A year has gone by since I walked away from a permanent job that ticked almost all the boxes for me. It was part-time, an easy commute, I liked my boss, the money was fine and the people were great. But something was missing.
That something was freedom. The Pocahontas in me wanted the freedom to discover new professional territory, and the freedom to say no sometimes.
I have no illusions about work. No matter what your job, you have to spend most of the time digging and planting in order to have days (or brief moments) when you can eat sun-kissed strawberries. The same rule applies whether you are working for yourself or for someone else. But in my case, I have found that being self-employed gives me a better digging to strawberry-eating ratio. And home-grown strawberries also taste better.
Looking back over the last 12 months, I’m pleased with the range of work I’ve found. One thing I’ve learned about being self-employed is that it is very much about relationships. I’m lucky to have made connections with good people. I’ve worked on a mix of writing and translation projects for corporate, scientific and media clients. I registered my own company (easy) and sorted out the paperwork for national insurance (not easy). After going to hell and back with my old laptop, I finally bought a new one which has been very obedient so far.
The challenging part of working from home has been keeping my work time fenced off from family duties. Swiss school hours don’t make this any easier. But I’ve got so used to working with interruptions now, I probably couldn’t work uninterrupted anymore!
The most unexpected and exciting project to come from my new freelance life is the book about Switzerland I am very close to completing. When I left the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation last year, one of the things on my list was to submit a proposal for a non-fiction book to Bergli Books in Basel. That proposal was ultimately developed into the book that will be published in October. I’m looking forward to announcing the title and cover as soon as the publisher’s catalogue is ready.
I saw in a recent report that 28% of Swiss citizens work at least one half day per week at home, and one in four are self-employed. Of the remaining 75%, one third would like to go freelance in the next year. It’s not always a smooth transition. On my previous two attempts at working freelance I struggled to find enough work. But that was at an earlier stage in my career in a different economic climate. It helps too to have a broader base of activities. What is your perspective on working from home or working for yourself? Anyone thinking of taking the plunge?
8 thoughts on “Strawberries for the self-employed”
When you arrive just around the river bend I wish you a shoreline filled with baskets of strawberries and, for my sake, a piece or two of dark chocolate.
Thank you Marc. A lovely sentiment. (Chocolate has been ordered)
Congratulations on your success as a freelancer and also on your near-completion of your book about Switzerland. Two significance achievements!
Your comments about strawberries made me smile. One of my first jobs was picking strawberries. Although I didn’t earn much money, I didn’t have to wait to eat the strawberries. This is the blog post I wrote about picking strawberries. http://nickichenwrites.com/wordpress/culture/summer-jobs-part-1/
Thank you very much Nicki. That’s a lovely short memoir you’ve written. I have great memories of helping out on my grandparents’ farm, saving the hay especially. You definitely worked hard for a ten year old but how sweet it must have been to earn and spend your own money.
I work from home a bit but I find it rather lonely. I miss having colleagues to chat to, even if it’s just brief encounters in the office kitchen! Glad to hear you’re enjoying it and seem to have found a good balance. I look forward to hearing more about your book!
Thanks Claire. I know what you mean. Today I found out about a co-working space that exists really close to where I live. It’s a group office space for freelancers and you can sign up for different levels of use. I’m going to check it out on Friday. Could be the perfect half way house. They seem to have these in lors of places. Will report back.
I saw something about a place that offers free workspace in exchange for content too… might have been in Germany tho