A Day In A Freelancer’s Life

I wake up at 6am to have a cup of coffee. I shouldn’t be awake this early, but I’m staying with my mom, temporarily, and she tends to wake up at ungodly hours of the day. We chat a little bit, I check my emails and social media, but drift off again by the time she leaves the house.

At 8am I get too restless to sleep anymore, so I get up and check my messages again while sipping on my second cup of coffee. I have a lot to do today, but I’m still too excited about finally finding a new apartment yesterday. I spend 90 minutes surfing online looking into interior design & decoration ideas for small apartments. Most of the perfectly styled apartments shown in the photos aren’t small, though, which annoys me a little bit.

“This is not a small apartment!” I shout at random photos on Google. (1)

Stop daydreaming, get back to work

But work awaits, so I get back to it. First, I check a few social media channels that I manage for a Finnish chain of boutique hotels. I open our content calendar on Asana, consider a few options for today’s / tomorrow’s posts, but end up leaving it as it is for now.

I decide to start with the editing and extracting work I need to do to a few personnel photos for a Helsinki based production and marketing service provider called Blockbusters Gang, so they can add new members on their website and post photos of them on social media. I’ve done most of it last night, so it only takes me about an hour to finish them.

Since the extracting doesn’t need to be very specific or work perfectly in high-res, I use my iPad and ProCreate to remove the backgrounds from the portrait shots.

Blockbusters Gang – one of the cool companies I work for and with.

I like this bit; it doesn’t feel like the boring editing work I usually have to do, but instead it’s sort of relaxing like I was working on illustrations.

I upload the edited photos on Google Drive and email my contact, letting them know they’re ready to go.

She emails me back within a few minutes, letting me know that a couple of versions are still missing. I do those as well and upload them with the rest.

Endless photo folders & my third cup of coffee

I take a short break to brew a fresh pot of coffee and get back to the computer. Next up: sorting a few hundred photos from last night’s prop shoot, where I spent a few hours with a couple of actors and creatives from a film crew, working on photos that will appear on the show. Fake surveillance photos of criminals and that sort of thing. (Fun!!!)

I sort through hundreds of photos using Adobe Bridge, pick a big bunch of potential shots and give them a very basic edit in Lightroom. I don’t need to do much more; I’ll send the raw images to the production’s own graphic designer who will use them to create the final image to be used as prop photos on the show.

I usually don’t send out raws as I like to decide what the final images look like, but this is an exception: the photos need to match the overall feel of the TV show and so on. But I don’t mind; the job is quick and easy this way.

Managing life in between work

It’s past midday now, and I take a short break and spend it researching some moving services and home insurances. I’d really like to get my stuff from the warehouse into my new apartment, but it’s impossible to make decisions in one day. I need to investigate the offers I got from moving companies a little further.

I make a few calls: to the doctor’s office to correct a mistake in an invoice, and to fix a typo I made when registering my new address to the city magistrate. Queue music, press this and that, wait for your turn.

Illustrations and invoicing

I’ve worked on a cool illustration for a national park for a while and decide to export the final versions of it next. I ask the client in Facebook Messenger about file formats and ask for their invoicing address, and make sure they’ll contact me if there’s anything else they’d like me to add or edit in the final image. I export it in PDF, jpg and png, full size and a little smaller, and upload all versions on Drive.

I can’t publish the illustration yet, but here’s another recent doodle of mine (iPad / ProCreate.)

I fill in my invoicing details to a dedicated Google Sheet document where I keep track of my clients and work hours. I do two loads of laundry in between all these tasks and hang them to dry.

The production company approaches me via text and asks if I could come back tomorrow for more prop shots. I reply to tell them I’m available and they promise to send me further details over email.

Phonecalls and messenger chats

I check the hotel social media channels again and post a couple of scenerames on our Instagram channels (@fangirlquest and after a while, on @sceneframing).

I get more emails and two more phone calls about tomorrow’s shoot. It’s getting close to 3pm now and I still haven’t eaten proper breakfast, only a few crackers with coffee. I leave the computer reluctantly to head to the grocery store. I spend 15 minutes trying to fill the bike tires with air – and fail. I may be good with Photoshop, but this? I suck at this.

I’m back before 4pm and take a moment to get that hotel Instagram post done. It features their delicious, seasonal asparagus menu. Yum. I chat with friends our plans for this week and my Saturday’s trip to see and photograph Poets of the Fall, who are playing on a cruise boat.

Don’t miss this in Helsinki: Restaurant Linnankellari‘s asparagus menu.

I take a glance at my travel photos from New Zealand and Hawaii and stress a little about all the thousands of photos I’d like to get sorted and edited some time soon. I have some friends asking about photos I took of them as well, and try to explain why it’s taking so long. Boo, me 🙁

I receive an invitation from HBO Nordic to see the final episode of Game of Thrones at a movie theatre. I haven’t been super pleased with the past two or three episodes, but I rsvp quicker than you’ve ever seen anyone rsvp in your life.

By 5pm, I’m exhausted and very done with sitting in front of the screen. I prepare a nice snack and get settled in front of the tv. After 3 minutes of The Good Fight I get interrupted by another work call. I spend 10 minutes writing down further instructions for tomorrow’s shoot.

Final touches with some Poetic dudes

While writing down the details, I notice Captain from Poets of the Fall on messenger asking if I had any ideas for their upcoming single release: they need another thumbnail for the video, something that can also be used on social media when marketing the release. I sit back down in front of the computer.

The original version for “The Sweet Escape“. Now, a French version is needed.

We end up asking their bass player (also a visual wizard) Jani for comments and feedback on Viber. He has a fun idea, which we try out and like a lot. I send a few versions for them to comment on, but things get out of hand: I’m supposed to add some subtle, beautiful colors of the French flag on a photo featuring their singer Marko, but pretty soon we’re sending ridiculous edits with berets, badly drawn mustaches and the Eiffel tower back and forth. I giggle so much that I get a headache and start sweating. Which is unpleasant enough to put me back into a more responsible gear.

We finally get the photo done and it’s now up on their YouTube as the video thumbnail – without the corny, clichéd doodles that usually represent France. (They were ridiculous and I’m sorry about that, French fans!)

Last minute interview requests

At 6:30pm I start preparing a dinner for my mom who’s been at work all day. Again, I consider settling down for the day after an excellent meal of Thai chicken and white rice, but then… decide to write this blog post instead, you know, “just quickly”.

It’s now taken me almost 90 minutes.

And as I’m finishing this blog post, the email box *plings* one more time: it’s a lifestyle channel asking if we’d finally have time for an interview. Oops. Something we completely forgot during our trip and now have to re-schedule.

Oh well. There’s plenty of time for those. It’s not like we have anything going on in our lives…

It’s me, the freelancer, visiting Hobbiton in New Zealand in 2019.

In conclusion: a freelancer’s day can be anything from a lazy day spent in pajamas, or it can be a messy pile of extremely varying tasks like mine today. If you’re a freelancer yourself, especially in the creative field, I’d honestly love to hear about your day. Was it good? Did you get stuff done? 🙂

Styled apartment photo source: (1) The Spruce


Photographer, illustrator, graphic designer, copywriter, marketing assistant. I once traveled across North America in flipflops. I love dogs, ketchup and many inspiring people.

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