A Love Letter to Freelancing
Pros and cons of going solo
After a lot of thinking last year I decided to go freelance. As part of an agency I had developed my own vision about how an agency should work, what the internal culture and responsibilities towards clients should be and I found myself more and more invested in my side projects. I’ve always considered side projects a creative escape so the more they took over my life the more I realized I wasn’t satisfied with my day to day workflow and how I was taught to approach problems. It was time to try something new.
After talking to some freelancers I decided to make the move. Freelancing seemed like a natural step so I started at it by changing all that I never felt comfortable with while working at an agency.
I became a producer, manager, designer, and consultant.
I became the person that sends a recap email after each meeting and the person that chases payments a month after issuing an invoice. I felt committed, scared and excited, but mostly alive.
Pros and cons of freelancing
After 9 months in the world of freelance there are some things I feel I can share, some of them were immediate results from freelancing while others I came to realize over time. I hope this helps you decide if you ever find yourself in the same situation.
Let’s start with the good stuff:
Drastic cut of overhead. Pretty soon I realized there was no overhead anymore. All the unnecessary layers of hierarchy over a simple assignment were gone. I have been fortunate to have only worked with decision makers since I went solo.
Management of expectations. I remembered what it was to high five a client before starting a project and after finishing it. I decided I will never fail to do this again. The satisfaction of having done good work is immense.
Running the extra mile. When a relationship is fair and benefits both sides running the extra mile is more than a pleasure. As a freelancer it was my decision to do so. I did some extra work outside of the scope for some clients just because I was able to and I really enjoyed working for them.
Experimenting and learning. Being able to manage my own time normally gave me some room for exploration. I learned to use Framer and Sketch by doing so for my clients for free before they even asked for it. Once they saw the result they were fine adding future explorations to the scope of the project.
However it hasn’t been all bells and whistles. As a freelancer I’ve also faced lots of new challenges and some that I had only encountered as part of a group before. Here are some of them:
NDAs and not being able to show your work. As a freelancer I needed to stay current and do so by exposing my work publicly. However due to NDAs and the nature of the projects I worked on wasn’t able to show work from many of the projects I worked on and therefore went radio silence for months.
Getting the right projects. There are many reasons why I’ve said no to a project. Besides costs, some factors told me I wasn’t the right fit and I had to be honest about that because nobody likes to have their time wasted. Did it fit my line of work? Were the expectations realistic? Was the budget enough? Was I so busy already that that would jeopardize the quality of my work?
Home is where I can connect to WIFI.
I got used to being able to work from many places as a freelancer. I actually enjoyed working on-site and getting to see different work environments but I also missed working with some people longer.
No man is an island.
While I was able to bring capable colleagues to some projects there was always an individual sense of responsibility. I wanted to invest in people and feel part of a gang again.
While freelancing has been a great experience for me it might not be for everybody. It’s a trade off, and while it can lead to a more lucrative salary (or sometimes not!) you might be losing out on a great experience and professional development at a company or agency, which is especially important at the early stages of your career when you are building a portfolio of your own. I have definitely missed that bit.
As for me 2015 has been a blast and 2016 is looking even more exciting. Things are changing (they always are) and great opportunities surface all the time. One of my goals for this year is to keep my site more up to date and write consistently. More posts coming soon ;)