Working for yourself from home, in charge of your time, no daily commute, answering to no-one, jetting off abroad as often as possible... sounds good doesn't it? But what we don't advertise about freelance life is the amount of work that goes into, well, generating work in the first place.
These are just some things currently weighing down my to-do-list:
Pitch a travel article and video. This might involve several proposals, emails - often un-replied to, chasing and might all be to no avail). As yet unpaid.
Write a travel article - see above.
Edit a travel video. Incredibly challenging unless you're an editor.
Persuading a fellow freelancer, who IS an editor, to do the above for, as yet, no money.
Start a podcast. As yet unpaid.
Buy a new recording device and mic for said podcast and work out how to use it.
Persuade a fellow freelancer to come up with a design logo for said podcast (my friend Mama Prada has just done one for me and it's brilliant).
Work out how to create a website for the podcast. Pay for the domain name.
Create a website. I don't have these skills so this is likely to be a lengthy process.
Record and edit said podcast. Figure out where and how to place it.
Spend ages plugging said podcast on social media in a bid to generate listeners and ultimately monetise it.
Write up a story proposal for a West End show (yes, really). As yet unpaid.
Meet with potential investors and producers for the above and try to make out I know what I'm talking about.
Proofread a novel (paid, hurrah!).
Carry on doing my day to day (paid) work (writing reports, doing the odd bit of filming, expert guest slots on the radio - which are not always paid, and more).
I'm also working from home. Some days (like today) without childcare. This means I have to put together three meals a day for at least one child as well as dress, toilet and entertain them. This morning the two year old decided to wipe scrambled eggs all over his legs, chair and the floor. I sat down to work at 9am, after dropping the five year old off at school complete with 25 handmade thank you cards and chopped grapes for 30 children for their end of term party, and eventually started work at 10.30. By 11.30 I had to take a break to aimlessly pace the streets of London to get the two year old to sleep in the buggy.
If I pop into the kitchen for a quick tea break I will notice the dishwasher needs emptying or the washing needs hanging out. Sometimes both. I daren't go upstairs as the debris of the morning rush is as yet still in its original state. I also have to pack for three people to leave the country for 6 weeks (the husband will of course pack his own but it's me who knows what the kids will need). No task ever gets satisfactorily completed.
This day to day stuff doesn't take into account the overall stuff - the staying on top of accounts, the invoicing, managing the cash flow, the tax returns. Yesterday my card got declined when I went to get cash out for the cleaner (middle class problem, I know). When you're too small for an accountant, an HR department, IT support and any other help even the tiniest thing like the printer flashing can throw you right off kilter.
But don't feel too sorry for us freelancers. My travelling habit means I turned down steady, long contracts over Easter and summer, I'm about to go to Spain for six weeks (where I can work my way through some of the horrors of my to-do list) and I'm really lucky in that I can take off great swathes of a day to go to the park, the museums or just hang out with the kids in the garden. Luckily one of us in the family has a sensible job to bolster my erratic income.
However when you're sitting there in your clean and tidy office, popping down to Pret for a sandwich, watching your salary pinging into your account as you waltz off on your paid holiday, do spare a thought for those of us spending the summer weeping confusedly over a keyboard whilst trying to figure out how the hell to make a website