Survey results #4: what are the highs and lows of freelancing?

Wednesday 15th January, 2014

Today in Guardian Cultural Professionals, curator and consultant Maria Blyzinsky gives her top five tips for freelancing in the museum and heritage sector including knowing your strengths, and nurturing your network.

She relishes the challenge of being freelance, and has weathered storms of recession, financial cuts and austerity. But as she freely admits, her nose ‘has been permanently strapped to the proverbial grindstone to make things happen’.

So, while freelancing in museums and heritage can be a fulfilling career choice, as my MA survey results have shown so far, it’s no easy option. What are freelancers’ experiences of aspects of self-employment like deadlines, motivation and workflow? The survey asked to rate them from low (find it tough) to high (love it).

The biggest negatives were saving for pensions, erratic workflow and chasing payments. One respondent said that 90% of clients were excellent but the 10% who didn’t pay on time (or at all) created a disproportionate amount of hassle.

On the positive side, people rated highly the freedom to work independently, take charge of their own career, and even network. Self-motivation and focusing on work were a problem for very few people (although we all have our mind-wandering moments).

So what are the biggest challenges we face? Tomorrow in a final post I’ll show these results, look at what advice there is to help us, and what may need to change in the sector to make sure freelancers get the recognition we deserve.

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