I was born an independent person – long before it was fashionable or indeed admirable. In fact, much to my mother’s consternation, I was a willful child. Though in my mind I didn’t think of myself as willful, I just knew what I wanted. Maybe this is the characteristic that has always made me a lousy employee but a great freelancer. Could be. While freelancing is not for everyone it can be a great fit for independent and adventurous souls.
1. No high heels. Indeed, there is no uniform for the self employed (unless you happen to be meeting a client) – you can work in your jammies all day and no one is the wiser. And you can save the high heels for clubbing or special dates.
2. No time clock. As a freelancer you make and determine your own hours. While typically freelancers work more than 40 hours a week, those hours are determined by work-flow, client needs and your own schedule. Yes, I’ve been known to go weeks without a day off, however, the choice was mine to make.
3. I determine my own fate. This concept may be scary to those who feel the need for security and predictability. Make no mistake, freelancing is risky and especially when you are first starting out can make you feel pretty nervous. It’s your show and if you don’t make things happen they don’t. On the other hand, you can shape your business to suit your needs, offer the products and services you want and serve the clients you desire. If you succeed, you also have the satisfaction of having created your own business.
4. I am my own boss. One of the things I have always found difficult as an employee is taking orders. I tend to be autonomous and rarely require heavy supervision. However in most employee/employer situations your boss feels the need to supervise. In many cases this works just fine, in some it can be counter productive because the supervision interferes with getting things done. As a freelancer, I am my own boss and can take the direction I feel is best in my work goals. Consequently, I have no one to blame if things go wrong, but myself.
5. I can take chances. In a typical job, there are a prescribed set of rules and boundaries on where and how you can take action. As a freelancer I have the freedom to take a chance on a new client, a different approach and creative problem solving. It may work or it may fail miserably but sometimes the experience of failing when you take a chance can lead to options and solutions you might never have developed in a conventional job.
6. I can be myself. Conventional jobs often require a certain persona as part of the job description, which may be strictly speaking not you. Depending on the industry you work in, you may be required to be very conservative or serious to impart the right image. Creative people in particular find this difficult and challenging and even depressing. As a freelancer you can be yourself, deliver your product or service in the manner that best suits you and not feel the need for a double martini lunch.
7. It’s stimulating. Being a freelancer is not something you can phone in. Unlike a conventional job where once you have the routine down you can more or less phone in your performance, as a freelancer you have to stay alert and be able to think on your feet. Which can sometimes be scary because let’s face it, you have nothing and no one to fall back on. On the other hand, you tend to feel a lot more alive, even when you are worried that you may not make the rent next month.
8. It’s all mine. There is something exceedingly gratifying in having your own business no matter how large or small. Whatever I have to show for my efforts belong to me. I can look at all I have and know that I have it because of my efforts, my creativity and drive. And there is an indescribable sense of pride I feel in that.
While freelancing may not be for everyone – it is for me. How about you? Do you dream of being your own boss? Creating your own destiny?