I put in a 12-hour working day yesterday after a jam-packed week last week. The feast-or-famine cycle of freelancing brought home the perceptions people have about what I do. Yes, I’m going to whine.
When the younger son comes home and I’m sitting at my computer, he wants attention beyond, “Hi, Bubba. How was your day?” That bid attention often takes the form of pestering me. When my husband comes home, he, too, wants attention, usually engaging in conversation. But my workday hasn’t yet finished. I start before 8:30 a.m. (oftentimes before 8:00 a.m.) and feel obligated to put in a solid day’s work, at least eight or nine hours. Then, if I’m not working late on a project, the evening shift kicks in with the familiar question of “What’s for dinner?” and complaints that “I don’t have any clean pants.” I’m at home all day, so obviously I must have plenty of time for housework and cooking, right?
Just because my son’s school day or my husband’s work day has ended doesn’t mean that my work for the day is finished, too. I’m not entirely sure they view what I do as actual work with actual professional commitments and obligations.
Freelancers do work hard. Flexible hours doesn’t mean that we have no schedule; it means that we try to stick to a regular schedule and will work as long as necessary to finish the project. It means that cash flow comes in fits and spurts because freelancers don’t get a regular weekly or biweekly salary. Payment usually comes in a deposit at the beginning of a project and then upon delivery of the project. Or sometimes only upon delivery. Therefore, much of our daily, unpaid work entails hunting for gigs to keep the projects coming.
Don’t get me wrong. I love freelancing. I loathe the thought of returning to a regular 8:00 – 5:00 office job. It’s great when I’m busy and nerve-wracking when I’m not.
Maybe I should promote myself as a consultant instead of a freelancer.