By: Kristine Abante
My freelance career took off at around the same time I pursued a full time career, simply because I wanted to write.
For more than a decade, I had a bit of both worlds, I was an employee on the daily grind receiving a reliable pay check every month, and I was a part-time freelancer pursuing my other passions on my free time.
All was well and good until one day, you realize you just want to be able to wake up without the alarm clock telling you that it’s time to go, or have a longer vacation without having to explain to your boss and begging for an NOC.
And so, after 15 long years of having my one foot out the door, I finally bid goodbye to the old comfort zone, and stepped into the crazy, exciting world of being a full-time freelancer.
Here are the top things I have learned from becoming a full time freelancer:
All you need is WiFi
Forget the Beatles, you can do for periods of time without love, but you can’t as a freelancer, do without WiFi. It is the Holy Grail.
Technology has completely redefined the way we live, work and play. With everything becoming more and more accessible on mobile, people now have the option to leave the boring confines of an office cubicle and a work wherever there is a good internet connection – this includes your favorite café, your kitchen, your bed, your hometown, or if you’re lucky enough, by the beach, while you’re getting a tan. Talk about multi-tasking to the extreme!
Freedom is messy
Without the time-in punch clock, you also let go of the daily organized routine, and while there is no one forcing you to get up, to be successful at freelancing, you’ve got to have enough self-discipline to get your act together and make the most of your day.
Keep in mind that your ability to earn is tied to your ability to manage yourself. I mean, technically I can sleep or binge on Netflix all day if I want to, but that wouldn’t be very productive, especially if you have bills to pay.
Save for the rainy days
The day you collect a payment from a client is the day you win the lottery. And like a lottery winner, you might be tempted to splurge. But before you go on a shopping spree, remember the next paycheck or the next big project might not come for a while, so you have to be able to stretch your resources anywhere from 30-90 days.
You’re the boss (and also the slave)
There are perks to being your own boss and calling the shots. So far, the best part is that I don’t have to take negativity from anyone but myself. I can, for the most part, choose who I want to work with or what I want to work on, and having that choice means that whatever happens, I have brought it upon myself and therefore have no one else to blame. At the same time, there is a greater sense of fulfillment whenever you accomplish a task well, or you gain one happy client.
Give yourself a break
In terms of vacation days, ironically, I find negotiating with myself a lot harder than with my former boss. As a freelancer, you might have a tendency to work yourself to the max. You always have to bring your work home with you. Often times, you feel like you should be working even on a Friday, which rarely happened when I had a full time job. Now I am slowly learning to give myself a break. It is also important not to be your own slave.
Prepare to Hustle
You will hustle, and you will hustle hard. If you’re the type of person who likes to be in the backseat, or just conveniently go with the flow hide in the corner and just wait for instructions, the freelance life might not be for you.
No matter how good you are, if you don’t put yourself out there, you are bound to lose. In a marketplace where competition is tough and other service providers are easily accessible, a freelancer needs to be on top of his/her game. Build, mine and update your network and your portfolio constantly. Go for gold!
Overall, freelance life is not for the fainthearted, perhaps this is the reason why it took me such a long time to take the leap. Six months in, I would say the risk is well worth the rewards. Plus nothing beats going to the beach on a weekday after a good client meeting.
Backed with over 10 years of entertainment industry know-how, Kristine currently leads a team of creative content freelancers at SandboxDXB. And when she’s not busy fueling conceptually innovative projects, she works as a contributing writer to various publications, including Illustrado Magazine.
Looking to become an entrepreneur? Read these tips about adjusting your entrepreneurial mindset here.
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