The 💩 parts of freelancing that nobody ever talks about

Sorry guys, I'm on a bit of a downer this week... 😶

I want to start this week’s newsletter by saying that I absolutely love freelancing. This is the best job I have ever had and I am incredibly proud to have built a business from scratch, while I recognise my privilege to be in a position to do so during such turbulent times.

However, I do think freelancing is also talked about as the ultimate end goal...

So flexible!

So satisfying!

So inspiring!

Sure, freelancing is all of those things, but it can also be shitty and none of those things at the same time.

What started your great mood? - I hear you ask!

On Monday, Craig and I took the morning off work to go out for breakfast and make the most out of Eat Out to Help Out. On the way home, we decided to stop at the dog park and let the pooches run - this is pretty much the only opportunity Potter gets to run because he can’t be trusted off the lead outside of enclosed spaces.

For whatever reason, he was zooming away and he stacked over on his back legs and couldn’t get up. He was SCREAMING (a known behaviour of greyhounds in pain, they call it the Greyhound Scream of Death).

For once, it didn’t look like he was overreacting - in fact, he couldn’t stand so Craig carried him to the car and we drove him to the vet hospital, they sent us home and told us to wait for a call about his status. They said it was probably just muscle damage but could have been a broken femur or pelvis.

I. was. spiralling.

Potter is my baby. We adopted him five days before my Mam passed away last year and he’s been my reason for getting out of bed every day since. Sitting in the house without him here felt truly awful and Harmony was clearly very confused, too.

My accident-prone son

Despite the vet’s reassuring words, my brain jumped to the absolute worst scenario. It was then that I realised, as a freelancer, there was little I could do at work if something terrible happened. In a traditional job, I know you don’t get bereavement pay for a pet, but you can guarantee if something serious had happened to Pots I’d be off on the sick before you could say zoomies.

As a freelancer, I don’t benefit from Statutory Sick Pay. And even if I did, I still have no one to take on my eight retainer clients or progress the seven web design projects currently on my desk. I doubt much would get done from Potter’s smelly dog bed - where I lay for the duration of his absence.

Thankfully, they rang us later in the afternoon and we went to collect our lazy oaf (who was off his face on pain meds). He has no broken bones and is on bed rest. He still can’t walk properly but at least he’s going to be okay.

Flexibility isn’t always a good thing

As a freelancer, you can be flexible - for example, I made time for yesterday’s breakfast outing by working on Sunday evening to make sure I wouldn’t fall behind on work.

However, you are also at the behest of every single client - it’s like having 15 bosses. I can’t go into the office and do the ‘bare minimum’ or ring in sick when I am having a mental health episode, and if I do try to take time off, I must fill in the time elsewhere.

Funnily enough, this notion was echoed in the audiobook I’m currently listening to -How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell - where she talks about how a shift towards ‘working from home’ and a flexible approach to the working day has, in fact, given us less free time than a traditional 9-5 job:

“In a situation where every waking moment has become the time in which we make our living … time becomes an economic resource that we can no longer justify spending on “nothing.”

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change my job for the world. I love working for myself almost as much as I hated working for other people, ha!

I just think it’s worth pointing out the downsides of freelancing, as it is so often hailed as the holy grail of jobs. Sure, it’s great that I can go for coffee with a friend in the middle of the working day - but I still have to work late or on the weekend to make up the time, and if I ever became physically or mentally incapable of delivering my work, the invoices would soon stop getting paid and I’d be up shit creek without a paddle.

For me, the benefits of freelancing (not answering to anyone, leading my strategy, being creative, working from home) far, far outweigh the downsides. But there are still downsides and I, for one, think we should talk about them - especially at a time like these when so many people are considering the solo route.

The more honest we are about our experiences, the easier it is for others to learn from them!

In your opinion, what are the 💩 parts of freelancing? Tell me on Twitter @ContentByTheSea and let’s have a good ol’ rant!

It’s been a difficult week, to say the least. Without burdening you with my innermost struggles any more than I already have, here is some good stuff that stands out from a generally quite shitty week:

📺 We’re watching Kingdom on Netflix, not the fantasy show (surprisingly) but the Cali-based MMA drama with a really angry Nick Jonas and sporting stalwart Frank Grillo. If you’re into fighting, you might like this!

📚 I’m a little behind on reading so slowing making my way through Stormlight Archive. I also read fellow freelance copywriter Sarah Townsend’s Survival Skills for Freelancers at the weekend and it was fantastic - I only wish it had existed when I started!

🎧 I’m listening to How to Do Nothing on Audible.

That’s all from me this week!

See you next week when I promise to be my usual chirpy self.



Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:

5 August: Do what makes you happy, even if you're 💩 at it...

29 July - How to know when it’s time to quit 🚫

22 July - You’ve got a friend in me 🤠👩‍🚀

15 July - The hardest part of writing is writing 🖊

8 July - The dangers of the side hustle

1 July - I timed my working life for a month 📅

24 June - Hi, I'm Ellen and I'm a productivity addict ✅