Is Freelance Right For You?

Is freelance for you?  Should you be making the change yet? Why or why not?

        While I think that it’s very possible for a person to do anything that they set their mind to, the freelance life is not for everyone.   Before you delve in too deep, I want to disclose that I’m a Photographer, and this is from a creative point of view. There are many ways to look at this, and there are an absurd amount of personal factors that one has to consider when dipping their toes in.  No one is the same, and you know yourself better than anyone else. Now that I’ve cleared that up, I have a few questions to help determine if you have what it takes to tackle the independent approach to making money. I will be expanding on why/how I decided that this would be the best way for me to live, and most importantly, be happy.

       I’ve always known that I didn’t want to work for someone or have a set schedule weighing me down.. Little did I know, freelance work is usually 10x more time/energy consuming than a ‘9-5’ - ha!  To give a glimpse into my childhood, I was constantly battling an ailment, as well as never-ending chronic pain. From around 7 years old, I was in and out of hospitals, poked and prodded.  None of these things really helped, and doctors couldn’t find a rhyme or reason for my mishaps. After a number of medications, cortisone shots (yep, as a child), and almost - surgery, I finally chose to go the holistic method in conquering my pain and managing other health issues. 

       Later in life, I found out that I had a number of spinal/back problems and an autoimmune disease.  These obstacles made it nearly impossible to attend school as a regular student. My amazing mother worked with the school to make changes to my class schedule - ie. coming in later on some days, doing classes online, and so on.  These daily conditions and complications lead me to gravitate towards an independent, or freelance, work-style. I’m not kidding about always wanting this either – I’ve actually only held one “real job” to date, and it was a desk job in high school.  I worked there for less than a year on a seasonal position, and while it was a nice way to make extra spending cash as a young one, it didn’t feel fulfilling.   Enough about me; let’s find out if this change of pace would improve or complicate your life!

Are you willing to invest?

“Invest? I thought we were working for money?”  Working for yourself isn’t always free. There can (and will be) times where you will invest money, time, and energy for the sake of your independent lifestyle.  When I went full-fledged into my photography career, I never expected that I would still struggle. Oh, was I naive! Even though I had money saved up when taking the leap, I still found myself selling old clothes, doing side-jobs, and even delivering food through apps when I had free time.  Whatever gets you to the goal, right? Building yourself up in the beginning, whether you’re a writer, painter, chef, or blogger, is a feat.  Great opportunities will arise that require work for little pay, no pay, or possibly a trade. This isn’t bad though! The experience, team-building, and personal growth gained from this will lead you to where you need to be, and to the people you’re aiming to work with. 

       Every freelancer knows that starting out isn’t a walk in the park - it’s a right of passage, in a sense. It can be fun too, so don’t dread this time frame! This is time to grow, be free, create, and live comfortably - even if it means working your normal job for a little longer. No one wants to hire someone who doesn’t have a portfolio, resume, or something showing that they’ve been around the block once or twice.  This time will give you just that! Always keep in mind that collaboration, traveling out-of-pocket, and doing “trade-work” doesn’t mean total loss.  An incredible amount of my creative collaborations with models, brands, and agencies, have given me experience, connections, and publications that gave me exposure.  It’s all about give-and-take, and the freelance world doesn’t let you forget it.

Are you flexible, or do you like a fixed schedule?

       Freelancing is hectic, your schedule will change on the dime, and you will never really be “off the clock.”  Being that you’re working for yourself, you have responsibilities, just like any other job. The difference is, most of us creatives don’t set specific “office hours,” as most of us like to work at all hours of the day.   For instance, as a Photographer, you could be hired to shoot an event until 2am, or a music festival that runs all weekend long. Or on the other hand, you could be hired for a sunrise shoot, an hour away from home, and have to wake up at 3-4am to make it on time.  Or you may get an email at 10pm, asking you to come to shoot a big event the next morning because the last guy dropped out. On top of this, you would have to carve out time in between future sessions to edit the previous ones. FYI: all those scenarios have happened to me. It’s a whole ball of fun, but I guess I love being mentally active, and having that fluctuating schedule. I’m not fond of constant, repetitive routine.   Working for yourself is a surprise. Don’t ever think any different, and keep on your toes!

Do you have the drive?

       Just like a long road trip, you won’t get to the destination without the drive.  If you don’t have it, or your more into riding passenger on big projects, maybe you should take a step back from independent work for now.  It took me a long time to realize that prioritizing tasks, waking up at a certain time (when possible), and keeping organized, helps me elevate my creative drive.  If you don’t have the initiative to get out of bed, complete your tasks, and keep reaching further, your independent lifestyle will not flourish, and you will not reach your goals. 

       Don’t get me wrong - you can wake up a half hour late, and the boss won’t yell at you. Though, when you don’t set deadlines, or you don’t keep to a relatively organized schedule, you’re setting yourself back.  Freelance work, and building yourself up as a business, takes time, energy, and the driving force that is you.

Why do you want this change?  

       Wanting this for the right reason is huge. Are you going to be happy? Happiness is of utmost importance in your work-life, as well as your mental & physical well-being.  Is this going to improve your life, stress, or financial state? If the freedom of this would make you feel complete, then please! Take this journey and see where you end up. If you feel that this financial change could weigh you down in the household, maybe consider planning for this life-change, and building towards it.  Every work of art takes time! Are you doing this because you think it’s going to be an easy way out? If so, maybe you should hold off! This is no shortcut to life or happiness, and freelance life may never actually be easy for you. Like I said above, sometimes you’ll find yourself working more than a ‘9-5’ Lastly, is it worth it? I leave you to decide!

Stay tuned for similar posts! Coming Up Next: The Creative Freelancer’s Guide-to-Success.

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