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I asked four freelancers how they structure their workday

Words by Amanda Gunn

“Rain or shine, my day always starts with coffee and a croissant.”

During last year’s never-ending lockdowns, many of us shifted our work from the office (or shop floor, shoutout to my retail squad) to our living rooms. Some of us thrived working around our creature comforts, but others longed to return to the organised structure, social interaction and occasionally catered lunches of the office. But love it or hate it, WFH seems to be sticking around. For our freelance friends, however, it’s always been the norm.


Head here for tips on tackling tax as a freelancer. 


I spoke to a fashion stylist, hair and makeup artist, writer and fashion content creator to get some insight into the pros and cons of freelancing. Between a 4am riser, ritual croissant-and-coffee drinker and a strategic DIY planner, we’ve got helpful tips for the whole spectrum of working styles.

Isabella Mamas

 

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What do you do?

Hi! My name is Isabella Mamas and I’m and Sydney-based fashion stylist.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

One of the hardest things to come to terms with as a freelancer was the fact that no day is ever the same, but that’s also what makes it so much fun. Most of my work takes place in the days leading up to a job – which is where you’ll find me at every shopping centre or PR agency in Sydney, sourcing the best looks that suit the brief I’ve been given.

I start my day with Pilates, coffee, checking my emails and just a little hit of TikTok before I start driving all around town. I’ll bring all these [clothing] items home to reconvene and organise into suitcases, working between at least three rooms at a time. My car is constantly loaded with bags and suitcases of clothing that I’ve sourced from everywhere and anywhere. A shoot day for me usually consists of an early morning – anywhere between 4am to 5am – and [an] iced long black (sometimes three).

I’ll be on set usually for eight hours, sometimes 12. A workday for me is chaotic… you’re working in a space with some of the best creatives in your field and wanting to make sure the day goes as smoothly as possible, but there are always last-minute changes that you need to be prepared for. Post-shoot, my days consist similarly of returning all the clothes that were loaned in the days before.

I think there’s a general idea that stylists lead a super glamorous lifestyle. While you do get to loan from some of the most luxurious brands, the truth of the matter is that there’s so much running around and not much time to doll yourself up each day.

What’s your favourite aspect of freelancing?

The best bit about freelancing, for me, is the fact that I get to work with some of the best creatives in the industry and do the thing I love. I’ve loved fashion since I was a child, and now I get to do that every single day. I love that I get to pick and choose the jobs that I believe best suit my style and vibe and push myself professionally in something I’ve admired as a hobby for so long.

Your least favourite aspect?

The worst aspect of freelancing for me is organisation – it’s my biggest downfall. I’m a chaotic person… all the diaries, calendars and schedules can’t seem to tame that. Because I’m running my own business, I need to constantly make sure I’m doing everything right, which has been made easier since employing a bookkeeper to track the back end of my business with all the numbers. I can’t seem to understand [it] no matter how hard I try.

Any tips for fellow freelancers?

Back yourself. Reach out to other freelancers and don’t be scared to ask for help. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of hundreds of people that took the time to respond to my DMs or meet for coffee where I bombarded them with questions. If you’re creative, you can see the vision and sometimes it’s hard to explain that… learn to compromise and find a happy ground where both you and the client are happy. At the end of the day, there’s no right and wrong. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way, but it’ll all be worth it in the end!

@isabellamamas

Jordan Hallewell


What do you do?

I’m Jordan Hallewell and I’m a hair and makeup artist. I split my time between freelancing, working for Channel Nine and working as a senior stylist two days a week at Oscar Charlie, a hair salon in Port Melbourne. I’ve never been able to completely say goodbye to the salon, no matter how busy freelance life gets – I’m obsessed. I keep it to two days a week so I have time to focus on shoots and creative projects.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Rain or shine, my day always starts with coffee and a croissant. Lockdown really solidified this habit! Then I’ll lug my big, heavy hair and makeup kit to my car and head to whatever job I’m doing that day. A lot of the jobs I book are eCommerce shoots, so lots and lots of outfit changes!

I also do campaigns, content shoots for social media and quite a bit of TVC work. Once I’m on set, I’ll set up my hair and makeup stations then talk to the client about what we’re doing that day. We’ll discuss the hair, the makeup, textures, styles, vibes, how many makeup and hair changes there will be, etc. Once the talent arrives, I’ll get started on hair and makeup.

Every job is different – one job I might do hair and makeup, then spend the rest of the day doing touch-ups and making sure the hair sits well in each shot. On other jobs it can be more like a production line, I do hair and makeup on one model then go straight on to the next and then the next until everyone is done.

Once hair and makeup are done I spend the rest of the shoot on set making sure everything looks right on screen. I look for things like shine on the face, the way the hair is sitting, if the skin is looking hydrated, etc. In some jobs, I might only be booked for hair and not makeup or vice versa. The day ends with me getting home and washing my brushes to get them ready for the next job.

What’s your favourite aspect of freelancing?

My favourite aspect of freelancing is the locations. I love shooting in places I’d never get to go to otherwise. I’ve done shoots in multi-million dollar homes I’d usually only ever see in magazines, I’ve shot in the costume room at the Royal Australian Ballet, I went to Mt Bulla for four days and realised I don’t hate snow and I’ve even spent the night on a sheep farm in restored shearing quarters from the 1800s.

Your least favourite aspect?

I have three! The first would be washing brushes. I mean I’m pretty sure every makeup artist would agree with me here. It’s tedious, it’s boring and it must be done. The second: doing my own taxes. For the same reasons actually… it’s tedious, it’s boring and it must be done. The third: Instagram. Anyone who knows me knows how much I struggle with Instagram. There’s just so much to keep up with on the platform and feeding the beast is a full-time job in itself! In many ways, it’s a great source of inspiration when you’re on the platform as a viewer, but feeling the pressure to make content to further your reach as an artist or a business on the platform is still something I struggle with.

