The Downside of Freelancing

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There are lots of things I love about freelancing: the ability to choose my own hours and work on projects I’m actually interested in, being my own boss with no-one else telling me what to do, the two minute commute from upstairs to my office next to the kitchen, being able to start work in my jim-jams if I want to...  (I don’t, but you get the picture).  Above all, it’s a more relaxed way of working than the tedious 9 to 5.


As with most things though, there’s a downside (or several).  There are no paid holidays or sick pay.  If I’ve booked a holiday, I know I’ll be working right up until the last minute to get ahead with my work (but I know this also applies to friends who are employed in small businesses).  If I’m ill, I have to catch up very quickly or miss out on work.  I also know that very few people these days have a secure job, but as a freelancer, I have to cope with this insecurity on a daily basis.  This leads to a problem shared by many freelancers: I very rarely turn down work unless I physically can’t do it within the deadline, as I never know when the next commission will appear. 


In the current economic climate, magazines and newspapers are closing or scaling down their overheads, and as a result, staff writers are being made redundant left, right and centre.  They then turn freelance themselves, so there are more freelance writers than ever competing for less available work.  One of the magazines I was writing for regularly has closed (although it had already been reduced to a four times a year publication).  Another, to which I was contributing monthly features, now only wants them every two months. 


This all plays havoc with my cashflow, but worst of all is having to chase payments when they are overdue.  Most of the publications or clients I write for are very prompt payers, but occasionally invoices are paid late when, for instance, they are not passed on to the accounts department in time for the monthly payment run.  Many still pay by cheque, instead of bank transfer, so the length of time the post is taking to reach me at the moment has also caused problems (thank you Royal Mail…).


One thing’s for sure, being a freelancer will never make you popular with your bank manager!  Having said all this, the positives of freelancing definitely outweigh the negatives and if you’re looking for a better quality of life, you can’t beat it as a way to make a living.
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