Well, it’s a funny old thing, isn’t it? This bright new decade that started full of promise…ish. We didn’t know if we’d get a Brexit. We didn’t really know what a Brexit was any more either, to be fair. We’d been waiting so long. The Boris bus had long since pulled into God’s scrap yard.
With so much uncertainty, I’d decided to go PAYE on a contract. What that means is, I took a short gig as a part-time copywriter. The experiential agency was worried about IR35. This, as we know, didn’t happen in March after all, rather frustratingly for me and most of my LinkedIn contacts.
Instead, we got ourselves a global pandemic, and I had a baptism by fire as I quickly learned, along with many of the UK’s workers, what it’s like to pivot a business during said emergency. I was responsible for redirecting comms, naming a new product dealing in virtual events and liaising with company directors on a daily basis.
As a PAYE contractor, I quickly became a part of the virtual furniture, complete with all the trappings you’d expect from the business – I had to attend countless inductions, sit in meetings and spend energy getting to know colleagues in all different departments around the business. I was treated like an employee/freelancer. An employlancer? A freeloyee?
It was confusing. So confusing in fact, that when the contract ended, I was sent flowers and sent on my way, having been told work had dried up. But of course, it hadn’t, as I soon realised. I felt silly for a spell. And then I had a word with myself.
The company just couldn’t have any permanent staff on its books that they didn’t need, due to the current climate. They were fighting to pivot the business and I had served my purpose, understandably. As a freelancer often does (but I was an employee, wasn’t I? Gah!).
I sat through an exit interview, saying lovely things, because, that’s what freelancers do. And it didn’t feel great to be honest. Because, here’s the thing. When you’re a freelance copywriter, you have a certain amount of control over your choices. As a ‘freeloyee’ I was expected to do all the things I had least enjoyed about agency life like come up with really, really good ideas at the drop of a hat in a brainstorm meeting attended by half a dozen other account handlers, before moving into yet another meeting whilst simultaneously meeting a copywriting deadline.
Limited company or PAYE freelance copywriter?
If you’re considering whether to close your Limited Company down and dance to the Chancellor’s tune – even though everyone else around you seems to have had help during the lockdown, but you haven’t – I would strongly think about this first. It might be tempting to think that a company pension and some so-called stability could enhance your career. However, I have found that the work is more fulfilling as a freelance copywriter. It’s great to have continuity, of course. But the shine soon wears off. I personally refuse to bow to Rishi’s fiddle.
If you’d like to hire a freelance copywriter in London or in the shires, please contact me. I’d love to tell you more about my adventures and how my brand experience can assist your company.