.

Software Count %
Freeagent 182 60.26
Xero 30 9.93
Crunch 23 7.62
Freshbooks 22 7.28
Spreadsheets 16 5.30
Harvest 13 4.30
Billings 8 2.65
Wave 8 2.65
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