We've all heard the glossy tales of freelancers working from beaches, setting their own hours, and reveling in the freedom of not having a boss.
Once upon a time, I tried the whole “laptop on a sandy beach” gig. It sounds glamorous, right? Well, it wasn’t for me. Basking in the sun with sand between my toes sounds dreamy until you're trying to focus on a deadline. There’s a name for this: the guru-approach. It's this shiny, oversold version of freelancing. Don't get me wrong, some people thrive this way, but it's not the ultimate.
People imagine that this is what freedom looks like, but let's rethink that.
Real freedom, for me, is this: a simple workspace at home. No bells or whistles, just functionality. Alternatively, maybe it’s a cozy corner at a coffee shop, a shared desk in a coworking space, a silent nook in a library, a countertop in your kitchen, or even your partner's apartment. The point is finding your space. A dedicated space, however ordinary, that resonates with your work rhythm.
Whether you're chasing the “digital nomad” dream or are more like me, finding solace in structure and clear boundaries between work and leisure, here's the crux: freelancing is a tailored suit, not one-size-fits-all. And it might not be the fit for everyone.
Freelancing, much like entrepreneurship, isn't for everyone.
It’s not all sun, sand, and sea. There are darker skies too, and I'm here to shine a light on them.
- Problems are Your Daily Bread. Much like entrepreneurs, freelancers are everyday problem-solvers. No longer shielded by departmental hierarchies, you're the first and last line of defense. Can't access a client's CMS? That's your issue. Missed a deadline because your WiFi died? You better find a solution. If you're someone who prefers a safety net, then maybe freelancing isn't your tightrope.
- Focus: Your New Best Friend. It's so easy to get distracted when your home is your office. The TV, the pets, that pile of laundry...all screaming for your attention. And then there's the actual work. Navigating through labyrinthine project requirements can test your patience. If 10 minutes of deep focus sounds like a Herculean task, keep the desk job. The distractions might be fewer.
- Dopamine, Where Art Thou? Unlike a regular job where feedback is immediate and often, freelancers sometimes operate in a vacuum. That article you wrote? You might not get feedback for weeks. That marketing strategy? Results may only become apparent after months. If you crave immediate gratification, be warned: freelancing can sometimes be a dopamine desert.
- Many Bosses, One You. Freelancers don’t have a boss, they have bosses. Every client, in essence, is a boss with expectations, critiques, and deadlines. Can't handle feedback? Rethink freelancing. Yet, there's a silver lining. Each piece of feedback, especially the critiques, is a learning opportunity. It refines your skills, sharpens your instincts. So, if you can tune into this frequency of continuous learning, you’re golden.
- The Weight of Opinion. If you're venturing into freelancing, you'll get unsolicited advice. A lot of it. From "Are you still doing that little writing thing?" to "Maybe it’s time to find a real job?" It's important to remember: most people project their own fears and insecurities. And if you're constantly looking over your shoulder, anxious about what the world thinks, you'll never move forward. However, the liberating truth is that most people are too busy with their lives to really give yours a second thought.
And a Whisper for the Brave: Just like entrepreneurs who crave the thrill of a sale made while they dream, freelancers have their own milestones. Maybe it's waking up to an inbox full of project requests or the first month where earnings surpass your old salary.
If you take the plunge, stick with it until you hit your personal milestone. When you do, it’s intoxicating. And just like our entrepreneurial brethren, once you taste it, there's no going back.
So, is freelancing for you? It’s a deeply personal question, and only you have the answer. If you decide to dive in, know that the water might be colder and deeper than expected.
But for those who learn to swim in it, there's an ocean of opportunity.
Dive in, but do it with your eyes open. Good luck!