In the Blog
Five Shameless Things: Five things you might not know about freelance work
Illustration by Beena Mistry
BY: Shannon D’Arcy in conversation with the Urban Worker Project
1. 9-5 jobs are disappearing
It might be surprising to know that between 40 and 60% of new jobs in Canada are freelance or contract positions. While traditionally the work week was 9-5, Monday-Friday, in the new economy, shift work, freelance and contract positions will be the new normal. Whereas this means that there isn’t the same safety net for all jobs, it also means that there are freelance opportunities in almost all sectors - including teaching, journalism, non-profits and creative work like writing and photography.
2. They don’t have the same benefits as other jobs
Even though so many new jobs are created as contract work, the structures are not in place like there are in more traditional jobs. Depending on the contract, workers don’t always have access to benefits like parental leave, health and dental coverage or income supports between contracts like Employment Insurance (EI). Organizations and groups like the Urban Worker Project in Toronto are trying to change the policies and increase protections for this type of work in Canada, but as they currently stand, employment laws protect workers in those 9-5 jobs that are quickly being replaced.
3. It’s not always a choice
While it can be empowering to strike out on your own as a freelance worker, for some people working multiple jobs is a necessity. Also called precarious work, freelance and contract jobs are sometimes the only positions available in certain sectors - like non-profit or journalism - and other times people are forced into part-time or shift work in order to pay bills and cover their costs.
Notably, many women find themselves in precarious work - whether by choice or by necessity - so they can control their own schedules. Women are still predominately in charge of childcare, and freelance work allows the opportunity to control your own schedule.
4. It can be really fulfilling…and a lot of work
Choosing to go into freelance work to fulfil a personal goal or chase a passion project is why many people choose to eschew more traditional office work - and it can be really fulfilling. Working odd hours enables people to work only when the mood strikes, or to pursue two very different things at the same time: working part time at a cosmetics store, for example, and building a photography business simultaneously.
Freedom to be your own boss, however, brings with it a lot of work. Precarious workers are busy hustling for their next contract, wondering if their clients will pay them on time, and constantly updating their calendars, hoping to avoid scheduling conflicts.
5.Community is really important
There are all sort of amazing forms of community if you’re looking to get into freelance work, and they are really important. Seek people out who can teach you how to create an invoice, file taxes and negotiate how much to charge for services. Some unions exist for some positions - like UNIFOR or ACTRA - but there are also groups like the Toronto tool library, the Bunz entrepreneurial zone and the Urban Worker Project.
Check out our upcoming Independence Survival Guide for 5 tips on how to freelance, issue out soon!