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  • Adam Bourne

    Article: So you want to be a freelance climber do you?

    Not something I ever thought about doing to be perfectly honest. And if I'm even more honest I thought I'd still be employed on the books at a good company working 7:30 till 4. Funny how life changes things around for you.

    So you want to be a freelance climber do you? Good for you! But let me tell you this, it won't be easy.

    Let's start from the beginning shall we. Say for arguments sake your at a firm on the books earning a decent wage and have some quality benefits! £10/12/14 an hour plus over time 20 days paid holiday plus bank holidays, statuary sick pay, the boss also lets you have a credit check for those pieces of gear you want but can't yet afford and your crap at saving money!. So you come to work each morning to a good days graft then go home, you have a couple of early days here or there that when you get back to yard by 1:30/2pm you either do a little maintaining of the equipment! Or just tidy up. Or if your super lucky the boss will say call it a day you may even get paid for going home!! You may also not. One day you fancy doing a Saturday for a bit extra money, it might be because you've had a barny with the mrs or you just want to earn a little more in the wage packet. Either way your helping the boss out clearing his busy schedule everyone's a winner! (Except the mrs)

    Fancy a day of because it's cheaper to go to Alton towers on a Wednesday than it is on a Saturday? That's ok make sure you give the boss a week or 2's notice and you'll even get paid for ride on the nemesis.

    So your in the work shop on a rainy afternoon you decide to go through all the rigging gear and do your own LOLER weekly/monthly checks and you start to accumulate a fair bit of gear! Now you have a replacement list for these little bits the boss is going to love you! What a little star you are spending his money! ;) week later and the boss calls you and a fellow worker into the office, awesome news you've just been told your doing an extensive first aid course in 2 weeks time! Not only does this cost you nothing your also getting paid for it. Just as your about to leave the office with a sense of "yeah that's going to be a right laugh Barry" haha he gives you the a box full of all the replacement gear you ordered! You also catch a glimpse of the receipt!! £580!!! Jeez "glad I didn't have to pay for all that" you blurt out!!

    So it's Xmas and your off work again all paid for and thinking about how much food and alcohol content your going to have to work of when you get back in 2 weeks!! It's ok though the boss being the boss will understand you want a steady week back into the job so organises a cushy weeks work.

    Spring time and your out on a job but you forgot something! Just ring the boss he will bring it down!! Wow that phone call didn't go down to well! I know he's got a lot on his plate what with the tax returns the huge amount of quotes he's got coming in and all the LA paper work he's got to rake through, not to mention the 3 electric shutdowns and 4 roadside traffic management sites to organise!! But did he just call me a F'ing bell end and put the phone down???

    So after a couple of weeks of have you got everything, don't forget the fuel, sticky note reminders in the cab of the truck you've obviously learnt a lesson!

    You need to leave early to get to the dentist, it's ok the boss has said half a day is fine to finish at dinner. I doubt he'll pay you for this one BUT I've seen it happen.




    That's enough about you lets talk about Brad! He's a freelance climber!! WOW!! He must be on footballers wages look at that gear he's got! You ain't never seen one of them thingy majigs before!!! Wtf is it? Wow and double wow he's got a pair of pfanner Zermatts on! There like £240.. Wow. That's like a years wage to kevin the collage lad!


    "Bet you earn loads of money don't you Brad?" You say.

    "Haha if only I had half of it, if only you knew the half of it" brad replies!


    You chuckle and go on about what you was doing!


    The thing is with brad he's a top climber and a grafter to, and earns a good days wage with it. But you see in reality he's no better off than you, in fact some years/months he's worst of than you! Because not only is Brad on 40/50/60 quid more than you a day he also receives no holiday pay! No sick pay! He doesn't get paid for trips to Alton towers like you and a first aid training day will likely set him back £100 or more quid and a loss of earnings for that day. Brad also had to replace a few bits of gear recently, yep all accounted for by brads extra he's on to you a day! All £600 of it! Just don't mention saws at the minute to him though! It's a saw point! :D You see brads 372xp seized the other month because someone filled it with straight fuel not 2 stroke!! It's ok though he's assured he's going to get it replaced by the guy he was working for at the time! First job for him as well that day!! Haha come to think about it Brad still hasn't had a text or call back of him since he rang him 2 weeks ago asking him if he received his invoice ok!! Oh well I'm sure he will call! In the mean time he will have to make do with what he's got because he can't afford to spend anything for a while now after replacing all the rigging and climbing gear he's just bought!

