If you’re toying with the idea of going freelance but are not sure how you might enjoy life working for yourself, here are a few pointers that may help you make up your mind.
I live in London and here’s a typical scene of commuters going into work at around 8.30 in the morning.
And here’s me at 8.30 in the morning, doing a spot of balcony gardening.
You get the idea. Of course, I use public transport to go to meetings but I always try to book these outside rush hour. And, if you work from home – as most freelancers do – not having the expense of a daily commute helps a great deal, too.
Different working environment
This may or many not be the scene in your current working environment but it’s a fairly typical office set up.
Here’s me the other day, editing some pdf print outs. Again, I’m on my balcony, enjoying the sunshine.
You set the timetable
Most people work a 9 ’til 5 or 9 ’til 6 day and, unless you can work flexitime, there’s not much leeway in this. However, when you work for yourself, you can more or less choose your own timetable. You will, of course, need to be available to talk to clients during their working day, so it’s unlikely you can work from midnight to breakfast time and sleep most of the day (unless you have clients in those kind of time zones).
I vary my timetable to suit me. So, if I want to start really early and then take time out mid morning to go to the gym, I can. If I want to work over the weekend to have some time off during the week, that’s fine too.
I knew one freelancer who preferred to work from 10pm to about 5am and got up around lunchtime. Clients knew she wasn’t around in the morning and so would contact her in the afternoon.
But, don’t forget, when you’re really busy, you’ll have to work flat out and put in all the necessary hours.
Freelancers don’t get sick
If you suffer from ill health or know you catch stuff easily and have to take quite a bit of time off work over the course of a year, then do bear in mind that, as a freelancer, you don’t get paid if you don’t work. Similarly, if you have an accident and can’t work for a bit, you won’t earn anything, either.
Holidays are unpaid
If you’re used to getting six weeks’ paid holiday a year (for US readers, this is pretty much standard now in the UK), and want to carry on taking six weeks a year, you might wish to reconsider going freelance. Sure, you are free to take as much time off as you like when you work for yourself but the reality is, you will take fewer days off. That’s because you don’t earn money when you don’t work and will have to beaver away like mad to catch up when you get get back.
If you fancy taking a couple of months to work in another part of the country or even go abroad, this can be perfectly possible when you are freelance, (But it depends what your particular job is, of course.) Try asking your current boss if you can take two months to work in Italy!
Of course, you have to build up a client base first, but with Skype, the internet and cloud computing, you can pretty much work anywhere you like nowadays. Here’s a recent guest post on location independence.