Morals and Ethics of Freelancing
Not working for an employer can make for some wishy-washy working, if you know what I mean. Boundaries can get blurry. Priorities may be shuffled. Plates might be dropped… from a height…
The point is that broken glass will not be greeted with shouts of “Opa!” No one will celebrate the fact that you dropped the ball. There is also no one except you to make sure there are bumpers in place when you start bowling. Ok, now it just sounds like I’m promoting plate destruction and rigging your bowling matches. Let’s start over.
Freelancing is hard, guys! If it were easy to go into business for yourself, everyone would be doing it.
In case you’re up for the challenge, but not feeling pioneering at the moment, here are some tips to help you not die of dysentery. (That was an Oregon Trail reference for those of you wondering what being a pioneer had to do with your intestinal tract, but I digress.)
Get your priorities straight.
This is not as intuitive as it may sound. There are a few things to consider here. First, in work-life balance, it helps if life comes first. No life, no work. Comprende?
In a Biblical worldview, this means your relationship with God is preeminent. First place: God. After that, make sure you take care of your family. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “anyone [who] does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Those are pretty heavy words. Make sure you invest in your family with more than just your money. God. Family. Work. If you confuse those priorities, you will find there is little balance in your life.
Remember your duties.
This sounds very antiquated in our self-centered, independence-exulting culture. The stark truth many people forget, though they are bound to it, is that we are to work for our fellow man as we would work for God (Colossians 3:22-25). Imagine Jesus in place of your boss and then imagine the ensuing awkward as you explain to our Savior what prevented you from fulfilling your responsibilities ...
If you are working for yourself on the side, realize you have a moral responsibility to your employer in addition to your clients. Even if you plan to leave your employer for your side hustle at some point, as long as you work for them, you owe them your best. If you are freelancing full-time and work for several clients, realize you have a moral obligation to fulfill your deliverables to each of those clients. While there may be many demands on your time, the onus to meet expectations falls on the freelancer.
Manage your time wisely.
Not sure how to do this? Take your cues from Psalm 90:12. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” The Beatles lied to us. There are not 8 days a week, no matter how much you love someone, not even Jesus. You only have so much time available.
When taking on new demands or dealing with an overworked schedule, we have to ask ourselves if we can sustain these demands on our time while maintaining our commitment to our priorities and our duties. If the answer is no, carefully consider what you would have to sacrifice to stay over-committed. If you can’t deliver, don’t commit.
As Freelancers with conflicting priorities, copious demands on our time and multiple commitments to keep, it often takes courage to communicate.
We need to communicate boundaries, not only with our clients, but with the spouse who keeps interrupting our video conferences and that one friend who won’t stop texting when you’re trying to prepare for a meeting. We need to be quick to admit delays and unexpected hiccups in our timelines. We need to proactively protect our professional relationships because that’s what keeps us working with our clients. We need to be humble, accessible, and forgiving. We also need to be reliable, responsible, and consistent.
Maybe you didn’t realize the tightrope you were walking onto when you decided to become a freelancer, but it’s harder than it looks. Being able to effectively exercise your social skills will likely be a greater determinant of your long-term success as a freelancer then how good you are at your deliverables.
Tell the people.
All of the above points will not help you one bit if no one knows what you can do. If you are planning on freelancing, whether as a full-time gig or a side hustle, it’s important that people know you’re in the market for projects.
As a freelancer you want to clearly convey what you do and what you don’t do. It’s also helpful for clients to know what you love doing and what you least enjoy. With any luck and a hefty amount of elbow grease, you’ll build a client base that allows you to do what you love for some extra cash.
At Share we are working hard to bring you a platform where you can, not only put out your plaque, but you can also access resources that will help you grow as a professional and a person. We hope that Christian Freelancers wanting to make a greater impact for the Kingdom will use our Marketplace to tell Churches and Ministries what they can do.
I realize reading over these points does not offer any groundbreaking, earth-shattering information. If they sounds like common sense, you’re on the money. They are. They are also really hard to put into practice. But practice, habitual behavior, is what makes these principles work on a daily basis.