Empowering the Freelance Economy

How freelancers can come out stronger in 2023

2023 will not be easy but freelancers are used to uncertainty and when armored with information they can strive against the odds/ Photo by Photo by Engin Akyurt via Pexels
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We look at how economic predictions, industry trends and preventative health measures could help freelancers come out stronger in 2023 and beyond

  • Economic indicators you can prepare for
  • Preventative health measures you can take
  • Industry outlooks that could help you win new clients in exciting areas of growth

Freelancers are primed for uncertainty. It’s just part of being a small business owner. That gives them the mental armour they need to fight any battle that comes their way. Let’s face it, they’ve jousted every conceivable move against them since the pandemic. Yet, despite being a resilient bunch they do need to be prepared for what 2023 might bring both good and bad.

Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.

Bobby Unser

What can freelancers expect of the UK economy in 2023?

Let’s start with the UK economy. Here are a few predictions that the CEBR has gifted us.

Interest rates

If the financial markets believe rates will rise significantly the markets are likely to weaken sharply, the CEBR predicts. But if that happens, rates will not need to rise by so much. So there is a game of chicken being played between the Fed and the markets, says Douglas McWilliams, CEBR Deputy Chairman.

“The best guess is that it will end in a score draw with a smaller rise in rates than currently proclaimed by central banks but with financial markets down by 10%, which is not a collapse,” says McWilliams.

Property prices

Property, especially important in the UK, will probably go down a bit more than it did in 2022 – perhaps by around 15% because prices rose so much during the period when easy money was pumped in during the Covid pandemic. This is likely to be driven by the commercial property market, although the CEBR expects annual house price contractions to reach at least 8% in the second half of the year.

Inflation

The UK will almost certainly face a recession, according to the CEBR, with negative GDP growth for the year, with output contracting by between 1.5% – 2%. This again reflects the unwinding of monetary policy following the belated realisation by the Treasury and the Bank of England that the UK faces a serious inflationary problem.

Inflation will initially fall quite quickly. But we expect that it will be hard to get it down below 5% without a sharp rise in unemployment, which does not seem very likely at present in either the UK or the US. So interest rates, which may peak relatively early, may not fall all that fast.

Industries that could help you grow your freelance business

Landing clients that are onto the next big thing is not only exciting but a smart way to generate more earnings as a freelancer while gaining expertise in a new sector. For example, a freelance copywriter or SEO expert could grow their industry know-how in clean energy; an IT specialist could look into ways to land work in ESG analytics or Fintech; the opportunities are out there if you prepare for them.

Looking to pivot to an in-demand career? Coursera suggests it may be worth earning a Professional Certificate in data analytics, IT support, project management, UX design, cybersecurity, sales development, or bookkeeping from industry leaders like Google, Meta, Intuit, and IBM. The good thing is you can learn at your own pace from anywhere with an internet connection, and earn a credential for your resume.

And there’s no time like the present. According to new LinkedIn data, the number of job postings for contract roles in the technology industry tripled in the last two years. Meanwhile, Layoffs.fyi, a tracker of downsizing in the tech sector, shows that more than 150k white-collar tech professionals were laid off in 2022. Companies will need to fill this talent gap and most likely that will be through hiring portfolio contractors, freelancers and small businesses, according to several reports including McKinsey research.

But the tech sector is a big place for freelancers to navigate for clients. Which areas of tech are most likely to be hiring and do they interest you?

According to an Infotech report, understanding the seven trends shaping IT’s landscape in 2023 could help freelancers grow their client list and knowledge:

Opportunities:

The Metaverse
Generative AI
Industry-Led Data Models
Sustained Digital Processes

Volatility Risks:

ESG Analytics and Reporting
Zero-Trust Security
Recession Preparation

Other tech areas likely to continue on a growth trajectory in 2023:

In addition, some of the other tech industries that are also rapidly growing are Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud computing, and Machine Learning (ML). 

Source: Enterprise World

What health concerns should freelancers look out for in 2023?

COVID new variants and other illnesses left unchecked

The wave of infections unleashed by the ending of China’s zero-Covid policy will spill over into the West, possibly with new variantsThis will create some new supply chain problems, but it does seem that the latest wave is less virulent than its predecessors.

At the end of December 2022, it was announced in the UK that passengers arriving in England from China will have to provide a negative Covid test before they board a flight, ministers have confirmed.

It comes as several nations announced they would be screening travellers from China after cases surged following Beijing’s decision to relax its zero-Covid policy, said the BBC.

China has said it will fully reopen its borders on 8 January. Several countries, including the US, France and India, have imposed testing.

