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Confessions of a freelancer who works from... home.

Freelancing in the early 2000s: a universe of possibilities, but mainly working from home.

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The freelance life of working from home is seen by some as a neat example of how technology can offer you freedom to work where you want. A laptop and internet connection is all you need and you are pretty set as a freelance writer. Working in the familiarity and comfort of your own home not having to deal with the daily grind: achingly early alarm calls, tedious commuting and erratic human traffic, sounds like a good deal right? I definitely thought so the first time I started worked as a home freelancer but several years later do I still see it that way?

Sav D'Souza, a freelance writer for several years confesses to some of the pitfalls a home worker can face and analyses the merits of remote working:

Living in London I got my first break as a journalist back in the Dot com boom of 2000. I went from little or no joy in pitching editors to an 80% success rate in getting commissioned by an online sports betting company for content feature articles. Wow literally zero to hero in the click of an internet start-up.

There has been much written about the silly money that was around at the time, the almost kamikaze like launching of cash into the next possible big online business success. I personally went from a meagre and plugging away existence to a reasonably solvent journo before the cash injector plug was pulled out abruptly and seemingly without much given notice. Optimism switched off with a flick of a switch for the early internet start-up generation.

The six months or so working from home experience fuelled by the Dot Com gravy train was on the face of it good times. On the down side I worked myself into a burnout fever where I was unable to take any time off for risk of less commissions and jeopardising the massive roll that I felt I was on.

But getting paid to write about sports all day while having the freedom to enjoy the relaxed home environment benefits felt beyond lucky.  Not being tied down to a nine to fiver convention meant that I could factor in afternoons on the golf course or watch back-to-back movies, go grocery shopping and to the gym, importantly when the fairways and checkouts where not busy, and have time to cook regular meals. Working around a flexible schedule all I had to do was meet agreed deadlines and deliver on time

Another thing that home working can mean is that you, in theory at least, have the opportunity to work in another country, a new base, a chance to observe another culture, different places and gain new environment experiences. I’d always thought it might be cool to live and work in another country and so when the opportunity came I moved to Prague in late 2005.

Again I was pretty lucky and managed to find some avenues for freelance work for American and UK based publications and also local publications while smiling at the seemingly 1940 like prices of the Czech Republic at the time (rough estimates: €1.50/40 Koruna for a glass of some of the best beers in the world, €1.50/40 Koruna packet of Marlboro Lights cigarettes and €350/10,000 Krona a month for modern cute flat in nice part of town). I had somehow got myself into a charmed home working situation again or so I thought.  

Isolation can be cited as a common freelance problem

Up until then my home working freelancer experiences in London and then Prague had been very agreeable. The freedom was great but then something started to change. I thought I was and still think I am fairly good at being on my own but I started to notice that I missed human interaction.

The possibility of engaging with the outside world, the stimulus and sometimes even camaraderie gained from speaking to colleagues or other people in different capacities, was something I was beginning to miss. I realise not all human work interactions are enjoyable all the time, the office politics, inflexible bosses or under par conversation time but they do appear to be valuable.

As a freelancer home worker you can feel slightly out of synch with most other workers. You have to sometimes adhere to being anti-social when deadlines are due so can miss out seeing friends. The combination of working at home and missing seeing friends means you can feel somewhat of a recluse, a Cinderella storycut off by the rest of the world.

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