Freelancers have the best life, don’t they? They could be sipping martinis in pools, thinking creative copy for a client’s brief. All this while their pet poodle mirrors their lazy vibe and spreads out under the sun. Sadly, it’s not always like that for all of us. A lot of the times, you would find a freelancer cursing under their breath trying to meet an almost-impossible deadline while making sure the house doesn’t burn itself down and the food cooks itself into something edible.
Freelancing isn’t easy. And not everyone is cut out for it. So, if you have been thinking of taking up freelancing as a career, glean some info from the lessons I have learnt doing this a while. Prep yourself for the ride:
Lesson 1 – I love solitude
As a freelancer, you’re alone. Quite a bit. It’s not like being in an office filled with hundred faces where you can just walk up to someone and strike a conversation on any pretense. If you’re someone who thrives on conversation and familiar banter, maybe you should keep your freelancing activities to post-work hours. A full-time freelancer has to have a certain kind of affinity for solitude.
Lesson 2 – I am more disciplined than I give myself credit for
I’m alone tapping words on my computer. I have no one keeping tabs on me and telling me when and how to do my work. It’s easy to go off schedule in such scenarios, unless you have an inbuilt compass that always steers you correctly. In my case, it’s the thought of disappointing someone who’s put their trust in me that makes me go that extra mile and finish work as promised. And coffee, of course!
Lesson 3 – I rely on intuition to choose projects
Having worked as a freelancer for a while now, I have developed an intuitive mechanism for the work I can and cannot do. And the clients I should or should not deal with. It helps me commit realistic deadlines for projects, and steer clear of people I’d rather not work for. It may take you a while to build a system like this, and instead of intuition you might use a more logical method to weed out unwanted work from your lot, but it’s important that you use your power to say ‘No’ in the right way. There is absolutely no point overburdening yourself for work that is simply out of your league!
Lesson 4 – I am, kinda, clever
Yes, it’s really hard to admit this but I’m pretty proud of the fact that I can come up with creative ideas and solutions for my clients despite not having an entire team to brainstorm with. We’re so conditioned to think that the best ideas can only be a product of a ‘discussion’ that we forget to listen to ourselves. Freelancing has helped me understand my creative boundaries better, and I am a much better writer because of it.
Lesson 5 – I have to work on myself constantly
As a freelancer, I get to work across domains and industries; some of which I may not have any previous association with whatsoever. I can handle these requests because I read, keep a personal blog for my musings, and trust my creative side. Many a times, we fall in a rut doing the same things over and over in our day jobs. But freelancing keeps you sharp by throwing curveballs your way just when you were getting too comfy for your own good. If you’re willing to spend time honing your skills, you will find it’s a great way to master the various facets of your chosen profession at your own pace.
The next time someone laughs at your for being a freelancer, laugh right back at them. They don’t understand the handwork it entails nor the satisfaction it brings us. Remember these lessons though, and strive to be the best you can be – the rest will surely follow.