I was reading Paul Sutton’s reflections on being freelance for a month and nodding vigorously. I started to write a comment and realised it was morphing into a post on it’s own.
So, here are my reflections on having been freelance for almost 6 months.
The sense of freedom is still strong at this point. It’s really hard to describe this feeling. Even when working a contract role which required me being in an office on a daily basis, I still had that sense of freedom. I have no boss putting expectations on me (though my own expectations as my own boss may be evens harsher!). I have no annual review hoops to jump through. I have no horridly bureaucratic hoops to jump through on a regular basis. I have my own IT. I keep my own hours that work for my profound failure at being a morning person.
I feel free-er to speak my mind when I’m in an organisation. I bring that wonderful thing – an external view in. It’s what they want me for, it’s what I’m being paid to bring a lot of the time. So why not say what you think? I never felt comfortable doing this as a full time wage slave. Maybe I should have, maybe this will stick with me if I ever take a permanent job again.
I have the freedom to chose what I want to work on, who I want to work with, where I want to work (from home or in an office) and even if I *want* to work next month (or go travelling). This is immeasurable.
The self confidence roller coaster
On the whole, my self confidence in what I do for a living (and generally in myself) is going up over time.
But my god it isn’t half a rollercoaster ride getting there! On a daily basis I can be up and down and down and up and around. I’m learning new things, I’m slowly accepting that I *do* know what I’m talking about. I’m fighting imposter syndrome on a regular basis. And that can only be a good thing.
There is no time for being ill. But my god it’s hard to work through migraines when you are on a deadline or to turn up at the office feeling under the weather. But no work, no pay.
It’s a good thing we don’t have bank managers anymore who call us in to discuss our finances. I’m only 6 months in and haven’t really had the time or regular enough work to build up a personal reserve of money. My overdraft is getting hit hard for a few months and then paid off.
I’m learning a lot about forward planning and forecasting and letting go of worry about money and where the next job is coming from. Which leads me into my next topic…
The power of your network
I couldn’t do this without my network. Both for the moral and professional support, but also for the actual bit about getting work.
So far I have found all my projects through people I know in one way or another. My current project came via a throw away comment about needing work on Facebook. I’ve found other bits through Twitter and people I know through my work networks. This amazes me.
I get support from friends, former colleagues and other people I’ve met through Twitter. I couldn’t do any of this without them.
Would I recommend it?
Without hesitation, yes. I always thought I wasn’t one of those people who could do it: I didn’t have the drive, the motivation, the skills, expertise and experience, the confidence. But I did. And you do. You find it, it just happens. There are hard bits, there are times when you doubt your decision. But the benefits far outweigh anything else.
I’ve got my next bit of work secured, yay! I’ll be back in an office environment for a few months. I’m super excited and can’t wait to get started later this month. More details once the contract has been signed…