“December 2022 has been party season not only for humans but for influenza, metapneumovirus, RSV and all manner of other bugs that spread through snot, respiratory droplets, and sloppy kisses under the mistletoe,” reported The Guardian.

Covid continues to circulate, with a 22% increase in hospital admissions recorded in England between 7 and 14 December, said the report.

Dr Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, said:

The difficulty is that we don’t have freely available PCR tests any more, and a lot of people who are vaccinated [against Covid] don’t necessarily show up on LFTs if they are infected.

  • Freelancers who do not have sick pay to fall back on may be wise to wear masks in public places to not only help avoid contracting a COVID variant but other illnesses and viruses including flu and Strep A.

Heart disease

Severe ambulance delays, inaccessible care and ever-growing waiting lists are contributing to heart patients dying needlessly, according to the British Heart Association.

The association revealed in a report that significant and widespread disruption to heart care services has driven the ongoing surge in excess deaths involving heart disease in England.

Freelancers that are aged 50 should set up an appointment with their GP right away to get checked for heart health before it is too late. Prevention is key, as Phil Moore, found out, and almost too late.

Phil’s story 

“Phil Moore, 50, from near Maidstone, thought he was going to die in a supermarket car park. On the way out of a shop, he had started sweating profusely, feeling dizzy, and having heavy pain in his chest. Having worked for the BHF, he knew he was having a heart attack. He struggled back to his car and rang 999 immediately, but had to wait around 40 minutes for an ambulance as he faded in and out of consciousness. 
 
Phil said: “The heart attack came on very suddenly, with no warning, and it came on very strong. While slumped in the driver’s seat, I was fighting to stay conscious.  
 
“All I could think about was that this could be the place I’d ever be, and I might not see anyone I love ever again. I mustered the strength to look at my phone after a while, and it had been 20 minutes since I had called for an ambulance.

“I redialled 999 and pleaded with the call handler to send an ambulance quickly. I don’t think I answered many of their questions, it’s now all very hazy. 
 
“Forty minutes later, the ambulance arrived and rushed me to straight to the emergency cardiac unit for an angioplasty – a procedure that widens a narrowed or blocked artery so blood can flow more easily. It was very scary, because it goes through your mind that I want to speak to my wife again, I want to speak to my children again, but you don’t know if you’re going to.” 

Source: The British Heart Foundation


Latest figures show that average ambulance response times for suspected heart attacks have risen to 48 minutes in England against a target of 18 minutes, while the vast backlog of time-sensitive cardiac care has grown by almost 50 per cent since the pandemic began to nearly 350,000 people.  

There are also millions of “missing” heart patients, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, who have struggled to access care for conditions that put people at much greater risk of a future heart attack or stroke, like high blood pressure.

British Heart Foundation

Modelling from NHS England suggests that the decline in blood pressure management since the pandemic began could lead to an extra 11,190 heart attacks and 16,702 additional strokes over a three-year period. 

Cancer diagnosis and treatment delays

Urgent cancer referrals, often known as the two-week wait, have been heavily impacted, with up to 290,000 people missing out on further testing, which would normally detect up to 20,300 cancers in the same time period.

Cancer Research UK estimates there will be a backlog of treatment to catch up on, with up to 12,750 fewer patients receiving surgery, 6,000 fewer for chemotherapy and 2,800 fewer receiving radiotherapy since lockdown began.

Again, prevention is paramount. If you find a lump or experience new or prolonged symptoms it will be wise to make an appointment with your GP. Write down when you started getting the symptoms, why they feel odd and how long you have had them. It is also good to know your family’s history on both sides if possible as this can contribute to a risk score for scanning for potential cancers.

Also, be aware that even if you or your doctor cannot feel a lump, symptoms can be just as good an indicator that something is not right, so request a scan if you have not had one in the past year.

NHS screening

You are entitled to screening on the NHS, so learn more here as sometimes it is age dependent. However, do not be put off by age constraints if you have any symptoms, get checked.


Join a freelancer community online or in your local community

Freelancers can be their own worst enemies when it comes to keeping up with friends and building new friendships as they get immersed in their work. But when they do come out to play, they will be the first to say, “I needed that!”

You can start to connect with fellow freelancers for support and build new friendships through The Freelance Informer’s social media channels. Have an issue you want some feedback or advice on? Just ask our communities on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram. Need some expert guidance?Then email editor@freelanceinformer.com and the FI team will try to get an expert to provide some tips.

Freelancers are not only resilient but great sounding boards for sticky situations. Join Freelance Informer’s social media communities to build your network and freelancer friendships/ Photo by Leah Kelly
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