    Brads in for the day today slightly odd but apparently he hasn't got much work on as everyone of the firms he works for has gone quite. So unfortunately so to employers on the books brads the first one gone for the time being! Who knows it might pick up in the next days/weeks/month!!! I wonder if brads accommodated for that in his days wages! Who would have thought seeing a talented guy like Brad doing tree work one minute to helping his mate out roofing on £90 the next all because it's not very busy in our industry!


    I guess he's doing what ever it takes to survive! Because like I said at the start "it's not easy"


    These are just stating only a small area of the huge difference between being employed and self employed! If you have a steady job/income then I urge you to seriously think about what you want to do and really look into what you do and don't get either way. It all looks great in pictures and on film but when things go bad that get very bad very quick.


    Anyway hope you enjoyed that and your not asleep by now haha just something I wanted to write for a while now. Excuse any spelling or grammar! I wrote on my phone whilst in the bath :D haha



    All the best



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    Ime no exception in having a dodgy back. There was talk a few pages ago about overstretching - this i always avoid because everytime my back goes its because ive overstretched.

    If ime short handed and have to help on the job with some heavy humping i put on my weightlifters belt to keep my spine in place.

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    Certainly a major contribution to my tennis elbow.

    I'm swinging nowt without getting paid for it!



    Sent from my iPhone using Arbtalk


    Tabata is the name of the workout. You could do anything as long as you follow the rules and times. Sprints, hitting a heavy bag, tuck jumps, press ups, bench press anything...


    Edit: 20 seconds of drinking Stella and 10 second break will not get you fit. ;)

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    Yeah, waste of money.


    I had three lads on the ground today dragging 100m+ to the chipper. I bet they aren't jealous of your setup at all! :biggrin:



    Hahaha I honestly can't imagine working with out one these days.

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    Think I read this the first time around, but good to read it again. 


    Did a couple of stints in the mid nineties when there was a lot fewer free-lancers and tree co's. Not an easy life and the equipment available to make life easier hadn't been invented.


    Would I do it again if I was twenty something? Without a doubt :D (I'd just charge more) Looking back the only thing I regret is not getting better educated earlier but when you're twenty; thirty, forty and fifty is literally a lifetime away.


    Thanks for a good read Adam

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    brad? he's probably sat drowning his sorrows wondering how he screwed everything up so bad to end up as a subby climber, busting a nut for years and naff all to show for it apart from lots of climbing gear, a dodgy hip and rusting pickup with a cracked windscreen - trying to plot a way out of the mess he's got himself into but the thought of doing something other than tree work or idea of building up a company himself - dealing with customers?  dealing with employees? - those kinds of thoughts got brad chucking the back his beer and reaching for the scotch and checking his diary is booked up enough over the winter season to pay the rent.  myself? after the last 8 years of a 15 year tree life being a self employed subby?  at 35? i'll keep being a rockstar for a  just a little bit longer (but not too much longer...) 

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    On 28 May 2015 at 20:21, Mark Bolam said:

    Superb post Adam.

    You forgot to mention that freelancers don't get called in for easy stuff.

    Grafting in big trees takes it's toll physically.



    Sent from my iPhone using Arbtalk

    weeks on end of everyones big stuff when you feel ill,its cold wet,or just damn right nasty you have to do it and it does try to get the better of you ,but we live to fight another day!!!1

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    I am making the transition from contract climber to company owner presently 15 years of doing big trees every day definitely wears on u I have loved it and I haven't stopped completely yet when I do contract now it's a nice break from staff and customers almost like a wor king holiday

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