The housewives guide to competing for freelance work
How to actually find rewarding work from home?
Chandrika Gadiewasam for kathru.com
Be available. Be dependable. And deliver on time!
You know who they are, they sidle up to you at various functions and say that they are looking for work, and giggle bashfully and say can you send some work their way.
Comfortable looking, slightly frumpy stay-at-home moms, previously smart, professional, gainfully occupied women, now stuck at home with a kid, a dog or more challenging- a husband. Suddenly they want work, they want the money, but they are simply incapable of understanding that dread word “ deadlines.”
Well, deadlines are deadlines whoever you are, and companies have to work with deadlines. That’s how they make the money with which you are paid. You have to understand this. Frankly I’ve personally had it with employing housewives to do my sub-contracts. Here’s why. As an employer I’m completely fed up with the pall of apathy that falls over them once they are in the domestic environment, shielded by the comforting financial security of a possibly bossy husband and the large and incredibly varied list of excuses that they can effortlessly manufacture at home. The list of excuses I’ve been given by housewives who fail to meet deadlines they have sincerely committed to, is painfully inexhaustive (though exhausting to look at) and boggles the mind.
- I had to cook for my son (the guy was about 15 at the time mind you)
- Weekends I have to do the laundry/ bathe the dog…
- My husband and I had a trip planned for the long weekend
- We had an almsgiving
- I have to wrap my kids’ exercise books for next term…
- my internet isnt working (for the last 3 months)
I’m sorry and please consider me a completely insensitive, cold hearted, spoilsport who doesn’t understand. If you expect to be given freelance work and if you aren’t among the echelons of the great and famous freelancers who can afford to turn up their noses at decently paying work – then my dears, you have to be available, be dependable and be able to deliver on time.
I’m not saying to agree to unreasonable nonsense from employers. Low payment is one set of nonsense and nasty deadlines are another. A potential contractor once told me that I would get four days to proofread his entire annual report and said the previous proofreader had passed away. Why am I not surprised? He probably tried giving him a two day deadline and the man likely had a heart attack. Don’t agree to nonsense like that. But within reasonable pay and reasonable deadlines and with a sense of empathy for the employer’s point of view, please do your best to budget the time you need, add a comfortable margin for unexpected but inevitable domestic chaos, and quote in a way that is fair to you and fair to your contractor.
Another thing, when you work from home the home folks tend to think they can still expect the usual attention from you, which is not fair on you because you will be multitasking and you will be stressed. So before you agree to a contract, please do enlist the support of your mother in law, husband, children and perhaps even the dog, by explaining to them that for a while your work will be priority and they must support you, be quiet and get some of their own stuff sorted. Lock yourself away in a studio or take the laptop to the bathroom if needed, where you will not be disturbed. Promise everyone a reward after everything is over, and reward yourself too!
That way you will make a reputation for being dependable, which is the difference between being hired, and being passed over. Like a number of very sweet, earnest and enthusiastic friends of mine, who I would never actually dream of doing business with…
Chandrika Gadiewasam has 25 years of experience in the Not For Profit Sector in reporting, narrative writing and grant writing (including budgeting). She has worked with projects funded by the European Union, USAID and UNDP among many. This article was originally published in her personal blog.