Freelance vs Full-Time: part two


freelance vs full time part two


Here’s part II of freelance vs. full-time. Emma R from 25before25 writes her thoughts on my working week of juggling full-time employment and writing on the side. 

(If you haven’t already, start with part I 😄)

Emma Taylor and I decided to document one of our working weeks and compare the difference between a full-time content writer in the travel industry (Emma T) and myself (Emma R), the blogger behind 25before25 and a freelance writer. The fact we have the same first name is super confusing, we admit.

We published an account of my week in part I along with Emma T’s commentary.

For this post, Emma T has given her diary, and it’s something which is all too familiar. I can really relate to her experience of not getting quite enough sleep, the stress of commuting and not being overly enamoured with a job, coupled with the knowledge the next week will be the same as last week.

However – Emma has a regular and reliable annual income that working freelance will not guarantee. I’m trading financial stability for the freedom of being my own boss. Along with that is the fact that not many of us want to be at home on our own all day, as nice as the idea sounds right now when Dave is loudly telling Gill about his nephew’s birthday party over your head in your open plan office. By working as a freelancer, I have had to make a conscious effort to interact with others, and the potential for isolation will not suit everyone. Also self-employment is a minefield of tax rules which is something I hadn’t really bargained for. I am lucky that I have two accountants for parents, otherwise I’m not entirely sure how I’d manage on that one!

If you enjoy your job then, all of a sudden, getting up to an alarm that is thirty minutes too early to be comfortable, commuting and the ins and outs of your daily working life aren’t such a chore. They can be a pleasure. Finding that thing that motivates and inspires you is the reason for 25before25 – to show you what a diverse array of jobs are out there and to provide role models who have already successfully made that journey of self-discovery.

I have a huge amount of admiration for Emma, who is finding her way to a balance between full-time and freelance, and think this is an entirely sensible (albeit pretty tiring!) approach that shows the reality of starting out.

Emma T’s full-time working week –


/ Monday

I leave home just after 7am and get to my office in Surbiton around 8.20am. I have breakfast and an extra strong cup of tea whilst reading the internet. The actual working day is average officey-type work, answering emails, organising project stuff and eating French chocolate treats that have been bought in from someone’s latest holiday.

I’m currently on a temporary assistant content editor contract back in the UK, bought in specifically to help duplicate one lot of information over to another area within a CMS system that feeds the company’s pretty customer facing website. I work to briefs which breaks the whole thing up into steps. For example, this week I’m copying across information about airports – checking facts and editing tone of voice – to another area of the online platform.

I arrive home at 6.45pm and then take to my room half an hour later to tinker with a couple of articles I have an imminent deadline for.

I work solidly until 10.30pm-ish, choosing to skip dinner as I’m too tired and hot to knock anything together. My evening ends with me scrolling through Twitter, trying to figure out what the hell everyone is talking about from the #loveisland tweets cascading through my feed before crashing out asleep.


/ Tuesday

There’s a knock at my bedroom door as it opens ‘Emma, it’s 7am. Is everything OK love?’ says my mum.


I turned my alarm off in my sleep an hour ago. Hopping round my room I’m out the door twenty minutes later. Traffic on my commute is unpredictable so I like to leave early.

I get to the office at 8.40am and eat my breakfast. I’m still painfully tired from a series of late nights and early mornings over the past week / weekend. My working day is essentially a repeat of the day before with the odd email thrown in whereby the wrong content is displaying on an excursion blurb of the company’s website. Some customers have written in to complain and I engage in a lot of back and forth with the overseas team in Italy.

When I leave it’s raining and I’m wearing sandals. My feet are soaked and covered in pavement grit by the time I eventually reach my car, 10 minutes walk away from work..

Once home, I pull out my suitcase and start putting bits into piles – to take, the maybes, stuff that needs washing – ready for my holiday on Saturday. I faff like this for another 45 minutes, trying on summer-scented clothes from last year, seeing if they still fit.

After dinner, I treat myself to a couple of episodes of the Good Wife while writing.


/ Wednesday

I leave on time and with no alarm drama. My head and eyes twinge sharply from exhaustion though, as the wind and rain kept waking me throughout the night.

As usual, I get to work early and have breakfast. Plus chain-drink a couple of cups tea in the morning in a desperate attempt to perk myself up.

I coast through the day. Tweaking words, cutting and pasting information from one CMS segment to another and a tiny bit of research into Slovenia makes up my writing tasks. I listen to a handful of my favourite podcasts to stop me from getting too bored and unfocused.



