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hate freelancing and need some sympathy

(24 Posts)
MrsDrThorne Fri 22-Jun-18 10:02:07

This is going to be long so as not to drip feed.
I don't post in here very often but really need to vent/get some sympathy and have already moaned to DH and friends so often!
I have been freelance for nearly ten years since getting made redundant while on maternity leave. Freelancing is convenient, I work around the kids etc but I hate hate hate it. I hate the uncertainty and the instability and being at home all the time. I am lonely and bored and is affecting my mental health, has done for years. I know office life isn't always great; my last job involved working with some very difficult people but I hate being at home all the time.
I don't even earn very much - barely enough to pay tax.
I work in a media related role that has changed hugely in the last 10 years and my CV simply isn't up to scratch anymore. There were no part time jobs (recession) when the DCs were born but I really wish now I had done some shifts and kept my hand in more, however it's too late for that now.
I really wanted to retrain in a different profession and did a lot of volunteering in order to get on the necessary postgrad course but last year I realised that in the area where I live (and we can't relocate) there just aren't enough jobs in that field to risk spending 10K on retraining with little hope of getting a job. So have had to abandon that idea.
I would love to do a purely academic MA but can't afford to study 'for the sake of it'.
I am lucky in that I am not of course the main wage earner and appreciate how fortunate a position this is.
I volunteer one day a week to get out of the house.
I am signed up to every possible job alert and apply for every job I think I could do and rarely even get interviews - two in two years. I am typing this in tears after just finding out that I have not even got an interview for another contract job I could do standing on my head.
Nine and a half years out of an office environment just seems to be too long. I have great skills but the world has moved on and those skills are not enough any more.
I have applied for and not got 'unskilled' jobs such as those in supermarkets and not got those either. (It's more straightforward for the shop to give them to a student or someone who is semi retired ).
I can't afford a life coach. I know what the problem is, but I am completely at a loss as to what to do about it. Any ideas or sympathy would be greatly welcomed and received!

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misscph1973 Fri 22-Jun-18 10:12:17

I am so sorry about how you are struggling. I am freelance myself, and when I have no or very little work, it's hell. It is soul destroying. From what you write I gather that you have given up staying in your industry?

While I appreciate that you want to retrain, it seems that it's not going to work for you. Can you use some of the skills from your soon-to-be-previous role to build on? Is there any way you could start enjoying being freelance/self-employed? I am thinking perhaps you could rent a desk in a shared office so that you don't feel so lonely?

MrsDrThorne Fri 22-Jun-18 10:31:42

Thanks so much for replying. You're right, retraining probably isn't going to work out and I am just going have to accept that as my only chance of getting into the industry is through a very junior role but they are highly sought after/few and far between/they often ask for a postgrad enough for junior roles.

I don't want to stay in my industry. I have been doing it for nearly 20 years and have had enough. But I recognise that it seems to be the only way I can make money iykwim? My skills are transferable or so everyone tells me and I know I am good at what I do but my experience from applying for jobs tells me that my core skills are not enough - you need the kind of experience that I simply don't have.

I have thought about desk renting but I live quite rurally so would have to travel quite a way to anything like that plus as you are probably familiar with in some months I earn literally nothing and wouldn't be able to afford the rent.

It's just all .... unprintable... but thank you for not telling me to realise how lucky I am and put up and shut up...

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misscph1973 Fri 22-Jun-18 10:42:12

I do know what you mean, my professional and personal confidence is very strongly linked to how much I earn.

Can you perhaps add something to what you are doing? When I started out as a freelance translator, I also did some SEO writing in quiet periods and I have also thought of language tuition to add to my income.

I like working from home, but sometimes I take my laptop to the library or a café, just for a few hours. I also make sure I get fresh air and exercise, and I really feel it if I don't ;) I never keep any biscuits/treats in the house, otherwise I put on weight ... I am thinking that perhaps similar "rules" for working at home would help you?

OldSchoolPhotograph Fri 22-Jun-18 11:00:26

I know how you feel. I've been freelance for just over 10 years. It used to work quite well but work really tailed off in the last 2 years because I lost all my confidence after taking on one job that I couldn't complete in the fantasy timescale that the client had. When I get new enquiries now I feel panicked.

Nearly 2 years ago I took on a part time job in a school. It pays very badly but has helped with my confidence. I thought I'd be able to continue to do my freelance work at the same time which I have to a certain extent but the part time job is very demanding and comes with a lot of responsibility so I struggle to commit to the freelance work. I also think it looks bad to clients to say I have a part time job as well but how else do I explain that I'm not available every afternoon?

My husband's taken on a new job. He used to work from home so could help with school runs etc. but now he's out of the house for very long hours so everything falls to me.

I've been sat here this morning trying to do something trivial in my freelance role and it's taken forever. Knowing I've got to stop very soon to go to my part time job is stressful.

Financially it would make more sense to give up the part time job and concentrate on the freelance work but the part time job is so much less stressful and at least the pay is consistent even if it is poor.

