The Joys of Freelancing
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent much of the last year reading about the so-called ‘gig economy’. The theory goes that more and more people (especially young people) are being forced into jobs which are insecure and typically (at least nominally) freelance. These people work all hours of the day and night, scrounging for whatever crumbs they can get, living more-or-less hand-to-mouth existences.
Well, it’s true. The gig economy exists, and many people are trapped in it. It’s squalid, and nasty, and a pretty damning indictment of the state we’ve managed to get ourselves into as a society.
But what of those of us who are freelancers by choice? The truth is, many of the problems that afflict casual gig economy workers also afflict more traditional freelancers. We don’t get paid holidays, or sick pay, or many other of the hard-earned benefits that those in other careers can expect. And if we have to take time away from work, we sometimes suffer.
This is not to suggest that all freelancers are equal, or that a freelance proofreader or copy-editor has it just as bad as someone working for Uber or Deliveroo. We became proofreaders and copy-editors because we love the work – we love reading, and writing, and we get a smug sense of satisfaction from correcting mistakes and suggesting changes to other people’s copy (within reason). There’s also plenty of work out there, all the time, in a number of different fields.
No, our problem is largely one of time management. I wrote some time ago about the perils of procrastination, but this is not the only potential pitfall.
I have recently moved house – in fact, moved to a different city in a different part of the country. My partner, who has a 9–5 job for an education charity, has been working full time over the last couple of weeks, and it has fallen to me (as the resident freelance worker-from-home) to make repeated 200-mile round trips, carting boxes and boxes of accumulated stuff from one city to another, and tidying up our old home in time for new tenants to move in. I just about got it sorted out in time.
So far, so tiny violin.
But it’s been two weeks of hard work with no pay. Two weeks in which I haven’t been able to take on any paid work because I’ve been too busy administrating my own life. And that has put a dent in my annual income.
Counting Lucky Stars
A dent is survivable. My partner’s work means that I can afford to take time off from freelancing without suffering too greatly. I’m one of the lucky ones. Plenty of other freelancers would end up in much more of a pickle.
So what’s the solution?
I don’t know.
Probably some combination of sensible saving and careful financial planning… Snore.
What I do know is that freelancers have to be fearless. They have to love their work, and love the freedom that a freelance career offers, but also deal with the fact that there may at times be gaps in their income.
How do we manage that? More specifically, how do you manage that? I’d love to hear from any freelancers who struggle with time management or, conversely, from any freelancers who’ve got it all figured out. Feel free to tweet us.