The paradox of freelancing

Working freelance isn’t for everyone. It can seem quite cushy sometimes, being able to give yourself the afternoon off at a moment’s notice. Getting to your desk without being crushed on a bus on the way can be rather nice. But like I say, it’s not something that everyone takes to.

I’ve spent a little while as a freelance writer now, and so far I’ve found it all a bit confusing. I can’t exactly tell whether I like it or not.

YAY: I love that my working hours can be really flexible.
BOO: I sort of miss having a routine.

It turns out that waking up early and getting ready for work puts me in a better frame of mind to actually *do* the work. On days where I’ve had a leisurely lie-in and then shuffled to my desk in PJs, strangely enough I’m not as motivated.

I also miss free office coffee and Friday group lunches. Raiding my own cupboards somehow isn’t as fun.

YAY: No more rush hour nightmares and office politics for me!
BOO: My social life’s gone a bit wrong.

There are days when I don’t speak to anyone except my Mum. And she lives in the Midlands, so that’s about as social as I get. At least in a shared workspace I can ask someone else what they had for lunch.

Working from home can give you cabin fever if you’re not careful, a bit like staring at the same four cubicle walls. There are only so many times you can head out to a coffee shop with your notebook and pretend to be pensive.

Positives: I don’t have to open a dodgy ‘Secret Santa’ gift again this year, I won’t find any random iPhone chargers in my desk drawer, and the bathroom is always available.

YAY: I can set my own rate for projects.
BOO: I could always do with more projects.

Drumming up more work is hard. You can have all the industry connections in the world, but if nobody needs you then it’s beans on toast again this week. Going freelance isn’t instantly profitable, and having backup funds will help in ways you can’t imagine yet.

The upside is that, when you have enough clients and they’re happy with your day rate, you can pick and choose how much you want to take on. This is sadly something that only comes with time and more experience. Excuse me while I go and sob into this pack of value chicken noodles.

YAY: Some people are very impressed by the word ‘freelance’.
BOO: Some people think it’s a codeword for ‘unemployed’.

There’s a small but vocal minority of people who believe that going freelance is what you do when nobody else will give you a job. Freelancing *is* a job, I’ll have you know.

Everyone else thinks it’s brave. Which I’m hoping isn’t the ‘good luck with that!’ kind of brave. To anyone else going it alone: I salute you. It’s a tough and confusing life, and you have some real chutzpah. (See, freelance writers have to use clever words every so often to boost their reputation. You can have that tip for free. I charge for the rest.)

About this Post