Paige Joanna


Living with a Chronic Illness and Being Freelance

  • Paige
  • January 29, 2018

This post has been long over do and one I’ve wanted to write for a while. I’ve been freelance since April last year and I feel my experience has been varied. Due to life with a chronic illness such a Crohns Disease amongst various other issues days can be tough. I wanted to share a post which gives an insight into Chronic Illness and Being Freelance as it has it’s challenges. I talk through the pros and cons of freelance work as well as day to day lifestyle to hopefully offer some insight.

Day to day lifestyle

A lot of people don’t actually know what I ‘do’ for a living but I earn income through various working projects and fields. My main source of income is my ‘influencer’ work. With this work it’s great when I have it and it pays well, but it can be flaky and some weeks busy and others quiet. Due to this I also have freelance clients where I do various roles within the creative social media field. I work on social media strategy, scheduling and actual creation of graphics such as photos, gifs and designs. My work is really varied and very creative which I love and I get to do something I thoroughly enjoy. This is the reason I went freelance back in April 2017 because I wanted more freedom in my own work. The ability to choose how I earn money and manage my own projects, clients and hours was why I took the initial ‘leap’.

Pros of Freelance Work with a Chronic Illness

There are many pros to being freelance with a Chronic illness and I am extremely grateful to be able to do this. The main benefit is choosing my own hours. Days where I work on blog projects from home I can wake up later. With my chronic illness I suffer with fatigue and find mornings a real challenge. When working for companies I’d have to follow the 9 to 5 regime and found it really draining. Early starts just don’t come naturally to me and I have learnt that that’s perfectly okay. I now work when I feel at my best and give myself extra time to wake up and feel 100% before starting my day.

As well as working hours I can also take time off when I want. Clients are a lot more flexible as long as I let them know and I can plan financially for holidays. The majority of my work is online and I can do this anywhere in the world so can take my work with me. I’ve managed to say yes to more press trips whereas in a full time job I ran out of holiday allowance so was turning down opportunities. The flexibility also means I can make any doctors or hospital appointments I want whereas before I often felt too guilty to take time out of the office. Living with a Chronic Illness and Being Freelance definitely has it’s challenges but the flexibility of hours is a huge perk.

Cons of Freelance Work with a Chronic Illness

As with most things theres always a few Debbie downers to take into consideration. Overall I would never go back to full time work as there are genuinely more pros to cons being freelance for myself. It really suits my lifestyle, personality and health issues.

There are a couple of cons to being freelance and a big one is company benefits. Things like pensions, Christmas bonuses and the social environment are amongst things I miss. Also, being within a company full time means maternity pay and an easier journey into getting a mortgage. There is also no effort involved with taxes as accounts do it all for you including student loan and national insurance. Money is consistent with a salary so theres never any worries on flaky hours or late payments, oh the joys.

Why it works for me

Being Freelance works for me because I work really hard to maintain it. It’s not something that naturally goes to plan or comes to you. Imagine yourself going for job interviews every month and that’s often the feeling of Freelance work. When your sending off proposals to your dream brands then you are constantly selling your skillset. It can be tough and that’s why I don’t think it’s for everyone. You have to be really self motivated in time management and bettering yourself as no one will do it for you. Going out there and finding opportunities as you have to be prolific. Building relationships with brands and people in the industry is so important and networking with similar people. About 90% of the time opportunities I have got have been from knowing someone or a connection I have made be meeting people. This is why being freelance suits me because I’m a people person and love building relationships old and new.

What I wish I could change

If there was anything I could change in the industry as a whole is would be the support of others. Theres a lot of talk on ‘girls support girls’ but it really could get better. Everyone is so scared to collaborate, share contacts or even share advice in case it takes away from their success. I’ve been so lucky to meet some amazing people who have really helped me in my career and i’m so grateful. It means a lot to be recognised for my skills and be able to make an impact to my clients and on my influencing platforms. living with an chronic illness can be a challenge especially when it’s invisible like Crohns Disease. When it flares up and on bad days I often feel like I need the support of others even more so. It can make a huge negative impact on my mental health some days. Meeting up with people is important but can also be tough when in pain, so balance is key.

Things to consider before taking the leap

If you are also considering freelance work with or without an illness theres definitely things to consider. You have to be self motivated and able to not have structure to your day unless the freelance work is consistent. Also if you are able to work through managing illness symptoms and prioritising work life balance. Get as much savings behind you before taking the leap for a bit of a back up cash. It’s a huge learning process and there will be good and bad days, hence the adorable jumper in the photos. Freelance can be extremely rewarding and even more so with a Chronic illness. I hope this post helped anyone looking to go freelance or gave more insight into how I work!