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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.

     

    Anyway!

     

    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

     

    Adam

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    Why not? Not that I am a rock star by any stretch, but I do alright I am hired help. I only run a top handle and my climbing kit everything else is supplied so my kit costs are fairly low and everything related to being freelance is offset against tax.

     

    Been doing this a while and have really enjoyed everything I have done, being a freelance isn't exclusively being a rock star climber, I turn my hand to anything I can, and the more varied my work other than being a rock star climber means I have a skill set and experience which is valued (I hope!) for those I work for.

    I am not a beast worker I am not the guy who is going to day in day out do an epic day it's not sustainable, I am in it for the long haul.

     

    I am a freelance worker with absoloutly no intention of starting my own business, to me starting my own business is not sustainable over the years I have seen many a small outfit form and fizzle out.

     

    Basically I feel freelancers are an important part of this industry as experience is king.

    I'll address your first point, "why not?" Because it's a dead end, there's no moving forward in your career/provision for your old age. Mid 40s or earlier things are going to start aching a lot, you will be a lot more reluctant to go out in the rain and deadwood a line of spready oaks. Plus on 150 a day you'll struggle to raise a family and pay the mortgage etc. Also the spectre of the younger cheaper climber who is always phoning up your clients asking for work looms large

    So with nothing to show for it except a topper and some old ropes you'll have to think of a new plan.

    Not going to be everyone's experience but it's a real world scenario.

    Edited by Mick Dempsey

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    Good post Adam and a Poignant topic for myself. I've got a pregnant girlfriend asleep upstairs and I've just been told today's jobs off due to the rain. It's the fith day I've been dropped last minute this year, that might not seem much but it's a week of money I've got to make back with weekend work or night shifts to be able to afford time off for when the sprog drops in July.

     

    As a subbie I find I start work half an hour earlier than everyone else with having to load up all my gear before going to their yard to load up theirs. Then finish half an hour later with unpacking it all in the evening.

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    as said the nineties - golden years - I lived the life of riley

     

    Things were bloody good right up to 2008 in my opinion, been very tough since then, but things are now improving I believe :thumbup1:

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    Things were bloody good right up to 2008 in my opinion, been very tough since then, but things are now improving I believe :thumbup1:

     

     

    I agree Dave, the past 3 years of work have been pretty solid with out a long drop of point. I'm quite steady now and probably the lowest it's been in those 3 years but the break is welcome but only for a short while.. I hope haha

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    I'll address your first point, "why not?" Because it's a dead end, there's no moving forward in your career/provision for your old age. Mid 40s or earlier things are going to start aching a lot, you will be a lot more reluctant to go out in the rain and deadwood a line of spready oaks. Plus on 150 a day you'll struggle to raise a family and pay the mortgage etc. Also the spectre of the younger cheaper climber who is always phoning up your clients asking for work looms large

    So with nothing to show for it except a topper and some old ropes you'll have to think of a new plan.

    Not going to be everyone's experience but it's a real world scenario.

     

    Presumably you feel employed climbers are in the same boat? So you see running your own firm is the only option??

     

    I've not been employed since I was 19, I like self-employment.(well I guess I'm technically employed now by my limited Co, but you know what I mean :001_smile:)

     

    I had an interesting discussion with a customer this week regarding age, he's 72, just been treated for very aggressive prostate cancer, he's never stopped and is greatly saddened to see all his contemporaries adopt your attitude towards life and getting older, they mostly eat and drink to much, do to little and then blame the failure of their bodies on age, its ridiculous.

     

    There is no reason why a freelance climber cannot make a good living and they can also diversify into other work not just climbing, its a very real career choice IMO and one I sometimes wonder if I should have stuck with.

    Edited by skyhuck

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    I'll just qualify it a bit.

    There's absolutely nothing wrong with being a freelance climber but it shouldn't be a end in itself, it should be a step towards owning your own business or getting experience to go abroad for a while.

    Edit, just seen your post Huck.

    Running your own firm is certainly the best and easiest option if you want to make anything more than a living wage.

    Edited by Mick Dempsey

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    Presumably you feel employed climbers are in the same boat? So you see running your own firm is the only option??

     

    I've not been employed since I was 19, I like self-employment.(well I guess I'm technically employed now by my limited Co, but you know what I mean :001_smile:)

     

    I had an interesting discussion with a customer this week regarding age, he's 72, just been treated for very aggressive prostate cancer, he's never stopped and is greatly saddened to see all his contemporaries adopt your attitude towards life and getting older, they mostly eat and drink to much, do to little and then blame the failure of their bodies on age, its ridiculous.

     

    There is no reason why a freelance climber cannot make a good living and they can also diversify into other work not just climbing, its a very real career choice IMO and one I sometimes wonder if I should have stuck with.

     

    My attitude to life and getting older?

    You mean that I believe that as we age our physical powers diminish? And that wear and tear over time reduces our abilities to do easily what we could when younger?That's not an attitude, that's fact.

    Your bizarre denial of the obvious is reminiscent of those religions that won't go to doctors because they believe the body will heal itself through prayer.

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