No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Freelance ≠ Free Time

When you go freelance and begin to work for yourself, especially when that work is home-based, people assume that means you really have all the time in the world to piddle around and do whatever "little favor" they may ask of you. They think you have nothing in the world to do each day. They assume you are bored out of your mind and in need of some chore or task from them to keep you occupied.

I've actually been told, "Well, you're stuck in that house all day with nothing to do..."
Nothing to do?

I have web sites to test links on, content to write, designs to keep fresh.
I have blogs to write for other people and research to do on topics for said blogs...
I have proposals to write.
I have site stats to analyze and then make nice and pretty charts and graphs for, to be sent to my clients for their own info and convenience.
I have to advertise myself and drum up business, marketing to be done.
Then there's the invoices to keep track of. Who's all paid up, who needs a reminder? Who do I need to pay? Oh, the billing, it's such a pain in my rear.

On top of that, I have a house to keep clean.
I have to find the time to walk, since I can't drive, to the grocery store, and the drug store (and don't forget the beer store!) when needed.
I have to walk the dogs every day.
I have laundry to keep up, and dinners to plan and fix.
Stuck with nothing to do.
I wish.

Another popular assumption that people make when you go freelance and begin working from home is that you really no longer work. Period.
I've noticed that most people have stopped asking me how work is going. I notice at parties how people will ask The Wifester about her job, and then promptly move right along to the next topic without ever asking me how my work is. And that's fine. My work stays mostly the same. I usually don't have a whole lot to say about it, and what I do have to say is not something that people who don't do this job would understand much of.

"Fortune Cookies, how's your work going?"
"Eh, Fine. Oh! But the other day I changed a header from 99FFCC to 99FFFF, and threw the whole site out of balance. I spent hours redesigning it before settling on FFFFCC with CCFFFF borders."
It's not exactly engrossing conversation. I get it.
But my point is, we who work from home, we who work for ourselves and retired our punch cards and office cubicles, we do still work. We do, dammit!

Sure, I don't make as much money now. And my 401K is a giant jar filled with loose change. And nope, I don't have health insurance or paid sick days or vacation days. And yes, it's true that I only work part time now, but the fact of the matter is, I still work. I take pride in the job I do for my clients, and they appreciate my service as well. I can't keep up with a 9-5 routine anymore, at least my eyes can't. But that doesn't mean I've completely rolled over. I'm here, at home, busy working as much as my sight allows.

So the next time someone tells you they are freelance, or that they work from home, think twice before you assume that they have all the free time in the world to run your errands for you. Think twice before you assume that they have nothing to do.

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