After starting a new office job, I've realised the large office work environment really isn't for me. I'm finding 9-5 work with a long commute at either end of the day stressful, unfulfilling and unsatisfying. I'd like to use the talents and skills I've developed over a varied career in media and IT to go freelance, and create a sustainable life for myself rather than hopping from job-to-job. Where can I go to make this happen for myself - particularly in my key skill areas of copywriting and IT work - and what should I know before and after taking the plunge? I'm in the UK.
posted by winterhill to Work & Money (5 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Basically, I think I'd like to shift away from standard-hours office work and go freelance, picking up work where I can and working for various different people rather than one employer. (Initially, I think I'd be looking to work part-time and freelance the rest of the time.) There are a number of reasons for wanting to make this change, not least that I'm just not suited to this kind of work. It's not an environment I can see myself thriving in, or even tolerating for much longer. I'm a talented person, but I am not ambitious in the sense of 'rising through the company / up the career ladder,' I just want to do as good a job for people as I can.
To me, 9-5 office work feels like something of an artifice. I'm really tired of coming into an office first thing in the morning and trying to fill my day with something that feels like productive work - there just isn't enough work to do in each day. It seems really, really inefficient. People seem to spend their days talking about work, building little empires within the company, playing politics, organising each other, engaging in conflicts, having meetings and generally doing just about everything except work. People seem to compete in order to simply try and keep their job, their power, their responsibilities, their team in order to climb the ladder and earn more money. This might be a good life for some people and I'm judging no-one, but I know it's not for me. I want to be paid for the work I do, not by the hours I happen to spend sitting in a certain room, trying to fill time. I am exhausted, from doing nothing.
I've always been a really independent-minded person (to the point where I actively resist any attempt to control where I am, what I do, how I live) and I feel that I'd do a lot better as a person in an environment I create myself, rather than one that's created around me like a company. I don't feel like this is an environment that's particularly conducive to me becoming a successful, fulfilled person in my personal or professional life - I just about tolerate office life, but that's it. This is something I want to do at this stage of my life rather than waiting as right now, I don't have any dependents, no partner or kids, I live a relatively cheap lifestyle in a low-cost area and I'm debt-free. On the negative side, I have no financial support (eg. from a partner) while I get on my feet and my savings are fairly paltry.
I've done a lot of thinking about the pros and cons, and here's what I've come up with already on the positive side:
- Lack of reliance on one employer for everything; in the past when an employer has gone bust or let me go, it's been a financial disaster. If I'm working freelance for a few different people, it's less of a crisis
- Being busier! If I'm working for myself, I'm going to have a lot more work to do, and it's going to be a lot more varied. I like being busy.
- Having time to do non-work things. I'm not talking days at the beach, but more along the lines of training and educational opportunities that I don't have when I'm spending all day at the office. Long-term I want to re-train as a nursery teacher or similar, and I don't have that opportunity right now as I spend every day sitting in an office.
- I'm not on the gender binary, and most conventional office workplaces aren't conducive to this, particularly where I live; working for myself would give me a bit more freedom in that respect
But on the negative side:
- No work equals no money! At least now, when my employer is going through a fallow period, I'm still getting a salary.
- Networking and contacts are not my strong suit; I'm a friendly and professional person, but not great at business-style networking, 'selling myself,' 'personal branding' and similar.
- Tax and insurance and other financial stuff. In the UK, if you work for an employer your taxes are done for you. However, there are no problems with health insurance as we have national healthcare.
So, to my actual question! There are a number of things I've done in my career that I think would make potentially sustainable freelance work. Before I started this job, I spent ten years in local/regional radio where one of the things I enjoyed most was copywriting for adverts, promos, news, features and so on. Where could a copywriter with some experience go to find a bit of freelance copywriting work online (in the UK)? The other thing I have marketable skills in (but don't enjoy so much) is IT work, particularly Linux administration. That's what I do now for a job, and I'm good at it but not especially passionate about it. But if it pays the bills and I am actually doing Linux administration work rather than sitting on MeFi and avoiding office politics, then I'd like to! So again, where would I look to find that sort of work that I can do on a contract/freelance basis?
The world is full of people who have forged their own path in life rather than following the well-trodden road of school, university, career. I'm inspired and encouraged by the stories of those who work and live for themselves, not to get rich, but to form a fulfilling and happy life for themselves. I know I can't keep living like I am, deeply unhappily, and I know where I want to be in five years' time. Help me get there, MeFi!