Key to happiness as a freelancer – Sandi Caganoff, User 9

Discipline, at the best of times, is a very difficult thing. Not having a second cupcake with coffee, only having two whiskeys at night, and not sleeping with the guy you met on your first date all take great courage.

Being a freelancer requires the same kind of bravery. It is an act of heroism to leave a comfortable well-paid job and branch out on your own. You need to be daring. The fact that sometimes you need those cupcakes and whiskeys to be daring is a different matter, but so be it.

Freelancers spend vast amounts of time working either from the coziness of their home or from the comfort of a coffee shop. The rules differ, depending on where you work.

If you’re a ‘work from home’ kinda girl, make sure you have the most delicious of pajamas. Nothing tight around the waist, and definitely no elastic. Have sheepskin slippers close by, or a nice thick pair of striped socks.

Pajamas need to be loose fitting so you can drift off quickly into dreamland when you get sleepy. Onesies are great and men’s flannel pajamas are rather pleasant too.

If a client surprises you at the door, make sure you can quickly throw your pi’s over your head and change into something a little more practical. Always leave a dress hanging near your computer. And if you’re wearing socks, well ‘who said socks and sandals isn’t cool’.

I would also recommend a fairly smart robe, so when Eskom or the broom-sellers interrupt, it doesn’t look like you’ve just got out of bed.

Buy a dog. Freelancing can be a lonely job, and it’s quite important to have something to distract you. It’s also nice for those moments when you have writer’s block – take a break every hour, throw a few sticks in the garden, even go for a walk. And dogs get hungry all the time – it’s a good excuse to make yourself that second toasted cheese. Sharing is caring. And dogs are great for cuddling too.

Do not ever get a cat. You’ll be so busy instagramming the damn thing that you wont get any work done, ever.

Freelancing is a great excuse to buy that Nespresso Coffee Machine. They’re cute, sexy, make coffee for one and fill your home with inspiring aromas. Vanilla is especially helpful if you’re writing erotica, Colombian great for spy stories, and Caramelito will probably just send you back to bed, but hey, yum, coffee!

You may of course be an accountant, in which case the plain boring decaffeinated will work for you.

People think that working on your own gives you more quality time with the kids. They take it for granted that you’ll be the mother available for the extra ballet run, or will happily do the Kumon Lifts. Do not fall into that trap! I’ve taught my children well and have perfected the art of saying ‘Sorry sweet pea, I’m working from home today, you’ll need to hang out with Sam’  Or even – ‘How about spending the afternoon in the school library?’. Time away from home never harmed any child. Their grades will improve, and hey, your child may be in therapy for the next twenty years, but well, you’ll be a successful wealthy freelancer. What’s R 600 a week in the bigger scheme of things?

And then there’s working in coffee shops. It’s important to choose your coffee shop carefully. I’ve learnt to get to my favorite store early, but it’s still like the Hunger Games. People stand, poised with their briefcases, wearing cheap jackets but looking super important, all eyeing the same table. I have no problem using my elbows, and have been known to trip up the woman in Loubotins if she grabs my regular spot.

Always position your laptop well. I sometimes get embarrassed when people can see me on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr, and I’ve heard the whispers ‘ Jeez, she’s always on Facebook’, but now I don’t care. I’ve learned that everyone is on Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler. It’s how we work; it’s why we freelance for Goodness sake

I used to get outraged by Sudan and Syria but now my pet hate are people who sit at tables near the outlets and don’t use them. How dare they! You need to master the art of staring them down until they spill their coffee, choke on their chocolate cake and leave. Add it to your CV. It’s an important skill.

A freelancer is someone who sells their skills to a person, without any formal contract.  I love being a freelancer.  I am not tied to any one thing, at any one time.

I have to be good at what I do.

But i can also push the snooze button fifteen times in the morning!






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