The joys of freelance

In the past few weeks, I’ve been offered a few different full-time jobs, all of which I’ve turned down… the reason being, that right now, I am enjoying freelance life too much.

Long term readers (all three of you), may remember me moaning about freelance life a while back, so it’s about time I said some nice things about freelancing; and explain why I’m happy to keep at it.

Financial

Okay, let’s start with the one you’re all thinking of: money. If (and it’s a big if) a freelancer can stay booked-up on average for ~3-4 days a week, for a full year, then they can make a very decent living… Possibly more than they would make as a full-time employee performing the same role.

There’s no point lying, for me, money is a motivating factor but it’s nowhere as high up as you may assume. The following items mean far far more to me:

Variety

Anyone who knows me well, is aware that I am both easily bored and distracted. The thought of working in the same job, on the same project for six, twelve, or more months at a time fills me with absolute dread. I therefore choose to work firstly, in an agency environment which means lots of different projects then secondly, as an on-site freelancer which means different projects at lots of different agencies with lots of different offices, working cultures and people.

Equipment

Have you ever worked somewhere and not been given a computer good enough to do your job properly? Whether that’s a monitor which is too small, a version of Photoshop that’s three versions behind or worse still, no Photoshop at all. Or, perhaps, you’ve suffered one of my biggest annoyances: an uncomfortable desk/chair combo. None of those issues apply to me anymore as a freelancer (well the desk/chair combo *sometimes* applies).

I work on-site at agencies but I use my own equipment and because I set my rate/prices it means I alone am responsible for purchasing new hardware, software and (for my own office) my own (comfortable) chair. I quite often won’t go back to work at an agency’s offices if they have bad chairs.

People in the industry

For the most part, I perform pretty much the same job as the full-time staff member sat next to me at whichever agency I’m working at; the difference is the level of respect that seems to be afforded. I am able to pick and choose projects and quite often (and I always find this weird) the Directors or high(ish)-up members of staff always seem to talk to me in a way that they never did when I was a full-time employee… as a peer almost.

However, the longer I work at an agency, the more I get treated like a normal employee and the less those important people want to chat with me. Which is fine, from a social point of view, but it means I learn less while I work there and when that happens it’s time to move on.

People in general

Personally the biggest perk is the reaction I get from people outside of this industry when I tell them that I work for myself. If I meet someone at a party and they ask what I do, my response of ‘I make websites’ or similar is very rarely met with anything other than complete disinterest. However, once I tell them that I work for myself they immediately become more interested. It seems a lot of people dream of going freelance (I sure did before I actually did it) and they think it’s complicated or difficult or impressive. I’ve been doing it for five years; I accidentally fell into it, and I am certainly not ‘impressed’ by myself, but from time to time it’s nice to meet people who are impressed when I tell them what I do and want to actually converse with me about it.

What about you?

Are you freelance? What are the key aspects about freelance-life that keep you from taking on a full-time job?

4 Comments

  1. Jon Higgins says:

    Really useful, and inspiring, to hear your perspective on freelancing – thank you! I was looking for an article of yours I read a while back about freelancing as currently trying to make a decision around freelancing. I quit my 9-5 with intention of getting another 9-5 but “fell into” freelancing while waiting for responses for job applications. While I’ve only managed to fit in a couple of days freelancing (in house) before going on holiday, it was great – for the reasons you mentioned above. I’ve got an interesting bit of freelance booked for when I get back but starting to get interview offers for permanent positions- still haven’t decided what to do long term. I’ve still got some freelance reservations over cashflow, non/slow payment and legal side of things but hopefully this is not as bad as I’m imagining it is.

  2. The best thing about freelancing for me is the complete feeling of creative freedom and the gratification of earning money from your own intuition.

    I agree with the variety section of the post but the only difficult thing I find is making sure all of my time is booked up with projects.

    I’ve come across this site a few times whilst looking for inspiration for my own website and reading about people that are in very similar industry as me.

  3. konrad bialy says:

    good post mate, totally agree with most of the stuff you mentioned – it’s pretty awesome working on a freelance basis. Thing I like the most is not having specific schedule / hours I need to work, like for example I wake up tomorrow and decide to go the the gym instead of starting work which can be done few hours later

    just my 2 cents :)