THE BLOG

Flirting With Freelancing as a Graduate

14/07/2014 16:54 BST | Updated 11/09/2014 10:59 BST

A sprinkle of souls think that 'freelance' is a synonym for unemployed hippy, graduate in denial or moonlighter at the Bank of Mum & Dad, but it's time to hold those hasty horses. Despite the elusive nature of freelance work, there's a lot to be said for plucking at different contracts. Although commitment complexes may well be aggravated by freelance work, at the end of the day fine-tuning freedom is far from a crime. Go on graduates, give it a go.

An insight into the world of pick and mix work must begin with the dismissal of the ultimate myth: that freelancers are part-timers. You win some, you lose some, and smaller contracts are what they say on the tin; just like a Saturday girl couldn't swagger in to a Sunday stock check like a barmaid at a beer festival, you can't do work you haven't been given. However, this usually just means that you'll put in some big hours on the next contract, so get the rest in now; dry spells are rarely eternal.

There is, however, a perfectly valid reason for why people believe that we're slackers. Freelancers regularly spend all week showing off their flexi-time superpowers by swanning off for days out, and consequently not doing enough work. Sunday is no longer the day of rest, but the day of compensation, as we lock ourselves to our laptops and mourn the distant drumroll of the Eastenders omnibus. The silver lining: we've tailored our work to be something which we enjoy, so a big Sunday session isn't too much of a hardship, especially when served with roast potatoes.

Our dress code is also a camouflage for our genuine work ethic. How can we be committed individuals in polka dot pyjamas when the rest of the big dogs are wearing pinstripe suits? We are hard working because we have to be; as a work from home freelancer I rarely have tangible colleagues, so there is no one to unapologetically blame for my own incompetency, not even traffic. The solution is to remain competent for as long as possible, even if it is dowsed in a dressing gown mentality. Indeed many freelancers hop from office to office, but home is a likely base, as it's the only place where it's possible to earn a tenner a day and still snack on Heston's caramel popcorn ice cream from Waitrose. What's more, saving time on the commute also gives you the leisure to dedicate yourself to other vital activities, such as learning the phonetic alphabet.

On the pyjama point, freelancers can get strangely jealous of their friends' work attire. When you turn up for after-work drinks wearing Tesco knickers (no worries about VPL when pencil skirts are still an aspiration) because you weren't going to miss a trick when your mum asked if you wanted anything from the weekly food shop, it can seem like you've been invited to a fancy dress party where no one's told you there's a theme; aka FANCY. But hey, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and next time you dress up you'll feel at least several hundred dollars.

Although few, there are some other disadvantages to the freelance world. Whilst other people have fun World Cup sweepstakes with their colleagues, the freelance equivalent is a lonely and unhealthy gambling problem. We have to lower social expectation to a point where jubilation is personified by a LinkedIn invitation. Not to worry though, the simple solution to this is to spend buckets of time with your friends, who are usually open to telling funny office stories in order for you to live vicariously through them. Alternatively, just watch The Office in your lunch hour.

However, if you think that your friends will understand when you tell them you're busy, get off that Disney diet Alice because you're inhaling way too many Wonderland calories. Whilst other friends missing things for conferences is a sign of budding success, if you skip a social event to skype your boss from your living room, you might as well be off to Alton Towers with your imaginary friend's second cousin.

What's more, finding out that you qualify for tax as a freelancer is like getting to the end of Gilmore Girls and finding out that Rory's adopted. Surely if you write your own invoices you don't get taxed? You've used your own stationary. Then there's the fact that your earnings average less than Job Seekers Allowance, meaning that your pension plan goes as far as ordering box sets to watch when you're 70 and can afford the accompanying take-away. I jest; freelancing might be a slow starter financially, but momentum can come quicker than you think; and better a plod in the right direction, than a sprint start in a lukewarm one.

When you're a work from home freelancer, there will be moments when you do a double take on your lifestyle; such as when your friends use you as the clue for 'gypsy' in a game of Articulate, or suggest you should watch Secret Diary Of A Call Girl as career inspiration because you're 'always free' and 'still live next door'. We get a lot of slack, but the variety of a free-spirit's prescription is well worth it. Just because there isn't a graduate scheme for it, doesn't mean you can't do the work you want to do. Go old school, send some emails, make some calls, and set yourself up... if you offer something good enough, the clients will come trotting.