Money: What it feels like for a freelance.

So here’s you. You’re very lucky because you love your job. Because you love your job you try to be good at it. You turn up every day, sometimes you turn up when you’re poorly. Often you work late or at weekends, sometimes you sacrifice family time to get your work done.

Sometimes you agree to take on more work when you already have a lot on, and then you battle with fears and emotions and stress and you get up early and you work into the night and you do everything you can to get the job done. On time. And you incur the wrath of your loved ones who get pissed off because doing that means everything at home slips. And you miss putting the kids to bed.

But you love your job and you know that makes you very lucky. And because you’re hard-working and dedicated and you like to think that you have a good reputation for that, you keep doing it; you keep putting in the hours, and you’re thorough and you produce stuff you can mostly be pretty proud of. Even if it isn’t always the most exciting of work, you’re happy to put your name to it because you know you were meticulous and you did the best job that you could.

And your bosses seem to like what you do. They say nice things about your work, and they use it to entertain or inform their readers, and to attract advertisers to the magazines that they publish. They often come back with more work or ask you to try different jobs in some of their other magazines. They recommend you to their colleagues. Sometimes they even nominate you for awards.

So it’s good. They’re happy. It makes you happy. You’re all happy. And you know you’re very lucky because you love your job.

But then, come pay day, it all goes a bit wrong. Somehow your bosses have forgotten to pay you. The post comes round with the payslips and yours is missing. Everyone else is going off for a pint or treating themselves to a curry and you’re staring into a big overdraft. It’s quite worrying actually because there’s always an endless supply of bills to pay every month. Gas and electricity and phones and mortgage and car and stuff; the same as everyone else.

So you talk to your bosses and they say they’re not sure what went wrong. They ask you to send your details in again, they refer you to accounts, or they say it’s up to their bosses, they’re sure you will get paid soon, it will definitely be in the next payment cycle… And you believe them, and you try to move some money around to cover the bills until you do get paid, or you rely on your other half to pay the urgent ones. And another week goes by and still the money doesn’t appear. You’re starting to panic now so you call accounts again, and speak to your bosses again and they issue the same reassurances and sometimes the money does turn up and sometimes it takes another two, three, four weeks before it comes in. And direct debits get returned and standing orders go unpaid and bank charges pile in…

And then it happens again next month, and the next month too. In fact it happens every month. It’s got to the point where you’re starting to dread pay day because you know that when everyone else – including your bosses – are getting those payslips you’re going to be left staring at a big fat hole of nothing. And you’re going to have to spend time that you’d rather spend doing great work on calling people up and sending more emails and asking them for the money they owe you, and trying to sort out the bank.

And sometimes you tell your friends and your family about how this happens every month and they’re outraged on your behalf. They say you should get mad, you should go in swinging. Get cross with your bosses, tell them it’s not good enough; they’ve had the work and they’re happy with it and they owe you the money. They tell you to get tough; to threaten your bosses with late payment fees and interest added on to your pay because it’s so unfair. It is totally unreasonable.

And you know that they’re right. You know you should do that, but you love your job and you don’t want to piss your bosses off. You don’t want them to sack you. That would be even worse. You need the job even if you do have to fight for the money every month.

So here’s you. And you’re stuck. You’re doing good work. Your bosses like your work. But they won’t pay you.

But you love your job. And you know you’re very lucky.

Yeah, you’re very lucky.

You love your job.

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