I never set out to freelance. Prior to having children I had a job I loved as an Online Marketing Manager working for a clothing company in Central London.
After the birth of my first daughter almost 6 years ago, I assumed that I would be going back when my maternity leave finished. Things didn’t work out the way I planned. I had hoped to work 3 days a week and would have considered 4 if it had come to it. But my company didn’t agree. I suggested working from home for part of the week or working some form of condensed hours, but after several meetings I was told that the business could not offer me any form of flexibility. At all. I was utterly amazed that there was zero room for negotiation especially as I’d had such good relationships with my bosses and colleagues. One of the first posts I wrote when I set up this blog was about the lack of flexibility in the work place and even now, two years on, I still feel passionately that not enough businesses offer working flexibility for parents. In this digital age, there should be far more options.
With a one year old baby, I refused to go back to the old routine of commuting into London five days a week. It would have meant seeing my daughter for only a couple of hours a day. I didn’t earn a fantastic level of money and my husband worked out that after paying for my train ticket and full time child care, my wages would be pretty much gone.
Reasons To Freelance
So you could say that the main reason that I decided to freelance was because of feeling pushed out from my permanent marketing job and a lack of alternative roles. I was lucky enough to get a year’s experience working remotely for another self-employed copywriter. After a year of that, I set up on my own. More people are turning their back on the conventional 9-5 job and choosing to freelance, and there’s plenty of reasons why.
1) Hours to Suit. Perhaps the biggest advantage of freelancing is that I get to work the hours that suit me. This means I always get to take the kids to school and pre-school and I usually pick them up. I work when the children are at school but I sometimes work in the evenings too. If I need to go to the dentist or pop out to the shops, I can do it without any bother about taking time off.
2) No Commute. I hated the commute with my old job. It used to take me over an hour each way and the cost of the ticket was immense. Whenever there was a problem with the trains it could mean hours of delays which is a real problem for working parents who have to get home to pick up their children. Now, my commute consists of travelling from my bedroom to the kitchen.
3) Variety. There’s plenty of variety when you freelance. I’ve worked with small and large businesses with industries as varied as beauty, archiving, dental, children’s books, veterinary and design. I love working with different people and on different projects.
4) I’m My Own Boss. There’s no more reporting into somebody else. No more slogging your guts out to line someone else’s pockets. The more I put in the more I get out of it. That’s incredibly satisfying and I think it would be difficult to go back to working for someone else now!
5) Doing More of What I Love. I’ve always enjoyed marketing and I’m lucky that on some projects I still get to be involved in that side of things. But I love to write and so getting paid for it is brilliant!
6) I’m Learning All The Time. I’m constantly learning. Not just about the industries of my clients, but about the running of the business. What works, what doesn’t work. Even the mistakes and challenges are all a learning curve.
7) Choose the Projects I Want. As a freelancer, especially when starting out, it can be tempting to take any work that comes your way. But with time and a bit of experience, you get to know which projects suit you, which you want to work on and which you don’t.
Of course it’s not all a bed of roses. There are some downsides to freelancing. The uncertainty of getting work is the biggest disadvantage or the fact that you can have quiet periods and then manic periods with lots on at once. Several times, I’ve wondered whether I should look for a permanent job which offers more stability, but the lulls don’t always last long and I need to remember to be patient and ride them out!
Ultimately most people like me love to freelance because of the flexibility it offers. Flexibility to work when you want, where you want and with whom you want. The biggest flexibility is the work life balance; to work and be around for the family. Of course, the juggling can still be tricky, especially if there’s a lot of work coming in at once or if a deadline is looming and the kids won’t go to bed! Bottom line, I’d still rather be doing this than anything else.
If you’re interested you can take a look at my other post about how to start out as a freelance copywriter.
Are you a freelancer? Is there anything else you’d add to my list? Are you considering freelancing? I’d love to hear your thoughts!