A Freelancer Speaks

With all this recession-redundancy-firing type stuff, the thoughts of many creatives are turning to the wonderful world of freelance.

As it’s not something I’m that familiar with, I’ve asked a friend of mine, who has been at it since times were good, what it’s really like:

“The thing that struck me most when I first started the temporary employment thing is the similarity between freelancing qnd placementing. In both situations you arrive somewhere new, hope to get briefed quickly by people you have never met before (after all, you do want to do the best job you can and it’s no good if you’re there for a week but you only get briefed on Wednesday) and spend rather more time than you’d like doing all the necessary aclimatisations. By this I mean sorting out getting on a computer or getting your own computer going with their IT so you can print stuff out; talking to the appropriate finance people to ensure you get paid; finding out who is or isn’t worth getting to know for useful information; and ingratiating yourself enough to extend your employment, but not so much that you seem like a dreadful arselicker.

You can’t help but compare agencies by the little day-today things that they all have, like the standard of the loos, the refreshments and how much they cost, the agency pub and the attractiveness of members of the gender(s) you find attractive. I think all that novelty is one of the main benefits of this side of the fence.

Learning to read your CD’s quirks and personality in a matter of days is also a valuable skill. The more time you spend trying to read his mind, the less time you have to crack the brief.

Timing’s an odd one. Usually the time keeping’s not as important as finishing the work. Some agencies don’t mind if you work off-site (handy for taking on more than one job at once), but the ones that want you in usually want you to do a 9.30ish to 6.30ish day.

Some jobs you give more of a shit about than others, but that’s the same if you’re permanent, but if you freelance, you’d better at least look like you give a half-decent fuck, or they’re not going to ask you back. And being asked back is important because jobs don’t just drop from the sky. You will now have a second occupation trying to keep the first one going.

But in general, I prefer it. There’s less time to get bogged down in the political bullshit and you don’t have to look like a you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid of whatever the corporate mission statement says. Just get in, do your job, get out and spend the next few months chasing up your payment with finance people who are never in quite the same hurry to pay you as the bank is to receive your mortgage payment.”

Thanks for that. Any other people want to add their insights, please feel free to leave a comment.

Also, I plan to do a post in the near future with all the websites of available freelancers. If you’d like me to feature yours, just send it to bwmkay at googlemail.com (sorry, I’m on a French keyboard and have no idea where they keep the ‘at’ sign. It also means I won’t update the comments as often as usual).