The image most people conjure up when they think about a ‘full-time freelancer’, is the one you see all over Instagram. You know the stereotype; someone tapping away on a fancy laptop in their immaculate home office. Long lunches in the sun, trendy coffee shops and a perfectly organised desk stacked with succulents and motivational quote postcards – an aesthetic worthy of its own instagram following.
It would be easy to imagine that this is how I’ve spent the last 12 weeks since I took the plunge and walked away from a regular pay cheque.
Oh, if only that were true.
In reality, most days I work from the front room of my little terraced house in Canton, and forget to feed and water myself, ending up so parched by 3pm that my throat gets scratchy. Though working in trendy cafes sounds good, inevitably the seat near the plug socket is rarely free / the screaming child is having a meltdown whilst I’m trying to concentrate on an excel spreadsheet / the coffee is a *lot* more expensive than the stuff I could drink at home. Coffee-shop-working has become a once-weekly treat for a day when the deadlines are lightest.
Without the hustle bustle of colleagues popping in and out for sandwiches at 1pm each day, I regularly forget to eat lunch, and then end up bingeing on slices of cheese and bread instead. My desk is a total mess. My arse is most definitely getting bigger.
On one occasion that really sticks out in my mind, a lady from a religious organisation knocked my door. As my desk is located right next to the front window, I had spotted her approaching with armfuls of pamphlets, so I did the obvious thing, and hid under my desk. I sat there, scrunched up on my knees so she couldn’t see me, for a full twenty minutes whilst she stood in my porch and wrote out a heartfelt letter about the ways I could live a happier life, if only I was willing to start a more meaningful relationship with God.
With the cramp in my ankles getting gradually worse, I paused for a moment, thinking “What on earth am I actually doing with my life – why am I hiding under a table in my front room at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon? I really should just go and get a proper job.”
But luckily, the feeling didn’t last long.
Whilst it’s true that the reality of freelancing – especially from home – is a far less glamorous existence than Instagram would have you believe, I don’t regret taking the plunge.
Over the last three months (is that really all?) I’ve been lucky enough to work on a host of projects worth getting properly excited about; the kinds of things that I would have found myself tweeting about and interested in regardless of having been contracted to work on them. These have ranged from helping a respected Cardiff chef launch a new vegetarian supper club, to pulling together all of the PR activity for Cardiff’s most exciting new food festival, BITE, to helping Great British Menu chef Tommy Heaney with the media relations around the opening of his first restaurant, and contributing to a new Welsh Government food & drink publication.
Alongside all of this food and drink stuff, I’ve delivered social media audits and strategies for an international medical brand and an independent yoga studio, and helped a local podcasting agency overhaul their social media and blog content to attract new clients. And just last week, I started working on a top-secret project which involves creating social media assets for a new children’s TV show.
You can read a bit more about my recent client work by clicking here.
After 10 years of working for other people, to their timescales and parameters, it feels liberating to be able to take a 2 hour lunch break if I want to, or to swap a Friday afternoon at my desk for a wedding dress shopping trip; then catch up on emails on a Saturday morning (usually in bed, with a big cup of coffee and my cat for company).
It’s kind of like that Mastercard advert. Doing your own taxes and chasing up your own unpaid invoices? Time consuming, and definitely not fun – at all. But the freedom to do things in your own time, your own way – even to say no to things if you want to – is priceless. I don’t think that feeling will leave me for a long time.
So there you have it. I’m three months in, a bit fatter, and definitely not loving every minute (I am pretty sure that’s impossible) – but I have a feeling that I may end up doing this ‘freelance thing’ for a long time to come.
Let’s see what the next 12 weeks will bring.