People love to talk about the perks of being a freelancer.
The flexible schedule, the freedom to handpick clients, the ability to work from home or your favorite coffee shop...did I mention the flexible schedule?
And all those things are true. It's great being a freelancer for a lot of reasons, BUT there are also a bunch of disadvantages people don't necessarily consider. Freelancers don't get PTO, company healthy plans, matching 401K contributions, free bagels on Fridays...
We also don't have an I.T. department with whom we can consult when things go haywire. And they will. If you work with technology, something at some point is bound to go wrong.
I've had a few major incidents over my six years as a freelancer that involved me nearly ripping my laptop from its power cord and hurling it across the room. Files disappearing, the screen going blank, the damn thing shutting off on its own as if possessed by an electronic demon. Updates going horribly wrong.
The latter is what caused me issues this past week. The dreaded update.
I've worked with both Macs and PCs and both parties just CAN'T seem to master automatic updates. Good features are replaced by B.S. ones, functionality diminishes, programs start misbehaving.
A week ago, I let my laptop go through a scheduled update. I waited patiently as it went through its rigmarole, grinding through changes, "improving" my system. When it finished, my laptop could no longer detect my external monitor, the graphics card was corrupted, and my sleep button disappeared (???).
Is this really happening?
No...it can't be.
Let me try this simple solution...
Perhaps if I just look at a few YouTube videos, I can figure it out...
The driver, you say? That can't be that difficult to fix on my own.
Let's give it a whirl.
After attempting to fix the onslaught of errors myself, I ended up with a laptop that wouldn't boot and a terrible mood.
I hung my head and paid my local repair shop a visit. "Yes," I explained to the heavily tattooed, bearded man behind the counter. "Yes, I did try to fix it myself..."
Now, I'm not exactly a novice when it comes to technology. I've designed and built 18 websites...not from scratch, mind you. There were definitely templates involved. But STILL. I feel like I know my way around a machine. BUT, I should also know my limitations. Instead of forging ahead and trying to solve problems from YouTube tutorials, I should have taken my device to a professional right away.
But I'm a freelancer. And that sh** ain't free.
Dealing with technology purchases and subsequent meltdowns is part of freelance life. YOU have to pay for your own printer and ink. YOU have to pay for office supplies. YOU have to make responsible decisions when things start breaking down.
A computer meltdown is just one more hidden cost that will make you wish you had a whole office of support staff behind you. Keep that in mind if you're currently working a 9-5 office job and thinking about going rogue. Yes, being a freelancer has its perks, but it also has agonizingly frustrating moments that make you question why you ever left the free coffee, unlimited office supplies, and I.T. support embedded in your past life.
It's the flexible schedule, right?