By 5.30pm I’m out the door and walking to the car. I’ve got a nail appointment this evening which I’ve been looking forward to for ages, as it’s a luxury I don’t have done very often.I come away with glittery pink toes and semi-sparkly turquoise fingers. A package is waiting for me on the stairs up to my room – a couple of dresses from Topshop. Both dresses are a little big so will need to be sent back, I’m slightly relieved as I can’t really afford them and then the guilt sets in for shopping in the first place.

It’s about 9.15pm at this point and I debate between tackling amends on a couple of articles or more holiday packing. The thought of putting my face directly in front of a screen for another few hours today makes the decision for me. I stick on the Good Wife again and pack / organise until bedtime at 10.30pm.


/ Thursday

I’m up at 6.15am and feel more tired than awake. Sleep is eluding me at the moment.

I wash my hair and plug myself into Spotify, blasting the medley of ‘Karaoke Classics’ on this week’s #ThrowbackThursday playlist.

I’m having breakfast at my desk by 8.35am and chugging tea like it’s the elixir of life. The day drags a little as I try to draw out the scant pickings of jobs to do. I’ve completed the brief that I had to work through for this phase of the project  and I’m twiddling my thumbs a lot of the time, pouncing on any email that pings into our shared department inbox. The position that I’m in doesn’t really allow for me to do much more than the project or BAU (business as usual) emails which is frustrating. The workers outweigh the level of work at the moment.

Traffic was awful coming home and I end up going a long way round so walked through the door at just after 7pm. A grumpy layer bubbles up and settles on my permanent state of tiredness.

I go straight to my room, set myself up against a stack of cushions on my bed and crack on with the article amends I put off last night. 10 minutes in and my sister joins me, lounging at the foot of the mattress. I put on some Billie Holiday (because I’m secretly 104 years old and jazz helps me think) and she swipes through Facebook while I work.

I send edits off, close down just after 10pm and get ready to sleep. My pure intentions for an early night  get led astray by falling down an Instagram hole and a gripping narrative in the book I’ve just started.


/ Friday

I’ve woken up cross with myself for not trying to sleep at a decent time last night. The barbed twinges of tiredness prod my head and puffy eyes once more while I move at snail’s pace to get dressed.

A relatively traffic-free journey into Surbiton has me at work by 8.20am. I go through my morning ritual and catch up on reading a couple of blogs. The day was slow as there wasn’t many emails coming to the inbox and I’m still waiting on the next brief so I can move onto the upcoming part of the project. We’re told that in the following few weeks we’ll be able to start drafting some relevant travel blogs. That’s much more my bag and I’m looking forward to having something to do. I haven’t felt like I’ve been much use to the company this week.

That evening I race home to my room and continue with some of my own writing bits, plus final packing for tomorrow. I’m finally starting to feel the stirrings of relaxation and excited anticipation for the week ahead. My mum comes up to chat about her day with me around 8pm and suggests we order a Domino’s…

Oh hi holiday-feeling, haven’t seen you in a while!

Freelance vs Full-Time: part two

Freelance vs Full-Time: part one

Part I

freelance vs full time📷

I’ve teamed up with Emma from 25before25 again.

This time Emma and I decided to document one of our working weeks and compare the difference between a freelance blogger / travel writer (Emma R), and myself (Emma T), a full-time content writer in the travel industry and doing my own thing with words on the side.

First off, anyone who has free reign over their work schedule and eschewed being stuffed into a traditional 9-5 hole of rigid ‘productivity’, I’m insanely jealous of and fascinated by how they divvy up their day. I often slip into a ‘grass-is-greener’ fantasy of being a freelancer. The flexibility and limitless scope of work is a tempting fruit to want to taste if you’re unfulfilled within a typical office set up.

Freelancing is not for the faint-hearted though, in that the steady security and comforting protection which comes from being a company employee is no longer there to fall back on. You often end up labouring for longer hours and down-time tends to blur with work-time as you’re always switched on at some level.

Plus figuring out the minefield of self-employment tax is utterly terrifying.

However the flip side is, if you’re feeding that passion-fire in your belly by wholeheartedly loving what you do and chasing your ambitions, then the slog and sacrifice won’t be felt as hard in the end.

I think.

Here’s Emma R’s freelance working week –


/ Monday

freelance writing Wimbledon tennis


Today I was lucky enough to have bagged a Centre Court ticket at Wimbledon – it was a strawberries-and-cream day rather than work. I’ve never been to Wimbledon before and certainly never thought I’d get the chance to sit in Centre Court during the second week, so this was an opportunity I just couldn’t turn down. This did mean I had about 50 emails in my inbox to deal with when I got home at about 10 pm, but it was totally worth it to watch both Murray and Federer play!


