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Freelancer FAQ

We are not currently accepting new member applications.

We anticipate opening our doors for new consultants to join us later in 2024. Please follow us on LinkedIn to hear when we are next accepting applications.

What are the main advantages of joining The Difference Collective?

Working for us is different from working for a traditional agency. You’ll be an independent healthcare communications consultant working flexibly on your terms, so you choose your hours and place of work. Rather than going it alone, you get the support and camaraderie of a virtual community, teammates and the opportunity for relevant work for your skills and aspirations.
It’s all the good stuff from the life and culture of a terrific agency without the ties and constraints:
• Premium project work opportunities
• Collaborative project working
• A community for idea generation and sharing
• Internal and external training
• IR35 and related industry legal/HR support and advice
• Networking opportunities and Collective meetings
• Discounted professional services, e.g. insurance and accountancy
• Membership of industry bodies, e.g. PRCA and HCA
• Access to a list of preferred suppliers
• Access to a media database (when working on client projects)
• IT support for TDC work

Does it cost me anything to join?

Yes. Annual membership to The Difference Collective is £150 + VAT. And when you work on a client project, we deduct 3% from your day rate as a project admin charge.
You set your own day rate: you can take into account these charges if you want to.

As a member, what will the Collective expect from me?

Engagement and collaboration are fundamental to working Collectively. We’re at our best when members have a genuine interest in contributing to The Difference Collective rather than simply meeting an expectation. That’s why we favour applications from those who are looking to be an active member of our community rather than simply considering us as a jobs board.
There are a few specific requirements:
  • attend an induction session to become familiar with our proposition and ways of working
  • embrace our Members’ Engagement Charter, which outlines our terms of reference and explains our Collective culture and behaviours so our clients have a consistent and excellent experience in every interaction
  • work collaboratively with your team members
  • always be respectful, responsive and honest
  • update your LinkedIn profile to include The Difference Collective and engage with our posts to support us on social media
  • access our collaboration platform Basecamp at least once a week (via a browser or the app) and engage with the community there
  • engage with and contribute to the relevant specialist topic groups for your skills and interests
  • read and share our newsletter
  • regularly attend virtual coffee mornings or other social engagements
  • provide annual updates to the information we hold on file
But we are big believers in the idea that you get out of life and work what you put in. We encourage you to contribute actively to our growth and success in any way you can. This might be creating content for our blog or newsletter, uncovering marketing and PR opportunities, introducing new clients, running a training session for your peers. Do you have another idea of how you might contribute? We’re all ears!

What development and learning opportunities are there?

Members share their formidable healthcare communications knowledge, expertise and latest insights within the community – we regularly schedule webinars over Zoom delivered by experts from the team. Where there’s demand for external training and refreshers, we can set up sessions at a discounted group rate.
We have 20 Differentiators – members of the Collective with particular areas of expertise. We can introduce you to the people that match your skills and interests, so you can contribute to and learn from expert peers through ongoing topical chats or more formal update sessions. We encourage you to contribute blogs and content to our website and newsletter – we’ll promote them widely to build your personal reputation as well as the Collective’s.

How many years of experience and what job title do I need before I can join?

It’s difficult to specify a title or number of years’ in role as a prerequisite for joining the Collective – people follow different routes in their careers. We look for a degree of seniority and authority, plus proven talent and a track record of delivering premium-quality work competently and efficiently. 
Most of our work is with the pharmaceutical industry, which is strictly governed to ensure consistently high standards. Those who understand these regulations and are used to working within the ABPI, EFPIA and PAGB Codes will better suit our clients’ needs.

Is membership only for healthcare communications professionals?

As we said above, consultants who are used to working within the ABPI, EFPIA and PAGB Codes will better suit our clients’ needs. The Difference Collective is focused on delivering premium quality work for clients in the healthcare sector. But if you have proven experience in communications, a transferable skill set, and you’re keen to work with like-minded communicators who are committed to delivering exceptional results while enjoying the freedom to work differently, we would love to hear from you.

Do I need to have previous experience of freelancing?

Yes. You may have freelanced for years or have taken the leap into freelance work more recently, but we do ask that you have already actively worked as a freelancer for at least six months. It’s important both for you and for us to know that freelance work is right for you and that you have an informed commitment to it.

What is the Difference Collective’s approach to diversity & inclusion?

The Difference Collective values diversity and the contribution each of its members makes. We are committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in the way we recruit, connect, collaborate and work with our clients, suppliers and industry peers. Find out more in our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Policy.

Working For Us

How will I find out about opportunities for work?

We capture the client’s brief and notify all our members about the opportunity via Basecamp. If there is a project that interests you, let us know on Basecamp. We’ll ask you for a quick summary of your relevant experience and suitability for the role, so we can put you forward.

For team-based projects, we’ll curate a team with the right skills and experience to meet the brief. Where the need can best be met by an individual, we usually offer the client a couple of suitable candidates to select from. It’s the client’s decision: as soon as they’ve made it, we’ll let you and other interested members know.

Will I be employed by The Difference Collective?

No, you won’t be an employee. Every person in our Collective community is an independent consultant working on their own terms as a sole trader or a limited company.

How many hours must I commit to working and is there any flexibility?

The Difference Collective is all about professional choice and freedom. It is only when we come to assign you to a project that you’ll need to stipulate and commit to specific time parameters according to client needs. All we ask is that you stick to the working arrangement agreed with the client and give their project your full commitment.

How much can I charge and how am I paid?

You decide your daily rate! An Admin Charge of 3% applies to your day rate and is offset against your monthly invoices, so you might wish to account for this in setting your rate.

Revenue for the Difference Collective comes from an additional 30% which is added on top, so your daily rate is not compromised. It’s useful for us to know if you’re ever flexible on your rate –  for example, offering a reduced rate for a charitable organisation.

There is also the possibility of working internally for the Collective between jobs on a reduced rate. Usually, this means helping with our own PR and business development.

Submit your invoice(s) on the last day of the month or on completion of the project, whichever comes first, and you will be paid within 30 days.

Can I substitute myself with another independent consultant if necessary?

In the event of illness or unforeseen circumstances that prevent you from fulfilling your role, please let us know as soon as possible. We’ll substitute you with a suitable replacement from within The Difference Collective, for minimal disruption to the client and other team members.

Am I free to work for other companies on a freelance basis at the same time?

Yes. We don’t guarantee work for our members and most work for other clients outside of the Difference Collective. However, we ask you to keep us informed about your availability and any potential conflicts of interest.

How do you maintain high standards of work and manage quality control across The Collective?

The Difference Collective only accepts proven, senior talent to ensure that quality lies at the heart of everything we do. A project lead will manage client liaison and take responsibility for delivery. Major documents will also be peer-reviewed prior to being sent to the client.

Are there any incentives for introducing consultants or bringing work into The Collective?

The strength of the Difference Collective lies in the wealth of experience and expertise of its members – we warmly welcome recommendations of talented individuals who share our values and commitment to flexible working. There are no incentives for introducing someone to the Collective, but ultimately, we all benefit from the recommendations of consultants who can further enrich our creativity and broaden our appeal.
If you bring client business to the Collective, we offer an incentive payment of 10% of the project’s gross profit (project value capped at £150,000). You will also be invited to play a role in the delivery of the project, if that’s appropriate.
Many Collective members say that they value being able to bring us business opportunities that are too big for them to handle on their own. We hugely appreciate every referral of client business and hope you’ll actively look out for situations like this.