An answer to a question posted on LinkedIn.
I was sifting through my e-mail in box this morning and found an update from LinkedIn. It’s the usual update that tells me what my contacts are up to. I saw that one of them had answered a question in the LinkedIn Answers area. It was a question that interested me:
Are most of the freelancers doing what they are happy to do?
The question went on to ask why we chose to be freelancers and, oddly enough, whether we’re “keen” to be freelancers if we have a full-time job. (Must be a Brit; don’t know anyone who uses the word keen that way.)
The question reminded me that there are a lot of non-freelancers out there, peeking at us from over the tops of their cubicles. They like what they see — people working their own hours and being their own bosses — but they don’t quite understand it. They think they want to be freelancers, but if they’re smart — like this guy is — they’ll do their homework first. His questions told me that he was just starting that homework. I wanted to help him get it done.
I logged into LinkedIn and offered the following response:
I started my freelance career in 1990 and haven’t looked back.
I like the idea that I get paid for what I do, not whether I fill space in a cubicle every day. I work harder now and get more satisfaction than when I had the big corporate job with the corner office.
Sometimes I work my butt off to get a job done on time. Sometimes I have multiple jobs requiring my attention. During these times, I work far more than 40 hours a week. But I’m getting paid for doing REAL work. And I’ll get more work based on how well I get each job done. I earn my pay and my job security.
When there’s nothing lined up that requires immediate attention or I’m taking a break between projects, I have the freedom to take time off and do the things I want to do. In my very flexible spare time, I learned to fly, I take road trips, I goof off. If a friend calls with an idea to spend the day and there’s nothing important on the front burner, I go. That makes freelancing worth it.
But there’s no such thing as a weekend anymore. If a job needs doing and the only day to do it is on Sunday, I work on Sunday. Simple as that.
You ask if we’re keen to be freelancing if we have a full time job. Don’t fool yourself — freelancing can be a full-time job. And don’t think about a freelance job if you have another full-time job. Isn’t your life more important than working 60 to 80 hours a week? Instead, let a freelance career replace a full-time job. Use it to improve your life, not make more stress.
But be prepared. When you’re your own boss, you’ll quickly learn the importance of getting the job done and making the client happy. If you screw up, there’s no one to blame except you. And there’s no one to rescue you, either.
Freelancing is not for everyone. If you’re a chronic procrastinator, stay in your cube — you’ll starve if you can’t deliver. If you’re afraid to sell your services or products, you’ll never make it as a freelancer. (There’s always something to sell and someone to sell to, even if you need to sell to the person who will sell for you.) If you think freelancing means a lot of free time without a boss looking over your shoulder, you got that wrong. The client or customer is the boss and you’ll probably work harder as a freelancer than you have in any other job you’ve ever held.
Is it worth it? I think so. But then again, I never did have patience for the 9 to 5 grind and its pointless office appearances.
(If telecommuting is available at your workplace, try that first. You’ll have the same regular paycheck and benefits and the same work but you won’t waste hours a day traveling to and from a central workplace office. Your quality of life simply has to improve — especially if your daily commute is more than an hour each way.)
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