Full time, part time or freelance?

Oh dear, you thought this article was going to give you the definitive answer for you. As if that were possible.

This is the next best thing. It’s not an armchair appraisal like so many articles out there. Nor a potpourri of a lot of different opinions. It’s a ranking of the features in each, from someone who’s done it all – full time, freelance, part time and all possible combinations. I’ve even done full time, part time and freelance together. If you value your sanity, don’t give that a go.

1. Working from home

If you can find a dozen things to do other than work, you’ll get to choose from hundreds at home. Work in an office. I love the work I do. I do it instead of watching TV, catching up on Facebook, therapeutic shopping or having coffee with friends. I like doing it pyjamas. I like doing it at 7am and 10pm, so I can also do dance classes every day. I love that I can multi-task through the day – no before or after work must dos. I love never being in peak hour traffic. I do my best writing while I’m walking down to the beach. Which I can do because I work from home. 10 out of 10.

What I miss out on: Being part of the gang. Birthday lunches come go without me. People leave without saying goodbye. And working from home is not where you want to be when promotions are being handed out. 5 out of 10.

2. Working alone.

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer but the email conversations I have all day, every day and most nights (see 3. Workloads) – the chats attached to work talk – are real to me. I make work-friends easily this way. It’s cool to have friends in London, Moscow, Chicago and Stockholm. 8 out of 10.

3. Workloads

Every job has its work feasts and famines. When you’re freelance, both are horrific because you’re only paid for the work you do. Don’t take out a mortgage. Some freelancers turn down work. I have one word about that – why? Some part-timers work only the hours in their agreements. I have one word about that – how? Most businesses these days are global in one way or other. I’m ‘on’ 18 hours a day 7 days a week. That makes my nerves run hot and sometimes they short circuit. 3 out of 10.

4. Getting paid.

Freelance, part time, retainer or project work – doesn’t matter. If you get paid for 60% of the work you do, you’re doing well. 3 out of 10.

Here are a few of the things I learned the hard way (note – not an exhaustive list):

Never get sucked into signing a media booking form, supplier’s order form or sub-contractor agreement or, “can you buy it and I’ll pay you back.”
Fight a debt in court or get cracking on a new project? Use maths, not emotion, to work out the answer.
If you’re asked to do a menial job (like manning a stand, overseeing an activation or delivering the promo products) because, “The junior will stuff it up,” the client thinks he’s going to pay you what he’d pay a junior to stuff it up.
It would take his full time staff eight hours to do the job. He wants you to bill him for three. (he refers to men and women)
Get “one round of revisions only for free,” signed in advance.
“Oh…and could you also…?” is only billable if you say so before you do it and can triumph over shitloads of blackmail and walloping threats.

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