Surviving the Freelance Way of LifeMay 16th 2013 Sally Ormond becoming a freelancer, pros and cons of freelancing, running a freelance business
Go on, admit it, you’d love to ditch your boss and escape the 9 to 5 way of life.
Becoming a freelancer is the dream of many, but what’s it really like on the other side of the fence? Is it as rosy as you would like to believe?
As with everything in life, it has some major pluses, but there are also several minuses, so let’s take a look at the lifestyle as a whole without any rose-tinted glasses on.
The first thing to remember when you become a freelancer is that you can kiss goodbye to a regular salary. Granted, you can potentially earn a lot more that you could as an employee, but your income will be unpredictable.
Secondly, although you will be able to work the hours that suit you, you’ll find that (especially in the early days) you’ll be working a lot longer than 9 to 5. The flip side of that is you will at least be working for yourself and so will want to do the extra graft to get your baby (i.e. business) off the ground.
Thirdly, working as an employee has the added benefit of being able to pass work on to someone else if you need to and having experts (e.g. your techie guys) to hand when something goes wrong. None of that will be available to you when you’re on your own.
But don’t let all of that out you off; if you’re still dead set on working for yourself give it a try, the flexibility and freedom it gives you far out weighs all of those points.
Going it alone can put you under great pressure.
Deadlines will be looming, your phone will be ringing, emails will be stacking up and your stress levels will be rising.
But, working as a freelancer, when you reach the point of imminent melt down, you can just get up go out and walk away your frustrations – try doing that in your 9 to 5 life.
Working on your own (OK, not every one will work alone as a freelancer, but as a copywriter I do) can get to you at times, which is why social media is a godsend. Twitter becomes a substitute office and is a great source of information, banter and expertise. But one word of warning, it’s very easy to get sucked in to social media so use your time on it wisely otherwise your productivity will plummet.
You need a team
One thing you won’t have at the outset is a bottomless pit of money for a team. But there are loads of freelancers out there so find yourself some great allies in the fields you need help with. Networking events are great for this and you’ll probably find that many professionals are happy to trade services with you because they probably need you as much as you need them. Plus, all your businesses will benefit from having each other’s expertise on hand when it’s needed.
Stellar organisational skills are essential for a successful freelance life.
Planning your days and weeks and assigning blocks of time for tasks will help you get the most from your working hours, without having to eat into your evenings and weekends. And I’m not just talking about paid work here, this also means making time for your marketing, accounting, networking and general paperwork.
It is also important to work regular breaks into your schedule to give you the opportunity to escape your computer and desk for a sanity check.
The life of a freelancer is great – it offers flexibility, financial rewards and a real sense of achievement. But you have to make it work for you.