Any tips for fellow freelancers?

Tips I have for any freelancers wanting to do makeup would be to get a basic knowledge of hair, specifically if you want to work in Australia. Our budgets are smaller here, so you need to be a jack of all trades. I would also assist! I’ve learned more from assisting than I ever did in formal training. By assisting established artists you get the opportunities to work on big brand shoots, which are always exciting!

@jordan.hallewell

Ruchi Page

 

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What do you do?

My name is Ruchi Page and I’m a Melbourne-based content creator, writer and advocate for confidence and inclusion. My job lies within the content creation and writing field. I work with brands to create content for their pages as well as my own, whilst freelancing for Mamamia Australia as part of the You Beauty Collective. Recent writing endeavours include Priceline and the Go-To Skincare blog. Currently, I’m a columnist for Centennial Beauty, where my action for inclusion series, Faces of Australia, is published.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Taking a peek into a day in the life of a freelancer? Well, for yours truly, it ALWAYS starts with a 9am small almond latte with a teeny, tiny drop of honey (emphasis on the teeny tiny). Once my skin is cleansed, hydrated and SPF-d, I do an email check. Depending on my sweet tooth, I may be munching on some banana bread during this moment.

My digital list of ‘things to do’ is whipped out and I assess which pieces of paid content need to be filmed or photographed that day. I aim to film on deliciously sunny days, because good lighting is key for those power shots. Once my priority pieces are complete, I check my screenshots for any makeup looks I’ve been wanting to recreate then start ‘beating the face’.

I love pulling out the dramatics when it comes to glam and depending on the time frame, I’ll film each step for editing. At this point, I’ll have at least two to three pieces of content to edit, which will keep me preoccupied for the rest of the evening. Then lunch break plus a cheeky Stan session.

It’s super important for me to get the majority of filming and photography completed by around 2pm, as I tend to lose specific light that seeps in through our windows. Because of this, I try to go into filming with a baseline structure (usually just thoughts and ideas as opposed to organised notes) so no time is wasted.

I always leave my writing pieces to the end of the day as I don’t need sunlight for that. At this point, I’ll grab my laptop and phone and head to the local cafe for a coffee and edit session. It’s at this time that I’ll start drafting and writing my pieces or editing my videos for upload. At around 5pm, I’ll begin writing my caption for my post at 6pm – then it’s time to engage with my wonderful community.

What’s your favourite aspect of freelancing?

I must say, I have never been a morning person and the fact that I don’t need to always physically be at a workspace at a specific time every day is something I’m so grateful for. I love that freelancing involves the dependence on YOU to show up and get the work done. And for my personality, I thrive when every day or week is different. It’s never predictable and I love that.

Your least favourite aspect?

The only disadvantage to freelancing is that work isn’t always guaranteed and depends on your effort to develop your own skills. I have found that adapting to new trends, making them suit your brand whilst growing in all aspects as a creator has been vital in booking work. One other disadvantage in freelancing as a content creator is sometimes you won’t see money in your account for weeks due to the process it can take. This isn’t always the case, but it is common.

Any tips for fellow freelancers?

Organisation is key. I’ve learnt the hard way that it can become overwhelming very quickly. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a big believer in writing everything down. I’d recommend tracking all of your paid work to ensure each job has been fulfilled.

Remember to give yourself a day or two to recharge the batteries – this means doing something enjoyable completely outside of your work. It’s easy to be consumed by it all, so having those ‘you’ moments are valuable short and long term. When work is quiet – it’s okay, don’t panic. Use that time to rebuild and strengthen your craft, then pick back up where you left off.

@ruchipage

Tara Chandra

 

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What do you do?

Hi! My main gig is freelancing in fashion content creation, but I also get commissioned to [do] digital artworks and paint prints, I sell secondhand and vintage clothes on @secondtimenew with two friends, I’m the (paid) social media TikTok intern for Flex Factory and I babysit multiple times a week for one client. TLDR; I do a lot of random stuff and get paid for it.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I honestly don’t have a typical workday, because it changes every day and every week! I don’t even intern on set days. I film TikToks for Flex Factory in my room at 11pm on a Saturday night sometimes. However, I swear by the DIY weekly calendar I made on Word (it’s just a grid of the month) and my daily planner.

This helps me plan ahead, know what deadlines I have coming up or days that I’m booked out. I work around this and make sure I have enough time to complete all my tasks and get everything done. I write up my daily planner in a bullet journal format so I know my most important tasks for the day, I have my deadlines and commitments scheduled so I don’t over plan.

What’s your favourite aspect of freelancing?

The flexibility! I’m out here doing what I want, where I want, and whenever I want. I love it! I can work remotely (most of the time), I set my own schedule, I’m my own boss and I make the rules. Also, getting to work with brands I love is always so exciting! I think about how teenage me would never believe what I’m doing now is my job!

Your least favourite aspect?

Definitely the lack of security and stability around getting paid work – which is why I have side jobs too. There are definitely some months where I go without any sponsored content and then I’ll have a huge influx of work all at once. It can be super stressful with short deadlines, but it pays off – literally.

Any tips for fellow freelancers?

  • There’s no right or wrong way to freelance.
  • BUT organisation, keeping on top of deadlines and prioritising is key.
  • NEGOTIATE! Budgets, briefs, time frames – work around yourself! Up that rate to what you know you and your work is worth, what you want to create and what know you can get done in the time frame.

@tarachandra

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