The life of a freelancer is fraught with uncertainty. Many of us live day to day, unsure of where we’ll be tomorrow. We wait by our phones, we constantly refresh our email inboxes. One missed message could determine whether you make rent that month.
Today’s story is about a roller coaster ride my job sponsored about a week ago.
I was working at an agency that booked me way in advance for a week, and they wanted to book me for the rest of the month. It was easy and fun design work, and I was excited to say yes…till I took a closer look at the schedule. There were weird gaps in it – work for Mon. – Wed., then off till next week’s Thursday. Repeat and repeat. I calculated that this would net me 2 weeks worth of income instead of a full month’s worth, which was unacceptable. The gap days weren’t long enough for me to find additional work elsewhere. So I started negotiating with the producer – give me a more solid booking or else I reject the job. It’s just financially stupid for me to accept!
“Okay, I’ll see what we can do,” she said. The producer knew it was unfair. “The Creative Director REALLY likes working with you, so I’m sure we’ll find other projects to keep you occupied during the down time.”
I felt good. Relieved. Maybe “ask and you shall receive” really is a thing!
Lunch came and went. The two coworkers I’d been asking out to lunch all week had left without asking me. Bitches.
When everyone returned, the producer stood up. “Our client decided to make drastic script changes, and we won’t hear anything back from them till October 20th at the earliest. We’ll honor all bookings already made….”
If I were a cartoon, you would’ve seen my head collapse in on itself! I didn’t book like everyone else in the room – I gambled and lost and now I’ll have NO income for the rest of the month!!!! Sweating, I tried to talk myself down with logic. I knew this was a risk. This is probably for the better…So, like the calm person I am, I sent out stacks of emails to studios, hunting for work, in less than ten minutes. My lines were out. SOMEONE had to bite…right?
And someone did!! I felt giddy and immediately, desperately said yes. It’s a good thing most bookings happen in text form, I’d just incoherently spazz out on the phone! YES, GIVE ME YOUR MONEY :D
Then, a tap on my shoulder.
Then, the Creative Director pulled me in to his glass office. It felt like being in the Principal’s office. I was panicking again.
“I heard about you wanting a more solid booking, I’m really sorry to see you go after this Friday.”
Ugh, me too. I regretted all those fancy pens and $70 leggings I just bought. Oh and the $40 leggings too…
“And this is really premature of me to ask right now, but would you be interested in a staff position here?”
A….WHAT?! My head re inflated.
“I think you’re extremely talented and I really hate to lose you. You’re…26? So you’re probably interested in insurance and retirement benefits, right??”
My head inflated even more, and then it popped.
Staff isn’t something he can just throw around, but it sounded like something we would talk about again later this year. It also wouldn’t change October’s schedule; luckily I immediately found work elsewhere, doing some cool stuff :) Other freelancers have a very calm, come what may attitude, and are okay taking 6 months off in the year. Me….I’m of the traditional school of thought, where you should work as long as you’re able, while you’re young, to save up money for retirement. I don’t believe Social Security can support me (or if it’ll even be around) in the future, so it’s a big concern to me.