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HELP! what to do after mat leave... (sorry, long post)


Well-Known Member
May 31, 2005
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OK girls, I have a bit of a dilemma, and just wanted to see what advice you guys could give me!

At the moment I work as a Creative/Graphic Designer for a large company, which recently acquired another company. Since the merger there have been a lot of changes (we had to move premises to out of town, so increased travel time and cost etc for starters) and now there are warnings that redundancies are looming… basically the atmosphere is so tense you could cut it with a knife! Although I do think my job is safe (they are actually expanding our department and have just taken on another designer) I’m a bit uneasy with the whole situation really… I am feeling like there are no real opportunities in my current role, no carrots such as a “Senior Designer” job title to work towards, and I don’t feel challenged in my role anymore just stagnant.

Recently I have been given a lot of thought to what I want to do after my maternity leave. Ideally I want to spend more time with the baby, and be more flexible. Although I could request P/T hours or flexi- /home working arrangements, I have been thinking about trying to get a job a bit closer to home – problem is there are very few design jobs in my area as it is, and even less that would accept part time as an option.

So I’ve been giving serious thought to perhaps going freelance and working for myself after the mat leave, but then there’s the issue of financial security etc, which is scary! Will I get enough clients/jobs to be able to pay the bills? You get the picture, I’m sure!

My degree is in Design Management, and I have a background in Arts/Illustration from college too so I could do all sorts of graphic design and illustration work, as well as acting as a brand consultant and advise small businesses on the use if design in the business environment. So anything from designing leaflets and posters, print advertising, creating logos and entire visual identities, brand- and design management etc.

The minimum fee I could expect to earn as a freelancer is from about £15-20 per hour (so twice what I earn now) to start off with, increasing with time and experience, and of course depending on the project (also would work on fixed fee basis for projects where that would be applicable). So if I could pull this off I should (in theory!) be able to earn the same amount by working less, once I have established myself.

OH will still be working full time, although he does not earn that much, and I would also consider temping jobs in addition to keep the money coming in (done that before!) if need be.

SO I NEED YOUR INPUT GUYS! What do you think I should do?? I will spend the time from now on doing research and thinking about it, possibly trying to find time during mat leave to create advertising for my services and test the waters.

Have any of you had the guts to “go it alone”?! How did you find it? Any advice from those of you who have been or are self-employed would be VERY appreciated! (PM me or email me on [email protected] if you don’t want to say on the forum.)

Sorry this was such a long post, those of you who made it to the end without falling asleep: thank you for taking the time to read it!! Oh I just don’t know what to do………. :shock:
Hi Petchy

As you probably know, I started freelance in April, after umming and ahhing for 5 years whether to take the leap. OH works as a DJ but it's nowhere near enough to pay all the bills without my income.

I didn't like the direction my old company was heading in - they were trying to sell the company from under each other, buying 35k cars and putting them down on expenses etc. They'd also done some heavy staff cuts, and I was doing the work that 3 people did previously, without any pay rise, so I just thought sod it.

We had a lump sum payment from back dated tax credits that gave us some security for a couple of months, but even without that, I'd have still done it. I'm not sure falling pregnant so soon after leaving was a good idea (we thought it would take a bit longer), but never mind!!

It was very scary at first, and I still get stressed at the end of every month in case somebody pays late, but it's the best thing I ever did.

My old company have been advertising my position for 7 months now and still haven't found anybody, so they're outsourcing all the technical support and development they can't manage to me, at my rates. As a national web development company that can't even set up email accounts on the dedicated server, I'm getting lots of work through them, and I'm not in any hurry to set up the servers to make things easier for them. I know they'll find somebody to take my position one day, but in the meantime I've been providing second to none tech support for their clients and a few have already told me that if I leave completely, they'll be transferrring to me. I had originally planned on doing some advertising this month, but that's been put back to February now.

I'm charging £15 an hour mate rates, up to £50 an hour for complex stuff, and it means I get to spend as much time as possible with the kids, and spend time working on non-commercial projects I want to do (I hate the corporate greed philosophy). The only downside is that I'll often spend 80 hours a week 'working', but as it's a lot of stuff I want to do rather than have to do it's not too bad.

I've been passing on design work i'm getting and concentrating on just development projects, but I'd be happy pass any projects on to you (I get one or two enquiries a week which I'm just saying 'no thanks' to)

Tracy xx
Its such a difficult time isn't it. I am also in a sort of similar situation. I have worked for a software development company for the past 16 months. Since I started things have been financially tight, but we have always been told about the excellent prospects for the company and how things were going to improve. Being the accounts person I have had my doubts! I started looking for alternative work back in April/May. In June I found out I was pregnant (unplanned) - so that put a stop to that. Last week we were given a warning that we may be facing redundancy as the work has dried up until the new year and there is no money! So I am now in a position where I am 5 months pregnant and I don't know if I will get paid at the end of each month and if they will be able to pay my maternity pay if I do stay here. It is not going to be easy to get another job now. If I do get another job I will loose a lot of maternity pay. If I take a contract or temping job I will not have a job to go back to afterwards. Things were going to be difficult for me financially anyway - but this has just thrown a massive spanner in the works.

Sorry Petchy I haven't been much help have I? I just want you to know that you are not alone. I think that going freelance is a great idea - I already have 2 kids and would give anything to be able to spend more time with them - I have always had to work full time. My ideal scenario would be to return to a job (preferably not this one!) part time and do some after school childminding to top up my income. This would allow me to pick up my own kids from school and spend more time with them and the new baby, without sufferring financially. But only time will tell if I can make that work!

Good luck to you whatever you decide - personally I say - Go For It!

thanx you guys! :D what i's REALLY like to do is be a stay at home mum for at least a year or 2, but it's not going to work financially...

some sound advice from you both, i appreciate it!

hope i have the guts to do it when the time comes, in the meantime i will make all the preparations as if i am going to do it, and test the waters while on mat leave!
My husband is a graphic designer- he was taught on the job so he's good but not as amazing as you probably are! He went freelance for a few months a couple of years ago and did ok- there were plenty of bits and pieces, the only problems are as others have said the hours it can take up (although you're still at home) and the possibility of not being paid on time or sometimes at all if your client is a small business that goes under (happens a lot!).

He's just been made redundant again and he's had bits of graphic design and also content work already from various contacts (he does content and some web consultancy too which helps) although he's actually planning on setting up a company doing something totally different. Some of his graphic designer friends said that there is an awful lot of low paid piece work about that you can get through agencies, things like doing cut-outs in photoshop for catalogues- dead boring but constant so he might do that for a bit if the money gets tight.

I'd say go for it, especially if your OH has a regular income coming in. Designers often go off and do periods of freelance working don't they, it's kind of expected, so if it didn't go well I'm sure you'd be able to get another job pretty quickly and your time out wouldn't in any way count against your career.

Good luck!

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