On the eve of National Freelancers Day (we don’t have details of the official celebrations either), it’s been brought to our attention that a staggering four million Brits are self-employed, or freelance – and that this figure is still on the rise.

The trend seems to have been caused by that ubiquitous blame-hungry monster – the recession – with redundancies and job-losses causing people to take control of their livelihoods. After all, if a full-time job isn’t safe, it’s the obvious alternative.

Half of us at GoThinkBig HQ are of this persuasion and the other half are staffers, so opinion is divided (luckily Sophie has written something to help you out here (http://www.gothinkbig.co.uk/features/working-in-your-pants-vs-office-bants/).

TO FREELANCE…

GoThinkBig’s Sophie says, “Gone were the days when someone else dictated to me what articles I was going to write… I made the rules! I was calling the shots! I had no boss!” …

OR NOT TO FREELANCE

Meanwhile, GoThinkBig’s Adam says, “I spent five years freelance, and I’m not in a hurry to go back. Being on staff means you don’t have to think about constantly shopping around for work, while working at the same time. You get paid in decent time, and everyone knows you – as opposed to being somewhere different each week where no one knows who on earth you are.”

Generally, unless the choice has been made for you, your preference is dependent on what you want from a career – stability and a monthly wage, or slightly higher earning potential and more varied work but less security. Tricky.

All well and good, but what has this got to do with the youth unemployment? Well, it could work in your favour, with more redundancies and less full-time positions, more employers look to freelancers to commission work out to.

Selling your services to companies you’d like to work for gets your name out there, gives you a chance to prove yourself and to make some cash at the same time.

It’s all about self-promotion – you’ve got the skills, now make sure the right people know about it, then when a full-time position does come up, you might be in a better position to go for it. Anything that builds your portfolio is a positive, as the employment cycle becomes easier the more you have on your CV.

Just make sure you don’t get caught out doing your own tax return – as much as the advert seems to tell you the opposite, we think it’s general consensus amongst freelancers that tax is in fact, taxing. So take the hit and get a decent accountant to do it for you, just after 5 April each year. You can expect to pay around £300-£600 one-off fee per year for this service.

TOP 5 TIPS IF YOU ARE STARTING OUT FREELANCE

1. It’s not all about your CV and covering letter. If you haven’t had that much experience in the paid world of work, include a couple of examples of work that you are most proud of that are relevant to the person you’re writing to.

2. Talk to everyone. A lot of the freelance world works on recommendations and word of mouth. If people like you, you’ll go far.

3. Find out about specialist forums …and sites for freelancers in your industry and advertise yourself, highlight your skills and what you want to do.

4. Make an impression. You are your own advert – if you do the job well and you’re reliable, chances are you’ll be asked back.

5. Work in your own time. If the time comes when you don’t have any work to do, create a project for yourself to continue with whilst you look for work. Not only does this demonstrate passion to your employer, but it’s always good to tell somebody about your current work rather than ‘I’m not actually working on anything at the moment.’