Freelancer FAQs

IMG_4614 (002)It’s been a while since I posted here, but I’m glad to be back with this list of FAQs that I’ve heard time and again since starting to freelance from home.

Have you been out in the sun much this week?
Has the weather been good? I did open the window in my office because it felt a bit stuffy, but I’ve been focusing on proofs this week so haven’t really been out of the house. I’ve had the cardi on the back of my chair on and off the same amount as usual. And don’t suggest I work in the garden. The sun glares off my laptop screen, papers go all over the place in the slightest breeze, and our garden chairs make my back ache.

Don’t you get lonely?
No, I’ve got Facebook, Twitter and Skype. I spend several hours each week on all of them (a bit less on Twitter), and put the radio on when I go downstairs for lunch. I go to the gym most days and have a good chat with my friends there, or meet friends for a walk round the block, but when I’m working, I’m concentrating. And although I left an office job where I was managing a team, since we moved to a small village and I’ve worked from home, I’ve realized I actually enjoy my own company quite a lot.

I bet you like working in your pyjamas, no?
No! I get dressed every day before I start work. It might only be in gym kit/comfy stuff, and it doesn’t involve shoes, make-up or blow-drying my hair, but I’m a professional, and feel a bit slobby in my PJs so it helps me focus if I’m in actual clothes.

Do you have to be really disciplined?
Yes! I have bills to pay! If I wasn’t disciplined, I would miss deadlines. I wouldn’t get offered new work. I wouldn’t earn any money. I wouldn’t be able to eat. And I love eating!

Do you fancy coffee on Wednesday?
Yes, I do. I always fancy coffee (and cake). But next Wednesday I’ll get up, do my usual social media for three organisations, go to my regular gym class, come home for a project meeting, then get on with the project. Then it will be time for a quick lunch, after which I’ll do more project work (remember the deadlines), and do another project call when my colleague in San Francisco gets to her desk at 4.30pm my time. So not much time for coffee, I’m afraid. Let’s book something for next month and I’ll plan around it.

Don’t you miss working in an office?
Sometimes I miss the social side of it. But on the whole, I save myself three hours of commuting time every day (and the related costs), I’m more productive with not having to go to meetings every couple of hours, and I always hated office politics. My waistline has probably benefited from eating fewer birthday cakes, I don’t have to listen to others’ conversations with banks/letting agents/parents, and I’m sure there are fewer germs circulating round my house than are in the average office aircon system.

What do you do if you have an IT problem?
I have no hesitation in asking my husband for help. If he can’t sort it out, I’ll Google or ask friends on Facebook. I’ve only ever needed to pay for IT help once in eight years, and that was to get the inside of my PC cleaned. (Thanks to Rob from Rascom for that. TOTALLY recommended – see photos.)

How many hours a week do you work?
Probably more than most office workers, if you count actual hours worked rather than hours out of the house. As I’ve said, working from home alone is, in my experience, way more productive than working in an office, so I get a lot done, in fewer hours than it would take someone working in house. I aim for 5–6 billable hours each day, but of course that varies. When I have to, I work late in the evenings and at weekends, and sometimes I take a few hours out to get my hair done. But I didn’t go freelance to work less – I did it for a different way of life.

I bet you love the flexibility, don’t you?
Yes, I do. That’s the whole point of freelancing. I can choose the projects I take on, the clients I work for, and where I focus my time. It allows me to do the bread-and-butter project management and editing jobs, but also to pursue projects of my own, like the ELT Freelancers’ Awaydays, ELT Teacher 2 Writer, and my role on the MaWSIG committee. I’m really proud of my contributions to all of those, and if it means I can get round the supermarket at the point in the week when it’s quietest, even better.

Does the fridge talk to you?
No. I’ve tuned it out so I can’t hear its calls any more. The same goes for the biscuit tin. I shut my door, get on with my work, and ignore them. It’s the only way.

I could go on, but I’ve just noticed that the sun is shining and it’s Friday afternoon. One more short report to write and a Skype call, then I’ll log off. Freelancers, eh!

What other questions do you get asked? What’s the funniest one you’ve heard?

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5 thoughts on “Freelancer FAQs

  1. I needed to read this today! It’s been a slow start in my new job as I don’t have any of my own projects yet, I’m just shadowing my manager – quite the contrast to all my previous publishing jobs where I’ve just been thrown in at the deep end! But I am slowly getting used to working from home. My favourite questions are ‘You should get a cat/dog/other supposedly friendly animal’ from all my friends who know how much of an animal-hater I am (sorry, animal lovers; nothing personal!) The pyjamas one obviously and also ‘great, I’ll get everything delivered to yours then!’
    But I am enjoying being able to do gym classes before work (I tried so many times when I was commuting but I have such a mental issue with getting up before 5.45!), putting the washing on before 10pm at night and eating things like egg and toast at lunchtime (also with the radio on!)

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    1. Glad you’re getting into the groove of working from home – it’s quite a big shift. I also hear the pet question quite a lot (and give the same response), and I love how you’re popular for receiving deliveries. Hope you get to love it as much as I do! 🙂

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  2. Great blog post Karen. I’ve been self-employed now for exactly 9 months. I love the flexibility, the opportunities, the variety and the lack of commuting time (and cost). I really don’t think it’s for everyone though. You have to be very confident in your abilities; which I think comes at a certain point in your career. I certainly wouldn’t have been assertive enough 10 years ago to deal with a lot of the situations I’m in now. I can totally relate to people who don’t get on well with it – but for me, best decision ever!

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    1. Thanks Laura! I’m really pleased you’re enjoying the new way of life. I agree it’s not a move to be made lightly, but isn’t it great that we work in an industry where it is at least a feasible option for many people. Hope you’re still enjoying it years from now!

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