Wednesday, 21 November 2012

National Freelancers Day


It seems that everything and everyone has their own special day nowadays, and today it’s the turn of freelancers. Yes, Wednesday 21st November is National Freelancers Day in the UK.

What’s so special about freelancers? Well, for a start, freelancers contribute £202bn to the UK economy. They also provide a range of services to help both businesses and individuals, and enable perhaps especially small businesses to call upon expert skills and knowledge in a very cost effective manner: rather than employ someone who they might struggle to keep occupied even part time, and with all the associated expense, a business can buy in expertise as and when it’s needed.

People become freelancers for many reasons. Some prefer the flexibility and can fit work in around family life in a way that simply isn’t possible with a regular job. Others take the plunge after being made redundant. There are also those who just don’t want a regular job with regular hours. (I remember reading a blog post by someone who became a freelance writer just so he could have a lie in every morning!)

It has some very distinct advantages: I don’t miss the daily commute, there are no office politics, and if I want to go to work in my jammies, I can.

Having said all that, working as a freelancer is not for everyone. It’s hard work and it takes time to build up a business. A freelance hour isn’t like an employment hour, it is a solid hour of work for a paying client. The clock stops when we take a break: no more being paid while we have a chat or make a coffee. No pay for admin or accounts or looking for the next job.

And clients can be demanding. They will often ask that you do extra work on a project for the same fee, or want you to spend (often a great deal of) time exchanging unrelated emails and offering free advice. Many expect that you will be available in the evening and at weekends, too, and for the same flat rate. I’ve had clients who wanted to discuss work on Saturday or Sunday evening and there are others who’ve emailed at midnight expecting a reply.

If you prefer knowing what your hours of work will be and you like to have a guaranteed income, sick pay, holiday pay and all those other benefits that come with regular employment, freelancing probably isn’t for you. It can be a precarious existence; contracts can be very short-term and at times, few and far between. (Then you get a glut of work and can’t have a day off for a fortnight!) It takes time to get established. And rather than your boss giving you work on a regular basis, you have to go out and find it. If you hate applying for jobs, forget it!

Freelancers can also fall foul of the obsession to get everything at rock bottom prices. Because freelance workers are self-employed, there is no requirement to meet minimum wage, never mind the living wage. And while many of us do our bit to try to keep pay rates fair and reasonable, there are unscrupulous clients and desperate freelancers, or simply freelancers living elsewhere in the world for whom what constitutes pitiful pay by UK standards is enough to make it worth their while, who conspire to drive pay rates down.

People do all kinds of jobs on a freelance basis. It just so happens that we are writers, editors and proofreaders, and Steven also designs book covers. We’ve worked on all sorts of projects, both for other people, collaboratively, and individually, and we’re available for hire. Our rates are reasonable, we’re very accommodating and we work hard — including in the evenings and at weekends. Check us out here and if you think we can help, get in touch. It costs nothing to find out more and it might be mutually beneficial.

Happy National Freelancers Day!