Remembering lockdown, female freelancers reveal covid's silver lining: time

Time appears to be the silver lining of covid-19 for freelancers, as lockdown afforded them many hours to work on themselves, their families and their self-employed ventures.

Evocative of the lockdown endured by a voiceover artist, Faye Dicker, who says she used the compulsory time at home to review her timelines, is a freelance photographer’s experience.

'A driving force'

“Covid, at its worst, was going from a business healthily ramping up…[clients] to having no business and no childcare -- overnight,” the independent photographer began.

“[Ultimately from the pandemic], I learned that time [spent on] my business is really important to me. It's part of my identity. And it's a driving force for getting up each morning.”

'Lockdown Cake'

A gluten-free baker says that due to needing to adapt to covid restrictions, she began offering a ‘Lockdown Cake’ -- a still-delicious offering which just required fewer ingredients.

Crucially, the pivoting process taught the freelancer that she needed to look more closely at unit costs, including charging more for a standard cake (once she reverted to selling it).  

The ample amount of time granted by lockdown to scrutinise her bottom line even made the Bristol-based baker ditch some of her products as, she says, “they just didn’t make money.”

'Solo time to just do nothing'

Similarly asked what covid taught them, other freelancers said that they used the government’s “Stay Home” order to do nothing -- albeit still constructively.

“My therapist recommended that we each had 30 minutes’ solo time to just do nothing at all, other than sit still, in the sun, with a cuppa’, or lay down and stare into nothingness -- just to destress,” says one creative freelancer, referring to spending lockdown with her partner, and their kids.

She continued in a statement: “It’s amazing what a difference it made. I mean we were still massively stressed but it allowed us to recalibrate somewhat and prevented us popping!”

'SEISS, a real kicker'

In her article for FreelanceUK last week, voiceover artist Ms Dicker acknowledged the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme as a potential boost, financially, for freelancers.

But the scheme appears to have also acted as a potential downer too, particularly for freelancers who are mums.

“The fact the SEISS grant was so rigid in not taking with maternity allowance was a real kicker,” says Ms Dicker, founder of child-friendly business network Freelance Mum.

“It’s doesn’t promote a sense of worth, when your contribution to society isn’t recognised, because you had a baby. And with a low sense of worth, it’s even harder to claw back those clients and re-establish that business you worked so hard for.”

'Pittance'

Posting to the network’s The Mothership, a freelance designer confirmed: “Financially, I was already suffering a mega loss in earnings due to [an] illness and when the pandemic hit, I was certain it’d be the death of [my design consultancy for SMEs].

“[And so] I didn’t qualify for much [financially on] the SEISS. Maternity time and illness brought my last three years’ earnings down to a pittance. In fact, I received [just] £243 [from the government scheme].”

With more than just a hint of sarcasm, another recipient of maternity allowance reflected on her lockdown: “I was fortunate; I [got] maternity money, but ONLY had to juggle both a toddler and a newborn baby in a house which was too small and that I could only leave for a single hour a day to exercise!”

'Broken'

A graphic designer by trade, the freelancer despite sounding critical of the government’s resources for self-employed people, is now almost appealing to officialdom for help.

 “At that time [my partner and I were both allowed to return to work around September], I was actually trying to rebuild my business”, she recalled, “but by December, I was broken and no longer felt I could even be a designer.

“So to me, the model is broken. We need flexible work patterns for both parents that allow us to spend time with our children, build sustainable businesses, and give us some ability to look after our own wellbeing.”

'More considered, slower, is much healthier'

Time is similarly on the mind of another Mothership user, but for a more positive reason.

Also self-employed, she posted: “We did learn a valuable lesson -- as a family [during lockdown]. Previously, we used to have activities every day after school, and we’d go on a trip or adventure EVERY weekend. But the slower pace of life in lockdown taught us that taking things in a more considered way is much healthier for us than rocketing about all over the place.”

 

19th November 2021

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