Managing your finances yourself can seem intimidating; it’s best if you keep track of your commissions, the amount you’re paid, and the payment date. We spoke to self-employed Sam Elrow*, who has been working freelance through his studies for around four years as a feature writer. He’s also currently studying for an NCTJ via online learning.
He suggests: “If you can work out a system where you pitch 20 places at the start of the month, see what comes through, and then try and get as many articles done by the end of the month, then you have all your payments sort of coming in at reasonably around the same time, you’re going to have an easier time reporting earnings.”
MoneyMagpie’s journalist, who has been on Universal Credit themselves, told us: “If you suddenly get lots of invoices paid in one month, leave a note in your journal to say, this is actually work that I’ve done over the last six months, but they’re all being paid now. And then if anything comes up — if they close a claim or question something, it gives you a record. You can go back and say I’ve told you this.”
Self-employed freelancers will receive Universal Credit payments no matter how little they earn for the first year of being registered; after a ‘start-up period’ of 12 months have passed, this is eventually subverted by the Minimum Income Floor.
According to government guidelines, you must then prove that you are ‘gainfully self-employed’ — basically, that you’re making enough money to justify your self-employed ‘business’. This isn’t great for freelancers in any industry, with journalism especially being financially turbulent.