Thursday, October 07, 2010

What I've Learned About Freelancing

Well, there are several things, but at the top of the list: Freelancing is hard work. Finding gigs. Getting things done on time and well, while keeping your different audiences in mind. And getting paid. That last part isn't nearly as easy as you would think.

A major media corporation has owed me $450 since May, and I don't know if I'll ever see that money. Others, like AOL -- which I'm giving a shout out because while I think they could pay better, they have a really great system -- automate payments and keep their freelancers happy. AOL pays every month, on time, directly into my account. Hooray!

Another thing I've learned is that I HATE running a business. I hate figuring out taxes. I hate marketing myself. I hate drumming up new work during slow times. I hate watching people go to work on days when I've managed to find myself with nothing to do but think about pitching stories, finding a steady job or moving to Italy and opening a bar for expats in Naples.

Other things I dislike? Figuring out how to get/keep health insurance. I've been using Fox's COBRA coverage since I left last year, and I have until February. That's not going to cut it after that, and I'll likely insure myself through the Freelancer's Union if at that point I'm still self-employed. But it's a hassle, and I do get a bit paranoid each month until they cash my check that it's gotten lost and some mishap of the U.S. Mail will mean I join the ranks of the uninsured.

Don't get me wrong. There are serious perks. For example, I am never late for work. No matter how late I feel like sleeping. Which is great for someone like me, because, well, morning? Not my best time.

I am free to come and go as I please. I go to the gym in the afternoon when it's not busy and watch Oprah on the elliptical. I can fly to France at a moment's notice and don't have to get anyone's permission. I can choose what I write, when I write and where I write.

I am ultimately free -- with all the glory and burden that encompasses.

I am an army of me. And a marketing department of me. And a communications department of me. And an accounting department of me. When my computer breaks, I have no IT department to come fix it. When my Internet service goes down, I either have to find a coffee shop (which isn't always a bad idea) or pirate it from a neighbor who hasn't password protected their router.

It's also the loneliest job I've ever had. There are no co-workers to gossip with or about. I have no one to vent to when a story isn't going well, when I've had a shitty commute or when my coffee has overturned all over the inside of my handbag (Don't ask.) I even miss those nights at Fox when we'd order Chinese food for dinner, hemming and hawing over the menu, then discovering a cheap place on 8th Ave. that would deliver AND had delicious wonton soup. It was back during my wonton soup phase.

So, I'm looking for ways to work out in the world. I want: companionship, steady work, steady paychecks and to write about something interesting. Good thing I find lots of things interesting.

3 comments:

Paul Wagenseil said...

Nice post Ms. Lawinski. Another thing you need as a freelancer: lots of self-discipline. Personally I have trouble finding that within myself, making yet another reason to get a "real" job.

Taryn said...

yes. i was your wonton soup soul mate.

Ashley said...

Yes! I know exactly what you mean. I left my job last year to travel abroad and do some random freelance work to get by. It's a rough lifestyle...super unstable. All the free time was nice though.

I actually came across your blog bc I just took a full-time position at my old PR agency. Anyway, sorry to pitch on your blog, but I have info on a foodie event in NYC next week you might be interested in. ashcheng@gmail.com if you want the info.