My Freelance Journey: Blog 7 – A day in the life
MY FREELANCE JOURNEY is a new bi-monthly blog series where we follow Arts Marketing and Fundraising consultant Beckie Smith on her journey into life as a freelancer .
I’m a good five months in to being a Freelance Arts Marketing and Fundraising Consultant now. Is it what I thought it would be?
Working for clients is exactly what I expected. But the thing that has surprised me the most is the balance between the need to market yourself and doing the work.
When I was employed the typical day began with me answering emails, sometimes (let’s be honest) batting them away with a short and sweet answer in the hope the work might be delegated elsewhere. Life as an employed arts marketer or fundraiser is frantic isn’t it?
After emails, I might have had an internal meeting to attend, before nipping back to my desk, to get an hour’s work in, talking things through with the team or creating an emergency strategy for a show that, despite everything, just isn’t selling tickets.
By lunchtime, (if there was a lunch time) I was often already behind schedule….
Post lunch the afternoon might begin with more email correspondence and more questions from the team and another meeting, this time perhaps an external one, where partnerships are made, new ideas are formed, and new projects mapped out. Hopefully I’d have a couple of uninterrupted hours of work at some point.
As a freelancer, things are different
I start the day writing emails, offering to help, support and go above and beyond expectations at every opportunity, in the hope that more work may come my way. Thankfully this has worked out for me, so far.
After emails, it is time to buckle down and deliver the work that I have been contracted to do. My client will know that today is a day that I am working for them, and I need to deliver. This is my client’s time, so it needs to remain uninterrupted.
By lunchtime, I would hope to have a lot to show for my morning’s work. This feels good! I check my emails in the hope that someone has got back to me. Sometimes they will have, sometimes not. Then it is time to buckle down again.
As much as I hope to remain focused on a single project, my clients don’t know my diary. Many freelancers feel the need to reply to emails immediately, to demonstrate excellent service, and sometimes, add in extra work there and then, because it has been asked of you. Suddenly, you find yourself flitting from one project to another, because your client’s timescales are changing. Now it’s my time to feel frantic.
Mid-afternoon, as an employee I might decide to start another project, continue with the same one, or catch up with some admin. Now, as a freelancer, I’m either buckling down to work for clients or running to the school gates (after all, this is why some of us became freelance anyway).
Towards the end of the day, employed me would start to finish up for the day. I’d get home in the evening and reclaim some personal time, knowing what didn’t get done today can probably get delegated tomorrow.
The freelance me, shoves past my partner as they are coming in through the door, to attend a networking event (which are often held as the working day finishes under the premise of client work in the day, networking in the twilight).
My freelance evenings are spent making up the hours needed for my clients (because there is no one to delegate to) and doing admin: work logs, budget keeping, invoices etc.
Then there is a choice. Collapse on the sofa, or apply for tenders and market myself. As a freelancer I constantly need to plan for the time when my current contracts run out.
Bedtime. During my years and an employee I would go to bed knowing I had worked a good solid day for their organisation. I might think about the holiday I know I have to wait 10 weeks for.
Nowadays, I retire knowing I have worked a good solid day for my clients, and have put in the extra time needed to prepare for the future. Today was frantic. But never mind, I might get a surprise day or two off next week, or the week after, because after all…. no freelancer has work all the time, do they?
Beckie Smith, Directing Consultant, Flying Geese
Follow Beckie’s journey as she adapts to the challenges and opportunities of freelance life. In the next blog, Beckie reflects on what she has learned during her first six months running her own business.