I'm no help to you! Just joining in the rant.

MrsDrThorne Fri 22-Jun-18 11:08:52

Thank you so much for your reply you completely understand how I feel! I have tried to talk about this with so many people but many of my friends are more successful than me in work (which in itself is depressing as I am just as talented as they are) and those in relatively secure jobs/jobs they love/jobs they do for the money simply don't understand!!
I think I need to start doing some more stuff which is just for me, nothing to do with the often rather boring stuff I work on, and hopefully get paid for it, if that makes sense?
It is sometimes difficult for me to work in the library as I often have to talk to people at length on the phone but you're right I should get out more to work when I don't need to talk to anyone.
I have to try and look on the bright side. The latest job I went for would have meant having to find and pay for childcare for the whole of the summer holidays. I don't have to do that now.
And you;re right about getting out more. I have a lunchtime deadline but after that I think I had better get out and get some fresh air before pick up time.
Thanks again I really appreciate it

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MrsDrThorne Fri 22-Jun-18 11:10:55

OldSchool why do you feel you need to carry on freelancing, to keep your hand in and name known?

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Almondio Fri 22-Jun-18 11:11:53

I was freelance for about 10 years while DCs were small, and two years ago decided that I'd had enough of the uncertainty, isolation and lack of feeling like I belonged anywhere.
My experience is in traditional media, through to PR, marketing and external comms.

However, my skills were slightly outdated, and my confidence low. I still wanted something part time to fit in with family commitments and a partner who worked away much of the week.

I applied for jobs well under my skillset and ability at first, such was my low confidence. However I soon realised during interviews that this wasn't the right thing to do. I then applied and got a part time role in which I could use my skills and get up to date with new technology. After a year, I spotted my 'dream job', applied, got it, and am absolutely loving it.

I'd say don't undersell yourself, have a good look at where your skills and experience can be transferred, think laterally about the type of area you'd like to work in.

Use LinkedIn to make contacts and be on the radar of recruitment consultants. Contact recruitment companies and be open to roles even if they're not perfect, just to get yourself back out there and understand what you need to develop. Use your contacts!

Good luck with it all.

MrsDrThorne Fri 22-Jun-18 12:12:35

Thanks Almondio we have fairly similar backgrounds and I completely recognise where you were. And I hope to be where you are now!

I am on LinkedIn but contacting recruitment consultants couldn't hurt.

Thanks again, much appreciated.

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Almondio Fri 22-Jun-18 15:28:34

No problem MrsDrThorne happy to chat more on DM if you want? It's really hard to see an employment future when you're stuck out on a freelance limb, and women seem to be particularly bad at recognising our potential and losing confidence. We need to stick together!

OldSchoolPhotograph Fri 22-Jun-18 17:58:43

My freelance work is in IT and if I let my skills become outdated I wouldn't ever be able to start it up again should my part time job fall through.

The part time job is a role that anyone could do (in that you don't have to have any qualifications to do it). It pays less than my first job did back in 1993! It's actually very challenging because it's fast paced and if I mess it up then it would cause people a lot of angst. I have to make a lot of snap decisions on the spot and there's no one else to turn to for support. This has been good for me as there's nowhere to hide but I feel used and abused by the rubbish pay and the fact that it's impossible to do the job in the time given (I've done 7 days overtime already this year and not been paid for them).

If I just concentrated on the part time job then it would feel like it was all I was good for when actually I have a degree and had a really good job before my children reached school age and I thought it would be better to spend more time at home.

When I'm at home trying to do the freelance stuff I feel absolutely frozen. My confidence is so shot. Sometimes I think I won't make it through the day (very dark thoughts and I have to talk myself down from acting on them). In a way, the part time job is keeping me together. It's busy, stressful etc. but I feel I'm doing a good job and I'm getting regular money.

I'm very conflicted about it all.

When I've got work on the freelance stuff is fast paced, challenging and fun. I hate:
- trying to find work
- having to take on crap clients because I'm desperate for work which means I have to do far more than I should be doing because the clients don't know what they're doing / can't make up their minds / don't understand / can't deliver their side of the deal (so I end up doing that as well for free)
- ending up delivering something I'm not proud of because I've had to compromise so much
- having to battle to get people to pay me

I think I'm an inadequate person who can't stand up for herself. At least in the part time role if things went seriously wrong I could just leave or get someone senior to back me up. The money's so crap there's no great risk but messing up my own freelance stuff feels like a breathtaking risk (can feel rising panic just thinking about it).

Sorry, hadn't realised I'd waffled on so much. Hope my stream of consciousness makes sense!

Almondio Fri 22-Jun-18 20:13:58

Just thought MrsDrThorne there are some great Facebook groups specifically for part-time media/comms roles, some really good networks out there. Might be worth a look?

hellololly Fri 22-Jun-18 20:18:44

Facebook groups are invaluable, I'm part of a few for my profession and we've developed WhatsApp groups and I'm never alone even if I am on my own. There's also google hang out which is great even if you sit working together there's people there. How about working in the night time and hanging out with friends in the day? It's lonely but it's so flexible and being your own boss is great but it's not for everyone. Hope you feel better soon.

