Freelancer to Full Time
26 July 2013 - Impact Hub

Interview with Ali Freeman, Sustainability Consultant
Can you describe your recent switch from freelance to full time?
Until the beginning of this month I’d never been offered a full time job. Then I got offered two awesome ones in two days. “Just like buses” a friend commented…never come along when you want one, and then they all turn up at once.
But the truth is I wasn’t standing at a bus stop. The offers grew out of a transition in projects. And I certainly wasn’t standing around waiting for a bus. My city transport choice has always been the bicycle, which (if you’ll forgive the clichés), is a lot like freelance life: it allows me to set my own schedule; travel my own route; discover quirky places; work up a sweat; and I must say… it’s a lot less scary once you get going.
So I guess the switch feels like giving up a lot of independence, but I’m excited at the prospect of boarding a journey with other people for a while too.
What’s your freelancing background and why did you choose to be independent?
I guess I got going part-time when I was at Uni: teaching swimming and doing odd paid bits for environmental campaigns. By the time I graduated from my Masters two years ago, being freelance was a habit of mind.
I was actually a little baffled by the anxiousness of my Masters course-mates to bag a full time job. When I sifted through reams of job adverts London suddenly felt very grey to me. Like all the opportunity and life-force had been sucked out and boxed into “person specifications” and rigid “deliverables”.
Eventually I was lucky I got offered some interesting contract work that led into me thinking and working in a much more savvy freelance fashion.
What are the five things you’ll miss most about freelancing?
Highlights for me have included:
(1) stringing together unlikely projects such as technical work and social innovation processes;
(2) working side-by-side with more than one of my idols;
(3) building programmes of work from scratch – from conception to evaluation.
(4) I have also loved hopping between all manner of magical wi-fi connected spaces: cafes, exhibition halls, my colleagues’ homes, by the sea, on farms, co-working spaces and community hubs.
(5) Perhaps more than anything though, being freelance has forced me to articulate again and again the value I create, what I love doing and how I apply it to my field. Without a job title or big organisation to lean on, the experience has really challenged me to create my own route and compass for creating change.
What are you looking forward to about full-time work?
For all the colour and pick’n’mix fun of freelance life there are plenty of drags too. I won’t miss having to work even when I’m sick, or un-planning holidays because important work just landed. I won’t miss endless invoicing, cash flow problems and tax returns. I especially won’t miss clients that try to haggle and those that come with long legal memorandums of understanding.
Right now I’m also looking forward to a little less churn; to the opportunity of doing a year’s plan and investing myself as part of consistent team into co-creating something bigger.
Do you think you’ll ever go back to freelancing?
Absolutely, and I’d say that in a time of much social-economic change its only going to get easier and more attractive for people to choose freelance lifestyles in the UK.
This is part of a series of member blogs for 50 days of Freelancing. To find out more go here or contact Debbie or Rachel at [email protected]
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