Guest blogger Gareth Ellis gives us the lowdown on how Covid has encouraged him to make the leap to becoming a freelance writer.
I’m an extrovert. I’m a man who loves social interaction, talking to different people and working hard – that and hugs, I love a hug.
In March of last year, we were told that we would need to work from home where possible because of the Coronavirus pandemic. At the time no-one really knew what we were dealing with and I for one was one of those who thought that it would be over after six weeks (oh how wrong I was.) At first, it was a bit of a novelty. We could work at our own pace, in the comfort of our own homes and have the occasional Zoom or Teams meeting. Yes, our electricity bills went up, but so did our productivity. We were free to manage ourselves and we felt more in control.
Then in June the team I was working in received the news that we would be made redundant in October. At first, we were all pretty devastated, this was a team I’d been a part of for five years, reduced to nothing in the space of five minutes (actually it was during an hour long presentation.)
I had options. Should I get a new job or take the terrifying, yet exciting, step I’d always wanted to and become my own boss as a freelancer?
After some thought, and a lot of soul searching, I decided that I would go for it and take the steps towards freelance life. I built myself a website (www.garethelliswriter.com) I started posting and being more present on LinkedIn, and I did my best to spread the word that I was available to work.
My boss at the time gave me scope to work on myself, so I could impress any potential employers and we set about making our ‘shop windows’ as inviting as possible.
Fast forward to now and I’ve been a freelance writer for six months.
My wife and I welcomed our daughter Emilia into the world in May, so I’ve been able to enjoy spending some time with all of them (we also have a two-year-old son – Rupert) while also earning my seat at the table in the freelance arena. So, what’s different being a freelancer to being on the books at a company? It seems kind of obvious in places, so I’ll break it down to the positives and the negatives.
On the bad side, you’re not assured a regular income. Unlike a salary you don’t know how much you’ll be paid at the end of each month – it all depends on you.
Secondly, and on the same kind of note, you’re responsible for going out there and getting your own work. Very often it won’t just fall on your lap, so you need to be motivated.
Which moves me on nicely to point three. If you’re not a self-starter then freelance work may not be for you. Yes, you haven’t got a manager telling you what to do (positive) but you also don’t have ANYONE telling you what to do (negative) so you need to plan your days, promote yourself, put yourself out there and throw yourself into it 100%.
Finally, as a social person it can get quite lonely working from home every day. Yes, I have my wife and the two kids, but it’s not the same as being at work, in a busy office, talking about last night’s football, or telly, or what everyone else is watching. On the positive side of that though, I’ve enjoyed something with my daughter that I wasn’t so fortunate to have with my son – time. I can be seconds away if something bad happens, I can take a break to go for a nice walk with them, and I can see my children changing day by day and be involved in that.
If I could offer anyone advice on whether or not to go for it with a freelance career, either with children or without, I’d say do it. Yes, the feeling of uncertainty can be hard, but if you really trust in yourself, you are patient and the timing is right then why not? I would say though that building up a client base and getting word of mouth going before you get started would be beneficial. I know so many people who have told me that it’s the best way to get clients – but how do you get word of mouth if people have never used your services?
Good luck to all, and remember, you’re bloody good enough!