Last Monday morning, I woke up to a strange feeling. I had no work.
To the freelance, work at home mum, this is not a nice feeling. It’s a scary one.
I had woken up to the same feeling the previous Thursday and Friday, but that didn’t feel so bad. No work on Thursday and Friday is kind of OK (although far from ideal). No work on Monday is wrong.
Monday is when I like to make a positive start on the week and get lots done. I’m in a positive frame of mind and ready to work hard. But there was nothing to do.
I’ve been very lucky in the almost two years since I’ve worked for myself. Something has always come along. But will it ALWAYS come along?
I’m kind of hanging on by a thread. I have only two long-term contracts which belong to me and neither of them are particularly lucrative. I need a lot more than my two contracts to keep the wolf from the door. Especially as one of them is due to come to an end in May this year, which, considering it was an initial one month contract in September 2014 isn’t bad at all. But what then?
I need to find more work. More regular work. But it’s really hard to find.
I’m just one woman on my own, working in school hours. I do a good job. All of my clients are very pleased with what I can do. I’m cost-effective, reliable and a fast worker. But I’m too small to work for big companies and the small companies can’t afford me for more than the odd press release here and there. And why would they? They have no need for more than the odd press release here and there.
I rely a lot on work from PR companies who have too much on or are short-staffed. It’s good when I get it and I love getting my teeth into the variety of it. I’m good at what I do and very cost-effective – I don’t charge £100 for 500 words, I charge by the hour, meaning 500 words usually costs them less than half of that. I don’t believe in ripping clients off.
I’ve had months when I’ve been snowed under, but then will have two months with nothing. It’s not my own work and I can never be sure if it’s going to come my way.
So I’m afraid. Afraid of the work drying up. Afraid of earning no money.
We’re not hard up, but big kids are really flipping expensive and they seem to get more expensive by the day. Without my work, we would be cutting down on holidays (essential for preserving the sanity of a family always under pressure), Scout camps, dance lessons, music lessons and everything else the kids ‘need’.
Most of all, I’m afraid of having to get a proper job. Me working at home is good for us. I enjoy being able to take the kids to school and pick them up every day. It’s good for them and it’s good for me. If I went to an office every day, there would have been no panto for my daughter. Who else could have taken her to rehearsals straight after school, or even in school time, every day for three weeks?
All of our lives would be that bit more miserable if I had to go back to commuting and working in an office. I’m not prepared to do that to my family.
So I’ll keep plugging away, trying to find that elusive extra contract or two so I can feel secure in my work and this fear can go away.