Today’s post comes from guest blogger Annimari Korte on her journey into something I know well, freelance writing. I will be expanding on my own experiences with this subject in the coming weeks.
Whenever I mention what I do for a living, I am most often faced with one of two reactions: the first (which comes mostly from an older generation) is to blink twice and look bewildered. The second is to look on in awe, and to ask questions about what it’s like to live such a dreamy life.
From the outside, the lifestyle might seem too good to be true, but freelancing has its ups and downs. So, I want to lay it bare and tell you about my own experiences, from scraping around in the gutter writing articles for pennies, to making a living doing what I love.
I’m not going to be apologetic about highlighting some of the benefits of freelancing. Having worked hard to get to a comfortable position, I feel I can thank myself as much as anybody else who ever worked to achieve something. It was my own choices that led me here, not some accidental online lottery.
Freelancing requires hard work. Anyone who thinks they can turn to paid online work or self-employed enterprises without any sense of commitment is sadly mistaken. When I first started writing, despite being good at what I did, I was grinding out articles for less than minimum wage. As soon as I learnt the ropes I started to demand a professional wage, but even as an established freelancer I still have a duty to perform well in everything that I do. It really is like running a business.
Actually, freelancing is running a business, and with this fact comes a lot of responsibilities that I would rather never have to think about. Saving up and paying tax money manually, for example, and a whole load of other financial mumbo-jumbo that makes up a world of jargon that takes months to understand. Sometimes I would rather someone just took my tax money directly, paid me a wage, and sorted out my pension for me. It would be easier that way.
Then there is the lack of reliable income that can make financial planning difficult, even on a personal level. Instead of a single monthly wage paid direct to my bank account, I often deal with varying payment methods from individuals and companies all around the world. These payments can be made after large projects, leaving big scary gaps in which money is looking scarce. All of this can be overcome after a while, once income streams have been diversified and freelance rates are high enough to keep you afloat.
Of course, it takes real motivation to keep working when there is nearly no risk that you will be ‘fired’, and no wrath to face from your superiors. Even when funds seem good and I feel comfortable in my life, I have to keep working, keep building, keep growing. I have had to cultivate this sense of internal motivation in order to crack my own whip!
But the whip is easier to crack if you like what you do, and it is truly an honor to be able to write for a living. The chances of becoming rich and making it big might not be great, but there is something satisfying about getting paid to do what you love. This overrides any potential drawbacks of freelancing for a living, at least for me.
There are lots of other plus points too. I get complete control over most of my days. I rarely start work at 9am, and prefer a nice easy-going morning before I get stuck in. I like to stay up a bit later at night and relax after I have finished. I can think of nothing worse than waking up to an alarm clock. After several years of freelancing, I find that I am easily able to motivate myself; that work is as much a part of my daily routine as it is for anybody else, no matter what their profession. With no boss hanging over my neck, and no imposing authority to deal with, I am more able to express myself creatively and commercially, and less ridden with daily stresses and fatigue.
Freelancing must be balanced with other areas of life. You can’t stare at a screen for 8 hours a day, do nothing else in between, and expect to be happy! Part of the motivation that you need for this style of work, is the motivation to get out there and find other activities to stimulate yourself. I have to constantly remind myself to use my freedom wisely.
I love freelancing, but I wanted to demonstrate that it isn’t a ‘dream’. With hard work and a lot of effort it is a realistic career path for anyone who wants it enough. Freelancing has its ups and downs, just like every other type of job, but with internal motivation you too could find a way to make it happen.