/ Tuesday

I spent the day working with landscape gardener, Anthea Harrison, up in Stansted as part of career number 16 for the 25before25 project. I had no idea Stansted was anything other than an airport, but it turns out it’s a beautifully quaint village on the Hertfordshire-Essex border, where you can hear zero aeroplanes.

The morning was spent at Anthea’s client’s house, a large project that included construction work as the garden was being totally re-designed. It was very close to completion when I joined so I just helped out with some of the planting, training some of the clematis’ and titivating (brilliant word I’d never heard before!) some of the bushier plants.


compare freelance writer with full time

duringwriting on the side vs. freelance


freelance writing

                 📷 25before25

As it started to rain, we headed back to Anthea’s office and she talked me through the design process, from initial consultation with a client, through to finished award-winning garden, explaining the computer programmes she uses.

I absolutely loved my day with Anthea and think I’d really enjoy being a landscape gardener, though perhaps not for my 20s. It is a job which combines both the left and right sides of your brain; it is creative as well as technical.

By the end of the day, I’m ready to drop and fall asleep pretty early.


/ Wednesday

This is one of the rare days I have to work at home and get on top of the backlog of career write-ups that I have. I’ve published up to career number 16 and am seven articles behind (still a couple more jobs to work in though). However, it’s not until about 1pm that I actually start writing, as I spent the morning going through emails that I’ve missed over the past couple of days – mostly organising jobs for the next few weeks and interviews with authors, explorers and politicians. Experiencing 25 careers is a feat in organisation that I hadn’t quite realised when I decided to take on the project!

I also work as an editor of the careers section of a new national student magazine, so I spend some time editing some of the articles which writers have sent in for the first issue and tweaking my own. The deadline is Friday, but I spent most of Sunday working on them so the articles are nearly there.

This evening I head out to meet a friend for dinner in North London. We have a tastecard so that helps keep costs down, which I’m certainly grateful for!


/ Thursday

Another day working from home writing up articles and catching up with emails.

I gave an interview with GradTouch – a graduate recruitment company – about my project, and am looking forward to reading the write up.


/ Friday


Today I spent the day with the Marine counter-terrorism unit with the Met Police, which was rather exciting.

Based in Wapping, I navigated the London Overground network to get to a non-descript Victorian building. It took me about 10 minutes just to figure out how to get in, I must have either looked very suspicious or incredibly naive, entering my first police station.

The team warmly welcomed me and I felt like I had jumped straight into a police drama TV series – there was an awful lot of team banter, plans for operations covered the walls, and about six separate offers for a cup of tea. A constable showed me around the station, taking me down to the docks to see the numerous different high-speed boats and reeling off marine policing trivia – England’s first recognised preventive police unit, don’t you know.

I then hopped in the back of a police van (I won’t pretend that I didn’t find it incredibly exciting) and headed up with two constables to a larger central command centre to sit in on their briefing to the unit which would be joining the marine team for the day.

The operation was partly to engage with the public on counter-terror issues, to reassure them, as well as to deter any individuals looking to cause harm, by placing a police presence in and around the Thames. I was with the half of the unit based on the boat for the afternoon, so spent most of my day on a high-speed cruise down the river, chatting to the officers about their careers.

The positive experience has made me seriously consider the police as a career option, so I’m looking forward to my two other police-based placements next week!



Thoughts from the Full-Timer (me)

I know that this is actually only 80% of Emma R’s working week. She’s mentioned in conversation that she pretty much does 7 days majority of the time. So in comparison, I’m lucky being in full-time employment that I can take a bit of a break at weekends and my livelihood won’t suffer for it if I’m lazing in bed just eating croissants for a few hours. Whereas the responsibility to make a self-carved career work and move forward is lays entirely at Emma’s feet.

The money side of things weighs more in full-time employment favour as well. Although I’m always worrying about cash, it’s probably on a much, much, much smaller scale compared to Emma. Every 30 odd days the exact same number will reliably appear in my bank account, taking the edge off when I do occasionally splurge on unnecessary stuff. Whereas freelancing can be notorious for ups and downs of how much and when the dolla rolls in. The girl’s got nerves of steel!

I’m drawn in by the variety of Emma’s freelance working week. The mission that she’s on has given her a chocolate-box selection of jobs to savour over the past year. And it’s exciting to read how on one day she’s helping ‘titivate’ bushes (😉) to racing down the Thames with the Marine counter-terrorism unit the next. I get that week in, week out Emma won’t always be jumping from one extreme situation to another, but the personal freedom and example of ‘no day is the same’ of her freelance lifestyle is immensely appealing.

