Freelance Life Through The Eyes of Rae Witte

Let’s face it, nobody likes having a boss. I’ve yet to meet a single person who likes adhering to daily tasks governed by someone else. The most precious thing in the world is time, and owning your time is literally the sweetest bliss. That’s probably why 53 million American’s are freelancers, roughly 34% of the population (according to the Freelancers Union Report as of 2017). A whopping 77% of those 53 million people say that the best days are ahead for freelance workers.

Numbers don’t lie, and these percentages are painting a clear picture of the future of work. While our beloved Baby Boomers can’t quite grasp the concept of working from home, young professionals are taking ownership of their work experience one wifi password at a time. However, while freelance work sounds like a bunch of working from the bedroom and making your own schedule, it’s not as simple as it seems. Furthermore, it’s a lifestyle you must be built to thrive in.

Rae Witte is a freelance writer who’s work often lands in Complex, Dazed, Hypetrak, High Snobiety, and many more iconic pop culture platforms. When she’s not writing, she’s hosting her own radio show, and doing social media strategy for Genius. A few days ago, I spoke with her about the intricacies of the freelance life. Check out my top 5 takeaways from our conversation!

Be Multifaceted, Think Virgil Abloh

Rae used the infamous Virgil Abloh as an example of the necessity to be multi-faceted. The idea of working freelance is great, but you’ve got to offer great value before suggesting that any company gives you the freedom to govern your own productivity. If you can do multiple things and make money off them, then why would you only focus on one skill?

“There are people who have jobs that they fucking hate. So I think it’s really important to invest in the things you love, and find out how to monetize them.”

Be Willing To Take On Challenges

“I don’t think out of a place of over saturation as much as from a desire to be the best candidate. I was a music writer, and I got a style editor job. I didn’t have experience as an editor, but I had experience with data and Google Analytics that most people didn’t have at Complex. I was running my own reports at a time when we weren’t getting them. Someone else will have the skills if you don’t. You want to be capable of handling things all by yourself.”

Rae made a HUGE point here. You’ve got to be willing to get out of your comfort zone, and rise to different challenges as a freelancer. At the end of the day, you’re in charge of your income and you don’t want to limit your earning potential by not taking on tasks you think you can’t handle. In my own experience as a freelancer, I took a social media management job for eBay Enterprise. I didn’t know I would end up handling strategy and social media management for the entire company, plus one of it’s subsidiaries, Magento. That task was way above my skill level, but I succeeded which doubled my rate moving forward.

Be Self Disciplined, Freelance Isn’t As Glamorous As It Looks

“I stay in on the weekends while most people are out. I don’t think people understand the level of discipline you have to have.”

As a freelancer, there’s no one standing over your shoulder telling you to meet deadlines. You’re distractions can range from Netflix to running errands that have nothing to do with work. To remain productive, you have to create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Treat your work the same way you would if you were at the office. Make no mistake about it, if you don’t have self discipline then you should think twice about being a freelancer.

“A lot of young people hit me up right out of college saying they don’t want to work for anyone. Get that full time job, and learn as much as you can to take away from it. Working for someone else sucks, but it’s a necessary evil. You’re only going to learn to be a better freelancer by working for other people.”

Build With Friends Who Are Ambitious

During our interview, Rae mentioned how fortunate she was to have a core group of friends who were go-getters. As they climbed the ranks in their respective industries, they put each other on. As the saying goes, it’s who you know not what you know. Make genuine connections with people, don’t be a scavenger. Once those connections are made, be someone who can provide opportunities as much as you take them. Every industry is small, and everyone knows everyone. Keep people close, and help them help you.

As technology continues to change the world of work, we can only expect freelancing to become more popular. Before you take the opportunity to be a freelancer, think about what you learned today. Is it really the life for you? Are you ready to challenge yourself? Do you have the discipline to make a career out of it? You may be put in a position to find out sooner than later.

To keep up with Rae’s work follow her at Rae Witte on Twitter! If you’re not following me yet, you’re buggin’ out and you need to do that quick at @devtsmith for Twitter and Instagram.