A day in the life…..
My typical day starts between 5 and 6 a.m. Usually I make my way to the kitchen and brew some strong coffee. It has to be filter coffee, and I really cannot start any work until I have had at least one mug at my desk. I usually check my diary and look at any emails, and then I read the BBC news page, a couple of blogs, and whatever else takes my fancy online. Some of the topics I write about are connected with international politics and culture and so I enjoy keeping up to date with developments in these areas.
By 6 a.m. at the latest I aim to be fully awake and immersed in my work. Today I had to complete a final check of a large brief that I finished late last night and also write a small, four page piece on research methods in my subject area. It took me about 90 minutes to do the proofreading and I felt very pleased with myself because I spotted several typos and one missing reference. I submitted the final version and heaved a great sigh of relief. It was a 30 page text, and I have been working on it for several days.
With a second cup of coffee I start on my brief for today. I have a nice collection of hard copy books on my shelf which I use often, and I use e-books and two academic referencing databases as well. Progress is fast and I quite enjoy explaining how to use qualitative methods to describe complex phenomena. This is my favourite time of day, because the house is quiet and I have peace to work without any interruptions.
At 8.30 I stop work and sort out a few family chores. My small research piece is ready by noon and I upload it on the relevant page online. In the meantime I have received 8 emails alerting me to new briefs which are available, one request from the allocations team to look at a brief that no-one else wants to do, and an invitation from an American publisher to do some work on a new book that is due out next year. I bid for two of the new briefs and agree to take the other one. Of course I write back to the publisher as well, because it is important for me to have more than one source of income and a variety of different research tasks. This keeps me in touch with my contacts abroad and allows me to build a good portfolio so that I will always have options for my future career.
The gas board is messing about with a pneumatic drill outside my window, and so in the afternoon I decide to take the dog to the park. He looks a bit shocked, because I don’t often have time in the afternoons, but the fresh air does us both good. When I come back there is an amendment request waiting for me. The client actually is quite happy with the work, but wants a few more pages on a similar topic. I send a mail agreeing to do this within 48 hours for an additional fee, at the same price per page as the original. Quite a lot of my writing is repeat work from customers I have worked with before, and so I try to be as helpful as I can with such requests, in the hope that they will come back and order more work in the future.
I cook dinner for the family (lasagne and salad) and watch Heartbeat with them because this is Mum’s favourite. The beauty of freelancing for me is that I can look after her at home, while working pretty much full time as well. In the evening I check my mails. Two new briefs have been allocated to me and so I enter these into my accounts, since I keep a running total of my income in order to avoid any last-minute panic when my tax return is due. I note the deadlines in my diary so that I can plan my time, and I set up files for each new brief, checking that I can download all the attachments and that all the instructions are clear. The flexibility of freelancing suits me very well and I look forward to another busy day all over again tomorrow!