It’s been 20 days since International Women’s Day and all my social feeds are still laden with praise for boobs.

Yes, I am a woman in the wonderful world of work. But let me let you into a little secret…that doesn’t make me special. It doesn’t give me super powers. It doesn’t make me better or worse at my job. As I so crudely put it before, it just means I have boobs, and I don’t think that’s something we really need to celebrate at work.

So yes, I am a woman. But I’m also a copywriter, passionate about cake, mummy, lover of beautiful shoes, a wife…

If you want to celebrate something, celebrate that. It’s far more interesting, and I’ve had to work a lot harder to achieve some of those things. By comparison, being a woman is easy – I was born that way.

I don’t feel like I’ve ever been victimised in the workplace for being a woman; if I didn’t get a job it was because I wasn’t the best candidate. If I was paid less, it was because I didn’t negotiate hard enough. If I ever missed out on a promotion, it was because I failed to fight for my career – because after all, it is MY career, only I get to choose what happens with it.

So being a woman in the workplace isn’t tough.

But being a freelancer…

Now that’s tough. Let me tell you why…

It’s lonely at the top

There’s only me. I don’t have a team of colleagues around me. I can’t delegate things to people.

Being a freelancer forced me to become skilled in all areas of business overnight; from marketing myself, to selling myself, figuring out the finance, leading credit control, navigating the legal landscape, and then orchestrating the operations – it all falls under my remit.

All I can say is thank goodness for the wonderfully supportive freelance social communities to which I now belong: Being Freelance, Freelance Heroes and Doing it for the Kids.

No work, no pay

As an employee, you’re allowed an off day; we’ve all had a day where out head’s not quite there and we let our colleagues pick up the slack. You’re even paid to have a holiday, able to take a break on bank holidays, granted compassionate leave.

As a freelancer, I only get paid for the hours I actually work.

So if I want a holiday, I have to work double-time beforehand to make up for the hours I won’t work while I’m away…

Same goes for bank holidays. Although since the boys’ nursery doesn’t open on bank holidays, I’m forced to take the day off (and therefore lose a day’s pay) but still charged £150 for their places, which is all kinds of unfair …

And when my grandad died last year, I was on client-site the next day, smile painted on my face and ready to go.

A constant juggling act

My husband jokes about the concept of ‘ABB’ – always be billing. And when my boys are in nursery, I try my hardest to always have billable work to cover those hours.

But then I have to actually run my business…

I have to prospect and build a pipeline so I have a constant stream of work. I have to track and analyse how long each project takes so I ensure I’m delivering a service at a price that’s fair to my clients and me. And then there’s end-of-month, credit control and giving back to the freelance communities that I take so much from.

And that’s before I get to everything else in my life…

With so many plates to spin, being highly organised is an absolute necessity.

It wreaks havoc with your mental health

Imposter syndrome is real and it sucks.

Whether it’s having to ‘sell’ yourself when you have zero confidence…

Sending that piece of copy for review, which feels akin to jumping off a cliff…

Or anxiously awaiting client feedback while always fearing the worst…

Imposter syndrome is a constant battlefield and all freelancers suffer to varying degrees. We’ve all developed coping mechanisms to deal with the struggle. But we all have a limit, and I’ve witnessed many incredible writers break under the pressure in recent months (myself included).

And then you don’t get paid

You’d never dream of not paying an employee late – imagine the uproar. And yet it’s somehow acceptable to pay a freelancer late.

Trouble is, that invoice is our salary. That payment covers my mortgage and bills, it feeds and clothes my children, it pays those escalating nursery fees that allow me the time to do your work…

When you pay a freelancer late, it has a huge impact on their financial situation. And that’s before you get to the fact that it’s plain rude and disrespectful.

There’s little legislation to protect us, but thankfully there are movements – like Micro Biz Matters – at work who are pushing to grant freelancers greater protection in the workplace.

But you know what…

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

There’s a certain stigma attached with being a freelancer – like people only freelance because they can’t find a ‘proper’ job.

Being a freelancer is a career choice and I wear the label as a badge of honour. Being a freelancer is a privilege and actually something you should be celebrating. I worked for years to earn the right to go solo, and I relish the opportunity it presents me – however hard it might be at times.

There’s a fabulous freelance community out there with some truly wonderful people, all specialists in their field, passionate about what they do and wanting to do the best job they can so that you succeed.

So whatever you need, we can help. All you need to do is say “Hello!


Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash