In my last couple of posts I’ve looked at the what and how of being a freelancer. I’ve shared things I’ve learnt and given advice to others. However, as a good friend pointed out the other day, I’ve never explored the first and most important question. Why? Why bother being a freelancer in the first place?
And why is it that sometimes the most simple questions are the hardest to answer?
Asking this question is like asking “what’s the best topping for a pizza?” Everyone will have their own different answers and reasons and they will argue their cause viciously and vocally.
So, to save me the time of surveying every single freelancer in the entire world (something I really don’t have time for this Tuesday morning), I thought I’d share my own personal reasons for striking out on my own.
Maybe some of them will spark some ideas and inspire you too? Or at least compel you to leave a comment telling me why I’m wrong. Either way…
Making the most of my talents
Yes, yes, it’s a hackneyed old cliché, isn’t it? “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Personally, I don’t think this is entirely the case (in fact, as Chrissy Scivicque points out in her article for Forbes, you’ll probably end up loving it a little bit less). Work is work, after all.
Yes, I love communications, and yes, I love writing. Does this mean I sing with joy every time I sit down at my computer and start writing? No. Does it mean that I find writing easy? No, and no again.
Despite this, having the ability to concentrate on the disciplines I enjoy (and am good at) makes my working day just that little bit easier. The simple fact that I don’t have to spend my day manhandling unintuitive IT systems or writing a report destined to be read once and dismissed is a source of constant joy.
Having a life outside work
Go for a run, do some ironing, eat breakfast, do some work, go to the market, go to the post office, do some work, have a coffee, read a book, do some work, write a blog post, do some yoga, do some work, collapse on the sofa. My days are fluid and varied. Sometimes I spend seven hours at my desk. Sometimes, I spend two.
The point is, however much time I spend doing something, it’s my decision.
I’ve always worked better to deadline. I like to have a set due date. I like to plan my work. I like to structure when I’m going to do things. I like to deliver on time and to brief.
The freedom of being in control of my own time and making my own decisions about what I want to do, when and where is… well, it’s a revelation.
It’s amazing how little you resent being in the office late into the evening when you have the flexibility to go do your food shopping during the day (and believe me, in Switzerland where the shops close at 7pm and aren’t open on a Sunday, this is a huge thing).
Being constantly pushed and challenged
Anyone who tells you working for yourself is easy is lying. Seriously. It’s tough.
In fact, sometimes when I’m having a relatively easygoing day, I worry that I’m not stressed enough. Shouldn’t it be harder than this?
My own foibles aside, the day to day challenge of trying to make money on your own is thrilling. Thrilling and stressful. However, the personal sense of satisfaction you get when something goes your way – a client says yes, a lead pans out, you get praise and adulation – all of these things make it worth it. This was something you did. This was something you made happen. A big fat pat on the back for you, soldier!
If I don’t do it now…
Ah, the “what if?”
What if I had taken that chance and gone out on my own?
What if I owned my own company?
What if I could have control over my destiny?
What if I wasn’t writing this report but I was writing about something that inspired me?
This was one of the biggest reasons for me – that feeling that if I didn’t take the leap, I’d always wonder what might have been.
I’m not big on regrets. Regretting and worrying over something in the past is not going to make it un-happen. You take your mistakes and missed opportunities, you learn, you apply that lesson, and you move on.
I didn’t want to be sitting at a desk somewhere, regretting that I’d never given it a go, regretting that I’d stayed so firmly where I was comfortable.
So off I went.
Beaumont is a communications agency based in Lausanne, Switzerland. We work with clients all around the world to change the way they talk about themselves – helping them create engaging stories that motivate action.