Upon graduating, after a long wait to receive my certification in the mail, I immediately got to work in freelance. I interviewed with one firm, and two days later I was in my first depo. Deep down, from day one of school, I always knew I belonged at home. It just fits my personality. But this was intuition; to go into freelance made sense logically – great experience, better money, more time to perfect realtime.
I had always been the impatient type; there are pros and cons to a personality like this, and this decision to immerse myself immediately into work would turn out to be the latter. I have since turned to a much slower way of living.
It is hard to be patient upon graduating school. Your loans are large; your machine and software cost $10,000. You have been waiting for this day all your life. Then comes the long process of certification arriving in the mail – six months for me.
I discussed in another post why signing up with a big firm or to the first firm you interview with is a bad idea. There were still benefits to my mistake – you often see blessings in the midst of sorrow (migraines = simple diet). On the other side of that, there is often suffering in a blessing (great money = many vanities).
The blessing of signing up with a firm with low rates is that I was working all the time and for jobs beyond my skill level. There is nothing that makes you paddle faster than being thrown out in the deepest end. Because of this, my realtime abilities and confidence advanced quickly. My personality is not one that enjoys multi-tasking or being overworked, and so my health and well-being quickly deteriorated.
In freelance, there are many aspects that I no longer have in my life. So many receipts to keep track of. There is waiting on attorneys, dressing up, an hour lunch break, arriving early, finding parking, scraping ice off your windshield, skipping lunch break, mumbling witnesses, fast-talking attorneys, setting up and breaking down. Finally, getting home just to do the bulk of your job because your job hasn’t really started until you’ve started editing. It all may not seem that much put in a nice paragraph, but freelance is not for the feint of heart.
The true cost of freelance is not in the sheer volume of hours or in the fact of the unpredictability of it (making it hard to schedule any appointments or vacations), but also the fact that firms constantly cut deals with attorneys or larger firms, other reporters cut deals with attorneys or offer incentives outside of skill, and attorneys share transcripts – this all cuts into your salary and freelancer’s salaries have been dwindling for some time. The only way to make it worth your while in the freelance realm is realtime; anything less, and you are getting paid considerably less than a captioner when you factor in all your duties, risks, and hours.
The expenses in freelance are great: The parking, UPS bill, stickers, business cards, and realtime equipment. Unlike in captioning or other work-from-home jobs, you have to have current support $800 and certification $270 – then CEUs and realtime software costs. I can let those things go right now and it would not affect me at all; in freelance, these are necessary.
The main cost is the costs that you don’t consider. For instance, I never have to miss cooking a single dinner now; you will often run out of time or energy to cook. Many freelancers eat out a lot – this often causes weight gain and great cost. Your car, your most valuable asset, will have wear and tear and gasoline costs that you will never be reimbursed for. At home, wait times, eating out, nice clothes, and car costs (including parking) are eliminated.
My days became manageable in captioning, and now I write only to radio. This eliminates the need to work nights and to have cable (as is expected in captioning). It also limits the receipts I have to save.
I cannot describe how frenetic my days were often in freelance, but I can describe what my days Mondays through Fridays look like now. Every weekend is free.
- Wake up at 8:00 a.m. every day (consistency).
- Brush teeth, put up hair.
- Everything is set up. Water and machine – ready.
- No professional wardrobe, bags, or realtime equipment necessary. No dressing, driving, and waiting.
- Start writing at 8:07 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. to my usual speakers. (Write down anything I might want to work on later while writing.)
- It’s 12:00. Make lunch (soup and sandwich) and then a Crock-Pot dinner. Load dishes. Take a nap.
- Accomplish a few necessary chores.
- Work on my hobby (filming), blogging, or reading later in the day. Shower. Sleep.
As you can see, the days are very manageable and enjoyable. Nothing spins out of control, and I know my schedule every day so appointments are easy to make. There is ample room for quality time with people I love, to meditate, to garden, to sew, or to read; to volunteer or to talk on the phone with my mom. This kind of schedule saves my arms and wrists, but allows my mind and actions to follow my minimalist philosophies. It is so much easier to eliminate bills when your schedule is clear – so in that way, you increase your income while getting exercise. This is true minimalist living.