FREELANCER or UNEMPLOYED?
Happy 2018 everyone, I hope you have enjoyed your festive periods (both Christmas and New Year’s Eve) and just like any other new year I hear an avalanche of new year’s resolutions and with them, memories that it is always nice to give people advice (if they ask you to) but some people (probably 99.9% of them) won’t really listen to you, but this one I think can really help people who are trying to get their foot in the door and start their career as a freelancer.
To many, being a freelancer is just like anything else in their lives. Waking up, making a phone call, visiting their in-laws, going to the zoo or any mundane activity we all are familiar with. Or in terms of work is just like joining any company out there. When you decide to become a freelancer you decide to have a little more freedom, you decide when to work and what to do with your career and with your life.
To many it is just like that, but “to many” does not mean to all, and out of the many there is the “few”and I would surely include myself in this category. I have been a freelancer for probably around 7, almost 8 years now but never a full time freelancer, just recently I joined the team. To some people this is their dream, to some others not so much, and let me explain you why.
There are many things which are unbelievably great with this decision. You are your own boss, you decide when to work and when not to, you can pick your clients, perhaps you can decide to work from home (great when you like your home), but with all the perks there are also some disadvantages (just like anything in life). If you have never experienced being a freelancer you should try it (you may think you can’t, perhaps because of my profession some will say), however you may try a short term contract, maybe some other type of unconventional way, just so you can understand a little more about how it really feels, before you take the plunge and decide it almost cold turkey, if this is really what you want to do. After days and nights, hundreds of job applications, chats, interviews, I can tell you that freelancing resembles unemployment. Again — not to everyone — there are many factors which will not impact every person who becomes a freelancer. For example, maybe you went to university and your network turned to be good, you have met hundreds of professionals in your field and you were lucky here and there and just like several professionals you found your pot of gold, perhaps you parents new someone (the so called nepotism), or you were at the right place at the right time. Things can work out just like that, but how about if your did not go to uni, how about if you did not get a chance to have that internship or even if you did, how about if they did not like you and you could not show them that you really want to make it, you just weren’t ready, what then? Should you just give up and think that it isn’t for you?
Well, what I can tell you is that it will not be easy and you shall pursue it if you really want to make that happen. Day in and day out, from the time you wake up to the time that you hit the sack. Sometimes you actually won’t go to bed because your perseverance and willingness to achieve your goals are much greater than a few hours of sleep. But even then, the feeling of not accomplishing anything might still be there. A variety of people have done just like me, had a full time job and were also freelancing and that is an OK thing to do, but it definitely does not fulfil everyone. Some people still want to make it their own way, just with their freelancing option. They want to work on different projects, with different people, on a daily, weekly or perhaps monthly basis. It depends on the individual, but I can tell you that no matter how long the project lasts, a real freelancer does not want to fell constrained by 4 walls, every single day, feeling almost like they have been shepherded, and all for that “security” of having a stable job, that is also not for everyone. There is nothing wrong with choosing this option, people like the so called “stability” and I understand why, even though there isn’t such thing (IMHO).
Freelancing to me feels very much like being unemployed — thus the name of the article. You sometimes wake up in the morning with your hopes up, make a cuppa, look for new positions in whatever area you chose to be in, perhaps send some cold emails to some potential clients, make a few calls and carry on with your daily chores until you need to go to bed again and get ready for another day. But just like anything in life, once that reaches the brink we know something is going to hit the fan. And what I mean by that is that we can only do so much until we notice our bank accounts are no longer ok, you can no longer have that Sunday roast dinner with your friends, no more treats when you are doing your weekly shopping (now, at the cheapest supermarket in town)… That is when Freelancing plays on your mind and you feel you have become part of the Unemployment Numbers.
Not all is lost, but when you really reach the bottom (and you have good people around you), THEN is when you realise that the only way you can go is up. And I am not saying about money, possessions, and all that gibberish we were taught to see as being successful, or being rewarded by and bla bla bla. Of course money is needed and without it we cannot progress in many ways, but our psyche is the most important part out of it all. The reason I say this is because we all know if in any moment we lose it that is it. It will take it 10 times longer to reach anything in life, that is why we need to keep it together, no matter how hard it seems.
I will be writing in the future more in-depth about different methods I use during my days to keep it together and maintain focus but here are a few:
Talking to friends
The items above are no secrets to anyone and it is no different than many coaches, mentors and other sorts of speakers have been teaching people around the world, but maybe you need to dismantle a dozens of different ones and pick what really works for you from each of them. Many people use yoga as a form of meditation or other kinds of exercise sometimes sitting by a pond reading a poem or going to an art gallery. Remember, different tings work for different people. While tennis or skateboarding may work for some people, this might fall into a set of things you are completely uninterested in. Assessing what really keeps your mind busy will really play a big role in the way you keep it together, especially when your pocket dries out and the only thing you can keep together are your hands for whenever you see a job offer you then use them to beg for a position, and 9 out of 10 (if not 10) will be a big NO. Acting in despair doesn’t normally help so work on your mind first before you consider being a freelancer.