Top journo and editorial freelancer, John Pinching shares his thoughts on a career as a freelancer following more than seven successful years working in temporary contracts…
For the essence of freelancing look no further than the first syllable. If, already, you are struggling with this introduction, the syllable to which I refer is free. This, of course, indicates the sense you will have through not being a slave to any particular system, rather than what you will provide your services for.
There is a common misconception among the vast majority of people, that staying in one job endlessly, however much you may despise it, is somehow the honourable thing to do. Even for the most sceptical atheist there is an almost religious belief that slogging away thanklessly, repeatedly and, often depressingly, at the same company, earns the respect of a higher force – a faceless career God who assesses your CV on judgement day!
This, dear reader, is anachronistic propaganda, which, for many – too many – has been a professional rule to which one must subscribe. Of course it is complete and utter nonsense. The days of completing 40 years at the same establishment is largely a thing of the past. If it’s a carriage clock* you aspire to, there are plenty at your local department store. In any case I have always found these items to be less than ornate.
Having addressed a few reasons why escaping ‘security’ might not be a bad idea, it may be wise to return to the subject of freelancing, or contracting, as it is otherwise known.
For the feint-hearted it is not.
In this profession you will be widely regarded – particularly by your parents – as not having a job at all. Prepare yourself for world-weary glances from your immediate family during ‘rest’ times. Rest assured, however, that we are in the company of actors and musicians during these enforced holidays – this is the entertainment profession after all!
When you find work it makes it all worthwhile and, because of the nature of freelancing, you will experience an enormous feeling of wellbeing several times a year.
Starting an assignment can be an interesting experience. Indeed, I prefer to file this under ‘character building’. We all know what it’s like when you start a job – those rather awkward introductions, during which you are forced to assume a fixed grin. Well, you’ll have the pleasure of this activity many times. This, I can assure you, is much better than having to maintain non existent ‘friendships’ for the best part of four decades!
There will also, during these early exchanges, be an assumption that you know exactly how an IT system works and where all the appropriate files are kept. The fact that some regular staff recoil in shock when you don’t know these company secrets remains a mystery. I can only advise that you remain philosophical about such behaviour.
Once settled and you have committed one or two of your colleagues names to memory (even if it’s just the first letter) you will feel able to embark on your new responsibilities with gusto.
*A typical gift and permanent reminder of a member of staff having completed an inordinate amount of time in the same place.
Blog entry thanks to: John Pinching