Everyone knows the saying, "The grass is always greener on the other side". As a full time employee, you probably have considered becoming your own boss several times in your career. If you sitting on the fence about becoming a full time freelancer, I would like to share the reason I took the dive and am still freelancing. Mind you, its not always a bed of roses ... but for me it is the bed I have chosen to sleep on.
#1. More control of my own time
One of the main benefits of being a freelancer is that I have more control over my time.
I do not have to be stressed about waking up in a hurry to get to work. No more long commutes be it by car or public transport. Gone are the days where it was common for me to have breakfast out of a box or to endure inflexible work arrangements. I have more flexibility in balancing my personal and professional needs. As a result, I can be spontaneous or schedule in activities to be inspired or to overcome my creative roadblocks. This could be going for my dance classes, doing sports or spending a day at the beach.
Of course with more flexibility comes more self-discipline! I have to be responsible in managing my time to ensure that I have time to deliver what I need to in time and with the right quality. Sometimes, this does involve working at night or on weekends.
#2. Variety is the spice of life
Being a freelancer gives me the opportunity to work with a variety of clients across different industries as well as geographies. This exposes me to a wider range of design concepts or trends. More interestingly, I can learn from what I do in one project or brief and see how I could adapt and apply in another project or brief even if it is for a client in a totally different industry or country.
This also keeps me on my toes as I have to constantly research what is happening across industries and countries.
#3. Beyond designing, I learn about being my own boss
As an employee you are pretty much confined to what you are paid to do. For designers, that would generally be creating designs (duhhh!!!).
As a freelance designer however, my world broadens exponentially. I pretty much have to learn how to run a business. From how to market myself and build my own brand to how to acquire new clients to how best to project manage the jobs I take on. As such, I am never bored as a freelancer because if I am not challenged by a design issue, I may be trying to unravel the mystery of how to run my business better.
Sometimes the going gets tough, but when that happen the tough gets going.
#4. Time to invest in myself and to learn new skills
As I am in more control of my time, this gives me time to invest in my most important business asset, ME!
I spend part of my time viewing online to upgrade my design skills, to improve my way of working as well as to run my business more effectively. However, as a freelance designer I also discovered that by investing in my personal life, I was investing in myself professionally. Taking time to improve my painting, playing sports, spending time with family presented my with different perspectives I would not have uncovered if I had my head down just doing my work.
#5. I reap what I sow!
End of the day, as a freelancer, I am my own business and source of income. This requires me to be smart in what am doing so that I can seize the right opportunities be it in terms of clients, investing in myself or how I spend my time or run my business. Depending on my lifestyle and financial needs, I can determine how much I want to earn over how long.
If I choose to work hard for six months and take six months off, that is possible. However, that may require me to work my butt off in the six months that I am working! Those six month off does not necessarily mean that I am slacking off. It could be that I am looking at training materials or opening my mind up to new experiences. In my humble view, this only makes me a better designer.
You have to decide what your life as a freelance designer looks like as it may be different similar or very different from another.
Do remember that if you do choose to be a freelancer, you are in reality running your own business. It will not always be a bed of roses and you need to be accountable to yourself and your clients. Learn about practical things you should know to be successful so that you can focus on what matters at the end of the day, the work. And if you do decide jump in, welcome to my mad mad but very rewarding world!