So I’ve been super quiet on this blog for around 6 months, and it’s not because I decided to sell all of the children to the circus (tempting as that may be), but because I’ve been, sort of, gainfully employed.
My safe “forever” job, turned out to not be that safe, or indeed forever, and I took the plunge into freelancing. I initially wanted to pursue my writing and social media dreams more fully, but that didn’t quite work out either, and I found myself doing much the same work as before, albeit for a lot more money. Yes I succumbed to the filthy lucre and momentarily put my dreams aside to you know, feed my kids and stuff.
That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the work that currently pays the bills, (I work as a book keeper-cum-office manager-cum-social media manager-cum-office tea lady) but my brain is consistently demanding more creative outlets, and I have decided to bow down to the internal shouting a little.
This is not exactly a Damascene Conversion situation, I’ve been enjoying the benefits of freelancing, and this week I experienced one of the pitfalls. I will attempt to illustrate both of these sides to freelance work below:
All the good stuff
- The Money – let us be completely honest here, many people (especially perhaps those with dependants) wouldn’t turn down double the money for similar work. I didn’t, and I’ve certainly enjoyed the summer of the grasshopper. I don’t have to share that money or profits with anyone else, unless you count small people who insist on outgrowing their clothes that is.
- The Freedom – The ability to, within reason, choose your own working hours around family commitments, hair appointments, smear tests, or a shoe sale is a heady thing. I can choose my own productivity hours, and if I want to finish early on a Friday, I absolutely can.
- Be Your Own Boss – Not in the way of the pyramid scheme nonsense you understand, but in that there is no one micro managing me, the responsibility for my work starts and ends with me, and that level of control is something I have really enjoyed. Of course the clients come first, and in a way are my boss, however……
- I Can Choose My Clients – I have actually retained a client from my old job, and they are just the loveliest people to work for, always willing to be flexible (it helps that they also have a family of small people so are super understanding about sickness bugs, school assemblies etc), so I’m very lucky in the respect that I really enjoy working with them. However, if they were difficult to work with, or I didn’t agree with their business philosophies, the way they treated their staff or even that they were difficult payers, I would be able to part ways with them and wish them the best. This is something that I would not have the ability to do if I was working for them through another company that I was employed by. I’d just have to suck it up, and that would no doubt lead to discontent on all sides.
- You Can Choose Your Workplace – To a certain extent. Two of my clients, with the nature of the work I do for them, need me to be in their offices, and it’s nice to dress like a functioning grown-up and get out of the house a few times a week. I can also do a lot of my freelance work from the comfort of my home, in my pyjamas, with a constant supply of tea and my own choice of music in the background. I even did some work whilst on a recent holiday, and I love the freedom that gives me, as well as making sure that my clients never feel I’ve abandoned them for my holiday completely!
And now the less so good stuff
- No Employment Benefits – I’m certainly feeling this one right now after 2 weeks away, no holiday pay! Also I was floored by jet lag so there was no way I could make it into work for nearly a week afterwards! Every day I don’t work is another day that I don’t get paid for. Likewise with sickess, I have been known to dose myself on Immodium and fought a sickness bug back until the weekend just so that I could get work finished and get paid. Not the healthiest thing to do. This is also true for when the kids are sick, I want to be with them and care for them, but sometimes it’s just not viable and their grandmother has been with them instead (Mum Guilt!!).
- Not always reliable – Unfortunately being a freelancer means that workloads are variable, and can change at the drop of a hat. I have been in the position of “oh we probably wont need you next week” which is understandable from the client’s point of view, but also see above ref: feeding kids and stuff. You cannot budget for your highest potential earnings for the day/week/month, and have to realistically look at maybe even one dropped day a week.
- The Freedom – Yes I know I also put this in the benefits section but bear with me. The freedom to choose your hours and work them around other commitments has it’s downfalls, in that sometimes you work late, or longer hours to make the work fit. The 9-5 can look pretty great at 10pm on a Wednesday evening when you’re surrounded by paperwork! It can be hard to draw a line between personal and business time, and you have to be quite strict with yourself at times.
- Payment Issues – You have to wear many hats when you’re running your own business, the least exciting of these is a debt collector. It can feel extremely hurtful when you’re having to chase for money that you rightfully worked hard for, and it’s hard not to take it so personally. You do have to realise that sometimes people just don’t prioritise certain things, it can slip their mind or they maybe have cashflow issues, it’s important to have clear discussions on your invoices and payment terms up front, so there can be no misunderstandings or poor communication, leading to professional difficulties.
- It’s All On You – You are responsible for getting, and retaining your clients. You can of course lose that security of a client at any time, even through no fault of your own, and that can lead to intense periods of self doubt and despair. But then you have to dust yourself off, put your sales hat on and go get yourself some more work! No one will hand that work to you anymore like in a previous employment, and you have to be prepared for putting yourself out there and making your own dreams happen.
So it’s really equal parts of positive and negative, I personally have gained so much knowledge and self belief from going freelance. I’ve grown in my professional and personal life, and whilst it’s not all a walk in the park, I really feel that it’s the best option for me.
There is always the potential risks of going freelance failing, and each person will have to weigh that up for themselves.
N.b – One of the downfalls as previously mentioned is putting yourself out there and finding new clients. I currently have availability for 2 days a week for social media management, ghost writing, blogging and tea making.