Mandy Collins: Freelancing nice, full-time employment nicer | Fin24

Mandy Collins: Freelancing nice, full-time employment nicer

Aug 19 2015 17:35

Yes, freelancing is a wonderful, flexible lifestyle that puts you in charge of your own destiny. But in these tough times, it’s even nicer to know, when you’re once again gainfully employed in the full-time economy, that month-end means money in the bank, and weekends mean the luxury of time to unwind.

By Mandy Collins*

The other day a little miracle happened in my bank account. The 25th of the month rolled around and some money plopped in, for the first time in almost 18 years. Now don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I haven’t earned any money in that time. It’s just that I’ve had to fight bloody hard for it. Because after almost 18 years of freelancing, I’ve taken a full-time job.

For the first time in almost two decades, I didn’t have to steel myself for the inevitable round of wheedling, schmoozing emails and phone calls, the type that start with “I’m having an admin day, and I note my invoice is still unpaid…”

They’re the kind of phone call every freelancer knows and dreads, and they never stop. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been freelancing for 20 minutes or 20 years. You still have to do the monthly rounds to nag for what is rightfully yours from some clients. But that’s a gripe for another day.

Because before me, dear readers, lies an even greater miracle. It shimmers on the horizon with such promise and possibility that I can scarcely take it in. There before me, are the threefold beauty of weekends, paid leave and sick leave. Imagine!

Because for all the flexibility and freedom freelancing offers, the one downside is that traditional time boundaries melt away. The equation is simple: no work, no pay. The only thing that matters is that you meet the deadline, and if that means you work nights, weekends and public holidays, then so be it. You suck it up, knuckle down, and get it out.


If you want to go on holiday, you work like a dog for the week or two beforehand to ensure you’ve met all deadlines that fall during your vacation. And while you’re on the beach, there’s a good chance you’ll be fielding calls and emails to ensure you have work when you get back.

If you’re sick, you shove a tissue into each nostril if necessary (I’m not even joking), and work in your pyjamas. Only the most virulent of tummy bugs or actual hospitalisation…actually no, I worked there too…can stop you from showing up at your desk.

Because there are lots of people out there trying to freelance. If you drop the ball, you might not be able to find it again to pick it up. So you take whatever drugs are recommended to solve the problem, and you keep going. It’s a constant hustle.

There’s also no maternity leave. I had two babies by C-section, and again, it’s no work, no pay. So I took four weeks off to have my first daughter, and six weeks for the second. “Oh, but you’re at home!” people say, as if that makes it easier.

Well, it’s pretty hard, actually, to be disciplined about working while you can hear your baby crying elsewhere in the house. It physically hurts to stay at your desk and let someone else do the comforting. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

I will confess that I’ve managed to land a job in what is mostly a virtual organisation, which means I can still work from home, there’s a measure of flexibility to my hours, and I can still show up in my pyjamas if I want to (just as long as I remember to turn the camera off when I Skype my team). Bum, meet butter.

I’m also acutely aware that there’s no such thing as actual job security. We all know people who’ve been retrenched, and companies fold every day, so one has to work towards having some reserves in place, just in case. But it’s awfully nice to receive a payslip, and a pay cheque, and to look forward to taking some actual leave.

And I hope I never take any of those things for granted.

* Mandy Collins is a freelance writer, editor and author in Johannesburg. Well, that’s her official title, anyway. She also plays chauffeur and cook to two daughters, blogs, writes fiction, dabbles in songwriting, and bakes prolifically when she needs therapy, which is often.

** This article first appeared on the Change Exchange, an online platform by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes.

* For more in-depth business news, visit or simply sign up for the daily newsletter.    



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