Make no mistake, I’m outrageously privileged to even have a stable position and completely appreciative of all the opportunities that I’ve been afforded from the company I’m with…you can just feel the ‘but’ coming… But I know that at some point in the future I will make the leap to try working for myself. If anything, looking at Emma’s week and reading her wonderful blog has fanned the freelancing flames in my tum even more.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 – My full-time working week juggling writing on the side, along with Emma R’s accompanying thoughts 👍

Freelance vs Full-Time: part one

5 things I’ve learned about working in a larger company.



working hard


So that six-month mark of working at a larger company has officially been hit. Obviously I was very very wrong about 90% of my previous concerns on being a shiny new cog in the corporate wheel (my tendency to over-dramatise with a dash of neurosis is part of my witty charm – friends you may nod in agreement). Not only is the below a synopsis of British office culture on a whole, but a round up of the top five things I’ve learned working for big company.



In an everyday setting, the act of card giving is a manageable and delightfully pleasant token of ones affection to the receiver. In a large office environment they are like an annoying fly that finds its way into your bedroom on a hot summers day, buzzing around your space uselessly nose-diving every so often in a futile attempt to escape back outside, leaving you in a constant state of swatting but the little bastard keeps coming back for more…. My first couple of weeks into the job a glittery card with ‘Happy Birthday’ in pink curly writing appeared on my desk after lunch.


Eyeing the card suspiciously, my brain started ticking over. Do I sign it? Who left it there? Who’s this Carrie chick and what does she have to do with me? What’s the protocol here? At this point I only really know my immediate team members, and even then I don’t say much to them. Will the mysterious Carrie think I’m a cold hearted biatch for not wishing her an insincere generic ‘Happy Birthday, have a lovely day! Xx’. I quietly nudged the card with the stealth of a ninja to the desk of my colleague next to me. And that was the start of it. Not a week goes by now where some sort of card + collection combo hidden inside an ‘innocent’ magazine is casually circulated. Pro tip: Dip into a bank of standard responses so you can appear to be a happy team player with minimal thinking effort.

  • Happy Birthday – wishing you the best!
  • Good luck- wishing you the best!
  • Congratulations – wishing you the best!
  • Condolences – wishing you the best (note the drop of the exclamation point here, this is important)

birthday card fail

And if you actually like the person the card is intended for throw in a quick smiley face. You know, just to make it clear.



‘Welcome to Tea Club. The first rule of Tea Club is: you do not talk about Tea Club.’

You know who’s a (tea)pot-head by saying loud and proud the secret initiation phrase when you first join your new office “I’m going to make a tea, does anyone want one?”. Your desire to be invited into the fold has been established, the Grand Chief (tea)pot-head –i.e. the most addicted- will give a cue to the rest of Tea Club by allowing you to start the ceremony by pipping in with a simple “Oh me please”, then the others will follow with a chorus of “Me too” and “I’d love one!”. Then the ritual begins. Start by asking how everyone takes their tea, memorise preferences as best as you can as you will be tested on this for when it’s your turn to make the round again at a later date. If own mugs are proffered ensure you comment positively on the choice of colour/ pattern or girlishly giggle at any ironic slogans – ‘This is secretly gin’. Now for the closing segment, with the tea made and carefully distributed, the first sips will be the determining factor of your Tea Club admission. After waiting a couple of hours Grand Chief (Tea)pot-head will indicate acceptance into the clan by offering to make the next round and addressing you directly if you fancied another cup. The thing about Tea Club is that it transcends traditional office hierarchy or territories, it gives a chance for interns and MD’s to interact, for analysts and artists to communicate on field they both understand, it breeds a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” mentality akin to secret societies that live on the edge of society’s shadow the world over.


3 / FOOD

Office cake culture is a ‘danger to health‘ says Prof Nigel Hunt, from the Faculty of Dental Surgery and Chief Misery Officer at the Fun Police. 

Food is the driving force behind the day in any environment. Probably even more so when you are in office-based employment. 73.87-ish% of the working week is food focused, whether talking about what was had for dinner the previous night, what we plan on doing for lunch that day or just debating the various merits of different types of pizza toppings (don’t even get me started now Bake Off has rolled around, the afore mentioned percentage spikes 20 points this time of year). Or it’s getting stuck into the inevitable Birthday / Leaving / Engagement (delete as appropriate) Buffet attached to the truckload of cards that are churned out. The Buffet is a smorgasbord of junk food laid out for all who pass the communal food trough to dip into. Of course any Buffet spread is on top of bimonthly charity bake sales, pre-planned naughty snacks to pull people through particularly difficult meetings and offerings from Mary Berry–types who get the urge to whip up some form of heavenly sugary confection over the weekend to bring in for all to share with a floor wide email of “Homemade triple choc cookies on my desk, help yourself 🙂 ” You will never go hungry working in an office.

