Tim Aldred - The Frazzled Freelancer
Freelance commercial writer, successfully navigating self-employment one unexpected obstacle at a time. Contact me at twitter.com/tim_aldred
7 quirky and unusual things freelancers do
On paper, choosing to work freelance needn’t be much different than working for an employer. You can do everything between the hours of 9am and 5pm, in an office, undertaking much the same work as if you were on somebody else’s payroll.
In reality, it’s very different. Freelancers, in fact, often lead the strangest of lives – and many of us share common traits. Here’s seven that may sound familiar.
1/ Working strange hours
The benefit of working flexible hours is getting your head down when you’re in the mood to work, and do something else when you’re feeling less productive. Sure, being regimented in your schedule has lots of advantages, but there’s nothing to say that your schedule can’t incorporate working through to midnight or beyond.
I was really amused the first time I sent an email at 1am and got a response ten minutes later. Now it’s a common occurrence. I just need to remind myself that after-hours phonecalls are much less welcome.
2/ Working in strange places
The UK hasn’t had many great weather days this July, so you can bet your bottom dollar that on the rare occasions the sun does come out to play the freelance population will be the first to take advantage.
Laptop in the local park? Business meeting in a street café? Making phonecalls from the marina? Where there’s a spot to soak up the sun, there’s a freelancer putting in a few work hours.
3/ Pyjamas as office attire
One of the first instincts the freelancer gets when they wake in the morning is to check their email. Maybe there’s a few things worth reading, a few links to follow, some replies that need composing. A few hours pass, you’ve thrown in a bowl of cereal to tide you over and suddenly it’s mid-afternoon, you’re in full flight in the home office and you’re still in your nightie.
Freelancers are one of the few rare breeds in the world where slippers count as acceptable footwear.
4/ The ‘pretend commute’
On the other hand, there’s those that can’t get into a professional frame of mind until they’ve showered, dressed and set off to work.
Unfortunately, there’s no commute when your kitchen is your office, it’s a case of simply putting the cornflakes away and flipping open the laptop. So what solution are freelancers up and down the country turning to? The faux-commute.
That’s right. I know of several freelancers who’ll get ready for work in the morning, leave the house, walk around the block and arrive back home ready for a 9am start. The regular ‘setting off to work’ is exactly what they need to set themselves up in worker mode, even if their destination is right back where they started.
5/ Not asking permission
Freelancers: we’re our own boss. There’s a lot of responsibility that goes along with that, but there’s also plenty of positives. All those things you’d otherwise have been nervous to approach your boss about? Well, now the answer’s ‘yes’.
Anybody with kids will know how much they dominate your schedule. And not just the stuff you can plan in advance, but the unexpected phonecalls at any hour. If the school calls because one of them’s taken a tumble, pack your stuff and head to the car. There’s no boss to plead with, you’ve got permission.
Similarly, if you fancy an hour off to nip out shopping, the afternoon off to kick back on the beach or a day’s holiday at the local themepark, that’s up to you. Doesn’t matter how last-minute your plans, if you want, you can go and do it.
6/ Opting for a payrise
Perhaps the most difficult thing to approach your boss with is a request for a pay rise. You feel you deserve it, you’ve put in the hours, you’ve done the calculations and you’ve rehearsed your argument. Yet the final decision still rests with somebody else.
But when you’re a freelancer, you’re the boss, the worker and the one that holds the purse-strings. If you think you deserve more remuneration, you simply put your prices up and reap the rewards. So long as you don’t go silly, what you charge and what you earn is in your hands.
In an office surrounded by others, logging on to Facebook and Twitter means doing so discreetly when nobody’s looking.
When you’re a freelancer, social networking can be legitimate business. It’s got ‘networking’ right there in the title. Chatting with others and keeping in-the-loop is how you build networks, how you get your name known and how you keep on top of industry developments.
There’s even courses for businesses on how to get the best from these sites. You can chalk up time spent on your favourite websites as business development time. So long as your it’s not spent entirely browsing your friend’s holiday snaps.