NC4Now Fri 22-Jun-18 22:27:01

I was freelance for a few years too and am on some great Facebook groups. I’ve recently made the move from freelance journalist to press officer in a large public sector organisation.
Is that the type of move you could make? It’s about identifying how your skills transfer to a different role.
I’m not actually loving the job, but I did it for practical reasons. I was actually really happy freelancing, but it sounds like the kind of thing you are looking for.

MaybeDoctor Sat 23-Jun-18 12:26:59

This is interesting, because I want to move towards being mainly freelance - I currently do a bit alongside a pt job.

I have been employed for so long that the thought of being ‘out there’ pitching for work is quite exciting.

I also wonder if it works best with younger or older children?

Btw, poorly-paid school jobs often have pretty high expectations so you are not alone there!

MrsDrThorne Wed 27-Jun-18 01:23:47

MaybeDoctor freelancing can work really well. The flexibility is very handy with small children especially when they still get ill a lot (though working from home with a child around is a nightmare) and some of the freelancers I know who have gone back to staff jobs miss the freedom freelancing affords, especially on lovely sunny days when if you are not busy you can work in the garden etc.
Downsides are I often find myself working evenings (hence why I am still up now), because I work short days, it can be hard to switch off and difficult to say no to work because you fear you will never be asked again, it can be isolating, no guaranteed pay day, chasing for payments is soul destroying, no IT support/holiday pay/sick pay.
Also I find people with staff jobs do tend to assume that I am always available to help them out with bits of ad hoc childcare.
I think a lot of it comes down to quite simply how much you hate being in staff jobs and how much money you can make. Freelancing in my line of work has become harder and harder over the last few years - every freelancer I know in the same industry says the same thing.
Those who pack it in usually pack it in because they want some security. But that is not going to apply to every industry.
Hope I have not been too pessimistic. I didn't choose to freelance, it was somewhat forced upon me, so that obviously colours my views somewhat.

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Johnnyfinland Wed 27-Jun-18 01:32:18

I haven't got much useful advice but just want to say I know exactly how you feel. I was freelance for three years (journalist) and it was my absolute dream to be freelance when I first went into it. I didn't fail at it, I got some great commissions and always made enough money to pay the rent but I'm not exaggerating when I say it made me utterly suicidal. The uncertainty around work, the isolation, the shitty rates of pay in journalism, the comparing myself to other people (and issues particular to journalism such as nobody ever paying on time and budgets being constantly cut) all combined to make me feel directionless and useless. I've gone back into a staff job, I know you said you've been applying and not getting very far but have you had someone look over your CV? I bet you've got loads of transferable skills and sometimes organisations that aren't within the sector require people with those skills (e.g a museum or school needing a digital person to write for the website). Don't give up, keep on applying and I think seeing a recruitment agent is a good idea

NC4Now Wed 27-Jun-18 21:39:10

@Johnny did you go back into a journalism job or a PR role?

I’ve taken a PR job and thinking of jumping back into freelance journalism again.

Johnnyfinland Thu 28-Jun-18 07:59:45

@NC I'm still in journalism but a different area - was more culture/features before but now I do news

NC4Now Thu 28-Jun-18 09:20:00

Ah right, ok. I’m a news journo too 😃

I’ll probably do more features if I go back to freelancing, but it’s good to have a mix I think.

How are you enjoying it? Local or national?

Rr3laxingdayz Thu 28-Jun-18 12:37:26

Only 2 interviews in 2 years - does your CV need a makeover ? Do you tailor each job application. You must have some transferable skills to work in an office. You are also volunteering. What jobs have you signed up for at agencies ?

Rr3laxingdayz Thu 28-Jun-18 12:38:59

Have you applied to councils, schools, colleges, local businesses ?

MrsDrThorne Thu 28-Jun-18 23:15:58

Thanks Johnnyfinland I agree having someone look over my CV would be a good idea.
Rr3laxingdayz I agree it's a terrible strike rate. Location doesn't help, I live in a small semi rural town and although a large city is within commuting distance I need to earn a certain amount to make it worth my while in travel and childcare costs.
I am also in an odd position career wise - too senior for the junior roles that get advertised but not with the right experience to go for senior roles - I have never managed anyone for example. To do so would have been the next stage in my career if I had not been made redundant.
My skills are good and are transferable but don't seem to be what people are looking for. I tailor my application for every job but I agree my CV may need looking at. There are few agencies but I will have a look around.

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Johnnyfinland Thu 28-Jun-18 23:19:23

@NC hello fellow newshound! national (digital though not paper), I'm enjoying it a lot more than freelancing! I don't think I could ever go back to music journalism but all the reasons it was awful would take a whole thread!

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