These two words are emblazoned on my grey matter after working with a brilliant, but sometimes rather stern, editor in my early writing career. But these words of advice have been thrown to the wayside recently as my opinion about freelancing has not remained objective.
I bloody love it. And I'm not alone. Only two per cent of freelancers want to work as an employee and almost nine out of ten are very satisfied with the way that they work, according to research from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE).
But, on National Freelancers Day 2015 and in the name of objectivity, I thought it time to share some of the downsides to freelancing:
1. Money, money, money
Freelancers command higher rates of pay than permanent employees. But there are many flip-sides to such weighty rates.
There are constant money worries when working as a freelancer: there isn't a day that goes by that I don't worry about money. I worry when I'm snowed under with bylines and articles. I worry when I haven't written a commissioned word in days. I worry when I turn up the heating or switch on the lights. I worry when I feel ill, but there's no one to call in sick to.
Then there's the tax. How much should I pay? And when? Should I be a limited company? Sole trader? What the hell is the IR35? Tax is taxing and I'd always recommend getting a specialist freelance accountant to help you navigate this minefield and dodge any unexpected bills or fines, should you miss a deadline from the HMRC.
2. It's oh so quiet
I crave silence. I have two boisterous boys and an ongoing house renovation so five minutes of silence is a luxury. But it's easy to go stir crazy when you're self-employed thanks to the isolation of working totally alone, and usually from home.
There's no impromptu chat with my team, free birthday cakes or person to grab a bite to eat with over lunch. There's me, a screen and a radio.
3. Don't take this personally, but...
Losing a client is a natural part of the freelance existence, but it can be difficult to accept. The left side of my brain accepts such losses for what they are: finances are tight and I am just collateral damage in a much wider corporate picture. The right side of my brain is less logical: why have they dumped me? Was my writing terrible? Surely we can work something out?!
Clients come and go, but being dumped for reasons outside of your control can be a dent in the confidence of the most successful freelance writer.
4. Scraping the barrel
Sorry, I can't do it. I am desperately trying to come up with a fourth reason why freelancing isn't always so fabulous. The problem is, and here's where I throw objectivity out of the virtual window again, I love freelancing.
For every downside, there is a much brighter, bigger and brilliant upside. Worried about money? Yes, but freelancing has allowed me to build up a cash reserve to weather those rainy days. Don't understand your IR35 from your ARS3? Get an accountant. Struggling with a lack of human interaction? Start writing from a coffee shop and get involved in the freelancer community (and be grateful you don't have to attend another office party). Lost a client? Start pitching to new ones. Learn from the experience. Move on.
So Happy National Freelancers Day one and all. I will be celebrating. Celebrating the freedom, flexibility and other benefits of working as a freelance writer.
And to that former editor, I'm sorry but I will remain objective about every aspect of my writing with one clear exception: freelancing. It's my life and I love it.
To find out more about National Freelancers Day, click here.
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I'm the freelance writer who gets tech. So, I blog on three core topics:
Science and Technology