24 November 2009

National Freelancers Day

A couple of months ago I received a press release for National Freelancers Day. I was going to blog about it at the time but then decided I'd wait until it was actually NFD, which was yesterday. Except I was out all day on a training course and then I went straight to an evening meeting and didn't get home until 11pm. And by the time I'd fed the boy and myself, downloaded a huge batch of email and hit the "mark all as read" button on my RSS reader, it was nearly midnight and I was too tired to blog. I just wanted sleep.

So, here I am blogging a day late about why I don't give a toss about National Freelancers Day (although I do care about the missing apostrophe).

PCG invented this day. Who or what is PCG? It's a company (Professional Contracters Group or something like that). Its strapline says "the voice of freelancing" although it doesn't speak for me. I doubt PCG speaks for most other freelances I know, either. In fact, not one of the freelances I know was planning to celebrate NFD! As far as I can tell, PCG just wants freelances to sign up to it and contract work to them. I'm perfectly capable of finding my own work, thanks.

I'm also more than capable of celebrating my freelance status without assistance. I do this most days, in fact - I celebrate being able to sit at my PC in my pyjamas and sift through my email and work on my clients' projects or file my press copy, while gazing out of the window smirking at my neighbours as they all dash out to work every morning, driven by the need to be present at their boss's office come what may.

In fact, I was brutally reminded yesterday morning how glad I am that I no longer have to commute. My alarm went off at 5.30, I woke up in shock at the loud digital bleeping of the clock and leapt straight into the shower, knowing full well that if I didn't I'd fall asleep again for another hour and then I'd be late. Somehow I made it out of the house on time to catch a packed bus to the station then squeeze into an overcrowded train that had no buffet trolley. I got off an hour later grouchy at not having had any coffee and feeling thoroughly misanthropic because of the other commuters I was forced to share space with.

So I celebrate every day my freedom to set my own hours, work wherever I choose and delight in the knowledge that if I don't want to, I don't have to deal with others. I don't need PCG or anyone else to give me permission to do this.

And what were PCG offering anyway? Let's see. Oh yes, some "events". In my city, that meant a panel discussion with a tax adviser and some recruitment specialists. Just the ticket after a hard day's freelancing. Not. I can't think of anything less enticing than listening to some bigwigs drone on about the various admin aspects of working for oneself. I'd rather stick pins in my eyeballs.

If I hadn't had to attend my meeting, I'd have probably headed for the pub with some freelance colleagues to share a bottle or two of wine and a gossip - a far more productive way to enjoy the freelance life, or at least a spare evening after a hard day's self-employment.

Freelancing is not always a bed of roses. Sometimes it's rough and tough - especially in a downturn. But even in the bad times, I see good in it, even if on the really bad days the only good thing is being able to work in my pyjamas. And I really don't need anyone to tell me that's fine because I already know it is. The cynic in me knows that PCG probably created National Freelancers Day in order to recruit members. That in itself is reason enough for me to avoid it like the plague.

And on the days when freelancing really is stonkingly brilliant, I need PCG to help me "celebrate" it even less.

If anyone reading this did actually get involved, do comment and share your thoughts because I'd be very interested to hear your take on NFD.

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