Sunday, 6 October 2013

Freelancing: It is No Opportunity to Loll Around

On Saturday evening I was doing my latest trawl of Google blogs to see what else freelancers write about. I want to start networking and talking to others in my industry. I realise I have gone three years as a freelance writer without doing this consistently, which needs to change. While doing this, I was delighted to find this post discussing how people seefreelancing as an easy way of life, maybe even one that is lazy. Unfortunately I couldn’t see a place to comment, but it has inspired me to write and air my grievances here.

I experience this quite a lot. Just last weekend, I was visiting my partner’s mother, and my freelancing ventures came under fire twice. Now, it is worth bearing in mind that I am the primary earner in my household. Both my partner and myself are at university, and I earn a full-time wage in the process. My mother-in-law’s ex-lodger (who is still a close friend of the family) began discussing my proposed academic pursuits with me. I now have a place studying Global Health in Humanitarian Conflict at postgraduate level, distance learning. This will begin in September 2014. This woman knows that I freelance, yet she took it upon herself to pass comment on how I won’t be out and working any time soon.

Later, my mother-in-law’s new partner commented—as he was pouring quite a nice glass of wine for me—that I can’t be pursuing freelancing and an education when I’m 40. This is despite the fact that I will be self-funded as a postgrad student, and that I am only 25 right now. I just sat there thinking “Why the heck not? What is it that you people think I do all day on my days off?”

I actually crave the physical world of work, to an extent. I am hoping one day to move into it, when my children are older and less likely to require me to drop my working responsibilities to go get them from school if they are ill. When they can engage in self-led learning a little more, I will also consider moving into the physical world of work. In fact, I envisage beginning this in the next two to three years—albeit part-time.

Freelancing, as the blog post I have linked to quite rightly says, is no easy way of life. Yes I can determine when I wake up (okay, so my kids do that), but my partner does give me the chance to sleep in every so often. And yes, I can choose when I work. However, I am literally working most of my free time. I work before breakfast, think of ideas as I workout, read emails from clients during my lunch break, get straight to article revisions at 11pm…I don’t clock on at 9 and off at 5.

I am consistently finding ways to streamline this, but as many businesses in this age of austerity want cheap content it is down to me to make my sources of income consistent. I eat, breathe, sleep freelancing. It isn’t some twee opportunity for me to write the odd word and then skip through my garden clad in Boden while others toil away in offices. Finding a work-life balance is damn hard.

It is quite exhausting continuously explaining to people that 1) I work hard, and 2) No this isn’t some glorified hobby. However, I am sort of giving up on achieving this. It usually falls on deaf ears anyway, so there truly is barely any point.

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