⚡️Martin Lewis Q&A, tax warning and digital tech grants

The Weekly Briefing #5

This year, I’m experimenting with a new mantra: less Zoom, more phone. Pre-pandemic, I rarely used video calls but since working from home became the norm, clients seemed to expect seeing my face as the default. I’m now taking on the task of gently trying to educate clients that more often than not, a phone call is just as good, if not better, than a video call. When I send diary invites, I include a phone number, and if they ask for a Zoom call, I tell them I’ll be camera-off. Here’s to reclaiming professional boundaries in 2021!

Speaking of priorities, here’s your rundown of what’s going on in the freelance world this week.


More businesses will rely on freelancers in 2021: LANCE got the scoop on some new data from PeoplePerHour which suggests 2021 will see increased demand for freelancers. A survey of business owners found that 60% said they plan to use more freelancers in 2021. The most popular reason for using freelancers was to introduce skills the business didn’t have in-house (67%). Meanwhile, 42% said they want to take advantage of flexible talent to speed up projects. Interestingly, 28% said they’d turned to freelancers recently to help move their business online, a possible response to the pandemic.

Finance, digital marketing and therapy among the fastest-growing freelance industries: Forbes has looked at which self-employed sectors are booming right now and no surprises to see those connected to mental health, home working and money are top of the list.

UK government announces further £4.6bn in support for small businesses, but limited company directors unlikely to receive help: Last week chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000 to get them through the third lockdown. While there was also a glimmer hope that limited company directors will finally receive similar support, MoneySavingExpert.com reports this is unlikely to come to fruition

Federal support for small businesses in the US: The Paycheck Protection Program reopens today, with priority being given to those small businesses most impacted by Covid-19. Community finance institutions will start issuing PPP loans to first-time recipients today and from Wednesday, will offer loans to those who have already applied

New support scheme for freelancers in the UK’s theatre sector: An initiative from Stage Directors UK and Arts Council England aims to offer career support and mentoring to some of the worst-affected freelancers impacted by the pandemic. The Resilience programme is a year-long scheme for creatives affected by theatre closures


Gig of the week: Gastro Obscura is now publishing recipes that tell a story. They want recipes that blend storytelling with service journalism. They’re especially interested in pitches for recipes related to the Lunar New Year (starting February 12). Take a look at their pitch guidelines and then pitch gastro-pitches@atlasobscura.com with “Recipe” in the subject line

Grants, competitions and alternative funding sources

  • The Crown UK Fund offers grants of up to £20,000 for Black-led grassroots organisations and projects that remove barriers faced by Black women and girls (deadline is Jan 21)

  • There’s now a new tool for UK freelancers to see what (if any 😡) support they’re entitled to from the government

  • Speaking of tools, US freelancers who want to apply for a PPP loan can find an SBA-approved lender to process the application here. And there’s a helpful guide for PPP applications for freelancers here

  • The crowdfunding platform, Crowdfunder, is running a Pay It Forward scheme which waives any platform fees for fundraising in response to the pandemic. Freelancers are very much encouraged to use the scheme. I personally can see scope for using it to run an innovative crowdfunding campaign that supports freelance work, possibly for a collective of freelancers

✶ Money tip of the week ✶
Don’t forget about your payments on account balance from last July.
The deadline for UK freelancers to file tax returns is January 31. The payments on account balance that was due in July 2020, but deferred because of the pandemic, is also due then. Don’t forget this! If you think you can’t pay your bill, contact HMRC right away, don’t wait until the deadline passes.


Freelancer finances event with Martin Lewis! The first LANCE event of 2021 is a session with the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com on Jan 18 at 5 PM (GMT). Martin knows everything about managing your money and he’s got his ear to the ground about the issues facing freelancers. Really excited about this one!

Register now

The LANCE Accountability Club: A brand new project I’ve launched just for members, the accountability club is designed to help you hit your goals this year and make some friends along the way. It’s an 8-week programme, and you’ll be put into small groups and meet regularly to hold each other accountable to your goals. All the details and how to join here:

Sign up now


Free digital content creator masterclass: Story 2021 are running a digital content course, which starts today, aimed at helping writers, bloggers, coaches and online entrepreneurs expand their audience and monetise their digital work

A vulnerable approach to business: Brené Brown’s Dare To Lead podcast is a brilliant show for thinking about leadership, creativity and business in a gentler, more compassionate way

Advice for freelance parents: LANCE member, Cat Hufton, has started a brilliant newsletter for freelancing parents. She’s got a great post on resources and info for freelance parents facing another lockdown

Systems not goals: I’ve written about the difference between process and outcome goals before, but here’s a helpful YouTube video about why it’s important to focus on the doing rather than outcome when working towards your goals


The drive-through Starbucks in Stevenage. In the absence of being able to go anywhere, I’ve been driving 10 minutes up the motorway to get a coffee in the most covid-safe way I can think of.

Wishing you a happy and productive week in your business of one. Don’t be a stranger, if you found this email helpful, reply to it and tell me how