My jeans are feeling uncomfortably snug just typing this.



Following and remembering working processes for everyday tasks is an area that I’ve struggled with getting my head around the most. Coming from a work place where I had almost complete autonomy with how I managed what was expected of me from start to end product, I find the majority of processes cumbersomely clunky. However, not knocking the necessity for processes though, particularly in bigger organisations where lots of ~company stakeholders~ need to be kept in the loop with what’s going on within the business. And while we’re on the topic of processes, I’m going to dovetail nicely into office jargon. Because the two are very much a non-funny double act, like Trump & Farage.

w1a siobhan sharp quote office jargon

I would, and still do to a certain extent, get very lost in keeping up with conversations during meetings where it just sounds like people are speaking in circles with over complex words so no one really understands what it is we’ve come to discuss or what actions are needed to be taken from it. The meeting usually ends with the most senior person in the room saying something like “Ah yes, very good Susan. Insightful. Well I suggest…er.. we all crack on then.” After months of practising this mostly foreign language, I now speak near fluent worker bee with phrases like EOP, DPS, TOY, FOC and topline brief.

w1a quote funny office jargon

Anyone else feel like they are working in an episode of W1A?


My favourite and most valuable point that I’ve taken away from being part of a large business is getting to work with kickass ladies (and gents). I’ve inwardly curated a collection of mentors – whether they know it or not – from across the company. I like to study how they work, see how interact with others and watch closely the ways in which they handle tough situations or tricky questions thrown at them. I think larger companies tend to attract more talented people on a whole (not in 100% of cases but in general). More established colleagues are a huge resource of work-info, even talking to them about their careers and examining the route they’ve taken to get to where they are can be a big chunk of food for thought for your own career aspirations.

They can also unintentionally turn your working perspective on its head too. After a particularly tough day battling with a Difficult Co-Worker on some minute detail of a trivial bit of work, I vented to one of my mentors the frustration on how stand offish this colleague was being with me after I was sooooooo polite with voicing my concerns on the project we were working on, Miss Mentor looked at me, shrugged and said “It’s not a personal thing”.

My narrow little mind split open.

It. wasn’t. personal.

Difficult Co-Worker wasn’t being harsh because of me. It was just the way she communicated her point of view. That was her style of working and nothing to do with me. I’m a overly smiley people pleaser who needs to be nice to everyone, and she’s just more abrupt while expressing herself.

Big penny-dropping moment there.

The ‘It’s not personal’ approach has also helped out in other scenarios. As an academic late-bloomer (only really started to achieve success from university. Hard work actually pays off, who knew mum?!) my desire to be consistently praised – a perfectly human inclination by the way- was doing me more harm than good. I noticed I would feel hurt or personally targeted on the occasions I was disagreed with by colleagues or if a mistake was pointed out. And I knew I was being silly for feeling like that, of course they weren’t being tough for a laugh at my expense. They were offering critiques to HELP me get better and produce stronger pieces of work for the company. But the inner-girly swot had grown accustomed to her pat on the back…

“What do you mean you wont give me a gold star and tell me I’m brilliant??!” <—Me, at my most egocentric stage.

Taking a step back, giving a swift kick to the initial bristles of needtoplease-itus and adopting a ‘It’s not personal’ mentality, allows for getting stuff done alongside people with different working styles or who hand out constructive criticisms a hell of a lot easier to swallow.

If you’re ever struggling with a hot-headed co-worker or feel irrationally slighted for not being told how good you are, I seriously recommended repeating ‘It’s not personal’ to yourself.

And if that doesn’t work then I’m afraid you’re probably A) dealing with an office arsehole B) you are the office arsehole.


BIG COMPANY BONUS : I nabbed a pair of *reasonably priced* sold-out Beyoncé tickets back in June through a work perk which I would not of had the chance to take advantage of previously. If that’s not a reason to LOVE working for the man then I don’t know what is.

OK, we all know *reasonably priced* = a’lotta dolla, but they were a fraction of the price for what resale sites were selling them for. Plus it’s a scientific fact that you can’t put a price on Queen B.

5 things I’ve learned about working in a larger company.