The freedom of freelancing

Anyone who has gone freelance will tell you that being a solopreneur isn’t always easy. The insecurity of work and income alone is enough to keep some in the 9–5, which is entirely understandable.

Going it alone means developing resilience, courage and persistence in your business life. However, for those who are brave enough to take the plunge, there are considerable rewards.

Managing your time
Want to spend your time doing what you like? As a freelancer, you’re at liberty to manage your schedule.

‘Choice’ is the key word here: so long as the job gets done, deadlines are met and clients kept happy, it’s none of anyone’s beeswax as to how you work to achieve those outcomes.

Besides, a happy worker is a healthy worker. Following your personal biorhythms and working when’s best for your mind and body means you are more productive.

For example, some advocate getting up early to write or pursue creative projects. This may work for people who are naturally up and at ’em for 6am, but not everyone is a lark! If late starters attempt early rising, they do get a lot done – but by late afternoon they start to flag, and can pretty much forget about attempting anything in the evening bar a good dinner and an early night to catch up. For owls, dawn reveilles simply do not work.

The most important thing is to test it out: try different times, find what’s right for you in terms of your concentration and energy levels, and operate within your own physical comfort zone. If you listen to your body, it’ll tell you what it needs.

Work around what you need to do

Having freedom to arrange your schedule also means you can do what you like during the day to keep yourself in balance.

If exercise, spiritual or other self-care practices are important to you, that’s totally fine. Building all of this into your planner and treating that time as sacrosanct is absolutely your prerogative – there’s no need to feel guilty about protecting it.

Being freelance means you can work around whatever you need to do, when you need to do it.

Choosing your clients
If you were to ask: ‘What’s the best thing about freelancing?’, the next major thing is being able to find and choose the people or organisations with whom you want to work.

This is a big part of business development: targeting those people or companies in which you are genuinely interested. Taking time to really think about who you want to work with helps to move your business in the right direction for you personally. It also helps you to focus on the kind of work you’ll enjoy doing, and collaborate with the right people for you.

All of this, in turn, makes for a happier worklife.

The one advantage that freelancing gives you above an on-salary job is that if a person or organisation doesn’t fit, usually that connection can be ended with comparative ease. Often, the main reasons for this are that the other party is treating you badly or messing you around; they pay badly, late or even not at all; or are too demanding and have unreasonable expectations.

Client–freelance is a two-way street

A client–freelance relationship is a two-way street, and you have just as much right as anyone else to terminate a business relationship that is obviously not working.

So, no need for Lord Sugar – you can point the finger across the boardroom table too, and say: ‘You’re fired!’

Creative freedom
If things are going well, hopefully you will have more time to follow personal passion projects and do the things you love. But creative freedom can come with the work that you do, if you target your business effectively.

Everyone usually has to follow some kind of brief, but the reason the client has come to you is because they like and want what you have to offer – and you can capitalise on that.

Put simply, it’s an opportunity to do the work you love and be paid for it.

Portfolio careers
One thing an on-salary, 9–5 job doesn’t tend to do is provide a varied worklife. Most employed people spend their time basically doing one thing in order to earn a living.

Portfolio freelancers or entrepreneurs have a number of strings to their bow, and various income streams (and if they’re really smart, some of those will be passive streams, earning money for doing very little).

A portfolio might include any one of the following:

  • speaking and lecturing
  • leading workshops
  • coaching or mentoring
  • writing
  • making
  • producing online courses
  • managing projects
  • researching and designing products and materials
  • providing expert consultancy

– and more.

Portfolio freelancers enter into this kind of lifestyle because being tied down to one type of task would bore them rigid. Doing a little of everything helps to keep the working week lively and fresh.

Travel
For many freelancers, travel is a big draw. The great thing about being a solopreneur means never having to jostle the company calendar with those annoying colleagues who bogart prime holiday slots months in advance. Or having to fit your schedule around others because their personal obligations mean they can only take specific times off in the year, leaving you stranded and overstretched in the office.

Above all, it means never having to ask the boss if you can take time off – because you are the boss!

The advent of technology has been incredibly liberating in this respect, and a real boost for those who like to be on the move.

You’re set to operate anywhere

These days, it’s easy to be a digital nomad. If you do the kind of work where all you need is a laptop and an internet connection, you’re set to operate whether you’re in Melbourne, Marrakech or Madrid.

Location is irrelevant, and distance no object: mobile broadband, Skype and email have melted the miles away, no matter the time zone. You can always stay in touch, even if you’re halfway across the globe.

So you’re good to book that month away, knowing that for maybe a week or two of that time you’ll be working. But here’s the difference: at the end of each day you won’t be at home in your tracksuit, tired, grumpy and wondering what to make for supper.

You’ll be relaxing on Bondi beach, sipping rioja in a Barcelona bar, partying in Rio, or watching the sunset on a Greek island, aperitif in hand, before strolling to a cosy taverna for dinner…

Freelance is freedom. Enjoy!

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