There is a romance surrounding freelance work that says freelancers get to do what we want, when we want and actually have plenty of money too. If money runs low, we just call up a client, do some work, get paid and go off and have fun in the sun again. (Rumor has it top programmers can live like this)
The truth is a little different. A lot of time is spent finding clients, negotiating a reasonable hourly rate, and once the project is done then comes the challenge of hassling accounting to actually get paid. The difficulty there is that most freelance jobs are not built into the standard operating budget so don’t get paid along with the monthly expenses.
Surprisingly this problem persists across the board, whether you’re working with a small company or a large one. I’ve given this problem some thought as I continue to wait for payment and send out my weekly reminders that I’m still owed money.
It comes down to value. Is the freelance work valued at the same level as that of an employee? Is a freelance contractor working without the backing of a placement firm considered a valuable addition to a project/company/event? Usually that answer is somewhere close to ‘no’.
That’s not necessarily a fair assessment. It’s not an unambiguous ’no’. It’s more complicated than that, but when you’re waiting for your money for the work you’ve done, you’re really not interested in the ambiguities of whether you’re valued -no amount of praise affects that - or where in the budget, or the changing financial picture of the client you might fit.
So after a tough - lean - few months does that mean I’m going to quit freelancing? No. There are too many adventures to still be had in freelancing. There is that freedom to work any 24 hrs. of the day I choose, and have some time and energy left to work on my novels, volunteer at my offspring’s robotics team … and I get stay home with my ailing dog.
It also means I get to jump on opportunities I might not otherwise. I can help somebody out who’s just starting out as a writer, by offering constructive advice and developmental editing, I get to continue to work with and advise my screenwriting client as he determines the best direction to take the screenplay. And I get to keep looking for that next challenging and exciting project that will require me to learn and grow and exceed expectations. But it does mean I will continue to evaluate this way of doing business, every month.