For the past couple of years, I’ve been increasingly enjoying working as a freelancer. From my point of view, the advantages massively outweigh the disadvantages and if I’m honest, I don’t think there’s any going back to a ‘normal’ job for me now.
But I do sometimes feel that freelancing is rather misunderstood. Not least by the people that think I’m just being paid for sitting at home. If only. There is work to be done and there are certain parts of it that can be tedious. So I wanted to produce an honest guide to the good, the bad and the ugly of freelancing.
For me, this is what freelancing is all about. I am the most influential person in my children’s lives. I’ve been with them for all their milestones and I will continue to be there as they grow. I’ll never miss out on school events, holidays or days out. And that’s why I love it.
Choosing my work
Whenever I’ve been in an office job in the past, I’ve never ended up doing the role I applied for. Promotions, extra responsibilities, sideways moves, dissolved roles – it just never quite works out the way you’ve planned. But when you’ve just walked away from your previous role, you have to make it work.
Freelancing is different. If I’m not loving what I’m doing, I move on. Working with someone I don’t like? Not being paid enough? I find a new contract. And that’s fine, it’s expected. I have some ongoing clients who I’ve worked with for years and a few that I’m building up now who I hope to work with on an ongoing basis. And that’s my choice – just the way I like it.
Choosing my hours
This is the thing that appeals to most people about freelancing. I work when I want. If I want to take the dog for a run in the morning and work late at night to make up for it, that’s fine. If the pub is calling and I’m not working to a tight deadline then I shall answer the pub’s call.
Being destination neutral
The fact that I can work from anywhere means that when the time comes, I can travel. We’ll buy a camper van, home educate the children for a year and I’ll just keep right on working. We’ll have to go to campsites with WiFi but that’s the only restriction. And that is a quality of life that I could never have if it wasn’t for the nature of my work.
There, I said it – it’s not all roses being able to choose my hours. When I have a deadline to stick to, I have to stick to it or I’ll lose the contract or I won’t get paid. And when my little girl is awake in the evening on a day when I’ve got a deadline – which is inevitable – I still have to get the work done. This can mean putting in long days, working until the early hours and missing out on both fun times and sleep.
I can’t begin to explain how tedious it is having to do tax returns. When I’m sat in front of an excel spreadsheet for hours on end I long for the times when I used to just get paid and be done with it. And inevitably, I get it wrong. And panic sets in. This guide on how to fix mistakes on your tax return is incredibly useful. It gives you all the contact numbers you’ll need and most importantly, it gives a bit of reassurance that mistakes happen and it’s not the end of the world.
In 2010 I gave up one of the most secure careers around. Had I stayed it would have been a job for life with a good pension on retirement. Since then, my jobs have got progressively less secure. I now have no pension and some months I’m not sure how much I’m going to earn. When my husband had an accident and I had to do everything at home as well as hospital visits, I still had to work.
Freelancing isn’t for everyone. If you’re a worrier, you’re going to find it difficult emotionally. And if you’re not willing to work hard and put the hours in, you’ll never find the work / life balance that everyone seeks when they start freelancing. But for me, it’s the perfect solution. The work is enjoyable and I work for people I like. I can work from anywhere and I’m totally engaged in family life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.