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Freelancing: pros and cons

top of a desk, with two monitors, a desk lamp, keyboard, mouse, ipad, printer, bottle of drink and various stationery items.
My desk

It’s been about four and a half years since I started freelancing. In 2018, I started blogging about the journey into freelancing, such as this one from May 2018. It’s kind of incredible how much my confidence has grown from the start – especially considering I was rejected from quite a few in-house positions due to a lack of editing experience. So as I was cleaning the bathroom this morning (it’s a fairly easy week and we have a guest coming this weekend), I thought about the pros and cons of freelancing. And here it is. This is an ad hoc post, so there may be more that I haven’t thought of.

Freelancing pros

I get to be my own boss: At the start of my freelancing career, I took on every job I could to get experience and, let’s face it, some money. As time has progressed, I’ve been able to decline various jobs that either didn’t fit with my schedule or didn’t fit with what I was comfortable with. This has helped with my DEI work as well, so at the moment, I’m doing a half editing/writing/proofreading and half DEI work. And that suits me fine.

I set my own timetable: Like this week, it’s a fairly quiet week, so I haven’t been as strict to get to my desk for 9am. I can also get in a morning gym session (like today) or go for a morning walk.

As well as doing that, I can make appointments I need, do some cleaning or meet friends for a coffee. Probably one of the biggest benefits for me is that I can spare time to go and see my Mum and take her to any appointments she needs. This is so important since my Dad died five years ago. Knowing that I’m only a couple of hours’ drive away is good. It’s also a benefit that if there are any emergencies (like there was a few months’ back), I can drop everything and get there. If I’m sick, I can always take a day off, or at least a couple of hours.

I can work from (virtually) anywhere: Thanks to my laptop, I can take work wherever I need to go or be. Of course, there are some jobs which are better suited to two monitors, but others I can do on my laptop.

I get to work with a variety of people: This has been another plus point. Most of the people I’ve worked with and for have been amazing – there are too many to name here, but if you’re reading this, I hope you know who you are.

I get to work on my own things: I would never have been able to start the Existence series if I worked in-house – there just wouldn’t be time. When I have quiet times, I start working on a resource and as a result, my resource list is growing.
I can take a break when I want: If there’s a particularly frustrating or difficult job, I can leave my desk for a bit to regroup. It’s also a good time to give my cat some attention (when he’s not demanding for food). It seems recently that I get down on the floor in my office and give him a good pet. I think it’s become a routine.
I can sign up for events that take place during the day: This is particularly good for CPD, but also conferences. I don’t have to ask permission to attend or take time off – I can take work with me. Especially good for online talks and webinars and conferences. It’s also good for me to continue training, such as with the LGBT Foundation and CIEP.

I’m sure there are many more.

Freelancing cons

I get to work with a variety of people: When starting a new job, I’m unsure of the working style of the people I’m going to work with. The overwhelming majority have been a good experience, but of course, there’s always the other side.

Lack of security: Probably the biggest one for me. In quiet times, I do worry where the next amount of money is coming from. Especially in these times, it’s difficult sometimes to know how to tackle it. Thankfully, things have always picked up. But it’s still at the back of my mind. Also, unless I pay into a private pension, I won’t be making any top-up contributions other than the state pension.

I get to make my own timetable: When there are busy weeks, I may find myself working over the weekend or some evenings. I think this is probably just bad planning on my part. I now have a physical, tear-away weekly planner on my desk under my keyboard so I can keep track of things more efficiently. Also, being freelance doesn’t recognise bank holidays, so usually when my partner is off, I’m still working.

Chasing payments: I haven’t had to do this often, but when it does happen, it’s a pain. I’ve found that my threshold is three – three times chasing payment from a company and that’s it, no more.

I get to be my own boss: Sometimes there are decisions that are really hard to make, but being self-employed means I have to make them. I can, of course, ask for advice, but ultimately, it’s my decision.

Knowing when to say no / Quit: This is getting easier. If I find that a job I’m working on is causing me stress, then I now have the confidence to say I need to leave. This has only happened on one project – those reading this may know which project, but I won’t say on here. Self-care and mental health is more important than so many things.

I can work (virtually) anywhere: Although this is a good thing, sometimes it’s difficult to switch off and forget about work. Again, I’m getting better at this, but there is always an itch to reply to emails almost immediately. Getting back into reading for pleasure is helping with this.

Again, there are probably lots I haven’t thought of.

So, what about you? What are your pros and cons of freelancing? I’d love to know!

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