The 5 best things about freelancing

One of the questions I get asked the most about freelancing is “Why?”.
Here are the 5 reasons I freelance.
1. Work/Life Balance
Truth be told – this is biggest reason I gave up the nine-to-five life. Being able to take my kids to school, pick them up, have lunch with my wife, sleep in occasionally… being able to do these things and still make a living is, for me, the best thing about freelancing.
2. A great boss
I don’t just mean me. Sure, I might be self-employed but being able to work for a wide variety of clients means that I’m able to expand my professional network in a way that working for a single company just can’t match.
3. Variety is the spice of life
In any given month I’ll deal with at least four different clients, talk to tens of people and write about several different topics. I’ve got a short attention span but being able to have such a diverse workload keeps me well and truly interested.
4. Being able to choose my work
I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to build a decent freelance practice with a solid client base. That means that I can be a little choosey when it comes to who I work for. I get to work for people I like. If I get a client I find hard to work with I just don’t pitch to them any more.
5. Time management
One thing all freelancers need is to have good time management skills. Without them, a few minutes of procrastination can easily become a lost morning, a lost day and more. However, not being tied to a clock-watching corporate culture (and all the companies I’ve worked for were clockwatchers whether they say it or not) means I can work on a task for as long as it takes. If I hit my week’s deadlines by Wednesday then the rest of the week is easy.
So – why do you freelance? What’s the best part of it for you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Comments (4)

  1. David Flynn

    Definitely agree, and will add five more Good Things ABout Freelancing here.
    A flexible timetable: this is a riff on work/life balance, but when you unshackle yourself from someone else’s 9-5 expectations you can open up as much of your 24 hours as you wish. So work doesn’t HAVE to be from 9am to 5pm. You can start earlier and finish earlier; start later in the morning and finish in the evening; work for a few hours, then hit the gym around 10am (after the morning rush hour) and start the second half of your day around 2ish… basically, even if you’re working 8-10 hours a day you choose which hours those are.
    The five-second commute: how much time do you spend commuting from work to home and back again? And how productive is it? (Here’s a hint: not much). As a freelancer my commute is five seconds from bedroom to the home-office. That frees up 60-90 minutes a day.
    Lower cost of living: no commuting means no petrol or wear’n’tear on the car, or no weekly train ticket. And for most people it also means less spent on food, even if that means reheating left-overs from last night’s dinner (hint: cook enough dinner to have a spare plate for lunch the next day) or whipping up your own lunch.
    Dress casual: okay, the line has blurred between ‘business’ and ‘casual’ these days, but you can almost certainly get by with more casual dress at home than in the office. Not so casual that you don’t feel like a professional, mind (although for some people that makes no difference at all), but shifting down from suit+tie into chinos+polo is an undeniable win. (I’m a bit of a clotheshorse, so even now that I freelance I enjoy dressing up for press events a lot more than I used to for work each day!).
    Total control: you control every part of your work. Nobody else. As a freelancer, you’re the one who chooses to accept each and every job – and with it that job’s scope and deadline. No politics, no meetings, no changes in company direction or new bosses with new projects and priorities. It’s all in YOUR hands. This also means that you can choose to scale down, when you want a day off or a week off. You just tweak your schedule and job load to suit.

  2. I started freelancing almost thirty years ago in the video industry. Trouble is that the business went from me, sole trader, to 18 staff so I ended up back in the corporate sector even though it was my business. Did that for eight years, sold up, and went back to freelancing. I find soul trading good for the soul. You always know, within your business, your best friend and worst enemy.
    I’ve experienced all those things that Anthony and David mention and they certainly are pluses. But the asset I enjoy most are my personal self reliance, confidence and respect. You can’t pass off hard tasks to others but you can take the glory for every job well done and that’s important even if you can’t share it with others.
    There is one very important strategy a freelancer must understand and practice. That’s networking. To succeed you must network with your clients, prospective clients, peers and competition or you will surely fail. Social networking is fine but you must manage that well or fear the loss of your commercial advantage. Free information doesn’t pay the bills nor will it attract new business.
    Finally, learn new skills and don’t rely on one line of business because every product has a cycle. I’m a journalist, I’m a writer, I’m a photographer and a filmmaker. The only time my work is slack is when I choose. I’m a freelancer.

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