Whether you arrive at a freelance career through choice or by accident there are certain things that you really need to know. Forget about tax returns and ergonomic work spaces, that’s the boring stuff… I’m talking here about the nitty gritty realities of packing it all in, locking yourself in your home office space (and yes, sometimes that’s your kitchen) and getting down to business.
We all know that family and friends will never really understand (or think your time is actually spent working), unless they too have been sucked in by the tentacles of the freelance monster, but that’s just something we put up with, with rolling eyes and melodramatic sighs.
As the siren’s song lures you into the freelance world, there are some things she’s not telling you. Bound and gagged in the stationery cupboard, there are some secrets trying desperately to get your attention…
1. Learn to love your tv recorder. Record all the programmes you love, there will be times when you are too busy to watch them… you may catch up on the odd occasion when you have no paid work, admin to do, marketing to do, training to do…
2. Learn to be flexible… bending over backwards is often a freelancer’s default position. Not that that’s a bad thing, if you are flexible your clients may also be flexible too when needed. And it’s fabulous when you go to yoga class.
3. Stock up on local takeaway menus. Either that or marry a chef for those days when you need “just… one… more… minute” on a job, this is especially important for those commissions you love that are difficult to put down.
4. Cover your office space with family photos. They will remind you where those noises are coming from.
5. You will come to realise that life before internet shopping must have been impossible. Really… impossible.
6. Embrace the internet. It is your friend… use it to quickly fact check, catch up with colleagues and read Society notice boards.
7. The internet is your enemy. It will lure you in with emails, shopping, games… and suck your life, and your time, away.
8. Buy catering sized packs of your favourite chocolate, snacks and drinks. You need never run out of coffee again (believe me… you don’t want to run out of coffee!).
9. Exercise is essential. See above.
10. Realise that no matter how hard you try, you will come to love freelance work: it brings freedom and it also sucks your freedom; it brings good clients and it brings bad clients; it brings in money and it sucks it away again as soon as you make it. Above all it allows you to do the things you love, in a place you love…and with coffee and cake whenever you want.