Like anything in life, freelancing has its pros and cons. Here I’ve jotted down a few of the areas I considered in taking the plunge, and why I still think freelancing is the way to go.
I like being mistress of my own time. I love not having to apologize to a boss when I want to attend Parents Day at my kids’ school. I love being able to take a vacation without having to fill in twenty types of leave form. I love my morning yoga classes, and occasionally blowing off work to bask in the sun in a gorgeous open cafe.
The flipside is that I often have to work outside of traditional office hours – at 5am while the kids (who, naturally, are awake with the sparrows) are entertained by Thomas the Tank Engine; at 5pm when hubby walks in the door to take over the little critters; and late into the evening when most folk have put work farthest from their minds.
But it’s a fair trade (pun definitely intended).
Some people say they prefer the security of a salary, but with current retrenchment rates, I’m not sure a conventional job offers much security at all.
As a freelancer, I can’t really lose my job. Sure, I can lose clients (which naturally happens from time to time), and that can be a blow to the bank balance, but the chances of every client leaving me at once are extremely small indeed. To me, that in itself offers a sense of security.
At the end of the day, finding a new client is easier than finding a whole new job.
In a conventional job, no matter how hard you work, your earning potential is limited to what is in your contract. In freelancing, the sky’s the limit. I love that when I have a specific financial goal, I can increase my workload in order to reach it, rather than have to give up something else within my budget.
It’s extremely hard work – and certainly at this life stage with small children I don’t often match the monthly bottom line of my friends in salaried positions – but that’s because of the way I choose to balance my time. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I love the thrill of each new project. Brainstorming, pitching, researching, and pulling it all together, and that satisfying little sound my email programme clicks when I press “send” and I clear the decks for a brand new exciting project.
I’ve worked on newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs; company brochures, community projects and more. It’s wonderful to realize the different opportunities each medium presents, and to work creatively within those parameters. The content is never the same, either, which means I never get bored at work. How many people can say that? I love my life.
Sometimes it’s nice to know exactly where you stand; to be told what to do and how to do it. It’s comforting. But it can also be restrictive and boring. Without the structure of a conventional job, freelancing has the potential to leave you feeling a little out of your depth. But once you take control of the situation, you can reap the benefits of flexibility.
I love that I can turn down jobs that clash with my values (and I have, politely, done this). I love that I can take on jobs that mean something to me, even if they may not pay well or meet my stated professional goals. I adore that I can stem the flow of work during high pressure times like school holidays, and increase it when I’m feeling inspired (or broke).
These are the gifts that come with going freelance. But it goes further. Feeling in charge of my life also makes me a better wife, mother and friend. It even helps me keep the home running smoothly, because I am inspired and in control, and can adjust both schedules to balance where necessary.
I certainly didn’t choose a freelance career because it’s easy. But it’s stimulating, challenging, & extremely rewarding.
Going freelance may well be the best decision I have ever made. It hasn’t been all easy, but the pros have far outweighed the cons.