In the past years freelance work has started getting a better ‘press’ as many people have found refuge in it, after losing their jobs. While none of us planned to freelance in the first place (at least I never said “when I grow up, I want to become a freelancer”), it turned out to be a good solution to earn our living.
Even if not the first choice for most of us, freelancing has proved to be a sweet ride, so we started sharing our experiences and convincing others to give it a try. I personally think that anyone, who’s employed, should try a small side gig, just to see how it works.
If it’s not for you, there’s no problem, you still got your job. In some cases it might actually be a true revelation and change your life for the better. Doing some freelance work, even as a side ‘gig’ will give you an invaluable experience. Yes, even if you fail, you’ll learn a lot from it.
So .. let’s see what freelancing is all about and then ask yourself if it would be a good solution for you:
1. Freelance work means REAL WORK
Remember those days when you didn’t feel like working? And you could just hang around the office, since, at the end of the month, you’d still get paid? Those days are over. When you’re running your own small business, if you’re not working, you’re not earning. So no more coffee breaks that stretch for an hour, no more Facebook updates, while you’re supposed to be working.
When you’re freelancing, each minute counts. Sure, you can spend 14 hours/day doing almost nothing or you can have a successful business by working 4 hours/week. It’s up to you, but, if you really want to be successful, you’ll need to learn how to make the most of every minute you have.
2. Freelance work means knowing how to please a lot of people
You need to be a people’s person. Yes, even if you are not. ALWAYS polite and nice, even towards the biggest jerks you’ll meet (and trust me you’ll meet them). You will have amazing clients with whom you’ll even built small friendships, you’ll also have idiots who’ll ‘eat’ years off your life. Don’t let them get to you, but make sure you still keep your cool no matter what.
In business, your reputation is the best asset. Badmouthing bad clients or not being polite will come and bite you when you least expect it. So remain professional even towards those you really hate and never communicate in an angry/nasty manner.
3. You will feel lonely sometimes or at least miss your regular job
I worked for 10 years as a radio DJ and it was as cool as it sounds. With really nice people around me, good music, nice pay. I miss my old job every day, since I really loved it, but learned to also work as the lone freelancer.
Freelancing is clearly something else, so you will need to know how to fill your day with something else than just work and make sure you don’t lose touch with your friends and the people who matter the most.
4. You are the master of your own time now
Nobody is there to make you a work schedule or plan for you. Freelancing means being FREE to set up your working hours as you please. Make sure you do schedule some work time (you got bills to pay, remember?), but don’t ignore rest and family time. Many few freelancers are trapped into an insane work schedule (small rates and a lot of work to compensate) and this will burn you out fast or even compromise your health.
Have been there and done it for 3 months. It was insanely hard and I was on the verge of getting into the hospital. Now I work every day for few hours and then spend time with my baby and family.
5. You will need to learn constantly
Let’s say there are many specialties where you have to keep on leaning, so it’s not really a shocker. Anyway .. as your business evolves, so does everything else in your niche. Make sure to keep up to date with the latest trends, read a lot and always provide your clients with the latest in your industry.
6. People will laugh at you for not getting a real job
Freelance work is still not considered ‘real’ work by many people and there’s nothing you can do about it. I had people laugh at me for ‘wasting my time’ years ago and the only way to convince them I’m not really wasting anything was to let them know how much money I get. Now my ‘wasting time’ occupation brings me more money than most wages in my country, but I have long since stopped caring about them. I don’t bother show them the ‘numbers’ anymore, all I care is to get more clients and provide the best service I can.
7. You can fail. You can succeed.
Freelance work is not something ‘set in stone’, so you cannot be certain of your success or failure. Each day many freelancers get back to their regular jobs, realizing this is not what they want to do (or just can’t make it in the business). Each day brings others more money and the certainty they’re on the right track. There is no secret to success and no guarantee. All you can do is try to provide a great service, work hard and be organized.
8. Freelance work means a lot of responsibilities
You cannot hide behind your work mates or bosses anymore. You cannot rely on anyone to take care of you. Right now you are the one who’ll mess up and also clean it. You will need to take care of your insurances, pension etc. You are responsible for keeping clients happy, budgeting, saving money. Each and every mistake will cost you, whether it’s money or somebody’s trust.
At the end of the day doing freelance work can be the solution for your career and money problems. It was my case. I’ve been successfully freelancing for 6 years now and it’s THE BEST thing I’ve done in my life (career wise). I do have to work a lot, I do stress each day about it, there’s a lot of learning and inner struggle to succeed. For some of you it might not be the right fit, others will probably come to the conclusion that freelancing was the right fit.