For general information, tools, conversations and advice on contracting in the UK contractoruk.com and contractorcalculator.co.uk are very good sites. And a very dodgy contractor calculator... grid.flurdy.com/contractCalc
The forums at forums.contractoruk.com have been a great help to me. But prepare to be condescended and shot down if asking noob questions.
IPSE, formerly known as PCG, the major contractor and freelancer association in the UK. ipse.co.uk
They will represent you if you have disputes with the HMRC of which they have a great track record. And they offer a range of services in general that will help you sleep at night. And discounts with Apple etc. Membership is a no brainer. You can use my referral code of IPSEMGM0921 if you want.
You will need indemnity and public liability insurance and optionally others such as IR35 cover. QDos came recommended in the forums. Don’t under insure yourself but also don’t over insure. qdoscontractor.com
To soften the move to contracting world I joined an umbrella company initially. Basically the only paperwork you need to worry about then is the contract renewal. I was with contractorumbrella.com and they were great.
But eventually I took the next step to become a limited company as Umbrella taxes do add up.
As a limited company you need an accountant. I joined Crunch as they have web site that automate almost everything on top of friendly advice. crunch.co.uk So far they have been great. Please use referral eraybyfl to receive Amazon vouchers.
To find contracts is the major challenge. If you have a great network where you turn down work, then marvelous. Network at meetups and conferences. Verbally sell yourself to former colleagues as they may not be aware you could help them with a problem they have at work. Get business cards from moo.com
Otherwise global project sites such as Elance/ODesk/Upwork can turn up some work, just remember to not bankrupt yourself. I have actually had the best responses when I quoted a lot higher than anyone else.
Job sites such as jobserve.com, jobsite.co.uk, etc is the normal way to find contracts. Be aware a large chunk is simply cv fishing and not real job ads.
If you can go direct then great, but most of the time you will have to deal with recruiters, and contract recruiters are much worse than normal recruiters, which does say something. Especially in a numbers game location such as London.
The major difference is for permie roles the recruiter will be better off if you agree a higher salary, whilst with contracts the recruiter/agency will be better off the lower they can get your rate.
And never ever believe them requiring two references. That is only so that they can extend their contact list.
Benevolent Dictator / Technical Architect Consultant
Eray by Flurdy Ltd
eray.uk | flurdy.com