04/09/2017
It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Words by

Alyce Cowell

The freelance life is a great life, with its flexible hours and optional clothing and multiple lunch breaks. But while us freelancers do have it good most of the time, it’s actually not all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. 

You see, the freelance life has a lesser known darker side – the underbelly, if you will –  that regular salary-earning employees never get to see or experience. Let's divulge.

1. The all too familiar barista glare
You order your coffee, wait for the caffeine to hit and get deep in the zone, only to emerge five hours later from your local cafe. How did that happen? You pay your $3.50 and leave. Cue death glares from the staff. 

2. Spending your lunch break hanging out the washing
It’s the best chore to choose, because it only takes a few seconds to get going, doesn’t require you to hang around, and when the buzzer goes off, you can take a 10-minute break to hang it outside. 

3. There’s no divide between weekday and weekend
Con: It’s just one long seven-day week. Pro: Seeing as we don’t get a weekend, we can have Friday drinks whenever we want. Even at 2pm on a Wednesday.

4. People think you’re free all the time
“I have the day off today, should we go for a long lunch?” No.
“Just call Alyce, she works from home.” No. 
“I’m in the area, I’ll pop in and see you.” No.

5. Knowing the best cafe wifis within a 10km radius 
As well as their passwords, which is fastest and how reliable they are for large files. Also which has the best pastries (that can drastically change the rankings).

6. Opening the fridge and still not finding anything inside 
Open fridge: spinach, Greek yoghurt, eggs. 20 minutes later, open fridge: spinach, Greek yoghurt, eggs. 30 minutes later, open fridge: spinach, Greek yoghurt, eggs. Have a spoonful of Greek yogurt. 

7. Working from home clothes
A very special wardrobe filled with drop-crotch pants, hoodies, maxi dresses and other highly comfortable clothing. A cross between a uniform and pyjamas.

8. Buying a new laptop because it’s tax deductible
There’s nothing wrong with your old laptop, but this one is quicker and shinier and seeing as it’s tax deductible, it’s practically free. Better get that portable charger, and USB drive, and juicer you’re never going to use again, too.

9. The terror of a slow week 
The mind of a freelancer during a slow week: "Where are all the people!!! And the emails? Is my website down? Has my phone been cut off? Maybe that person didn’t get my reply. Oh, they did. Why didn’t they write back? Were my prices too expensive? Wait, maybe I’m actually terrible at this job? I’ve made a terrible mistake. I wonder if my boss will take me back. I’m going to call him right now."

10. Friends complaining about how they only got $1500 tax back this year
When you not only did not get any tax back this year, but had to pay $20,000 instead. 

11. Friends complaining about how they don’t have enough annual leave days for their holiday this year
But you don’t get any annual leave days and the closest thing you get to a holiday is a picture of Fiji as your desktop screensaver.  

12. Selling yourself/quoting/asking for your money
All three are equal parts necessary and awkward. In fact, the sooner you can get over just how awkward, the better your life will be – partly because you won’t care anymore, and partly because you’ll be richer. 

13. Forgetting how you sound
Because you don’t have to speak to anyone all day, or maybe even all week, you have no idea what your old voice sounded like. When was the last time I spoke? What does my voice sound like? How do I laugh? So you’ll say something out loud just to remind yourself. Oh yeah, that’s right.

14. The dreaded question: So what do you do?
I’m a waitress (I’m not, but it’s easier for us all if I just say that).

15. Staring a little too long at work teams having coffee
Remember when you had a work team? When you would drop your bag at your desk, turn on your computer and get the gang together for a round of lattes at your favourite cafe? Those were the days. They all look so happy. I think I’ve made a terrible mistake. I wonder if my boss will take me back. I’m going to call him right now.

Illustration by TwylaMae.

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